"'Many people use them as a bridge product' to avoid smoke-free laws — and as a result, they delay or avoid quitting, says David Abrams, executive director of the Shroeder Institute, operated by the anti-tobacco group Legacy. He co-authored a study in the same issue of the public health journal that found 70% of Americans believe e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes."
In other words, Dr. Abrams is claiming that there is evidence to support the contention that electronic cigarettes are preventing many smokers from quitting. If not for their use of electronic cigarettes, they would have quit smoking.
The Rest of the Story
First, and most importantly, there is simply no evidence to support this contention. It is essentially "manufactured" evidence. There is no study which has shown that electronic cigarettes are preventing smokers from quitting: that is, that without electronic cigarette use a substantial number of vapers would have instead quit smoking.
Second, the existing evidence actually suggests the exact opposite. Rather than preventing smokers from quitting, electronic cigarettes are helping many smokers to either quit smoking completely or to cut down substantially on the amount they quit. In the Polosa study, which was conducted among smokers unmotivated to quit, 54% of the smokers either quit or cut down by more than half on their smoking when they initiated use of electronic cigarettes.
There are multiple surveys which have documented that a large number of smokers have been able to quit smoking using electronic cigarettes. Most other electronic cigarette users have been able to cut down substantially on the amount they smoke. Very few electronic cigarette users report that they have continued to smoke cigarettes at the same level as before they started vaping. And no evidence supports the contention that any substantial proportion of vapers who still smoke would have quit smoking completely if they had not begun vaping. In fact, most vapers make it very clear that if not for electronic cigarettes, they would most certainly still be cigarette smokers.
In other words, there is abundant evidence that the truth is exactly the opposite of what Dr. Abrams claims to be the case. He is essentially making up evidence that does not exist in order to try to convince the public not to use these innovative harm reduction products.
There is certainly room for an honest debate on the appropriate role of electronic cigarettes as part of a national smoking cessation strategy, and as a part of efforts to promote smoking cessation among individuals. But there is no room for researchers to make up evidence that doesn't exist in an effort to try to make their case.