June 21, 2017

THEY’RE OFTEN A GATEWAY TO QUITTING: E-Cigarettes Are Not a Gateway to Smoking.

In this past week’s MMWR, the CDC reported that e-cigarettes were often the most common “introductory tobacco product” among teenagers who use actual tobacco products. But this is misleading for two reasons.

First, as explained above, just because a current smoker first started with e-cigarettes does not mean that e-cigarettes caused that person to smoke. It’s probably true that teenage tobacco users also consume alcohol and caffeine. According to the CDC’s faulty logic, therefore, we could also conclude that beer and soda are gateway drugs.

Second, labeling e-cigarettes a “tobacco product” is meant to be emotive rather than scientifically accurate. E-cigarettes contain nicotine (which may not be much worse than caffeine) but none of the tar and other chemicals that make cigarette smoke so dangerous. Referring to e-cigarettes as tobacco products is analogous to calling a BB gun a firearm.

The CDC admits in the report, “During the past 3 decades, cigarette smoking among youths has declined substantially.” Isn’t that the real story here? And given other data which shows that e-cigarettes help smokers quit cigarettes, isn’t it perhaps likely that e-cigarettes might have played a role in this decline?

It seems from this report that the CDC is more interested in scaremongering about e-cigarettes than it is celebrating a win for public health. That’s a shame.

It’s about control — and budgets.

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