by Shane Eubank December 26, 2019
Overwhelmed by all of the negative headlines around nicotine vaping? With some of the biggest networks in North America publishing and/or broadcasting a series of (largely uninformed and misleading) hit pieces against vaping, it can feel as if the only news on vaping is bad news- something both surprising and disheartening to advocates who see vaping as being a hugely promising off-ramp for millions of smokers around the world. But a look back at December 2019 shows that there were also some really great articles, opinion pieces, and studies that should give us some hope that if the tide isn’t turning quite yet, it may be on the verge. We’ve collected some of them and included excerpts. Links are provided so that you can read the full articles.
"The shift from demonizing cannabis to demonizing nicotine is not a good sign for anyone who hoped that recognizing the folly of marijuana prohibition would lead to a broader understanding of the costs inflicted by attempts to forcibly prevent people from consuming psychoactive substances."
A Lifesaving Disruptive Technology and the Effort to Destroy It, Clive Bates, Filter Mag
“Imagine a new miracle drug with the potential to prevent one third of fatal cancers, to avoid one in four deaths from cardiovascular disease and to provide relief for six million Americans suffering from serious lung disease. The side effects of this hypothetical treatment appear to be minimal and people can carry on with normal life while under treatment.
Imagine, too, that ordinary people will purchase this affordable drug at their own expense and on their own initiative in order to take personal responsibility for their own health—and even because they like it. That would be quite a breakthrough.”
E-cigarettes: the HHS Smoking Gun, Steve Pociask and Krisztina Pusok, Real Clear Health
“For months, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been telling us that young people are becoming hooked on flavored e-cigarettes. Now, we know that not only was HHS wrong, but they knew better and were outrightly dishonest to the American public.”
Legal vape markets literally 1,000% safer than the street, David Downs, Leafly
“Yes, we know the Centers for Disease Control is calling the lung malady EVALI, for e-cigarette or vaping lung injury. Respectfully, we are resisting that name change. EVALI is inaccurate. The original VAPI term was changed by federal authorities in order to include e-cigarettes, which misinforms the public. This is not an injury caused by nicotine e-cigarettes. It is caused by tainted THC cartridges bought on the street market.”
Blame Anti-Tobacco Advocates for Youth Vaping Epidemic, Michelle Minton, Competitive Enterprise Institute
"Anti-vaping advocates blame e-cigarette companies for targeting youth with “kid friendly” flavors and say more restrictions and bans will curtail youth vaping. They’re wrong on both counts. It wasn’t e-cigarette makers that made vaping appealing to teenagers: it was anti-vaping advocates."
The Vilification of Vaping, Ian Irvine, CD Howe Institute
“E-cigarette policy is challenging, and a focus upon the benefits of switching alone, or the dangers of teen adoption alone are unlikely to increase population health. As is frequently the case, a manic focus upon just one element does not lead to a broad understanding of the issues that must motivate a measured and balanced set of public policies.”
Tobacco Sales Ban for Those Under 21 Would Make Teen Vaping and Smoking Worse, Trevor Burros, CATO Institute
“But even if you don't have an ideological objection to restricting the sale of tobacco products to younger adults, there is a very practical reason to oppose the pending tobacco ban if you care about public health: Raising the legal purchase age for tobacco and vaping products would encourage young adults to consume more cigarettes, because they are more common and therefore would be more accessible under a ban than the relatively new, smaller supply of vaping materials on the market would be. … A prohibitionist ban would additionally probably result in more teenage vapers using illicit counterfeit vaping products, because that's what people turn to when legal channels are shut off.”
CDC Survey: Flavors Aren't the Main Reason Kids Vape, Jim McDonald, Vaping 360
“How many times have you heard public health agencies and anti-vaping organizations claim that flavors are the primary reason teenagers vape? It’s been repeated often enough that many, and maybe even most, people believe it. But a new analysis of data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA, shows that flavors are definitely not the main reason kids vape. The top spot belongs to curiosity.”
Evidence, alarm, and the debate over e-cigarettes, Amy Fairchild, Cheryl Healton, James Curran, David Abrams, Ronald Bayer, Science Magazine
“Discussions of vaping, however, often neglect distinctions between nicotine and THC; between adults and youth; and between products obtained through the retail and black markets. As we move to confront these challenges, we face the danger that justifiable alarm will turn alarmist, short-circuiting careful analysis of the full range of evidence and focusing attention on the most frightening, thus enhancing the prospect of adopting counterproductive policy.”
Switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes could improve vascular health, Patrick Campbell, MD Mag
“Analysis of the 114 participants included in the randomized trial revealed participants who switched to electronic cigarettes saw improvement in endothelial function and vascular stiffness after just 30 days.”
US Prefers Mass Hysteria to Sound Policy on Vaping, Joe Nocera, Bloomberg
“The challenge to me is not to eliminate smoking, but the death and disease of smoking,” (Matthew) Myers responded. If you had a product that addicted 45 million people and killed none of them, I would take that deal. Then you’d have coffee! I have to believe that if the marketplace incentives were such that over time someone could devise a product that would give the same satisfaction as tobacco but didn’t kill them, people would flock to it.” Thirteen years have passed since that interview, and reduced-harm tobacco products, which addict but don’t kill, are plentiful.
The Vaping Panic Is a Major Setback for Public Health, Jacob Sullum, Reason
"First, it did not provide specific guidance to cannabis consumers who might have avoided the products implicated in the lung disease outbreak if they had been adequately informed. Second, it scared smokers away from vaping products that offer potentially lifesaving alternatives to conventional cigarettes. The vague warnings also encouraged a series of panicky state bans that threatened to drive vapers toward illegal products that may pose special hazards."
Fab 5 Freddy Speaks Out Against the “Vaping Scare Campaign”, Helen Redmond, Filter
“Millions of people try to stop smoking cigarettes,” he continued. “They watch loved ones die on a regular basis from cigarettes, so it’s not easy to stop. And this technology emerged which made it very easy and eliminated the burning of tobacco.”
Don’t panic: Tobacco harm reduction saves lives, Jacob Grier, Washington Examiner
“Americans learned the folly of prohibiting alcohol in just 13 years. We are learning still the folly of the war on drugs. Vaping’s opponents seek to drag us down the same wretched path once more. To save lives and preserve liberties, there is a simple response to their call for moral panic: Just say no.”
Trump Administration Must Balance Protecting Teens with Saving Adult Smokers, Greg Conley, Filter Mag
“Though it took nearly three months, we now know that the specific product that has caused thousands of illnesses and over 50 deaths is not one that’s available in convenience stores, gas stations or vape shops.”
CDC Confirms A THC Additive, Vitamin E Acetate, Is The Culprit In Most Vaping Deaths, Richard Harris, NPR
“Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's principal deputy director, says this sharp spike strongly points to a single culprit for most of these cases: vitamin E acetate, an additive found in illicit cannabis-containing vapes.”
Texas Schools Use 'Vape-Detecting Technology' To Arrest and Imprison Teens Who Vape, Robby Soave, Reason
"The war on vaping is a moral panic with terrible consequences for the very people it is supposedly designed to protect. Sadly, it is likely to get much worse."
Vape Bans Won’t Make you Safer, Teddy Ostrow, the Nation
Lynn Kozlowski, a professor of community health and health behaviour at the University of Buffalo, told me that both adults and young people “have a right to accurate inforamtion about products or activities that increase or decrease risks to their health,” adding later that “there is an ethical demand for this approach.”
We increasingly empathize with addicts. But we still tar smokers, Thelma Fayle, Globe and Mail
"Normally, anyone ranting at random drug addicts on the street would be suspected of mental illness. But aggressive, self-appointed anti-smoking police feel justified in harassing those who still need to light up..."
At year's end, time to ask: why did the CDC ignore vaping evidence? Bruce Barcott, Leafly
"If 2019 was the year of the vaping health crisis, 2020 will be a year of reckoning. The first question that must be asked is this: Why did American public health officials fail so spectacularly?
Let me say that again clearly: The VAPI/EVALI emergency represents one of the greatest derelictions of duty on the part of our public health leaders that I’ve seen in my lifetime."
And rounding out the list, from E-cigarette Direct, we have 2020 Vape Predictions- The Expert Roundup
“For me there’s nothing more exciting or more encouraging for the future than the growing links between vaping and drug policy reformers and harm reduction advocates.” Jim McDonald
“We will see malicious and ill-judged attacks on vaping reflected in diminished overall trust in government bodies and ‘experts’.” David Sweanor
There were surely articles that were missed on this short list and if you think that there are any must-reads from December that should be included, get in touch with us.
In the meantime, consider this. When media confuses its role to inform and report to the public with the objective to shape society by the information it presents and how it chooses to present it, there is very little space between it and the propagandists. In an era of “fake news” accusations, one would assume that media outlets would want to do everything they can to preserve the public trust it has left. But media outlets are also facing increasing pressures of dwindling resources and diminished traditional revenue streams. That puts these goals at odds. Sensational headlines and story lines draw more readers; even critics click through and repost adversarial content, incentivizing more of the same. It is difficult to say if we can steer media in the right direction in any sort of timely fashion, but we can choose the media we consume. Click through, support, repost, and promote responsible media and thoughtful op eds. Don't give the rest any oxygen.
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