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Interview with Dr. Michael Siegel, author of Wall Street Journal piece “The Misbegotten Crusade Against E-Cigarettes”

Listen to an exclusive TEVA interview with Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health by TEVA Executive Director Andrew Westerkom about his recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled "The Misbegotten Crusade Against E-Cigarettes"  Dr. Siegel has conducted tobacco research for 25 years and has been an advocate for anti-smoking policies.

During this conversation Dr. Siegel asserts that the FDA, CDC & California Dept. of Public Health have lied to the public about the health implications of e-cigarettes and calls upon them to, either defend their statements, or publicly recant them. Also, according to Dr. Siegel the lobbying efforts of the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Heart Association "may be doing harm to the public health."

The study, an online survey conducted by Saul Shiffman, a pharmaceutical industry consultant and psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, found that young people were not particularly attracted to the flavors. Flavors did make e-cigarettes more attractive to adult smokers, Professor Shiffman concluded.

In a recent NYT article covering the use of flavors in e-cigarettes there is mention of a study that concluded flavors do not increase the appeal of smoking to children (E-Cigarette Makers Are in an Arms Race for Exotic Vapor Flavors ).  In a rebuttal to this study the article turns to a chemistry professor who has studied cancer risks associated with smoking.  His exact quote is "It defies logic to think that such flavors would not make e-cigarette use more appealing and even normal for children.”  Mr. Pankow (article did not refer to him as having a Doctorate) makes it clear that intuition reigns supreme and that clinical studies which run contrary to his "logical" notions are to be discounted.  Heady coming from an individual who teaches science for a living.

Is cherry flavor the right of only those under the age of 18?  Starbucks serves up one of the most addictive products in the world to millions of people (it's called caffeine) and they flood it with all types of flavorings.  Where is Mr. Pankow's outrage at Starbucks for hooking the next generation on a products whose negative health affects are on par with nicotine.

Children (like adults) are attracted to nicotine and caffeine not because of the flavorings but because of the stimulant and the societal norms attributed to the habits of their consumption.

We need to turn our attention to making sure that children don't use e-cigarettes.  This is not going to happen through removing flavors from adults.  Policies based upon science and not empirical "logic" need to be promoted and in the end we need to stay focused on empowering Americans to use products that lead them to a healthier lifestyle.


Electronic cigarettes: human health effects


Objective With the rapid increase in use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), users and non-users are exposed to the aerosol and product constituents. This is a review of published data on the human health effects of exposure to e-cigarettes and their components.

Methods Literature searches were conducted through September 2013 using multiple electronic databases.

Results Forty-four articles are included in this analysis. E-cigarette aerosols may contain propylene glycol,...

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