* Dr Derek Yach, former cabinet director at the World Health Organization and the man largely responsible for drafting the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, called in September 2015 for e-cigarettes to be brought “into the mainstream.” He called for a “cultural change” that would end the “scary stories” that regularly distort the public’s view of less harmful products such as e-cigarettes. “The impact of these distorted media stories has led many smokers who had moved to e-cigarettes to move back to regular cigarettes.”

* A Public Health England review in August 2015 raised concerns about public awareness and the accuracy of information given to both smokers and non-smokers about e-cigarettes and harm reduction. PHE said increasing numbers of people think e-cigarettes are equally or more harmful than smoking (ASH: 22.1 percent in 2015, up from 8.1 percent in 2013) or don’t know (22.7 percent in 2015, ASH Smokefree GB survey). The review found that almost all of the 2.6 million adults using e-cigarettes in Great Britain are current or ex-smokers, most of whom are using the devices to help them quit smoking or to prevent them going back to cigarettes. It also provided reassurance that very few adults or young people who have never smoked are becoming regular e-cigarette users (fewer than one percent in each group).

* Professor Linda Bauld is one of the world’s foremost experts on harm reduction in public health. She is Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling, Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, and a former scientific adviser on tobacco control to the UK government. She also chaired the NICE guidance group on tobacco harm reduction. “Smokers are mistakenly being led to believe that e-cigarettes are as harmful as cigarettes” and scientists may be “distorting study findings … media hype about their results contributes to this misperception,” said Prof Bauld.

* Associate Professor Marewa Glover of New Zealand’s Massey University is a world leader in the science of harm reduction, having been working for almost 20 years with the Maori people of New Zealand on smoking cessation programmes. She blasted the World Health Organization in July 2015 for “spreading false and negative information about vaping — describing it as being as or more dangerous than smoking.”