Experts Tell Surgeon General to Save E-Cigs
In the past ten years, the smoking rate for adults in the United States has declined from over 20 percent to only 15 percent. While there are many reasons for the decline in cigarette smoking, one of them may well be the increase in e-cigarette use as a safer alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes according to the UK Royal College of Physicians, and in Britain, the U.S. and other countries, countless cigarette smokers have kicked that deadly habit thanks to a switch to e-cigarettes. But in the U.S. the government has been on a campaign against e-cigarettes, and some experts are questioning why the government would do such a thing to the detriment of public health.
A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General spends 251 pages warning of the dangers of e-cigarettes to youth, while ignoring adults almost completely. This is just another in a long line of anti-e-cigarette reports that assumes that e-cigarettes are aimed at young people, despite the fact that virtually all e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers clearly state that the products are only for those over the age of 18. The Surgeon General’s report also warns about the “gateway effect” that could lead young e-cigarette users to using real cigarettes. There is no evidence that this is happening; in fact, teen smoking rates are at historic lows.
While the majority of anti-e-cigarette rhetoric is focused on the dangers to youth, adults are left to pay more for e-cigarettes or not be able to get them at all, thanks to taxes and restrictions. The government is thereby putting adult smokers in a situation where continuing to smoke cigarettes could be less expensive than switching to e-cigarettes.
Many accusations have been raised against government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and the Surgeon General over their illogical attitude towards e-cigarettes; accusations ranging from being on the side of pharmaceutical companies who see e-cigarettes as a threat, to secretly wanting smokers to keep smoking and keep paying cigarette taxes. But some believe it may be a misguided attempt to do the right thing coupled with a misunderstanding of nicotine. The CDA is not only anti-e-cig but anti-smokeless tobacco, going so far as to actually conceal data on the safety of smokeless tobacco compared to cigarette smoking.
It seems that as far as the government is concerned, all nicotine products are dangerous and should be avoided. Nicotine does not equal tobacco, but the government may be wrong-headedly anti-nicotine instead of understanding that the smoke in tobacco cigarettes and its thousands of toxic components are what cause the real harm. It is not only logical to assume that smokeless nicotine products like e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are less harmful, but there is much scientific evidence available to prove it. But government continues to ignore that data, and in doing so actually protects the reputation of tobacco cigarettes by sending the message that they aren’t any worse than other nicotine-containing products. Government needs to acknowledge and understand the scientific data that says otherwise.