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E-Cigs Are What’s Glamorized, Not Smoking

Using electronic cigarettes is glamorous, let's face it!

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus made that fact all the clearer when she vaped at a recent Golden Globes ceremony. Four US senators contributed to that glamor by shaking a finger at her for so doing. Most of all, e-cig promoters have Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel to thank for the enhanced glamor of e-cigarettes, since their public use bans are likely to make the product soar in popularity among rebellious youth.

This was precisely the argument used last summer when the governor of Rhode Island, pressured by the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society,"">vetoed a ban on sale of the product to minors in the state. The argument was that a taboo would enhance the product's status among rebellious teenagers. Typically, health advocacy groups have opposed sale-to-minors bans in states, arguing that these bans should be implemented nationally instead of at the state level. It is unclear why they think the psychology of rebellious youth will differ with a national ban as opposed to a state ban.

Typically, all responsible marketers of e-cigarettes enthusiastically support sale-to-minors bans at any level, and observe them anyway, even without being required to do so.

Typically, the press obfuscates the issue by incorrectly implying that marketers oppose such bans. This is illustrated, for instance, by the MSNBC article cited above, which notes that the four finger-wagging senators criticizing Ms. Louis-Dreyfus also argued for a sale-to-minors ban, without noting that virtually the entire e-cigarette industry also advocates a sale-to-minors ban.

The charge that e-cigarette marketers target children is based not on their political stances, but on their use of attractive flavors and attractive advertisements. The fact that e-cigs are glamorous to teenagers is abundantly illustrated by the fact that use of the product has doubled among youth in the past year, as the CDC revealed recently with much horrified hand-wringing. The CDC and health advocacy groups have insisted vehemently, with zero evidence, that the trajectory of use is from e-cigarettes to toxic cigarettes, rather than the reverse. E-cigarettes will "re-glamorizes smoking". The statistics are silent on the issue. Use occurs. Until recently there has been no data to suggest the direction. But vaping-ban activists have insisted that the direction is certainly toward cigarettes, often stating this as a hard fact, although they have no evidence to support it.

Such evidence appeared last month in a University of Michigan study showing that cigarette use has dramatically declined among youth, during precisely the years of growing e-cig popularity. The presenters of the study ignored the obvious conclusion, attributing the decline to other factors. But the temporal factors don't work in favor of this interpretation. The only sensible conclusion from the juxtaposition of the data of these two studies is that e-cigarettes are being used by young people in preference to toxic cigarettes, and that the latter are on their way out. Not because of higher taxes, not because of anti-smoking publicity campaigns, but because kids would rather vape than smoke. It's cool. It's glamorous. Cancer-sticks are soooooo 1990s!

It is increasingly clear that what is glamorous is vaping, not smoking. The argument that vaping will "re-glamorize" smoking, never substantiated anyway, is now being decisively overturned. Those who continue to use the argument only display their intellectual rigidity, ideological intransigence, and deafness to the genuine public interest.