John Li Volti he is one of those professors who speaks bread to bread and makes himself understood by everyone. Because then, in the end, the goal of science is precisely this: to become popular. He teaches Biochemistry at the University of Catania, Li Volti. And he is also the director of Coehar, the research center for the reduction of the harm from smoking of the same university in Catania. He has published more than two hundred studies on the subject: if there is one, today, in the midst of the controversy e-cigarettes yes e-cigarettes no, it is he who can clarify. «Let’s start from the evidence», he says, «quitting smoking is possible. Even now, anyone who wants to can go to one of the many anti-smoking centers that are scattered throughout the country and it is the best thing any smoker can do».
Tell me, I’ve quit so many times I’ve lost count…
«Not smoking anything is certainly the most appropriate choice, we must be clear about this».
Certain. Doctor Li Volti, why is it so difficult to give up with these blessed blondes?
“Nicotine is the reason many people don’t give up. But we get sick for something else, for the products of combustion ».
What is the difference between an electronic cigarette and a traditional one?
“Exactly this. The classic cigarette reaches a temperature of seven, eight hundred degrees. In fact we speak of “smoke”. No, the electronic cigarette, it doesn’t burn anything.
Yet we often hear the expression “e-cigarette smoke”…
“It’s improper. Technically it is an aerosol. You know that little white cloud that comes out? It is generated by “pgvg” which is the substance in which various liquids are dissolved. This alone demonstrates that, by not containing combustion products, the e-cigarette is less toxic».
What do your studies say?
«We have tested these products in the laboratories of the University of Catania and, to be sure of not making errors in the procedure or interpretation of the results, we have repeated them in seven other laboratories around the world».
Urca, which ones?
«In Serbia, in Greece, in the United States, in Russia, in Oman and in Indonesia».
Practically everywhere. What results did you arrive at?
«We worked on the same products and we got the same results. That is, the electronic cigarette in our in vitro models is 95% less toxic than the traditional cigarette”.
Well 95% is a significant figure… Where did you post that?
“It’s open access. That is, it is public. But we also published it in the magazine Scientific nature which is part of the Nature group, in fact. It has had numerous views and shares.
Listen, but what do you think of this proposal that would like to ban smoking outdoors and also electronic cigarettes?
«I’ll start with a consideration: the Sirchia law was extraordinary, nothing has ever had such an impact. However, if we now also demonize the electronic cigarette, we could have the opposite effect».
«We could prevent or discourage smokers from changing, from traditional to electronic. This would lead us to a continuous increase in diseases ».
Those are impressive numbers, aren’t they?
«Every year in Italy 80,000 people die from cigarette smoke: 30,000 from cardiovascular diseases, 35,000 from tumors of the respiratory system and the other 20,000 from various causes. They are more than road accidents ».
Would you say all these things to a parliamentary committee?
«We would like to be listened to, yes, as technicians, together with Professor Riccardo Polosa who is the founder of Coehar, to bring our experience to the knowledge of Minister Schillaci (Health, ed) or of the Health Commission. I’m afraid that this law could slip on an ideological level”.