Not harmless, ergo harmful

class rhetorical fallacy
category black-or-white, nirvana fallacy
motivation straw man
science aversion 🟩🟥🟥🟧🟧
used by WHO, CTFK, SPD

No serious scientist questions the starkly diminished risk from e-cigarettes. The inherent harm reduction is sometimes ignored, because the dependency retention and potential are still higher than for e.g. nicotine gum (a far cry from tobacco nonetheless).

If there's contention on the cautious "95% less harmful" estimate, it's purposefully left vague and without any counter projection. Often with the sole purpose of legitimizing risk-remnant exaggarations.

"Still smoking"

It's sometimes an assumption based on scientific distrust or observational concerns. If the vapour is equivocated for smoking, then any quantification becomes emotionally irrelevant.

"Ergo harmful"

More frequently a negational conclusion is drawn. In particular "If it's not complettely harmless, it must be very dangerous" appears in various forms.

  • It's usually employed as support rhetoric for auxiliary concerns.
  • Oftentimes it's based on the straw assumption that vaping is portrayed/perceived as completely harmless.
    • There are certainly vendors (China) that have claimed so, or overeuphemistic vaping advocates who did.
    • Even though the harm perception among current smokers has already been perverted.
    • Conversely, it's existing regulations that prevent sensible product documentation and trustworthy risk communication.
  • Hopeful aspirations to uncover more harm aspects / or general assumptions of risk novelty/newsworthiness of minutae.
  • Directly contradicts the core idea of risk reduction.

"Precautionary principle"

Precautionary principle is oft used as cynical euphemism to disregard the patently obvious reduced harm from e-cigarettes - and to keep subjecting smokers to the known harms. Inordinate risk projections are thus actually violating the PP.

Quit or wither

In any case it's based on the notion that harm/risk reduction is insufficient, and insisting solely on risk elimination was realistic. Which is usally described as the puritanical view point. This is often presumed to be an indicator for pharma-ties, albeit the hint to only use medical cessation products (NRTs, psychopharmaca) is better explained by regulatory/liability worries.


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