Monday, March 23, 2015

March E-Cigarette Madness: Regional Results for Worst E-Cigarette Lie

Today, I reveal the brackets and the regional finalists for the 2015 Rest of the Story Worst E-Cigarette Lie Championship. Those who have been following the Rest of the Story recently will recognize that there were a huge number of eligible contestants and that the work of the selection committee was difficult. The semifinalists and finalists will be revealed over the coming days. Criteria for selection included: (1) the extent of the misinformation provided to the public about e-cigarettes; and (2) the amount of probable damage to the public's health resulting by the misinformation.


University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) vs. California Department of Public Health

UCSF: In an article published in USA Today, Dr. Stanton Glantz stated definitively that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to smoking. He was quoted as stating: "There's no question that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking."

California Department of Health Services: The California Department of Health Services (CDHS), under a grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), produced a brochure entitled "Protect Your Family from E-Cigarettes: The Facts You Need to Know," which claimed that: (1) "E-cigarettes are just as addictive as regular cigarettes" and (2) "Studies show that e-cigarettes do not help people quit smoking cigarettes."


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vs. Greenville (SC) Health System

CDC: The CDC misrepresented cross-sectional CDC survey data as conclusive evidence that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to smoking. Specifically, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden stated: "Use of e-cigarettes in youth doubled just in the past year, and many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes." In addition, Dr. Frieden was quoted as stating that electronic cigarettes are "condemning many kids to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine."

Greenville Health System: On the Greenville Health System blog, a respiratory therapist wrote: "I strongly oppose the use of e-cigarettes. It is unregulated and could potentially be more dangerous than a regular cigarette." Clearly, this claim that cigarette smoking might be healthier than vaping is a lie.


Mayo Clinic vs. University of Kentucky (Tobacco-Free UK)

Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic stated that: "with nicotine inhalers you receive only nicotine." Even the arch-enemy of electronic cigarettes - Dr. Stanton Glantz - has acknowledged that nicotine inhalers deliver to users the following chemicals: Formaldehyde; Acetaldehyde; o-methylbenzene; Cadmium; Nickel; and Lead. In fact, I have shown that nicotine inhalers actually deliver higher amounts of six carcinogens than electronic cigarettes. The Mayo Clinic also stated that: "No studies have been done to examine the safety of e-cigarettes." However, there have been many studies that examined the safety of electronic cigarettes.

University of Kentucky Tobacco-Free Task Force: Tobacco-Free UK at the University of Kentucky warned the campus community that electronic cigarettes cause cancer. The text of its poster stated that "it causes cancer." The Tobacco-Free UK organization appears to be a UK Tobacco-Free Task Force, which is headed up by Ellen Hahn, a professor who has made misleading claims about electronic cigarettes.


Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vs. American Lung Association (ALA)

FDA: The FDA stated, in its proposed deeming regulations: "Many consumers believe that e-cigarettes are "safe" tobacco products or are "safer" than cigarettes. FDA has not made such a determination and conclusive research is not available." That the FDA is not sure whether smoking is any more hazardous than vaping does not say a lot for the agency's scientific standards.

ALA: A CNN Opinion page featured an op-ed on electronic cigarettes from Harold Wimmer, the president and CEO of the American Lung Association. In the piece, Wimmer argued that Big Tobacco companies are using electronic cigarettes to create "new nicotine addicts" and that they are enticing youth with flavors such as bubble gum and cotton candy. According to the American Lung Association piece: "Big Tobacco desperately needs new nicotine addicts and is up to its old tricks to make sure it gets them. E-cigarettes are being aggressively marketed to children with flavors like Bazooka Bubble Gum, Cap'n Crunch and Cotton Candy. Joe Camel was killed in the 1990s, but cartoon characters are back promoting e-cigarettes." However, none of the three tobacco companies which market electronic cigarettes in the U.S. are selling electronic cigarettes with bubble gum, cap'n crunch, or cotton candy flavors. In fact, the disposable electronic cigarettes being sold by Big Tobacco companies (i.e., the ones most likely to be purchased by youth) are available solely in classic tobacco or menthol flavors.


West Regional: California Department of Health Services defeats UCSF

Since Dr. Glantz is recognized as an arch-enemy of electronic cigarettes, his lie about e-cigarettes being a gateway to smoking is less likely to cause damage. However, the California Department of Health Services, as a large and respected state health department, is likely to be causing public health damage with its false assertions that e-cigarettes are as addictive as tobacco cigarettes and that e-cigarettes do not help people quit smoking.

South Regional: CDC defeats Greenville Health System

The CDC simply carries too much weight. Its false claim that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking was picked up by media outlets throughout the country and is influencing state and local public health policy and causing substantial public health damage.

Midwest Regional: Mayo Clinic defeats University of Kentucky Tobacco-Free Task Force

The Mayo Clinic carries tremendous weight and thus its public misinformation about e-cigarettes is more damaging to the public's health.

East Regional:  FDA defeats American Lung Association

The FDA has perhaps the most influence on the electronic cigarette issue of any governmental organization. It defeated the ALA because its false and misleading pronouncements about electronic cigarettes have caused enormous public health damage.


1. California Department of Health Services vs. Mayo Clinic

2. CDC vs. FDA

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