The USSG Isn't Helping

Posted 27th January 2020 by Dave Cross
The United States Surgeon General, Dr Jerome Adams, has put his name to a 700-page report released on Thursday. At its launch, Adams said that a “shocking” proportion of smokers aren’t being told to stop smoking and added that vaping is not a proven method to quit tobacco use.

“Forty percent of smokers don’t get advised to quit. That was a shocking statistic to me, and it’s a little embarrassing as a health professional,” said Adams. If he had a modicum of self-awareness, he would be more embarrassed about his comments on vaping. "Two-thirds of smokers who try to quit don't use FDA-approved medications and counselling."

“As the Nation’s Doctor, I remain committed to helping the millions of people who smoke to quit. We know more about the science of quitting than ever before. As a Nation, we can and must do more to ensure that proven cessation treatments are reaching the people that need them,” he says – ignoring the role that vaping currently plays in dramatically reducing smoking rates.

“Today I’m calling on healthcare professionals, health systems, employers, insurers, public health professionals, and policy makers to take action to put an end to the staggering - and completely preventable—human and financial tolls that smoking takes on our country.”

To take action, unless it involves electronic cigarettes.

The report was clearly not written by Adams, he struggles to construct coherent tweets, but he’s happy to support it when it states: “Research is uncertain on whether e-cigarettes, in general, increase smoking cessation. Some research suggests that using e-cigarettes containing nicotine is associated with greater smoking cessation than e-cigarettes that don’t contain nicotine, and some research suggests that more frequent use of e-cigarettes is associated with greater smoking cessation than less frequent use.”

“E-cigarettes are not currently approved by the FDA as a quit smoking aid, and more research is needed on whether e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation and to better understand the health effects of e-cigarettes. The use of any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is not safe for youth, young adults, or pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”

“In order for adult smokers to achieve any meaningful health benefits from e-cigarettes, they would need to fully switch to e-cigarettes and stop smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products completely. Among those who have switched completely, the ultimate goal should be to also stop using e-cigarettes completely to achieve the maximum health benefit.”

While this is more or less in line with advice given out by Public Health England, the report tempers any positivity by adding the caveat: “E-cigarettes, a continually changing and heterogeneous group of products, are used in a variety of ways. Consequently, it is difficult to make generalizations about efficacy for cessation based on clinical trials involving a particular e-cigarette, and there is presently inadequate evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes, in general, increase smoking cessation.”

For as long as Jerome Adams remains in denial about vaping being the most powerful tool to combat tobacco-related disease he will persist as the Ralph Wiggum of public health.

Related:

  • Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General – [link]
  • Surgeon General’s conference – [link]


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