Steve Schild: Don’t let dislike of smoking cloud the thinking on e-cigarettes | Winona Daily News

TLDR: Professor David Abrams of New York University believes that vaping is an important public-health innovation, which is overlooked most of the time by associating it with cigarette smoking rather than the high possibility of it being a great help in making smokers quit. Abrams is a professor of at New York University’s College of Global Public Health and a former director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health. He believes that e-cigarettes are “an important public-health innovation, and that the benefits for adult smokers will far outweigh the harm” from young people “vaping,” or using e-cigarettes.

Abrams said, “Cigarettes were a wolf in sheep’s clothing” — a dangerous product passed off as harmless. “Now, with vaping, we have a sheep in wolf’s clothing, and we cannot get the wolf out of our minds,” meaning that because it resembles cigarette smoking, we’re unwilling to accept the possibility it will help smokers quit.

Abrams added that while we should try to protect children’s health by discouraging any kind of smoking, “there are adult lives at stake, too,” and that vaping might help protect some of those lives.

“I’m afraid,” he said, “that we will look back at this moment and see that we had this unbelievable discovery, this technology that had the potential to put the final nail in the coffin in cigarette smoking in this country — and because of this ideology that nicotine itself should be prohibited, that anything that looks like smoking is bad, we will squander this opportunity” to use e-cigarettes as a weapon against tobacco.

My intent is not to extend a blanket blessing to e-cigarettes nor to claim they’re safe. I just hope, as do the public-health experts cited above, that we don’t let our understandable dislike for cigarettes and their unquestioned harm prevent us from letting people use something that likely would put them at far less risk than cigarettes do. It appears to be a significantly lesser evil and evidence that complicated problems seldom have simple solutions.


OPINION: It is really important that all of us should keep an open mind and welcoming heart for possible things that are innovative and might be a potential solution in helping us to better cope up with our daily lives. Although opening and adapting to new things are evidently overwhelming for most us, let us remember that change is inevitable and we should learn to weigh things rather than shut ourselves due to our different ideologies.