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CDC Piles On With National Anti-Vaping Campaign

By Tyler McCanus

Monday April 20, 2015
cdc tom friedman anti ecig campaign
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The assault of negative anti-vaping ads continues with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) emphasizing possible ecigarette dangers in both print and radio. The angle for these ads seems to be less about the “are ecigs safe” question, and more about the behavior of those that use them.

The fact that ecigarette companies give smokers a viable alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes isn’t lost on those behind this campaign, they simply use that fact in their favor. The message they are trying to get across here is that ecigarette users don’t completely make the switch away from tobacco cigarettes; they simply diversify their use with ecigs.

Besides the fact that any lessening of smoking can be considered a great step for most people, this tactic is ripe with hypocrisy. Everyone knows that ecigarette companies can’t make any claims about helping smokers stop, because the laws governing advertising are too strict to allow that. Until millions and millions of dollars worth of research are poured in to get an answer to that “are ecigs safe” question, this will remain the same.

It also isn’t just the money, but the time needed to verify scientifically that there are no ecigarette dangers. These factors have slowed the pace of getting so-called final answers to the questions surrounding vaping.

But in the meantime, as those studies are being conducted, most take the approach that even if they can’t make claims about ecigs on their own; they know how they are in relation to tobacco cigarettes.

That isn’t enough for Tim McAfee, the CDC’s senior medical officer at the Office on Smoking and Health. He believes that if ecigarettes want to promote their product as helping smokers stop, then they need to go down that path, however expensive and lengthy it is. “There are hundreds of manufacturers and not a single one has chosen to go down this pathway,” says McAfee. Of course he neglects to mention that ecig makers cannot, in fact, make any of those claims.

That doesn’t stop his office from putting out some very nasty ecig ads that target the industry.

CDC Ecig Attack Ads


In one, a vaper named Kristy is shown with text that reads “I started using ecigarettes but kept smoking. Right up until my lung collapsed.” This is part of the “Tips From Former Smokers” ad campaign that the CDC launched in 2012.

Here they both assume that vapers are still smoking, and that it makes no difference how much people smoke. “Our core message is cutting down is not sufficient,” McAfee insists. This may be well in good in a perfect world, but that’s like saying we shouldn’t look at ecigarettes in relation to the alternative of tobacco cigarettes, rather only test if vapor is worse than regular air.

That kind of thinking is absurd and any current or former smoker can see the faulty logic in it. Most smokers who do want to quit have tried and failed. This type of stance is dooming them to a life of smoking without any assistance, because it is basically all or nothing according to the CDC.

This is besides the fact that ecig technology is constantly evolving, and what may only be a partial solution for smokers today, could become a complete solution in the near future. In the meantime, scaring them with the possible existence of ecigarette dangers (that haven’t really been proven yet) doesn’t seem like the most prudent way to do things.

Of course many smokers still smoke while using Zyban, Chantix, the patch or gum but the CDC has not included these “approved” smoking cessation methods as part of their attack. The double standard and lack of logic is obvious but the agenda remains the same.  Spread an anti-vaping message and scare people away from ecigs. These are your tax dollars at work serving a very narrowly targeted  agenda.

As those who have been watching the industry know, ‘prudent’ isn’t the path government officials typically have gone down with regard to ecigarettes. Jason Healy, president and founder of Blu eCigs shot back at these CDC e cig ads, saying “The anti-side has been spewing crap like this constantly, but we continue to grow.” Healy remained defiant, insisting, ”People know the truth about ecigarettes.”

The truth may not be an entire answer to the are ecigs safe question, but it can be one that tells us how much better people feel when they have made the switch to ecigs. It can tell us how they don’t smell of cigarettes any longer and how they are saving thousands of dollars a year in the process. This should be part of the litmus test, but in the meantime organizations like the CDC ignore it. Thankfully, smokers aren’t ignoring ecigs and their positive influence continues to grow.

(The California Department of Public Health is also spending taxpayer money on an anti-vaping campaign.  Click to see the TV commercials and read the story.)

Tyler,

Team ECCR

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