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Voices of Reason

Today (16 December) the New York Post published an op ed piece entitled "Bloomberg’s e-cig ban likely to do more harm than good", detailing the reasons why a public use ban on electronic cigarettes is a bad idea.

Just two days earlier (14 December), the same tabloid published, under it's "News" rubric, the article, "E-cigs may deliver more toxins than smoke researchers say", an article filled with faulty logic and dubious conclusions, as was noted here. Today's op ed piece is by Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, and the title of the editorial in the URL is a bit different: "Bloomberg trying to ban e-cigarettes is silly", perhaps reflecting the title that was originally submitted.

Stier finds fault with the basic premise of the campaign to ban e-cigs, the idea that they stimulate smoking. "The best evidence suggests the reverse," he notes. "Early evidence is that they’re a much more popular way to help people quit smoking than forcing them to stand out in the cold," he continues, quoting the New Zealand study recently reported in the esteemed medical journal, The Lancet, finding them similar to the nicotine patch in raising chances of a successful quit attempt. That study actually showed them marginally but consistently out-performing the patch, but at a level too low to be statistically significant. In other words, the study shows them to be the most effective quitting aid so far found, if by a hair.

Stier calls the idea that e-cigs normalize smoking because bystanders can't tell the difference "nonsense". Admitting that e-cigs mimic combustible ones, he points out the obvious fact that this is why they are effective!

Regarding the much feared "gateway" effect, the idea that e-cigs will encourage people to smoke, Stier cites the total lack of evidence for this fantasy, and cites a recent study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting recently that looked at 1300 college students, finding that 43 of them had used e-cigs as their first nicotine product, and that one of them had gone on to smoke. The other 42 were not using tobacco at the time of the study. Some gateway!

Finally, on the subject of potential toxicity of e-cig vapor, Stier quotes the recent Burstyn study at Drexel that found no toxicity there, a study that smoking ban zealots have been resolutely ignoring.

In other news, a vaping blog in Manchester England succeeded in getting a Stop Smoking Service to withdraw a leaflet targeting e-cigs with misleading information.

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