Watchdog.org has uncovered yet another case of baseless claims being used to call for oppressive vaping regulation. The most recent example involves a USC study where the researchers concluded that electronic cigarettes may lead teenagers to take up smoking. The keyword there is “may”. The results of the study do not actually merit the conclusion suggested by the researchers but that has not stopped the mass media from publishing those conclusions in scary headlines from coast to coast.
Watchdog.org journalist Eric Boehm expertly dissected the researchers findings and delivered a stark expose on the actual motivations of the ecig researchers and the organization that funded the study, the National Institutes of Health. That means that it was your tax dollars that actually paid for this study and we know that government health agencies are no fans of ecigarettes.
In fact, in 2010 the FDA had blocked the importation of electronic cigarettes and it took a federal judge to step in and protect the rights of smokers seeking to access a less harmful alternative. Vaping has been under attack by authorities since the get go and that attack continues to this day. Now, the attacks are more subtle and more sophisticated as anti-vaping special interests are using baseless science to sway the court of public opinion and too justify a stern response from regulators. What better plan of attack than to paint electronic cigarettes as corrupters of our children.
In a telling statement, the professor leading the study, Dr. Adam Leventhal, said that while the USC study could not prove the link between ecigs and teen smoking the study ‘raised concerns’ that teen ecig use could “perpetuate” smoking related illness. I put the word perpetuate in quotes because this is a clue as to the thinking of anti-tobacco advocates. People are dying because of tobacco related illness right now at a rate of more than 1200 people every day. Perpetuation is happening, it’s not as though there is any sign of this number going down on its own.
We see this a lot from vaping critics. They say that ecigs will continue society’s bout with smoking and nicotine addiction. In essence, anti-tobacco groups feel threatened that ecigs will undermine their efforts to reduce smoking rates. That’s all well and good but they are behaving as though they have defeated smoking in our society.
The reduced smoking rates are terrific and excellent work has been done but with 450,000 Americans dying every year because of smoking it is hardly an appropriate time to be sipping champagne and congratulating ourselves on a job well done. The efforts have been laudable but the overwhelming loss of life is an undeniable indicator that we have not done nearly enough. Losing the equivalent of a large city every single year is a horrific epidemic and what we need are more solutions, not chest thumping.
Critics Call For Oppressive Vaping Regulations
The end game for anti-vaping groups is strict vaping regulations. The results of this USC study has spurred nation-wide headlines telling the public that ecigs will lead to teens smoking cigarettes.
They say this in the face of facts that show that while, yes, teens are trying ecigs, teen smoking is at an all-time low. In fact, it could be concluded that electronic cigarettes have helped reduce teen smoking rates.
The decline in teen smoking is decreasing at the fastest pace in several years.
The study tracked 2500 teenagers and assumed that teens that tried ecigs would never have otherwise smoked a cigarette. There is no basis to make such an assumption. By those standards, if the researchers asked the students who tried ecigs if they had also tried alcohol, then they would also conclude that vaping leads to alcoholism. It is simply a false premise that the researchers use a lot of “maybes” to tiptoe around.
Many of the interest groups involved in the calculated vilification of ecigarettes are fighting for the intense limitation of electronic cigarettes via crushing vaping regulations. They want them to be regulated the same way that tobacco cigarettes are even though vaping and smoking are nothing alike. While these groups claim to be taking a stand against smoking and Big Tobacco, what they are really doing is playing right into the hands of tobacco companies.
One of the most contentious issues surrounding impending FDA electronic cigarette regulation is the grandfather date set by the FDA. As per that date, any tobacco product, including ecigs, that was introduced to market after February 2007 will be required to submit to an extensive and expensive review process. This includes probably 99% of all electronic cigarettes and vaping products being sold today. Even if an ecig company meets all FDA standards, they still have to submit all of their products for review.
Most electronic cigarette brands are small to mid-sized businesses. These companies can comply with all standards but if they have to submit themselves to the red tape of an official review the costs would put them out of business overnight. Big Tobacco ecig brands like Vuse or Mark Ten will have no problem ponying up the cash to pay the FDA for the review process. Big Tobacco will be the big winner if the Feb. 2007 date remains unchanged.
There has been some push back against this date. The vaping community and some members of congress are fighting to change the grandfather date to whenever the regulations actually go into effect. If that were to happen it would allow ecig companies compete and stay in business as long as they met the required standards. Vape shops will be able to keep their doors open and retain their employees, American small businesses will be able to keep innovating, and most importantly smokers will have access to a wide range of smoking alternatives that might save their lives.
The war on ecigs only benefits big tobacco. If the grandfather date is not changed and if strict vaping regulations go forward, the FDA will be handing Big Tobacco a gift-wrapped monopoly of the entire ecig business. That is an irony that is totally lost on anti-ecig groups. They are completely oblivious to the fact that electronic cigarettes are in reality an ally in the fight against Big Tobacco. This is not the case in other countries.
In the UK for instance Public Health England released perhaps the most comprehensive electronic cigarette study to date. The results of that study conclusively showed that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. No maybes, this was a conclusive finding. Health officials in England are actually frustrated by the fact that the public is so misinformed about electronic cigarettes. They are actively advising smokers to vape rather than smoke.
Unfortunately, misinformation remains the number one strategy of vaping opponents in the US. Worse, they seem to be succeeding.