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NYU study rebukes recurring political myth that vaping is as deadly as smoking

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, several elected political officials are once again calling for statewide or nationwide vaping bans to help flatten the curve.  However, in nearly every single instance, these same politicians conveniently fail to mention that conventional combustible tobacco products put Americans at far greater risks of contracting the potentially deadly virus.

Just last week, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) tried to make his case for a federal flavor ban on live TV during an interview with News 12 which serves parts of Connecticut, the senator’s home state. During the interview, Blumenthal claimed that vaping is “deadly” at least three times without even mentioning the comparative death rates of smoking even once.

Related Article:  Blumenthal politicizes COVID-19 in nationwide push to ban vaping (not smoking)

To be clear, the UK’s equivalent public health agency to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Public Health England – has publicly acknowledged that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking since early 2016. Yet, even despite the overwhelming scientific evidence, politicians are still pushing the mythical narrative that vaping is just as deadly as smoking. 

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) enacted new legislation putting the kibosh on flavored vapor sales indefinitely, again while using the coronavirus as his scapegoat. On April 1, Democratic House Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn requesting that his agency “clear the market” of all vaping products nationwide – flavored or otherwise.

NYU study: vaping is ‘substantially less harmful’ than smoking

A recent study conducted by scientists from New York University (NYU) – the same state as Mr. Cuomo – says vaping “saves lives” and is “substantially less harmful” than smoking. Furthermore, the co-authors suggest that this may be America’s last chance to “disrupt the 120- year dominance” of combustible tobacco cigarettes.  The paper entitled Harm Minimization and Tobacco Control: Reframing Societal Views of Nicotine Use to Rapidly Save Lives was recently published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI).

“A diverse class of alternative nicotine delivery systems (ANDS) has recently been developed that do not combust tobacco and are substantially less harmful than cigarettes. ANDS have the potential to disrupt the 120-year dominance of the cigarette and challenge the field on how the tobacco pandemic could be reversed if nicotine is decoupled from lethal inhaled smoke.”

Related Article:  3 Recent anti-vaping myths and the scientists that debunk them

The NYU researchers explain in great detail why electronic cigarettes are substantially less harmful in comparison to their combustible counterparts.  The fundamental difference is that traditional cigarettes like Marlboros contain tobacco leaves, which when burned produces a thick, toxic substance called tar. 

It’s this tar that coats the lungs, airways, and arteries which can lead to all sorts of potentially terminal respiratory and cardiovascular disease.  Cigarette smoke also produces at least 70 known carcinogens, unlike the tobacco-free e-liquids used in vapes.

“E-cigarette aerosol is very different. E-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco and do not produce carbon monoxide. The harm continuum emphasizes a key point: It is not that e-cigarettes are completely safe, or even the safest nicotine-containing product available, but that they are much safer than smoking. NRTs are safe enough that CDER approved them for over-the-counter consumer use more than two decades ago. Long-term use of NRT has been endorsed as an acceptable strategy to reduce morbidity and mortality from smoking.”

The NYU scientists also take time to denounce the misinformation campaigns about vaping that consistently appear in the mainstream media by public health and political officials.  They say that the spreading of this negative rhetoric is doing severe damage to public health in the long term as more and more smokers grow wary of the comparable safety of electronic cigarettes versus smoking. “Delays in harm minimization may impede the end of smoking,” say the NYU researchers.

Related Article:  Idaho congressman/vape shop owner fights against state anti-vaping bill

(Images courtesy of Shutterstock)

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