Agency purposely misleads public with their survey results.
There has been a constant regulatory onslaught committed by politicians against the vaping industry and community. Vapor bans ranging from restricting indoor usage to complete prohibition are preventing adult smokers from accessing reduced harm alternatives to tobacco.
Several regulatory agencies in the United States have taken a hardline stance against vaping, grouping it with smoking despite the mountain of evidence distinguishing vaping as far less harmful. One of these agencies is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who have continued to highlight misinformation and muddle the discourse surrounding vaping.
Members of the vaping community have repeatedly criticized the CDC, taking particular issue with their showcase of misinformation. Politicians then cite this misinformation, which leads to additional regulatory hurdles. Anti-vaping activists praise the agency for continuing to advance their narrative and agenda by portraying vaping in the same light as smoking.
The agency releases annual survey results highlighting the reasons for youth nicotine consumption. However, some experts believe the results fail to take into account the full spectrum of evidence and science available. Others even think this was done to convey a particular pre-established narrative, ignoring the evidence to the contrary.
“Teenage Vaping” Myth
The Centers for Disease Control released analysis from the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey and concluded that electronic cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school students that year. They note that nicotine exposure during adolescence can lead to addiction and may harm their still-developing brains.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) is a handwritten questionnaire that is self-administered to a cross-sectional nationally representative sample of public and private school students in grades 6 through 12. The CDC and FDA analyzed data from the 2016 NYTS to assess self-reported reasons for the use of various nicotine products.
While researchers claim to have concluded electronic cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among adolescents, they noted several problems with their ideology and conclusions. Among these flaws includes the limitation that only a small subsection of American students were polled, creating a false representation of teenagers as a whole. Other issues include problems with underreporting, recall bias, and only including predetermined reasons for tobacco use in the questionnaire.
These issues represent severe flaws with the methodology used by the CDC and FDA and call into question the legitimacy of their findings. This research also fails to note several independent studies which have shown evidence pointing to the contrary.
Benefits Of Vaping
While the CDC and FDA used the results of their analysis to spread fear about the so-called teenage vaping “epidemic,” there is a growing body of evidence directly contrasting this myth. One such piece of evidence is a report by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) of over 60,000 teenage participants, which found as little as 0.1% between 0.5% of non-smoking teens take up vaping after trying it.
The CDC themselves note there are currently 37.8 million smokers in the United States, with over 16 million of those suffering from a smoking-related disease. Perpetuating fear-mongering myths may place millions suffering at further risk by restricting their access to safe and proven alternatives to smoking.
Vaping continues to be proven as an effective smoking cessation aid and reduced harm alternative to tobacco. In a study conducted by the University of Louisville, researchers discovered vaping was the single most effective smoking cessation aid available today.
Despite the evidence disputing the myth of teen vaping and supporting the efficacy of vaping as a reduced-harm aid, the public at large continues to be poorly informed about vaping. A study performed by Public Health England had found only 13% of adults believe vaping is safer than smoking, with over a quarter of participants thinking vaping is just as harmful or even worse.
The survey analysis comes during a time where legislators are enacting vaping bans of all kinds, from basic restrictions on where you can vape, to outright prohibition. The vaping industry is under attack by regulators looking to a one-sided fear mongered narrative for guidance, and the CDC is actively pouring fuel on that fire.
Government agencies need to remain unbiased and impartial, so releasing flawed research and ignoring current peer-reviewed data is fatal to the discourse surrounding vaping. Lawmakers should be pressured to hold these agencies accountable when stepping out of line on such a grand scale.
Members of the vaping community should hold their governments accountable when they restrict the freedoms of responsible adults. Sitting idly by and allowing these narratives to flow freely has led to the current climate we find ourselves in today.
Lawmakers and officials shouldn’t be able to perpetuate myths to help secure their budgets and job security. Agencies should instead be up for review every few years to measure their utility and impartialness.
Is there a biased narrative currently surrounding vaping? Do you believe in the teenage vaping myth? Should we have a more critical view of these agencies and the work they release? Let us know what you think down in the comments below. Also be sure to like us on Facebook, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, and check back here for all the latest news surrounding all things vaping.
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