Monday, February 16, 2015

Washington State Director of Health Claims that Smoking is No More Hazardous than Using Electronic Cigarettes

In a press release issued last week by Washington governor Jay Inslee, the state's Secretary of Health (Dr. John Wiesman) is quoted as stating that active smoking is no more hazardous than vaping.

The press release quotes Dr. Wiesman as follows:

"This is an urgent health concern that must be immediately addressed. Many kids believe e-cigarettes are safer, but scientific evidence suggests they are not."

The Rest of the Story

What exactly is the evidence suggesting that e-cigarettes are no safer than tobacco cigarettes?

It doesn't exist.

There is no such evidence, and even the tobacco companies do not claim that their cigarettes are just as safe as e-cigarettes. In fact, should such a company make such a claim, they would be immediately attacked by anti-smoking groups. But ironically, when a health official makes precisely the same claim, the major anti-smoking groups are silent.

Not only is this statement wrong, but it is damaging to the public's health. By convincing smokers that their smoking is no worse than vaping, it discourages many smokers from using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. It also leads ex-smokers who quit via e-cigarettes to revert back to smoking. After all, what's the point of remaining on e-cigarettes instead of real cigarettes if the e-cigarettes are just as hazardous?

For the life of me, I cannot remember a time when day after day, public health official after public health official lies to the public, undermines decades of education about the hazards of smoking, discourages smokers from quitting, and does profound public health damage. And all because of narrow adherence to an ill-advised but deeply entrenched ideology.

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