by SALLY SATEL
From the June 1, 2015 issue of National Review
When the prime-time cameras caught Julia Louis-Dreyfus “vaping” an electronic cigarette at the 2014 Golden Globes ceremony, cries of disapproval arose from our nation’s capital. Representative Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), then the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.) told the president of NBC that they were “dismayed” that the actress was “sending the wrong message to kids about these products.” In a bruising Senate hearing a few months later, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) tore into executives of two major e-cigarette companies: “I’m ashamed of you. I don’t know how you go to sleep at night. I don’t know what gets you to work in the morning except the color green of dollars. You are what is wrong with this country.” To listen to these reactions, you would never guess that e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that produce an aerosol solution of nicotine free of carcinogenic tar, offer any health benefits to smokers. In truth, e-cigarettes have the potential to ignite a public-health revolution. But thanks to alarm over speculative dangers, misleading spin on facts, and outright misrepresentations of the evidence, various lawmakers and public-health officials threaten to dash that promise.