When senior officials claim that the is an epidemic of teenage vaping or nicotine addiction, what do they actually mean and does the claim makes sense? Most vaping is infrequent, and regular use is concentrated among smokers, where is may be benficial.
I have been following FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Twitter and was alarmed at the threat he issued to vapers and the vaping industry in response to recent trends in US adolescent vaping.
If this is his analysis, @SGottliebFDA hasn’t tried hard enough to understand what is – and is not – a material risk in these youth vaping numbers. Yet he appears willing to put millions of adult lives at risk by imposing regulatory overkill on a life-saving product for smokers. https://t.co/HB64pgtjRJ
I disagree with the FDA’s analysis of what is happening with adolescent vaping and also what should be done about it. So I need to put some flesh on the tweet above and examine some of FDA’s claims in more depth. Please dip to these talking points… it’s a long blog but I hope at least some of it will be illuminating.
Dr Lynne Dawkins of London South Bank University gives her terrific myth-busting lecture on e-cigarettes – see the YouTube video above. Here are the slides (Slideshare) and here below is Lynne’s summary of the key points.
Though short, it is basically right and sufficient: no-one is trying to live forever; everyone is trying to enjoy the life they have; some people like the drug nicotine or don’t want to quit enough to stop using it; smokers die earlier because of smoke; vaping avoids the smoke problem and does not appear to create new material problems; so it follows that vaping should not be illegal. In fact, it should be encouraged. It really is that simple.
The dissenting reports prompt me to raise the issue of simplicity versus sophistry in the debate over tobacco harm reduction. This has bugged me for years. Vaping and tobacco harm reduction is basically simple. The arguments raised against it by anti-vaping opponents are laden with sophistry.
This blog looks at ten forms of sophistry used by anti-vaping activists to fabricate and fuel faux controversy. It is longer than I would like, but the subject is far from exhausted. Please dip in.
Tobacco control activists and academics are gathering in Cape Town for the World Conference on Tobacco or Health 2018 (#WCTOH2018). High on the agenda is the role of the tobacco industry and how to fight it (e.g. see this session:”Breaking Big Tobacco’s Grip“).
In a guest posting below, David Sweanor provides an alternative perspective they are unlikely to hear discussed much at their conference.
Today the Royal Society of Public Health is pitching its ‘undercover investigation’ into vape shops selling stuff to adults who don’t smoke. Naturally, the primary purpose of this exercise has little to do with public health but is a publicity stunt for an ailing organisation in a declining field that offers ever less to the public or to health.
Predictably, depressingly, the US anti-vaping lobby has mobilised against a new Cole-Bishop Bill, HR 1136 that would hold off near complete destruction of the industry by grossly disproportionate FDA deeming regulation and implement the first steps in a sensible reshaping of American tobacco policy. But look at the argument they used.
“By working on what purports to be a technical change, “ Myers said, “ it leaves on the market the candy and fruit-flavored e-cigarettes that are so popular among young people.”
“You can put any gloss on it you want, this is the tobacco industry’s effort to continue to market flavored tobacco products to hook another generation of kids.
You hear this narrative a lot: regulators protecting kids from industry predators bearing flavours as bait. But I just wonder whether the anti-vaping activists have paused to even think about flavours and teens at all.
To evaluate the demand to regulate these flavours (by which they mean ban them) you first need a framework for thinking about the issue – and that is not simple and may yield surprises.
To respond to the forthcoming publication of a new US Surgeon General publication on e-cigarettes, I have have expedited my long-planned guide to bad science in the field of e-cigarettes and vaping in the hope that commentators, opinion formers and members of the public will give this review proper critical scrutiny.
So here it is: Version 1.0 of a critic’s guide to bad e-cigarette and and vaping science. This is the informed critic’s plain language guide to questioning the science of sensationalist and alarmist e-cigarette studies.