December 06, 2013

Dr. Gilbert Ross: E-Cigs Could Be “A Public Health Miracle”

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At a New York City Council meeting discussing a possible smoking ban on electronic cigarettes, supporters of the devices again showed up to fight unnecessary and inappropriate regulation of the new and still fledgling market.  New York City officials have been pushing for harsh regulations and bans against electronic cigarettes for longer than most other local level governments have even known that the devices exist.

American Council on Science and Health executive director Dr. Gilbert Ross was among individuals speaking in support of the products.  According to Ross, “E-cigarettes have the potential to be a public health miracle.”  Not only may they offer a far less harmful option to individuals seeking nicotine, but electronic cigarette could offer the kind of one-step-at-a-time smoking cessation path many smokers need in order to quit.

Ross was just one of many voices speaking in support of open and fair regulation of the devices.  To clarify, few are actually advocating an electronic cigarette market sans any regulation in the U.S.  Most simply hope that officials will design regulation appropriate to what is rapidly proving to be far less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.  That may require holding off on regulation until the science can catch up.

But public health regulation has gradually moving from a focus of responding to dangers and harms as they prove themselves and issue to an overly preventative and even guilt-assuming stance.  Despite a near total lack of evidence showing that electronic cigarettes cause an amount of harm normally necessary to require strict regulations, most officials argue that because they “might” be dangerous, they should be regulated as if they are.

That’s generally the stance New York City health officials are taking and why they are pushing for immediate bans and regulations mirroring those placed on traditional cigarettes.  Meanwhile, New York’s efforts to squash smoking thus far with high taxes, sales bans, smoking bans, and more haven’t curbed the city’s appetite for smoking much more than anywhere else in the U.S.

New York could end up looking a lot more draconian if it’s officials don’t listen to people like Ross.  They already became the butt of so many jokes following efforts to restrict sugary drink sizes and junk food sales.

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