January 31, 2020
Our December rundown of the best articles on vaping was a hit so we've decided to make it a regular feature. With all of the bad news stories, poorly reported articles, and outright false information being spread it can seem like that's all there is. But there are also positive and well researched stories, and some that are at least more balanced in their reporting. These are the ones that we want to spread- to let others know about them, to refute arguments, and to (hopefully) affect the coverage going forward. We've made a list of January's top articles/studies and linked to them, and we've included an excerpt to accompany each one for easy reference.
Why concerns of a teenage vaping vaping epidemic may be overblown, Clare Wilson, New Scientist
“...far from hooking a new generation on nicotine, comparatively few teens who have never smoked take up vaping: less than 1 per cent of those who were vaping regularly had never smoked tobacco before.”
“...the mainstream media has been routinely conflating vaping nicotine and vaping marijuana — and in the process, making it seem like all vaping is equally dangerous.”
Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, said: "There is no situation where it would be better for your health to continue smoking rather than switching completely to vaping.
Nicotine Expert: Vaping is Unlikely to Cause Seizures, Jim McDonald, Vaping 360
“Benowitz is not exactly a fan of vaping, but he does recognize its value as harm reduction for smokers. What he is a fan of is telling the whole truth about nicotine’s properties and risks.”
World Health Organisation fails at science and fails at propaganda- the sad case of WHO’s anti-vaping Q&A, Clive Bates, The Counterfactual
“On the one hand, the WHO will suffer a credibility loss as a whole for this (and that is unwelcome). On the other, it is possibly the 'jump the shark' moment at which the facade of credibility and objectivity on tobacco issues crumbles and the organisation goes into a terminal decline.”
Peak Australian GP body supports vaping, Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association
"The peak GP organisation has carefully reviewed all the evidence on the effectiveness and safety of vaping and has determined that it is a legitimate quitting aid for adult smokers."
The New Federal Minimum Vaping Age Won’t Protect Young People, Kevin Garcia, Filter
“The total failure of prohibition and the War on Drugs must in all cases be replaced by accurate information, pragmatism and compassion. Young adults who choose to use substances, including nicotine, deserve harm reduction like everyone else.”
International Experts Slam World Health Organization’s Deceptive Vaping Release, Helen Redmond, Filter Mag
“The WHO has a long history of politically biased risk communications when it comes to e-cigarettes, but their most recent ‘fact sheet’ is shockingly bad. The document is recklessly dishonest, dangerously misleading to the public, and difficult to see as anything other than prohibitionist propaganda. In my opinion, it represents a new low for the organization on this issue.” (Amelia Howard)
“Critically, the majority of youth vapers also use or have used more deadly tobacco products (60 to 88.9 percent, depending on the frequency of vaping). While there has been fear that e-cigarettes are introducing nicotine to many young people who otherwise would not have smoked, the data show otherwise—only a small proportion of tobacco-naïve youth report vaping.”
Teen Vaping is Bad. So Are Many Ad Campaigns Against Teen Vaping. Corbin Barthold, Forbes
Anti-tobacco campaigners try ever so hard to be hip. No one tries harder than the Truth Initiative. They employ outdated internet memes, puppets mimicking the Breakfast Club, and zombies harassing innocent store clerks.
A One Size Fits All Solution to E-cigs is Erroneous, Prof Riccardo Polosa, CoEHAR
«It is but obvious that all people should be encouraged to quit or to switch to a combination of products that reduce risk – media frenzy and policy bullying cannot be an alternative anymore.»
Expert reaction to World Health Organisation Q&A on electronic cigarettes, Science Media Centre
“The WHO has a history of anti-vaping activisim that is damaging their reputation. This document is particularly malign. Practically all the factual statements in it are wrong.” Prof Peter Hajek
“Results underscore the importance of including the full context of use patterns. The majority of vapers (60.0% - 88.9% by use frequency) were concurrent p30d or ever tobacco users.”
The Rise of Vaping and the War Against It, Brandee Eubank, Controversial by Default
“The government’s intention to severely curtail smoking rates by 2035 will require every innovation possible to be available. Instead, the government is poised to regulate out of existence (certainly out of favour) perhaps the most disruptive technology in its field.”
What would actually convince the surgeon general vaping is better than smoking? Guy Bentley, Reason
Whenever the evidence suggests e-cigarettes may benefit public health, it is treated with extreme skepticism, it requires further research, and it is never quite good enough to merit a word of recommendation from the Surgeon General.
“It appears that VEA was recently recognized as an ideal diluent for illicit cannabis vaporizer fluids. To maximize profits and extend supply, cutting the product with cheaper material that is undetectable to the consumer has long been a practice in the illegal market for drugs such as heroin and cocaine."
“New warnings about vaping issued this week by the World Health Organization have prompted strong pushback from public health experts in the United Kingdom, who charged that WHO was spreading “blatant misinformation” about the potential risks and benefits of e-cigarettes.”
Federal Government Misled Public E-cigarette Health Risk CEI Report, Competitive Enterprise Institute
“By stoking unwarranted fears about e-cigarettes, government agencies responsible for protecting the health and well-being of Americans have been scaring adult smokers away from products that could help them quit smoking,” Minton explained.
Federal Health Agencies Misleading Messaging E-cigarettes Threatens Public Health, Michelle Minton, CEI
“The scientific community is increasingly unified in the assessment that e-cigarettes are vastly safer than smoking, help smokers quit, and are a net positive for public health. However, the general perception of e-cigarettes is increasingly at odds with that fact. This divergence between reality and public opinion is largely due to attempts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to scare and misinform the public about e-cigarettes’ relative risks and benefits.”
The vaping panic is looking eerily like the start of a new drug war, Anthony L. Fischer, Business Insider
“Drug wars start with prohibitions, and prohibitions start with panic. Look no further than the Reefer Madness propaganda of the 1930s and the grand failure of alcohol prohibition - which was in part the result of a moral panic over the influx of Southern and Eastern European immigrants around the turn of the 20th century.”
“A central problem with banning all e-cigarette flavors is that numerous studies show adults who use flavors are more successful at quitting smoking than those who don’t. According to researchers at Yale University’s School of Public Health, banning e-cigarette flavors while keeping cigarettes on the market would increase smoking. And a Wells Fargo survey found more than 70 percent of tobacco retailers say removing e-cigarette flavors actually boosts their sales of traditional cigarettes."
Will Trump Stop the FDA’s May 11 Vape Apocalypse? Jim McDonald, Vaping 360
“The vaping community and independent industry is approaching a reckoning. If it is to survive in anything like its current form, many more vapers need to become politically aware and active, vape shops and other small businesses—all of them—need to put their money into the fight, public opinion must change, and we will have to convince politicians in both parties to defend vaping.”
America’s Anti-vaping Scam, Christopher Snowden, Velvet Glove Iron Fist Blog
“For the neo-prohibitionists, it’s job nearly done. The FDA is banning flavoured vape cartridges. When this fails to slash youth vaping rates, they will push for a ban on all flavored vapes and/or all cartridge devices.”
Politics of e-cigarettes filters into smoking cessation conference, Elizabeth Payne, Ottawa Citizen
“The politics of e-cigarettes infiltrated Ottawa’s annual conference on smoking cessation this week with a group claiming to represent the rights of vapers complaining that they were being “shut out” of the conference and that it was unfairly targeting vaping.”
Is standing up for expertise a fool’s errand? Anna McKie, Times Higher Education
“In an era of anti-expert populism, it is more important than ever to stand up for scientific truth. But it is also harder, coming with a high risk of personal attack. Anna McKie speaks to those who have paid a high price for their advocacy, and draws out the lessons for those who want to take up the cause.” (See section on Linda Bauld)
“A new study, coupled with previous state-based evidence, strengthens the association between EVALI and the use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products obtained from informal sources. 82% of hospitalized patients with data on substance use reported using THC-containing products; 34% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.”
Miscommunication about the causes of the US outbreak of lung diseases in vapers by public health authorities and the media, Coral Gartner, Billie Bonevski, Wayne Hall, Wiley Online Library
“US media coverage has often followed the CDC's initial reports in implicating ‘e‐cigarettes’ as the cause of the outbreak rather than the FDA's attribution to vaping cannabis oils. These early media stories accordingly advised the public to cease using ‘e‐cigarettes’. The US media also linked these lung diseases to an “epidemic” of youth vaping in the USA.”
American Lung Association’s “Quit Don’t Switch” Campaign A Big Mistake, Chelsea Boyd, Filter
"The smoking cessation methods that the Food and Drug Administration deems “safe and effective” include nicotine replacement therapy products like gums, patches and lozenges; prescription medications like Chantix; and counseling programs. Yet academic literature shows that only 5 to 20 percent of smokers who use these methods succeed at quitting long-term. Safe, perhaps. Effective? Not so much.”
Flavoured vape ban could put stores in jeopardy, owner says, Benjamin Elliot, The Signal
Vape store owners in Halifax Regional Municipality worry that an impending provincial ban of flavoured e-liquids for nicotine vaporizers will force them to close their businesses.
An Economic Analysis of the Pre-Deeming US Market for Nicotine Vaping Products, David Levy, Eric Lindblom, David Sweanor, et al
“The largely unregulated US NVP market has been highly competitive, with a high degree of innovation. However, new FDA deeming regulations as applied to NVPs could make it difficult for smaller companies to remain in the market and could discourage new companies and new product innovations from entering the market.”
FDA’s Vape Ban Is What Happens When People Legislate What They Don’t Understand, Katherine Timpf, National Review
“First of all, the narrative that we are in the midst of an epidemic of young kids getting addicted to vaping is patently false. Although many of them may have tried it, Julie Gunlock’s analysis of CDC data finds that only approximately 5.7 percent of teenagers — including 18- and 19-year-old adults — are actually addicted.”
Two old guys reveal they know nothing about vaping, Alex Norcia, Vice
The next president, whether it's Trump again or one of his Democratic challengers, will of course have a host of problems to deal with, and proponents of vaping as a harm-reduction tool acknowledge that their passion can sometimes get lost in the mix. But that's no excuse not to learn about it either, particularly as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have to officially decide which products can stay on the market in May.
Halifax’s anti-smoking revolution is all smoke and mirrors, Lindsay jones, MacLean’s Magazine
"It’s been a little over a year since Halifax banned all smoking and vaping almost simultaneously with the passage of a federal law legalizing marijuana (cannabis falls under the city’s bylaw). At the time, the ban was touted as one of the toughest in the country—a prohibition on lighting up anywhere in the city except for 84 designated areas marked by nondescript, waist-high black posts with built-in portals for butts."
“Pod-based and other closed-system e-cigarettes are a fantastic innovation helping many Americans quit cigarettes for good. Withdrawing non-tobacco and mint-flavored products, which are overwhelmingly the most popular choice among adult vapers, means smokers will have fewer opportunities to quit and represents yet another advantage for traditional cigarettes."
What if a Vaping Tax Encouraged Smoking, Margot Sanger-Katz, NY Times
"A new study suggests that these new taxes have the potential to do just that — by discouraging adult smokers from considering nicotine vaping, a safer way to ingest nicotine, or encouraging vapers to switch to cigarettes instead. The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined what happened in Minnesota, one of the first states to impose a steep vaping tax (95 percent). The effect was that declines in smoking there leveled off, while they continued to fall in similar states that hadn’t imposed such taxes."
"The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Wednesday the fourth death in the state from a vaping-related lung illness. The victim was an older man from Middlesex County who said he vaped THC, the active ingredient in marijuana."
The Misplaced Moral Panic Over Vaping is Killing Smokers, Tristan Justice, The Federalist
"As mass hysteria continues to draw smokers away from electronic cigarettes, more will die deprived of life-saving resources that could have given them many more years to live."
How Truth Became a Casualty of the War on Smoking, Jacob Sullum, Reason
“...activists have gone too far in stigmatizing smokers, sacrificing truth on the altar of ideology, and reflexively tarring anyone who disagrees with them as shills for Big Tobacco. The anti-smoking establishment's generally hostile reaction to e-cigarettes, which superficially resemble the real thing but contain no tobacco and do not burn anything, is a sure sign that something has gone terribly wrong with a movement that once claimed to champion science.”
E-cigarettes and the creation of ignorance, Robert Innes, Vaping Post
“Why on earth are the AHA trying to deceive and to deter people from trying a product which has been proven to be effective in helping smokers ease away from the habit of smoking and into stopping smoking completely? It makes no sense whatsoever for an organisation, whose stated aim is to help people away from the smoking habit, to advise them not to try the single most effective tool available in the history of smoking, to avoid it – not to even think about it.”
Vaping getting a bad reputation, Barry Kerton, Town and Country Today
“Over the last 50 years, we have tested and catalogued thousands of substances and how they impact human health,” she said, adding they similarly know how vaping ingredients impact health. “The e-cigarette has been around since 2004 and millions of smokers have switched to vaping without serious adverse effects.”
Province partners with drugstore to help Manitobans quit smoking, Jessica Botelho-Urbanski, Winnipeg Free Press
"The health minister also hinted a plan to dissuade Manitobans from vaping — a method some are using to help them quit smoking cigarettes — may be in the works."
And while not dealing with vaping but in related harm reduction news, our former Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott on the importance of a safe supply:
Decriminalization is not a radical solution to the opioid crisis. And it would work, Jane Philpott, MacLean’s Magazine
"The fact of the matter is that people use drugs. If Canada’s provincial governments enabled greater access to a safe supply, maybe some wouldn’t buy contaminated drugs from black-market dealers. This means fewer deaths, less drug-related crime and lower health care costs."
I'm sure I've missed some articles in this list. These are just the ones that I personally came across and read. If you think that I've missed an important piece, please email me at saddlehorseblues @ gmail.com. In the meantime, let's spread the news about vaping: share the articles individually or share the list, congratulate the writers, and thank the publications or organizations that published them. Together we can help to change the narrative.
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