A collaborative opinion piece from American Lung Association heads Harold Wimmer and Ross Lanzafame slams electronic cigarettes with all the same ridiculous claims we’ve seen before. But it’s rare we see them as tightly packed as they appear here.
The piece, titled Flavored electronic cigarettes are forging a new pathway to addiction, death and disease, makes little effort to present a balanced view. It also contradicts itself at several points.
Here’s the essential points it argues:
- Based on the CDC’s (misleading and probably wrong) numbers from last month, 1.78 million middle and high school students use electronic cigarettes.
- In the absence of regulation, the tobacco industry is free to promote e-cigs to kids using flavors like cotton candy and atomic fireball.
- Aggressive marketing of e-cigs to teens is achieving “alarming success.”
- Kids ensnared by electronic cigarettes may be condemned to a lifelong addiction to nicotine and smoking.
The article mentions plenty of sideline arguments and points that we’ve argued against for years now, but these are the essential points made about kids using the products.
The CDC numbers that the article calls to only figured the number of kids that had ever tried electronic cigarettes. So maybe 1.78 million middle and high school students have tried e-cigs, but that says nothing of the number engaging in ongoing use. Many experts have already claimed these number provide almost no useful evidence other than showing that kids who smoke are the ones likely to try e-cigs. So far, there’s no evidence that kids do or will start from e-cigs and move to smoking.
The article raises one flag that contradicts its effort to villainize the electronic cigarette industry. It mentions that there are some 250 e-cig brands on the market, and that they likely represent a wide range of chemical components — and therefore a wide range of harm profiles. This contradicts two major parts of their arguments.
First, if there are so many e-cig brands out there, how can the the e-cig industry be use synonymously with the tobacco industry? They are not the same.
Second, with so many brands, the marketing efforts, flavor varieties, and overall business plan of any one isn’t representative of the industry as a whole. We’ve yet to see an e-cig company actively work towards sales to minors. Do some offer flavors that might appeal to kids? Yes. But so do alcohol companies. We have to hope our society is mature enough to enjoy things that should only be for adults without placing the blame on product sellers with kids work around the system to get a hold of their stuff.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen so ridiculous a rundown of the anti-e-cig arguments. It won’t be the last.