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CDC’s New Ad Claims E-Cigs Contribute To Major Health Risks, But Isn’t Something Else Really To Blame?

A new federal ad campaign against smoking, is featuring e-cigarettes for the first time. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its latest installment in its ongoing “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign. The campaign features real Americans who have experienced the serious health and social consequences that come from smoking cigarettes. These ads do not sugar coat the issue and are often explicit in their depiction smoking’s dire consequences. On March 30, the campaign, however, will take a turn as it will feature e-cigarettes, as opposed to traditional tobacco, for the first time.

According to the CDC, in America about three in four adult vape users also smoke cigarettes, bringing up the issue of dual use. “If you only cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke by adding another tobacco product, like e-cigarettes, you still face serious health risks,” the CDC said in a statement. “Smokers must quit smoking completely to fully protect their health – even a few cigarettes a day are dangerous.”

The new ad in the campaign feature a 35-year-old named Kristy who tried using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, but ended up continuing to smoke. She suffered a collapsed lung and was diagnosed with COPD, a chronic lung disease, before she was finally able to quit altogether.

The dangers of cigarettes are not unfounded as many e-cigarettes users already know. So of course, whether you vape or not, if you continue to use regular cigarettes you are putting yourself at risk. Nonetheless more experts than not, praise the ability of e-cigarettes, not only as cessation methods but as harm reducers.

At a recent global anti-tobacco conference, Jean-Francois Etter, an associate professor at Geneva University, spoke out on the potential for e-cigarettes, even if they’re just used as replacements, “Alternatives to smoking do not need to be 100 percent safe, they just need to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes,” Etter said. “You choose the lesser of two evils.” As replacements, e-cigs provide a much safer alternative and truly hold an ability to reduce harm for users and those around them. However, e-cigarettes are also often effective to help people quit their nicotine habit altogether.

At the same conference where Dr. Etter spoke, another expert touted the effectiveness of vaping in place of smoking. Konstantinos Farsalinos, is a researcher from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens. He told the American Foreign Press that in a study of nearly 19,500 people, primarily from the United States and Europe, 81 percent said they had stopped smoking by using e-cigarettes. “In fact, they quit smoking very easily within the first month of the e-cigarette use on average,” Farsalinos said, “That’s something you don't see with any other method of smoking cessation.” And he is not alone.

The Society for the Study of Addiction has also come out with their findings, showing e-cigarettes are more effective than other methods in the battle to quit smoking. Organizations like the University College in London and the American Heart Association have also come out in support of e-cigs as cessation methods, touting their effectiveness over other cessation methods and going cold turkey.

Now while some will always continue to use both cigarettes and e-cigs, you cannot cut off the potential that e-cigs have to become true health benefits simply because regular cigarette are bad. The ad focuses on the e-cig, but the truth is it is the regular cigarette that made young Kristy, and millions of other sick. Not the e-cigarette.

The problem with dual use is it has implications for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposed regulation of e-cigarettes. Tobacco companies are developing products that they hope to show reduce harm from smoking. Which becomes harder to show if people continue to smoke the hazardous, combustible cigarettes.

In order to receive FDA approval as a true harm reducer, they must prove the products not only reduce risk to an individual who switches or quits but also to the population as a whole. This seems like a given to e-cig users, who know both of these facts to be true. However, the general consensus from organizations like the CDC, and others with strong political clout, seem to be to squash e-cigarettes altogether. The FDA currently has proposed a rule including the reviewing new vape devices before they are allowed to be sold and prohibiting sales of the devices to minors. However, regulation, if too stringent, stands to put the industry at risk which, unfortunately, trickles down to the consumer.

Ads like what the CDC is now promoting shift focus away from where it should really by, and attempt to blame the e-cigarette for the years of damage done from smoking regular cigarettes. It’s important to remember who the real bad guy is, and it’s not e-cigarettes.

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