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The R Street Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy research organization whose mission is to “engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government.”

The self labeled “free-market think tank” organization has their headquarters in Washington DC and offices in various other locations in the US. An article published yesterday on their website goes through different examples of how the US normally goes for “harm reduction” options, but how in the case of smoking the country’s policy makers are doing the exact opposite.

Choosing the safest options?

Where it comes to teenage pregnancies, lawmakers promoted safe sex rather than insisting on abstinence. Why are they not advocating the safest option when it comes to smoking?
The of the article, David Bahr, starts off by using the example of teenage pregnancy, and how the country’s health officials chose to put aside moralism and opted for the most pragmatic and safe option. Instead of insisting on promoting abstinence, the Department of Health and Human Services shifted focus to advocate “safe sex”, hence promoting the use of condoms. A move that resulted in teenage pregnancy reaching record lows.

Bahr went on to mention another classic example of adopting the best safest option given circumstances, the renowned needle-exchange programs in order to prevent HIV transmission. However he rightly points out, where it comes to smoking, health officials have decided to adopt a different stance, they are adopting “a moralistic” and prohibitory position which is proving detrimental to public health.

Despite evidence to the contrary, e-cigs labelled the bad guys

Despite all the available information about the adverse effects of smoking, 17% of the adult population in the US smokes. An alarming figure if one takes in consideration the loss and pain that smoking causes in families, and also the financial burden that individuals suffering from smoking related diseases impose on their loved ones and their governments.

After endorsing e-cigs as smoking cessation tools, the UK is reporting the lowest number of smokers ever recorded.
TheEnter electronic cigarettes, the products that though not completely harmless are proven to be at least 95% safer than cigarettes, and are known to heave helped millions quit, but.. has the US government endorsed them as in the case of other harm reduction approaches? No, on the contrary it is demonizing them and has just regulated them as tobacco products, putting them under the same umbrella as their deadly counterparts.

The UK has taken a different approach. After research confirmed the products’ relative safety and effectiveness as smoking cessation aids, the country endorsed the products and started offering them as part of smoking cessation programs. The result? The country is reporting the lowest number of smokers ever recorded. Unfortunately what this means is that while the UK is on the way to combating the health epidemic caused by smoking, in the US smokers are being cut off from the one proven smoking alternative that could bring their health back on track.

Urging lawmakers to question their motives

The article on R-Street is concluded by urging policy makers to broaden their perspective and adopt the same view as when adopting other harm reduction policies, where even though suggesting vaping may not be the perfect option, it is most definitely the safest and most pragmatic one currently available. The country’s officials are being encouraged to ask themselves the following question,”Are they putting the health concerns of the state’s residents first, or are they jeopardizing them because of a moralistic disdain for nicotine products?”.