Cigarette combustion, rather than either tobacco or nicotine, is the cause of a public health disaster. Fortunately, several new technologies that vaporize nicotine or tobacco, and may make cigarettes obsolete, have recently appeared. Research priorities include the effects of vaporizers on smoking cessation and initiation, their safety and toxicity, use by non-smokers, dual use of vaporizers and cigarettes, passive vaping, renormalization of smoking, and the development of messages that effectively communicate the continuum of risk for tobacco and nicotine products. A major difficulty is that we are chasing a moving target. New products constantly appear, and research results are often obsolete by the time they are published. Vaporizers do not need to be safe, only safer than cigarettes. However, harm reduction principles are often misunderstood or rejected. In the context of a fierce ideological debate, and major investments by the tobacco industry, it is crucial that independent researchers provide regulators and the public with evidence-based guidance. The methodological and ideological hurdles on this path are discussed in this commentary.