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Dr Siegel Sounds Off: e-cigarettes safer than conventional cigarettes

Posted on 28th Apr 2009 @ 12:36 PM

Responding to an LA Times Article....

Congratulations to Bill Godshall and to Dave Sweanor for being willing to publicly put the protection of the health of smokers above the knee-jerk, ideological opposition to a smoking device that we have unfortunately seen far too much within the tobacco control movement. Congratulations to Bill also for his efforts to persuade the FDA to allow e-cigarettes to be legally sold in the United States.

This is an important effort that could result in saving countless lives.

I find it interesting and quite informative that while anti-smoking groups are promoting nicotine replacement therapy via pharmaceutical products - which have dismal efficacy - they are seeking a ban on nicotine replacement therapy via e-cigarettes, which appear to actually be reasonably effective.

What is informative about the inconsistent treatment of these different products by the anti-smoking groups is that there does not seem to be a primary concern for the public's health. Instead, the primary concern appears to be either for the financial well-being of the pharmaceutical companies or for the ideological notion that the act of using a cigarette-like device is to be scorned.

It is absurd to argue that e-cigarettes must be banned because they have not been sufficiently tested for safety. Regular cigarettes have been sufficiently tested for safety and they have been found to be unsafe. But they are still on the market. So why all the concern about testing e-cigarettes for safety? Since they deliver nicotine but not the tar, we know that they are going to be safer than conventional cigarettes. I maintain that it isn't truly safety and health concerns that are leading the anti-smoking groups to call on an e-cigarette ban. I think it is a combination of the financial influence of the pharmaceutical companies on tobacco control and the ideological resistance to the idea that any act of smoking could be tolerated.

Name: Michael Siegel
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

I am a physician who specialized in preventive medicine and public health. I am now a professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health. I have 20 years of experience in tobacco control, primarily as a researcher. My areas of research interest include the health effects of secondhand smoke, policy aspects of regulating smoking in public places, effects of cigarette marketing on youth smoking behavior, and the evaluation of tobacco control program and policy interventions.