L.A. e-cigarette ban could hurt anti-smoking efforts: Guest commentary

From: Los Angeles Daily News

By Richard Carmona

On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report linking smoking and cancer, tobacco-caused death and disability persists, killing more than 430,000 Americans per year and disabling millions more with chronic diseases at immense social and financial costs.

The Los Angeles City Council is considering adding electronic cigarettes to the city’s current indoor smoking ban. Including electronic cigarettes in L.A.’s indoor smoking ban is a huge mistake because it may significantly hinder what is emerging as the most promising weapon yet in the fight against tobacco-related illness and death.

Nearly 20 percent of adults continue to smoke. Reports indicate that smokers usually know their smoking is harmful and 69 percent want to reduce or quit. However, each year only 6 percent of smokers quit and new smokers replace them. We need more viable alternatives in the fight against tobacco.

One promising alternative is the electronic cigarette, which is not actually a cigarette. It contains no tobacco, but rather delivers nicotine without the toxic, carcinogenic and other disease-causing products of tobacco combustion. Published research suggests that e-cigarettes can play a significant role in tobacco harm reduction strategies, since they avoid the toxic byproducts of combustion while providing smokers with the nicotine they crave and the smoking rituals to which they have grown accustomed. Financial analysts opine that, within a decade, e-cigarette sales could overtake tobacco sales.

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