Monday, July 20, 2015

California State Senator is Fooling the Public About Hazards of Smoking Just Like the Tobacco Industry Used to Do Decades Ago

A California state Senator has accused the tobacco industry of fooling the public by asserting that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

According to an article in the Daily Caller, state Senator Mark Leno stated:

"Decades ago, the tobacco industry tried to fool us into believing that filtered cigarettes were a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, and now they’re making the same claims about e-cigarettes."

The Rest of the Story

The only problem with this accusation is that it is not true. The tobacco industry is not fooling the public by suggesting that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes. Far from it. The tobacco industry is telling the truth. And so is the e-cigarette industry. Electronic cigarettes are far safer than tobacco cigarettes. There is simply no comparison. Smoking kills more than 400,000 Americans each year, while vaping is not known to have caused any deaths. In fact, unlike smoking, vaping appears to have no major acute risks.

The rest of the story is that it is actually Senator Leno who is trying to fool the public. He is trying to fool the public into believing that electronic cigarettes are no safer than the real ones. But that is equivalent to telling the public that smoking is no more hazardous than vaping.

Not only is Senator Leno lying to the public, but he is causing public health damage. First, he is undermining the public's appreciation of the hazards of smoking by telling us that smoking is only as hazardous as vaping. This truly minimizes the risks of smoking since electronic cigarettes do not contain any tobacco, do not involve combustion, and only expose users to a small number of chemicals of concern, most at very low levels.

Second, his statements are doing actual public health damage. By equating the health hazards of vaping with those of smoking, he is almost certainly discouraging many smokers from quitting (via e-cigarettes) and encouraging many former smokers (who quit via e-cigarettes) to return to smoking.

Before attacking the tobacco industry for lying about electronic cigarettes, Senator Leno should look in the mirror and check his facts. He would find that he is the one who is lying, trying to fool the public, falsely and irresponsibly minimizing the health hazards of smoking, and causing substantial public health damage by discouraging smoking cessation and encouraging many former smokers to return to smoking. 

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