New York State Assembly committee to vote on banning e-cigarettes: lots of smoke, little light

The New York State Assembly health committee is about to vote on a bill to outlaw e-cigarettes. Yet both the proposed legislation and the hearings on it appear to be founded on a series of fallacies, reports ACSH advisor Dr. Michael Siegel.

He writes:

The bill's justification claims that electronic cigarettes contain diethylene glycol - an ingredient in anti-freeze - and carcinogens and therefore must be removed from the market because there is no evidence that they are any safer than regular cigarettes. However...although diethylene glycol was detected more than 18 months ago in one cartridge of one brand of electronic cigarettes, there is no evidence that it is present in any of the more than 100 other brands of electronic cigarettes on the market. Multiple companies have had their products tested for diethylene glycol and none of the samples have turned up positive. It appears that the presence of diethylene glycol was an isolated anomaly...

Second, the bill's justification ignores the fact that the levels of carcinogens found in electronic cigarettes were only trace levels...In fact, the relevant finding from the FDA's testing was that the level of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in electronic cigarettes was more than 1000 times lower than that present in Marlboro, the most commonly smoked cigarette in New York State. Thus, there is no scientific doubt that switching from tobacco cigarettes to electronic cigarettes will substantially reduce a smoker's risk of developing cancer.

In light of this, ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross wonders why most anti-smoking advocates support the legislation. “It may be,” he says, “that they’re against e-cigarettes because the act of vaping — dragging from the e-cigarette — so resembles the act of smoking a cigarette. But this is precisely why it’s so effective in getting smokers who can’t quit away from regular cigarettes. If this bill passes, it will force many quitters back to cigarettes, since the currently-approved smoking cessation methods are so abysmally ineffective over the long-term.”