Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CDC Hiding from the Public the Fact that E-Cigarettes Do Not Contain Tobacco

Yesterday, I explained how the CDC is lying to the public by classifying e-cigarettes as "tobacco products," thus insinuating that e-cigarettes contain tobacco, which is not true. Today, I reveal that this lie is part of a larger campaign, in which the CDC is actively hiding from the public the fact that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.

Arguably, one of the most important facts that the public needs to know about e-cigarettes is that they contain no tobacco. Unlike all other "tobacco products" on the market, e-cigarettes are unique in not containing tobacco, and therefore, not really being "tobacco products." Regardless of how they are classified, it is imperative that the public understand that e-cigarettes are qualitatively different from real cigarettes in that they do not contain, nor burn tobacco. The most important distinction, of course, is the absence of tobacco in the product.

Now, one would think that the nation's leading public health agency, in putting out loads of information about e-cigarettes, would somewhere ... someplace ... inform the public that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.

The Rest of the Story

The rest of the story is that I can find no location, no web page, no MMWR article, no communication of any kind in which the CDC informs the public that e-cigarettes are devoid of tobacco. Moreover, in every important communication about e-cigarettes that the CDC has transmitted, especially those which gained huge amounts of media coverage, the agency hid from the public the fact that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.

For example, let's look at the all-important press release in which the CDC announced a tripling of e-cigarette use among youth in just a one year period. Nowhere in that press release does it explain that e-cigarettes are not tobacco-containing products. On the contrary, the release insinuates that e-cigarettes do contain tobacco by referring to these devices as tobacco products.

In the MMWR article associated with this press release, there is absolutely no mention of the fact that e-cigarettes contain no tobacco. On the contrary, the CDC explicitly states that e-cigarettes do contain tobacco, which is an outright lie. The CDC states in the article:

"Youth use of tobacco in any form, whether it be combustible, noncombustible, or electronic, is unsafe... ." 

Thus, the CDC is telling the public that electronic cigarettes are a "form" of using tobacco. This, of course, is untrue because e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco in any form.

If the CDC classified e-cigarettes as tobacco products, but readily disclosed that these devices do not actually contain tobacco, then one could argue that its classification was based merely on semantics and was not a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. However, in light of the fact that throughout all of its communications on e-cigarettes the CDC actively hides from the public the critical fact that e-cigarettes are not a form of tobacco, I do not believe that this is merely about semantics. It seems clear to me that the CDC is intentionally deceiving the public in order to demonize electronic cigarettes.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned yesterday, this campaign of lies and deception is not just dishonest, it is also damaging. It is literally costing lives because it is protecting combustible tobacco products (cigarettes) from competition from a non-tobacco, non-combusted product that is a much safer alternative (e-cigarettes).

The rest of the story is that the CDC is hiding from the public the critical fact that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. It is unfathomable to me that the nation's leading public health prevention agency is not only lying to the public about e-cigarettes being tobacco products, but that it is also hiding critical information from the public in an apparently deliberate attempt to confuse the public about the relative hazards of smoking compared to vaping.

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