THE IMPLAUSIBLE CASE AGAINST E-CIGARETTES

A front page story in yesterday’s New York Times notes the divide within the anti-smoking movement on the merits of electronic cigarettes, as exemplified by the split between Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel and his former mentor, Stanton Glantz, director of the University of California at San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. The Siegel camp sees e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without tobacco or smoke, as a promising harm reduction tool, while the Glantz camp sees them as a public health menace. Because health reporter Sabrina Tavernise accurately summarizes the arguments of both sides, it is hard to see how a fair-minded reader could end up agreeing with Glantz. Here are the two main arguments against e-cigarettes:

E-cigarettes will lure teenagers into smoking. Since avoiding that smelly, dirty, and dangerous habit is the main motivation for vaping, this fear seems implausible. Furthermore, there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are serving as a gateway to the conventional kind. In fact, the recent increase in vaping among teenagers has been accompanied by a continued decline in smoking. (click for more)