The following article is a guest post submitted by JG. All opinions are solely the author’s.
While most vapers are for commonsense vaping regulations (for example, ensuring that juice and devices are manufactured safely and prohibiting the sale of vaping items to minors), they can’t help but scratch their heads and wonder where vaping opponents get their opinions from. We’ve heard it all before: the vaping industry is attempting to indoctrinate children by making flavored liquids…that ecigs are a gateway to tobacco smoking…the safety of these devices “cannot be known” …and that vaping is actually worse than smoking.
It’s one thing to hear these comments from a well-intentioned, yet uninformed member of the public. It becomes more frustrating to see news outlet commentators dispense half-truths and anecdotes like the ones above. But what takes the cake—and frankly, should be an outrage to vapers everywhere—is when organizations of influence go so far as to submit in their comments to the FDA regarding their upcoming proposed regulations these exact pieces of misinformation.
Our Investigative Reporters over at Kingly Vapes have done some deep diving into the comments that three of the most prominent anti-vaping organizations submitted to the FDA. It should be shocking that organizations with massive clout who otherwise protect us or further agendas that benefit society are taking a hardline—and oftentimes misleading—stance against vaping.
These prominent groups are the comments from the American Heart Association, from 29 Attorneys General (from 29 states), and the comments from 13 US Senators.
Here’s what we found. What they say may just outrage you:
Untruth #1: The Vaping Industry Intends to Target Children
Beaming with nostalgia of anti-big-tobacco fervor cultivated over decades of misleading and psychologically demeaning advertising, large organizations are taking the unfounded position that electronic cigarette may not only be attractive to children, but also that manufacturers are intentionally targeting children in their marketing.
Some have gone so far as to say that electronic cigarettes will “…[condemn] many kids to struggling with a lifetime addiction to nicotine.” In a letter from 13 Democratic Senators to the FDA, the Senators state—without a factual basis to back it—that:
e-Cigarettes are being aggressively marketed to children today, and, not surprisingly, the use of e-Cigarettes has skyrocketed in many years…fruit and candy-based flavors are clearly meant to attract children, and we similarly urge the FDA to regulate a halt to the use of such flavors.
The Attorneys General of 29 states wrote a letter to the FDA, stating in part:
Given the mounting evidence that youth are attracted to flavored tobacco products, that youth are increasingly using flavored little cigars and e-cigarettes, and that using flavored tobacco products can increase dependence, hinder smoking cessation efforts, and create a lifetime of addiction, it is imperative that the FDA act now to impose the same flavor ban on other tobacco products that is currently in place for cigarettes.
Arguments made by these lawmakers and law enforcers are demonstrative of the typical spurious structure that many anti-vaping arguments take. Perhaps most notably is the intentional mis-interpretation of correlation vs causation: child use of electronic cigarettes is not the cause of the skyrocketing use of eCigs. Perhaps more obviously, as Pete Busardo put it:
“Adults like flavors too”.
We can say with certainty here at Kingly Vapes, that of all of our customers, those interested in tobacco or menthol-flavored eJuice is limited. No doubt our colleagues across the country could say the same. The truth and fact is that adults like flavor too. Having flavors does not mean that the intended audience is children. This truism is essentially ignored, and is used as a generalization to justify the banning of eCigarette flavors of all types.
Simply put, the conclusion that the vaping industry is targeting children is moot, and impossible to substantiate. This does not, however, stop these powerful organizations from pushing untruths and misleading rhetoric over to the FDA.
Untruth #2: Vaping is inherently unsafe and will cause harmful health effects.
The other most commonly-seen argument is that electronic cigarettes are inherently unsafe. For example, the letter from the Attorneys General to the FDA states that:
First, e-cigarettes contain and deliver nicotine—a well-recognized addictive chemical— in amounts comparable to traditional cigarettes. Accordingly, e-cigarettes should be assumed to be both harmful and addictive.
The comment from the Attorneys General shows the general bogeyman disposition of simply assuming that ecigs are harmful for the sole reason that they contain nicotine (essentially taking generalizations from a remark from the Surgeon General). It is indisputable that nicotine—ingested in large quantities—is extremely harmful, and ultimately deadly. However, what does the evidence suggest from nicotine inhalation in the normal quantities found in electronic cigarettes?
According to a 1996 study, the health effects are essentially nil. This test of giving mice inhaled nicotine for two years showed absolutely no negative health effects compared to a control group.
The website TobaccoHarmReduction.org—run by a group of prominent tobacco researchers–is unequivocal in stating that nicotine is not harmful in normal quantities. They state “the effects of nicotine itself are similar to that other popular drug, caffeine…while it is true that people smoke mostly because of nicotine; nicotine users die mostly because of the smoke”.
Now how about the issue of carcinogens or contaminates in electronic cigarette vapor? The American Heart Association stated in its comments to the FDA:
In general, e‐cigarettes appear to contain lower amounts of harmful chemicals than combustible cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. Thus, e‐cigarettes could be a less harmful alternative to traditional tobacco products. But studies have found that e‐cigarettes users can still be exposed to toxins, metals (tin, iron, nickel, and chromium) from the heating coils, ceramics, plastics, rubber, filament fibers, and foams, which may be aerosolized and inhaled. Studies have also found contaminants such as non‐pharmaceutical grade propylene glycoland prescription weight loss and erectile dysfunction drugs in certain ecigarette liquids.
However, countless studies have shown that anomalies with heavy metal contamination have been restricted to small numbers of samples in a group (a “bad apple” from a bad manufacturer”); or, that the supposed carginogen would be likely to appear only if the ecigarette is handled improperly. For example, various metallic particles found in some eCigarettes fell well below the USP limit,and was similar to other FDA-approved nicotine inhaler devices on the market .
Further, research into whether or not the vapor from eCigarettes can cause lung damage has tended to show that such is not the case. The research indicates that all of the components—from water vapor, nicotine, glycerine, and propylene glycol, showed an “incredibly remote chance of…contributing to long-term health effects.”
Untruth #3: Vaping is just a gateway to cigarette use.
Perhaps the most confusing of arguments from vaping opponents is the idea that vaping is a gateway to tobacco (despite the countless people who say that vaping has saved them from tobacco). As plainly stated by the American Heart Association:
AHA [American Heart Association] is also concerned that e‐cigarettes could be a gateway to tobacco use for non‐ or former smokers, sustain dual use, or promote or maintain nicotine addiction. Acceptance of e‐cigarettes also has the potential to re‐normalize smoking behavior. We are especially concerned that e‐cigarettes may lead to increased initiation among youth.
The Attorneys General, in their letter to the FDA, state:
Third, the evidence suggests that among youth, e-cigarettes may be a “gateway” to the use of traditional cigarettes. As noted by the CDC, one in five middle school students who reported using e-cigarettes stated that they had never tried conventional cigarettes. The same study also found that of the middle and high school students who reported using e-cigarettes (within the last 30 days), over 76 percent had also smoked conventional cigarettes. Drawing from this data, the CDC concluded that “there may be young people from whom e-cigarettes could be an entry point to use of conventional tobacco products, including e-cigarette companies are also targeting youth by sponsoring athletic, musical, artistic, and other social or cultural events, and, in some instances, handing out free e-cigarette samples.
Of course, more informed research finds to the contrary. An article from the Wall Street Journal points out that “…the first study to examine the gateway hypothesis…only one young person out of a sample of 1,300 college students who initiated nicotine use with vapor products and then went on to smoke cigarettes.”
Regarding specifically the CDC studies that the Attorneys General mention: even a cursory look into this study shows that there were fatal—if not almost laughable—flaws in the way it was conducted. As Mt. Baker Vapors pointed out in an article covering this study:
…this study doesn’t show whether those people already smoked before they tried e-cigarettes, which makes it impossible to say whether vaping really is a gateway to smoking.” Meaning, the original study was missing a key component, whether the youth in question were already using traditional cigarettes when they started using the e-cigarette.
…The recent study by the CDC and its accompanying press release are just plain deceptive. The reported result is flawed because teens who answered ‘probably not’ when asked if they intended to smoke in the future were counted as likely future smokers instead of unlikely future smokers.
Why Was So Much Misleading Information Submitted to the FDA?
We here at Kingly Vapes understand where many of these people are coming from. They have worked for decades to combat the pervasiveness of tobacco in American society. They fear that one wrong move can undo all of this work. When they see devices such as electronic cigarettes come along, they are naturally skeptical. They fear what they do not know.
We have tremendous respect for groups the the American Heart Association, the attorneys general of these states, and the Senators on Capitol Hill, and wee applaud the intent of trying to curb the desirability of tobacco products–and frankly, including eCigs–to children. However, we strongly oppose efforts to eliminate a device that is extremely helpful to adults, and that many say is the bulwark of their efforts to stop smoking. We encourage them not to view the issue of vaping in a black-and-white, “what-if?” manner that is causing problems today.
And that’s why it’s so important for vapers to make their experiences and their viewpoints known to the world.
This article is by JG, Customer Service Guru over at Kingly Vapes, which provides vaping gear built for royalty.