The war against e-cigarettes is profoundly wrong

Those deaths we hear about didn’t result from normal e-cigarettes but from tainted contents, particularly the active ingredient found in cannabis. The cries for prohibiting vaping make no more sense than banning milk because a few bad characters peddled adulterated versions.

The truth is that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. It lets users get nicotine without all the other carcinogenic contents and carbon monoxide that come from smoking cigarettes. Vaping is far more effective in helping people quit inhaling tobacco than are all the other props, including nicotine patches. Moreover, with many vaping devices, users can choose the level of nicotine they vape, including none at all. Vaping has enabled countless numbers of smokers to give up cigarettes and countless others not to take them up in the first place, thereby saving millions of lives.

In vivid contrast to those in the U.S., British health authorities endorse e-cigarettes as a highly effective means of enabling people to give up smoking tobacco.

Nonetheless American politicians and government regulators—led by the FDA—are banning flavored e-cigarettes, claiming that they are designed to lure unwary teenagers to take up the habit. San Francisco—that haven for drug addicts and people who defecate on sidewalks—has even banned the sale of vaping devices. The reality is that almost all vapers—there are about 11 million adult users in the U.S.—prefer flavors to the taste of unflavored tobacco.

As for an “epidemic” in teenage vaping, there is little evidence e-cigarettes have become a gateway to cigarette smoking. Smoking among teenagers has, in fact, declined dramatically since the 1990s.

Banning e-cigarettes, prohibiting flavored versions or imposing draconian taxes (as a number of pols in Congress and elsewhere are pushing for) would have two bad results: more people smoking traditional—and highly lethal—cigarettes, and the rise of black markets for flavored e-cigarettes, with all the risks of unsafe versions that that would entail.

Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media.

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