Iowa AG Defends E-Cigarettes

Position statement calls out “misleading” efforts, puts vaping statistics in context

Iowa attorney general Tom Miller

Tom Miller

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has issued a position statement called Electronic Cigarette Key Facts. His main premise is that “the harm of the combustible cigarette is dramatically greater than the harm of the e-cigarette” and that many efforts to get people to quit smoking altogether are misleading.

“A panel of experts estimates that the e-cigarette is 95% less harmful,” he wrote. “Some push back on this study, in part questioning the ability to put an exact number on it. Another estimate is 90% to 98% less harmful. But whatever number is correct, e-cigarettes are dramatically less harmful than combustible cigarettes.”

The statement continues, ““There has been an effort to say that combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes are equally harmful, that their companies are equally evil, and that they should be strongly regulated the same way. This view is incorrect, but it has gotten significant traction. Polling indicates that 32% of Americans believe that combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes are equally harmful. This means that as many as 13 million adult smokers believe them to be equally harmful, and are very unlikely to switch when switching may save their lives. People making misstatements about e-cigarettes have the best of intentions to keep kids from being addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes. But adults misleading kids to get them to do what we want has always been a failed strategy.”

He also cites misleading data and makes an attempt to put it in the proper context.

“There also is a misconception about the prevalence of teen e-cigarette smoking,” he said. “According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, 13% of American high school students smoked an e-cigarette once or more in the last 30 days. This includes regular use and experimental use. As the figure is repeated, the number 13% is used without that qualification. After a few repetitions, people then tend to assume that 13% are regular users; however, regular use if defined by usage in 20 or more days in the last 30 days is actually 2%. The numbers should be seen together 13% used e-cigarettes once or more in the last 30 days; 2% have used an e-cigarette 20 or more days in the last 30 days.”