Last year British Public Health recognized the harm-reducing potential of e-cigarettes, and today the Royal College of Physicians followed suit. I summarize the 500-year-old medical society's conclusions in my latest Forbes column:
In 1962, two years before U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released his famous report on the health hazards of smoking, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) covered the same subject in a report that went further than Terry's, linking cigarettes to cardiovascular disease as well as lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Today the RCP issued another landmark report that should inspire imitation in the United States, endorsing e-cigarettes as a harm-reducing alternative to the combustible, tobacco-containing kind.
"Large-scale substitution of e-cigarettes, or other non-tobacco nicotine products, for tobacco smoking has the potential to prevent almost all the harm from smoking in society," the RCP says. "Promoting e-cigarettes…and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible, as a substitute for smoking, is therefore likely to generate significant health gains in the UK."
The same is true for the United States, where public health officials tend to view e-cigarettes with fear rather than hope. The RCP report carefully addresses the concerns raised by critics of vaping.