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First ever E-cigarette Summit 2017 leads to robust debate

When invited guests and political lobbyists from both sides of the vaping world entered the Georgetown Marriott outside of Washington DC on May 8 for the first-ever E-cigarette Summit 2017, many were not sure what to expect.  Would the conference be a rather polite and possibly slightly dull exchange of vaping studies and other ideas?  Or would the event be infested with overly zealous anti-vaping fanatics carrying picket signs and shouting obscenities at those who dared to enter?

The reality fell somewhere in between. 

Most decidedly, those in attendance fell into two, very distinct groups. They were either Vaping Skeptics or Vaping Enthusiasts.   Very few were on the fence regarding the whole Vape Debate. But the majority of conversations seemed to center around one primary issue. 

Is the e-cigarette industry trying to lure young children into the throws of tobacco addiction?  Or are vapers truly concerned with helping people of all ages to quit smoking?

E-cigarette Summit 2017:  Most physicians agree that vaping is healthier than smoking, but….

The conference consisted of several speeches given by highly regarded guest speakers representing both sides of the argument.  For example, the pro-vaping team was represented by such notable physicians as Dr. Kenneth Warner, Professor of Public Health at the University of Michigan.  The anti-vaping group had speakers like Dr. Samir Soneji from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

But regardless of whether the person at the podium was a medical professional, a political pundit, a university professor, an economist, or a member of the business community, they all seemed to agree on one basic principle.  Compared to smoking, vaping is far healthier by as much as 95 percent. 

Strangely, many of the more heated, individual heat discussions revolved around the perceived health benefits of vaping compared to more conventional nicotine replacement therapies, like “the patch” and nicotine gums and lozenges.  Should the average family doctor recommend vaping as a smoking cessation tool for their patients who smoke?  Or should they stick to the more “normal” options designed and marketed by Big Pharma?


Concerns over the widespread theory that vaping may eventually “normalize” smoking – especially among teenagers – was a common thread.  Apparently, many doctors at E-cigarette Summit 2017 were fearful of recommending vaping for this very reason, even though teen smoking rates are at historic lows.    Dr. Warner addressed these concerns head-on.   

“The decrease in (teen) cigarette smoking in recent years has been unprecedented. We have never seen declines so large.”
“I wondered early on whether vaping was essentially going to be a fad for kids…While we don’t know that yet, the fact that usage dropped last year and leveled out in the previous year suggests (otherwise).”

Meanwhile, anti-vaping advocates like Dr. Soneji countered Warner’s assertions by claiming that teen smoking rates would have probably plummeted to even greater depths had it not been for the rise in popularity of vaping.  He also mentioned several of those “vaping as a gateway” studies published by the CDC, the FDA, and other public health organizations. 

Of course, no political conference of any kind cannot take place without the topic of “money and taxes” coming into the picture.  Even during the E-cigarette Summit 2017, the vaping skeptics generally pushed for more federal regulation and higher taxes.  Meanwhile, the pro-vaping community spent much of their energies trying to convince the anti-vapers to curb their enthusiasm for FDA deeming regulations that threaten to wipe out the American vaping industry without first knowing all the facts.


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