E-cig support from new sources

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Vape em if you got em! The Economist has just endorsed e-cigarettes in a remarkable editorial, writing they do not just save the lives of smokers: they bring other benefits too. Unlike cigarettes, they do not damage the health of bystanders. They do not even smell that bad, so there is no public nuisance, let along hazard, and thus no reason to ban their use in public places. Pubs and restaurants should welcome them with open arms.

The best way to improve public health would be to promote e-cigarettes, the Economist writes. The right approach is not to denormalize smoking, but to normalize e-smoking. Those who enjoy nicotine will be able to continue to use it, while everyone else will be spared both the public-health consequences of smoking and the nuisance of other people s smoke. What s not to like?

ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan agrees, saying she s heard many times from addicted smokers who have only managed to quit using cigarettes by switching to e-cigarettes. They re a clean nicotine delivery device, she says. You re not going to be hurt by the nicotine.

Anti-cancer groups like the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Society have blasted the devices, but Dr. Whelan asks, why are they against it? Because it looks like a cigarette? Because smokers get a nicotine high? ¦ My message to anyone who knows a cigarette smoker is to introduce him or her to e-cigarettes immediately.

And there s more news on the e-cigarette front. Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. surgeon general under President George W. Bush, is joining the board of directors for NJOY Inc., the nation s leading e-cigarette manufacturer. As surgeon general, Dr. Carmona had supported smoking bans and been critical about the possibility of safe alternatives to tobacco.

"Definitely there's an argument that can be made for harm reduction, but clearly more research needs to be done," Carmona told The Associated Press. "I'm probably going to be (the company's) biggest critic. ... I still look at my job as being a doctor of the people and I'm going to look at the science. ... If we can find a viable alternative that gave us harm reduction as people are withdrawing from nicotine, I'm happy to engage in that science and see if we can do that.

"To dismiss (e-cigarettes) and not even consider it ... would be a disservice to the public who are looking for alternatives, he added.

Tobacco expert David Sweanor told the AP that Dr. Carmona s appointment would be a big step forward toward e-cigarette s acceptance in the public health community.

"When he comes on board, it's very hard for anti-tobacco people who see themselves as health campaigners to simply oppose e-cigarettes, Sweanor said. They have to deal with the fact that one of the leaders of their community not only is supporting e-cigarettes but is willing to be on the board of directors of the biggest e-cigarette company.

But just when you think some sanity is returning to the world when it comes to e-cigarettes, we ve learned of this story out of England. A Manchester City fan having a drink with mates at a bar on stadium s concourse took a drag from his e-cigarette and was promptly booted from Etihad Stadium and has been banned from the season. Ugh.