Thursday, September 25, 2014

CDC Rejoices that Fewer Smokers are Trying to Quit

According to new data published by the CDC in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the trend of increasing use of electronic cigarettes among adult smokers halted in 2013.

According to an article by the AP's Mike Stobbe, "The proportion of adults who have ever used e-cigarettes rose from about 3 percent to 8 percent from 2010 to 2012. But there was no significant change last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study."

These data are consistent with financial analyst reports showing that there has been a decline in the sales of traditional cig-a-like type electronic cigarettes in retail stores.

According to multiple news articles, the CDC responded to this news by "rejoicing": that is, the agency expressed happiness that the use of electronic cigarettes by smokers is declining or leveling off.

According to the AP article: "[CDC lead author Brian King] called the leveling off in adults who have ever tried e-cigarettes "a positive note."

The Rest of the Story

A positive note? Are you serious?

The CDC is actually stating that the finding that fewer smokers are trying to quit smoking by switching to e-cigarettes is a good thing.

In other words, the CDC is happy that the combustible tobacco market is regaining strength compared to the non-combustible market. The CDC is happy that cigarette sales are facing less and less competition from the fake, but much safer cigarettes that greatly reduce a smoker's health risks, even if the person does not quit smoking completely, but greatly reduces his or her cigarette consumption.

That financial analysts had predicted that e-cigarette use might overtake smoking in the next decade would have been great news. In fact, it would have been a public health miracle - one of the greatest public health victories of our lifetime. The fact that this is apparently not going to occur is not good news, it is a tragedy.

That the CDC is rejoicing in the protection of the combustible tobacco market from competition from much safer electronic cigarettes is also tragic. Because it shows that the nation's lead prevention agency has completely lost sight of its public health mission. Instead, the CDC seems committed to an ideological mission of demonizing electronic cigarettes because they "look like" tobacco cigarettes and apparently, cannot condone the use of a product which looks like a cigarette, even if it may be saving the life of the individual using the product.

This is particularly sad for me to see, because I used to work at the Office on Smoking on Health at CDC, and at the time I worked there, we worked endlessly to promote and encourage smoking cessation attempts. To rejoice because fewer smokers are trying to quit smoking using e-cigarettes is a tragic turn of events.

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