By Kyle Smith (NY Post)
Leonardo DiCaprio vapes at the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in January. Photo: Getty Images
If a new delivery-room procedure reduced deaths of mothers during labor by 95%, CNN and “60 Minutes” would do special hour-long tributes and the new technique would quickly become mandatory.
If a new safety gadget inside automobiles were demonstrated to reduced fatalities by 95%, it would be talked up as a miracle of the age and be installed in every car.
And yet, years ago along came a device that reduces harm from smoking by 95%. The reaction has been silence at times, outright suppression at others. There have been plenty of lies to accompany this bizarre smear campaign.
If smokers switched to e-cigarettes, it would “prevent almost all of the harm from smoking,” Britain’s Royal College of Physicians stated this week, highlighting growing evidence in favor of e-cigarette use, or vaping. The RCP says it is “unlikely” that vaping is even 5% as dangerous as smoking — and may be substantially safer than that.
Instead of pretending vaping is nearly as dangerous as smoking, the RCP said, we should do the opposite: Tell the truth. If regulation “makes e-cigarettes less easily accessible, less palatable or acceptable, more expensive, less consumer friendly or pharmacologically less effective, or inhibits innovation and development of new and improved products, then it causes harm by perpetuating smoking.”
The Royal College of Physicians has a distinguished history when it comes to reporting on smoking: In 1962, two years before the US surgeon general officially linked smoking to disease for the first time, the RCP issued a much more robust warning.
And yet US authorities are taking extreme, hysterical and often ludicrous steps to stamp out vaping, massively overstating the harm it does, speculating wildly on unproven potential risks from trace amounts of chemicals involved and banning vaping indoors, outdoors and even in outdoor public spaces such as parks.
In 2014, the FDA published a proposed rule that would have effectively banned vaping, though a congressional amendment passed last week could reverse that. The Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control are among the outfits that have falsely claimed vaping is as dangerous as cigarettes.
In the International Journal of Drug policy, professors Lynn Kozlowski of SUNY Buffalo and David Sweanor of the University of Ottawa slammed the “information quarantine” about the relative safety of e-cigarettes, which they blamed on “emotionally charged moral reactions.” The blackout is working: a Reuters survey last year found that only 35% of the public understood that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking.
Does vaping lead to smoking, though? “They’re not a gateway in, and they might be accelerating the gateway out,” David B. Abrams, executive director of the anti-tobacco Schroeder Institute, told The New York Times.
The RCP says it is “unlikely” that vaping is even 5% as dangerous as smoking — and may be substantially safer than that.
The wise public-health campaign to reduce smoking — take a bow, Mike Bloomberg — has spilled over into an irrational attack on e-cigarettes. The likelihood that vaping is almost completely safe causes rage among progressives and the regulatory state they largely control. They pretend to care about saving lives, when in fact their primary concern is punishing their enemies.
Progressives hate tobacco companies and they hate tobacco smokers.
By extension, progressives resent and despise life-improving technology if it appears to reward their avowed enemies. There is, for instance, abundant evidence that fracking is less risky than other forms of fossil-fuel extraction in longtime use, and yet few words cause foam to appear on the rageful progressive mouth as quickly as the word fracking.
The finding that vaping is probably at least 95% safer than smoking marks a stunning, landmark moment in the history of public health. Nicotine addiction has traditionally been the single greatest preventable cause of death in the United States. And yet now nicotine has effectively been 19/20ths disarmed. We should celebrate this news. It should be shouted across the land.
Yet just this week a Times report on the controversy barely slipped in a reference to that startling and wonderful figure, in the second-to-last paragraph of the story on the British policy, and called the finding an “assertion.” Virtually every day the Times declares that a medical report has “found” something or other, but this considered estimate by a major public-health institution using reams of data is relegated to being an “assertion.”
Few loathe smoking as much as I do. Cigarettes killed my father, after gradually destroying his quality of life over an agonizing period of many years’ suffering. Unlike progressives and bureaucrats, however, I don’t loathe smokers. Some people simply cannot quit. Where is the compassion for the single largest group of addicts in the country? Why are we determined to hide the truth from those who simply can’t get through the day without nicotine? For them, e-cigarettes could mean the difference between life and death.