Imagine if a tobacco company came out today and publicly claimed that smoking might very well be safer than using an e-cigarette. It would be a completely irresponsible statement and the company would rightly be vigorously criticized and attacked for asserting that its deadly products, which kill more than 400,000 people each year, are potentially safer than e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco, involve no combustion, and have been documented to have much lower levels of thousands of different chemicals compared to cigarettes.
In a strange an shocking irony, that exact claim was made today, but it came not from Big Tobacco but from a tobacco researcher. According to a press release issued by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), one of its professors--who is a tobacco researcher and studies electronic cigarettes--claimed that smoking may actually be safer than vaping. The professor was quoted as stating:
"The fact is: we don't know whether e-cigarette use is as lethal as
combustible cigarette use, less lethal than combustible cigarette use,
or more lethal than combustible cigarette use."
The Rest of the Story
I agree that we cannot precisely quantify how much safer e-cigarettes are compared to smoking. However, there is overwhelming evidence that smoking is more hazardous than vaping. One of the most compelling lines of evidence is a series of studies showing that when smokers switch to e-cigarettes, they experience immediate and dramatic improvement in both their respiratory and cardiovascular health, measured both subjectively and objectively. Also compelling is evidence that e-cigarette aerosol contains much lower levels of thousands of chemicals, including scores of carcinogens, compared to tobacco smoke and that e-cigarette users have demonstrably lower levels of toxic chemical biomarkers than smokers. And this isn't even to mention the evidence from thousands of vapers who testify that their health has improved substantially since switching from smoking to vaping.
Tobacco companies can now have a field day with their cigarette advertising. They could legally and truthfully take out an advertisement stating:
"Smoke Marlboro. According to a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, smoking may be safer than using e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and involve no combustion."
"Let's face it. People have been smoking for decades so we know exactly how many people are going to die each year. But we have no idea how many people are going to die from e-cigarette use. Take the more predictable and potentially safer path, according to a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University: smoke, don't vape."
With enemies like this anti-tobacco researcher, the tobacco companies no longer need friends. He has given Big Tobacco the most amazing public endorsement it could have ever asked for, and something that it could never have claimed to be true itself.