Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is refusing to see the truth that is staring him in the face. The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) research produced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1) looked at data from 14,500 school students.
It showed High School trend was down by 28% and Middle School use had halved over the last year. Despite this, Myers crowed that it somehow proved that flavoured e-liquid had “caused the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction … and shows why the FDA and other policymakers must act now to eliminate all flavoured e-cigarettes. The evidence is clear that as long as any flavoured e-cigarettes remain on the market, we will not end this youth epidemic.”
Ivo Abraham, from the Centre for Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomic Research at the University of Arizona echoed Myers’ myopic view, unscientifically stating that the rate decrease is probably “a blip” and there would be an “uptick” in use in two years’ time. (2)
Outpourings from the likes of Myers and Abraham are at the heart of the blinkered positions taken by other individuals and organisations. A paper aimed at dentists (3) goes on to make the fallacious claim, “Evidence is mounting that EC use should not be considered a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking…The aerosols produced by ECs have been associated with respiratory, cardiac, and central nervous system disease as well as oral mucosal alterations. In addition, ECs can affect kidney and liver function.”
The worst thing about all of this is that attacks on vaping have led to an inevitable consequence: teen smoking rates have risen. (4)
Myers is more than happy to perpetuate the myth of an epidemic and supports it with distorted ‘ever use’ data. The truth is significantly different.
Professor Linda Bauld recently spoke to Regulator Watch (4). She said: “One of the challenges in this field is that we’re using the same questions in some of these surveys as we used for tobacco studies in the past.
“Things that we found were useful predictors on why kids would go on to try a cigarette or indeed become a regular smoker – to shoehorn e-cigarettes into that, when we know more and more, they’re a completely different product, it isn’t helpful.”
The example she gives is “Have you used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days?”
Linda explains: “in most articles that’s described as ‘Current Use’. I don’t think that’s accurate or helpful.”
She spoke about how one of her colleagues drilled down into the CDC’s NYTS data.
“At the time, past 30-day e-cigarette use in 2015 was 11.3% - but when they actually looked at the raw data, amongst kids who’d never smoked, the number who had used an e-cigarette in 10 days or more of the past month, what I’d describe as regular use, was one tenth of one percent (0.1%) – so well below one percent.
“It’s just not accurate to talk about 30-Day use as current use. We need to recognise that it wouldn’t be surprising that a kid has gone to a party in the last month and tried an e-cigarette, or even a couple of times in the last month, with their friends – that seems quite common. But that’s not current use. Past 30-Day doesn’t measure current use, so I think (we need) better standardised measures internationally of youth e-cigarette use.”
We do need better standardised measures, but we also need Matthew Myers, Ivo Abraham and the rest to start telling the truth.
- National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) - https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/surveys/nyts/index.htm
- Youth Vaping Rates Decline, But 1 in 5 U.S. Teens Still Uses E-Cigs - https://consumer.healthday.com/6-7-youth-vaping-rates-decline-but-1-in-5-u-s-teens-still-uses-e-cigs-2653228041.html
- What every dentist needs to know about electronic cigarettes - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33908875/
- New Evidence Links “EVALI” Vaping Misinformation With Increased Cigarette Smoking - https://filtermag.org/evali-misinformation-increased-smoking/amp/
- Regulator Watch - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1oVxQf3SyK3YC9_n1e1Jwg