For weeks, numerous public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued dire warnings of an “Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products.”
For far too long, CDC and several other public health agencies have been telling the general public that vaping is very, very dangerous — possibly deadly. Is this true? In short, “No.”
For some reason, these government agencies have misled the American people. In fact, these agencies have purposefully led the public to believe that legal, regulated vaping cartridges that contain nicotine are as dangerous as illegal, unregulated vaping products that contain THC. This conflation promotes the false belief that vaping is, in and of itself, harmful — when in fact, vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking tobacco.
For weeks on end, CDC claimed a series of lung illnesses were caused by vaping (and implied it was due to legal, regulated vaping). According to CDC’s website, “As of October 22, 2019, 1,604 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI) have been reported to CDC from 49 states (all except Alaska), the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory.” As of October 22, CDC has confirmed 34 deaths in 24 states.
However, CDC has changed its tune on this important issue. CDC has finally decided to inform the American people about the truth behind the so-called vaping epidemic. According to CDC, “THC is present in most of the samples tested by FDA to date, and most patients report a history of using THC-containing products.”
In other words, there is a strong link between illegal THC products and the recent slew of lung injuries.
CDC also coughed up (pardon the pun) this bit of truth: “The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.”
For some reason, it took CDC and other public health agencies months to uncover something that seemed blatantly obvious a long time ago: vaping of legal, regulated cartridges that contain nicotine is not the reason more than 1,600 Americans are experiencing lung problems. Rather, vaping of illegal, unregulated, black-market cartridges infused with THC is overwhelmingly the sole source of this public health calamity.
Now that CDC has come clean about the true genesis of these lung illnesses, it is time CDC (and several other government agencies) change its tune on flavor bans and other misguided policies that do more harm than good. Although CDC claims there is a youth vaping crisis caused by the availability of tasty vaping cartridges, flavor bans do not work.
Throughout the nation, state health departments — under guidance from federal authorities — have issued flavor bans and other draconian measures that make it more difficult for law-abiding adults to purchase tobacco harm reduction (THR) products.
In general, vaping (including dessert and fruit-flavored cartridges) is infinitely safer than smoking combustible cigarettes — according to Public Health England, it is exactly 95 percent safer. CDC and other public health groups should be promoting vaping as a THR miracle, not as public health enemy number one.
Moreover, the supposed youth vaping crisis that has driven the implementation of misguided flavor bans is practically non-existent. According to CDC data, “Among 1,364 patients with data on age (as of October 15, 2019): The median age of patients is 24 years and ages range from 13 to 75 years. … 14% of patients are under 18 years old; 40% of patients are 18 to 24 years old; 25% of patients are 25 to 34 years old; and 21% of patients are 35 years or older.”
In other words, CDC data show that the vast majority of patients experiencing lung problems are older than 18. Despite fearmongering campaigns of a teen vape crisis, the evidence points otherwise.
This is not the first time CDC has erred in public health matters. CDC and other U.S. public health agencies also missed the ball on the harms of cigarette smoking for decades. CDC, like all government agencies, is not omnipotent nor infallible after all.
Instead of prematurely jumping onto the anti-vaping bandwagon, CDC and other “scientific” organizations under the guise of government should abide by the scientific method and test their hypotheses before jumping to conclusions.
Even worse, CDC’s rush to judgment and condemnation of all things vaping violated the most sacred aspect of the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.”