Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Memo to the CDC: Tell the WHOLE Truth About E-Cigarettes

The contrast between the spin put on youth e-cigarette use data last Fall and the story told by the actual data, released last month, is startling but not surprising, given the U.S. government’s over-zealous tobacco prohibition posture.

Last November, the Centers for Disease Control released selective information from the 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey.  A resulting New York Times headline was typical: “E-Cigarettes Gain Among High School Students” (here).

The CDC withheld the survey data until a couple weeks ago; now the rates of e-cigarette use can be viewed in context with cigarette smoking.  The chart at left shows the real story, and it’s stunning.  Past 30-day cigarette use (the CDC definition of current smoking) among high school students was 9.7%, a whopping 34% decline from 2011. 

E-cigarette use increased, as did dual use, but in no way does the data suggest that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking among teens.  In fact, this chart, along with the Monitoring the Future study I discussed previously (here), indicates that e-cigarettes may be driving teenage smoking down. 

Jacob Sullum at Reason got it right: “Vaping Rises to Record Highs, Smoking Falls to Record Lows, and Activists Insist ‘E-Cigarettes Are a Gateway to Smoking’” (here)   

The CDC regularly misrepresents e-cigarette statistics (here, here, and here).  The agency cherry-picks information from restricted federal datasets; the media amplifies the CDC’s spin; and the story cannot be challenged until months or years later when the agency provides access to the underlying data.  The public should not tolerate such misfeasance from taxpayer-funded public health agencies.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Excellent! City Councils across the USA, are harping, banning, taxing on the exact opposite tripe, the spinning out of control of Tobacco Zealots, must finally be stumped out