Why the ‘80s ‘Winston Man’ Thinks
E-Cigs Can Benefit Society
Myths Debunked from Cigarette Spokesman-Turned-Anti Tobacco Activist
Communities are banning them; vials of “e-juice” are poisoning children; and only recently has the FDA proposed regulations for the $1.5 billion-and-growing electronic cigarette industry.
Are e-cigarettes safe? Can they help people stop smoking?
David Goerlitz, the “Winston Man” from 1982-88, publicly denounced the tobacco industry in 1988 and joined the anti-tobacco movement. He eventually became disillusioned with that “industry” as well, although he continues to spread his anti-smoking message in schools.
“This subject hits very close to home for me; my brother was still a young man when he lost his life due to his cigarette addiction,” he says.
Goerlitz knows both sides of the tobacco story well, so when electronic cigarettes emerged, he began researching them.
“Most smokers wish they’d never started and would quit if they could,” he says. “E-cigarettes are not for children or for anyone who doesn’t already smoke. But for the 42.1 million adult smokers [CDC, 2012] who’ve been unable to quit, they are a safer alternative – safer for them and for those around them.”
Having experienced both sides of the tobacco story extensively, he began researching electronic cigarettes when they emerged. Because of the understandable concern driving headlines, Goerlitz clears the air from some of the myths he’s read about.
• E-cigarettes are just as bad – if not worse – than regular cigarettes. “No, I wouldn’t say just anyone should use them – or use just any brand without carefully looking at what’s in the e-juice and where it comes from,” he says. “But most smokers would quit if they could, and for them, this can be a healthier option.”
We know the health hazards posed by regular cigarettes, he says, and there’s anecdotal evidence suggesting that e-cigarettes help some smokers quit tobacco.
• “E-juice” is just another poison that will find its way to children and pets. First, there are many products around the house that can hurt living things: bleach, candles, etc. – but they serve a purpose. Second, while some e-juice should be examined with suspicion, including those that don’t list ingredients and those that are made in China, a company like American Heritage, (www.americanheritageonline.com), has only three food-grade quality ingredients and nicotine that is naturally derived from the tobacco plant. All are sourced and mixed in the United States. In contrast, some other e-cigarette juice consists of synthetic nicotine, which is also used as weed killer.
• They’re being marketed to children. Once again, this is an emerging market and companies should be judged on an individual basis. “I like how American Heritage has really gone out of its way to emphasize the fact that its product is not for kids,” Goerlitz says. Also, any product that is restricted to adults may be potentially construed as playing to minors: bubblegum-flavored vodka, mature video games and more.
• Smokers won’t like them; they’re too different from traditional cigarettes. “Many smokers look at the delivery vessel for most e-cigarettes and say, ‘Why would I want to smoke a pen?’ “he says. So, it’s important for many to have that authentic smoking experience.
“Quitting smoking is hard, and there are millions of smokers in the U.S. alone whereby nicotine patches, cocktail straws and hypnosis simply doesn’t work,” he says. “I’ve joined American Heritage as their spokesperson because, in part, they’ve made it truly easy for traditional smokers by providing the most authentic e-cigarette on the market today. In my opinion, the more people that switch, the more lives that are saved.”