Our nation’s most influential, respected and powerful public health officials and academics are engaged in a vast,corrupt and fraudulent conspiracy to keep desperate smokers ignorant of the facts about how reduced-harm devices (such as e-cigarettes) are likely to help them quit smoking. 

How could this be? The answer seems complex, but if one expends a little effort to penetrate the propaganda (or lies) spewed by the CDC, the FDA, “health” nonprofits, academics, politicians,and many others, the answer becomes depressingly clearer.

With almost one-half million smokers dying prematurely each year, you might be justified in calling the scourge of cigarettes a crisis — a preventable one — that’s been ineffectively addressed for decades.

Yes, the common but dreaded cigarette (the smoker’s “best friend” — like the pusher to the heroin addict) kills at a rate unmatched by any other external force. Forty-two million Americans depend upon smoke for their reliable nicotine hit, inhaled hundreds of times daily, each breath conveying thousands of chemicals (the products of tobacco combustion) deep into the lungs and thence via the circulation to every part of the body.

Hundreds of these substances are known toxins and carcinogens, so it’s little wonder that long-term smokers are vulnerable to just about every type of disease and disorder known to man.

Over half of regular smokers will die prematurely from their habit. Most smokers want to quit, but only very few escape its clutches unaided — perhaps one in twenty each year. The FDA-approved drugs and patches (nicotine replacement therapy, NRT) do help some quit at a higher rate than “cold turkey,” but their success rate amounts to an meager 15 percent or so, hardly an acceptable solution. Less than a decade ago, a new tool appeared,providing some ray of hope: the first primitive forms of electronic nicotine delivery devices, which have evolved to become the rather sophisticated“e-cigs” and vapor products now omnipresent in our society.

But not without a fight. In 2009 Congress, after a decade of intense negotiations, finally passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (TCA), which gave the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco products. This was the result of years of hard-fought negotiations among lawmakers, public health groups. Amazingly, Phillip Morris was also given a seat at the table, no doubt due to its vast wealth and influence. Almost immediately, the FDA decided to flex its regulatory muscles and ruled that e-cigs could not be imported (they were all made in China initially), calling them unapproved drugs or drug delivery devices. The companies seeking to market them retorted that no such claims had been made, thus the ban was unlawful.

Almost two years later, the Federal Court ruled that the FDA was acting outside of its authority, agreeing with the e-cig merchants, and swatted away the ban: the devices started rolling in. And they quickly became “new and improved” as well, with hundreds (or thousands) of small and medium-sized innovative e-cig companies producing newfangled, more effective nicotine and flavor-delivery mechanisms. They caught on rapidly, with market estimates of over one billion dollars in 2012, and doubling each year thereafter. Some respected tobacco market analysts have actually predicted that these reduced-risk devices will outsell toxic, deadly cigarettes within 10 years!

BUT NOT IF the heavy hand of needless,hyper-regulation and corruption-driven obstacles don’t strangle the marketplace, or deliver it into the waiting arms of the actual enemy, Big Tobacco — the opposite of what the opponents of e-cigs say they want. Yet,despite their pious platitudes, that is exactly what our public health spokesmen seem to be striving for, with their alarmist, fear-mongering“concerns” about non-problems, such as “kid-friendly flavors” and “toddlers poisoned by nicotine,” while the facts show it is adults who prefer flavored vaping overwhelmingly, and not a single child has been seriously harmed by nicotine liquid for e-cigs.

How did our nation’s public health come to this sad state, where formerly-respected agencies and renowned academics manipulate and distort their own data, making up ephemera of hypothetical dangers, impeding truthful communication of health risks and benefits to smokers. Unfortunately and to the detriment of smokers, their mythology is working: fewer smokers now believe that e-cigs and vapor products are safer than smoking, although no one in their right mind could argue in good faith that that is not true.

What could possibly explain the rationale of our health policy leaders, pursuing their own nefarious goals, oblivious to the plight of smokers who have tried and tried again to quit, and failed? While some may be ideologically bound to tropes of the last century, envisioningminions of “Big Tobacco” lurking behind the e-cig companies, plotting to seduce new generations to nicotine addiction and cigarettes — I fear that for many who oppose e-cigs, the motivation is simple: greed.

What is hidden from the public, and from the all-too-compliant and ingenuous media (who parrot the falsehoods propagated by these conflicted, corrupt officials), is that millions of dollars of“support” flow from the pharmaceutical companies purveying lucrative but ineffective cessation aids to “public health” nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association et al, and to bastions of academia such as UCSF, the Mayo Clinic, et al, whose experts traipse around the country denigrating e-cigs based on scare tactics and hypothetical risks.Meanwhile, GSK, Pfizer and J&J pocket multi-millions from sales of NRT patches and toxic drugs, which rarely help smokers quit. Liberal politicians likewise jumped on the bandwagon, hoping to tell us all the “right way” to quit: abstinence only, no nicotine allowed. (Of course, they are also happy to keep those cigarette taxes rolling in, for budgets  threatened by any successful quitting device as yet untaxed).

The FDA’s plan — to require lengthy,expensive studies and testing for each and every component of e-vapor products,known as the “deeming regulations” — will bankrupt most of the small businesses and drive the rest into the clutches of those businesses who can afford to jump through those needless hoops: Big Tobacco. Yes, some regulation of this nascent, innovative, disruptive industry is needed: childproof packaging, some reining in of the more outrageous ads, good manufacturing processes, accurate labels of ingredients, restricting sales to minors. This is not what the health gurus mean when they say “regulate them now!” They want to regulate e-cigs right off the market, “to protect the children.”

What about the millions of addicted, adult smokers?

Tough luck.