by Carl V Phillips
Mountain Vapor Blog
by Carl V Phillips
According to the director of tobacco control and public policy for the ALA in Wisconsin: "there’s still a perception that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes and so for some kids who never would have tried smoking cigarettes they get the idea this might be a safer alternative."
Clearly, the ALA is telling the public that kids are actually mistaken and that e-cigarettes are no less harmful than regular cigarettes. Of course, this also means that cigarettes are no more dangerous than e-cigarettes.
The Rest of the Story
The truth is that e-cigarettes are much safer than regular cigarettes. Dr. Stan Glantz - a highly respected, long-time scientist in the anti-tobacco movement - has stated unequivocally that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes and that if a smoker switches to e-cigarettes exclusively, they will experience an improvement in their health. Dr. Glantz may quibble with some of us who support harm reduction in terms of the exact magnitude of the risk differential, but there is no credible scientific doubt that vaping is safer than smoking.
Even the cigarette companies are not lying to the public about this point. In fact, they readily admit that their cigarettes are much more dangerous than regular cigarettes and they are even making efforts to market e-cigarettes as a less hazardous alternative.
So why is the American Lung Association picking up where the historical fraud and deception of the tobacco industry ended?
Like the ALA, I do not want youth to be taking up vaping. However, unlike the ALA, I don't condone lying to our nation's youth in order to try to deter them from vaping. Especially since the ultimate effect of downplaying the health hazards of smoking is that it will produce less deterrence to youth smoking. If kids think that smoking is only as bad as inhaling cherry vapes and blowing a few vape rings, then their appreciation of the serious health hazards of smoking will be undermined, which of course will lead to more kids smoking.
As Alan Selk said eloquently in his comment to the article in which the ALA was quoted:
"Donna Wininsky's statement that there is still a perception that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular statements is a pretty bizarre statement, considering that e-cigarettes are in fact significantly less harmful then regular cigarettes. All the real evidence points to that fact. It has also been shown that about 80% of kids who are using e-cigs are not using nicotine. They are simply playing with the vapor. A great majority of the youth who are using nicotine are using it as a substitute (and a much less harmful one) for smoking. ... "
"As far as health goes there is only one number that matters, and that is how many people are inhaling smoke from cigarettes. Those numbers are at historic lows among youth and adults. There is good evidence that the reason for the drop is because people are switching to low risk alternatives. That is a very positive news. (in the UK, where e-cigs are endorsed by the health establishment as a viable harm reduction tool, and people are generally better informed as to the relative risk of smoking verses vaping, 50% of people who take up vaping end up completely quitting cigarettes)."
"I would like to know why, instead of encouraging people to switch to a far less harmful alternative to cigarettes, the American Lung Association of Wisconsin is misinforming the people of Wisconsin on the relative risk of vaping verses smoking. They are in fact killing people with there misinformation campaign."
The ALA is not only wrong in its assessment of the relative health effects of vaping compared to smoking, but it is also wrong in suggesting that e-cigarette use among youth in Wisconsin is a problem because it leads to cigarette use. The evidence from Wisconsin suggests exactly the opposite. According to the state's Youth Tobacco Survey, while e-cigarette use among high school students in Wisconsin continued to increase substantially from 7.9% in 2014 to 13.3% in 2016, smoking prevalence declined by 24%, from 10.7% to 8.1%. These data are not consistent with the assertion that e-cigarettes are serving as a gateway to smoking among Wisconsin youth. In fact, they suggest the opposite. As Alan Selk correctly argues, e-cigarettes appear to be serving as a deterrent to smoking as a culture of vaping replaces, rather than reinforces, a culture of smoking.
There is more good news from the CDC. Not only has youth smoking declined at an unprecedented pace in the last five years, but for the first time, the prevalence of youth use of e-cigarettes has also declined, dropping from 16.0% in 2015 to 11.3% in 2016 (among high school students). Use of cigarettes among high school students continued to fall between 2015 and 2016, dropping from 9.3% to 8.0%.
The Rest of the Story
This is great news because it reveals that smoking is truly becoming unpopular among youth. The rate of decline in youth smoking is unprecedented. This despite the rapid rise in e-cigarette experimentation. These data are simply not consistent with the hypothesis that vaping is going to re-normalize smoking and that e-cigarettes are a gateway to youth smoking.
The drop in e-cigarette use is also reassuring because it suggests that vaping is largely a social phenomenon that involves experimentation and that the addictive potential of these products is quite low. It also suggests that the popularity of youth vaping has peaked and that concerns about vaping taking over and leading to nicotine addiction among a huge proportion of youth are not warranted.
If anything, the real concern at this point is whether the decline in e-cigarette use might actually slow the unprecedented declines we have seen in youth smoking.
June 12th, 2017
Letter to European Commissioner for Better Regulation on the worst regulation in the EU – the snus ban
Eighteen of us have just written a detailed letter to Mr Frans Timmerman, the EU’s Commissioner for Better Regulation (amongst other things) drawing his attention to one of the worst regulations in the EU, the ban on oral tobacco, better known as snus. This ban is now facing challenge in the Court of Justice of the European Union (case C 151/17) by a producer, Swedish Match, and the consumer group, New Nicotine Alliance (see NNA background on the case)....
June 1st, 2017
The results of the study were as follows: "Overall, 5.3% of adults responded that secondhand EVP exposure caused “no harm” to children, 39.9% responded “little harm” or “some harm,” 21.5% responded “a lot of harm,” and 33.3% responded “don’t know.”"
The article concludes: "Current cigarette smokers and EVP users had greater odds of reporting that exposure to secondhand EVP aerosol causes “no harm” or “little harm” or “some harm” to children compared with never cigarette smokers and never EVP users. However, scientific evidence indicates that EVP aerosol exhaled into the air potentially exposes nonusers to aerosolized nicotine and other harmful and potentially harmful substances, including heavy metals, ultrafine particulates, and volatile organic compounds."
It appears that CDC has concluded that the correct answer to the question is "a lot of harm" and that answers of "no harm," "little harm," or even "some harm" are incorrect. Therefore, more education is needed to inform the public of the "harms" (apparently, the substantial harms) of secondhand vaping.
The basis of the CDC's contention that secondhand vaping is very harmful is that "this aerosol is not as safe as clean air" and that it "is not harmless and that it can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine."
The Rest of the Story
Apparently, the CDC has forgotten one of the major principles of environmental health, which is that the dose of exposure to a chemical is critical in assessing its health impact. Just because e-cigarette aerosol has been found to contain nicotine and some other chemicals does not mean that it is substantially harmful. What matters is the actual exposure, which is dependent upon the levels of these chemicals in ambient air under actual (real-life) conditions and the duration of exposure. To date, there is no evidence that there is any substantial exposure to harmful chemicals in real-life situations that most adults and children encounter. On the contrary, there is evidence that secondhand "vapor" dissipates rapidly and that exposure to nicotine and other chemicals is very low.
While I agree that public education about the risks of vaping is needed, I believe that "public education" implies giving people the actual facts, not making things up or exaggerating harms that are not known to exist.
Here, the CDC is clearly suggesting that we mislead the public by trying to convince them that secondhand vaping is a significant public health hazard when in fact the evidence suggests the opposite.
The worst that the CDC can document about secondhand "EVP" is that it is "not as safe as clean air" and that it is "not harmless." That is hardly a ringing endorsement of EVP representing a substantial public health problem or of EVP being very harmful.
Moreover, people who state that they "do not know" the hazards cannot be viewed as being ignorant, as the CDC would have us believe, because there is not a huge body of literature on this topic and the exact risks have not yet been quantified. But there is certainly no evidence at present that secondhand vaping is harmful. Therefore, we cannot say that people who believe that EVP is "not harmful" are wrong.
Clearly, the CDC is not interested in the actual scientific facts. They are simply interested in scaring people about the harms of secondhand vapor - harms that have not been shown to exist. The CDC is engaging in an unwarranted scare campaign against e-cigarettes and apparently is trying to demonize these products because, for some reason, it doesn't like them.
The unfortunate part of this is not merely that the CDC is violating principles of public health by deceiving the public and by making claims that are not substantiated by scientific evidence. The CDC's statements are also a tangible threat to the public's health. By deceiving people about the risks of e-cigarettes, CDC is actually undermining the public's appreciation of the hazards of smoking and the tremendous difference in risk between the use of combustible tobacco products and the use of tobacco-free, smoke-free, non-combusted products. This could lead to smokers deciding not to quit because there is no point to vaping if it is just as harmful as smoking. It could also lead to former smokers returning to smoking for the same reason.
In this era of the government relying upon and disseminating "alternative facts," it is especially inappropriate for the CDC to be waging a campaign of deception about the health effects of vaping and secondhand vaping.
(Update - 05.20.17)
The letter we are providing urges Secretary Price to delay implementation of the FDA deeming regulations. Without this delay, many in the vapor industry will begin closing down their operations. If action is not taken soon, consumers will be losing access to reliable, affordable, life-saving vapor products.
Why is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Congratulating a Political Leader Accused of the Murder of Thousands of Innocent Civilians?
Dr. Ghebreyesus' CV notes that he "facilitated critical health investments and reforms that helped expand health care access to tens of millions of Ethiopians," which sounds like a strong qualification for his election to this position as leader of WHO. However, the CV is only telling part of the story.
The Rest of the Story
The rest of the story is that Dr. Ghebreyesus, as one of the nine executive members of the politburo of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) - according to the Ethiopian Advocacy Network, has been accused of leading a campaign of repression and murder that some have even called a genocide.
According to multiple sources, the TPLF has allegedly engaged in severe repression of civilian protests in Oromia and Amhara, including a military response in which more than 1,000 innocent civilians were killed, hundreds of thousands imprisoned, and millions displaced.
The repression of dissent in Oromia is documented by a 2014 Amnesty International report, which confirms the TPLF's role in arbitrary arrest of civilians based purely on dissent or suspected dissent, the arrest of peaceful protestors and students, violations of free speech and assembly rights, violation of the right to education, and even "arbitrary detention," "enforced disappearance," "extra-judicial executions," and "torture," including rape, psychological torture, torture in and out of detention, and forced labor.
A 2016 report at Genocide Watch outlines numerous human rights violations by the TPLF and concludes that TPLF orchestrated a "genocidal plan systematically designed by the TPLF regime using the unfair land use policy as a tool in Oromia and Southern Ethiopia to achieve the political goal of complete ownership of the land through silent eradication of the indigenous communities in the long-term. “Genocide Watch considers Ethiopia to have already reached Stage 7, genocidal massacres, against many of its peoples, including the Anuak, Ogadeni, Oromo, and Omo tribes.” The people of Oromia in particular, and all oppressed peoples of Ethiopia in general, are struggling to reverse this policy of systematic genocide waged on them by successive regimes of Ethiopia."
While some of this alleged genocidal campaign occurred prior to Dr. Ghebreyesus' tenure, it has been estimated that "more than 1000 civilians have been killed by the regime in last 10 months (November 2015 to September 2016)."
The Oramian Economist describes the TPLF's rule as a system of social and economic "apartheid."
Dr. Ghebreyesus' campaign for the WHO directorship is widely characterized as a political campaign funded by the TPLF for political gain. His election was opposed by massive numbers of Ethiopians, apparently on the basis of his alleged "involvement in the killings hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestants. Last year alone, more than well over 1000 civilians were killed by the regime that Tedros Adhanom is fiercely and passionately supporting – the ethnic TPLF government."
Under these circumstances, I find it shameful that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids offered its congratulations to Dr. Ghebreyesus and is supporting his election to the Director-General position of the World Health Organization. It appears that Dr. Ghebreyesus is someone who should be investigated by the World Health Organization for public health atrocities, not someone who should be leading the organization.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' support for Dr. Ghebreyesus casts a dark cloud on the entire tobacco control movement.
I call on the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to retract its statement and apologize for its support of a political leader who is accused of being involved in the murder of thousands, participation in human rights violations, and supporting a policy of systematic genocide.
I expect an immediate response, given the grave nature of the alleged human rights violations.