NYU public health expert: Banning e-cigs and not ‘antiquated cigarettes’ is harmful to public health

When Dr. David Abrams appeared on CBS This Morning on September 20 to discuss the mysterious “vaping-related” lung disease currently plaquing the country, he made several valid arguments.  Unlike the Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s of the world who simply regurgitate unfounded talking points from anti-vaping advocates, Abrams knows a thing or two about vaping because he’s a highly regarded professor in the College of Public Health at New York University. 

The CBS News anchor seems to have also done his homework because one of the very first topics of conversation was the groundbreaking research published in 2015 by Public Health England (PHE) in the United Kingdom.  The historic document was the very first to provide scientific evidence that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking. 

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When the CBS interviewer asked if Dr. Abrams could confirm that the PHE research is legitimate, Abrams offered a rather surprising response.  “I would agree with that,” Abrams began, “and I would actually go farther.  I think there’s now evidence from looking at the cancer biomarkers that it could be as high as 98 or 99 percent for cancer.”

Banning e-cigarettes without banning combustible tobacco will be harmful with public health

When President Trump announced in a news conference on September 11 that he intends to place a federal ban on flavored vapor products, Twitter understandably went nuts.  At the time, six deaths had been allegedly linked to “vaping,” which led many of Trump’s followers to question why he wasn’t banning tobacco cigarettes instead. After all, national statistics indicate that smoking-related illness kills about 500,000 people annually.

According to Abrams, “Completely discouraging vaping, without also discouraging smoking, is doing more harm than good.”  He believes that taking flavored vapor products off the market will likely temp millions of vapers – both adults and teenagers – to revert back to Big Tobacco cigarettes. Abrams then stated, “Nobody should be smoking antiquated cigarettes that kill half the people that use them when we now have a [safer] product.”

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Furthermore, he continues, banning flavored vapes nationwide will leave the door wide open for Black Market entrepreneurs.  Since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now acknowledges per a recent press release that contraband THC-enhanced products are directly linked to at least 80 percent of the over 500 reported cases of lung ailments, a flavor ban would be counterintuitive to the CDC’s key objectives regarding improved public health.    “I think to destroy a less harmful product [e-cigs] while leaving cigarettes on the market misses the point of public health,” Abrams said.

The NYU professor also expressed concern over the increasingly escalating anti-vaping hysteria occurring in the United States.  In his view as an academic scholar, educator, and public health expert, electronic cigarettes will eventually be regarded as the “single biggest public health opportunity” of this century. 

"I think we've forgotten that 120 years ago, the disruptive technology was the cigarette rolling machine that literally caused this epidemic of lung cancer and other diseases. And now we have an opportunity 120 years later to get rid of the cigarette with a new technology that delivers nicotine in a very satisfying way without the major harms of burning tobacco," Abrams says.  "If we lose this opportunity, I think we will have blown the single biggest public health opportunity we've ever had in 120 years to get rid of cigarettes and replace them with a much safer form of nicotine for everybody."

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