VCU professor wrongly claims smoking may be SAFER than vaping; Siegel blasts back

The hysteria over vaping is leading to some very outlandish statements being made by organizations such as the American Lung Association (ALA) and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids (CFTFK), and even some academics.  In October of 2017, Dona Wininsky of the Wisconsin chapter of the ALA said that there is still a misperception that e-cigs are safer than smoking.

Meanwhile, the CFTFK consistently spreads disinformation by claiming that vaping is worse for the heart compared to smoking and that vaping even causes asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  These conspiracy theories have each been disproven repeatedly by reputable scientists through documented, peer-reviewed, experimental research.

Related Article:   American Lung Association accused of ‘lying’ about vaping on public radio

More recently, a professor of health psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) made the bizarre accusation that smoking may be even safer and healthier than using e-cigarettes. In a VCU press release of January 8,  Thomas Eissenberg – who also heads the institution’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products – stated the following. 

"The fact is: we don't know whether e-cigarette use is as lethal as combustible cigarette use, less lethal than combustible cigarette use, or more lethal than combustible cigarette use."

Eissenberg also takes issue with the 2015 research published by the UK’s Public Health England which claims that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.  In his video, he actually says, “the ‘95% safer’ claim is bogus.”

Siegel weigh in on Eissenberg accusations

On his website The Rest of the Story: Tobacco and Alcohol News Analysis and Commentary, Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University takes aim at Eissenberg by calling his statements “shocking” and “completely irresponsible.”  Like Eissenberg, Siegel is also a Professor of Health Sciences.

“I agree that we cannot precisely quantify how much safer e-cigarettes are compared to smoking. However, there is overwhelming evidence that smoking is more hazardous than vaping. One of the most compelling lines of evidence is a series of studies showing that when smokers switch to e-cigarettes, they experience immediate and dramatic improvement in both their respiratory and cardiovascular health, measured both subjectively and objectively."

Siegel does not stop there.  He continues by saying that there is also very “compelling evidence” that second-hand e-cigarette vapor is substantially less harmful compared to second-hand cigarette smoke which is laced with thousands of needless and highly addictive chemicals.  Second-hand smoke, he continues, is also filled with “scores of carcinogens,”  unlike tobacco-free vaping.

Related Article:   Dr. Michael Siegel blasts American Lung Association for lying about vaping

Siegel also warns that Eissenberg’s statements could be easily misused by Big Tobacco companies as anti-vaping propaganda designed to sway public opinion against e-cigs towards their own carcinogenic products like Marlboro cigarettes.  “Imagine if a tobacco company came out today and publicly claimed that smoking might very well be safer than using an e-cigarette,” Siegel surmises.  He then suggests that a typical sales promotional campaign might look something like the following.

"Smoke Marlboro. According to a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, smoking may be safer than using e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and involve no combustion."

Rich Lowry – Editor of the Daily Star Journal – recently sided with Dr. Siegel.  In an Op-Ed published last week, Lowry said, “Never before has a boon to public health been met with such hysteria and ingratitude.”

Lowry also agrees that the “95 percent safer” data is valid while simultaneously citing national statics indicating that 18 percent of all deaths and 30 percent of all cancer-related deaths are smoking-related. Vaping is “95 percent safer” because the e-liquids used in them are 100 percent tobacco-free.  Period. 

Related Article:   CDC caused unwarranted ‘national panic’ over nicotine-based vaping, says tobacco control expert

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