Vapers Fight Back Against Chicago’s Anti-E-Cigarette Crusade

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

Chicago’s public health campaign against e-cigarettes has received a furious backlash from vaper users and harm reduction advocates.

With the full support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is engaging in a public information and social media campaign to highlight “the highly addictive nature of nicotine” and the “toxic chemicals and poison found in e-liquids.”

The CDPH took to Twitter to persuade the public Wednesday that vaping carried of host dangers and should be avoided as a smoking cessation method.

Under the hashtag #vapingtruth the CPHD spewed out a stream of tweets claiming “exposure to relatively small amounts of nicotine can rapidly be fatal” and “it is unclear whether e-cigarettes may be effective as smoking-cessation aids.”

The campaign is part of Chicago’s wider tobacco control strategy, despite e-cigarettes containing no tobacco. “From regulating e-cigarettes to banning the sale of flavored tobacco near our schools, we are committed to enacting every possible strategy to prevent youth from ever picking up smoking,” Emanuel said in a statement Wednesday.

He was joined by Dr. Robert A. Winn, Director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, who claimed “widespread use of e-cigarettes is re-normalizing smoking in our society, which makes this a very pertinent public health issue.”

But the campaign sparked a backlash on social media, with a wave of tweets telling personal stories of people who had kicked their tobacco habit thanks to e-cigarettes and links to studies on the safety of vaping vs smoking.

Clive Bates, the former Director of Action on Smoking and Health in the United Kingdom and a leading anti-smoking campaigner was disgusted by the CDPH campaign.

President of the American Vaping Association, Gregory Conley was similarly unimpressed.

In a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation, Conley was even more concerned about the possible consequences for public health of an anti-vaping campaign:

Thanks to the combination of this campaign and forthcoming sky high taxes in Chicago and Cook County, we’ll likely see smoking rates in Chicago stagnate or fall at a much slower rate than the rest of the country. Mayor Emanuel is leaving behind quite the legacy of shuttered businesses and dead smokers.

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