The debate over e-cigarettes is finally starting to tilt towards science and commonsense

By ACSH Staff — Dec 09, 2013
If you thought the debates about the role of e-cigarettes in dealing with the most important public health problem we face smoking was hot before, you ain t seen nothin yet. There were a flurry of new commentaries this weekend, based on sound science and commonsense.

Vaping, NOT SmokingToday s New York Times has an op-ed entitled, The Case for Tolerating E-Cigarettes, written by two faculty members in the department of sociomedical sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York. Drs. Amy Fairchild and James Colgrove present an excellent overview of the science (and castigate some of the non-science) surrounding the subject, and come out on the side of acknowledging the vast potential for benefit in this technology.

In what must be an astounding coincidence, their informative piece comes at almost the same time as Times columnist Joe Nocera s item, Two Cheers for E-cigarettes. He covers much the same ground, explicating the highly likely (but as yet unproven) reduced risk associated with e-cigs, as compared to toxic, deadly cigarettes, and taking account of the high failure rate of the FDA-approved methods. Unfortunately, after outlining all the right stuff, he goes off the rails a bit when calling for e-cigs to be regulated for what they are a pharmaceutical product that delivers nicotine, not a conduit for tobacco poison. Let them make health claims which they can t now do so long as they are backed up with real science. What he may not be fully aware of, is that requiring pharmaceutical FDA approval would entail billions of dollars, years of trials, and force most e-cigarette makers out of business or into the arms of Big Tobacco.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross had this comment: This has been a thrilling weekend for those of us trying to counter, even reverse, the seemingly-irresistible progress of the smoking epidemic. I truly believe the best hope of success lies with e-cigarettes, although this cannot be proven yet, and these two NYTimes columns will help propel this public health revolution, I believe. My own op-ed, skewering the EU s ponderous and fatally conflicted process of regulating e-cigarettes, will probably not get as much attention, nor should it. Perhaps, over the long haul, science and truth will win out or so we fervently hope.

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