Anti-tobacco Scientists Warn Benefits of E-cigarettes Are Being Lost
The potential of electronic cigarettes to save millions of lives is being lost because of the media, public health groups, and politicians’ near singular focus on youth vaping to the detriment of adult smokers. That’s according to a new paper written by 15 past presidents of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).
SRNT is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to studying tobacco, nicotine, and their effects on public health. For decades, SRNT has been instrumental in advancing anti-tobacco policies.
Published August 19 in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), the paper represents one of the most dramatic interventions by tobacco control experts in favor of a harm reduction rather than a prohibitionist approach to vaping, highlighting a significant split in the public health community.
“In my 45 years in the field of tobacco control research, I’ve never seen an issue that is as divisive as this one; and maybe none that is as important to public health,” said Kenneth Warner, the article’s lead author. Warner urges policy makers, the medical community, and broader society to rebalance their attitudes toward vaping.
Reviewing the scientific literature on e-cigarettes, the authors make clear vaping is dramatically safer than smoking. Yet, the majority of Americans incorrectly believe vaping is just as or more dangerous than regular cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are a consistent target for prohibitions, taxes, and product limitations. A leading cause of this hostility is that most media attention paid to e-cigarettes focuses on how many youths are vaping and how frequently. While a valid concern, the authors of the AJPH piece argue this often ignores the adult smokers who quit thanks to vaping and can exaggerate the threat e-cigarettes present to teens and how many are addicted.
A study of U.S. news articles on e-cigarettes cited in the piece showed from 2015 to 2018, 70 percent mentioned vaping’s risks to youths, while only 37.3 percent acknowledg
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