Public Health

Better Off Vaping

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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.