Text To Quit

Posted 30th January 2019 by Dave Cross
The Truth Initiative is pushing its new texting service and claiming it will help stop teens from vaping. The service that aims to solve a problem that doesn't exist is being trialled in a school where the Principal doesn't know how many children vape - or if they used to smoke. It's all rather fitting in a post-truth era.

The Truth Initiative is feeding the news cycle and promoting the nonsense that there’s an epidemic in teen vaping by launching its new texting service at a school. It believes it can combat a problem that doesn’t exist by sending messages like "Is it hard to not JUUL in places you're not supposed to, like school? Reply YES or NO."

Woodrow Wilson High School is a secondary school in Washington, D.C. with 1,829 students. Its Principal, Kimberly Martin, recently held a public meeting focussed on the best methods to combat a perceived issue with teen vaping.

Despite Martin being in charge of the school and able to carry out a survey of her charges, she relied on a quote from Surgeon General Jerome Adams – telling her there was a youth epidemic. Then she estimated that half of the school, around nine hundred pupils, currently vape. Such a guestimate couldn’t be more laughable, flying in the face of current evidence.

The school Principal has no idea of the precise numbers, if nicotine is involved, if the students are using vape pens for marijuana use, if it’s an ever-tried phenomena or regular daily use. In short, she is a pretty worthless anecdote.

Martin relies on statements made to the media by Adams and the Food and Drug Administration; her repetition of them, and additional anecdotal bluster, is then printed by the eagerly awaiting newspaper staff; these anecdotes are then used as evidence by Adams and the Food and Drug Administration for justify a clampdown – it’s a cycle of stupid.

The resulting feedback loop of fools then opens the door for The Truth Initiative, a public health organisation relying on money from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (money from tobacco companies), justifying its existence by whipping up more fervour and wasting the cash.

Megan Jacobs, leads the Truth Initiative’s ‘Innovations team’. They have created the blisteringly great idea that they can help through the medium of text messages: "We started seeing more and more that people were posting that their New Year's resolution was to leave JUUL and to quit e-cigarettes, but they weren't finding any help. So we said, 'Hey, we've got programs. We could adapt those programs to help people quit e-cigarettes as well as we could help them quit smoking'."

The evidence of what was being posted, in what numbers, and where was never explained by Jacobs, but then it was more than likely in single figures. The Truth Initiative didn’t provide any details when requested and POTV failed to find any evidence of “more and more people” writing about wanting to quit vaping on Twitter or Facebook.

Jacobs’ program entails teens texting “Quit” to a Freephone number. The reply asks them to indicate what age bracket they fall into, and then they receive further texts offering “proven” tips on quitting vaping.

The Woodrow Wilson High School is piloting this fool’s errand and, with no idea of the numbers currently vaping, is sure to be followed by a call for a ban of flavours as it won’t be able to demonstrate any effectiveness on measurable outcomes.

 

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker