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Posted by Scott McKirahan on September 28, 2014
Maybe the Daily Beast thought they could sneak one past the e-cigarette community by publishing the ecig-bashing piece, "E-Cigarettes: The Side Effects Nobody Talks About," on a Saturday. As is the case with 99% of media stories about e cigarettes, Amanda Woerner's piece is all about driving home an agenda full of half truths. Is there a reporter left anywhere that actually does their job anymore?
The title, alone, is misleading because not a single issue brought up in Ms. Woerner's piece hasn't been trumpeted ad-nauseum by shills for the pharmaceutical and health care industries, both of which are losing a TON of money due to the rising popularity of e-cigarettes. If Amanda really thinks nobody is talking about these things, it just goes to show the lack of research she has done on this subject.
Amanda begins her story by citing a study done by the highly biased CDC that states that 250,000 youths who never smoked a cigarette tried an electronic cigarette in 2013. Keep in mind that this question is only about the number who have TRIED an e-cigarette, not how many are regular users of them. This same CDC study concluded that youths who tried e-cigarettes are likely to go onto smoking because they counted responses like "I don't know," "I don't think so" and "probably not" as being "yes" when asking if participants MIGHT ever try a real cigarette sometime down the road. (The only thing that counted as being "no" was the word "no.")
What neither Amanda nor the CDC points out is that those numbers are miniscule when compared to the number of youths who try tobacco cigarettes each year. The CDC's own fact sheet on smoking and tobacco use states that 3,200 youths smoke their first tobacco cigarette EVERY DAY. That's 1,168,000 youths per year - more than 4 1/2 times as many youths who try an e-cigarette. If e-cigarettes were not an option (which will be the case across the nation very soon), how many of those youths would have tried a real cigarette? Kind of convenient that they never asked that question, don't you think?
Another thing that the CDC refuses to reveal is how many of those youths are using e-cigarettes that have zero nicotine. Either they never thought to ask that very important question or they did ask it and revealing those numbers doesn't support their agenda, which is to support their sugar daddy, the pharmaceutical industry. I have seen quite a few youths who vape and I ask them whether they were former smokers and what nicotine strength they are using. 100% of those that I ask who had never smoked tobacco cigarettes are using zero nicotine e-liquid. The reason they all state: "I don't want to get hooked on nicotine." When there are no e-cigarettes for youths to try (who we all know are prone to experiment and rebel), the vast majority of them are going to try the real thing, which DEFINITELY has nicotine in it. Anyone who thinks otherwise is lying to themselves!
Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior consultant for scientific affairs at the American Lung Association, is the main source Amanda Woerner uses as an expert on e-cigarettes. As we all know, the American Lung Association is also heavily supported by the pharmaceutical industry, so they are hardly non-biased when it comes to e-cigs. Edelman has never conducted any research on electronic cigarettes but does know the talking points that Big Pharma via the American Lung Association wants him to spit out.
Even when presented with facts based on a real study by real scientists that showed that e-cigarettes were significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and that strict regulation was not warranted, Dr. Edelman managed to insert his dissenting view, as seen in this story on webmd.com.
Edelman says that using an e-cigarette is "similar to smoking, only less…and you might get a chronic cough, or raise a little [mucus]." Ask anyone who used to smoke cigarettes whether or not that statement is true, Dr. Edelman; I dare you! They'll all tell you that the crap they used to cough up every morning was gone a week after completely giving up tobacco cigarettes and switching exclusively to electronic cigarettes and that the mucus never came back. I'd love to see any FACTS that support Dr. Edelman's hypothesis that people MIGHT get a chronic cough, too!
Edelman states, "e-cigarette vapors may be full of suspected lung irritants, chemicals with addictive properties that could contribute to heart troubles down the road." Again, "MAY BE" hardly qualifies as scientific evidence and nothing in e-liquid is addictive other than nicotine, which may or may not be present, depending on the user's preference. Without nicotine, there is definitely nothing in an e-cigarette that could raise blood pressure and contribute to heart problems down the road. We know that science doesn't matter to people whose livelihoods are hindered by facts, though, and that alluding to hypotheticals is good enough to drive home their agendas.
He adds, "We don’t know what’s in [the e-cigarette vapors], because they are not regulated and the manufacturers are not yet required to tell what’s in the solution.” This is, of course, a bold faced lie. We know EXACTLY what is in the e-liquid. Propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine along with flavorings and, perhaps, nicotine, if the user is so inclined. All of the above have been approved by the FDA for human consumption.
The real fact is that Dr. Edelman doesn't care about what's in e-liquid; he just wants it regulated. As Edelman knows, strict regulation will virtually wipe out the electronic cigarette industry, returning things to the good old days when the pharmaceutical industry controlled the cessation market with products so ineffective, cold turkey works better! Nothing is better for job security than wiping out the competition for the companies that fund your organization, after all.
Woerner interviews Dr. Andrew Nickels, Allergy and Immunology Fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota who says that although he has not had a patient complain of e-cigarette allergies, "from an allergy standpoint, additives such as flavors, could be a source of allergic reactions." Again, here is a COULD statement from a non-scientist based upon no actual facts.
Woerner then inserts her own agenda into the piece, saying "Early research on human cells has indicated that e-cigarette vapor may act on lung cells in a way similar to cigarette smoke, pointing to a potential link between vaping and an increased risk for lung cancer." The study that she uses to support her position is one that has already been discredited because they intentionally used mutated cells that were highly susceptible to cancer. Even then, the only conclusions that the study could draw are ones that use the words, "MAY" and "POTENTIAL."
Edelman is turned to again in the article where he says "E-cigarettes irritate the lungs less than regular cigarettes, but they deliver as much or more nicotine, and nicotine constricts blood vessels." Another absolutely false statement. Even the highest nicotine concentrations don't deliver even close to what a real cigarette does unless people are using modified devices. Even then, his statement assumes that people are all using e-liquids with the highest concentrations of nicotine.
Amanda Woerner sums everything up with the following: "In other words, perhaps we should think of smoking e-cigarettes the same way we think about eating cheeseburgers. Yes, they can be enjoyable. And sure, they aren’t linked as strongly to an increased risk of death as other tobacco products. But they’re linked to some potentially dangerous health problems that could affect you down the road." (What this statement has to do with cheeseburgers, I'll never know.)
And with that statement, we see the problem with the logic. The notion of harm reduction does not even occur to any of these people. No credible person or company in the electronic cigarette industry has EVER said that e-cigarettes are completely harmless. What the industry has said and scientific studies support is that they are much less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
Would it be better to not "smoke" anything at all, including e-cigarettes? Absolutely! But, if you're going to "smoke" something, isn't using something that is orders of magnitude safer than tobacco cigarettes a wise choice? Or, would all of these people like to join Edelman and see the product regulated out of existence? Eliminating the lesser of two evils is just plain evil!
BeatNic Blog Quote of the Day: "Ignorance is the root and stem of all evil." - Plato
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