According to an article in the Legislative Gazette, New York state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) is publicly claiming that electronic cigarettes will lead to an entire generation of youth becoming lifetime smokers. She also attacked the tobacco companies for lying about these products.
In the article, she is quoted as stating: "The tobacco companies are using the same tactics and
lies they used to say about regular cigarettes. By accepting e-cigs we
are hooking a new generation on a lifetime of smoking."
Rosenthal also blasted the Conservative Party, claiming that they want to "wait until people get sick" and that
they are "standing up for something that is harmful."
The Rest of the Story
While Assemblywoman Rosenthal is accusing the tobacco companies of lying about electronic cigarettes, the only one in this article who is lying about e-cigarettes is Assemblywoman Rosenthal.
She is telling three lies.
First, she claims that e-cigarettes are hooking a new generation on a lifetime of smoking. There is no evidence to support even the contention that e-cigarettes are leading to nicotine addiction among youth. In fact, the existing evidence suggests that despite widespread youth experimentation with these products, very few nonsmoking youth have become nicotine addicts because of that experimentation. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that e-cigarette use is actually pushing kids away from smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes.
I don't necessarily blame Assemblywoman Rosenthal because it appears that she is drawing her information directly from the CDC. She is merely repeating the lies that CDC disseminated widely to the public.
Rosenthal's second lie is that the tobacco companies are lying about e-cigarettes. I challenge her to specify a specific lie that the tobacco companies are telling about these products. If anything, the tobacco companies are bending over backwards to provide warnings about the potential risks of e-cigarettes.
For example, Lorillard warns that the product contains nicotine, that nicotine is addictive, and that nicotine has been associated with birth defects and other reproductive harm. The company states that e-cigarettes are addicting. It also states that e-cigarettes "should not be used by children, pregnant or breast feeding women, people
with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or people taking
medicines for asthma or depression." Moreover, the company does not claim that its products are smoking cessation devices, that they are safe, that they are safer than cigarettes, or that they will improve health.
Similarly, Reynolds American emphasizes that its product contains nicotine, is not safe, is not for minors, and is not a smoking cessation device.
Altria also provides its customers with an extensive series of warnings:
"WARNING: This product is not a smoking cessation
product and has not been tested as such. This product is intended for
use by persons of legal age or older, and not by children, women who are
pregnant or breast-feeding, or persons with or at risk of heart
disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or taking medicine for
depression or asthma. Nicotine is addictive and habit forming, and it is
very toxic by inhalation, in contact with the skin, or if swallowed.
Nicotine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure and cause
dizziness, nausea, and stomach pain. Inhalation of this product may
aggravate existing respiratory conditions. Ingestion of the
non-vaporized concentrated ingredients in the cartridges can be
"CA Proposition 65 Warning: This product contains
nicotine, a chemical known to the state of California to cause
birth defects or other reproductive harm."
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not determined
that any tobacco product presents less risk compared to any other
"For tobacco product consumers concerned about the health
effects from tobacco product use, the best thing to do is quit.
For tobacco product consumers who decide to quit, Altria’s
tobacco companies offer QuitAssist®, an information resource
that helps consumers who have decided to quit with cessation
information from public health authorities."
So where is the lie? Before Assemblywoman Rosenthal publicly accuses the tobacco companies of lying to the public, she ought to provide the specific statement(s) that she asserts are false. The rest of the story is that it is she who is lying to the public.
Rosenthal's third lie is that the Conservative Party is standing up for a product that is harmful. The truth is that the Conservative Party is standing up for a product that is not known to cause any substantial harm and which, instead, is helping many smokers quit smoking, and thus improving their health and potentially saving their lives. Ironically, it is the Conservative Party which is standing up for the protection of the public's health and Rosenthal who is protecting the sales of the most toxic tobacco products on the market: real cigarettes.