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FDA, Activists Put Smokers' Lives at Risk with Misleading Claims about E-Cigarettes

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The FDA is working on a plan to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes from convenience stores nationwide -- which is precisely the sort of restriction and demonization that will deter smokers from quitting, explains a new Competitive Enterprise Institute report.

“Cigarette smoking is a deadly habit that causes preventable illness and premature death, and studies show e-cigarettes are both less risky and an important tool in helping people quit smoking,” said Michelle Minton, author of the report, Health Officials’ Misleading Claims about E-Cigarettes Put Lives at Risk.

Key data presented in the CEI report:

  • A UK study published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine that found smokers given e-cigarettes remained abstinent from smoking at twice the rate of smokers given nicotine-replacement products (like patches, gum, lozenges, or nasal sprays) by the end of a year: 18.8 cessation rate compared to 9.9 percent.
  • Smokers report anecdotally that puffing on e-cigarettes, available in many flavors and formats, is enjoyable, which may explain the product’s greater cessation success.
  • E-cigarettes pose significantly less risk than combustible cigarettes, yet between the years 2012 and 2015 the percent of current adult smokers who said that e-cigarettes were as or more harmful than cigarettes increased from under 12 percent to just over 35 percent. In other words, due to information disseminated by public health officials, the people most likely to benefit from trying e-cigarettes increasingly and mistakenly believe there is no benefit in switching to vaping.

“Anti-tobacco activists in health charities and within government are trying to scare people about the risks of e-cigarettes, and as a result of such misinformation campaigns, fewer smokers will switch to e-cigarettes and more will die,” said Minton.

View the report: Anti-E-Cigarette Puritans Put Lives at Risk

Related report: Fear Profiteers

Blog post: Unfounded E-Cigarette Panic Puts Public Health at Risk