Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Arizona Health Department: Vaping is as Dangerous as Smoking; When Will the Lies Stop?

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, vaping is just as dangerous as smoking. The state health department has initiated a campaign entitled "Vape is a Lie" to teach kids about the dangers of vaping and nicotine use. The director of the state agency describes the primary purpose of the campaign as follows:

"We did research this year with several youth focus groups around the state and found there is a misconception that using a vape pen is not as dangerous as a regular cigarette. The truth is there are many of the same dangerous chemicals in a vape pen that are in a cigarette, including nicotine which is a highly addictive chemical."

According to the Department: "Our goal with this new campaign is to give youth the truth about the potential dangers of using e-cigarettes."

The Rest of the Story

Ironically, the rest of the story is that it is the Arizona Department of Health Services which is telling the greatest lie about vaping. It is simply not true that using a vape pen is as dangerous as smoking a real cigarette. In fact, vaping is much safer than smoking. There is abundant research which demonstrates this. But it is also common sense, as electronic cigarettes contain no tobacco and do not involve combustion. How could they be as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes, which we know kill more than 400,000 Americans each year? There is no legitimate scientific dispute over the fact that vaping is much safer than smoking.

If the goal of the new campaign is "to give youth the truth," then it is failing miserably. Rather than providing youth with the truth, the campaign is blatantly lying to kids. Not only is it giving them false information about the relative risks of vaping vs. smoking, but it is undermining decades of public education about the severe hazards of smoking.

Why is there a need for the Arizona Department of Health Services to lie? Why isn't the truth enough? Not only does this campaign run afoul of the public health code of conduct, of which honesty is a key principle, but the campaign also insults the intelligence of youth. It assumes that kids are so stupid that you have to lie to them. What kind of message does this send, especially to parents? Apparently, the Arizona Department of Health Services thinks that parents should lie to their kids about the hazards of vaping. This runs counter to the basic principles of public health and to the principles of risk communication.

Tim Mechling of Mt Baker Vapor breaks down the dishonesty of the Vape is a Lie campaign in a post aptly entitled "'Vape is a Lie' is a Lie."

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