So says John Stossel:
What other conclusion can we draw when we consider that the FDA now talks about banning electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. It sent threatening letters to manufacturers of the product.
E-cigarettes look like cigarettes, but instead of burning tobacco, they vaporize liquid nicotine when users puff on, or “vape,” them. The resulting aerosol mist satisfies “smokers” without their inhaling tars and the most dangerous of tobacco’s chemicals into their lungs.
What could be wrong with that? Well, the FDA says e-cigarettes contain trace chemicals that “may” be “toxic.”
But most everything “may” be toxic. New York Times science columnist John Tierney writes: “The agency has never presented evidence that the trace amounts actually cause any harm, and it has neglected to mention that similar traces of these chemicals have been found in other FDA-approved products, including nicotine patches and gum. The agency’s methodology and warnings have been lambasted in scientific journals.”
The problem is that Stossel is thinking that the goal of the FDA is to actually protect people from dangerous things, and not simply manipulating people’s behavior. The tobacco prohibitionists disapprove of smoking. The health concerns are mere a facade behind which the moral objection to the practice hides. The health arguments are the justification, not the motivation, for the anti-tobacco people.
And the fight over e-cigarettes lays that bare, I think. E-cigarettes aren’t dangerous – or, at least, aren’t any more dangerous than millions of other products on the market – but that doesn’t really matter to people who think (like the anti-alcohol Temperance Movement before them) that smoking is inherently immoral.