By Jacob Sullum
John Banzhaf, founder and executive director of Action on Smoking and Health, is irrationally and irredeemably opposed to one action that shows real promise for reducing smoking and improving health: the use of electronic cigarettes, which deliver nicotine vapor without tobacco or combustion products. Why does Banzhaf hate e-cigarettes so much? A few reasons spring to mind:
1. They look like real cigarettes.
2. They offer smokers a way to "light up" in places covered by the smoking bans that Banzhaf has been pushing since the 1960s.
3. They let people get their nicotine fix without risking lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disase.
4. They are not approved by the FDA.
Now Banzhaf is offering a new reason to fear e-cigarettes:
To the many dangers the FDA has already reported with e-cigarettes—deadly and addictive nicotine, carcinogens and other toxic chemicals released into the air, possibly serving as "training wheels" to entice young teens into smoking, and threats to nonusers standing nearby—add the many problems posed by inhaling at least three different "potent" strains of marijuana.
Banzhaf is referring to Vapor Rush, an e-cigarette that replaces nicotine with cartridges containing a cannabis-based solution. According to the distributor's website, the product is available at medical marijuana dispensaries in California, including the Farmacy in Venice and the Harborside Health Center in Oakland. Banzhaf does not specify any of the "many problems" posed by this innovative product, which gives patients a highly portable way to avoid combustion products while taking their medicine. And I am not just saying that in the hope of receiving a free sample. More here.
In related marijuana-extract news, the British company GW Pharmaceuticals finally has received permission to sell Sativex, its oral cannabis spray, in the U.K. for treatment of muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. Canadian regulators approved the use of Sativex to treat neuropathic pain in 2005, and the company is seeking clearance in the U.S. as well.