Damian Thompson Damian Thompson

America declares war on e-cigarettes. But it’s an ideological battle, not a medical one

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have launched a wildly expensive campaign against e-cigarettes because… well, I can’t really work out their logic, but the sickly aroma of liberal puritanism is unmistakeable. The medical arguments are risible. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Print and radio ads starting Monday target e-cigarette users who continue to smoke traditional cigarettes. They depict an e-cigarette user named Kristy alongside a caption that reads: ‘I started using e-cigarettes but kept smoking. Right up until my lung collapsed.’

So it was vaping that caused Kirsty’s lung to collapse, was it? Nope: it was smoking cigarettes. Of which she did less because she also vaped, but for reasons that aren’t explained she kept on smoking. Just as millions of people who chew nicotine gum have been known to relapse. But governments don’t subject manufacturers of gum and nicotine patches to this sort of thing:

California’s state government [acting independently of the CDC] launched a more direct, $7 million media campaign against e-cigarettes last Friday. The TV, digital and outdoor ads deride e-cigarettes as ‘brought to you by the people who brought you lung cancer’ and come two months after state health officials declared e-cigarettes a health risk.

Speaking as an ex-smoker, I can tell you exactly what subliminal message will be picked up by many smokers. E-cigs are dangerous, too, so let’s stick with the fags. Though, being Americans, they’re unlikely to use the word ‘fags’.

Here is the best piece on the subject of e-cigs as a method of harm-reduction. It was written exclusively for Spectator Health by Dr Derek Yach, the man who drew up the World Health Organisation’s international guidelines on smoking prevention. He’s arguably the world’s most effective anti-smoking campaigner. He writes:

At the moment, it’s estimated that there will be a billion tobacco-related deaths before 2100.

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