Anti-Smoking Groups and the Electronic Cigarette
ECD: We find it really strange that these groups have been campaigning for years and years against cigarettes on health grounds, and you finally get something that comes on which is basically some nicotine, which everything we have read has said is not that bad for you, in water vapour, and which experts have told us is about as bad as a cup of coffee. And then we get all these anti-smoking organisations, except for ASH in the UK, trying to have it banned.
What's going on?
Chris: Well, I think there are three factors at work here. And it applies not just to e-cigarettes but to any safer tobacco device, or nicotine device except for pharmaceutical products.
Firstly, when you have got reforming groups, when you have got activist groups who are trying to change the world they tend to be idealists, even people who start out as pragmatists will become more extreme when they are immersed in a cause for years.
The second thing is that it as much a moral crusade as it is a health crusade. It's a mistake to look at the war on smoking as purely being about health.
There has always been a moral element to the anti-smoking crusade for centuries, there has always been people who instinctively object to any addictive pleasure or any addictive device. And that applies just as much to the e-cigarette or to chewing tobacco or to snuss as it does to cigars or cigarettes. So, from a moral perspective anything involving the drug, nicotine, is objectionable and intolerable.
So, you've got those two things there, you've got the extremism which always comes with reform movements and you've got this moral side too and you combine those two and you have a movement which doesn't see things in shades of grey. That believes that not just a smokefree world, maybe not even a tobacco free world but actually a nicotine free world is within reach, within a generation. So to accept any kind of tobacco harm reduction is in their eyes accepting a short measure, is not going far enough and they are just going to go for their utopia, which is nobody having anything to do with tobacco at all.
The third explanation you've got is the funding from the pharmaceutical industry, and that is bound to make a difference when you have got anti-smoking groups like ASH who are financed by pharmaceutical companies when you've got prominent activists being financially rewarded, directly or indirectly from the pharmaceutical lobby they are not going to speak out against nicotine inhalers in the same way in which they do against the e-cigarette even though the two products are virtually the same.
So it's a perfect storm against the e-cigarettes but also against any kind of reduced harm products.