Dr. Mendelsohn Responds to Accusations by Australian Vaping Policy Influencer
Simon Chapman, an Australian tobacco control activist who is very influential in the development of local vape policy, refutes the idea that some tobacco companies may truly intend to transition away from regular cigarettes to reduced risk nicotine products, whilst also taking a dig at Australian peer Dr. Colin Mendelsohn for his progressive approach to reducing tobacco harm. Dr. Mendelsohn responds.
In the blog “Two parallel universes for Big Tobacco”, Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman AO, insisted amongst other things, that there is no way that tobacco companies truly intend to transition away from regular cigarettes to reduced risk nicotine products. In a commentary about this article, Dr. Mendelsohn explained why Chapman is “stuck in the tobacco wars of the past.”
“There is no doubt the tobacco industry has an appalling record of selling addictive and deadly products, lying about the health effects of smoking and obstructing tobacco control. However, consumers are driving a profound market transformation by opting for reduced-risk, non-combustible nicotine products. These innovative products threaten tobacco companies, much like digital cameras did to Kodak and electric cars do to petrol vehicle manufacturers,” added Dr. Mendelsohn.
There is no doubt the tobacco industry has an appalling record of selling addictive and deadly products, lying about the health effects of smoking and obstructing tobacco control. However, consumers are driving a profound market transformation by opting for reduced-risk, non-combustible nicotine products.Dr. Colin Mendelsohn, Tobacco Treatment Expert
However Chapman did not stop at sharing his views on the tobacco industry, he also launched a personal attack towards Mendelsohn who he mocked for advocating vapes as smoking cassation aids. “He defends his indefensible position with ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, unsupported claims, misrepresentation of my views and logical fallacies. Par for the course!” Dr. Mendelsohn told Vaping Post.
In response, the smoking cessation expert invited Chapman for an open discussion/debate on the topic. Vaping Post asked Dr. Mendelsohn whether he had received a response. “He has made no comment about the blog as far as I know and has certainly not contacted me about the invitation to debate,” he replied.
Another attack on Mendelsohn alleged that he is affiliated with the tobacco and vape industries
Dr. Mendelsohn who has recently made his book on how to quit smoking available to the public for free, was recently on the receiving end of another attack, this time a more cowardly one, when someone tried to censor his article on how to manage vaping in schools.
In a blog post, Mendelsohn revealed that an anonymous “researcher” or activist lodged a baseless complaint with the editor, alleging that he is affiliated with the tobacco and vape industries, in an attempt to undermine his credibility. As a result, his article was taken down from the website for an investigation. The smoking cessation expert highlighted that this anonymous attack, lacking in transparency, was clearly aimed at silencing him rather than engaging in a constructive discussion. Notably once again, there was no effort made to counter the arguments or evidence presented in the article, he emphasized.
An incurable bias
In December 2022, the Australian tobacco treatment expert discussed another inaccurate assessment by Chapman, this time of a Cochrane review indicating that vapes help people quit. Titled, “Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation,” the review included 78 completed studies, representing a total of 22,052 participants.
Led by Dr. Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, associate professor at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and editor at Cochrane Tobacco Review Group, the study concluded that there is clear evidence that nicotine-containing vaping products are more effective than traditional NRTs for smoking cessation.
In response to this conclusion, Professor Chapman referred to longitudinal studies from the US PATH cohort suggesting very little benefits from vaping. In a blog, Mendelsohn explained that these studies typically include vapers who are unwilling to quit and vape sporadically. When naturally, it is the motivated quitters who vape regularly in order to stop smoking, who are successful at quitting cigarettes.
Science tells a different story
In fact, he added, a PATH study of over 32,000 subjects found that daily vaping increased quit rates by eight times when compared to using other smoking cessation methods. Similarly, a recent comprehensive review has confirmed that the UK, which has long endorsed vaping as a quit aid, is leading the way with regards to the smoking cessation strategy it has in place.
Commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the research was conducted at King’s College London. It reiterated that vaping poses ‘a small fraction of the health risks of smoking’, and switching from smoking to vaping leads to a ‘substantial reduction’ in exposure to toxicants that promote cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease. Discussing the study, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, Dr Ian Walker, stated that this latest report confirms the benefit in switching to the proven safer alternatives.