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Third generation e-cigarettes sold in London

Readers question Straits Times on article stating e-cigarettes creates more smokers than helping them quit

In the Straits Times report dated 19 March, it is stated that a recently released study funded by the National Health Institutes of the United States found that e-cigarettes do far more harm than good.

The study, led by Associate Professor Samir Soneji of the Dartmouth Institute, the health services research and education centre at Dartmouth College, was said to be based on simulation modelling.

The study found that for every smoker who quits with the help of e-cigarettes, 80 others would pick up the habit following exposure to e-cigarettes. ST wrote that the result of this study lends strong support for Singapore's total ban on e-cigarettes that became effective last month (February).

The study also is said to expect e-cigarettes to initiate smoking in 168,000 young people who had never smoked to become daily smokers by their mid-30s.

Contrary to what has been highlighted in the ST report, an independent report commissioned by the Public Health England, United Kingdom's public health authority, noted that quit success rates in England were at their highest rates so far observed in the first half of 2017 and that it is plausible that e-cigarettes have contributed to this.

PHE's report, which is based on real research statistics, also pointed that despite some experimentation with these devices among never smokers, e-cigarettes are attracting very few young people who have never smoked into regular use.

"E-cigarettes do not appear to be undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking in the UK among young people." wrote the report.

Another piece of propaganda

Many readers commented on the ST article. Some asked for the validation of the study, while some said that this is another piece of propaganda, saying that some other studies have stated that e-cigarettes have helped some people to actually quit smoking.

Jack Benzo wrote, "You have to smoke something stronger than that to believe ST articles."

Shukuchi Fox wrote, "Who is doing this research? Please show statistic and records."

Jackson Lee wrote, "Now. That's rubbish. The study was based on simulation modelling.' Is it too much to ask that ST hires someone who knows something about this? When it comes to simulations, garbage-in-garbage-out. Off the top of my head, I can think of one "science" that runs entirely off models. It's crap. So is this."

Andie Lim wrote, "When I stay in a smoked filled pub for a couple hours, my body from top to bottom stink, my eyes get stung and my nose gets clogged. When I’m exposed similarly to e-cigarettes, I don’t stink. This says plenty about which is more harmful!"

Gabriel Sim wrote, "Ignoring the vast number of studies that show e-cigarettes help quit smoking or at least provide a healthier alternative, and planting information based on the government agenda. Well done."

Forest Retino wrote, "This is completely fabricated fake nonsense, look at any of the properly done studies and you will find that e-cigarettes or nicotine vaporizers reduce harm and reduce smokers."

Lai Voon Choong wrote, "The truth is, our beloved government still haven't think of a way to tax e-cigarette. Imagine all smokers change to smoke e-cigarettes instead of real tobacco, how much tax will our government lose."

Bowlby Jono wrote, "Fake news. Why is the SG government so against e cig? It's because there is no way of taxing it? Ridiculous."

Ivy Tan wrote, "This article is missing stats and data. How is the simulation derived? What are the key variables? Also how does the researcher test that it's indeed a causation and not a correlation?"

Marcus Lin wrote, "Dear Straits Times, if you're gonna start reporting on e-cigarettes, please be fair and transparent and report each and every legit news and not just the negative ones."

Kieran Cummings wrote, "Funny, the NHS says differently in the UK, and I know who I trust. Hint: it's not the country that pushes prescription drugs on TV."

Mabel Yeo wrote, "I'm not sure if this is just a case of negligent reporting or an incredibly flawed piece of research. It publishes retrospective figures (i.e. from 2014 / 2015) without actually verifying, or committing to its accuracy. Secondly, how did the study arrive at the figure of 168,000? What exactly are the perimeters of this projection?"