For decades, public health organizations have attempted to educate the public about the severe hazards associated with cigarette smoking, with tremendous success. However, in the past year or two, many of these same organizations have succeeded in completely undermining the public's appreciation of how hazardous smoking is. They have accomplished this, albeit unintentionally, through a campaign of deception about the hazards of electronic cigarettes.
In their zeal to demonize e-cigarettes, they have not only resorted to misleading and even lying to the public, but have done substantial public health damage. This damage comes in two forms. First, they have succeeded in convincing many smokers not to attempt to quit smoking. Second, they have succeeded in convincing about 50% of the public that smoking is not as hazardous as they previously thought.
The Rest of the Story
Today, I reveal a shocking finding that was reported two days ago in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Of all adults who have heard of electronic cigarettes, a whopping 49% believe that smoking is no more hazardous than using e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco, involve no combustion, and have been found to significantly improve respiratory health in smokers who switch to them, even partially.
This undermining of the public's appreciation of the hazards of smoking has already taken its toll: smokers are being convinced not to quit. Many of them actually believe the propaganda coming from anti-smoking groups and researchers, and these smokers have therefore decided they might as well continue smoking rather than switch to electronic cigarettes. After all, if e-cigarettes are just as harmful as tobacco cigarettes, then what's the point of quitting smoking by substituting e-cigarettes?
In addition, for the same reason, some ex-smokers who have quit using e-cigarettes are deciding they might as well return to cigarette smoking.
Ironically, the roles of Big Tobacco and the anti-smoking community have completely switched. For years, we in public health tried to convince the public of how harmful smoking is, and the tobacco companies tried to undermine that. Now, the tobacco companies are telling the public that smoking is far more harmful than vaping, and it is the anti-smoking groups which are trying to completely undermine that understanding. And these new data demonstrate that they are succeeding.