Controlling the narrative. Controlling the message. That is the strategy of anti-vaping special interests. They may call themselves anti-tobacco and pro public health but if you believe actions speak louder than words then let’s look at the actions. Smoking rates are at all time lows since vaping has come along, and that includes teen smoking. Now, decades after the highest smoking rates and youth smoking rates, now special interests have lobbied for and achieved minimum smoking age legislation in several states.
These laws were not enacted when smoking rates were high but rather when they are at all time lows. If anti-tobacco groups were really about stopping tobacco, my question to them would be .. where have you been all these years? It is pretty clear that the intention behind these aggressive regulations is to discourage people from having the choice of vaping as a smoking alternative. Cigarettes have never been attacked like vaping is under attack now.
Few would argue that age laws are a bad idea but the timing and motivations are suspect. If this new legislation keeps kids from smoking and vaping, that is fantastic and decades overdue. Where were these measures when youth smoking rates were almost double what they are now? Also suspect, if the FDA deeming regulations are unchallenged, it will be easier to start a new cigarette brand and sell cigarettes than it will be to offer smokers the alternative of a new vapor product. That’s where we are at.
The anti-vaping forces are very well funded, often by your money, and very coordinated. Like clockwork, you can expect to see steady streams of negative media stories based on data dredged surveys or other bad science. Currently, the media is promoting a study that claims to show that vaping is a gateway to tobacco. We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again. This time, however, doctors are calling bull.
Doctors Challenge Gateway Vaping Claims
The most recent headlines populating news outlets involve a survey in which the authors claim that ecigs are a gateway to tobacco. The results were based on surveys carried out over more than a year on 1000 high school students. The results found that almost half of the kids that had tried an ecig were now smoking cigarettes. That is certainly alarming and this is an issue that does need to be studied. But this study was essentially designed to deliver their final claims and that is what has so many doctors upset.
Dr. Ann McNeil, Tobacco Addiction Professor at London’s King’s College, noted that this particular survey was full of “loopholes” that could not be ignored. The study authors never specified or gathered a single detail about previous ecig use. For example, was an ecig tried once or was the individual a regular vaper? What kind of device was tried? How often? None of these factors are known.
The study authors simply asked a follow up question 16 months later without gathering any contextual data. Doctors are asserting that trying an ecig is not alone indicative of a precursor to cigarette use, many other factors could be, and probably are, involved. Curiosity and peer group behaviors, as always, must be factored in.
While headlines in the US will continue to be dominated by reports of exploding ecigs and other scare factors, in the UK the heath community has urged the focus toward harm reduction as opposed to scare tactics. The real scare is the known damage of smoking. The Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England have both advised that smokers switch to vapor products because the body of evidence shows undeniable potential for drastic harm reduction.
Of course we need to know more. We need real science but because of the special interests and anti-vaping sentiments, we are not getting it.