Which of the following are willing to publicly admit that smoking is definitely more hazardous than vaping?
A. Philip Morris/Altria
B. Reynolds American
C. Imperial Tobacco
D. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
E. All but D
Shockingly, the correct answer is E.
While the cigarette companies have all acknowledged that their combusted tobacco products are definitely more hazardous than e-cigarettes (which contain absolutely no tobacco and involve absolutely no combustion), the FDA - as of today - continues to tell the public that it is not sure that vaping has any benefits over smoking; i.e., that vaping is safer than smoking.
According to the FDA's web site today (June 18, 2015):
"E-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently don’t know ... whether there are any benefits associated with using these products."
This means that it is not clear to the FDA that if a smoker quits smoking and switches to e-cigarettes, he or she will experience any health benefits.
If you think about it, that's quite an astounding statement for the FDA to make, especially in June 2015. It might have been an acceptable statement to make during the first few months when e-cigarettes came onto the market and we really didn't know anything about them. But given the amount of research that has been conducted in the past 8 years on the relative safety of e-cigarettes, it is simply unfathomable that the FDA would be telling the public that there may be no health benefits to switching from smoking to vaping.
This is precisely the same as the FDA stating that cigarette smoking may be no more hazardous than vaping.
This is hard for me to believe. The federal agency that has been entrusted with regulating tobacco products and which will soon be regulating e-cigarettes is not sure that smoking is any more hazardous than vaping!
The Rest of the Story
Not only is the FDA continuing to make this irresponsible and unscientific, even fraudulent, statement, but the media are relying on it and thus communicating serious misinformation to the public. That the FDA is not sure there are any benefits of vaping over smoking is plastered on literally hundreds of health-related web sites.
This has led to massive public confusion over what is actually a very simple scientific issue. Electronic cigarette use is undoubtedly safer than cigarette smoking. Not only is the FDA's obfuscation of this basic science irresponsible and damaging, but it also undermines the public's appreciation of the serious hazards of smoking.
What confidence can we have that the FDA will take a science-based approach to the regulation of cigarettes and e-cigarettes when it can't even get the most simple science correct?