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May 16 2018

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Is Moral Panic Preventing Us from Thinking Clearly about E-Cigarettes?

by Charlotte Hays

JUUL--pronounced "jewel"--is an e-cigarette that delivers far lower levels of nicotine than the real thing.

So JUUL is safer than cigarettes and activists are reluctantly accepting it, knowing that, while not smoking or vaping at all is best,  cigarettes are worse, right?

Well, no.

Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Dr. Sally Satel proposes that there is a moral panic over e-cigarettes that is clouding judgment. Satel's entire piece is well worth reading, but here are some highlights:

[I]nstead of cheers for a blockbuster of American ingenuity that’s saving lives, JUUL has sparked a moral panic. A Harvard pediatrician likened teen use of JUUL to “bioterrorism . . . a massive public-health disaster.” Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer demanded that the Food and Drug Administration douse the “fire of e-cig addiction among New York adolescents.”

Everyone agrees that teens shouldn’t vape. But the consensus cannot end there, because there is no adult activity that some kids won’t do. According to the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey, almost 1 in 5 high school seniors reported getting drunk within the previous month, while 22.9% used cannabis during the same time frame. Only 11% said they had vaped. Two major government surveys show that regular e-cigarette use by people who have never smoked is under 1%.

. . .

JUUL Labs has pledged $30 million to fight underage vaping. But beyond “don’t start,” the best public-health message to teens, according to David B. Abrams of New York University’s College of Global Public Health, is this: “If the choice is between getting addicted to nicotine and dying from cigarettes or getting addicted without dying from e-cigarettes, the answer is obvious.”

Overheated worries about youth vaping are threatening to obscure the massive potential benefits to the nation’s 38 million cigarette smokers. Two million have already quit thanks to e-cigarettes. Vaping products are already the most widely used quit-smoking tool.

Democratic senators are also demanding that the FDA reverse its own postponement on e-cigarette regulation to 2022. The delay will give the agency time to revise its original burdensome and costly premarket approval procedure. The FDA, which values prevention but also recognizes the large population of smokers at risk of premature death, is right to apply the brakes.

Read the entire article.

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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