The mantra of the anti-vaping movement has been that the spread of electronic cigarette use threatens to renormalize smoking. For example, the American Heart Association has claimed that "E-cigarette use and acceptance of e-cigarettes has the potential to renormalize smoking behavior." While this is a ridiculous argument on its face, new evidence has emerged which demonstrates just the opposite: e-cigarettes are denormalizing smoking, and the FDA's e-cigarette regulations would renormalize smoking.
A survey of more than 20,000 vapers, conducted by CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association) and reported by The Daily Caller, reveals that there are literally tens of thousands of former smokers in the U.S. who would still be smoking if it were not for electronic cigarettes. A total of 17,176 of the respondents indicated that they had quit smoking completely using e-cigarettes, and 99% of these vapers reported that they would still be smoking were it not for electronic cigarettes. Thus, this one survey alone identified 17,000 former smokers who would likely still be smoking today were it not for e-cigarettes. This is hardly what I call the renormalization of smoking.
On the other hand, the survey found that the FDA's electronic cigarette regulations, if adopted in their present form, would likely result in a substantial increase in smoking. Under the regulations, which would result in the removal of most, if not all open-system vaping products from the market, 21% of the former smokers reported that they would return to smoking. In addition, 46% of the dual users reported that they would increase the amount that they smoke. This is what I might call the renormalization of smoking.
As Carl Phillips notes: "It is worth noting that even without extrapolating the results to the
larger population, this survey population includes 17,000 Americans who
attribute their successful smoking cessation to e-cigarettes. If we
estimate e-cigarettes to post about 1/100th the health risk of smoking,
the net population health benefits would only be offset if most of the 2
million non-users became regular users of e-cigarettes, far more than
have done so (and that is ignoring the net consumption benefits, which
would necessarily be positive for those who choose to become new users).
If we extrapolate that to the larger population it represents, we get
close to requiring that every single American take up e-cigarettes to offset
the health benefit alone."
And as Guy Bentley notes: "The FDA’s “deeming” rules likely to be implemented in 2016 will
require all e-cigarette products released after Feb. 15, 2007, to
undergo the costly Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process. The
PMTA process for each individual product can run between $2-10 million. Vaping businesses — which typically sell dozens if not hundreds of
these products — will not be able to meet this financial burden –
meaning they will have to close their doors – destroying around 99 percent of the e-cigarette market and effectively prohibiting the majority of e-cigarette products."
The Rest of the Story
While there is no evidence that any vaper has been harmed by electronic cigarettes (excepting defective products whose batteries have exploded when overcharged), we now have documentation that at a bare minimum, there are 17,000 former smokers who quit because of electronic cigarettes. This means that anti-vaping groups, researchers, and advocates cannot credibly argue that there is no evidence that electronic cigarettes can help people quit smoking. Such an assertion is blatantly false based on these new data.