Call it experience

Big tobacco lied for many years about the adverse health effects associated with its product. We know that. It has been proven in court through billions of dollars in settlements by some companies.

The same goes for some in the drug industry, who knew even as they were reaping windfall profits from opioid painkillers that they were understating the potential for patients to become addicts.

What about e-cigarettes? They caught on quickly, in part because some smokers saw them as a way to wean themselves off cigarettes.

At the same time, millions — yes, millions — of young people thought e-cigarettes were a safe alternative to smoking. “Vaping” has caught on among many students as young as middle-school age. The availability of scores of different flavors helped.

Executives in the e-cigarette industry insist they had no intention of getting children hooked on nicotine. They point to advertising campaigns allegedly intended to warn minors of the dangers of ingesting nicotine in any form. Many, including industry leader Juul, have stopped marketing flavored pods for e-cigarettes.

That may have been a self-defense move, of course. Some states have banned flavored pods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has, too.

Evidence that some e-cigarette companies were very active in promoting their products to government officials including state attorneys general has surfaced, however. On occasion, the companies also contributed to political campaigns in order to win friends in government.

It may be time for an investigation into just how much the companies knew about their products and when they knew it.

If e-cigarette executives were aware some of their profits were coming from children deceived into thinking that “vaping” was safe, the companies should be held accountable.

Why be so suspicious? Call it experience.

By Patricia Older

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