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New study counters health arguments against e-cigarettes

By   /   November 22, 2013  /   No Comments

By Patrick B. McGuigan | Watchdog.org

OKLAHOMA CITY – A new paper from the R Street Institute, a national research group, aggressively defends e-cigarettes.

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E-CIG RESEARCH: A new study from the R Street Institute makes the case of e-cigarettes a tool in Tobacco Harm Reduction strategies for public health.

Dr. Joel Nitzkin’s analysis broadly counters attacks on e-cigarettes, which have mounted in recent months. Time will tell if the study’s conclusions offset or ameliorate the impact of those attacks.

Nitzkin calls the e-cigs a tool in tobacco-harm reduction and pointed criticism at some of the most often-referenced events or studies assailing the safety of “vapor” devices.

Release of Nitzkin’s analysis for R Street Institute comes in the midst of discussion here in Oklahoma of e-cigarette bans in public settings, including parks. Such ordinances have passed in the communities of Ada and Shawnee, but a proposal in Tahlequah was pulled from the city council agenda last week.

A member of the Oklahoma City Council has asked for a report from the municipal lawyer as prelude to a likely anti-ESD ordinance.

“E-cigarettes are currently the most prominent and promising THR option,” Nitzkin writes in his new study. Unlike other smoke-free products, e-cigarettes “do not carry mandated warnings about cancer or other diseases. They are also unique in terms of their skyrocketing sales.”

Bonnie Herzog, a corporate managing director of research, projected e-cig sales of $1 billion in 2013, but recently increased that estimate to $2 billion. Nitzkin’s reported sales could reach $10 billion by 2017.

As recounted in the new study, consternation about the possible health impact of e-cigarettes increased after a July 22, 2009 press conference of the Food and Drug Administration, held a few weeks after passage of the Tobacco Control Act.

Nitzkin points out that officials at the FDA event did not point out “that e-cigarette fluids, with the exception of the one showing a trace of diethylene glycol, showed the same trace carcinogens in about the same concentrations as the pharmaceutical … products approved by FDA (Nicorette, Commit, and others).”

“Over the past four years, public health advocates have embellished, exaggerated and distorted statements from that January 2009 press conference to suggest that e-cigarettes might be even more harmful than cigarettes. It simply is not so. FDA, for its part, continues to repeat statements from this conference, but is careful not to compare the hazard posed by e-cigarette vapor to the hazard posed by cigarette smoke,” Dr. Nitzkin contends in his new report.

A prominent recent critique of electronic smoking devices came in September from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, a group which has been supporting efforts to lump e-cigarettes into anti-tobacco regulations.

Nitzkin, who has testified on tobacco-harm reduction strategies across America, has not received financial support from tobacco, e-cigarette or pharmaceutical enterprises, R Street said in a disclaimer at the end of the study, posted online Thursday.

Nitzkin, a senior fellow at R Street, has previously worked as a local health director, a state health director and leader or two national public health groups.

He was co-chair of the Tobacco Control Task Force of the American Association of Public Health Physicians and studied options for reducing tobacco-related illness.

R Street describes itself as  “a Washington-DC based think tank that respects the role of government in regulating industry to protect health and the environment, but strongly opposes undue governmental interference with market forces.

You may contact pat at pmcguigan@watchdog.org .

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Patrick B. McGuigan is bureau chief for the Oklahoma City Bureau of Watchdog.org, and works from the press room at the state Capitol. He is also the editor of CapitolBeatOK, and Associate Publisher of The City Sentinel newspaper. In 2013, The Washington Post blog “The Fix” designated Pat one of the best reporters in Oklahoma. In addition to the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists, where he serves as state secretary-treasurer, Pat is a member of the National Press Club and the Tulsa Press Club.

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