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Vaping, E-Cigarettes, and Public Policy Toward Alternatives to Smoking

February 20, 2017

Policymakers should be mindful of the extensive research that supports tobacco harm reduction and understand that bans, excessive regulations, or high taxes on e-cigarettes could encourage smokers to stay with more-harmful traditional cigarettes.

A woman vaping with an e-cigarette

For decades, lawmakers and regulators have used taxes, bans, and strong regulations in an attempt to reduce the negative health effects of smoking. Recently, some have sought to extend those policies to electronic cigarettes. This booklet urges policymakers to re-think that tax-and-regulate strategy.

Health professionals have long known that the smoke created by combustible cigarettes, rather than the nicotine, is what makes smoking harmful. Smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes provide a much safer and healthier alternative delivery system for nicotine. Tobacco harm reduction is a proven strategy for helping smokers reduce their tobacco use or quit altogether

Dr. Brad Rodu, lead author of the enclosed booklet, has been at the forefront of tobacco harm reduction research and policy development for more than 20 years. He is a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, where he is a member of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and holds an endowed chair in tobacco harm reduction research.

The booklet's table of contents:


Policy Prescriptions

  • Taxation
  • Indoor and Outdoor Bans
  • Prohibiting Purchases by Minors
  • Regulating Flavors

Myths and Facts About E-Cigarettes

  • There is an epidemic of e-cigarette poisoning of children
  • E-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking
  • E-cigarettes don't help smokers quit
  • E-cigarettes aren't any less harmful than tobacco cigarettes

History of the Failed Anti-Smoking Campaign

Quit or Die as the Only Strategy

The Case for Tobacco Harm Reduction

Decades of Evidence for Tobacco Harm Reduction

E-Cigarettes as a Harm-Reduction Alternative

  • What Are E-Cigarettes
  • Extending FDA Regulations to E-Cigarettes


About the Authors

Endnotes (116 of them)

Matthew Glans joined the staff of The Heartland Institute in November 2007 as legislative specialist for insurance and finance.
Work from Heartland Institute staff. @@heartlandinst