Home / Opinion / Another View: The Pros of Electronic Cigarettes

Another View: The Pros of Electronic Cigarettes

e-cigsBy Bill Godshall

(Editor’s Note: The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published two articles stating various potential hazards of electronic cigarettes, particularly to youths.  The following article takes an opposing view.)

The growing mountain of scientific and empirical evidence consistently indicates that electronic cigarettes (e-cigs):
– are 99% (+/-1%) less hazardous than cigarettes,
– are consumed almost exclusively (i.e. >99%) by smokers and exsmokers who quit by switching to e-cigs,
– have helped several million smokers quit and/or sharply reduce cigarette consumption,
– have replaced about 1 Billion packs of cigarettes in the US in the past five years,
– are more effective than FDA approved nicotine gums, lozenges, patches and inhalers for smoking cessation and reducing cigarette consumption,
– pose fewer risks than FDA approved Verenicline (Chantix),
– pose no risks to nonusers,
– have further denormalized cigarette smoking,
– have never been found to create nicotine dependence in any nonsmoker, and
– have never been found to precede cigarette smoking in any daily smoker.

In April 2009, Obama’s FDA revealed its unscientific, unethical and inhumane policy to deceive Americans about e-cigs and defend the FDA’s e-cig ban and nearly 1,000 product seizures by US Customs agents: “We don’t want the public to perceive them as a safer alternative to cigarettes.”

In July 2009, Obama appointee (and former Waxman staffer) FDA Deputy Commissioner Josh Sharfstein held a press conference (defending the agency’s unlawful and unwarranted e-cig ban from lawsuits by two companies whose products were seized) where FDA’s e-cig lab findings were misrepresented to scare the public to believe e-cigs are carcinogenic and toxic, where e-cig companies were falsely accused of target marketing to youth, and where it was alleged (without any evidence) that e-cigs are addicting children, can be gateways to cigarettes, can renormalize smoking, and don’t help smokers quit.

Thankfully for the rule of law, public health, civil liberties, market competition and common sense, all 12 federal appeals court judges upheld Judge Richard Leon’s Janaury 15, 2010 ruling striking down FDA’s e-cig ban as unlawful.

But instead of correcting or clarifying (or apologizing for) their many false and misleading fear mongering claims about e-cigs (in a failed attempt to win a lawsuit), FDA officials (and other DHHS officials) have further misrepresented the scientific and empirical evidence on e-cigs to lobby for their recently proposed Deeming Regulation, which will protect cigarette markets by banning >99.9% of all e-cigs, and will give the e-cig industry to the Big Tobacco companies.

Instead of protecting cigarettes (under the deceitful guise of protecting children), public health officials have an ethical duty to truthfully inform smokers and vapers that e-cigs are far less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes, and to keep them legal and affordable.

All real public health advocates support smokers switching to e-cigs, and keeping e-cigs legal.

Bill Godshall is Executive Director of Smokefree Pennsylvania. (Photo by Lindsay Fox via Flickr)


  1. Thanks for the information. I had no idea that electronic cigarettes were so much better than normal cigarettes. I’d really love to know more about them? Do you think that would be healthier for me?

  2. While the e-cigarettes may be useful as a cessation aid; I encourage my smoking patients to try them. They very definitely market to children with their kiddy flavors. According to the CDC over a quarter million kids who had never smoked a cigarette tried e-cigarettes in 2013. If e-cigarettes want to be credible, they should stop marketing to children.

  3. This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I have found something which helped me.


  4. It must be so difficult to guess the motives behind all the deceitful claims and scaremongering these authoritarian agencies make about e-cigarettes.

    Where there is deceit, there’s invariably corruption.

    How long in America before some 60 year old using an e-cig finds himself or herself surrounded by police dressed as stormtroopers being warned, “drop the weapon or we’ll shoot” ?

    Think I’m joking … think again.

  5. Very concise and readable. The last thing I read from Bill was a 50ish pages comment he made on the FDA deeming proposal.

    Must have 500 references on a 25+ year history of governments ignoring the ‘Tobacco Harm Reduction’ ideas. Applying cigarette-based studies to smokeless-tobacco and nicotine products, pretending ignorance of the science showing these greatly reduce the smoking rate with little to none of the health impact for a huge overall gain in public health.

    Swedish SNUS smokeless tobacco has a history going back many decades – loads of long term data on both individual and population-level impact. Very positive results – a big win for Sweden and other nordic countries where its popular. And it is an actual tobacco product. Now we can do even better eliminating the remaining carcinogens and toxins that still remain in SNUS.

    Further, Electronic vaporizers replace many of the behavioral habits that come with smoking – the hand/mouth interactions, they even provide inhalation airway sensations similar to smoking which was a key factor for me. Cigarette cravings come with a physical hunger-like feeling that the slightly irritating glycol vapor satisfies.

  6. A few years ago, a very dear friend of mine confided in me that her frequent chest infections and hospital admission were because she was suffering from emphysema. She was embarrassed by the disease which she felt she had caused herself by smoking. She was in her early fifties when first diagnosed. She was a lovely woman who cared deeply about others and desperately wanted me not to go through what she had suffered. She bought me my first e-cig and effectively saved not just my life but all the people I have convinced to try e-cigs. Sadly she died two years ago and I miss her daily. Governments are not interested in anything other than money or they would be giving e-cigs on prescription. We all know the treatment for obesity – stop eating. The UK government with pay £10,000 for gastric band treatment because it is cheaper than treating an obese person who develops diabetes. Smokers pay a fortune in tax then die young which is a win win situation for the government

  7. Thanks for a well researched and presented article, avoiding the chickin little reaction of “but it LOOKS like smoking”

    After ovre 40 years of smoking I was finally able to break the habit on July 17, 2010. I have vaped over four years and feel much better than I have in decades…my doctors agree.

  8. Thousands of people have been harmed and hundreds have died thanks to Chantix, which is still promoted and sold by doctors as “FDA approved”. Arguably, Chantix is a medicine that is worse than the disease, violates a primary principle of “do no harm”. Those smokers would still be alive.

    The real fallout from the electronic cigarette debate is how it undermines “evidence-based policy”, public health authorities and compromises the ability of regulatory agencies to be trustworthy in the eyes of the public. The backlash from such deciet is under rated.

    I found out I could have switched to a less harmful nicotine delivery system if I had known. Instead the product is highly resitricted and the market has been flooded with misleading claims from public “health” agencies and regulators. This is polictics protecting legacy economics, pure and simple. Indeed, most of those agencies including federal gov’t, get the bulk of their funding from industry in fees paid for applications and fillings. 90% of the price of cigarettes goes to gov’t. Smoking is a trillion dollar industry.

    The Surgeon General’s Report has stated that even though fewer are smoking today, more are dying than in 1970’s. Cigarettes have become more addictive and lethal while under FDA’s watch.

    And that is the reason why smokers are not allowed a less harmful alternative.

  9. There’s BIG money in play here and those entities depending on continued smoking or the taking of ineffective “quit” alternatives or taxes are LOSING money when people switch to vaping, i.e. tobacco companies, pharaceutical companies AND federal and state governments. There are other “so called” health organizations and associations who are funded in part by the pharmaceutical companies and, believe it or not, tobacco companies as well. ALL stand to lose big time if e-cigarettes/vaping become mainstream. Apparently, all are willing for people to die….to keep their jobs.

    Ask yourself, who’s filling who’s pockets to make your particular representative/s IGNORE the multiple recent studies and scientific evidence that e-cigarettes and vaping is a far superior product over anything the aforementioned companies produce.

    General Public, how do you like being MANIPULATED by these very same entities? They are losing money and using YOU to do their “dirty work” for them. Because you don’t bother to do your own research, you’re easy to control and opine about something you know nothing about!

  10. This was a very up front and informative view. I find it really sad though that so many will put things like this in print, but wont take the time to try to organize a mass sojourn of the vaping community of America to gather on the White House Lawn like the blacks have done, they demanded to be heard, and they were. We need to use that as a very effective example. We need legal representatives, we need political representation, not just a bunch of people that will sit on the butts and talk about it.

    • Amen.

      I have been saying for years that if a Million Vaper March were ever organized, I would take off work and pay my own plane fare to be there. And flying in from San Diego would be a costly endeavor to say the least. But this issue is that important.

      Maybe some of you reading this are thinking that sounds really silly. Just quit smoking, right? Just do it! Well, yeah, that’s not how it works for the vast majority of smokers.

      I would NEVER have quit smoking if it weren’t for electronic cigarettes. I didn’t even want to quit, that’s how important smoking was to me. And even though “you” might think it was because of the nicotine addiction, “you” would be dead wrong.

      Smoking was my ritual. Smoking was my haven. Smoking was my way to get away from the world for 10 minute increments. Smoking was a blessing and a curse.

      But with electronic cigarettes, I have eliminated virtually all of the harm with inhaling burning plant material. My lungs have improved, and I had never even realized they were compromised. But instead of holding my breath for 30 seconds, I can now hold my breath for 110 seconds.

      When “you” stop drinking your caffeine-laced coffee, which is about as “dangerous” as nicotine, THEN and only then can you talk to me about what I should or should not do.

  11. I started smoking at 16 when an older friend that I hung out with started. I smoked a pack+ a day for 30 years with a few periods of non-smoking but those cessation attempts were invariably short-lived. I tried nicotine gum and the patch. Neither worked because they did not address the fact that I actually liked the sensation of smoking. The ritual of it – I smoked pipes and cigars occasionally over the years as well. Since I picked up my electronic cigarette I have not touched a cigarette. Not only have I stopped smoking but my wife, my adult daughter, my mother in law and several friends have stopped smoking. Over 90 years of smoking in my family – stopped cold by electronic cigarettes. Vaping has not only saved my life but it has saved my family.

    I urge everyone to not give in to the pharmaceutical industry and various ‘health groups and foundations’ that have a large financial stake in smoking prevention. They try to stop electronic cigarettes because e-cigs interfere with these group’s financial bottom line. Municipalities and governmental bodies that treat electronic cigarettes as smoking are only preventing people from switching to a safer alternative that presents no harm to those around them.

    Business owners should be allowed to regulate electronic cigarette use in their establishments – not have it dictated to them by governmental bodies taking away personal liberties.

  12. My health has drastically improved since moving to e-cigarettes, as well as many other people in my circle of friends. After suffering serious side effects with Chantix and Zyban, I found a simple effective way to end smoking.

    Tightly regulating them so that only limited choices, provided by big tobacco, are available will have one certain consequence. More people will continue to smoke, get sick and die from smoking related illnesses.

    This is the antithesis of good public health policy.

  13. Thank you for this article stating the TRUTH about e-cigarettes. I smoked for over 40 years, and I quit smoking 4 years ago using electronic cigarettes. I feel better, I breathe better, I can smell again, I can taste again, and I can exercise again without getting winded. I have encouraged every smoker I know to switch to e-cigs. Many have and are now experiencing similar indications of improved health.

  14. Bill, thank you for an excellent summary that succinctly states the truth about vaping as well as the truth about the FDA’s and Obama Administration’s deceitful actions against an invention that is saving millions of lives.

    There are now numerous empirical studies that show both the efficacy and safety of vaping. Yet this administration in concert with Senators and Congressman like Harkin, Durbin, Pelosi, Rockefeller, Waxman, etc would rather enable the large Tobacco and Pharmaceutical companies to basically crush this industry and keep more people smoking, along with the tax revenue that it provides the government.

    Please continue to be a voice of reason backed with scientific evidence for this life saving invention.

  15. Thank you for speaking the truth in this about ecigarettes, ecigs have made my life so much more enjoyable and I was a heavy smoker for 3 years. After trying the pharmacy gums, inhalers, etc. I found I was still smoking after making the switch to ecigs I am 20+ times more healthier my asthma has disappeared and I can enjoy all the things i couldn’t do whilst smoking, bike racing, football, rock climbing, etc. I have even tested it and gone a while without the ecigs without realising so ecigs are a way to get people off of nicotine and back on track with their life’s.

  16. If the industy as a whole isnt regulated, at least regulate the big tobacco players in the e-cig game, I don’t trust them or their products. And for the smaller companies, stop making your products so attractive to youth.

    • Ive gotten into the vaping community in a big way, the number of you people that are interested in this.. are very few. They are still in the tobacco shops.
      If you take the time to do some REAL investigating though.. You’d find that vaping, is so much less a threat to their health.
      I guess what Im trying to say to you.. Try being informed, and not just opinionated.
      I started vaping 130 days ago. I was a 50 yr. smoker, and for the last 15 yrs, 2+ packs a day. I’ve been completely tobacco free since day one, and in the last 130 days, I have weaned myself completely off of nicotine as well with no ill effects and no desire to have anything more to do with tobacco. Moreover, I am a devout disciple to this and now crusade to help others quit smoking.
      I implore you to read, talk to vapers, ask questions, GET FACTS!
      You’ll be amazed.

  17. As a vaper I sincerely thank you for your pragmatism & honesty.

    A method of enjoying nicotine that’s 98-99% less harmful than smoking cannot & should not be swept under the carpet by policy makers & policy influencers.

    Vaping can well become today’s penicillin. The negative health effects that stem from smoking can be virtually eradicated if the powers that be embrace this simple & effective harm reduction device.

    Keep up the good work & don’t let the bastards grind you down 🙂

  18. I too am tired of the deceitful and fear mongering miss-truths that our government and the pharmaceutical companies are spreading in the media. Tobacco control groups scream and yell that they want to stop or dramatically reduce tobacco use and when the greatest tobacco harm reduction product of the 21st century is produced, they want it banned. Banned, even though it could save millions of lives! Why? Reduced cigarette sales means reduced profits for big tobacco. Reduced nicotine replacement therapy products for the pharmaceutical industry. Reduced taxes for both state and federal governments. And reduced funding for research at NGO’s and universities.

    They all know the science and are aware that the benefits, for Public Health, far outweigh the costs.

    Smoke-free for two years thanks to electronic cigarettes!

    Thanks Bill for this fantastic article.

  19. I smoked for over 40years and without the aid of electronic cigs I would still be smoking now I no longer smell of cig smoke no cough or bad chest many people are using them and they are proof that it works and much healthier and will save lives.

  20. I switched to electronic cigarettes 5 months ago after seeing my 75 yr old Mom using a GreenSmoke Cigalike. Next day I ordered a 808D started kit from Smokeless Image. I now use 3rd Gen Devices and have found a cause to believe in- Advocacy for Vapers Rights. This is for my/our future and the health of those still using tobacco cigarettes and wanting to quit. If ANTZ has their way and turns the market over to Big T Thousands will not make the switch IMO

  21. I second what Anja said, THANK YOU for putting this out there. People need to be made aware of the actual benefits that are happening versus all the “may” “could be” and “possibly” crap that has been produced as of late.

  22. Thank you very much indeed for your excellent summary!
    I was a heavy smoker for 35 years. Switched to ecigs on 4 Nov 2011 and have not had a tobacco cigarette since, and no desire to have one either.
    E-cigarettes are a much less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes and many (now former) smokers have switched to those devices. Of their own free will. Because we have found a better alternative.
    What the opponents of tobacco harm reduction conveniently forget is this: the alternative to ecigs is not “abstinence”. Instead, the alternative to ecigs is burnt tobacco. Period.

    • THANK YOU! I really appreciate the time and trouble that has been taken to write this truthful article!
      At last, the truth is beginning to appear.
      I smoked for 47 years and tried EVERYTHING apart from Champix, which I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, to quit.
      NOTHING worked for me. 5 months ago I tried vaping and finally I am free of tobacco at last and my health is improving every single day.
      Unfortunately this amazing product is being bashed by those who have vested interests. Including Big Pharma, The Cancer Council, and of course the government.

      I just pray the truth is spread as far and wide and as quickly as possible to save more lives. Here in Western Australia a small trader called Heavenly Vapours has been prosecuted for selling equipment and he has launched an appeal. This is a very brave man, if anyone is interested in supporting him in fundraising or signing the petition, please follow these links To sign the petition please click the link below,

      Petition to West Australian Health Minister
      To Donate please click the link below J

      Once again thank you 🙂

      • Thanks for the link, I just donated $100 because it was my moral and ethical duty to do so. This is a battle we MUST fight, with all of the resources we can muster.

        Electronic cigarettes save lives.
        And THAT is the truth of the matter.

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