Mock not Stephen Dorff

Matt Ridley on the National Health Services' war against e-cigarettes:

If somebody invented a pill that could cure a disease that kills five million people a year worldwide, 100,000 of them in this country, the medical powers that be would surely encourage it, pay for it, perhaps even make it compulsory. They certainly would not stand in its way.

A relentless stream of data from around the world is showing that e-cigarettes are robbing tobacco companies of today’s customers — and cancer wards of their future patients. In Britain alone two million now use these devices regularly. In study after study, scientists are finding e-cigarettes to be effective at helping people quit, to show no signs of luring non-smokers into tobacco use and to be much safer than their noxious competitors.

So what in heaven’s name explains the fact that Dame Sally Davies, the government’s chief medical officer, when asked by the New Scientist in March what was the biggest health challenge we face in Britain, named three things, one of which was the electronic cigarette? That’s like criticising contraception because you prefer abstinence.

I confess to a few chuckles at occasional sightings of Stephen Dorff's TV ads for Blu, an e-cigarette brand. Now I regret that. The older I get, though, the less ideological and the more pragmatic I become.

By the way, where’s the left in all this? Smoking is increasingly concentrated in lower socioeconomic groups. How can we get e-cigarettes into the hands of the poor quickly? The high up-front costs of e-cigarettes (followed by lower ‘running’ costs) means their take-up by poorer people has been slower. Why are libertarians doing all the hard work?

Next time you hear somebody say that they worry about the potential risks of e-cigarettes, remind them of Voltaire’s dictum — don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.

Stephen Dorff > Jenny McCarthy.