While there is still a lot we do not know about the exact magnitude of any long-term risks associated with electronic cigarette use, vapers should be quite reassured that after at least five years of research into the health effects of vaping, the worst that electronic cigarette opponents can say is: "Well ... they're not harmless."
In a news article, SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) attempted to demonize electronic cigarettes, providing a quite biased and one-sided look at the risks associated with these products. The article fails to report the results of surveys and clinical trials, which have shown that e-cigarettes are a bona fide smoking cessation aid that have helped thousands of smokers to quit.
Despite its obvious bias against electronic cigarettes, what was the worst thing that SAMHSA could say about the health risks of vaping:
"“There’s so much we don’t yet know about e-cigarettes,” said Douglas
Tipperman, M.S.W., a public health advisor at SAMHSA. “They are not
harmless. We don’t know the health impact at the individual or the
The Rest of the Story
If "they are not harmless" is the worst that opponents can say about electronic cigarettes in 2014, then there doesn't seem to be much of a controversy over whether these products are much safer alternatives to smoking. Likewise, there doesn't appear to be much of a controversy over whether switching to e-cigarettes is a wise choice for smokers who want to quit but feel unable to do so cold turkey (which is, of course, the best option).
The SAMHSA article is full of ridiculous statements and poor reasoning, such as the conclusion that electronic cigarettes are repeating the Big Tobacco story because their ads use celebrities:
"Similarities are evident between advertisements for the e-cigarettes of
today and the cigarette ads from the 1950s. For example, both sets of
ads use celebrities to appeal to their target audiences."
By that reasoning, Rolex, Pantene, and Save the Seals are also targeting youth for a lifetime of addiction, taking a page out of Big Tobacco's playbook.
The weakness of the scientific argumentation of those opposed to electronic cigarettes demonstrates that in 2014, there simply is not much of a scientific argument to fall back on in opposing this innovation. The science isn't going to do it, so opponents have to rely on trite and meaningless assertions like:
"They aren't harmless."
"There's a lot we don't know about them."
"They still have nicotine in them."
"Their ads use celebrities."
Hopefully, the FDA will look towards a little higher level of scientific evidence and reasoning before it promulgates its final e-cigarette regulations.