Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory: JFK. MK Ultra. Area 51. Chemtrails. 9/11.
There are those who suspect Big Tobacco of colluding with the politicians it has bought to squash vaping, and recent news reports may – in the eyes of some – seem to be fueling at least some of that paranoia.
As one major retailer of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers noted earlier this year, Big Tobacco is trying to hop on the vaping wave, which could mean trouble for vape manufacturers and consumers. “Their reach is invading regulatory suggestions, pricing, and more.”
But it is more than just product shifts and marketing that Big Tobacco is said to be trying to change. Some Big Tobacco brands are pushing for tougher regulations on e-cigs and vapes, which they believe creates a more level playing field.
So, is it only paranoia… or are health officials deceiving us for our own benefit?
Even with new federal rules meant to discourage “vaping” taking effect last month, the battle over “e-cigarettes” in the United States just keeps building, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. More than 9 million Americans regularly use vaping devices in which they apply heat to a liquid — sometimes but not always including nicotine — to create small plumes of vapor that they inhale.
“So, are ‘e-cigarettes’ just part of the continuum of dangerous ways to ingest nicotine and other harmful chemicals in tobacco, and thus a public health nightmare? Or are they a ‘gateway drug’ that leads to more dangerous habits, and thus something to oppose even if the health effects aren’t serious? Or is ‘vaping’ actually great news for public health because it makes people less likely to smoke deadly cigarettes and gives smokers a tool to break their habit?”
To many public health officials in the United States, the first two arguments make sense, the Tribune continued. A 2015 Portland State University study, citing e-smokers’ potential exposure to formaldehyde, said vaping could be more cancer-causing than regular smoking. In 2014, a federally funded study concluded that vaping put users at “serious risk of progressing to illicit drug use and addiction.”
“But to many public health officials in the United Kingdom, the first argument about vaping’s danger is factually unsupported, the second argument about it leading to drug abuse is unproven speculation — and the third argument about vaping’s benefits is the one with the facts on its side.”
86.7 Million Years
A cancer research team just released a study saying that if every smoker switched to e-cigs and similar devices exclusively, they would live 86.7 million more years in total. The study “supports a policy strategy that encourages replacing cigarette smoking with vaping to yield substantial life year gains,” says the study’s lead author David Levy, PhD, professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi.
Salon reported that Tobacco Control, an international journal that studies the effect of tobacco abuse, published the study by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. “It’s the first study to monitor health outcomes of the big vape switch.
The variables in the study depended on when a subject started smoking, when they stopped smoking and when they switched, projecting both an optimistic outcome and a pessimistic outcome. Under the pessimistic outcome, 1.6 million would add 20.8 million years to their lives. Under the optimistic outcome, 6.6 million cigarette smokers would add 86.7 million years from switching. So, even in the worst-case scenario, vapers live longer (though they look very basic doing so).”
In addition, there would be tremendous health benefits including reduced disease disability to smokers, reduced pain and suffering, and reduced exposure to secondhand smoke, Levy said. “Even the gloomiest analysis shows a significant gain in years of life if nicotine is obtained from vaping instead of much deadlier amount of toxicants inhaled with cigarette smoke.”
Have bought-and-paid-for politicians been tasked with torpedoing vaping? Beltway veteran Sen. Chuck Schumer recently urged the federal government to reverse a recent decision to delay the regulation of e-cigarettes after citing alarming data that show one in five teens in New York State vape.
The nicotine gadget called “Juul” has become especially popular among teenagers because it’s easy to hide, Schumer said at a press conference in Manhattan. “To know that New York kids are much more likely to be using these new-age e-cig devices, like Juul, is not only concerning, but it could be dangerous,” reported the New York Post.
“Up until now, the FDA was on track to reign in e-cigs and regulate them like any other tobacco product,” he added, “but this recent delay, coupled with the new numbers showing a rise in the use of gadgets like Juul, which can fool teachers and be brought to school, demands the FDA smoke out dangerous e-cigs and their mystery chemicals before more New York kids get hooked.”
Despite the Findings
Conspiracy or not, a lot of what’s out there in the media is hurting vaping. According to a new public health report, bans against vaping are making it harder for Americans to quit smoking. Many health experts have noted that electronic cigarettes are an effective tool in helping smokers to quit, but that has not stopped the federal government and many local governments from targeting e-cigarettes and other vaping products.
“The R Street Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based free market think tank, published a report… concluding that vaping has become a powerful tool in helping Americans to quit smoking, and policies against vaping will ultimately prevent more smokers from quitting cigarettes,” wrote The New American. “The report noted that vaping is a safer alternative to regular cigarettes and that policies combating combustible cigarettes are conflating nicotine-based devices with tobacco products. But vaping delivers nicotine to the user without the harmful tobacco, decreasing health risks and eliminating second-hand risks.
“Federal data shows that 34 percent of vapers in 2016 were former smokers. Further evidence of the effectiveness of vaping in helping smokers to quit was found in a July 26 University of California study that showed that Americans are quitting cigarettes at significantly faster rates with the help of e-cigarettes.”
Despite those findings, New American continued, local governments “continue to pass bans on e-cigarettes and other vaping products by including these items in their definition of tobacco products. Many of these localities are relying on bad science or the narrative pushed by agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration that vaping is just as harmful as cigarette smoking.”
Is the fix in when it comes to vaping?