Sunday, May 17, 2015

Anti-Smoking Advocates Continue to Tell Public There is No Evidence Smoking is More Harmful than Vaping

According to a recent article in the Quincy (MA) Patriot-Ledger, there is no evidence that smoking is any more hazardous than vaping. Since vaping has not yet been associated with any definite health harms, this means that it is possible that smoking is a quite benign behavior.

Obviously, this is nonsense. Nevertheless, anti-smoking groups and advocates continue to spew this false information to the public.

The article states that:

"Some teens think "vaping" is safer than smoking cigarettes, but there isn't any research to support that belief."

Where did the newspaper reporter get that idea? Apparently, from anti-smoking advocates in Massachusetts who she interviewed for the article, and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which continues to lie to the public about the lack of severity of the harms of cigarette smoking.

An anti-smoking group in Massachusetts apparently told the reporter that:

"public health advocates are seeing gains in reducing smoking rates among teenagers suddenly reversed in recent years by the mounting popularity of the e-cigarette... ."

This is nonsense. Gains in reducing smoking rates among teenagers have not been reversed by the increasing use of e-cigarettes. The only way this would be true is if vaping was just as hazardous, or nearly as hazardous, as cigarette smoking. Otherwise, decreases in smoking are not going to be offset, neutralized, or even worse - reversed - by an increase in e-cigarette experimentation.

Suggesting that e-cigarette experimentation is reversing progress in reducing smoking, in light of the fact that we just reached a historic low in youth smoking, is tantamount to arguing that e-cigarette experimentation is just as bad as smoking. Why in the world would anti-smoking groups want to equate the harms of cigarette smoking - which kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year - with the incredibly low health risks of e-cigarette vapor, which is not known to have ever caused a death or serious illness?

The Rest of the Story

Thanks to the efforts of the FDA, CDC, and many anti-smoking groups, we are starting to see a decline in the public's appreciation of the severe hazards of smoking. A substantial proportion of the public does not believe that smoking is any more hazardous than vaping. This creates a dangerous state of affairs, because it will discourage from quitting many smokers who might otherwise have quit using e-cigarettes. And it will also cause many ex-smokers who quit via e-cigarettes to return to smoking.

In fact, we are already starting to see some signs of a reduction in what was previously an exponential rise in electronic cigarettes sales in the United States. This is good news for tobacco cigarettes sales and bad news for the public's health.

It is time for our federal, state, and local public health agencies and anti-smoking groups to re-examine their campaign of deception against electronic cigarettes. They need to consider the damaging effect of their messages on the public's appreciation of the hazards of smoking. By equating e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes, they are inadvertently, but effectively, undermining decades of progress in educating the public about the hazards of smoking.

It used to be that the Tobacco Institute and tobacco companies were the ones who undermined the public's appreciation of the hazards of smoking. I find it ironic, and sad, that in 2015, the cigarette companies have relinquished that role, but the anti-smoking groups and health agencies have taken it up.

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