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Mourn in the USA

The response to the PHE “95%” report was mixed in the Land of the Free

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The movement to clamp down on vaping in the States was starting to gain real traction as the media bought into the ‘fear the unknown’ message being steamrollered out by Glantz’ pharma-funded Tobacco Control Research (TCR) unit. They now have to overcome the fact that the UK government now endorses a piece of research asserting vaping to be 95% safer and having no evidence of a gateway effect.

“Picture this — you’re walking to class, minding your own business, when you catch a whiff of some acrid smell,” writes the Indiana Daily Student. “You immediately start coughing and turn around to face the jerk who is smoking in the middle of campus, a technically smoke-free zone. This happens way too often for my taste.”

Once you finish laughing at the introduction, the rest of the article goes on to be a more reasonable approach to the subject of vaping, but the initial attitude is where the American debate now lies. Acrid smells? Vapour in a smoke-free zone? The prohibitionist arguments are being shown up for what they are: they just don’t like the look of it.

Already, the FDA has postponed its draft of rules for electronic cigarette and liquid manufacturers. The comment gathering exercise has had its deadline extended by another month despite the likes of the TCR demanding a final ruling before the end of the summer. It is fully expected that the FDA will now factor in the Public Health England report too.

American anti-vaping campaigners have grasped at the recent findings of a new study published in JAMA that suggests e-cigarettes might be a gateway to tobacco. It lends its credence on the fact that the sample surveyed was large, 2500 students, but the findings have drawn instant criticism from the American Council for Science and Health (ACSH).

ACSH state that not only are surveys one of the least reliable forms of research but that evidence from teenagers can’t be relied upon as much as adults. “It is difficult to know if, or how many, students who tried e-cigarettes at baseline weren’t going to try tobacco,” they say, “regardless of their initial exposure to e-cigarettes.”

Also, from the 2500, “only 54 study participants who had never tried tobacco regularly used an e-cigarette and that’s in the statistical noise range,” ACSH continue. They point out that no mention is made of current or future cigar use due to vaping as the authors realise how laughable a proposition it is. “This really devalues the study because these two activities are very different: e-cigarettes are inhaled and cigars are not.”

WTRF 7 News, as part of their coverage of the PHE report, cites Ohio County Health Director Howard Gamble sticking his fingers in his ears and saying: “We don't know everything that's going out. We don't know everything that's affecting our bodies. To say that there's literature that says there's nothing wrong with it is very short sided, as well as individuals who say they're good for you.”

Julia Belluz, writing for Vox Science & Health, bizarrely states: “But there are a few things this report doesn't say, and these messages have been glossed over in some of the media coverage. The report doesn't say that e-cigarettes are completely safe. (We don't know whether that's the case.) It doesn't say anything about the long-term health impact of vaping. (There are no published studies on years-long e-cigarette use.) And it doesn't say non-smokers should take up the habit.”

She goes on to quote more people resolutely refusing to listen to what the PHE’s McNeil and Fenton have to say. For the sake of American vapers and smokers, let’s hope they begin sometime soon.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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