E-cigarettes are under fire for being a possible gateway to a life of crime and crippling addiction to hard drugs in one of the most lurid attacks on the products yet.
“E-cigs can easily become a gateway to trying and developing an addiction to more serious drugs,” warns Sudip Bose, a physician, in an article for the Huffington Post. “Addiction correlates to crime. People need to feed their habit, they break into homes to steal things to resell, they commit robberies on the streets, all to get money to feed their addiction.”
The article comes just a few days after the Tennessee Department of Health issued an advisory marinated in hyperbole that warns, among other things, that e-cigarettes can be used to deliver a date rape drug. The department felt it appropriate to associate date rape with e-cigarettes despite there not being a single confirmed case of e-cigarettes being used in this way.
The jump from experimenting with e-cigarettes, to nicotine addiction, to hard drugs and crime stretches Bose’s credibility to a breaking point: There is precisely zero evidence for any gateway effect of e-cigarettes on drugs or crime, and none is cited in the article.
Not only that, but there is no evidence that vaping acts as a gateway to regular tobacco smoking despite the best efforts of some anti-e-cigarette campaigners.
The number of teens who don’t smoke but vape on a daily basis is minimal and it takes some work of the imagination to conclude experimenting with vaping will cause these kids to start shooting up heroin and stealing their parent’s jewelry.
“I’m sure this physician is well-intended and is just trying to protect kids from potential risks; however, I don’t think we need to lie to kids or greatly exaggerate the risks,” writes Dr. Michael Siegel, an expert in tobacco control at the Boston University School of Public Health.
This is not the first time a Huffington Post author has published a negative article on e-cigarettes with no supporting evidence. In 2016, the outlet was forced to make a host of corrections to a video featuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sister, Margaret Cuomo.
The video contained several untrue allegations about e-cigarettes, including a claim that they’re just as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes.
“If anti-e-cigarette advocates continue to get away with arguments such as vaping is a gateway to smoking even though there is zero evidence that it is, then what’s to stop them from saying things like vaping will lead to a life of crime if they’re not being held to account?” says Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
“The reason they get away with the gateway argument is because those who agree with them don’t really care about science, they just want to make political arguments against these products” Stier adds.
Guy Bentley (@gbentley1) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a consumer freedom research associate at the Reason Foundation and was previously a reporter for the Daily Caller.