The Atlantic (October 23, 2019):
Why don’t politicians see the damage they are about to inflict? In large part, it is because so many wrongly believe that e-cigarettes are as bad, or worse, than cigarettes. … many policy makers and members of the public do not grasp the benefits of nicotine harm reduction, because they simply won’t admit or don’t believe that e-cigarettes are less risky for smokers. … Why the misperceptions? … The antipathy is largely fueled by a long-standing distrust of Big Tobacco. The very name e-cigarette induces flashbacks in many public-health activists. They’re transported to a time when Big Tobacco touted allegedly safer ways to smoke - filtered cigarettes in the ’50s and low-tar cigarettes in the ’60s - that turned out to be nothing but false promises. … In light of history, public-health advocates’ skepticism about e-cigarettes, at least when they first appeared, was understandable. But genuine advances really can occur, and the evidence suggests that the shift from smoking to vaping should be celebrated, not decried. … While the benefits of vaping to smokers are being downplayed or ignored, the harms to teens are likely being overstated. … Unfortunately, the misconceptions surrounding vaping may be too well entrenched. A Kaiser poll conducted this month revealed that 49 percent of respondents support banning all e-cigarettes, not just flavored ones.
SALLY SATEL is a psychiatrist, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and the co-author of Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience . She is a member of Health Professionals for Patients in Pain, an ad hoc advocacy group.