By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2014, 3:44pm PT  

For all of the long-time smokers who are quitting or have now quit the deadly habit (myself included) thanks only to the miracle of e-cigs (which offer none of the thousands of known, harmful byproducts of smoking tobacco), it's remarkable to see anti-smoking zealots actually fighting against their use in myriad ways.

Several weeks ago on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show, I interviewed Paul Koretz, one of the L.A. City Councilmembers who, beyond all reason --- and without a single shred of scientific data to back up his reasoning --- recently voted to ban vaping in all the same places where smoking is banned (on beaches, public parks, inside work places, restaurants, bars, etc.) Those who vape, if L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti decides to approve the City Council's ridiculous and dangerous ordinance (as other mayors have done in other cities) would be consigned to having to go outside to a smoking area to use their safe, odor-free vaporizer.

As one caller to the radio show pointed out, that ill-considered policy is akin to forcing recovering alcoholics to go sit in a bar. It's almost assured to keep more people smoking rather than quitting. That, even though, as Koretz admitted to me on air, there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking" and the former. (And he was low-balling that number, no doubt.) The former President of the American Lung Association describes the L.A. ban on vaping as "misguided" and "a public health disservice".

Which brings us to Monday's New York Times, where the Idiotic War on Quitting Smoking continues with a misguided hit piece on e-liquid --- the "juices" used in e-cig vaporizers --- headlined "Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes"...

Most such e-juices contain various levels of nicotine (unlike with cigarettes, the amount is up to the users, usually from 0mg to 24mg or so) mixed with FDA-approved, food-grade propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, some flavoring and water. The ingredients in e-liquids other than nicotine are regularly used in all sorts of things, from lip balm to asthma inhalers to the fog machines used in theaters and discos.

While the ingestion of nicotine in the amounts used in e-cigs (and smoking, for that matter) is not known to be any more dangerous than, say, the caffeine in your coffee, as toxicologists will tell you, poison is determined by the amount, the dose, ingested. If you don't believe me, try drinking several gallons of clear clean water in about 30 minutes or so. (Actually, please don't. It will likely kill you.)

The same, of course, is true for the nicotine concentrate used in e-juice. And so, as part of the absurd --- and deadly --- War on Vaping that is now emerging to stop millions of people moving from smoking to vaping, the Times today warns that "Evidence of the potential dangers is already emerging. Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant risk to public health, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum."

Of course. It's the children they claim to be worried about.

But are they worried about what happens if children get a hold of, say, this delicious looking Clorox Pine-Sol Household Cleaner concentrate, in deliciously kid-friendly colors for just $9.99 for 144 ounces, as found under the kitchen sinks of tens of millions of Americans?...

What kid could resist a sip of that delicious looking grape or cherry or blueberry flavor?! And yet, I haven't noticed the NY Times running any feature articles warning about Pine-Sol's dangers, despite the fact that, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), "Every day, over 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned."

"It's not just chemicals in your home marked with clear warning labels that can be dangerous to children," the CDC warns. "Everyday items in your home, such as household cleaners and medicines, can be poisonous to children as well."

In the meantime, as the Times notes, there has been just one death from nicotine poisoning since 2011, "a suicide by an adult who injected nicotine."

The paper, however, failed to warn of the case of the woman who "accidentally drank PineSol and was subsequently brought to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival" or of the house cat who "died of Pinesol intoxication," to name just two examples I found at the National Insitute of Health (NIH) after about 3 minutes of Googling.

I appreciate that most people do not smoke. And that many of those non-smokers who see something that appears to be smoke-like coming out of someone's mouth (it's not smoke, it's water vapor) may have a psychological inclination to feel that it is the very same thing as smoking. But it isn't. Not by a long shot. It's more like an orally administered nicotine patch and one that people actually prefer to either smoking or nicotine patches. And, at least for me, it actually led to my quitting smoking --- immediately --- unlike FDA-approved nicotine patches, gums and any number of prescription-based pharmaceuticals approved as smoking cessation aids.

Vaping works. Like water, it is not known to be deadly to either the user or anyone else when it's used properly. It's not even annoying, since the mist released by vapers is virtually odor-free.

And yet, those who claim they want to save lives by encouraging people to quit smoking are doing the exact opposite by demonizing vaping, and making it more difficult to do. That needs to stop --- unless the anti-smoking-turned-anti-vaping efforts aren't really about saving lives at all.