As I revealed yesterday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and a number of his colleagues are pushing for a ban on flavored electronic cigarettes, which they say is necessary to protect kids from addiction to nicotine. Senator Blumenthal is supporting his proposal by purporting to cite scientific evidence that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to a lifetime of addiction to cigarette smoking.
As quoted in an article
in the New Haven Register, Senator
Blumenthal stated: “I feel I’m very clearly and immediately in touch with
America but just as important in touch with public health and science, that
shows e-cigarettes can addict children to nicotine and lure them into a
lifetime of smoking addiction and cost our society billions of dollars.”
The Rest of the Story
Far from being in touch with public health and science,
Senator Blumenthal is lying to the public about the science in order to promote
his e-cigarette flavorings ban. The truth is that there is absolutely no
scientific evidence that e-cigarettes addict youth and cause them to transition
into a lifetime of smoking addiction.
In fact, there is no evidence for any of the three parts of
Senator Blumenthal’s statement. There is no scientific evidence that
e-cigarettes addict children to nicotine. There is no evidence that
e-cigarettes lure children into a lifetime of smoking addiction. And there is
no evidence that e-cigarettes cost our society billions of dollars.
With that said, I can’t completely blame Senator Blumenthal
because the CDC has been disseminating the false assertion that its recent
survey demonstrated that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking addiction. So it
appears that the lie originated with the CDC and then was adopted by Senator
Blumenthal. He may not be deserving of all of the blame here. The CDC must bear
the responsibility for originating this lie.
Public policy should be evidence-based. This is especially
true for public health policy. If we follow Senator Blumenthal’s lead, public
health policy is going to be formulated based on politics rather than science.
There is certainly room for vigorous debate about the
policies that are appropriate to help protect children from the risks posed by
electronic cigarettes. However, lying about the science has no place in that
The rest of the story is that by lying to the
public, Senator Blumenthal has introduced politics into the debate and
demonstrated that Congress remains clearly in touch with political motives, not
science-based public health ones.