The ideological divide on vaping has a clear winner: Smokers

In an America so consumed by politics that everything short of picking out a dog leash is determined in an ideological construct, there is one thing upon which everyone agrees — smoking is bad and quitting is good.

Yet in the critical debate on the importance of e-cigarettes in turning smokers into non-smokers, a baffling divide has occurred with conservatives generally supporting this pathway and liberals opposing it.

Awash in misinformation and splashy anti-vaping stories from the media, policymakers and the public don’t know what to think. But now a prominent liberal economist and an influential Democrat think tank have released a report that should settle the debate by utilizing a factor that eludes anti-vaping activists — math.

Renowned economist Robert J. Shapiro is a Democrat. He served in the Clinton administration and advised Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Al Gore. The Progressive Policy Institute started in 1989 and still considered in D.C. circles “Bill Clinton’s think tank.”

Shapiro’s report for PPI, The Impact of Electronic Cigarettes on Cigarette Smoking by Americans and Its Health and Economic Implications, is objectively and meticulously researched and comes to firm conclusions — vaping is the most effective method for smoking cessation and is not a gateway to cigarette use. Vaping improves health, saves health-care costs and adds to economic productivity.

It is important to put the human and economic value of smoking cessation into context. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. According the Centers for Disease Control, more than 16 million Americans suffer smoking related disease, nearly 500 million die every year because they smoke, and another 41,000 die because other people smoke.

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