Fear-Mongering Misinformation Causing Confusion And Mistrust
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the current coronavirus and associated ongoing pandemic. While there is still much we don’t yet know about this novel virus; new information emerges each day that appears to supersede or contradict previous information.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently announced a shift on their stance regarding vaping and COVID-19. The agency is now stating that the risk is unknown for vapers with coronavirus, while standing-by statements of an increased risk of complications for smokers.
The agency had previously conflated vaping with smoking, stating that both were at risk of increasing potential complications of the coronavirus. Public health scholars and harm reduction experts immediately spoke out against this, noting there was no evidence of complications from vaping at all.
During trying times, people often turn to their officials for reassurance and factual information. The constant barrage of changing and often contradictory information coming from officials is rapidly sowing discord and distrust among the public, during a time when people need them to be honest the most.
Lies About Vaping
The United States Food and Drug Administration shifted its stance on the coronavirus and vaping, stating that potential risk is unknown for vapers while continuing to caution against an increased risk of complications for smokers. The agency had previously stated that vapers and smokers faced an increased level of risk of complications from the novel coronavirus and that these users tend to face worse outcomes.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller had previously written a letter to agency officials criticizing the initial conflation, stating that the agency’s stance was fear-mongering and a “regrettable episode.” He notes that this conflation can create a negative perception among the public that may dissuade people from trying vaping to help them quit smoking, which is all the more important now due to a heightened risk of complications from COVID-19.
“Where is the evidence-based reasoning that advising adult smokers against vaping is appropriate for the protection of public health at any time, but especially during this COVID-19 crisis? We know of no relevant and informative evidence on vaping and COVID-19, and the evidence on smoking and COVID-19 is inconclusive and contradictory,” Miller stated. The letter was co-signed by over a dozen public health and policy experts, including representatives from the Drug Policy Alliance and American Heart Association.
In addition to the misinformation, the letter was also highly critical of the way the agency chose to disseminate their message, noting that they opted to email a single organization rather than presenting evidence publicly. The resulting article published in Bloomberg fails to cite any studies noting any connection between the two.
Truth About Vaping
Despite the ongoing war against vaping by certain government agencies, scientific evidence and academic review continue to highlight the promise and potential it may provide. There has been a multitude of studies that have repeatedly demonstrated vaping’s efficacy in aiding smoking cessation, as well as being a reduced harm alternative to tobacco.
Not only is vaping an effective smoking cessation aid, but it may also be the single greatest asset we have in combating the deadly smoking epidemic. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies, not only helping people quit but staying away from smoking as well.
Not only is vaping effective in aiding smoking cessation, but it is also a proven reduced harm alternative to tobacco. Studies from both Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking.
In addition, research published by the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that vapers have a 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes compared to smokers. The researchers also found that particulate matter in vapor is smaller and less harmful than the particulate matter produced by tobacco combustion.
Future Of Vaping
The agency had previously done what it always does, conflate vaping with smoking despite public health scholars explicitly criticizing their dangerous misinformation, and then shifting their stance at the last minute after a new national narrative takes hold. As of the time of publishing, media outlets are still publishing fear-mongering articles surrounding COVID and vaping as a means to drive traffic as print sales completely evaporate.
At a time when the public needs them the most, officials are opting to spread fear-mongering misinformation to promote personal agendas rather than facts. Members of the vaping industry and community must stand together and speak out against these instances and use them as an opportunity to help educate the public about the promise that vaping provides.
What are your thoughts regarding the FDA shifting its stance on the coronavirus and vaping? Do you feel government agencies should only be permitted to make claims they can actually cite? Let us know what you think in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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