Thursday, May 21, 2015

Senator Schumer Lying to the Public in Order to Demonize E-Cigarettes and E-Cigarette Companies

According to his quote in an article on the web site of the CBS Philadelphia news affiliate, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) lied to the public in order to demonize e-cigarettes and attack e-cigarette companies.

Senator Schumer was quoted as stating:

"E-cigarette companies are stepping over the line by marketing these products to kids and getting them hooked on smoking, and they're hoping that the federal government passes the buck and turns a blind eye to what's happening."

The Rest of the Story

Senator Schumer claims that e-cigarette companies are getting kids hooked on smoking. However, using e-cigarettes is not smoking. E-cigarettes contain no tobacco and involve no combustion; thus, there is no smoke. So claiming that e-cigarette companies that get kids to use their products are hooking them on smoking is simply not true.

Even if what Senator Schumer meant is that the marketing of e-cigarettes gets kids to try e-cigarettes which leads to nicotine addiction and then to smoking addiction, his claim is not true. There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are serving as a gateway to cigarette smoking. In contrast, there is strong evidence that e-cigarettes are not getting nonsmokers addicted to nicotine; nor are they pushing nonsmokers towards smoking. In fact, the current evidence suggests that the opposite is true: e-cigarettes appear to be diverting kids away from smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes.

So the rest of the story is that far from getting kids hooked on smoking, the e-cigarette companies are helping to put a dent in tobacco cigarette sales by diverting adult smokers and youth (smokers and nonsmokers) away from smoking towards e-cigarettes. If the e-cigarettes are guilty of anything, it is getting some smoking youth hooked on vaping, rather than smoking. Given the known trajectory of lifetime smoking among kids who smoke at a young age, this may not be a bad thing.

In his zeal to demonize e-cigarettes and the e-cigarette industry, Senator Schumer is lying to the public. But the irony is that this deception is completely unnecessary. The legislation that Senator Schumer is co-sponsoring would merely ban the marketing of e-cigarettes towards minors. I don't know anyone - including all the e-cigarette companies - who oppose this principle.

So why is it necessary for Senator Schumer to lie?

Is there some sort of rule that e-cigarette opponents are not allowed to simply tell the truth in articulating their arguments and promoting their preferred policies? Why have they stolen an antiquated playbook from Big Tobacco? I thought that playbook had been discarded after the Department of Justice lawsuit, but apparently the politicians and many of the health groups that are opposed to the use of e-cigarettes picked that playbook up out of the trash and revived it. But that playbook has no place in the practice of public health.

No comments: