Public health experts have roundly condemned the actions of the Center for Disease Control and the Surgeon General in light of new data that shows a dramatic fall in youth vaping.
Vapour product use among high schoolers is down across America, according to the 2016 Monitoring the Future study from the University of Michigan. The survey shows that youth vaping declined significantly from 2015 to 2016, dropping from 16.3 percent to 12.5 percent among 12th graders.
Smoking rates were also down dramatically: since peaking in 1996-1997, smoking rates have fallen by 71 percent among 12th graders (from 36.5% to 10.5% who smoke), by 84 percent among 10th graders (from 30.4 percent to 4.9 percent) and by 88% among 8th graders (21% to 2.6%).
“These data are cause for celebration” according to Michael Siegel, a veteran tobacco control campaigner from the Boston university School of Public Health.
“They show that smoking continues to be less cool among teenagers and suggest that the new vaping culture has contributed further to the de-normalization of smoking. Given the high potential of smoking during adolescence to lead to a lifetime of cigarette addiction and its resulting disease and premature death, it appears that the phenomenon of youth e-cigarette experimentation has been a net positive for the public’s health, or at very least neutral. This does not mean that youth vaping should be promoted, but it does mean that the claims of health agencies, including the Surgeon General’s office, are simply not standing up to scientific scrutiny.”
Despite this, the Centre for Tobacco Free Kids continued to mislead the public in their public statements, citing the misleading Surgeon General’s report published earlier this week. “[T]oday’s data do not permit any firm conclusions about whether e-cigarette use leads to an increase in smoking, a decline in smoking or neither”, according to their press release.
This position was roundly condemned by Siegel:
“If the science matters in tobacco control – which apparently it doesn’t – this should put an end to the Surgeon General, the CDC, and others claiming that youth experimentation with e-cigarettes will lead to a progression to smoking and to a re-normalization of smoking among youth.”
“What we need is not a further campaign of lies and deception about how tobacco use “in any form,” including e-cigarettes, is horrific, but a truthful campaign that acknowledges different levels of risk of nicotine-containing products, informs youth that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and are therefore not a form of tobacco use, and explains that most e-cigarettes do contain nicotine and may also expose them to other chemicals which could be harmful with long-term use”.
“It is interesting that the Surgeon General released his report just prior to the release of these new data. Perhaps he realized that once these data came out, his “story” about the scourge of e-cigarettes would be destroyed, so he wanted to get it in so it could have the maximum media impact”.