Bogus e-cigarette warning by surgeon general?

Monday, December 12, 2016
 | Staff (

teen smoking e-cigarette 2The Surgeon General of the United States issued a warning about e-cigarettes, but some people believe that themmove is political – more than scientific.

Dr. Vivek Murthy maintains that there is a lot of widespread "confusion" about e-cigarettes.

"People wonder what's in e-cigarettes – are they safe for our kids, are they a safe alternative to smoking?" Murthy pointed out. "The message from the report is clear: Nicotine-containing products in any form – including e-cigarettes –are not safe for youth."

Jeff Stier – who serves as senior fellow and director of the Risk Analysis Division of the National Center for Public Policy Research – contends that the chief doctor’s announcement was terrible, which amounted to a missed opportunity for the surgeon general to do his job of sharing science with the American public.

"Everyone agrees that children shouldn't use e-cigarettes, and certainly we don't need a surgeon general's report that took him two years and more than 100 experts advising him on that," Stier asserts. "He would have been wise to do a report similar to the one by the Royal College of Physicians in England or Public Health England, which recommended that doctors advise their patients who smoke to quit and use e-cigarettes if they can't entirely stop from using any nicotine product."

What Stier found extremely troubling was the surgeon general's comparison of this report to a 1960s warning against tobacco.

"That 1960s report was – at the time – groundbreaking and brave," Stier impressed. "This report was neither, because he didn't go out there and give useful, new information about why kids shouldn't use them, yet at the same time, we should make sure these are products adults can make a choice to use to help quit smoking.”

Stier shared another key piece of information missed by the attorney general.

"There is no tobacco in an e-cigarette," he stressed

"Some of them have nicotine in them, which is derived from tobacco, and therefore the FDA defines them as tobacco," Stier explains. "I guess if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes true, but in this long report with all the experts that took him two years to prepare, he could have been honest – or at least nuanced – and say these are products that have nicotine – some do, some don't – kids should never use them, but they're not tobacco products. Here is why they're dramatically less harmful, and adult smokers should switch, but kids should never use them."

After the announcement, Stier is led to believe that the disclosure was more about an agenda.

"This was a politicized document meant to advance the Obama administration's anti-e-cigarette point of view – which is by ideology and flies in the face of science and the well-established science coming out of the landmark Royal College of Physicians report, coming out of Public Health England – the largest government report ever on the topic."

Murthy was appointed in 2014 and currently has two years remaining in his term. Stier says that the report on e-cigarettes should send a message to the incoming Trump administration that the surgeon general's actions qualify as misconduct and failure to do his job – which Stier contends gives grounds for dismissal.

"He should be fired – simply on the basis of today's report" Stier asserted.

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