Njoy, more famous recently for the controversial TV ad, has made a landmark addition to their board of directors, appointing former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona. The calls for increased regulation of the e-cigarette industry come notably from groups generally critical of e-cigs, but Njoy's decision reflects the fact that e-cigarette manufacturers themselves also rank their customer’s health as their primary concern. This is obvious to anybody in the vaping community, but it will hopefully serve as a wake-up call for wider society.
Dr. Richard Carmona served as Surgeon General between 2002 and 2006, and is arguably most well-known for his 2006 report into the dangers of second hand smoke. The report found that almost half of non-smokers in America were regularly exposed to tobacco smoke, and argued for a ban on indoor smoking to protect their health. It was embraced by anti-smoking groups, for obvious reasons, and he is remembered fondly by them as a result. His 2004 report also presented updated evidence for the dangers of smoking.
Njoy’s decision to appoint him to their board falls into place as arguably one of the most instrumental hiring choices in the industry’s short history. The most important thing for the vaping community is that it sends two very important messages to groups that traditionally argue against e-cigarettes.
Claiming that Dr. Carmona has “switched sides” in the smoking debate would be foolish for several reasons, but it will appear that way to many people who vehemently oppose cigarettes. He hasn’t, of course, because e-cigs were not well-known during his time as Surgeon General, and like many people, he recognizes the huge potential they have for reducing the damage done by tobacco. In his official statement, he commented that “the current data indicate that electronic cigarettes may have a very meaningful harm reduction potential.”
This public endorsement may serve as a wake-up call to anybody who is against smoking and simply opposes e-cigarettes because it looks like smoking. There is considerable evidence to support the fact that electronic cigarettes are much, much safer than traditional cigarettes, and anybody who denies that is either intentionally or unintentionally ignoring anything which contradicts their opinion. Dr. Michael Siegel called it an “ideological” opposition, and this seems wholly correct. E-cigarettes are actually on the same side as the anti-smoking lobby – aiming to reduce the prevalence of self-inflicted diseases – but because they bear an aesthetic similarity, anti-smoking groups can’t see past it. Perhaps Dr. Carmona, as a voice trusted by the movement, might be able to help a few people get a more realistic grasp of the situation.
The move also addresses another common line of argument against electronic cigarettes, that the industry is some sort of unregulated circus industry presided over by profit-hungry monsters who put consumers at risk with poorly constructed products. If more evidence was needed that this isn’t true, the fact that Njoy has actively hired a former Surgeon General to deal with public health and regulatory issues is a perfect illustration of the problem with that argument. Numerous e-cig companies submit their products for third-party testing, in addition to the consumer safety legislation they are already required to comply with.
Dr. Carmona’s move should be a definitive step forwards in the crusade against the mindless scaremongering and ideological hatred e-cigarettes are facing, and yet again shows that they could hugely benefit the health of the smoking population.