Monday 31 October 2011

E-cigarettes: safer than what?

To hear their proponents tell the tale, you could be excused for believing that e-cigarettes are the health equivalent of the Second Coming.
The most harmful part of smoking is the smoke, which e-cigarettes eliminate while keeping the experience of smoking. Physically resembling cigarettes, they are actually electronic devices containing a cartridge of liquid nicotine solution that is heated and vaporized for inhalation.
For addicted smokers, e-cigarettes are a kinder, gentler way to needlessly empty their wallets into a wealthy corporation’s bank account in order to gratify an artificially manufactured craving for a toxic non-essential.
But e-cigarette proponents resolutely refuse to address the two major flaws in their argument.
-   Backwards burden of proof. They believe that e-cigarette use or “vaping” should be permitted everywhere that smoking is not. Then, if in 50 or 60 years we find out that, like secondhand smoke, e-cigarette vapour harms bystanders, we can spend another 30 to 50 years fighting to outlaw their use in public. They describe anyone who objects to being volunteered as a lab rat to protect their comfort and convenience as a heartless zealot at best and genocidal maniac at worst.

-  Irrelevant safety standard. Few doubt that inhaling e-cigarette vapor is safer than smoking. Or for that matter, leaping in front of an oncoming train. Or gargling drain cleaner. If we used smoking as a benchmark against which to measure acceptable safety standards for everything, there would not be much left in the world to describe as harmful.
History has already shown the irresponsibility of legalizing a dangerous product and then waiting for decades to see whether the suffering it causes is really a direct result of that product. People have needlessly suffered for over a century while fighting tobacco industry propaganda. Decision-makers have only begun to understand that the harm caused by secondhand smoke warrants smoking bans.
Do we really need to repeat this lesson yet again?
The only acceptable safety standard for a non-essential recreational drug with potential to harm bystanders is conclusive proof by independent research that passive exposure to e-cigarette vapour is “as safe as or safer than not being exposed to it at all.”
And e-cigarette proponents alone bear the entire burden of proving their product safe for use around others by this standard. The public does not owe it to them to act as lab rats once again for yet another questionable tobacco product simply so that users may be spared the inconvenience of respectful behaviour toward others.

Lawmakers owe it to us to ban public e-cigarette use until proponents have met this standard of proof.


  1. Yet another wannabe journalist that didn't do any research whatsoever. I could post links to studies refuting the idiocy of this article, not only concerning e-cigs but also concerning second hand smoke, but what's the point? You're obviously just another talking head for the anti-tobacco industry, who wants to control any action you find unacceptable, real science be damned.

  2. Great points. Why should we allow an untested, unregulated, highly addictive product to portray itself as safe, to use us all as Guinea pigs, and create another generation of nicotine addicts?

  3. @Anonymous "Great points. ..." - Thanks and right back at you! :-)

  4. @Anonymous "Yet another ..." - If you have solid scientific evidence showing that testing products before inflicting them on the public is a bad idea, please let me know. If all you have are ad hominem attacks against anyone who disagrees with you, then I thank you for helping to demonstrate my point about the necessity of regulation.


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