The war on e-cigs is now national
Hypocrisy has reached new heights, even by Washington’s standards. The same left-wing senators who support needle-exchange and methadone programs to reduce harm to drug addicts and demand condoms for high-schoolers are waging war against the most effective harm reducer of all — e-cigarettes.
Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and other Democrats are demanding new FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb crack down on e-cigarettes without delay. Across the aisle, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is urging Gottlieb to examine the compelling evidence that vaping saves lives by helping smokers quit the deadly habit.
Some 480,000 people in the United States die each year from smoking. But quitting is hard. E-cigarettes are far more effective than any patch, coach or gum at weaning addicts off their cancer sticks. And they’re diverting teens from even starting smoking.
But facts be damned. Senate Democrats are politicizing the issue, claiming that “special interests” lie behind the FDA’s decision to delay pending regulations drafted by the Obama administration.
The new regs, originally scheduled to go into effect by now, would compel all e-cigarette devices and flavors to be pre-approved by the FDA before being sold. The cost of pre-approval would crush all but the biggest producers. The Trump administration wisely put these rules on hold to look at the facts. Johnson wants the FDA to junk the regs altogether.
The FDA should be facilitating, not impeding, the use of e-cigarettes.
New research from the United Kingdom shows over half of UK e-cigarette users have quit smoking entirely. England’s most prestigious medical group, the Royal College of Physicians, endorses “large-scale substitution of e-cigarettes” for smoking. The country’s National Health Service urges patients who smoke to switch to vaping.
In Europe, 6 million ex-smokers report that e-cigarettes helped them quit, according to EU data, yielding impressive improvements in health. Smokers with hypertension who switch to vaping show significant decreases in systolic blood pressure after 12 months, better results than with medications. Asthmatics who switch from smoking to vaping gain better lung function and relief from coughing, reports Riccardo Polosa, director of the Institute of Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology in Italy.
What about teens? Vaping isn’t a gateway to smoking in adults or teens, contrary to what the Democratic senators claim. But they prefer fearmongering to facts, accusing manufacturers of predatory marketing by luring adolescents with candy-like flavors.
In fact, vaping appears to be responsible for the dramatic drop in teen smoking since 2010, down more than 50 percent. Teens are vaping instead.
Would it be better if they did neither? Yes, but human beings have been sticking things in their mouths since the beginning of time. Vaping is harm reduction.
That’s not the same as harmless. There may be traces of toxins, metals and carcinogens in vapor. But vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking cigarettes, researchers conclude.
The more smokers switch to vaping, the more lives will be saved.
As for secondhand smoke, it contains 60 carcinogens and is far more dangerous than the low levels of toxins in secondhand vapor.
New scientific evidence drawn from four countries — the United States, Canada, Australia and England — shows that the more restrictive a country’s vaping regulations, the less likely smokers are to put out their cigarettes and take up vaping. The FDA should heed this life-and-death information.
Both the European Union and the United Kingdom have set quality and safety standards for e-cigarettes without imposing a costly pre-approval regimen. The United States should do the same.
Millions of lives hinge on how the US regulates e-cigarettes. Sadly, the left is making it tougher for smokers and teens prone to smoking to choose the harm-reducing alternative.
Liberals have long mocked the “just say no” approach, but that’s what they’re telling smokers — that harm reduction is a good idea for heroin addicts but not cigarette addicts.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.