The contrast between the spin put on youth e-cigarette use data last Fall and the story told by the actual data, released last month, is startling but not surprising, given the U.S. government’s over-zealous tobacco prohibition posture.
The British government has just released statistics on e-cigarette use (here). The Office for National Statistics reports that e-cigarettes were used by 12% of smokers and 5% of former smokers in the UK during the first quarter of this year, but the rate of use among never smokers was only 0.14%.
Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak recently tweeted, “@OxfordWords #Vape may be #WOTY but the increase in never-smoking youth using e-cigs is a not a trivial story.” The tweet referred to the Oxford English Dictionary’s having designated “vape” as the word of the year, and reflected a CDC report claiming that e-cigarette use among children had increased in 2013. The prevalence of e-cig use among youth who had never smoked was 0.3%.
In their war against e-cigarettes, government officials often claim that the devices are a gateway to smoking. CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden asserted (here) that “…many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes.” The National Cancer Institute last March promoted (here) Dr. Stanton Glantz’s tortured analysis of youth e-cigarette use (discussed here and here). While his data failed to support a gateway effect, his employer, the University of California San Francisco, made the claim anyway (here).
Ebola has proven that it is a disease without borders and many people would like some assurance that the US health care system has this under control. Instead we’re busy playing the “blame game.”
In order to limit our exposure to a possible epidemic, non-essential travel to and from the afflicted regions be curtailed. There should be no casual travel or immigration. Contrary to the administration’s talking points, this has no effect on humanitarian aid, any more than our current ban on travel for political reasons.
Rates of smoking and use of other tobacco products among teens are so low that they no longer provide a valid basis for the draconian anti-tobacco policy prescriptions favored by the FDA and CDC.
Breaking news as this article was being written is that Howard University hospital in Washington, D.C. has admitted a patient — a recent traveler to Nigeria — who has symptoms that could be associated with Ebola. Receiving little coverage was a report on Thursday, 3rd, that an American freelance television cameraman working for NBC News in Liberia has contracted Ebola, the fifth U.S. citizen known to be infected with the deadly virus.
The New England Journal of Medicine and authors of a commentary on e-cigarette use have ignored our call for correction of a substantial error regarding e-cigarette use among American schoolchildren in 2011 and 2012. Authors Amy L. Fairchild, Ronald Bayer and James Colgrove of Columbia University double-counted some users in a figure they used to illustrate data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).
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