An interview with dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos

Extract of a long interview made by “E-Cigarette Forum” in which dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos talks about ecigs.

“If you’re expressing your opinion about e-cigarettes in public, you should know what you’re talking about…”

Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos is a Greek cardiovascular specialist who in recent years has become increasingly high-profile internationally on account of his groundbreaking clinical research into e-cigarettes and the effects of their use.

He spoke to ECF as he embarked on a study into the ingredients of e-liquids that was made possible through crowdfunding by vapers and e-cigarette companies.

We talked to him about his work, the future of vaping and how not all the reputed experts are telling the truth.

(…) A large number of people in the medical field seem to have taken an automatic stance against e-cigarettes. Does it feel like you and your team are treading a lonely path?

Last year, I felt quite lonely. There were just a handful of us conducting e-cigarette research and we were probably considered crazy by most of the others in our field. But we are growing; e-cigarettes get more backing every day. In the last few months we’ve had more and more people from the scientific and medical fields support us

Why are those people coming around now?

There’s still not enough data from research yet, but there is far more than what was available in previous years. During that time the public has really taken to e-cigarettes too, despite the negative publicity. I think these factors have convinced people to look closer.

I believe most of the people expressing negative opinion about e-cigarettes don’t really have any deep knowledge about the products. If you’re expressing your opinion about e-cigarettes in public you should know what you’re talking about, because the things we say as scientists influence a lot of people.

I know a lot of smokers who were put off right at the point of trying an e-cigarette. Even worse, I’ve seen a lot of vapers go back to smoking after hearing scientists discuss the potential hazards of e-cigarettes – the problem is that they often forget to mention the dangers of smoking.

(…) It’s important to be clear that we’re not saying e-cigarettes are a good thing overall. They’re a good thing for a smoker, they’re not a good thing for everyone else. I wouldn’t suggest non-smokers take up vaping. But for smokers, considering the devastating effects of tobacco, there is no comparison. It’s a complete revolution in tobacco harm reduction. Although the ideal thing would be for vaping to be just a bridge to quitting smoking, where at the end you stop vaping too. The biggest difference between smoking and vaping is that tobacco cigarettes were made to turn non-smokers into smokers. Since the beginning, e-cigarettes have been marketed for smokers to become vapers, not for non-smokers to become vapers. E-cigarette companies don’t need to target youngsters or non-smokers and that’s the big difference that Tobacco Control refuses to accept.

Yet the press often runs stories about children vaping, or how vaping is considered cool amongst their peers, just like smoking. Is there any truth in that?

We have data from the USA and the UK on this, but the headlines don’t match the results once you look at them properly – the best example being the latest CDC study. Some very vocal people at the CDC are making out that we are witnessing a new nicotine epidemic from e-cigarettes. But they weren’t asking these young people if they were regular users. The results were based on the question ‘have you tried an e-cigarette in the last 30 days?’ According to the CDC you’re a user if you’ve had even one puff in the last 30 days. Yet if you took the number of young people who were not smokers but had tried an e-cigarette over the last 30 days, the number was just 0.5%. They presented that result as a problem, which it is not. According to common sense, 0.5% is almost non-existent. Others have exaggerated the results even more. I won’t name anyone simply because I don’t want to give them the oxygen of publicity, but there are professors of medicine in the United States whose statements on this make them look ridiculous. Unfortunately they’re using the official websites of universities to do it, so they’re ridiculing the universities too. It’s something I just can’t understand, I would never disgrace myself in that way. You only need to check the numbers to see that the public statements they make after these studies are nonsense.

(…) I’ve done two studies on nicotine absorption from e-cigarettes, including the only study that used a third generation device at 9w with a clearomizer. Although we used experienced vapers, the levels of absorption were around one third of that from tobacco – you’d need to vape for 35 minutes to get plasma nicotine levels similar to smoking one tobacco cigarette in five minutes. This shows that e-cigarettes are inefficient at providing nicotine at the same level, especially at the same speed, as tobacco cigarettes.

(…) The latest studies show that nicotine needs some other chemicals present in tobacco to be really addictive. It’s not as addictive on its own as we thought. I’m not saying that it’s not addictive at all of course, but it seems that other alkaloids largely potentiate the addictive properties of nicotine. These are not present in e-cigarettes. I doubt that a non-smoker could be addicted to e-cigarettes. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I think it’s very difficult.

(you can read the full interview here)


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