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Dr Farsalinos – A Cat At Night

Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos appeared on the Cats At Night podcast with John Catsimatidis.

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Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos spoke to John Catsimatidis about vaping, the FDA’s war on electronic cigarettes, whether or not there is an epidemic of teens vaping, the gateway effect and laid out the crucial numbers in a powerful manner. Although Catsimatidis is against vaping, the podcast’s health expert congratulated Farsalinos for getting to the crux of the teen vaping debate.

John Catsimatidis began the interview by laying out (what he saw as) the facts of vaping. He stated as fact that there is a problem of “epidemic proportions among kids here”, and that he saw the use of ecigs as “an entry way into smoking cigarettes…”

Dr Farsalinos interjected: “I have to disagree with your assessment, we haven’t seen any epidemic yet – but, of course, I remain cautious because I haven’t seen the latest data that the FDA has seen because they haven’t released them publically.”

“Of course, ecigarettes are a hot topic in the United States. Only a few months ago, I published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine an analysis of the 2015 Youth Tobacco Survey, evaluating e-cigarette use. The 2015 survey is crucial because, until the 2018 survey, 2015 was the year of the highest rate of smoking amongst adolescents.”

“The proportion of never-smoking adolescents in the U.S. who are ever using e-cigarettes is 0.2% – Dr Farsalinos

“The proportion of never-smoking adolescents in the U.S. who are ever using e-cigarettes is 0.2%. The proportion of never-smoking adolescents in the U.S. who are regularly using e-cigarettes [vaping 20 days of the past 30 days] is 0.3%.”

“In my opinion, these numbers do not justify the term epidemic” - Dr Farsalinos

Catsimatidis came back to the doctor, saying that he has seen reports, “something that the FDA is sitting on, some evidence,” that the FDA know of a 75% year-on-year increase in high-school student vaping.

Farsalinos responded: “This is exactly the data I mentioned before that we have not seen, but if you think about the numbers that I mentioned – 94.5% of never-smoking kids have not used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days. So, if we increase the numbers [vaping] by 200%...not 75%...we will still have 86% never-smoking kids that have never used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days.”

“This is a very strong emotional debate because everyone cares about kids, but we need to clarify something: public health is a science of mathematics and calculations – not emotions. Whenever we make decisions we always measure the benefits or potential benefits and the adverse or potential adverse effects.  We look at where the balance lies and, based on this balance, we make decisions – we never make decisions focussing ONLY on one population subgroup.”

“You can increase 0.2% by 75% and you are still below 0.4%!” - Betsy McCoy

Betsy McCoy, the resident health expert replied to Dr Farsalinos: “I’d like to congratulate the doctor because he’s actually looking at the numbers. A 75% increase when you’re dealing 0.2% shows that it’s still not an epidemic. You can increase 0.2% by 75% and you are still below 0.4%! So, thank you very much for pointing that out, doctor.”

Dr Farsalinos went on to mention the fact that tobacco stocks rose by $20 billion after the FDA’s recent announcement to combat ecig sales and flavours, highlighting how their actions can impact the health of the nation. Then, he moved on to highlight the historical drop in teen smoking rates, to which Betsy agreed that removing vaping or placing blocks in front of smokers stands to reverse that trend.

Also, Farsalinos pointed out that it’s important to know the truth, something the FDA is wholly comfortable with. “Half the truth is not really the truth,” he added.

Finally, Dr Farsalinos touched on the potential gateway effect but how those who engage in vaping are the adolescents prone to undertaking risky behaviours.

“If my son or my daughter were going to smoke, I’d very much prefer them to use an e-cigarette instead of smoking tobacco cigarettes.”

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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