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Don’t Look to E-Cigarettes as a Panacea for Smoking

To the Editor:

Re “Experts Say Vaping Alarm Is Overdone” (front page, Nov. 2):

A positive if unintended result of the e-cigarette controversy is that highlighting the relative dangers of tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes further deglamorizes them both. The discussion presents the public with the unpleasant truth that nicotine isn’t a recreational drug.

Addiction to nicotine in tobacco is the norm, not the exception, and smoking addiction is about compulsive behavior and suffering, not pleasure. All the current studies show that people who quit smoking enjoy improved mental health, more positive moods and better quality of life than those who continue to smoke.

Nicotine replacement comes in many forms, including e-cigarettes. It can help ease smokers out of smoking, but only if they stop completely. The case for e-cigarettes would be stronger if the United States, like the British National Health Service, offered clinical assistance to help addicted smokers quit, rather than just relying on our culture of self-help.


New York

The writer, a clinical psychologist, is director of smoking cessation services at Columbia University.

To the Editor:

E-cigarettes are not the panacea to tobacco-caused addiction, death and disease. E-cigarettes are unregulated tobacco products, and e-cigarette companies are making unproven health claims.

The Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. Instead, almost 60 percent of all e-cigarette users continue to smoke cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our country, and there is real concern that if e-cigarettes delay or prevent smoking cessation, the overall burden on health caused by tobacco will remain unacceptably high.

In 2009, a bipartisan majority in Congress charged the F.D.A. with oversight over tobacco products, including new products. The agency has taken steps to use this authority, and it should proceed with its process that allows manufacturers to provide evidence to show that their products are less harmful.

Trusting the tobacco industry and circumventing robust scientific review and oversight of these products would be a mistake.


National President and Chief Exec.

American Lung Association


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