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Iowa attorney general stands up for e-cigarettes after winning 1998 big tobacco lawsuit

KCCI Des Moines logo KCCI Des Moines 11/15/2019
a close up of a person: Vaping © Provided by Hearst Television, Inc. Vaping

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is known for winning the largest settlement against big tobacco in history. Now, Miller is standing up for e-cigarettes.

"If smokers were to switch to e-cigarettes they could well save their lives," Miller said.

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Miller knows his opinion is not common in the anti-tobacco community.

"That's not surprising," Miller said. "They fought this battle for a long time. They see it as the same battle. I see it as totally different."

Iowa has received more than $1 billion from the landmark 1998 settlement against big tobacco Miller helped lead. He sees e-cigarettes as yet another way to move people away from smoking traditional combustible cigarettes.

"Public Health England tells us, I believe correctly, that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful," Miller said.

His office sent a letter to the Trump administration in October warning of unintended consequences if the administration moves forward with plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes, possibly creating a black market.

"There's going to be disease and defective products," Miller said. "That's the lesson of the lung disease epidemic."

Miller partnered with JUUL Labs during spring 2018 to fight underage use. He even acted in an advisory role with the company, but his office said he is no longer in contact with JUUL Labs.

"The No. 1 priority for me is to move the age to 21 for both e-cigarettes and combustibles," Miller said.

We asked Miller about all the current health advisories related to vaping. He said liquid vitamin E, the ingredient the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes is causing lung issues, is only in illegal THC vaping liquids and not the legal e-cigarettes.

Miller does not vape. While he thinks vaping is a solution for adult smokers, he does support restrictions on advertising to youth and making it harder for kids to access.

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