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Researchers Falsely Claim “Rise” in Adolescent Vaping and More! Tobacco Harm Reduction News

Researchers falsely claim “rise” in adolescent vaping and get hysterical over flavors. New York takes up the war on menthol. ALA adds nicotine pouches to vaping lies. Colorado prohibition bills fail. Advocacy funding double-standard and more!

Scroll to the bottom of this post for a link to the audio/video versions of this post!


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RESEARCH

Researchers Falsely Claim “Rise” in Adolescent Vaping

These researchers claim in 2024 that there’s an “alarming rise of electronic vaping use in US adolescents” and “adolescents and young adults who use EVPs are more likely to switch to cigarette smoking.”

This is nonsense.

What they’re actually reporting here from the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS) data is a slight linear rise in the percentage of only high school daily users between the year 2015 and the year 2021, while dismissing the decline from peak daily use in 2019.

The fact that the linear change between 2015 and 2021 was an “increase” when comparing just those two specific years only proves that daily vaping hadn’t declined back to or below the 2015 level, but they can’t possibly know whether it has increased or declined further in the 3 years since 2021.

The chart below shows what the high school vaping (and smoking) trends really look like.

According to the YRBS data:

  • Current Vaping declined from 24.1% in 2015 to 18% in 2021.
  • Daily Vaping increased from 2% in 2015 to 5% in 2021 (a decline from 7.2% in 2019.)
  • Current Cigarette Smoking declined from 10.8% in 2015 to 3.8% in 2021.

According to the NYTS data:

  • Current Vaping declined from 16% in 2015 to 10% in 2023.
  • Frequent vaping (vaped on 20 or more days in the month) declined from approximately 5.2% in 2019 to 3.9% in 2023.
  • Ever Vaping declined from 46.9% in 2019 to 22.6% in 2023.
  • Current Cigarette Smoking declined from 9.3% in 2015 to 1.9% in 2023.
  • Ever Cigarette Smoking declined from 22.6% in 2019 to 8.5% in 2023.

Fewer teens are trying vaping. Fewer teens are currently vaping. More importantly, fewer teens are trying smoking and teen current smoking is almost non-existent.

Where are the claims of an  “alarming rise of electronic vaping use” and “adolescents and young adults who use EVPs are more likely to switch to cigarette smoking” demonstrated in this data?

They also falsely claimed that nicotine vaping “is not a safer alternative to smoking.”

Is this paper science or propaganda? Because only someone with an agenda would present this data as an “alarming rise” in adolescent vaping, lie about the relative risks and imply there’s a causal link between vaping and future smoking.

READ MORE: Alarming Rise of Electronic Vaping Use In U.S. Adolescents

More Flavor Hysteria

While research into possible risks from flavors is a good thing, based on this study, it’s woefully premature for the study author to claim it’s “plausible that we are on the cusp of a new wave of chronic diseases that will emerge 15 to 20 years from now due to these exposures” and for media headlines to proclaim the study found there are “hazardous health risks from flavoured vapes.”

First of all, there are hundreds of thousands of adults who have already been nicotine vaping for 15 – 20 years in the U.S., without any sign of a “new wave of chronic diseases.” Why don’t researchers want to speak to any of those folks?

Secondly, the paper leaves a LOT of unanswered questions:

  • At what temperature did the models given to the AI result in decomposition? Are those temperatures common in real-life vaping?
  • Was the fact that the flavors are typically diluted in a base liquid of vegetable glycerin and/or propylene glycol factored into the models? People aren’t vaping the flavor chemicals at full-strength, yet a word search of the study didn’t find any reference to base liquids containing “vegetable glycerin” or “propylene glycol.” It would be good to know what effect, if any, the base liquid has on the decomposition of the flavor chemicals.
  • Is this modeled on real-life vaping practices? It generally takes time for chemicals to “break down” from being heated, yet “puff” times are typically just 3-5 seconds long.

It seems, once again, that the media and anti-vaping researchers are irresponsibly stoking the flames of hysteria over scant evidence and risking the lives of millions of people who might be convinced by the scaremongering to just keep smoking.

READ MORE: RCSI research warns of hazardous health risks from flavoured vapes

 

LEGISLATION

New York Takes Up War on Menthol

After the White House tabled a national menthol ban, there is a new push to ban the sale, and advertising of, menthol cigarettes in portions of New York State.

We can predict that this isn’t going to go the way they think it is.

READ MORE: It’s Over for these Cigarettes in New York State

Colorado Statewide Prohibition Fails, Local Bans Coming

“This is a cigarette industry-sponsored bill intended to clear the market,” says Alex Clark, CEO of Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA). “HB 1356 still targets vaping products that are very popular among people who are quitting smoking. … The FDA continues arbitrarily denying authorizations for any nicotine vapor product in flavors other than tobacco.”

Note: HB 1356 cleared its final vote on May 4, but only after it was rewritten to remove the ban on non-authorized devices. SB 22 was shut down entirely, being rejected by one vote in a House committee in March after passing the Senate.

READ MORE: Anti-Vaping Activists Fear State Action Unlikely After “Incredibly Disappointing” Session

 

TOBACCO CONTROL

Statements Suggesting You May Be Tobacco-Free Generation (TFG) Law Delusional:

“As the legal purchase age climbs year after year, tobacco use will lose its allure for underage adolescents.”

“Young people will be less attracted to tobacco use when only older people use it.”

“[It] won’t create an alcohol Prohibition scenario…because TFG does not affect people who can legally buy tobacco today. Demand for illegal sales, coming from a small market of youth who experiment with tobacco, will shrink as the allure of tobacco use fades.”

“After more than a century of devastation, the dawn of the tobacco endgame has finally arrived.”

It means US cigarette sales will hit zero by 2034.

READ MORE: The Tobacco Endgame Begins

The American Lung Association Adds Nicotine Pouches to Vaping Lies

“If they’re cheaper for kids to buy, then that’s where they’ll gravitate towards. So make sure that the price is high enough to dissuade them from using them.”

FACT: Most adults who smoke are in households that make less than $49k a year. So making sure prices are high enough to dissuade youth will also dissuade adults from switching to these far safer products.

“Tobacco companies tend to market those products as a ‘safer alternative’. We know that is not necessarily true.”

FACT: FDA rules prohibit the products as being marketed as a “safer alternative” without authorization. The only US tobacco company marketing smoke-free products as lower risk is Swedish snus, because it has FDA authorization to do so. That these products — especially nicotine pouches — are a “safer alternative” to deadly cigarettes is indisputable.

“They are not FDA-approved as a cessation device. So they should not be able to be marketed or promoted as that.”

FACT: No US tobacco company has been marketing #vaping products, snus or nicotine pouches as a cessation product.

“They can have a lot of the same negative health effects of using nicotine in adolescence like the disruption of the formation of brain circuits that control attention learning.”

FACT: This has only been studied in animals.

Tobacco Control has long pointed out that most adults who smoke began as adolescents, yet those millions of adults don’t have “disrupted brains.” Additionally, studies on humans have been showing that nicotine shows promise as a therapy and/or prevention for people with certain brain conditions.

“Smokeless products are “fairly new,” and it would take time for people to realize how harmful these new products can be.”

FACT: There’s several decades of research on smoke-free products that show they aren’t anywhere near as risky as smoking. Specifically, nicotine pouches are nearly identical to FDA-approved products. They’re just in a pouch form rather than gums or lozenges.

“They might use e-cigarettes to cope with mental health issues. But then we know that vaping and nicotine can cause more mental health issues.”

FACT: No, we don’t know that. We know there’s a link between mental health issues and drug use — including nicotine — but there’s nothing proving that nicotine causes more mental health issues.

“Tobacco and vaping is a real issue and I think it’s only gotten worse over the past few years.”

FACT: Youth tobacco use is at a historical low and the youth vaping fad has decline to pre-2014 levels.

READ MORE: Nicotine pouch a focus for Mass. youth against tobacco use. What is the pouch?

Advocacy Funding Double-Standard

This article about Cliff Douglas and Global Action to End Smoking just underscores the nonsensical, self-serving thinking of traditional tobacco control.

  • They demand tobacco harm reduction (THR) organizations not take funding from the industries, yet THR orgs cannot get funding from non-industry sources, because those sources only support complete abstinence (which is the antithesis of harm reduction.)
  • They claim that all science coming from the industry (or organizations that have industry funding) is suspect and shouldn’t be “legitimized” because it’s self-serving, yet the same could be said of the funding they get from the pharmaceutical industry or the MSA funding they get that is dependent upon maintaining cigarette sales.
  • They claim tobacco harm reduction has been “co-opted” by the tobacco industry despite the fact that A) vaping advocates were promoting tobacco harm reduction long before the tobacco industry caught on to the trend, and B) tobacco harm reduction can really only be fully optimized by the tobacco industry profiting more from reduced harm products than they do cigarettes.

We wouldn’t expect cars to become safer without the involvement of the auto industry. We wouldn’t expect food to become healthier without the involvement of the food industry. We wouldn’t expect heat and electricity to become more environmentally friendly without the involvement of the utility companies. How can we expect tobacco and nicotine use to become safer without the involvement of the tobacco industry? (Note that independent vaping companies were around about 10 years before the tobacco industry started selling vapor products. This idea that they were always a tobacco industry ploy is akin to accusing solar panel companies of being a Big Oil ploy.)

When this all started decades ago, the admirable goal was saving the lives of adults who were dying from smoking-related diseases. It wasn’t about stopping nicotine “addiction,” stopping all tobacco use or destroying the tobacco industry. This narcissistic “changing of the goalposts” is going to cost millions of adults their lives unless they correct course now.

READ MORE: After decades fighting Big Tobacco, Cliff Douglas now leads a foundation funded by his former adversaries

FDA

Former Director Cosied Up to Anti-Tobacco Group

“There’s a reason taxpayers are troubled by incestuous relationships between government agencies and activist groups and public health agencies are proving to be no exception.”

“It’s a coup for [Truth Initiative] to land a CEO who knows her way around the FDA, and it’s a lucrative jump for Ms. Crosby.”

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Former FDA Official Cozied Up To Activists Months Before Joining Them, Emails Show


CASAA IN ACTION // CASAA Live

The FDA recently launched a web page about the relative risks of tobacco products. Does this mean FDA has changed its tune? Join Logan Evans and Kristin Noll-Marsh as they discuss what the FDA is now saying about vaping (and other low risk alternatives to smoking.)

NOTE: Our apologies for the technical difficulties which affected Kristin’s audio during this episode. This will be corrected before the next show!

Catch the next show LIVE Saturday, May 19th at 4:30PM ET/3:30PM CT!

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