A recent experiment in Italy found that electronic cigarettes can help even hard-core smokers quit, boosting hopes that e-cigarettes could be a much better tool than more traditional products like nicotine patches and gum. So why are government officials and anti-smoking groups working to ban the device, which delivers a small amount of nicotine in an aerosol form? The New York Times takes an extensive look at the issue, and points out an odd reality: It’s the more liberal officials who are touting an "abstinence-only" policy when it comes to smoking cessation tools.
The FDA, which has been backed in its fight against e-cigarettes by groups including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, has referred to them as a “drug delivery device” and a “gateway” to nicotine addiction. It has also warned that some chemicals in their vapor may be “harmful” and “toxic,” though it hasn't shared any evidence proving that—nor has it revealed that trace amounts of the same chemicals are also found in FDA-approved gum and patches. Researchers have blasted the FDA’s methods, with one noting that the bias "boggles my mind." "E-cigarettes could replace much or most of cigarette consumption in the US in the next decade,” says the director of Smokefreee Pennsylvania. "There is no evidence that e-cigarettes have ever harmed anyone." (Read more cigarettes stories.)