The new head of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention appears to be on the side of vaping advocates. In a move that surprised many, the director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health told WebMD: “We certainly think we have enough evidence that if someone switched from a pack of cigarettes to e-cigarettes, it would likely be an improvement in their health.”
The government has been getting serious pushback on its anti-vaping stance. Now, one of their own is saying, "Nicotine is not the main ingredient in cigarette smoke that is harmful." Tobacco smoke contains 100 known carcinogens, and 900 other chemicals that are potentially cancer-causing. Various analyses of e-cigs, on the other hand, showed no more than trace amounts of these chemicals in the liquids used in vaping.
There’s little doubt vaping is safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. If e-cigarettes were shown to be dangerous enough to cause serious public health concerns, the FDA would have already acted to seriously limit their use. For the record, the FDA does still continue to classify all vaping merchandise as “tobacco products” so they can be regulated as such, even though the e-liquids used in vaping are 100% tobacco-free.
In general, the science that's been done on vaping e-cigarettes versus smoking tobacco cigarettes indicates e-cigs are, at the very least, the lesser of the two evils. A 2015 report issued by the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Physicians found that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Numerous other studies have arrived at similar conclusions. All correctly caution that efforts must be made to prevent vulnerable groups like adolescents from obtaining them.
The FDA’s new position on vaping may have surprised some, but former tobacco smokers-turned-vapers weren't among them. For a person with a pack-a-day habit, the calculation is simple. Would you rather be puffing and wheezing on a cancer stick that will ultimately kill you or drawing in a smooth smokeless vapor that is less likely to shorten your lifespan, if it shortens it at all?
Anti-vaping activists are not unlike most other activists. Righteous, uninformed, and with nothing better to do. They say they are concerned that the nicotine-laden juices that power e-smoking utensils can be formulated to taste like jelly beans, or cotton candy, to lure unsuspecting children into the dark world of nicotine addiction.
While the new head of the FDA does not downplay this danger, his willingness to recommend vaping as an incremental step away from smoking is significant. Vaping is smokeless. It contains virtually none of the tar and a thousand or so chemicals that come along for the ride with tobacco cigarettes. Last but not least, it has far fewer harmful second-hand effects.
It seems entirely possible e-cigarettes will eventually supplant tobacco cigarettes as the nicotine delivery method of choice in the U.S. In which case, its critics will be rightly confused of having been smoking out their butts. Whether or not that turns out to be the case, one thing is certain: Vaping is here to stay.