There are many critics of e-cigarettes and vaping out there polluting the media with misinformation about the so-called dangers of e-cigarettes, however, a new pamphlet from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is taking creative license a little too far. The pamphlet, recently released by CDPH, even titled in a negative way, is called Protect Your Family From E-Cigarettes. The “facts” as they call them, are almost laughable, if they didn’t pose such a risk of their own.
The pamphlet begins by claiming e-cigarettes contain chemicals that can cause cancer, as well as a host of other health problems. They, of course, cite no studies proving these statements, and in fac,t there truly have been a few that suggest the opposite. Researchers from the University College London acknowledge the improved health factors when comparing traditional cigarettes to e-cigarette vapors. While they have acknowledged the presence of some toxins in e-cigarettes they make sure to note that the concentrations are “very low.” The researchers state: “The vapor contains nothing like the concentrations of carcinogens and toxins as cigarette smoke. In fact, toxin concentrations are almost all well below 1/20th that of cigarette smoke.” In addition, e-cigarette vapor does not contain any of the cancer causing carcinogens that are found in tobacco smoke. While other long-term effects are still unknown, it seems beyond presumptuous for the CDPH to ascertain that e-cigarettes pose such grave health risks, especially cancer.
The pamphlet’s most startling, and blatant, lie truly seems to suggest that the CDPH has no regard for reality. The pamphlet states: “Studies show that e-cigarettes do not help people quit smoking cigarettes.” The pamphlet then goes on to suggest other cessation methods like gum or patches are more effective and safer methods of nicotine delivery to aid in smoking cessation. Well, just ask the thousands of people who have successfully transitioned to e-cigarettes if they would agree with those statements. In fact, the studies we have read show the exact opposite. One such study published by the Society for the Study of Addiction back in August 2014 proved that e-cigarettes are successful as aids in smoking cessation, showing far more success than using other over the counter and prescription cessation aids or just quitting cold turkey. Even the American Heart Association believes e-cigarettes have the potential to improve public and personal health.
The pamphlet doesn’t stop there, though and continues on to scare and misinform the public in general. They pose the question, ”Are They [E-Cigarettes] Safe to Smoke Indoors?” And the answer they provide, probably shouldn’t shock us at this point. They claim: ”No. E-cigarettes pollute the air with tiny particles that get trapped in the lungs. Just like regular cigarettes, the pollution from e-cigarettes may hurt others.” You can tell simply by the fact that they use the word “smoke” that the CDPH may not even have close to an idea of what they are talking about. While many cities and counties are deciding to ban indoor and public use of e-cigarettes, they are not doing so because the vaper is dangerous. Studies are proving it is anything but. Researchers at the University of Southern California found second-hand vapor from e-cigarettes exhibited an overall 10-fold decrease in exposure to harmful particles in comparison to cigarette smoke.
The fear campaign from the California Department of Public Health is only just one example of how misinformation could kill the benefits of e-cigarettes before they have a chance to do any good. Critics of e-cigarettes seem determined to get rid of these devices, and will make ridiculous claims to make vaping seem dangerous and harmful to people. That kind of thinking, however, seems pretty counterproductive, coming from an organization whose number one priority is supposed to be public health. If people switch to using e-cigarettes, experts suggest that millions of lives, both smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke, could be saved. So why is the CDPH pushing this anti-vaping propaganda?
Smoking is America’s most dangerous, yet preventable, health problem. Almost half a million people will die, prematurely, this year in America alone, because of cigarettes. There are nearly 44 million smokers in America, and approximately half of those people will try to quit each year. Unfortunately, less than 5% will succeed. Even if e-cigarettes do not help people quit entirely, and are only used as a replacement, the ability it has to change these depressing numbers cannot, and should not, be ignored.
The FDA approved products for quitting smoking — patches, gums and drugs — barely help increase the number of successful ex-smokers. E-cigarettes, on the other hand, are beginning to show signs of success, but that does not make them a cessation method in the CDPH’s minds, or in the mind of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), who funded the CDPH’s pamphlet. The official line from the FDA and the CDC will always be to stick with the FDA-approved methods; don’t even try anything else.
Gilbert Ross is the medical and executive director, as well as acting president, of the American Council on Science and Health, who believes the anti-vaping propaganda is dangerous and that the CDPH should be held accountable for their misinformation. “Although there is zero evidence that they [e-cigarettes] are harming anyone and plenty to show the opposite, their [CDPH] message to smokers remains, ‘Keep away, don’t even try them, no matter how many times you’ve failed to quit with the older methods.’”
Ross suggests that are many forces at work designed to cut down the e-cigarette industry, citing the large pharmaceutical companies that fund the CDC that stand to lose significant profits if people stop using their less effective smoking cessation aids. In addition, he believes government is also at work, “Local governments are also on the ‘We Hate Reduced-Harm Products’ bandwagon — coincidentally, many government budgets are propped up on the backs of addicted and dying smokers thanks to cigarette taxes. What happens if more smokers quit?”
Whatever the reason for the massive amount of misinformation and destructive propaganda by e-cigarette critics, they simply cannot hide all of the facts. While the CDPH should retract their pamphlet, due to the severe misinformation, we know this likely won’t happen. Staying informed, and making sure the world stays informed, is the most important way to combat this destructive propaganda. However, if you look at the rate of growth in the e-cigarette marketplace and how many people now swear by vaping, it seems, and we sure hope, their plot to vilify e-cigarettes may be coming too little, too late.