E-cigarettes are making tobacco obsolete. So why ban them?

The left and the medical establishment ought to get behind this marvellous development

3 May 2014

9:00 AM

3 May 2014

9:00 AM

If somebody invented a pill that could cure a disease that kills five million people a year worldwide, 100,000 of them in this country, the medical powers that be would surely encourage it, pay for it, perhaps even make it compulsory. They certainly would not stand in its way.

A relentless stream of data from around the world is showing that e-cigarettes are robbing tobacco companies of today’s customers — and cancer wards of their future patients. In Britain alone two million now use these devices regularly. In study after study, scientists are finding e-cigarettes to be effective at helping people quit, to show no signs of luring non-smokers into tobacco use and to be much safer than their noxious competitors.

So what in heaven’s name explains the fact that Dame Sally Davies, the government’s chief medical officer, when asked by the New Scientist in March what was the biggest health challenge we face in Britain, named three things, one of which was the electronic cigarette? That’s like criticising contraception because you prefer abstinence.

The NHS is confident that these devices are about 1,000 times less harmful than cigarettes. The government confirmed this figure in a parliamentary answer to me. It’s the tar in smoke that kills, not the nicotine — a substance that is about as harmful as caffeine.

We know vaping (as it’s known) works better than any other method of giving up smoking. A forthcoming study by Professor Robert West of University College London finds that e-cigarettes proved 60 per cent more successful as a method of quitting than nicotine patches, gums or going cold turkey. By a country mile, free enterprise devices are outstripping the health results of medicinally regulated devices. And for many vested interests that is the problem.

We know that most people use e-cigarettes to cut down or give up smoking. This has been confirmed by three big surveys, the latest of which, conducted by Ash, the anti-smoking group, was published this week: two thirds of users in the survey were smokers and one third were ex-smokers. That means in the few years since the products first appeared, hundreds of thousands of people have used them to give up or cut down.

We know that e-cigarettes are not proving to be a gateway into tobacco. In the biggest global survey, 0.4 per cent of vapers were non-smokers and not one of them went on to smoke. In the UK, 20 per cent of 15-year-olds are regular smokers: they are mostly the ones who try vaping, so even in the young the technology is a gateway out of smoking, not into it. (And it makes snogging taste better.) Yet what is the UK government’s main legislative response to e-cigarettes so far? To ban sales of e-cigarettes to children.

Do the maths. If e-cigarettes are 1,000 times less harmful than cigarettes, then for every youngster who goes from smoking to vaping, there would have be a thousand going the other way before there is net harm. If anything, the ratio is the other way round: in one American study, nine out of ten school-age vapers had started as smokers.

The firms that make e-cigarettes — which are mostly small start-up companies, the technology having come from China — are not allowed to claim they can save your life. Imagine what they could sell if they could. Instead their adverts try to hint that vaping is cool, which feeds the puritan suspicion that somebody somewhere might be enjoying themselves.

This argument that vaping is going to ‘renormalise’ smoking is the one the British Medical Association has been pushing, and, as Ash is now saying, it is clearly nonsense. With that gone, what arguments are left to justify regulating the advertising, public use and product strength of this life-saving technology to the point of discouraging it?

Some medics probably just hate the thought that a near-miraculous cure for a big cause of death came from the private sector and not from the nanny state. The people selling these things are doing so for — gasp! — profit, not because they want to save lives.

In several conversations I have had with senior medics, they immediately raised the horrifying fact that the tobacco industry has recently started producing e-cigarettes. For them this was a clinching argument against the technology.

No, I replied, that is the best news of all. The fact that even the tobacco industry is going to be competing against tobacco is great news. It shows that big tobacco can read the writing on the wall and is trying to get out of selling smoke before it goes the way of Kodak film. The number of people smoking is falling fast. Imperial Tobacco recorded a 16 per cent decline in UK sales last year. One US investment broker reckons vaping will be bigger than smoking by 2023. The tobacco industry is panicking.

It means you have won, I tell medics. Forget your bans on smoking in cars with children in, or banning brand names on packets. These were never going to make more than a marginal difference anyway. The cigarette is going the way of the top hat and the crinoline, if we encourage the safer, cleaner alternative. Here’s a life–saving technology on a massive scale that needs no funding. Are you sure that you — swearers of the Hippocratic oath — want to be the last people standing in its way, when everybody else can see the benefits?

The opposition to vaping has had an unfortunate result already. By insisting on including e-cigarettes in the EU’s tobacco products directive, the opponents have left them unregulated till the directive comes into force by 2017. And then over-regulated, pushing up prices and reducing choice after 2017. So unless the UK government makes its own helpful intervention, for the next two-and-a-half years there is little to stop rogue operators importing fake or adulterated vaping fluids from some crook. Plus the battle over regulation, as so often, helps the big guys and hurts the little guys.

By the way, where’s the left in all this? Smoking is increasingly concentrated in lower socioeconomic groups. How can we get e-cigarettes into the hands of the poor quickly? The high up-front costs of e-cigarettes (followed by lower ‘running’ costs) means their take-up by poorer people has been slower. Why are libertarians doing all the hard work?

Next time you hear somebody say that they worry about the potential risks of e-cigarettes, remind them of Voltaire’s dictum — don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

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Show comments
  • Lepard

    Not given any attention, perhaps the 2.2 million vapers are redirecting some of their new found wealth ( that would have been spent in cigarettes) back into the economy?
    Something which our chancellor is missing but taking the credit for judging by recent economic news?

    • Mark

      Is it not the case that the treasury do exceedingly well out of smoking due to the high rates of tax obtained from their sale.

    • Liberty

      Profits are NEVER lost to the economy; they go into the bank to be invested, invested directly or spent. There is nothing else that can be done with them. When they are taxed the government has it to spend and they – as we know – are the most wasteful of all.

  • It was once OK to have slaves, It was OK to have kids down the mines and up chimneys,but these things have gone into history, much like smoking, cigarettes will do in the future…The fact that I as a “Heavy” smoker have gone from having a fag in my hands almost constantly in my waking hours to No tobacco at all without any cravings or side effects can only make the case stronger…

    • Madhusudan Banik

      Only problem being yours, mine and other millions of success stories, health charts are immaterial to the policy makers till the time their pockets are being lined up with money from these tobacco companies….

      • It’s not just the tobacco companies that are clouding the issue, have a look at big Pharma…They have billions invested in nicotine replacement therapies that just don’t work in most cases, Then there’s the government to think about 2.2 million people stopping smoking and not paying the tax on it …..if you want to find out who’s trying to demonise vaping,…… just follow the money…

  • philiphuw

    Is it because the health fascists cannot bear to see people deriving any sort of pleasure from anything? They really are both graceless and joyless.

    • monty61

      Health fascists in all parties, sadly. (Except perhaps UKIP).

  • Dragonmum

    One thing I am certain of is that when Health Professionals at the sharp end – GPs, nurses etc – are handed the facts backed up by hard copy of the many studies, they do a bit of a double-take then tell the patient to carry on using their e-cig, despite what the BMA may say. They see the patient’s history on computer and cannot fail to be impressed. Vaping is a fait accompli, there is no way of turning back, but if Government and the various Health Bodies and Charities really had the well-being of the nation at heart they would be actively promoting this long-awaited weapon against the scourge of smoking and would be encouraging advertising and freedom of use.

    I have used my devices for the past 4 plus years, and, whilst never having seen any health claims made, it seemed childishly obvious that if the tar is absent then so is the potential for disease; my years of steroids and antibiotics for the repeated chest infections and asthma caused by 60+ years of smoking disappeared on Jan 28th 2010. The day I got my first primitive e-cig is written on my heart!
    Now the EU has cobbled together a blue-print for a vaporiser that will be totally useless to heavy smokers – the very people who need them – but will fit in very nicely with the Big Tobacco cigalike plan; the higher strength, satisfying level of nicotine- containing devices will be available only through the big Pharmaceuticals so the Multinationals win again and the SMEs, who of course have David Cameron’s undying support, go out of business – has he any idea how many people cater to a market of 2.1 million? and most of them home-grown – China is now cloning many of our products.
    This has been a sickening process from the start, and the finishing-line isn’t even in sight, because all vapers intend to “vape hard and vape on” either this side of the law or ‘t’other. We say “No” to tiny ten mil bottles – an environmental disaster, and “No” to 20mg liquid as long as we have breath, and as long as tobacco is freely available for purchase – which is, of course, forever.
    Thank you for your usual insightful take on the situation – it’s what we always expect in your articles and we are never disappointed

    • Darnell Jackson

      Please could you advise as I am unsure which device to purchase.

      Is the one that you fill with fluid best or the one that actually looks like a cigarette?

      • V Hale

        Definitely the ones you fill with liquid!

        • Darnell Jackson

          Thank you.

      • Dragonmum

        Everyone will give you a different answer as to individual preferences regarding makes and suppliers, but I think you’ll find that experienced vapers will go for batteries/refillable tanks over the cigalikes. Go to a decent forum – UKVapers is my choice – you’ll get all the advice and save a lot of cash on trial and error; but hurry – these are the very things the multinationals don’t want you using; If you want to help save vaping sign the European Free Vaping Initiative too – and good luck with your new EgoTwist or whatever you choose.

        • Darnell Jackson

          Many thanks, I have tried the refillable in the past and although the experience was authentic I was unable to find a liquid that was not too harsh when taken back.

          I will visit the forum and also call into one of the specialist shops that have opened locally.

          Best wishes for the weekend.

      • koala birmingham

        Hello I started with the cigalikes then moved on to the wickless cartomizer battery combo I do find the latter gives more of a nicotine hit.

    • JonathanBagley

      Great comment as usual DM.

    • Anja M ERF vaper

      Thank you very much for putting it so well. I agree with every word you have said! It is all about money. We, the vapers, the human beings, the people who no longer smoke tobacco and who no longer pay those high “sin taxes” to the government – we are completely expendable in this whole dirty game.

    • Rebecca Kilburn

      Too much money involved but your points are valid, well made and absolutely what people need to think about Rebecca from Prestige http://www.prestige-vaping.co.uk/

  • Doggie Roussel

    It’s all about tax revenue from the greedy, self-serving parasites who govern us… the tax on a packet of cigarettes is about 95% of its retail worth…

    If all those armholes who are determined to drink and smoke themselves to death of a weekend disappear where is the government of the day going to get the revenue from the brain-dead masses ?

    Phoney-fags will have to be taxed to oblivion to make up the shortfall… it ain’t gonna happen…

    Any UK government is hugely dependent on the tax revenue from cigarettes and alcohol… two of the biggest self-inflicted killers on this planet… what does this tell you about the people who seek to govern us ?

    • Val O’Neill


  • Dick_Puddlecote

    “By the way, where’s the left in all this?”

    Without exception, they are desperate to put any obstacle in the way of e-cigs and actively campaigning for bans, restrictions, impossible-to-comply regulations and taxation. It is solely because of the left that e-cigs are to be effectively banned by the EU in 2017.

    Remember that when they cry crocodile tears over tobacco in the future.

  • Rachel Steen

    As someone who is about as ‘left’ as they come, I strongly support this article and its message on e-cigarettes – and thus take issue with the jab at the ‘left’. E-cigarette issues can’t be legitimately categorized as a left-wing / right-wing thing – they attract people from all walks of life, and all political stripes.

    These are common sense issues. E-cigs save lives. Just wanted to say that. Thank you. : )

    • Paul Macklin

      My thoughts precisely Rachel. It’s a touch disappointing that the writer felt the need to mention politics at all, because as far as I can make out, this has very little to do with any left wing ideal.

      • Paul1985

        The problem is that there is an entire army of health professionals and bureaucrats who would be out of business if tobacco were to disapear. I think it’s a valid point to make and is just stating the fact that the health lobby and bureaucrats tend to be statist & left wing rather than libertarian right wingers.

      • Well, at the EU parliament voting vapers had only some support from ALDE (libarals), EPP (conservatives) and a lot from ECR (very conservative).
        All the rest voted almost unanimously against our freedom and for those “regulations” that will serve the crippled remains of the e-cigs market to the Pharmafia and PigTobacco on a silver platter.

      • I suspect that the jab at ‘the left’ comes from a swift examination of where all the various arguments seem to be coming from.

        The most vocal supporters of e-cigs, and critics of the illiberal policies being proposed/implemented, are from the libertarian/free-market side of the political divide.

        The illiberal actions themselves are coming from groups and institutions with an established centre-left statist bias. The centre right and it’s media foghorns have been no better, of course.

        All the left wingers I know in real life are opposed to what’s going on, but the public voices.. in public health, at the Guardian, at the BBC, and in the Labour Party, are either egging on the opponents of e-cigs, or staying quiet (daring not, I think, to shout about excessive and illiberal state intervention in this area… lest it be pointed out that it’s a problem in other areas too)

  • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

    The EU are banning them, they want us to buy from one monopoly seller.


  • EF

    Of course one aspect not taken into account in this article is the fact that I believe the NHS want people to smoke. Far cheaper that they die at 64 from lung cancer than live to 84 with the additional cost to the NHS.

    • JonathanBagley

      A good point EF. The “healthy” use most health resources over a lifetime, then the obese, then smokers. There is also the huge pension saving. A ten a day smoker can buy a 15% enhanced annuity on the commercial market.

  • kennybell

    Glad wetherspoons bans them . Don’t now if they are safe or not . We don’t want another thalidomide do we . Remember in the 60s this was a safe drug till all the side effects came out

    • FergusReturns

      Well, we know they’re at least as safe as medically licensed nicotine inhalers, which contain every single one of the ingredients found in e-liquid as well as a whole list of other ones. There’s absolutely no reason to think they AREN’T safe.

    • Lepard

      Wetherspoons banned them because they say that their goons can’t tell the difference from e-cigs and the real thing, other pubs are embracing them and taking W/S’s business.
      As to Thalidomid, chec out Champix and Zyban’s side effects, the so called NHI’s wander-drug. (National Health Industry)

    • braqueish

      OK, so lets stick with imaginary dangers in the face of very real and well-known harm. That makes about as much sense as Wetherspoons ludicrous ban. Fortunately their chain of pubs are cr*p, so no problems avoiding them.

  • dawn

    I own my own ecig shop. My aim is to help people stop smoking and give them as much knowledge and support as I can. I legally dont tell my customers that this is ‘SAFE’ as im not allowed. However in many studies and my own personal opinion I would never go back to smoking. My partner stopped his 50 a day habit with an ecig too and this is why I opened up my own shop. So I could pass on the benefits to others. The future for ecigs in my opinion is far greater than cigarettes. I respect everyones opinion on this matter as its everyones righ to make their own decision. Regulate and stop importation of the products we now nothing about. Buy products on the merit it has the correct markings (CE) not because its cheap and ask as many questions so you know the person thats selling it to you knows what they are talking about. Do your research.

  • trashbunny

    Excellent article! Ironic though that much the same could be said about snus, which has a proven track record as being vastly safer than cigarette smoking. Incomprehensible therefore that Sweden is the only country in the EU where it can legally be sold.

    • JonathanBagley

      That is because the WHO (should be renamed the WDO) persuaded the EU to ban Swedish snus exports to EU countries in 1992. Sweden has the lowest male smoking prevalence and lung cancer incidence in the developed world. Neighbouring Norway also benefits from snus use.

      • trashbunny

        Absolutely, it’s not only incomprehensible, it’s reprehensible. Snus may not be to everyone’s taste but why deny the vast majority of EU smokers the alternative? I look forward to the day when EU smokers will seek recompense via legal action or otherwise from EU lawmakers and MEPs for denying them access to a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Same if EU regulations for e-cigarettes become so onerous that they cease to become available.

  • keith stammers

    I think that your article works from a flawed base to start with in that if there was a pill to cure cancer by taking it once only it would most certainly be banned if it were not patentable.[ if it was patentable it would be patented then mothballed, an example of this is the “e” note it can be used in place of xrays with no side effects even for pregnant women but the patent was bought by the xray machine makers and has been hibernated ] Drug companies do not make profits by curing they profit by treating long term, statins, cholestrol lowering drugs and chemo are very profitable examples. Imagine dentists getting hold of a pill that keeps your teeth healthy? with no customers with bad teeth, they’d be redundant, or at least far less busy. Why are doctors rewarded for the number of sick people they have on their books, instead of the number of healthy patents they have? The one with all the healthy clients should be the model to follow because maybe just maybe he is an educator of good health practice with his/her clients. Electronic cigarettes will probably have more positive impact on the tobacco smoking population than any other single thing attempted, but keep in mind it threatens lots of lucrative markets and thus has lots of powerful enemies such as Big Pharma, government tobacco tax revenues, the tobacco companies market, the treatment and healthcare of tobacco related disease, etc etc
    Electronic cigarettes will win this battle simply because they work, they are safer and healthier and are the chosen option for millions of ex-tobacco smokers.

    • Anja M ERF vaper

      You hit the nail right on the head:
      And this is something that every person should read carefully:

      // Drug companies do not make profits by curing they profit by treating long term, statins, cholestrol lowering drugs and chemo are very profitable examples.//

      And that is precisely why Big Pharma is fighting e-cigs tooth and nail.
      a. ecigs work as a 99% safer alternative to smoking. Thus declining sales of 97% useless NRT’s such as gums, patches or the potentially deadly stop-smoking drugs
      – but NRTs are petty cash – read on:
      b. (and much more important financially): people who do not smoke are less likely to get smoking-related diseases. And there is NO profit for Big Pharma from healthy people.

      Big Tobacco and Big Pharma have a marriage made in hell.
      Big T makes people sick. Big P makes lots of profit “treating” those people (treating, not curing, note the difference). And Big Government rubs its hands – grabs tobacco tax and income tax while people are working – and is delighted when smokers die early instead of collecting the pensions that they paid for during their working years.

      Those three have no interest in seeing people – smokers, human beings – disembark from this “wonderful” and very profitable tobacco gravy train. No interest whatsoever.

      • Val O’Neill

        What concerns me as well is that if the e-cigs were taken over by a big profit machine company – would they put addictive poisons in the e-cigs to get people addicted like what is in their tobacco?

    • Cliff Bennington

      Brilliant !! I am 80 and have smoked tobacco since I was 10. How I’ve lasted this long I don’t know but I have had a triple bypass and have been taking drugs to lower cholesterol for years. If I had vaped all those years ago how would I be now ?

  • David J Noble

    good article, then you are critical of legislation banning e-cigarettes for children .. I stopped reading there.

    • Anja M ERF vaper

      Well, I started smoking tobacco at 15. Smoked for 35 years after that. Before switching to an e-cig.
      Had e-cigs been available when I was a teenager, I might have avoided 35 years of putting tar and carcinogens into my body.
      (nicotine itself is not carcinogenic)

    • Yeah, better try and get them to stick with proper fags, right?

    • braqueish

      Right. Because everyone knows that children never smoke cigarettes and it’s far better that they can’t obtain an infinitely safer alternative.

    • Pomegranny

      The only US states that did not immediately ban sales to minors were holding out till they got to pretend it was tobacco.
      Vape shops/online businesses have never sold to minors. Too many flavor loving adult smokers to help, instead.
      Gas stations/Big T? Have ALWAYS sold to minors, need to sell to minors or they’re over, and I’m sure this is where all the teens are getting cigalikes; the same place they get booze and cigarettes.
      If you stopped reading before you read this, you’re still not informed.

  • Tony

    This has to be the best, most common sense article I’ve ever seen written about e-cigs. Well done.

  • Anja M ERF vaper

    Excellent! Thank you very much, Matt Ridley! You see right through all the silly anti-ecig propaganda. I have been vaping for over 2 years, after 35 years as a heavy smoker. And I will go to the Black Market to avoid going back to tobacco, if I have to.

  • FXR

    I am one of those miscreant lowlife smokers who have been through the mill for decades. I don’t want to quit, so medically I don’t even exist. With Vapers joining in on the fun as a marketing strategy. Wagging their fingers now as though a part of the ivory towers of the campaign castles of tobacco control. Not even close! you are still illegitimate scum. With the difference, you for a change deserve every bit of it, because you were all educated by past experiences, with this medical community and their drug industry masters, you can not deny that you know better. Systemic violence is just as addictive as nicotine.

    I see this all as Hilarious.

    They haven’t even put the vappers through the “smell like dog crap” phase.

    Just wait until they really get going. With job discrimination and housing and medical treatments and the final straw, the taxing of e-cigs to offset medical costs and lost productivity, that one will have you thinking about suicide, with no drugs to get you there.

    Your whining is well premature.

    Poor me!

    Victims the lot of you.


  • Brooklyn

    We are useless to them well or dead…keep us smoking (their 4000 unnecessary chemical additives)…keep us alive and sick…the cash flow is endless, from sin tax to chemotherapy.

  • Madhusudan Banik

    Wow, a damn nice article highlighting the plight of vapers and showing why the government and medical professionals are close minded towards e-cigarettes.

  • John Champion

    its all to do with money the government probably want to tax the e liquids , anything to get extra revenue !

  • Rakesh

    Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS)/e-cigarettes deliver Nicotine in chemical form which is a highly addictive chemical and is banned in India under Poisons and Insecticides acts.It is allowed under Drugs and cosmetics act only as 2mg/4mg Gums,Lozanges or patches.So e-cigarettes are an illegal product in India.
    Please View recent blog entries.https://tobacco.ucsf.edu/users/sglantz‎
    Stanton Glantz, PhD. Profile. Professor of Medicine. Dr. Glantz, the American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor of Medicine is an expert in the fieldf.:

    • braqueish

      Then the Indian government is insane, and has the deaths of its citizens on its hands.

  • Jon Krueger

    Another apologist for elecronic smoking tdevices that never even mentions dual use.

    The fact is, the strong majority of use is dual use: the users do not stop smoking, they smoke when they can and use the devices when they can’t.

    The fact is, little of that dual use ever leads to quitting smoking.

    And in fact, it’s worse than that: dual use DECREASES quitting:


    Now: there are individuals who have quit smoking with the devices. But for every individual who does, there is at least one individual who is enabled to keep on smoking with the devices. That’s what the research is telling us.

    • sadmaninagame

      But they’re smoking fewer cigarettes. Apart from anything else, they’re paying thousands less in tax. I used to spend around £250 a month on cigarettes (amazing I know), most of that was tax of course. Now I’m spending about £4 a week on liquid for my vaporiser.

      As well as saving a lot of money, I also feel so much better. I don’t wheeze or cough any more. I don’t stink. I have more energy. If it turns out that these things are just as bad (and there’s no research that they are at present), so what? I was never going to quit smoking before I had a vaporiser. I just couldn’t do it. I tried enough times. I would rather have toppled over from a massive heart attack than quit.

      So my question to you is why do you even care? What dog do you have in this race that would make you have such an attitude to smoking?

    • braqueish

      Ah, the authentic voice of the health fascist. Be punished you errant smokers, be punished until you cry for forgiveness. Seek not to reduce the harm you do to yourself, but suffer the righteous pangs of abstinence. Thou shalt be damned until you eat 5 vegetables a day, cycle to work, eat tasteless fat- and sugar-free foods, drink no alcohol (unless at a Public Health conference), forgo sex with anyone casually (except at a Public Health conference), and live a long and miserable life (unless you die earlier from a non-pleasure related illness).

      Public Health Physicians are doctors who finished their training but can’t stand patients or aren’t any good at looking after them. So they go into PHM and spend the rest of their careers blaming victims and “big-[select evil manufacturing sector]”, and banging on about fat, sweets, smoking, drinking, drugs, and sex. Anyone notice the common factor there? Weird that the Chief Medical Officer is invariably chosen from amongst these freaks.

  • “If somebody invented a pill that could cure a disease that kills
    five million people a year worldwide, 100,000 of them in this country,
    the medical powers that be would surely encourage it, pay for it,
    perhaps even make it compulsory.”

    Several people commenting here have it correct. Your opening sentence operates from the wrong premise entirely. I absolutely guarantee you that if such a pill existed, it would never see the light of day. The health care industry is Big Business and they need those hospital beds filled. Nothing fills beds better than cancer!

    The health care industry has no problem with the products the pharmaceutical industry has served up because they pose no threat to them. The best ones are only marginally better than quitting “cold turkey.” They not only pose no risk to their thriving cancer business but they can even create programs and write prescriptions (more money) around the false promise of pharmaceutical solutions.

    Big Pharma knows their products don’t work, too. All the better. They can release a new solution every few years, get gullible smokers to try yet another “placebo” for several months before giving up, and then both they and health care practitioners can blame the smoker, making them feel guilty for not being successful.

  • psufan69

    You only have to look as far as Swedish snus for the answer. The battle has never been about smoking, it’s about control and taxes and a prohibition mentality.

    Sweden has been using and improving their snus for centuries, both from a quality and health perspective. Rather than flue curing they pasteurize it, reducing the tobacco specific nitrosamines. In doing so and allowing their citizenry to understand the advantages over smoking, they now have the lowest level of smoking in the modern world and the lowest level of smoking related diseases. So how has the EU and the world reacted to this news for the last many decades?

    In the US it gets labeled like all smokeless tobacco, “This product is not a safe alternative to smoking” and a propaganda campaign that has convinced the smokeless use is WORSE than smoking. In the EU, it is BANNED other than Sweden and I believe Denmark and Finland (whether it’s banned there and purchased in Sweden, I’m not sure). Norway also has a fairly large base of snus users but they are not part of the EU. About 22 years of ban despite study after study showing that it is about 99% safer than smoking. Why?

    The same reasons that e cigs are being looked at as being a serious problem- the tobacco industry, the Pharma industry,, the ?non-profit? “health associations band governments at all levels rely on the “war” that they created against smoking, the tobacco and now nicotine, unless, of course, the nicotine is supplied by the Pharma industry.

    I’s time for everyone to wake up. It’s not about smoking or tobacco, or e cigs. It’s about money and control.

  • Terry Field

    This is an unreasonable article. Does NOBODY car about the investors who have entrusted their hard earned money with the tobacco companies in the expectation of a good dividend yield? Have you NO compassion?????????

  • Robert Copia

    The FDA proposed regulations on “Electronic Cigarettes” contains one true statement, page 19, “ e-cigs have surpassed in popularity nicotine replacement products that have been available for quite some time”. Nicotine gum, lozenges, prescription drugs, inhalers, etc. are sold by Pfizer and Glaxo. Business is down and they do not like it. Thus the “war on ecigs” waged by Pharma through the politicians and media sources that they control. Regulate and tax e-cigs out of existence and at the same time conduct a campaign of fear and misinformation aimed at those who still trust government, dissuading smokers from trying e-cigs. Keep smoking or use the pharma products, that have a low rate of success.
    A Freedom of Information request filed with the European Union provides correspondence between Sophie Crousse, the VP of European Affairs with Glaxo, and Dominik Schnichels, who is in charge of E-cig regulations for the EU. Put “SANCO correspondence with Industry lobbyists over TPD” into google and read them for yourself.
    Bearing in mind that e-cigs are competition for Glaxo and that in July, 2012, Glaxo plead guilty to criminal and civil charges from the U.S. Justice Dept and paid a 3 Billion dollar fine for illegally targeting children and adolescents, through their doctors to become users of dangerous anti-depressants, the relationship between Ms. Crousse and Mr. Schnichels seems quite strange.
    Ms. Crousse’s services were not necessary in the U.S., because in March 2013, Mitch Zeller was appointed Director of FDA Center For Tobacco Products. From 2002 until 2013 Mr. Zeller was an Executive at PinneyAssoc., who had the exclusive contact with GLAXO to provide consulting services on issues related to tobacco dependence.
    Thus begins a full scale attack on e-cigs and a fear campaign aimed at hopelessly addicted smokers dissuading them from trying a product that might save them from the “death sentence” of addiction to tobacco cigarettes.
    The “Gateway to Tobacco Addiction” comes right out of the Glaxo memos.
    The CDC reports that many youths are experimenting with e-cigs which was widely and constantly reported in the media. On 12/18/ 2013, Susan Liss, the exec. dir. of the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids, was pleased to announce ,”2013 was the 3rd year in a row for significant declines in teen smoking”. One may conclude that the e-cig is the “Gateway” out of smoking.
    This received no coverage, it did not fit the agenda.
    There are two brave people in government not afraid to take on “big Pharma’
    Terrence Young proclaims,’it is time to hold Big Pharma to account for it’s unscrupulous and corrupt marketing practices”.
    Rona Ambrose introduced a bill which includes stiff fines , 5 million a day and jail time for Pharma executives who break the law”.
    Unfortunately they are not in the USA. Mr. Young is a member of parliament in Canada and Ms. Ambrose is the Canada Health Minister.
    In the USA, the FDA protects the Pharma companies and regulates the American people.

    FDA RECOMMENDED ‘ANTI-SMOKING PILLS” CHANTIX and ZYBAN MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT LETTER March 28, 2014 Chantix has seen sales top $700 million in the past, but the drug is now mired in controversy over potential suicides and cardiovascular risks. In fact, Pfizer had to dole out $273 million last year because of lawsuits stemming from suicides and other psychiatric problems.

    Smokers die after taking Zyban cure

    by RACHEL ELLIS, Mail on Sunday
    Eighteen smokers have died after taking Zyban – the new ‘wonder cure’ for nicotine addiction, The Mail on Sunday reveals today.
    The deaths, reported by GPs to the Department of Health, have occurred in the seven-and-a-half months since the drug was launched. Those who died were mainly in their 40s and 50s – although one was aged just 21.
    Health Department figures also show that 3,457 Zyban users have suffered a disturbing range of suspected side effects – from chest pains to fits, seizures and depression.

  • While a wonderful and promising read, how can we possibly know and declare the e-cig a thousand times less harmful when we have zero long-term data? For example, nicotine is implicated in contributing to circulatory disease, cancer promotion (including promotion of breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, lung cancer via cotinine, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer and stem cell cancer), kidney disease and diabetes, decreased sperm counts with DNA damage in men, impaired follicular growth in women, fetal harm (chromosome damage, attention deficits, impaired lung development, asthma, impaired offspring ovarian function and fertility) and in causing sudden infant death.

    What are the long-term consequences of inhaling vaporized nicotine into lungs already badly damaged by years of smoking? At this point, we’re guessing. For example, as shared in a May 3 NY Times article reviewing a new ecig study, the higher voltage produced by tank e-cigs is raising alarm, as apparently they somehow generate formaldehyde levels that can be as high as seen in cigarette smoke.

    While clearly vastly less destructive than smoke, at this point to suggest that vaped nicotine is as safe as drinking caffeine is reckless. Truth is, nicotine is a natural insecticide with neonicotinoids being the best selling farm grade insecticide on earth. Truth is, nicotine dependency itself is an illness, a brain wanting disorder in which nicotine compromised dopamine pathways assign nicotine use the same priority as that circuitry assigns to eating food.

    What would be refreshing is to see honest articles, articles taking notice of the fact that less than 1 in 1,000 caffeine addicts feel the need or urge to replenish falling blood-serum caffeine levels every thirty minutes or so, of every waking hour, of every day.

    While the safe play is clearly nicotine cessation, financially conflicted neo-nicotine industry consultants such as Dr. Robert West (who is also a patent holder for his own nicotine delivery device) appear to know amazingly little about nicotine cessation.

    Nicotine dependency recovery is about reclaiming our brain, mind, priorities, emotions, hands, time, thinking, coins and life. While cleaner delivery is a no-brain-er for smokers not yet ready to reach for the brass ring, don’t we also owe them truth?

    Truth is, coming home is vastly more do-able and far more wonderful than your wanting for that next fix will suggest. Truth is, your body would become nicotine-free and you would move beyond peak withdrawal within 72 hours of ending all use. Truth is, within two weeks of ending all use, fear and dread are likely to be replaced by like or even love as you reclaim the driver’s seat of mind and life, and your addiction is no longer doing the talking.

    Please, as we strive to reduce harm, let us not throw freedom and harm elimination under the bus. Sincere thanks!

    • sadmaninagame

      So are you suggesting they also ban nicotene patches, gum and other devices to help people quit smoking? You aren’t, are you. Strange.

    • braqueish

      The long list of diseases you quote are, in fact, not caused by nicotine but by the smoke that carries it. You could gain these diseases by smoking nicotine-free herbal tobacco. Nicotine is toxic in high concentrations. So is caffeine. Vaping cuts out the smoke inhalation which is the cause of virtually all harm.

      Judging from your penultimate paragraph you have an emotional issue with “addiction”. Judging from your comments elsewhere, this doesn’t apply to your caffeine dependency.

  • Terry Field

    This is monstrous. Does nobody care about the investors who have invested in the tobacco companies in the expectation of a good yield.
    You are all heartless and uncaring.

  • This is a straw man argument. I’m not aware of anybody wanting to ban e-cigarettes. To regulate them, yes; but not ban them.

    It’s important that e-cigarettes are as safe as possible; it’s important that they don’t undermine smoking cessation attempts so that people actually smoke more; and it’s important that they don’t act as a gateway product, enticing young people to become addicted to nicotine. See http://peterenglish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/using-sex-to-sell-vaping-should-this-be.html .

    • braqueish

      Not ban but regulate them out of existence. Better that people switch to non-carcinogenic nicotine delivery systems than continue smoking. “Undermining smoking cessation” is far less important than cutting smoke inhalation because the main problem with smoking is not nicotine use but the damage the smoke does. There’s no evidence at all, as Matt Ridley points out, that vaping is any kind of gateway to cigarette smoking.

      So your comment is bang in line with the obstructive and dangerous Public Health approach. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, posing as rationality. How many deaths are you prepared to accept on your conscience if this policy is implemented?

  • Hetero Lingo

    Although technological advance consists of learning and applying knowledge we didn’t know before, we won’t always enjoy its results.

  • Heather

    It’s about the $ and that’s ALL that it’s about. If there is a cure for smoking.. by vaping… big tobacco goes poof and they are not going to go quietly into the night. So they will demonize, lobby and push e-juice and vape pens into tax history. If a medication was discovered to cure cancer, Big Pharmeceutical would do the same thing. It always has, and always will be about $

  • Peter Fingers Fenney

    it comes down to that the EU and UK Government dont get the revenue out of us vaping like they do when people smoke cigarettes

  • Mandrew

    Well I have to say something here.
    The argument against is dominated by the evangelical/social engineers. An appalling combination borne of control/power minded. Check history.
    Shan’t talk about the loss of money they get from vapers beyond the loss/death of smokers. Smokers, workers certainly, always pay in more than they get out.
    Remember smashing up arm at work. At hospital; “do you smoke?”. Err why – “it was cost to NHS of a smoker”. How is this stuff allowed…
    We’re talking water vapour here. Petrol/diesel fumes anyone. Ironically the trace elements picked up from vape use is from the environment – the filters on cigarettes takes it out.
    I’ve stopped using vapes. True. And I’m not alone.
    Then I’d almost got voucher for wheel of plane on new aircraft carrier.
    Maybe be flippant, but then which would cause most suffering.
    Yep is flippant, but is true.
    Then shame on drivers, flyers and industry etc.
    🙂 😉
    Sleep tight all…

  • Mnestheus

    For once I am in no position to argue with Matt, albeit he has been a little slow catching up:


  • Sweden has been using and improving their snus for centuries, both from a quality and health perspective. Rather than flue curing they pasteurize it, reducing the tobacco specific nitrosamines. In doing so and allowing their citizenry to understand the advantages over smoking, they now have the lowest level of smoking in the modern world and the lowest level of smoking related diseases. So how has the EU and the world reacted to this news for the last many decades?


    Need Taxi Cab in Berkeley, Berkeley Cab Service, Berkeley Taxi Service and Cab Berkeley

  • Roland Willis

    Article 20 of the TPD just cost a whole bunch of lives and the joke is that there isn’t any tobacco in an e-cig. Now we are, post 2016, going to have this absolute life saver regulated through the NHS and innovations in the industry will come to a grinding halt.
    I came to loathe cigarettes. I was a heavy smoker and would wake up coughing my lungs out every morning knowing that my life expectancy was not going to be great. But I couldn’t quit. Life is stressful enough trying to keep your head above water financially in this day and age without try to quit a 25 year habit. I saw an e-cig kit tucked away on a shelf in the supermarket and thought ‘ah what the hell, everything else i tried hasnt worked, this probably wont either but I’ll give it a shot’.
    I havnt touched a tobacco product since. Just a few days on the e-cig and I couldnt even bear the smell of tobacco. A few weeks and I could breath normally again without wheezing. Several months later and I can play football in the park with my boys, go on long walks and I am genuinely enjoying life again.
    I did some research and have upgraded my lookalike e-cig to a liquid refillable type. This is better for me because the lookalikes still alluded to the old habit and the liquids have much nicer flavours available (something else banned by the TPD – they will only allow cigarette flavoured liquid – not even menthol). The sweeter fruit liquids have stopped my cravings for sweet foods and I have lost a lot of weight as I no longer snack.
    All in all it was the best decision for my health I ever made. The same testimony for millions no doubt.

    I am genuinely concerned about the future of vaping in this country. I wrote to my MP but got a 2 line reply telling me it was an EU thing and passed me off to someone else who never bothered to reply.

    The truth is, should I only be able to vape by visiting my doctor and paying extortionate prices for equipment and liquid I have no choice about, I will purchase 15 litres of nicotine base before the ban and store it in a freezer. I have enough hardware to last me a lifetime. The other ingredients, Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerine are commonly available and cannot be banned, and cupcake flavouring isnt going to banned either. I wont have this taken away from me. Ever!

  • Jon Burnham

    This makes my blood boil. There seems to be a lag of appreciation of how much better these devices are. I have been using one for over a year. Not the cheap cr*p from EBay which might indeed be a health liability. I recently had a lung capacity test which was over 10% better then the one I had over two years ago. I personally thing that this ‘anti’ publicity is supported by ‘big pharma’ who will lose a large share of their $60 billion dollar smoking cessation products market.

    My advice – try them – give them time and experiment. Do not buy the throw-aways that look like fags or any EBay rubbish. Buy from the proper brands like Liberty Flights or Evape UK..

  • Cool Ranch, Texas

    While those who understand freedom recognize that democratic methods tend to be aligned with liberty, those obsessed with their own selfish interests realize that democratic methods are susceptible to hijacking.

  • Amanda Jane McGuire-Jones

    I am totally against banning ECigs – a pile of tosh… Ban Tobacco Cigarettes not Ecigs.

    It’s these bloody goverments. Stopped calling them Ecigs – l call them Mods or vaporisers coz that’s all they are.

    Will post a link now – on YouTube.


  • Chuck Itt

    Those of the liberty school understand that voluntary associations of free men are capable of far more than detached central planners.

  • John T. Castle

    “E-cigarettes are making tobacco obsolete. So why ban them?”

    Because they’re making tobacco obsolete. DUH.

    Does anybody still think that the trifecta of government, public health officials, and pharmaceutical companies WANT smokers to quit? Government rakes in obscene piles of money through sumptuary taxation. Public health officials get a nice chunk of that to keep the fearmongering and guilt trip trains rolling. Pharmaceutical companies soak up the cattle who try (and fail) to escape the tax farm by using patches, pills, gums, and inhalers that, for most people, are ineffective at best and fatal in and of themselves at worst.

    Now along comes vaping, and people actually, finally, ARE quitting, by the thousands.

    The cattle are escaping the tax farm. Who is honestly puzzled by the reaction that’s producing?

    • Pomegranny

      I’ve gotta admit. I didn’t think I’d have to make an enemy of Public Health and crash the global economy just to quit smoking. It really is ludicrous.
      After smoking for 36 years, and vaping for 16 months, I have to say not only did they NOT want us to quit smoking, they never thought we COULD.
      But hey; WebMD had a study from 3/12/2014 saying
      Nicotine Patches Don’t Help Pregnant Women Quit Study
      Never got a satisfactory answer from the Pharma shills as to why, by their own logic, they are trying to addict unborn children to nicotine.
      Could a smoker learn their mother used the patch, then turn around and sue Pharma for being addicted to nicotine?

  • Robert Samuel

    After 39 years being a smoker starting on JPS and moving on to roll ups due to increase of tax. Now thank god for E- liquid. Feel a lot better for it no smell one hell of a lot cheaper.Don’t feel bad about not paying so much to the TAX MAN he gets enough from us in other ways.

  • Val O’Neill

    [Quote]If somebody invented a pill that could cure a disease that kills five million people a year worldwide, 100,000 of them in this country, the medical powers that be would surely encourage it, pay for it, perhaps even make it compulsory. They certainly would not stand in its way.[End Quote]

    There is no way in hell that the “other” powers that be would do this… for instance, look at the crap load of money that would be lost if they found a cure cancer.

    This all has to do with money… and that is it.

  • judycorstjens

    What has happened is this. To get people off smoking anti-smoking campaigners needed to adopt an emotional stance (cigarettes are wicked and horrible) because rational approaches (fags kill you) are generally less effective. But having sincerely adopted the emotional or ‘moral’ stance, anti-smoking campaigners then have trouble going back to a rational assessment. Matt Ridley is completely correct, and rational, but you can understand how hard it is for the anti lobby to overcome the ‘taboo’ they have set up around cigarettes.

  • umer khan

    Disposable E-Cigarettes: Disposable E-cigarettes were invented by a Chinese pharmacist. It delivers nicotine to the lungs using a atomizer, a lithium battery and a coil. When exhausted disposable e-cigarettes are considered electronic waste and should be disposed of in an environmentally conscious manner. The health benefits of disposable e-cigarettes in comparison to traditional cigarettes are still being debated.



    361-Front St W

    Toronto, ON

    M5V 3R5

    Call: 647-848-3149

  • umer khan

    Disposable E-Cigarettes: Disposable E-cigarettes were invented by a Chinese pharmacist. It delivers nicotine to the lungs using a atomizer, a lithium battery and a coil. When exhausted disposable e-cigarettes are considered electronic waste and should be disposed of in an environmentally conscious manner. The health benefits of disposable e-cigarettes in comparison to traditional cigarettes are still being debated.



    361-Front St W

    Toronto, ON

    M5V 3R5

    Call: 647-848-3149

  • paul doble

    The truth is that the BMA are in bed with the pharmaceutical companies who have a multi million pound investment in stop smoking aids – This is all about money – It is a disgrace that an organisation like the BMA should put avarice before public health in so blatant a way

  • Vanessa

    I just finished reading this blog post on the “ohm Of Vaping” seems to be exactly what your saying http://www.ohmofvaping.com/vaping-is-killing-big-tobacco/ he talks about a stunt by big tobacco to vilify the vape industry

  • Doretha P. Thibodeaux

    Vaping refers to inhaling and exhaling nicotine-infused vapor from a small, battery-powered cylinder or similar device typically sold at pharmacies, convenience stores, and specialty shops.


  • Peter McCabe

    Interesting well written article, for anyone wanting helpful e-cigarette information please visit http://e8juice.co.nz/e-cigarette-guides/