Amid all the anti-vaping speech coming from the administration, they’re funding nearly $20 million in new research into the harm reduction tools
The FDA has, for several months, been threatening bans on either e-liquid flavors or even vaporizers outright. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, has made his priorities known, saying that youth usage must be stopped even if adults looking to quit lose access to this tool. Gottlieb has repeatedly sensationalized youth usage, calling it an “epidemic.” Despite the mounting evidence on vaping’s relative safety, and its effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool, the FDA still insists on villainizing e-cigarettes. This includes supporting and condoning the media’s exaggerations and the anti-vaping lobby’s rumors. While their threats still loom in the air, the FDA has stated they intend to fund more research.
The University of Southern California recently announced one such group of studies funded by the FDA. USC has received a federal grant of $17.8 million to conduct five years of research on tobacco marketing and addiction. They’re calling it tobacco marketing and addiction, but what the team will actually be focusing on is youth usage of electronic nicotine products. Researchers will look at the influence of marketing, and the nature of various products they believe are causing this “epidemic.” But is there more going on than meets the eye?
According to their press release, the USC Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science team intends to study “youth-oriented social media marketing,” and they also want to look at advertising in vape shops. To accomplish this, a survey will be conducted of young adults aged 14-24 about their smoking and vaping habits. Lastly, there will be a laboratory study of particular e-cigarette brands they deem “appealing and addictive to young people” or products they believe are “desirable for adults interested in quitting smoking.”
According to the FDA, the ultimate goal of the study is to gather information so they can better form reasonable regulations on vaping products. However, all of the research described is clearly pointed towards preventing youth usage. In fact, only a small part of the lab work will be looking at products they feel are helpful for adults. This once again supports Gottlieb’s disregard for the 37.8 million smoking adults across the US. It also makes it very evident that this money won’t be funding research likely to further their understanding of the harm reduction or smoking cessation value of vaping. Instead, they seem to be doing little more than looking for more fuel to power their crusade against an exaggerated teenage vaping problem.
The Data On Teenage Vaping
While you almost always hear about it from anti-vapers, the data we have on teenage vaping clearly indicates one thing. The vast majority of teens who vape had already been experimenting with cigarettes before ever picking up a vaporizer. A study of over 60,000 students aged 11-16 concluded that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens ever starting to vape on a regular basis. More importantly, this means that only an extremely small percentage of non-smoking teens are ever ending up smokers because of vapes.
When you combine this data with everything we know about the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping, the correct path seems clear. Public Health England concluded back in 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, while research published just last fall found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is nearly 60,000 times higher than a vaper. To top things off, we have several studies that back up what many vapers have been saying for years, that vaping is the best smoking cessation tool out there. In fact, studies have shown they’re even more likely to help you quit than prescription quit aids.
Only time will truly tell what the FDA intends to do with this new research they’re funding. While it’s possible they are just trying to honestly learn more about the subject, it’s always a distinct possibility they’re merely looking for more ammunition. It’s become increasingly clear from the FDA that they believe vaping poses a severe threat to teens, despite research indicating the contrary. So while protecting the youth should be paramount, the bottom line is that smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the globe and undermining one of the best tools we have in favor of a made up epidemic is foolish. Yet this is precisely what the FDA and others continue to do by equating vaping and smoking and refusing to acknowledge the many benefits. But there is still hope that the research produced by this grant will help further the case for the extreme harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes.
Do you think the FDA really wants to understand vaping better, or simply produce more slander? Is it essential for the general public to be more aware of the benefits of vaping? Do you think that teenage vaping is as big of a problem as the media makes it out to be? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.