A few months ago, ECCR reported that Dr. Jerome Adams was nominated to become the new Surgeon General of the United States. We do not know how the new Surgeon General will approach electronic cigarettes. It is thought that Dr. Adams will be focused on the opioid crisis but vaping and e-cigs will end up on his desk at some point or another. How will he respond?
In early September, Dr. Adams was officially sworn in as the new United States Surgeon General. Sally Satel wrote an article for the American Enterprise Institute with some advice for Dr. Adams and how he should handle vaping.
American Enterprise Institute Advice For Dr. Adams
What should the new Surgeon General do about e-cigs? Sally Satel suggests that Dr. Adams start by setting the record straight on youth and electronic cigarettes. Adams predecessor, Dr. Vivek Murtha, issued a report citing teen vaping as a significant public health concern. The number just do not back up that conclusion. 2015 data shows that 0.7% of youth use e-cigs on any type of regular basis. Is vaping a gateway to tobacco? In fact, youth smoking has decreased since the availability of electronic cigarettes.
The report also identified vaping as being potentially as dangerous as smoking. Satel wants Adams to clarify that e-cigarette vapor does not result in the toxins that are produced by combustion.
How did Dr. Murtha come to his conclusions? Satel suggests the phenomena of “confirmation bias” was at play. Confirmation bias occurs when data is selectively chosen to support the desired conclusion. Dr. Robert West has done great work explaining bias in e-cig studies.
Surgeon General Should Focus On Harm Reduction
Perhaps the most important thing Dr. Adams should do is focus on harm reduction. Satel suggests that the Surgeon General should seek to emphasize scientific study that is likewise focused on harm reduction. A good example is the recent reports about how nicotine in e-cigs increases blood pressure. Of course it does! Nicotine is a stimulant. All nicotine does. The fact that they are focused on nicotine from vaping misses the entire point. If they want to debate whether or not nicotine is bad for you is another matter. Focus on the differences between vaping and smoking. Focus on harm reduction.
The article published by the American Enterprise Institute also urges Adams to involve a broader range of top-notch researchers in the debate. As it stands, there seem to be a few go to anti-vaping researchers that get all the ink.
Satel concludes by affirming that the damage can be undone. The interests of 37 million smokers in America can be and should be better served.