According to a story run by WDIO-TV (Duluth, MN), a tobacco control practitioner in Duluth is telling the public that there is no evidence vaping is any safer than smoking. She is also telling the public that there is no evidence that switching to electronic cigarettes can help a smoker quit smoking.
According to the story: "Brian Annis says he smoked for years and tried everything from nicotine
gum to prescribed medication to quit. But it wasn't until he found
e-cigs that something actually stuck. "It helped me. It satisfies that oral fixation and that inhalation of
something that I really missed with those other cessation devices,"
Annis said." ...
"However, not everyone is as enthusiastic as Annis. Cardiology Nurse
Practitioner Jessica Zweifel helps people kick their smoking habit as
the program director of Tobacco Free Services at Essentia Health. She
says, like Annis, many smokers think of e-cigarettes as a less-harmful
substitute to tobacco cigarettes. "Unfortunately for both of those options being less harmful or a
successful cessation device, there is no evidence out there stating that
these things are true," Zweifel said. She says she expects substantial research in the coming years, but
until then she doesn't recommend e-cigs as a cessation tool to her
clients. Instead, she offers other traditional quit tools such as
counseling and nicotine gum."
The Rest of the Story
It is unfortunate that many tobacco control practitioners continue to tell the public that there is no evidence that electronic cigarettes can help a smoker quit smoking. Multiple published surveys as well as literally thousands of personal testimonials from ex-smokers who have quit with these products make it eminently clear that for some smokers, electronic cigarettes are a successful strategy for quitting smoking. No responsible tobacco control practitioner should be denying that. Especially in August 2013 when such evidence is overwhelming.
What we don't know is the percentage of smokers who quit successfully with e-cigarettes. But to deny that there is any evidence that many vapers have successfully quit smoking is an attempt to deny reality. There are thousands of vapers out there who provide evidence that electronic cigarettes can be effective for quitting smoking.
Ironically, if the cigarette companies were making the same argument in order to protect cigarette profits from the threat of electronic cigarette sales, we could attack the companies for making fraudulent claims to protect their sales. After all, how could these companies deny that many smokers have quit successfully using electronic cigarettes when their are multiple surveys and online testimonials which document that many smokers have quit successfully using electronic cigarettes? Is this statement any less false just because it is being made by tobacco control advocates, instead of by cigarette companies?
Perhaps even more unfortunate is the assertion that there is no evidence that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. There is plentiful scientific evidence that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, including toxicology studies, laboratory studies, and clinical studies.
What we don't know is the absolute level of safety of electronic cigarettes. But that they are much safer than regular cigarettes is not in dispute. And that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes is untruthful.
Once again, if the cigarette companies were making the exact same claim - arguing that there is no evidence that smoking is any more hazardous than vaping - we would certainly be attacking them for misleading the public and undermining the public's appreciation of the hazards of cigarette smoking. This assertion is no more truthful just because it is being made by tobacco control advocates, instead of by cigarette companies.
One thing I have learned in my public health career is that when the opposition resorts to lying, it is usually because their arguments are not strong enough on their own. This appears to be the case with the opponents of electronic cigarettes. The logic, as well as the evidence, is so overwhelming that electronic cigarettes are improving the public's health that it takes outright lies to counter it. And sadly, it is to dishonesty that much of the tobacco control movement is resorting.