Yet another tobacco control practitioner has told the public she is not sure that smoking is any more hazardous than using electronic cigarettes, according to a story from a South Dakota television station.
According to the story: "'I know some of them are being sold as helping you quit tobacco and
some people have used e-cigarettes to quit,' Avera Heart Hospital
Respiratory Therapist Deb Murray said.
But Murray says there's not enough research to prove that e-cigarettes are any better than traditional cigarettes. 'What we know about the e-cigarette is it contains nicotine and some
chemicals, but what we don't know about it is what's the long-term
effect of those chemicals,' Murray said."
The Rest of the Story
I believe it is irresponsible to tell the public (and especially patients) that cigarette smoking may be no more hazardous than vaping. Not only is this blatantly false, but it is damaging because it undermines the public's appreciation of the hazards of smoking and it may even discourage many smokers from quitting.
Ironically, the tobacco companies would never make such a statement, even in an effort to try to protect cigarette sales from dropping due to the increased popularity of electronic cigarettes. So it is indeed ironic that the tobacco companies are telling the truth about this particular scientific issue, and that only anti-smoking advocates are the ones lying about it.
Much of the blame, however, is attributable to some of the major anti-smoking and health groups and agencies, such as the FDA, the CDC, and the American Heart Association, Cancer Society, and Lung Association. Why? Because these agencies and groups have not been telling the public the truth. They have not been informing the public that vaping is much safer than smoking. In some cases, they have been suggesting that smoking may be no more hazardous than vaping.
For example, the CDC tells the public the following:
"There is insufficient evidence to determine whether ... electronic cigarettes ... reduce individual ... health risks."
This certainly suggests to me that the CDC is saying that we don't yet know whether electronic cigarettes are any safer than tobacco cigarettes.
The FDA tells the public that it is not known "if there are any benefits associated with using these products [electronic cigarettes]."
Thus, the FDA appears to be stating quite clearly that we don't yet know whether electronic cigarettes are any safer than tobacco cigarettes. After all, if these products are safer than cigarettes, then there certainly is a health benefit associated with using these products instead of cigarettes, as many vapers are doing.
The American Cancer Society fact sheet about electronic cigarettes fails to inform the public that these devices are safer than tobacco cigarettes.
Likewise, the American Heart Association fact sheet about electronic cigarettes fails to inform the public that these devices are safer than tobacco cigarettes.
Thus, it is no surprise that tobacco control practitioners throughout the country are disseminating false information. The national agencies have misled them, and they are in turn misleading their own constituents.
The rest of the story is that the major anti-smoking groups have essentially conspired to mislead the public about the health effects of electronic cigarettes relative to real tobacco cigarettes. Sadly, this is most likely causing substantial public health damage by undermining the public's appreciation of the hazards of smoking and discouraging many smokers from quitting.