From the Monthly Blog of Jeremiah Gardner,
Director of Public Affairs
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
Initially Posted by Mr. Gardner on November 26, 2019
The American Medical Association is calling for “a ban on all vaping products not approved by the FDA,” and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry recommends Americans “cease using all vaping devices until … investigations determine … which, if any, may be considered safe.”
The CDC now has confirmed 2,290 cases of the vaping-related EVALI lung injury, with 49 deaths. And now there are reports of another type of injury which experts are calling “popcorn lung.” In addition, a New York Times report took a deep dive into how electronic-cigarette company Juul is hooking a new, younger generation on nicotine in spite of more states fining lawsuits alleging the company is aggressively targeting young people with deceptive marketing. Massachusetts lawmakers voted to ban all flavored tobacco products and tax vaping devices. Some worry public health advocates are overreacting to vaping concerns, pointing to it as a safer alternative than combustible cigarettes.
Granted, the public health concerns over vaping are not convincing across the board. Combustible cigarettes do contain more contaminants. The biggest harm, however, comes from nicotine being quite addictive, leading to years of exposure built upon craving more nicotine. E-cigarettes are even more addictive, packing a far bigger nicotine punch. Because they are so new, we know little about the long-term health impacts of all that nicotine. Moreover, early studies suggest vaping may actually lead young people to begin smoking cigarettes. We must stop assuming that vaping is a healthier strategy for smoking. Although it was initially intended to aid those who wish to quit smoking, it’s safer to stick with evidence-based recommendations and proven smoking cessation programs.
According to the Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality, About 42 million people in the United States (nearly 18 percent of the population) currently smoke. Tobacco use is a leading cause of illness, disability, and death in the United States. Cigarette smoking accounts for one out of every five deaths and is estimated to increase the risk for heart disease and stroke by two to four times. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of congenital anomalies, perinatal complications, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Substantial clinical evidence shows that quitting smoking is one of the most important things a person can do for his or her health.
This week’s featured media are from a White House round table on the teen vaping epidemic. Various interest groups offered the President contradictory opinions in an interesting discussion that was robust and, at times, heated. The President’s conclusions remain to be seen. He had previously retreated from his September announcement to ban the sales of flavored e-cigarettes, instead calling it a “suggestion” and warning that a full flavor ban could lead to an increase in illegal sales. He did voice support for legislation to raise the legal age to purchase vaping and tobacco products from 18 to 21. In this NBC report, watch a clip from the meeting plus a clip from pro-vaping demonstrations. CSPAN captured the full round table.