Robert Schwartz works at the University of Toronto and describes himself as a “tobacco control scientist”. When he says: “I see one advantage of electronic cigarettes: they’re much less hazardous than smoking. But they’re not harmless, so I would strongly discourage non-smokers from taking up the habit,” there’s not much to disagree with.
Unfortunately his piece in the Toronto Star begins to fall apart shortly afterwards and we can see that he’s not really a scientist at all and the Smoke-Free Ontario side of his work shines through. In fact, Schwartz’ training is in economics, public administration and public policy.
He goes on to warn people about nicotine, arbitrarily plucking an age of 25yrs as a minimum requirement for its use. He worries over particulates without acknowledging it is what they are and the volumes that are important. And then he states: “Many flavours are potentially cancer causing.”
At least he agrees that vaping is 95% safer than smoking and says: “People who are already smoking, however, should switch to ‘vaping’ e-cigarettes if they’re unable to quit smoking in other ways and unable to quit nicotine altogether.”
It’s another thing entirely when two trainers at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies state that vaping is probably as bad as smoking. They talk about “the renormalisation of smoking” as if the massive falls in the rates of smoking wasn’t happing.
"Because e-cigarettes don't contain tobacco,” they write, “they're purported to be ‘less toxic’ than traditional tobacco products, but the lack of long-term research and the variability among available products makes this claim unsubstantiated to date."
It’s abject nonsense to claim ‘we don’t know what’s in them’ and that vaping has the same number of toxins, at the same levels, as smoking. It’s beyond nonsense; it’s an obscene abuse of position and an outright lie.
What a pleasant surprise it is then to find a sensible piece of advise being offered up to a concerned parent. Family psychologist John Rosemond writes in The News-Sentinel to the parents of a 13yr-old vaper: “if one removes tobacco from the equation, garden-variety nicotine addiction is not reliably associated with any specific health or behavioral risk. Nicotine addicts are not known, as a group, to rob convenience stores or snatch elderly women’s purses to feed their habit. Drive-by shootings are not associated with nicotine addiction. There’s no South American nicotine cartel. As addictions go, it’s relatively benign.”
In a delightful piece that’s worth reading in full, he mentions that the experimentation could have been so much worse, he concludes: “By no means am I dismissing your concerns. I’m simply saying that if you do all you can to stop your son from using e-cigs and he figures out how to get around your prohibition, the world isn’t coming to an end.”
Wouldn’t it be lovely if all advice was as balanced and informed as John Rosemond’s.