Abrams was the founding Executive Director of the Schroeder National Institute of Tobacco Research and also held a post at Truth Initiative. He used to argue that vaping just helped smokers avoid or delay quitting – something Michael Siegel accused him of basing on "manufactured evidence”.
Siegel added: “In other words, there is abundant evidence that the truth is exactly the opposite of what Dr. Abrams claims to be the case. He is essentially making up evidence that does not exist in order to try to convince the public not to use these innovative harm reduction products.”
Unlike many of his peers, Abrams didn’t brood on the rebukes and let them feed an ever-increasing entrenchment of his position – like you find in the attitudes of Martin McKee, Simon Chapman and others. David Abrams looked at the roll out of findings prepared to be won over by the veracity of the evidence.
By 2017, he became a co-signatory on a letter to the Food and Drug Administration’s Scott Gottlieb. Last year, Abrams led the production of a review paper on ‘Harm Minimization and Tobacco Control’. Just a few months ago he was calling for honesty, stating the public had the right to hear “the whole truth” about vaping, not just lies and half-truths from the FDA.
The other week he told the NYC City Council Committee on Health: “I urge you to oppose a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes. Millions of smokers have already quit smoking with vaping. And many cite flavours as vital in switching completely from inhaling toxic tobacco smoke. This proposed policy would place particular burdens on those smokers with social disadvantage and other challenges by limiting their access to much less harmful alternatives.”
Abrams referenced various research papers to support his position, these are linked to in the resource section below.
He continued: “Scientists change their minds when new evidence is available. I know this first hand: I was wrong about e-cigarettes. I shared the concerns of many here. But as I reviewed the mounting research, the evidence clearly shows vaping - while not harmless - presents a fraction of the risk of smoking. I changed my mind.”
“We don’t know everything about vaping. But we know more than enough to recommend smokers who still seek nicotine should switch completely away from combustible products. But smokers who don’t know vaping is less harmful are less likely to switch. Fewer than one in five understands vaping is less harmful than smoking. I fear flavor bans will worsen confusion and make it harder for smokers to switch. We need to do more to correct these misperceptions, not make them even worse.”
“Parental smoking is a major risk factor for youth smoking. This bill would make it harder for smokers to quit, unintentionally increasing risk for youth as more children will grow up in families with parents who smoke. This may seem counterintuitive, but if policymakers could rely on intuition, you wouldn’t need science or scientists like me to improve your policies.”
He concluded: “Don’t place barriers between smokers and vaping products that could save their lives and protect their children from smoking.”
- E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation: evidence from US current population surveys - https://www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j3262
- Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes NASEM - https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24952/public-health-consequences-of-e-cigarettes
- American Cancer Society Position Statement on Electronic Cigarettes - https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/e-cigarette-position-statement.html
- Health Information National Trends Survey - https://hints.cancer.gov/view-questions-topics/question-details.aspx?nq=1&qid=1282
- CDC Factsheets - https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/index.htm