The very first surgeon general’s report on e-cigarettes, published in December, describes them as “an emerging public health menace.” A “tip sheet for parents” that came with the report recommends evasion in response to the question, “Are not e-cigarettes safer than conventional cigarettes?”
Curious teenagers (and grownups) will have to search for an answer elsewhere, such as at a site like a vaping Google+ page or the Vapeliquidness – Twitter page For example, a study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It affirmed that cigarette are much less dangerous in relation to the traditional, combustible type, a fact that could come as a surprise to Americans who get their health information from government officials.
Shahab et al. conducted research that indicated all five groups were receiving similar amounts of nicotine, but the switchers revealed “significantly decreased degrees of measured carcinogens and toxins.”
The differences between vapers and smokers were striking, ranging from 57 percent decreases in three VOCs (volatile organic compounds) – including ethylene oxide, acrylonitrile, and vinyl chloride – to 97 percent reductions in acrylonitrile and in a tobacco-specific nitrosamine, a potent carcinogen. The amounts for vapers were as low as those for NRT users and in some cases lower, which is striking because NRT is broadly accepted as a secure alternative to cigarettes.
This study, which involved long-term e-cigarette users (and not users of vape pens), reinforces the results of an 2016 study finding big reductions in carcinogens and toxins among smokers who changed to vaping during a two-week experiment.
The big difference in risk between vaping and smoking is hardly astonishing, since the former includes inhaling an aerosol that generally includes propylene glycol, glycerin, water, flavoring, and nicotine, while the latter includes inhaling tobacco smoke, which features a huge number of substances, hundreds of which are hazardous or carcinogenic. Yet misconceptions about the risks of vaping are prevalent, thanks to public health officials and anti-tobacco activists who appear to be interested only in obfuscating the truth.
American adults surveyed recently by Professor W. Kip Viscusi (Vanderbilt) indicates 48 percent of respondents reported incorrectly that e-cigarettes are either just as hazardous as the conventional type or much more hazardous. Thirty-eight percent said cigarette are much less dangerous, but just 14 percent correctly said they’re not as hazardous.
All three describe e-cigarettes as “tobacco products,” which is not true, and falsely indicating that the threats introduced by vaping are just like the risks posed by smoking.
Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer a couple weeks after the report of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy came out, dodging a clear-cut question about the comparative dangers of vaping and smoking with an insignificant litany of warnings that were speculative. Such efforts to scare folks away from cigarettes are positively pernicious and possibly lethal to the extent that they discourage smokers from making a switch which could save their lives.
For Donald Trump, who was elected on promises of deregulation and dislocation, an obvious target is the FDA’s onerous new electronic cigarette rules, which threaten to ruin thousands of businesses and stifle life-saving innovation. How about telling the truth?