Health: Controversy over Vaping

The Story:

Electronic devices that allow a smoker to simulate the experience of smoking a tobacco cigarette, e-cigarettes, have been around since 2003. Consumers inhale vapor rather than smoke, so the use of such devices is known as “vaping.” E-cigarettes were at first conceived of as an aid for quitting the real stuff. But tobacco companies, in order not to be outflanked, started buying e-cig companies in 2012. Since then, vaping has come under intensifying attack.


Rates of cigarette smoking in the United States fell dramatically throughout the period 1970 to 2015, thanks in large part to anti-tobacco grassroots activists. In 1970, two fifths (40%) of adult Americans smoked. In 2015, that number was down to 15%.

The activists would like the trend lines to continue to zero. But the question has now arisen: is vaping a bridge to non-smoking for the remaining smokers? Or is traffic on this bridge likely to be more the other way, reversing some of that history?

Even aside from the direction of that bridge, scores of deaths in the US have been attributed directly to vaping.

In Pill Form:

As of January 21, 2020, a total of 60 deaths in the US have been linked to vaping. The median age of the decedents is 51 years. The range of ages extends from 75 down to 15.

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