Tuesday, April 07, 2015

CDC's False Statements About E-Cigs are Still Doing Damage; Agency Needs to Retract Statements Immediately

Although it has been a year and a half since the CDC disseminated to the public inaccurate information about electronic cigarettes being a gateway to smoking among youth, this false propaganda is still doing damage.

It was in fall 2013 that CDC made the following statements regarding electronic cigarettes being a gateway to smoking:

1. 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." 

2. In addition, Dr. Frieden was quoted as stating that electronic cigarettes are "condemning many kids to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes."

This past Sunday, in an article in the Newburyport Daily News, the CDC was again quoted as concluding that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to youth smoking.

According to the article: "While supporters say e-cigarettes are a less dangerous alternative to cigarettes, health officials said they worry the devices could spur teen cigarette use, possibly undermining decades of work to reduce smoking rates. At least 10 percent of high school students say they tried e-cigarettes in 2012, up from 4.7 percent in 2011, according to a National Youth Tobacco Survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling,” CDC director Thomas Frieden said in a recent statement. “Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes.”"

Even a brief search of the internet reveals that this statement continues to be relied upon by anti-smoking groups throughout the country in pressing the case that e-cigarettes are a gateway to youth smoking. The quote is even featured in an argumentative writing assignment for 9th graders at the Moore public schools in

The Rest of the Story

I can certainly understand if the CDC made a mistake. I do it all the time. Anyone can misspeak or say something in an interview that is not correct. The important thing is that you correct the error, especially if it will have a major effect on public policy.

But here we are a year and a half after the original statements and the CDC has failed to make any attempt to retract or correct these statements. They even have the original press release up with no note of any correction.

Given this failure to correct what is obviously a completely unsupported statement and one which appears to be false, one has to at this point infer that the deception of the public is intentional.

I call on the CDC to immediately retract these statements before any further damage is done. Failing to do so will only solidify my conclusion that the agency is intentionally misleading the public to promote its anti-e-cigarette agenda.

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