WHO Says Vaping Must Be Banned Because It Looks Like Smoking


Michael Siegel notes that the World Health Organization is urging countries to ban electronic cigarettes because they "undermine the denormalization of tobacco use." True, they do not contain tobacco, and using them does not involve inhaling any combustion products, so they are dramatically safer than conventional cigarettes. Still, they "are products resembling cigarettes," and that can't be good, right? Never mind that actual cigarettes would remain legal under the WHO's proposal. Siegel, a public health professor at Boston University who blogs about tobacco policy, underlines the utter obtuseness of this position:

The fact that vaping mimics smoking is precisely the reason why electronic cigarettes are such a promising strategy for smoking cessation….

What does the World Health Organization think that smokers who are using electronic cigarettes are going to do if these products are taken off the market? Quit smoking? Not likely. The truth is that if [e-cigarettes are] taken off the market, most ex-smokers who have quit by using electronic cigarettes are going to return to cigarette smoking….

The use of electronic cigarettes plays no role in normalizing smoking behavior. On the contrary, it helps many smokers get off of cigarettes and thus reduces smoking prevalence.

What the World Health Organization is saying is that electronic cigarette use is unacceptable because it "looks like" smoking. The WHO is willing to let this ideological obsession outweigh the tremendous potential for public health benefits and the saving of lives that electronic cigarettes offer….

The World Health Organization is telling countries that it is more important to discourage any behavior that looks like smoking than it is to save the lives of smokers. Better that smokers should die than that they should adopt a behavior that looks like smoking,

As I've said before, it is more than a little strange for anti-smoking and anti-tobacco groups to be mobilizing against a product that involves neither smoking nor tobacco, the use of which entails negligible health risks, especially when compared to the competition. This antipathy goes beyond their usual paternalistic collectivism, elevating form above substance and embracing a policy that is apt to increase tobacco-related disease rather than reducing it. It reminds me of the Drug Enforcement Administration's campaign against industrial hemp, which has involved not only opposing domestic cultivation but even trying to ban edible products made from nonpsychoactive hemp seed. Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp contains negligible amounts of THC, and many other countries where marijuana is banned nevertheless have legal hemp industries. For the DEA, it seems, the problem is that hemp looks like marijuana, even though you can't get high from it. The WHO and other e-cigarette opponents are indulging in the same sort of mindless symbolism.

More on e-cigarettes here

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  1. If Romney promised to target Obama’s drone fleet on these retards, he would get my vote.

    “We’re all in this together…”

  2. Thank you for all of your reasonable (drink!) posts on drugs, drug culture, and the drug war, Jacob. I have your book on my Christmas list this year, and have frequently cited your articles to my drug war supporting friends and girlfriend.

    1. I’m about halfway through it. He’s convinced me to try LSD, although I’m not sure if that was the point of the book or not.

      1. #1 of LSD and other hard hallucinogens: Do take them if you can reasonably expect that you will have to be with assholes while high.

        1. Seriously squirrels? You strip “Rule” off?

          1. It looks like you are also missing a “not”.

            1. It’s all just falling apart today, you know?

              1. It still makes sense of a sort.LSD can help you sort out the real assholes in your social circle from those who are merely charmingly abrasive.

              2. Who dosed the squirrels?

        2. So don’t take them with you?

        3. I’d say #2 is along the lines of make sure you’re in a pretty decent place mentally, things can get dark pretty fast. Also, if you are with people don’t let one of them wander off and break into the neighbor’s house.

          1. #3 Don’t go around asking couples if they want to have a threesome because while fried you wont successfully pull off a ‘I was just kidding!’. They have a funny way of remembering it when you barely recall it as anything but sarcasm aimed at a couple of ugly people.

            Was that a little too specific?

      2. I’d never do LSD (not that I ever have. Drugs are bad, m’kay?). It’s way too long of a commitment. It can affect you for twelve hours or more. Mescaline on the other hand lasts for a little more than half that, and is not nearly as intense.

        So I’ve heard.

        1. Good clean acid can make for a great, fun trip. Or a really, really bad one if you get paranoid/freaked out.

          1. Or a really, really bad one if you get paranoid/freaked out.

            Exactly. Not that I ever went to a Phish show in Limestone Maine and got paranoid on some really clean acid, but if I did it would make for a really bad trip.

          2. Shrooms are better. Easier to control dosage and you come down quicker. You can also find a comfort level and just eat a little to keep it going for all day if you want.

            I only had one bad experience with shrooms and it was only a small portion of the day. And anyway had more to do with me than the drug.

            1. Shrooms are perfect while hiking somewhere fairly remote. I recommend Sky Pond at Rocky Mountain National Park on 1.5 grams of good shrooms. It’s the perfect length because you’re just starting to come down and get voraciously hungry when you get back to your car and Estes Park has some great restaurants.

              1. John Denver faked his own death didn’t he? Rocky Mountain High? Come on, ‘fess up!

  3. E-cigarettes look like cigarettes! Ban them!
    Hemp looks like marijuana! Ban it!
    Black semi-automatic rifles with pistol grips look like military weapons! Ban them!

    What’s next?
    Hand-rolled tobacco cigarettes look like marijuana cigarettes! Ban them!
    Corn starch looks like cocaine! Ban it!
    I can’t think of a third thing off the top of my head. Ban it anyway!

    1. Magical thinking, brought to you by the reality-based (snort) community.

  4. Let us outlaw things that grate regulators’ sensibilities.

    1. Couldn’t we just grate the regulators until their sensibilities are better calibrated?

  5. Next they will go after candy cigarettes. Cant have kids pretending to smoke.

    What?…You mean they already…?

    1. yup…right around the time you had to start trick or treating in daylight, which totally kills the point and which no one in my neighborhood follows.

    2. You can still buy them. I ordered a case for the office a year or so ago.

  6. In this recreation of the Vidalia Sandbar Fight the part of Norris Wright will be played by the UN, the part of Samuel Cuny will be played the WHO, and the part of Colonel Jim will be played by the state of Texas.

    Those tranzdiots are out of control.

  7. The hospital were I primarily work is tobacco-free. Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property. Patients are allowed, however, to use electronic cigarettes, not only on the property, but in their rooms. So far nobody at my hospital has gotten the retard stick up their ass about banning them, but I’m sure that will change if the WHO’s recommendation gains any traction.

    1. That’s really a fantastic policy. Back when I was a smoker, if I had had to be hospitalized for any length of time, i sure would have appreciated a e-cig.

    2. I’ve been subtly (*cough*) pressuring our HR nannies to refrain from banning e-cigs for our employees.

      The floor staff has no prob with patients using e-cigs, although they’d rather patch ’em. Turns out nicotine withdrawal due to forced abstinence effs up all kinds of clinical markers and treatment plans, so its really kind of stupid to enforce full-on abstinence on hospital patients.

      1. We try to put nicotine patches on them, but most of my patients who smoke insist on going outside to smoke. The hospital only actually enforces the no smoking policy on employees. If patients go outside to smoke, we’re supposed to get them to sign an AMA form, and not allow them to take any hospital equipment with them. It doesn’t really work; there are always 2 or 3 patients standing in front of a large NO SMOKING sign outside the cafeteria with tele monitors and IV pumps in tow while they have their cigarettes.

  8. It’s not about health or safety, it is solely about control. They have managed to demonize something and control it massively. Now something comes along that makes it–nicotine consumption–safe and easy. The e-cig removes the need for control. The scum that revel in their control of us hate and loathe anything that removes control. Therefore, they will attack and try to ban it, of course.

    1. +++++++++this

      William S. Burroughs is the guy who I think explained best how so much of life is simply a matter of organizations gradually finding little cracks in people’s consciousness and slipping inside and ASSERTING CONTROL

      The most insidious form of control being the one that people think *is their own choice*

      You present them an alternative and they go, “but I wouldn’t *want* that…. and other people shouldn’t want that either…” (and they don’t even see the slip where they go from ‘choice’ to ‘RULE’)

      1. That’s why we call them TEAM BE RULED, dude.

    2. This is a very non-glib post. I’m proud of you.

  9. they “undermine the denormalization…”

    there’s nothing like a multinational bureaucracy issuing a memo on how member states should be better-engaged in thought-control of the slave-masses to make one’s skin crawl.

    I mean, seriously. Yes, smoking is unhealthy. ‘Denormalize’ the fat people first, then you can come and try and nanny the rest of us, you incompetent self-righteous twats.

  10. After having quit real smokes 20 years ago, I thought I’d try the e-cigs. They were a bit disappointing, as I remember the first time smoking real cigarettes having much more of an effect.

    1. I remember the first time smoking real cigarettes having much more of an effect.

      Yes, my memory of my first real cigarette is pretty, let’s say, vivid.

      Including the howls of laughter from my compadres.

      1. My first cigarette made me puke.

      2. Mine didn’t, quite. My experience with smoking up to that point hadn’t been with tobacco products, knowutimean, so I took a huge, bogart-style drag off of it straight into my lungs. Probably cooked off half an inch of the cigarette.

        Lulz ensued.

    2. I can tell you the worst time to have a cigarette: after you get drunk then puke up a bunch of half-cooked chicken wings. I had a smoke right after than and almost puked again right on the bar. I’m sure it was the cigarette and not the drunk, absolutely positive.

      1. You guys are a bunch of lightweights. My first smoke got me a retardedly awesome nicotine high, and so did the next few smokes that night. No puking involved.

        1. This was after I had been smoking for years, not my first one. Just sayin, when you’re already puking drunk don’t smoke.

        2. Yeah, that’s what I remember. Head spins (not the pukey too much booze kind, though) and an odd kind of buzz. The e-cigs didn’t even approach that.

  11. *also = in the recent history of post-millenial neologisms…

    ….”Vaping” has to be the winner for Stupidest Fucking Word Mankind Has Yet Coined… just beating out, “Blog” by a nose.

    I cannot help but envisage Vampire Rape. Vape.

    1. It’s desperately in need of a new verb, but maybe if we all go around asking kids if they want to “vape some weed” they’ll think its lame and stay off drugs.

  12. They should just take the fog juice out of the nicotine solution. I hate the way it tastes and couldn’t give two craps whether my vape exhalation looks like pretend smoke or not.

    They have a tiny kernel of a point in that e-cigs are intentionally designed to visually resemble smoking (fog juice, red LEDs on the tip, etc.) but if they can ban something based on the fact that it raises public awareness of smoking (“Hey, that guy’s smoking! I totally forgot that that was a thing that you could do!”) then why can’t they ban representations of smoking in the media (So long, annoying main character in Lockdown) or smokers themselves. Because if there is one thing that increases the normalization of smoking, it’s fucking smoking.

    1. Well, that is the eventual goal. Baby steps.

    2. All the ones I used for my MMJ had blue LED’s.

    3. You can get different ejuice with different levels of fog and “throat hit.” I like the fog so that I know everything’s working properly.

      I use big Volcano batteries that don’t have LED’s, and they last for hours. It looks nothing at all like a real cigarette, and I’m perfectly okay with that. People might berate me for using an ecig, but if anyone ever questioned me (they haven’t), I think I could convincing play dumb.

  13. Tax Avoidance and Illicit Production and Distribution

    The gist is, the TOP MEN at the WHO are well-aware that taxes and prohibition lead to gray and black market activity. They just don’t give a fuck.

    Forward, social crusaders! The (self)righteous shall prevail!

  14. big tobacco…period.

  15. It’s the path of least resistance. They can’t get smoking itself outlawed, too much resistance there, so they want to nip the e-cig biz in the bud (heh) before it too becomes too entrenched to outlaw.

    This sort of “take what the defense gives you” tactic is something I wish more libertarian activists understood y applied.

  16. They actually are correct about e-cigs hampering efforts to denormalize smoking. It’s the same dynamic as the war on open carry of firearms, the campaign in universities and schools to label anyone who speaks about firearms as a potential school shooter, etc.

    A person can easily believe that any person carrying a gun is a terrible threat to public safety to their heart’s content, even when they’re surrounded by people concealed carrying every day (I assure you this is the case in the university neighborhoods of Pittsburgh). If everyone around them was open carrying, that belief wouldn’t last long.

  17. Oh, the nannies really want to regulate this. Back in September 2011 the FAA did a notice of proposed rulemaking, a precursor to enacting a regulation, banning use of the e-cig on commercial flights. The agency argument can be summed up as “there is no proof the vapor is safe for second-hand inhalation, so we should ban it until it is proven safe.”

  18. It is very clear that this has nothing to do with health and everything to do with control and money.

    E-cigarettes are a way to consume nicotine in an enjoyable and relatively healthy manner, but three problems:

    1) It resembles smoking and smoking is inherently evil in their eyes. Regardless of any health risks.

    2) E-cigs aren’t made by the major pharmaceutical companies and behind the government that is who provides most of the anti-smoking movement with funding.

    3) You can’t tax e-cigs like you can tax tobacco. Despite their wailing that smoking costs so much money on healthcare, governments make a virtual profit on tobacco taxes. In some countries several thousand per smoker per year. If e-cigs caught on, that would kill their cash cow.

  19. Those trying to ban e-cigarettes are insane. They are significantly less harmful that cigarettes, yet you are free to smoke legally? It makes no sense. Visit my blog here for a nice infographic backing up my point.


  20. The genie is truly out of the bottle on the success of e-cigarettes over *cough* traditional methods of nicotine ingestion. For once the “little guy” is appearing to win this one!

    Looking for an eCig Mod ?

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