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Press lightens up on e-cigs

The press is inching toward even-handedness on e-cigarettes. Well, maybe centimetering. There is a trickle of articles expressing genuine openness toward positive as well as negative takes on the vaping phenomenon, instead of coming out punching con or pro.

Case in point: the American news source ABC, under the title “E-cigarette technology takes off as regulation looms,” begins with 3 non-judgmental paragraphs on high tech vaporizers, and then goes on, “the possibility that the devices could be safer than regular cigarettes have some in the industry worried that regulation that's too heavy-handed would stifle the technological innovation.” Then ABC's Michael Felderbaum presents a nondescript quote from the FDA's Tobacco Center head Mitch Zeller, and adds, “the FDA seems to be taking a deliberate approach.” No kidding, Sherlock.

The piece goes on to announce the upcoming 2-day meeting on e-cig safety and research, to be hosted by the Agency, and mentions the recent Boehner letter appealing for light regulations. It concludes: “[vapor] doesn't contain the thousands of chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.” That's it; we are spared the usual provisos from UCSF about gateways, unknown long-term effects, poisoned children, exploding batteries, and such like. Amazing.

Or consider this piece from the e-zine Salon, entitled “America's Vaping Revolution: How suspicious should we really be of the e-cigarette craze?”: After several paragraphs of witty banter on how odd a custom smoking really is, journalist Noah Charney organizes his article as a pro/con discussion of three possible advantages of e—cigarettes, “You can smoke [sic] them anywhere, they cost less, and they won't kill you.”

Under the first rubric, Charney notes that some localities have banned public use, despite a lack of evidence that second-hand vapor causes harm, and concludes that, “it seems that such bans are based on principle, not on problems.” Under the second rubric, he says there are no cons: it's just plain less expensive.

On the question “Will it kill you,” the article states that “there is no definite scientific proof that they are harmful.” Under cons, the need for long-term studies is cited, something about which everybody on both sides agrees.

Unfortunately, in this section, Charney mentions the recent Japanese study claiming that “e-cigarettes contain 10 times more carcinogens than tobacco cigarettes,” a nonsensical finding that has already been decisively refuted by no less than Konstantinos Farsalinos, an authoritative voice on the subject. The flawed study found one sample with fluke levels that none of the other samples even approached. Charney notes that this study is too new to comment upon.

Despite this unfortunate slip, the article is fair-minded on the whole.

On a lighter note, Us Magazine notes under the heading “Have E-Cig, Will Travel” that “Clutching an e-cigarette and other essentials, Michelle Rodriguez was cutely bundled up in NYC Dec. 3.” What a joy to know that Ms. R. is enjoying her vaping even on the road.