Why did Altria, formerly known as Phillip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Liggett Myers, and Lorillard go along with the administration's plan, enacted by Congress, to allow FDA regulation of cigarettes and other tobacco products? Why didn't they try to mobilize the Republican Party, which if anemic is still strong enough to put brakes on various stimulus bills as well as government-run health insurance? Because it set the tobacco companies up forever. Because FDA regulation of tobacco establishes a cartel, an oligopoly in which new competitors cannot break into the nicotine market, because new competitors will never be able to afford the hideous costs and hurdles that drug manufacturers go through whenever they want to introduce a new product.
FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey tells a St. Louis paper, "We don't know if this is any better for them." If the FDA really doesn't know whether inhaling water vapor containing nicotine is less dangerous than inhaling smoke containing myriad toxins and carcinogens, it cannot be trusted to make scientific judgments about the safety of anything it regulates. But since the FDA has approved various nicotine replacement products (including inhalers!) as safe and effective smoking cessation aids, we have to assume/hope DeLancey is lying, just as FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle presumably was lying when she told NPR "some people may mistakenly perceive [e-cigarettes] to be safer alternatives to conventional tobacco use," thereby asserting that they are not, in fact, safer, even though they do not contain tobacco and do not generate combustion products.
Let's roll that back: Some people, who cannot overcome their nicotine addiction, may mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine-infused water vapor into the nicotine-addict's lungs, are safer than cigarettes, which deliver carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, and cyanide into the addict's lungs. Where is the mistake? Does Rita Chapelle believe that, in order to make e-cigarettes as safe as conventional cancer sticks, e-cigarette manufacturers should add cyanide to their products?
Of course, in the Cartesian sense, we know absolutely nothing. For all we know, we're just disembodied brains floating in tanks, receiving stimulus from electrodes. And for all we know, it's just as dangerous to breathe water vapor as it is to breathe smoke.
But back on Planet Earth, there are three possibilities, not mutually exclusive: 1) Rita Chapelle thinks smokers are idiots. She may be right. Taking up smoking, for most who have the habit, was the dumbest thing they ever did in their lives. 2) She also thinks that everyone else is an idiot, if she believes that they'll fall for such a transparent lie. 3) Rita Chapelle is herself an idiot, because she actually believes that e-cigarettes don't reduce their users' chances of dying a horrible death as opposed to the only other palatable means of nicotine ingestion: cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.
I lean toward possibilities 1 and 2. It's difficult to believe that the government would hire idiots to run the Food and Drug Administration.