Tobacco Endgame: Don’t bet against e-cigarettes yet!
The tobacco endgame that tobacco control advocates want, may be coming but don’t expect e-cigarettes to be a part of it.
Over the past five years, tobacco control advocates have begun to strategize about a Tobacco Endgame, which envisions a tobacco-free future. Last week, the surgeon general played a pair of aces: kids and nicotine. This surgeon general’s report was released alongside a public service announcement that added a twist: Nicotine represents the most profound threat to kids because of their developing brains. E-cigarettes, says the announcement, are nothing short of a dangerous experiment with children’s brains.
But while there is good cause for remaining vigilant, neither kids nor nicotine represent a trump card in an ongoing feud about the place of e-cigarettes in the battle against smoking — the major killer of the past century.
E-cigarette advocates argue that these devices can play an important role in reducing the harm to 36.5 million American smokers who cannot or will not quit cigarettes. They believe that e-cigarettes are an innovative tool that can allow smokers to satiate their nicotine addiction without exposure to the dangerous chemicals, tars, and carcinogens in cigarettes. Opponents worry that e-cigarettes may undermine decades of tobacco control measures. But there is one thing on which both sides agree: Adolescents shouldn’t be vaping, and they shouldn’t be smoking.