Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill creating more regulations for e-cigarette sales in the state. In addition to increasing the difficulty of opening e-cigarette containers, the bill would force e-cigarette vendors to store at least 3 copies of each vaping fluid mixture created by the store, to help facilitate government testing and verification of e-cigarette flavors sold by stores.
University College London Health Behavior Research Centre professor of health psychology Robert West says anti-tobacco activists’ exaggerations confuse lawmakers, harming overall public health.
“I regret to say that a small number of tobacco control activists with a limited grasp of how to conduct or interpret research findings are confusing policymakers and the general public with statements about e-cigarettes that are misleading,” he said. “They present findings about presence of ‘toxins’ in e-cigarette vapor, without making it clear that the concentrations are much lower than from cigarette smoke, or only occur under unrealistic experimental conditions.”
West says activists are deliberately misinterpreting facts to fit their agenda, which includes preventing people from using e-cigarettes to help quit smoking.
“They claim that evidence shows e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to smoking, when the evidence shows no such thing. They make exaggerated claims about an explosion of e-cigarette use among ‘never smokers’ by confusing using once with current use,” he said.
‘Cannot Be Justified on Health Grounds’
West says United Kingdom government health officials believe warnings about the danger of e-cigarettes are overblown.
“The United Kingdom’s Department of Health has looked at this carefully, and concluded that this cannot be justified on health grounds, because the concentrations of chemicals in the exhaled vapor are too low to present a health risk.”
Doctor Michael Siegel, Boston University School of Public Health’s professor of Community Health Services, says e-cigarette regulations stem from incorrect or unproven beliefs about the products.
“It has not yet been demonstrated that exposure to secondhand vapor is harmful to bystanders under real-life conditions. In fact, no study has yet documented what the exposure is under actual real-life circumstances, such as sitting in a restaurant where there are some vapers.”
Siegel says calls for e-cigarette bans or regulations may be ideological in nature.
“My personal feeling is that the reason there is so much opposition to e-cigs among the anti-smoking groups is that these groups are blinded by ideology, they can’t possibly condone anything that even looks like smoking, regardless of what the science actually tells us about its health effects.”
Jeff Reynolds ([email protected]) writes from Portland, Oregon.