Study Confirms Health Advantages of Vaping

Why do U.S. officials insist on obscuring them?


The first surgeon general's report on e-cigarettes, published in December, describes them as "an emerging public health threat." A "tip sheet for parents" that accompanied the report recommends evasion in response to the question, "Aren't e-cigarettes safer than conventional cigarettes?"

Curious teenagers (and adults) will have to look for an answer elsewhere, such as a study reported last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It confirmed that e-cigarettes are much less dangerous than the traditional, combustible sort, a fact that may come as a surprise to Americans who get their health information from government officials.

The researchers, led by Lion Shahab, a health psychologist at a University College London, tested the saliva and urine of 181 volunteers representing five groups: current smokers, current smokers who also use e-cigarettes, current smokers who also use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as gum or patches, former smokers who have switched to e-cigarettes, and former smokers who have switched to NRT. Shahab et al. found all five groups were receiving similar amounts of nicotine, but the switchers showed "substantially reduced levels of measured carcinogens and toxins."

The differences between vapers and smokers were dramatic, ranging from 57 percent reductions in three volatile organic compounds (ethylene oxide, acrylonitrile, and vinyl chloride) to 97 percent reductions in acrylonitrile (another VOC) and in a tobacco-specific nitrosamine, a potent carcinogen. The levels for vapers were at least as low as those for NRT users and in some cases lower, which is striking because NRT is widely accepted as a safe alternative to cigarettes.

This study, which involved long-term e-cigarette users, reinforces the results of a 2016 study finding large reductions in toxins and carcinogens among smokers who switched to vaping during a two-week experiment. Shahab et al.'s findings also jibe with chemical analyses of e-cigarette liquids and the aerosol they produce, work that led Public Health England to endorse an estimate that vaping is something like 95 percent safer than smoking.

The huge difference in risk between vaping and smoking is hardly surprising, since the former involves inhaling an aerosol that typically consists of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, flavoring, and nicotine, while the latter involves inhaling tobacco smoke, which contains thousands of chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic or carcinogenic. Yet misconceptions about the hazards of vaping are widespread, thanks to public health officials and anti-tobacco activists who seem intent on obscuring the truth.

In a recent survey of American adults by Vanderbilt Law School professor W. Kip Viscusi, 48 percent of respondents erroneously said e-cigarettes are either just as hazardous as the conventional kind or even more hazardous. Thirty-eight percent said e-cigarettes are less hazardous, but only 14 percent correctly said they are much less hazardous.

It's no wonder the public is confused, when the surgeon general, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention portray e-cigarettes as a menace to public health instead of an opportunity to reduce smoking-related disease. All three inaccurately describe e-cigarettes as "tobacco products," falsely implying that the risks posed by vaping are similar to the risks posed by smoking.

Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer a few weeks after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's report came out, a local physician took her cue from him, dodging a straightforward question about the relative hazards of vaping and smoking with an irrelevant litany of speculative warnings. Such efforts to scare people away from e-cigarettes are positively pernicious and potentially lethal to the extent that they deter smokers from making a switch that could save their lives.

For Donald Trump, who was elected on promises of disruption and deregulation, an obvious target is the FDA's onerous new e-cigarette rules, which threaten to ruin thousands of businesses and stifle life-saving innovation. But Trump's freshly minted secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, needn't wait for revision of those regulations to experiment with a new approach to e-cigarettes. How about telling the truth?

© Copyright 2017 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. See, it’s like this: It looks bad, so we have to ban it.
    I wonder how big a deal this would have been if vaping didn’t produce a cloud of smoke?

    1. And it’s not even smoke, it’s vapor. Smoke is from burning. Vapor is from simply heating. Big difference.

      1. And if you’re not doing it ostentatiously, but rather taking efficient-sized drags & holding it in long enough for absorption, it doesn’t produce even a cloud.

        1. That’s how I vape at my desk.

          1. ^^^ these two get it.

  2. Study Confirms Health Advantages of Vaping
    Why do U.S. officials insist on obscuring them?

    Vested interests of cig companies and the Taxman lose.

  3. How can anyone even make a prima facie case for vaping being equally as dangerous as cigarettes? As Jacob Sullum points out, the inherent chemical reactions in vaping result in less harmful end product. It’s impossible to say those products are equally harmful as cigarette smoke. Any doctor who makes this claim should lose their license immediately. Furthermore, how many thousands will die because government has falsely decided to treat Vaping as a tobacco product (which is devoid of tobacco). Sure, it’s likely better to completely abstain from vaping just as it’s better to abstain from drinking whisky every day. Unless, we’re going to become a society of teetotalers, it’s laughable and pathetic to treat vaping and smoking on an equal plane.

    1. Apparently you haven’t seen the 2 million new peer reviewed studies proving that VAPING BAD! Because muh feelz!

    2. As I explained to a friend, vaping is like, & as safe as, sniffing perfume.

      1. I’m gonna go freebase a Glade plug-in.

  4. Young Jacob is now feeling the Dark side of the Initiation of Force. The Empire forbids some drugs. Which “some”? The ones that compete with liquor and tobacco! Tim Leary used psilocyn and LSD to cure alcoholism and was quickly jailed, along with much of rebel America. Before that organized mysticism competed with saloons. English pubs became more churchlike and American saloons were banned with bribe money from yeast factories and the Glucose Trust (until Herbert Hoover turned the tax collectors on them). Just before Hoover entered office, mystical bigots pushed through a law banning peyote.
    Surely the pattern here visible eventually becomes, no? (Apologies to Yoda)

  5. Another thing these bought initiators of force never mention is the uptake of Polonium 210 by tobacco plants. Like Strontium 90 the stuff lodges in tissue, therefore the Tobacco Trust is not about to let its senators confirm anyone liable to mention the fact. After all, the socialist lobby has a lot invested in antinuclear hysteria directed at the energy industry. To allow that coercive investment to backfire onto pelf-and-boodle generating lobbyists for Big Tobacco would be a gross miscarriage of the function of government. Reports on Polonium-210 activity in lung tissue would, for instance, be the sort of thing that is simply not done in polite society!
    To these movers-and-shakers of Congressional committees, a dope-drug is whatever competes with their own peer-reviewed, subsidized, tax-bribing, contributions-generating, ENTRENCHED product!

  6. Trump was elected to keep electrical power generation legal. Banning reliable power plants was the only deliverable the Democrats promised in their platform that was different from the GO-Pee platform. Both promised to keep letting cops shoot potheads and rob motorists at gunpoint, both want the income tax, trillions in other taxes and men with guns to regulate every breath we draw. Only the econazi banning of power plants distinguished the Dem from GOP platform.

    1. Yeah, but the Dems are going to give you free community college with those trillions of additional tax dollars. What are the GOP going to give you? NOTHING! And they’re going to take your healthcare and destroy mother Gaia!

    2. If Trump eases up on e-cigs, the progs and their media fellators will take another huge apeshit on how he is poisoning “the children”* and hates SCIENCE* (*Science is a registered trademark of the Democrat Party).

      That said, I don’t expect much from him on this. The best we can hope for is congress will undo the deeming regulations that Obama’s FDA imposed, or the Trump FDA will not enforce them.

      1. Close, but no cigar. The Creation Science? trademark is registered to God’s Own Prohibitionists, exclusive purveyors of Intelligent Design?. The Dems own Climate Science?, also mere pseudoscience, but they get as highly offended when that is pointed out as the KKKonservatives and SSaracens get when triggered by hate speech such as the word “superstition.”

        1. Speaking of superstition, do you mind telling the class why you have an irrational fear of people who claim to follow Christ?

          I mean, I don’t judge all Atheists based on the actions of a few Communist leaders who killed tens of millions, so why do you judge me based on your fear?

          1. Is believing in a modern political ideology exactly the same as believing in totally unsupported stories invented by tribal people in the desert 3000 years ago?

            1. Oh, no, he whines about Christians all the time, not just now. He’s really scared of me.

              And calling what Christ did and continues to do “unsupported” takes a special type of cognitive dissonance.

              1. So your view is that a historical person named Jesus Christ definitely existed and did all the stuff he is claimed to have done in the Bible?

                My understanding is that there is almost no historical evidence, like the evidence we would apply to the existence of others, for this. The gospels were written decades after he supposedly lived and clearly are not the eyewitness accounts they claim to be.

                I obviously don’t deny that people find the story of Christ very compelling. But it doesn’t have to be “supported” to be a very compelling story.

                I’m mostly making a statement about how, if you evaluate it as a concept without all the religious and cultural baggage, Christianity looks rather arbitrary and informal in comparison to the modern philosophy of Communism. That said, I’d infinitely rather live around Christians than Communists…

                1. My understanding is that there is almost no historical evidence, like the evidence we would apply to the existence of others, for this.

                  “Prove” Alexander lived.

                  4 Gospels, 23 Epistles.


                  clearly are not the eyewitness accounts they claim to be


                  Christianity looks rather arbitrary and informal in comparison to the modern philosophy of Communism.

                  Thank God for the “informality” of it! Hate to be accused of being the same as those who claim to follow the Man but do evil (breaking the 3rd commandment along with all the others).

                  Slightly off topic: What does the New Testament (along with the Man himself) say Christians should do with government?

                  Answer: It doesn’t say anything about the subject at all.

  7. Humbug! I just read that there’s a study proving that these vaping contraptions, which have 1 zillion toxic metals in them, cause babies to stick dangerous detergent pods in their eyes, which burns their eyes out and makes them addicted to VAPING! Parents powerless to stop this! SCIENCE! Why don’t you love science like we do!?

  8. What if Maureen Dowd swallows one and gets sick? Will they be so safe then!?

    1. They’d deserve some sort of medal then

  9. Look up Tobacco Massive Settlement Agreement.
    States have spent future payments owed from tobacco, and need smokers to keep the money rolling in.

    1. Although massive, it’s called the “master settlement agreement.”

  10. International laughinstock Piers Morgan scores own goal in twitter feud against J.K. Rowling.

    Piers Morgan
    Priceless #humblebrag BS. Nobody plays the celebrity game more abusively or ruthlessly than you, Ms ‘Intensely Private Billionaire’.

    This was in response to Rowling, who had tweeted a screengrab of an article describing her as aforementioned “intensely private billionaire” and lauding her for “encouraging children to read, feel inspired and be creative” in a list of “British celebrities who really matter”.

    The problem: the article was penned by none other than Piers “#humblebrag BS” Morgan himself. What a maroon!

    1. People I don’t give shit about for a thousand, Alex.

  11. The question isn’t “should it be regulated” the question is, “can it be regulated” and the answer is ‘yes’, even when libertarians think the answer is no.

    And by that I don’t mean the government can “stop it” (an issue that some libertarians get confused about), I mean that they can regulate it. Which means: They can make a whole lot of people miserable, drive the activity underground, and occasionally bring the hammer down and ruin someone’s life over it. And libertarians need to understand, that’s all the state really cares about.

    1. “They can make a whole lot of people miserable, drive the activity underground, and occasionally bring the hammer down and ruin someone’s life over it.”

      Well, it’s always nice when someone gets the true purpose of government.

    2. You left out “profit handsomely on jacked-up sin taxes” but yeah.

  12. This so-called “study” was funded by Cancer Research UK, which is the British equivalent of the American Cancer Society, i.e., a group funded largely by individual donations and not the government. How can you trust an organization funded by private individuals who may be themselves vapers in favour of vaping instead of the fair, impartial, unbiased government which already knows vaping is bad without even having to do a study?

    Also, anybody else having problems with being shadow-banned by the squirrels this morning? I keep getting error pages when I try to post.

    1. You can never trust anyone but government. Government is not people, but some type of all knowing, all caring, omnipotent entity without bias or self interest and only having the best interest of the citizens in mind at all times. How many times do you crazies need to be informed of this fact.

    2. I got that several times this AM. & when I tried to post this a minute ago.

  13. Has Reason posted anything about Trump’s recent executive order to have Sessions go no holds barred scorched earth on the WOD?

    1. Not that I’ve seen. I haven’t heard of this at all. Link?

      1. One of the few times here I feel left hanging without a link or a /sarc tag.

        1. I think he means the EOs that were rolled out after the Sessions confirmation. Most of the reporting I saw on that focused on the one about stopping crimes against cops (reason had a story about the possibility of a federal “Blue Lives Matter” law), but Trump also ordered Justice to:

          “undertake all necessary and lawful actions to break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and destroying the blood of our youth.”

          Which, while concerning, really sounds like boilerplate law & order bluster rather than a scary new master plan to ramp up the WoD. We don’t know what Sessions will ultimately do but it’s hard to push back meaningfully against something so insubstantial and vague.

      2. No, I don’t have a link because I can’t remember where I saw it now. I probably linked to it from Drudge or RCP, since those are about the only sites I visit much for news outside of here.

        Anyway, it said that Trump signed 3 new executive orders to combat crime, to do with illegal immigration, protecting cops from the war on cops, and to fight the drug war.

        I’m wondering if it was ‘fake news’ now, since I haven’t read it anywhere else.

  14. The hypocrisy of the left is reaching derptastic levels.

    Pay your fair share! I won’t pay any!

    1. I had a pithy reply but the squirrels ate it.

      1. Let me try.

        “You deplorables don’t want to pay your fair share and don’t care if the children die in the streets! Trump is president, I don’t like it so I’m not paying my fair share, let the children die in the streets!”

        1. I’ll try again.

          Where the f–k were these people over the last eight years while their tax dollars were paying to bomb innocent MENA’s?

          1. But now Hitler is president. Duh!

    2. Hey, don’t look a gifthorse in the mouth. If this really is spawning a new batch of federal income tax protesters in the 4- to 5-digits range, it could have fantastic consequences. There’s no way to confirm if these supposed tax protesters are even doing what they say they’re doing and instead just secretly filing. It would have been cooler if these fucks cared enough to tax protest in response to, oh, bombing Libya and murderdroning US citizens, but what can you do?

      1. They’re going to stop paying income tax, the same way they moved to Canada. These people are pathological liars. I don’t even think they realize if they’re lying or not.

        1. The article itself was interesting in that some (a very small number) of these people have been doing nonpayment protest for many years. If I was a betting man, I would bet on what you say will happen.

  15. I am dying to find out where this flagrantly dishonest war on tobacco will go over the next four years. Trump is a man who doesn’t mind “cleaning house,” and probably doesn’t care very much about this issue so might defer to others on it. (Trump himself is rather personally disdainful of smokers and drinkers–and your average American need only disapprove of a behavior in order to favor state crackdowns on it–but on the other hand not enough to have prevented him from getting into the wine and vodka business. He may be rather chill about personal nannying.) Pence, of course, made that supposedly embarrassing “pro-tobacco” statement back in the 90s that basically contained only one cringeworthy statement about health effects not being proven, and the rest just common sense.
    I do hope he packs the nanny apparatus with people to counteract this nonsense, but he’s going to have to have someone in his administration who specifically sets out to stop the inertia.

  16. So Vivek Murthy (and Obama for appointing him) are mass murderers.

  17. Has there been a study confirming that vaping does look pretty damn stupid?

  18. If you have Type 2 Diabetes the e-cig is going to spike your blood sugar.

    1. Bullshit. I’m insulin dependent type 2 diabetic and I quit smoking with an e-cig. It has had an effect on glucose, when I crave sweets I vape and satisfy my lust for candy, so my glucose control is now better. But I can power vape for an hour straight and still have a hypoglycemic episode, so from my experience it has no effect on blood glucose levels. If you have a citation to back that up I’d like to see it.

  19. lol – because pounding your face with a hammer is far better for your health than pounding your face with a sharpened hatchet

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  21. The researchers, led by Lion Shahab, a health psychologist at a University College London, tested the saliva and urine of 181 volunteers representing five groups: current smokers, current smokers who also use e-cigarettes, current smokers who also use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) ???? ????? ?? ???????? ????? ???? products such as gum or patches, former smokers who have switched to e-cigarettes, and former smokers who have switched to NRT. Shahab et al. found all five groups were receiving similar amounts of nicotine, but the switchers showed “substantially reduced levels of measured carcinogens and toxins.”

  22. So a study finds e-cigarette users have “substantially reduced levels of measured carcinogens and toxins.” You could set your lawn on fire and breathe the fumes or fill your lungs with di-hydrogen oxide. would you care to guess which would have the “substantially reduced levels of measured carcinogens and toxins.” and which would kill you? One of the studies only covered two weeks. What about long term use? Are any of the “flavorings” you mentioned poisonous? How about in larger doses? Long term use? Are you only talking about cancer? Or do you include other issues like asthma? Personally I find the selection of some issues and ignorance of others to reach the conclusion “Study Confirms Health Advantages of Vaping” unREASONable.

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