NYT on E-cigarettes: again with the "gateway drug" argument

The Times had a story about JuJu Joints yesterday. These are a new kind of disposable e-cigarette sold in Washington, where marijuana is legal, in which the active ingredient is THC instead of nicotine. 

After the inventor explains the product, we get this from Times correspondent Kira Peikoff:

“Not everyone is so enthusiastic. Many addiction researchers fear that e-cigarettes will pave the way to reliance on actual cigarettes, especially in teenagers.”

Forget the fact that she abruptly stopped talking about a THC delivery system to insert boilerplate handwringing about a nicotine delivery system. There’s that “gateway to real cigarettes” argument again.

This is like saying, “Thrill researchers fear that playground slides will pave the way for children to want to slide down storm drains.” Or, “Harry Potter researchers fear that children who enjoy the stories will make a complete break with reality and live in a fantasy world in their head.” Or, “Cupcake researchers fear that children who learn to eat a cupcake at one sitting will graduate to eating a wedding cake at one sitting, because, you know, more of a good thing.”

Shouldn’t the researchers stop “fearing” this and that, and do some actual research to find out if it’s true? Will relatively low-risk, easy-to-consume e-cigarettes lead people (especially teenagers!) to inhale more expensive, noxious burning tobacco that all of them know is much riskier to their health? 

I “fear” this bullshit will continue until someone actually produces some research, at which point I fear these frightened researchers will be eating a bit of crow.