PROGRESSIVISM IS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH: The Corruption of Public Health. Of all the crazy left-wing junk-science crusades I’ve written about, the war on vaping is the craziest. Progressives are effectively protecting Big Tobacco and Big Pharma by misleading the public about the risks of vaping, as I write in City Journal:
How could a profession dedicated to health oppose the most promising method of saving smokers’ lives? The immediate answer involves progressive activists whom the Obama administration appointed to government health agencies; with the change of administrations, their departure gives Republicans a chance to undo the damage. But the vaping story is part of a much bigger and longer-running scandal. It is the most flagrant example of how a once-noble enterprise became corrupted by ideology and self-dealing.
The public-health profession now cares about more growing government than promoting solid research or public health. Millions of lives could be saved if smokers switched to e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, but when it comes to nicotine, progressives insist on an abstinence-only policy (also known as “quit or die”) rather than the “harm-reduction” approach they promote for heroin addicts.
This inconsistency can be explained partly by the Left’s preferences in virtue-signaling. Like fundamentalists who object to dancing because it looks like sex, they’re repulsed by vaping because it looks like smoking. A more cynical explanation is the difference in employment opportunities for public-health workers and bureaucrats. There’s no role for them when people get nicotine through snus or e-cigarettes, but they can get jobs running needle exchanges and antismoking campaigns. Prohibitionist activists have received long-running support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which helped create the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (a leader of the anti-vaping movement) and has spent nearly $700 million toward its goal of a “tobacco-free society.”
Republicans have a chance to to combine sound science and good politics by protecting the 10 million American vapers, a demographic that’s projected to double in the next decade. “These contemptuous nanny-state jerks want to take away the products that are saving their lives,” says Grover Norquist, the GOP strategist. “Believe me, this is a vote-moving issue.”