E-cigs Under Fire, Despite Likely Benefits

Anti-vaping campaign is more about ideology than public health.


After I began to occasionally puff on cigars while arguing politics and sipping bourbon with friends, I researched the potential health effects of this habit (the cigars, not the political arguments or booze). Much information seemed designed to scare aficionados, rather than to provide a dispassionate review of the facts.

Some studies assumed smokers inhaled the stogies and lit up several a day — rather than one every couple weeks. Activists seemed more interested in changing behavior than helping us make informed decisions. I've seen the same dynamic with marijuana and weight issues. Now we're seeing it with e-cigarettes — electronic devices that heat up nicotine-infused liquid to create an inhalable vapor.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently touted a study showing that although e-cigs don't burn tobacco, the vapor has "high levels of formaldehyde," which is a cancer-causing chemical. News reports spotlighted a glaring flaw — those levels only are dangerous if the e-cigs heat the liquid to unrealistically high temperatures.

Even the staunchly anti-vaping American Cancer Society argues, "There is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are a safe substitute for traditional cigarettes or an effective smoking cessation tool." But if there were scientific evidence that e-cigs actually are dangerous, the society surely would be publicizing it.

Now because something isn't proven to be totally safe, the society and others are pressuring the government to limit e-cigs' use. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has sponsored SB 140, which would subject e-cigs to the same smoking rules as cigarettes. Currently, restaurants and workplaces are free to decide whether or not to allow them (imagine that!). E-cig sales already are off-limits to children.

Leno-style restrictions were bolstered by the California Department of Public Health, which last month released a report that called for more study to determine e-cigs' health effects over the long term, but declared they "are not harmless."

State health officials let on to what this anti-vaping campaign is about: They are concerned e-cigarettes will "re-normalize smoking behavior." That's the same argument coming from the cancer society – fear that the perceived safety of e-cigs compared to tobacco products will "entice young people into trying traditional cigarettes." But that's a behavioral concern rather than a scientific one.

Are these health fears overblown?

"Overblown is putting it mildly," responded Jacob Sullum, health writer for the libertarian Reason magazine. "Health hazards to 'vapers,' let alone bystanders, are completely speculative and unverified. … (T)he aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is much less dangerous than tobacco smoke, because it contains very few of the same substances, and the chemicals they sometimes have in common are at much lower levels in the former than in the latter."

Critics of vaping make snide comments about Big Tobacco getting into the business. I'm no fan of the tobacco industry, but what companies would one expect to sell products marketed to smokers? Critics of vaping could slow a potential health opportunity, as people switch from an unquestionably dangerous habit to one that is less dangerous.

E-cigs are not harmless, argues Stephanie Winn McCorkle, spokesperson for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Sacramento. She says it should be up to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine whether e-cigs are a "cessation device." In her view, e-cigs do more harm than good: "We're saying, you should just quit. There are plenty of proven cessation programs."

Well, that's nice. But other people might have a different take. I decided to switch from the monthly cigar to an occasional e-cig – mainly to reduce the stench. Instead of forcing one choice on everyone, maybe legislators, regulators and health activists should provide the best-possible information and trust adults to make up their own minds.

NEXT: Chris Christie Deflating; Jeb Bush Trailing Rand Paul in Head-to-Heads Against Hillary

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  1. It’s astounding how much bullshit people will spew to advocate a predetermined position. Tobacco, e-cigs carbon, fatty foods, BPA, circumcision; People have made efforts to ban all of these by trotting out bullshit “science” and then screaming ad hominems at anyone who disagrees. And now someone will show up and call me anti-science because they are really into banning one of the above-listed topics.

    1. One of my coworkers is horrified that I microwave food in plastic. “Aren’t you worried about BPA?!?” Nope. Not a bit.

        1. But, but, but… It’s a chemical!

      1. “Aren’t you worried about BPA?!?”

        They hear shit, they believe it without questioning, they do as they are directed.

        Most people are WORSE than sheep.

    2. A prog acquaintance of mine said that non-progs were science deniers. I asked him what that meant. He had no reply.

      Then he asked me if I believed in science (I’ve been working in STEM fields since 83). I asked him if he meant did I think science existed or if I had religious faith in science. More silence.

      1. According to Tony, people who actually use and apply science on a daily basis aren’t qualified to speak about science. Only government approved experts know anything, and they are to be believed without question.

        1. Tony has to atone for his lack of vision. His shrill denial that CO2 feedback with water vapor could not be a mechanism for warming was so of the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. It’s like he has an obsession (maybe something like cargo cultism) about the symbol CO2 as if it – on it’s own – has to be the cause of hypothetical warming.

          I suppose CO2 is a religious icon to folks like Tony. They don’t have a fucking clue what something like positive feedback is so they argue against something their warmer masters hang their very careers on without knowing how stupid and anachronistic they are being.

    3. “And now someone will show up and call me anti-science”

      Don’t see why they would. Maybe the headline writer though. Very possibly anti-science. Anyone who refers to the likely benefits of e-cigs has trouble with science and/or the English language.

      1. So the benefits of e-cigs are undeniable?

        1. “So the benefits of e-cigs are undeniable?”

          9 out of 10 anti-scientists believe so.

    4. Evidence has to fit the narrative, not the other way around. That’s human nature, Rand be damned.

      After a few decades of Ehrlichian nonsense, you’d think moderns would’ve learned Hume’s best lesson, but noooo.

      1. Ehrlich the wrongest man in the galaxy.

    5. “The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie.”

      -Joesph Schumpeter

  2. E-cigs can be (and are) used with NO nicotine whatsoever.

    Why don’t people get this?

    1. Rewiring of the collective moral circuitry is strategically devoid of common sense.

    2. That’s what they’re worried about.

    3. Does it matter? I’m a non-smoker…well until I retire then I’ll resume smoking weed…but all of this crap makes me want to buy a vaping rig.

    4. Yes, but it LOOKS fun and enjoyable!
      SO, its bad.

  3. I just assume the moral crusaders are being used as useful idiots by politicians who hope that demonizing e-cigs will allow them to tax it at increased levels.

    1. I think more likely, the politicians are more worried about lost revenue from people quitting tobacco products. If you make your own juice, which I do, the only thing that they could reasonably tax is the liquid nicotine. They can apply a tax to prefab juice, but again, make your own. All ingredients can be purchased through restaurant supply companies.

  4. Nothing is “not harmless”. The oxygen we breath, the combinations of carbs/protein/fats we eat and the water we drink are all slowly killing us.

    1. Life is a death sentence.

      1. Chance of death: 100%.

        1. The eclipse of eternal nothingness…

        2. Picard: Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived. After all, Number One, we’re only mortal.

          Riker: [smiling] Speak for yourself, sir. I plan to live forever

          1. God that movie sucked something awful.

            1. And yet it was the best of the Next Gen movies.

              1. Depends on how you look at it. It was certainly the only movie that stayed true to the spirit and tone of TNG.
                And it didn’t dramatically rewrite Picard’s characteristics like in the subsequent movies.

                But they killed Kirk in the lamest, most unfitting way possible, so may that movie be forever stricken from memory.

                  1. Also, i cri evertim when Bruce Lee surrenders to the Thai Royal Police at the end of The Big Boss, don’t you?

                1. I was upset that they actually hadn’t killed Shatner.

          2. Q was the best character on that show. The ultimate anarchist. Introduced them to the Borg to show that some people cannot be dealt with in a polite diplomatic manner.

          3. Even MOAR evidence that Picard was a pussy?

            Can you even imagine Kirk saying something like that?


            Time is the stuff that allows me to fuck more green bitchez.

          4. I always thought that line was an allusion back to the episode “Hide and Q.” Riker actually accepted the Q powers given to him, but never used them (or never obviously used them) during the run of the show.

            1. That interpretation is a million times more interesting than what the screenwriters had in mind, I suspect.

            2. Bullshit, he got Worf a female Klingon, and made Welsey a grown man. He gave up the power at the end of the episode.

      2. Life is a death sentence.

        Life is a sexually-transmitted disease with a 100% mortality rate.

    2. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am getting out of life alive.

    3. Dihydrogen monoxide!

    4. Wouldn’t that be “nothing is harmless” then?

  5. “There are plenty of proven cessation programs.”

    Interesting how none of these “proven” programs are named. And this’ll be a surprise to millions of people who have continued smoking after using one (or many) of these programs.

    1. Yep. I do smoke entirely too much. At one point I killed up to two packs a day. Even more during a night of heavy drinking. To curb this, I tried the patch, gum, Zyban, even hypnotism. The e-cig has been the only thing that managed to reduce my smoking by half. I feel healthier for it. No tar, no carcinogens, and a few extra bucks in my pocket. Why is this being vilified again?

      1. Because your betters need to tell you the correct way to live your life.

        It’s THAT simple.

      2. I agree 150%, Erasmus. I have gone from 2 packs/day to 1/2 pack/day. No other product has produced the same results for me. And the savings. My god the savings. I currently spend about 80% less money on my smoking products.

      3. Because shut up, that’s why.

      4. Why is this being vilified again?

        Because it looks like smoking and smokers are low-class scum.

        1. And because Big Pharma doesn’t sell them.

      5. Because they wanted you to obey them and go nicotine-free, “for your own health.” You found a way to improve your health without doing as you were told. Sneaky, sneaky! And the nannies are upset, because they either have to admit public health isn’t the only reason they like telling people what to do, or double down and claim e-cigs are as dangerous as traditional cigarettes and hope nobody notices that all evidence so far contradicts their claim.

  6. Save us carnal motherfuckers from ourselves, you augmented people of the central-planning zodiac. After that you can die like the rest of us.

    1. Is that you, or Jaden Smith?

      1. Sir, I am not black child…

    2. Prog priests must save the sinners.

      No different that the Pope or the Caliph. Same shit different name.

    3. Oh, No! Them FIRST!

  7. I love a good Arturo Fuente Hemingway or a Partagas #10 once or twice a week,I doubt that will kill me.

  8. “We’re saying, you should just quit. There are plenty of proven cessation programs.”

    Or, you know, you could not. You could just put whatever you decided you wanted to in your body.


    1. *faints*

    2. I have a solution: e-cigs…but for vaginas. No Democrat could possibly rail against that!

      1. What about e-tampons?

        1. No, somehow they manage to disapprove of butt-chugging and vodka-soaked tampons.

          It would be OK if those were freaky New Age cleansing rituals, but since someone might be having *fun* they must be stopped.

      2. Advanced kegeling would most certainly be required…

  9. it’s a smokers/vapers right to choose


    *Limited to abortions only.

    1. I once had a rather confusing conversation with this leftist woman who was trying to understand libertarianism. Every time I used the word “choice” she heard “abortion.” She literally could not understand the concept of there being other choices out there.

      1. Did you tell her, “if you don’t like e-cigs, don’t smoke one”?

        1. I was trying to explain the concept of liberty, as in people having the freedom to make their own choices without asking permission and obeying orders as long as they don’t harm others, and she got really confused.

          1. Of course. How sad she, and so many others like her, has such a narrow understanding of the word “liberty.”

          2. Of course. How sad she, and so many others like her, has such a narrow understanding of the word “liberty.”

            1. To most people it seems that “liberty” has been re-defined as “license.” The concept that the government gets no say is totally alien.

              1. Consequence of being taught positive rights since entering gov schools.

                1. No, I don’t think that’s the reason at all. It’s more a matter of atrophy of a muscle due to confinement.

          3. “But what you do has to *help* others, right?”

    2. I’m not aware that one can chose to be aborted. Aborting another living being would be the equivalent of forcing someone to smoke.

  11. OT: Johnathan Chait, still a jackass.

    I have argued, controversially to some on the left, that it is important to grapple with ideas on their own terms before merely analyzing their motivations. American conservatism is historically intertwined with white racism in such a way that nearly any conservative idea could plausibly be understood as an appeal to racism,

    1. He’s trying to worm his way back into the fold. He’s learned what happens when you dissent. He loves Big Brother now.

    2. Chait’s article appears along side other gems, like:

      Creepy Clown Stolen From Kansas Amusement Park Found 10 Years Later Exactly Where You’d Expect

      The New York Times Won’t Stop Burrito-Shaming Us

      Kim Jong-un Takes Cue From Fashion Week, Reveals Ambitious New Haircut

      So let’s acknowledge Chait’s article for what it is: click-bait on New York magazine, the Buzzfeed for pretentious 20-somethings. All it lacks is an animated gif of Beyonc? waving her hand in a “sassy” manner.

      1. The New York Times Won’t Stop Burrito-Shaming Us

        I have no idea what this means, but am upset by it!

    3. I have run into this. I find that a WONDERFUL way to make such imbeciles shut up is to ask them “Which party was is that was the backbone of all there KKK movements?”. If that doesn’t do the trick, I like to follow with “Weren’t the Progressives the opens who were so hot for Eugenics before Germany put the stink on it?”

  12. I really don’t care whether people vap or not. I don’t even care if you smoke cigarettes, just don’t try to sue someone later on because you can no longer breathe.

    My objection to both, however, is that most people who do it are a bit rude. I don’t care of there’s no adverse affects to second-hand vaping, but I don’t want to have to smell it while in a restaurant, nor sit in a haze of the vapor, which has happened numerous times. So, by all means, do it at home if you want, in your car, or away from everyone else outside, but please don’t bring it into public places. I’d rather smell the food than your e-cigarette.

    To me, this is like the use of cell phones on planes. I think we’ve arrived at the realization that cell phone use likely won’t bring down the plane, but the sake of the sanity of everyone on the plane, let’s keep the rule.

    1. And you should have the option to go to smoke free restaurants. What you shouldn’t be able to do if force ALL restaurants and bars to be smoke free, any more than I should be able to require the banning of loud music from such places ? and there is a demonstrated mechanism whereby the loud music actually does damage to me.

      What is going on is brutally simple; the anti-smoking Crusaders were all set for among to die out in the late 1970’s ? and then the downward trend stalled. They claim it has started again, several times, but at the moment I don’t trust anybody’s numbers on the subject, and won’t so long as smoking can be grounds for getting fired or losing custody of your kids.

      The Crusaders have had a complete intellectual honesty meltdown. They have been throwing a “Wahhhh! You aren’t doing what I want you to do!” temper tantrum since about 1980. It’s getting old.

    2. So, we can assume you also believe the cologne people wear should be regulated as well? After all, there is nothing worse than sitting down to dinner in a nice restaurant next to a table full of Aqua Velva men.

      Gotta suggestion for ya. Ya don’t like your surroundings, don’t go there. You have the right to not be harmed. You don’t have the right to not be uncomfortable.

      1. But chances are just as great the Aqua Velva men come in after you’re seated. It’s easy to say not to go there when you don’t acknowledge the possibility that the there comes to you.

        1. Regardless. There is no right to “not be offended.” Can you imagine? How would you enforce it? I suppose the lawyers would be happy, however.

    3. second-hand vaping

      Oh jesus christ…

      most people who do it are a bit rude

      Bull. shit. Don’t pin your pet peeves on an entire group.

    4. (BJohnM) Shut the fuck up you preening cunt.

  13. I rebutted the two studies used to make claims about formaldehyde in electronic cigarettes here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfzIGcZwhI8

    Their new PSA poster child is diacetyl. An alpha-diketone already present in high quantities in cigarettes. While some manufacturers of e juice are apathetic to it, others choose to cater to the crowd that has been conscious of this for years, and provide third party testing. But this isn’t surprising to anyone here, because we realize that markets contain the best problem solving solutions.

  14. The Vapist

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  17. In the indie doc Fat Head, Dr. Eric Oliver mentioned that the anti-smoking wing of the public health monster proactively pointed out the CDC’s erroneous and arguably fraudulent statistics about mortality attributable to obesity. Why? Because they feared the obesity frenzy would cause some of their budgets to be taken away and dedicated to obesity research/action.

    It’s pretty clear to me the same thing is happening here, with e-cigs. If nicotine delivery is a zero-sum game (a likely bet), then more e-cig use means less cigarette use, which diminishes justification for the anti-smoking nanny state.

    The government tit dependents in public health don’t give a shit about anyone’s health. The anti-smoking people don’t want you to stop smoking. They want to impress the president and the congress with their anti-smoking rhetoric so that lots of tax payer money will flow to their bureaucracies and their careers will flourish. The last thing in the world they want is less smoking and better health.

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  20. I am glad the FDA is doing research to prove that premium tobacco e-liquid is healthier than a cigarette.

  21. It is like someone somewhere has to be negative no matter what it is. I hope to be ablebuy e-liquid to stay away from cigarettes.

  22. Thank you for sharing an article that spreads the truth about e-cigs. I love vaping my cbd e-juice. It has been a lifesaver with my pain.

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