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April 18 2018

Media Panic over E-cigarettes will Harm Smokers

by Julie Gunlock

Over at Forbes, American Enterprise Institute scholar Dr. Sally Satel asks if the panic over JUUL (a type of e-cigarette device) and teen vaping may result in policies that harm those who are trying to quit traditional cigarettes. 

As Satel explains, there are many e-cigarette products in the marketplace but Juul seems to be particularly popular with teens. In the past several months, the media has cranked out a number of panicked stories suggesting JUUL and other vaping products are a major danger to kids and might even serve as a gateway drug to traditional cigarettes. 

Yet, as Satel explains, despite JUUL’s popularity, traditional cigarettes sales continue to decline among all age groups—data that seems to contradict that narrative. She writes: 

Is vaping leading them to smoke? If indeed ”gateway effect” exists, the data strongly suggest that it is very small. For one thing, smoking among teens is at an historic low, dropping as vaping is rising. Notably, too, the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that only 0.3 percent of non-smoking adolescents regularly vape.

Yet, Satel admits there are still legitimate questions about JUUL and other vaping products. These questions, she says should prompt rational discussion and data analysis by the FDA and other regulatory agencies. But instead, the media and the opponents of these smoking cessation products are, as Satel says, “…posing a false choice between the wellbeing of teens and the wellbeing of smokers,” adding that their tactics are simple: “…emphasize the theoretical downsides of safer nicotine delivery while ignoring its value as a way to help smokers quit.”

It’s understandable that parents worry about what their kids are getting into but it’s also important that we remember that e-cigarettes are an incredibly helpful tool for adults who are trying to quite traditional cigarettes. 

We needn’t take away these tools in order to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. 

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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