Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Another E-Cigarette Opponent Not Sure if Smoking is Any More Dangerous than Using Tobacco-Free, Combustion-Free Nicotine Delivery Device

According to an article in Discovery News, yet another electronic cigarette opponent is unsure whether smoking cigarettes is any more dangerous than using electronic cigarettes, even though the latter does not contain any tobacco, nor is there any smoke or combustion of any tobacco.

According to the article: "As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration struggles to gain regulatory control, and as safety studies remain works in progress, the debate continues. 'There really are a lot of unknowns with respect to health,' said Prue Talbot, a toxicologist at the University California, Riverside. 'I don't know of any studies in the literature which are peer-reviewed. Almost all of the studies have been paid for by the e-cigarette companies. E-cigarettes are often sold as safe, which is probably not true,' Talbot added. 'They may not be as dangerous as real cigarettes, but on the other hand, they could be. We just don't know.'"

The Rest of the Story

While I agree that electronic cigarettes are not "safe" in absolute terms, there is little question that they are much safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. The contention that nicotine plus tens of thousands of other chemicals including 60 known carcinogens is more dangerous than nicotine vaporized from a propylene glycol/glycerin solution does not require rocket science.

Only a tobacco company would claim that it is uncertain whether smoking is any more dangerous than inhaling nicotine from a relatively clean solution of propylene glycol and glycerin. Check that. A tobacco company would not say that. Only electronic cigarette opponents are making that claim.

The evidence simply does not support the claim. While cigarette smoke contains more than 60 carcinogens at relatively high levels, there have been only two carcinogens found in electronic cigarettes and they are present only at trace levels. In fact, the levels of these two carcinogens (which are present because the nicotine is extracted from tobacco) is more than 1,000 times lower than that of the same carcinogens in tobacco cigarettes. Moreover, there are 16 laboratory studies of the constituents of electronic cigarettes and none have identified any chemicals at levels which would warrant serious concern.

How can researchers like this go out publicly and state that there is no evidence that electronic cigarettes are any safer than what we already know is the most dangerous and toxic consumer product on the market, which we know kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year?

Why are these researchers ignoring the available data which clearly show that the levels of carcinogens in electronic cigarettes are orders of magnitude lower than in regular cigarettes?

Unfortunately, there appears to be a very strong bias operating which does not allow anti-smoking researchers to objectively view the scientific evidence on electronic cigarettes. I believe that the very fact that these devices are similar to cigarettes blinds many anti-smoking researchers to the actual scientific evidence that is readily available. It is apparently not the documented hazards of vaping which are troubling the anti-smoking movement, but the fact that it looks like smoking.

How can anything which looks like smoking be a good thing, even if there is strong evidence that these products are bringing immense and immediate health benefits to thousands of users? There simply is no room for this in the anti-smoking movement's mentality.

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