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Vapers Rejoice: Scientists Support E-Cigs in Letter to WHO

June 5, 2014, 8:00 AM

What's the Latest?

Over 50 scientists from across the globe have signed a letter urging the World Health Organization to resist the urge to over-regulate e-cigarettes, citing them as a possible large-scale lifesaver. The letter, addressed to WHO Director General Margaret Chan, emerges at a time when the organization is considering whether to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products. To do so would obligate 176 countries to apply tobacco-like restrictions to the products' sales and marketing, this despite the fact that e-cigarettes do not actually contain tobacco.

In the letter, the scientists claim that people "smoke for the nicotine, but die from the smoke," the implication being that e-cig vapor (which is laced with nicotine but does not contain many of the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes) is a less risky alternative to cigarette smoke. The gist of their argument is simple enough: if e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to deadly tobacco products, then placing tough restrictions on them is counter-productive to the goal of reducing the harm caused by smoking. 

What's the Big Idea?

An Ideafeed post on this topic from earlier in the week elicited passionate responses from e-cigarette supporters and detractors alike. Your humble blogger was even accused, somewhat paradoxically, of being both in the pocket of Big Tobacco and a puppet for the militant anti-smoking contingent. In the spirit of not harboring any particular polemic agenda, we can explore the flip side of the contentious e-cigarette debate. While Monday's article focused on the anti-, today's focuses on the pro-.

The letter to Chan is reminiscent of a letter from a few years back signed by American college presidents in support of lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18. Their argument was that current drinking laws encouraged dangerous binge drinking on their campuses. The signers of the e-cigarette letter similarly argue that less stringent regulations, particularly on e-cig advertising, would lead to less harm in the long term as more people turned to vapor as an alternative to smoke.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether these scientists are of the puppet or pocket-dweller persuasion.

What's your take on the e-cig debate?

Read more at Reuters.

Read the full letter here.

Photo credit:  Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock


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