Public Health

Better Off Vaping


New York Times science columnist John Tierney notes the irrational opposition to electronic cigarettes as a harm-reducing alternative to the conventional variety:

As a former addict myself—I smoked long ago, and was hooked on Nicorette gum for a few years—I can appreciate why the prohibitionists fear nicotine's appeal. I agree that abstinence is the best policy. Yet it's obviously not working for lots of people. No one knows exactly what long-term benefits they'd gain from e-cigarettes, but we can say one thing with confidence: Every time they light up a tobacco cigarette, they'd be better off vaping.

While the courts have blocked the Food and Drug Administration's attempt to take e-cigarettes off the market, jurisdictions across the country are pondering restrictions on sales or use. Since e-cigarettes do not burn anything and therefore produce no combustion products, covering them under smoking bans (a move the Boston Public Health Commission is considering) makes no sense, except as a way of preventing current or former smokers from getting their fix.

More on e-cigarettes here.

NEXT: The Newt Gingrich Candidate Profile

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I don’t get it. Those things are awesome.

    I detest the smell of tobacco smoke, but couldn’t care less if somebody wants the nicotine fix; if it’s not the ideal solution, it’s damn close.

    1. I am on the verge of trying it, especially in non-smoking places with fireplaces.

      1. I’ve got a friend who loves them. She can now have her smoke break indoors, which is a big plus during the Minnesota winter.

    2. I don’t get it.
      Of course, you do. Re-read the last paragraph in the summation. As usual, it is about govt power and control over individual behavior. If govt was that uptight about the public health effects of smoking, it would have simply moved to ban the sale of tobacco, black market be damned. But, tobacco means big dollars in terms of excise taxes, taxes from people who work in the industry, and campaign donations. Apparently, the e-smoke folks are not playing the game to the satisfaction of the power brokers.

    3. Better Off Vaping

      At first I thought it said “Gaping.”

    4. Better Off Vaping

      At first I thought it said “Gaping.”

        1. Dude! You get the fucking joke! Fucking awesome!

  2. But, but, but… Teh childrenzzzzz!!11!1

    We must protect teh childrenzzzzzz!!11!!1!1

    1. *cat hiss*

  3. Does anybody use these/know of a reliable source for reviews? I’ve been considering it but it is a big investment and the whole business is kinda sketchy (thanks FDA!).

    I’ve already gotten down to one in the morning, one after work but I’m finding it hard to drop either one. Not too worried though, two cigarettes a day is not the same as two packs a day despite what the smoking nazis say.

    1. Dude, if I could have stayed at one before/one after, I’d have called it victory.

      But I’m one of those who goes from one to one pack justlikethat!

      Keep after it – I’m sure you feel better already. I’ve quit for over a year, and I feel it EVERY morning when I wake up not hacking. Awesome! Good luck!

    2. /sarc off

      I quit a few years ago, but considered getting this for my wife who has yet to quit.
      What has stopped me is that round here there is always some busybody legislator trying to ban these things for teh childrenz, and I don’t want to spend all that money only to have the refills be illegal next week.

      1. Anything can be obtained via the interwebs, legal or otherwise. If they become “illegal” in your area, your wife will simply have to stop vaping in public places.

        1. I already plan to have one of my out of state friends receive my e-cig juice and then mail it to me if shit gets that bad. Because yes, my state has already tried (unsuccessfully so far) to ban e-cigs.

          1. For the love of god, you guys, at least wait until they’ve done a five year study on the possible dangerous effects of second-hand vapor.

          2. MAIL FRAUD, GET THE DOG

      2. what are you talking about? It’s not going to be illegal to smoke them in your residence, nor is it ever going to be outright illegal

        get her them. They could save her life; no smoke, no tar, only vapor – so no aromatic hydrocrabans and so no cancer.

        1. point taken

    3. If you are looking for reviews there are several ecig enthusiasts on youtube providing unbiased reviews. You can search youtube for GrimmGreen, Basilray, and VapinGreek (he caters to new vapers). Otherwise, forums are good, check out ECF and vapersforum.

      1. Amen, Russ. Exactly the same advice and locations I was going to recommend. I first heard about e-cigs in this very spot about two and a half years ago, thought “what the hell” & game ’em a try. A bit of trial-and-error later (much less of that after discovering the forums), I put the pack down for the last time and have been happily vaping ever since. Painless, absolutely painless. Two years August. And it’s going to be Reason and Hit n’ Run’s fault I live to triple digits sucking off the public teat the last few decades. Heh, heh, heh. For all of you thinking about it, good luck, and remember: There *is* a learning curve. Get past it before trying to quit…

        1. er… “GAVE ’em a try.”

    4. /sarc off

      On the subject of quitting. I use Chantix. Stuff worked. It also gave me continuous horrible gas to the point where I was driving with the windows down in winter and taking numerous courtesy walks at work. That and it gave the most vivid dreams.
      But after being on Chantix for a week I simply didn’t enjoy the cigarettes and just stopped. After two more weeks I said “fuck this” to the side effects, but by then had made the resolve to stay quit and did.

      1. *used* not use

      2. Ditto (except I didn’t get the gas, thank foodness). Took me three tries, but third time – I just quit and never picked up another one.

        The dreams were EPIC!

        1. Also, substitute “g” for “f” wherever you see fit. Typing skillz not si myxj

          1. Nah. “Thank foodness” is a nice expression.

          2. I thought it was intentional. Like you avoided the gas with a smart diet or something.

            1. I was thinking the same thing.

            2. See, things like “thank foodness” are what RC’z Law was invented for.

      3. I looooooove my Chantix dreams.

        The gas is nice, too (what can I say? I find bdily functions hilarious) – but that’s generally a side effect of quitting smoking, not the Chantix.

        1. but that’s generally a side effect of quitting smoking, not the Chantix.

          Either way it was a constant hiss coming out of my ass, like a leaking balloon. I’d get up to take a shower, and the bedroom still stank when I returned to get dressed.
          Gods it was fracking disgusting!

          1. I used to be a member of a quit smoking online forum (before it was taken over by a corporation and a bunch of us got banhammered for using the word “fuck”) and we had all kinds of cutesy nicknames for for all the fucked up scatalogical functions we were experiencing. Quitstipation was one, although I never suffered from that. Quitulence is what you’re experiencing.

            1. That’s funny

          2. That’s the way I just am, with no Chantix to blame. If Chantix is the pro-gas and anti-smoke, then could smoking be the anti-gas? Maybe I need to start!

        2. You want vivid dreams eat a couple of chocolate covered almonds before bed. But three may keep you up all night.

          1. You kids have the funniest slang. We just called it “ibogaine.”

      4. I’m not interested in other products really. I enjoy the process of smoking as much as the nicotine itself. Plus I don’t plan to quite tobacco entirely, just cigarettes. My fiancee and I love lighting up our hookah and I see no reason to quit that.

        1. Good for you. I had to quit because my lungs were a constant hiss-gurgle-pop from the smoke. Now whenever the urge strikes all I have to do is take a deep breath and not hear funny noises, and the urge goes away.

          1. Honestly I recently started running and eating better again after years of sloth (I was running 100 miles a week when I quit in college and felt I earned it) and despite on smoking a little less I feel a thousand times better. I guess when you live a healthy life otherwise you can afford a few indulgences. The nasty lung feeling was why I decided to reduce my smoking in the first place but unless I go on a binge when out for a night of drinking I don’t really feel it anymore (and after those nights my liver hurts more than my lungs).

      5. I quit after the 3rd day on Chantix. Didn’t get gas, but after a while I started getting nausea from the morning pill. Also had the dreams, but not as bad as when I’d tried to quit without the Chantix. I think those are just a side effect of nicotine withdrawal.

    5. Check out There is a n00b forum for questions. Vapers are very, very enthusiastic about helping people get started.

      There are some major types of e-cigarettes that are well-regarded — Ego, Riva, and Volt to name a couple.

      If you’re not spending more than $40 on a kit, you’re buying a crappy product.

    6. ECF – the e-cigarette forum – has a lot of info about all things e-cig. Different brands, different websites, pen style, the big fat cigar style, cleaning methods, PG vs. VG and blends, etc. etc.

      I have a Joyetech 510 – it’s a basic model, and you can get two batteries and two atomizers (the part that heats up and vaporizes the PG/VG) for about $50. One battery will last for a few hours of heavy use. I can get a full work day out of a battery where I’ll only use it sporadically (a pull here or there, and a good vape session after lunch).

      I use for mail order stuff (if you do intend to buy from there you can use the discount code VKBC for a 10% discount). I got one faulty charger product from them, but I emailed them and they replaced it free of charge after the warranty, so they do provide acceptable customer service. A few of my friends use for their e-cig needs.

      I’ve been using an e-cig for one year come Thanksgiving, and I haven’t gone back to cigarettes. E-cigs are convenient, don’t stink, are way cheaper than tobacco (at least in my locality), and though I can’t explicitly declare them healthier I find that I vape less than I smoked. There’s no tar, there’s no fire, there’s no burning…these are all better than cigarettes.

      And the kicker – if you have a smoke averse lover or spouse you don’t have to get out of bed for the post-coital nicotine bomb. That right there makes it worth looking into.

    7. Try e-cigarette-forum[dot]com. There is a n00b forum, and people are very, very eager to help.

      Three well-regarded types are the Ego, Riva, and Volt. If you’re buying a starter kit for less than $30, you’re undoubtedly buying junk.

      Good luck. Vapers are very eager to help, so please don’t hesitate to ask questions.

    8. I think you’ll find “cutting down” very, very difficult to sustain. You’re basically putting yourself in a constant, 24/7 state of withdrawal. My advice (as a quitter myself) would be to find another alternative.

      1. As with anything, different processes work for different people. I never was a heavy smoker in the first place. Except on weekends I have an easy time enforcing my two a day rule as I don’t bring any to work at all. I’m definitely going to give e-cigs a try after checking out the above info though if only because I wouldn’t have to go outside. I’ll still treat myself to a nice hand rolled every once in a while though. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing and everybody dies someday.

        1. I get that, just offering another perspective. I’m a string advocate of doing what works for you.

    9. I JUST bought a V2 ecig.

      I’m not sold on the flavors that I got (ordered a sample pack that hasn’t arrived yet that has all the flavors.) but the ecig itself is FANTASTIC. Good pull. Lots of vapor/’smoke’, good throat hit—-it’s wonderful.

      I wasn’t a heavy smoker before, but It was in my life for 5 or so years. I haven’t even thought about buying another pack.

      1. Gawd, naming an e-cig a “V2”! A cigar would look more like a V-2, an exploding cigar would feel more like one, and I guess a cigaret with waaaay too much KNO3 in the paper might act like one.

    10. I bought an ecig “system”. Something called green smoke. It’s not bad. It does mimic smoking to large degree. You get the filling your lungs and blowing out effect. The taste is not bad. Pushed, I would recommend it.

    11. Yeah, I’m down to one pack after work, too. … Oh.

  4. I am seriously considering taking up smoking again just to smoke in places it’s “prohibited”.

    When accosted by the gendarmes, I will shout, “Officer, am I not free to gambol about the prairie, smoking?! Look, look, I’m bein’ repressed!”

    OK, maybe not.


    2. The more that these health nazi’s attempt to ban these things the more I want to keep smoking.

      I’ve tried the e-cig and they are pretty cool and allow you to get your fix I suppose, but smoking has a way of turning normal people in to blithering idiots, and I love being on the team that pisses off the non-smokers so much.

      I quit for five years but non-smokers made it easy for me to want to start again. Anti-smokers are worse than vegans.

    3. I kind of feel the same way. All of the smoking nazi shit really makes me want to start smoking again.

      1. The only times I feel like smoking a real one anymore are when I’m drunk or I see an anti-smoking commercial. I see that I’m not alone in that feeling here, and I’m not too surprised about it.

  5. I used an electronic cigarette to help with cravings and it worked well enough. I’ve been cigarette free for 3 months as of today with no other help than cold turkey and the occasional puff of an e-cigarette.

    1. Congratulations! Good luck staying quit!

      1. Thanks. I wasn’t a big smoker, about 1/2 a pack a day for the past 20 years. I just finally decided it was a childish habit and quit.

  6. A year and a half now without smoking and I used an e-cig to help me during the first three weeks of intense cravings. After that, never smoked or used the e-cig

    I smoked over 2 packs a day for almost 20 years.

  7. E-cigs are incredibly dangerous*, because if they became widespread it would become clear that “secondhand smoke” was always just a fig leaf for the prohibitionist intentions of the anti-smoking crusaders.

    *To the Technocracy’s agenda.

  8. Jesus, does anyone still smoke?

    As bad as smoking is, I still have quite a fondness for the whole practice.

    These assholes who want to ban e-cigs are evil, awful people. Fuck them.

  9. This is only about one thing: preserving the flow of sin-tax revenue into government coffers. The pols and burrowcrats couldn’t care less about “public health” if it threatens thier grip on power.

  10. Isn’t it about time the FDA went and truly fucked itself? And then burned to the ground? This is beyond ridiculous — it’s a whole new realm of dumbfuckery. How about we ban dildos under the smoking statute, too? And guns! And Tea Partiers!

    OT: If anybody here watches The Walking Dead — is it just me, or is it colossally retarded that the ranch owner in the 2nd season doesn’t want guns on his property, since he doesn’t want it to become an “armed camp”? He’s living on an open ranch in the middle of a billion-strong zombie apocalypse, and he doesn’t want guns around. Maybe he’s been lobotomized?

    1. I thought that was really weird too! Maybe we will learn something later about this?

    2. Yes, it is incredibly stupid. Even more stupid that the others didn’t immediately say, “Sorry Dr. Kumbaya, there are motherfuckin’ zombies out there and we ain’t goin’ anywhere without some heat.”

      The real question though is why hasn’t that ranch been totally zomb’d out? Is there an invisible force field somewhere that I missed?

      1. The only explanation is that 1) they haven’t been found yet, or 2) Dr Lobotomy himself is armed, and manages to clear up whatever zombies DO walk by. Dumbfuckery all around, either way.

        1. I thought last season was great (Hadn’t planned to watch it; just stumbled upon it) but I predicted then that it would jump the shark real fast. That stuff is great for a movie but you can only do so much with a weekly TV program where the central element is zombies jumping out and scaring people. I think the deer bit with the kid getting shot was pretty much a Fonzi ski-jumping equivalent and there has been quite a bit of stupid since. Hope I’m wrong about the shark because I love the show.

          1. I hope they stumble across a military depot, arm themselves to the fucking teeth, and cut the liberal horseshit. And yeah, there’s been a great deal of filler and implausibility lately, so let’s hope it turns back, and soon, too.

  11. Jesus, does anyone still smoke?
    I think it’s down to old people who’ll take no shit, non-yuppie gay guys, non-Californian comedians, amateur motorsports enthusiasts, teenage models, black pedestrians, Obama, and me.

    If we can get Obama to leave, it’ll be a great party.

    1. Party on, Garth. The Washington Post’s TMI report on B-HO’s annual physical stated that he is tobacco free. I wonder WTH he _is_ smoking.

  12. About to head out for half cigarette number three. I’ve quit twice this year, both times by dropping one half cigarette each day until the pack is gone.

  13. I find it absolutely baffling the position the FDA has taking so far on the electronic cigarette. I’d like to know how much private interest was donated for such an aggravated assault on an industry that could vastly improve lives.

    I own a small vapourette company here in Brooklyn called Bedford Slims. The amount of unintelligent claims on e-cigs I read daily are great works of fiction and nothing more. Check out this clown, Dr. K, from Erie, PA. –

    It’s like the car that runs on water. Sure, it could exist, but that would not generate too much revenue for vested minds. But, I am not here to talk conspiracy theories. I will leave that to the History Channel.

    For people really interested in quitting in a safe, proven way, I say dig deep and read the credible research from leading, unbiased, American universities. Avoid articles that say “we don’t know what’s in these things.” I make it a business to make sure “what’s in those things” is perfectly safe for humans. Why? Because I am not a psychopath and neither are any of my competitors (well, that I know of).

    Check out a study conducted buy our friends over at the Boston School of Public Health- – and decide for yourself if a self-imposed, heavily taxed and restricted death sentence beats out the alternative – an electronic device that delivers nicotine dosages through vapor.

  14. I don’t smoke, but I’d like to be able to rile the anti-smoking Nazis. You can see how this is a conundrum for a non-smoker who hates the guts of control freak nanny-staters. However, if e-cigarettes set them off, then I guess I have just one question: Do they make a e-cigars?

    1. Yes. And pipes… It’s a form-factor issue. My chosen device doesn’t look much like a cig at all. More like a screwdriver (not mine, but there is one that actually uses that name).

      1. Can you drink it like a screwdriver?

    2. Do they make ecigars? Why, yes. Yes, they do. 🙂

  15. The best thing about e-cigs is that none of the money goes to tobacco taxes or Altria. I wonder how long that’ll last.

    1. Altria must have spent $50M in FL during the legislative session this year running ads to make in state “cigar” makers “pay their fair share”. Because FL law exempts cigars from (most or all, I’m still unclear) state tobacco taxes, and cigars are defined as tobacco rolled in a tobacco leaf. Some enterprising companies started manufacturing filtered thin cigars with the form-factor of a cigarette. Apparently it just burned Altria’s ass that someone else was getting the tax break. (It is about $2.00/pack price difference b/t Marlboros and Clippers.)

  16. “and was hooked on Nicorette gum for a few years…”


  17. I really think electronic cigarette can solve the real health problems causing millions to die worldwide from smoking real cigarettes. Not only will it save the lungs and lives of the smokers but second hand inhalers as well. I applaud the people who invented this product. I read some e-cigarettes reviews from as site and they seems to know what they are talking about.

  18. I really think electronic cigarette can solve the real health problems causing millions to die worldwide from smoking real cigarettes. Not only will it save the lungs and lives of the smokers but second hand inhalers as well. I applaud the people who invented this product. I read some e-cigarettes reviews from as site and they seems to know what they are talking about.

  19. If I decide to get my son an e-cig kit and fillers to try (after checking the fora recommended above), can I ship it to him in Afghanistan, or will I have to wait till he’s home on R&R?

    He has tried some, and claims “they don’t work” but I’m not sure what his objections were–probably got something too cheap, since his budget’s been pretty tight for many years.

    Thing is, his father had lung cancer, and his grandmother died of it, so he really needs something that ISN’T tobacco. He switched to chew last spring, but it’s hard to get reliably over there, and it’s still, y’know, tobacco.

    I’m not sure what his consumption rate is, but I think it hovers around a pack-and-a-half a day (or five rounds of chew a month).

    1. If you want to learn more about getting started with ecigs there is a new internet TV show starting tonight called the VP Live VapeTeam. It starts at 9:30 PM EST and you can call into the show to ask questions. Click my name to go to the page. I do a radio show on that network as well, Jacob Sullum has been a guest in the past.

    2. There’s been no reports of problems getting e-cigs getting to Afghanistan.

      Chewing tobacco is gross, but it is far, far less hazardous than smoking.

      1. Yeah, it’s gross, but he developed a bronchial episode during his training that damned near killed him (he was in the ER turning blue, he says), so he’s trying to stay off cigs as much as possible. There are still some lovely carcinogens in tobacco (or the additives or whatever), though, and the stats on unburned tobacco use aren’t exactly pretty. Pure nicotine is the way to go, as far as I’m concerned. Just have to convince him.

        He’s stubborn, just like his Dad. His mother, of course, is the soul of sweet reason.

  20. If you want to learn more about vaping there is a new internet TV show starting tonight that can help with that, you can click my name to go and learn more about it.

  21. I just love it when I have 2 other arguing over what is best for me. That’s fucking awesome.


    Green tea and pomegranate are my 2 favorites.

  22. nicotine is actually a pretty useful drug. the problem with smoking isn’t the nicotine, it’s how its delivered (via smoke)

    esmoking has none of those problems.

    i know a few bodybuilders who use nicotine patches and/or gum (and who have never smoked a cig in their life) as a drug to help them during cutting phases. it staves off appetite and helps keep energy up when going hypocaloric.

    1. It also decreases reaction time and effectively doubles short-term memory.

  23. I’ve had this argument with the local anti-smoking brownshirts, which goes by the insipid name of “One Air Alliance”:

    They don’t like me. But I digress…

    Their “explanation” of including e-cigs in the ban here, was as insipid and pussified as all their other arguments. (According to these fuckheads, e-cigs are just as dangerous as actual cigarettes. No, they don’t explain why.)

    What they refused to admit, however, is the real reason they insisted on the inclusion of these devices:

    They *look* like cigarettes.

    Fucking twits.

  24. New York Times journalists have really stepped up to counter all the ecigarette information.

    I think they have a few vapers in their offices

  25. Electronic cigarettes can really help avoid odor, save money and be enjoyed almost anywhere, so see for more.

  26. Thanks wareagle I completely agree. If you want my two cents it’s that while electronic cigarettes may help people quit smoking, it will also mean a wave of people will suddenly stop buying their daily or weekly cigarette packs. Obviously that will be reflected in someone’s pockets. But c’est la vie. Philip Morris should consider making his own electronic cigarette to stay in the game lol 🙂

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.