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Clive Criticises Claims

Clive Bates has issued an epic 6700-word demolition of the teen epidemic claims and highlights what is going wrong at the FDA

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Clive Bates has constructed a 6764-word wrecking ball after being alarmed at the recent threat to vaping by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Scott Gottlieb. He smashes Gottlieb’s position with a series of finely constructed and well-researched points.

Clive believes FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb “hasn’t tried hard enough to understand what is – and is not – a material risk in these youth vaping numbers. Yet he appears willing to put millions of adult lives at risk by imposing regulatory overkill on a life-saving product for smokers.”

The sixteen-section tour de force begins by addressing what is missing in Gottlieb’s take on events. Clive states that before judgements can be made we need to understand who is regularly vaping, what they’d be doing if they weren’t vaping, and if they are using nicotine. He says: “That data is not available at this time but we know enough to be sceptical.”

“Since April, FDA had been captivated by an activist campaign and dozens of critical news reports focussed on the highly successful Juul vaping product. But the data was being treated uncritically.”

Clive points out that US Surgeon General Jerome Adams has mirrored the erroneous position adopted by Gottlieb. This leads to him pointing out the simple truth that, by any definition of the term, “adolescent vaping is not an ‘epidemic’.”

“Vaping is not a disease and not even a cause of any disease. Vaping is a behaviour with relatively minor health consequences, if any.”

Next, Clive refers to Sussman and Sussman’s paper “Considering the definition of addiction” to highlight that vaping is not the same as “nicotine addiction” as it fails to meet the requirements:

  1. Engagement in the behaviour to achieve appetitive effects
  2. Preoccupation with the behaviour
  3. Temporary satiation
  4. Loss of control
  5. Suffering negative consequences

Bates tackles the fear of addiction by pointing out that there’s a strong difference between tobacco addiction and nicotine dependence, which leads on to a deconstruction of the nonsense wrapped up in claims that teens are “hooked on vaping”.

Gottlieb and Adams refuse to accept our testimony that vaping works as a quit tool, yet they both rely on incidental meetings to support their positions. “Scott Gottlieb draws on anecdotal evidence to support his concerns about nicotine addiction, though he does not document any of it,” adds Bates. “Obviously, it is wholly unscientific to approach the impact of vaping in this way. The use of second- or third-hand accounts with no knowledge of the cases or on what basis they are classified as addicted, or what proportion of users are in the ‘hooked’ category does not contribute meaningful information to the debate.”

The manner in which Gottlieb interprets ever-use data means he has no idea about regular or daily use. Clive’s interpretation is that the “data would suggest about 4% of high school students are daily users”. This is neither an epidemic nor representing an epidemic level of increase.

Clive illustrates that regular users are, or used to be, smokers and that “more than two-thirds of adolescent vapers say they are not even using nicotine”.

Even if there was an epidemic in use of vape products, is that an issue? Not when compared to the other far riskier behaviours that outstrip it, according to Clive: “Vaping should be a low-priority risk behaviour among adolescents. 29.8% of high school students are using alcohol, and 13.5% “binge drinking” (according to CDC’s definition) but 20.8% vape. There are about as many marijuana users as vapers. What is the response to that?”

Where is the push to rid the marketplace of flavoured alcohol products? Read Clive’s full article in the link below.



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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