The September 5 e-cigarette report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still making news this week. The report stated that the use of e-cigs among children and teens doubled in the past year. This created a lot of controversy in the mainstream media, igniting debate over whether e-cigs should be regulated or even banned completely. Now the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) has spoken out and they are refuting the CDC report as invalid, claiming that it was motivated by the FDA’s desire for control over the electronic cigarette industry.
The head of NATO spoke out this week, asking some hard questions about the information the CDC released. Thomas A. Briant is the legal counsel and executive director of NATO and he felt the report was released to get media exposure on behalf of the FDA’s agenda.
Briant told the press, “It appears the CDC and (FDA) are extrapolating data from the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Surveys to support the FDA’s announced plan to expand its authority over other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, by issuing proposed regulations this October.”
He argued that there have been numerous studies showing the e-cigs are not only harmless, but they are also an effective tool for smokers to use when they want to quit. He insisted that with so much positive research to back e-cigarettes, the only logical reason that the CDC would misconstrue research and produce such a misleading report would be to push the FDA’s agenda. “NATO can only conclude that the FDA is setting the stage for the rollout of the agency’s proposed e-cigarette regulations in two months.”
While NATO agrees that electronic cigarettes are not appropriate for children and teenagers, Briant insisted that kids and teens were hardly able to access them at the level the CDC implied. There are 28,000 retailers that are part of NATO and all of them are following state laws in regards to selling e-cigs to minors. Briant told reporters that the number of kids rumored to be using e-cigs was very hard to believe.
“The NYTS statistics… include middle and high school students who currently use e-cigarettes and those who have used an e-cigarette just once. This means that the CDC’s claim that electronic cigarette use has doubled among underage youth is likely overstated since students who used the product one time may no longer be using e-cigarettes.”
The CDC never actually reveals how many students were involved in their surveys, yet they write that around 1.78 million students were e-cig users in 2012. However, we already know that only 2.5 million Americans were using e-cigs in 2012, so how likely is it that more than 50 percent of them were teens? Briant made it clear that NATO was not advocating for kids to use e-cigs, but they felt like the CDC’s report was likely to lead to e-cig restrictions and regulations that would impact adult vapers unfairly.
“NATO members firmly stand behind the rights of adults to purchase e-cigarettes, particularly when they are looking for assistance in ‘stepping down’ from smoking traditional cigarettes. We hope any future regulations proposed by the FDA will not interfere with the right of adults to choose what, at least at this time, appears to be a less harmful alternative.”
It certainly seems that Briant had some good points. Do you think that the CDC report was released primarily to create momentum before the FDA calls for new regulations on e-cigarettes?