Ban on e-cigarettes should remain

Singapore is not out of line with other countries in closely regulating or banning e-cigarettes.

I disagree with the views held by Professor Tikki Pang and Ms Gayle Amul (Why a ban on e-cigarettes may not be the best policy; June 9).

Many public health organisations, including the World Health Organisation, have expressed severe caution. Public Health England is part of only a tiny minority that encourages their use.

There are several good reasons for this.

First, there is no evidence from randomised controlled trials that e-cigarettes encourage quitting. A study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine found no benefit whatsoever.

Second, studies that followed up on users suggest that e-cigarettes actually reduced the rate of quitting.

In a study on those using e-cigarettes either alone or with traditional cigarettes, for every person who quit, more than two either took up smoking traditional cigarettes or switched from dual use to only traditional cigarettes.

Third, while e-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, we know nothing of the long-term effects. Almost every day, new evidence appears on the damage to the lungs and the heart.

Singapore has a proud record on tobacco control. It would be sad to allow it to be undermined.

Martin McKee (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2018, with the headline 'Ban on e-cigarettes should remain'. Print Edition | Subscribe