Thursday, December 19, 2013

Two More Electronic Cigarette Opponents Deny that Vaping is Any Safer than Smoking

It is becoming impossible for me to keep track of all the tobacco control advocates (electronic cigarette opponents) who are publicly denying that vaping is any safer than smoking. This, of course, amounts to making a public statement that we are not sure smoking is any worse than using non-tobacco e-cigarettes. It is an absurd, and demonstrably false claim.

This week, we can add two more electronic cigarette opponents to the list.

According to an article in the Portsmouth Herald, a New Hampshire pulmonologist is telling his patients, and the public, that cigarette smoking may not be any more dangerous than vaping.

The article quotes the physician as stating: "I get asked about this a lot, particularly by current smokers who are looking to quit. They feel this is a safer option and we cannot tell them that it is. We don't know the answer to that because the data is just not there."

According to the article, the pulmonologist is "concerned about the way e-cigarettes deliver nicotine and added he would never advocate their use as a way to quit smoking."

In other news, a Massachusetts anti-smoking group has informed the public that cigarette smoking is not any more dangerous than vaping. 

According to an article in the Metrowest Daily News: "“It’s dangerous to think of e-cigarettes as less dangerous than regular cigarettes,” Tami Gouveia, executive director of Tobacco Free Mass told a Daily News reporter."

The Rest of the Story

If this pulmonologist is informing his smoking patients that their smoking is not safer than switching to electronic cigarettes, then he is potentially committing malpractice, in my opinion. He argues that the "data is not there," but the data are there. There are many published and/or publicly available studies which document that vaping is much safer than smoking. I discussed one such study just yesterday.

Fortunately, it appears that his patients are more knowledgeable than him, as they are apparently under the correct impression that inhaling from a burning cigarette which produces tens of thousands of chemicals and more than 60 known carcinogens is, oh, say a little more dangerous than using a non-combusted product that contains no tobacco and merely heats a solution of nicotine and propylene glycol.

Tobacco Free Mass is also apparently telling the public that vaping isn't any safer than smoking. In fact, they are stating that it is dangerous to even think that vaping is safer than smoking.

It has become clear that many electronic cigarette opponents in the tobacco control movement really don't care about the science. They have a pre-existing opposition to electronic cigarettes on ideological grounds. So the actual facts don't matter. The truth must not get in the way of the ideology.

Apparently, quitting smoking is not the goal. You have to quit smoking the right way. And that way happens to be an extremely ineffective method, one with a 90% failure rate. But it does provide income to many anti-smoking groups, through their funding by the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these largely ineffective drugs.

Anti-smoking advocates and groups continue to do tremendous damage. First, they are undermining the public's appreciation of the hazards of cigarette smoking. Second, they are discouraging many smokers who might quit using electronic cigarettes to continue smoking. And potentially, they are persuading ex-smokers who have quit using electronic cigarettes to return to smoking.

Why not? Based on the information being provided by a host of anti-smoking groups and advocates, you are no worse smoking than you are vaping.

It is difficult to continue calling these groups "anti-smoking" groups. They aren't really acting as if they want people to quit smoking. They're acting as if all they care about are the hand motions that look like smoking.

Stopping those hand motions won't save lives. But stopping the smoking will.

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