Monday, November 21, 2016

CDC-Funded Pasadena Health Department Campaign Calls Vapers "Stupid Sheep"; Rest of the Story Calls for a Public Apology

Federal taxpayer money is being used in a campaign that calls vapers "stupid sheep," according to an article in the Pasadena Independent. The article reports that a major print advertisement in the campaign contains a headline that reads: "Don't follow the herd. Vaping effects are unknown, stupid sheep."

An article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune also reports that: "The advertisements compare e-cigarette users to 'stupid sheep.'"

The campaign is being funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Rest of the Story

There really is no place for a campaign like this in public health. We should never call people stupid. Even if people are making poor health choices, it does not mean they are stupid. And we have no business calling them stupid. This gives public health a bad name and harms our reputation. It also undermines the public's appreciation of what public health is really about.

In this case, there are some very good reasons why many people choose to vape. I don't consider any of these to be "stupid." Which of the following does the Pasadena Health Department consider stupid?
  • The desire to save one's life by quitting smoking using e-cigarettes.
  • The desire to reduce one's risk of debilitating disease by switching from smoking to vaping.
  • The desire to protect people around you by switching to vaping.
  • The desire to improve symptoms of asthma by getting off cigarettes using vaping products.
The rest of the story is that it is actually the Pasadena Health Department which is "pulling the wool" over people's eyes (if there is any sheep-like behavior going on) by equating vaping with smoking.

In public health, we view the public as our "clients," in a sense. They are not our enemies. We do not attack them or insult them. So we don't ever call them stupid.

I call on the Pasadena Health Department to discontinue these advertisements and to apologize to all vapers. In addition, the CDC should make it clear to all grantees that it will not fund any health campaigns that call members of the public "stupid."

No comments: