Professor Peter Hajek’s a key figure in the vaping debate. He has been conducting research into vaping from the early days and was quickly convinced by published work that vaping offered a huge opportunity to combat tobacco-related disease. Findings from his own work encouraged him to speak about vaping’s positive aspects, something he’s done frequently at conferences and to media.
EVALI Lung Disease
The professor delivered a great example of how he values evidence and facts over the guesswork favoured by those opposed to vaping when a lung disease rocked America in 2019. Many were quick to point the finger at vaping, but Hajek spoke up: “The recent spate of lung injuries in the USA has been caused by a contaminant in bootleg marijuana products and has nothing to do with e-cigarettes used by smokers here.”
He took the opportunity to remind the general public about the actual relative safety of vaping: “On current estimates, vaping is unlikely to pose more than some 5% of risks of smoking. This would still be an unnecessary risk for non-smokers, but there is no question that smokers who switch to vaping reduce risks to their health dramatically. E-cigarettes have helped many smokers quit and as the product is developing and improving, it is likely to help many more. So far, very few non-smokers have become regular vapers.”
Speaking about the formation of dangerous aldehydes in vapour, Hajek has commented: “Frying e-liquid produces this chemical, but this also produces an aversive taste that vapers avoid. Human vapers have acrolein levels that are the same as in non-smokers and much lower than in smokers. A British Heart Foundation study conducted at the University of Dundee has now been published showing that smokers who switch to vaping have significant improvements to their cardiovascular health within four weeks.”
Peter led a research team that has produced the most comprehensive study looking at how well vaping works as a smoking cessation route. His team found that 9.9% of smokers remained cigarette-free one year after quitting with traditional nicotine replacement products. On the other hand, they discovered 18% of people trying vaping managed to quit and remain smoke-free over the same period.
The benefits didn’t end there: the vaping group experienced less nausea and a lower incidence of cough and phlegm production. People now refer to this as “The Hajek Study”.
Fighting For Truth
In 2019, The Lancet, a medical journal, carried an article titled “E-cigarettes: time to realign our approach?”. The anonymous authors attacked vaping for being similar to smoking and stating that vaping doesn’t help people quit and “no solid evidence base underpins the marketing claims that e-cigarettes are healthier than cigarettes”.
Professor Hajek co-authored a response calling out the willingness to ignore extensive evidence documenting safety and efficacy (such as his own gold standard study), stating: “The inaccuracies and misinformation in the Editorial about e-cigarettes1 do a major disservice to evidence-based public health.”
While there are those attacking vaping and ignoring evidence, we can be grateful there are honest experts such as Professor Peter Hajek actively seeking the truth.