Thursday, July 22, 2021

“Epidemic” Teen Vaping Based Only on NYTS, FDA-Funded PATH Survey Ignored


Teen vaping estimates from the CDC and other anti-tobacco crusaders are hyperinflated by the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).  As I have shown previously, the CDC routinely ignores the federal government’s premier tobacco survey, the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), which supports far lower vaping figures. 

The chart at left, which includes the latest comparison from 2017, is crystal clear. It shows only underage high schoolers (age 15-17 years), since until recently tobacco products were legal for those 18 or older.  Based on the 2017 NYTS, 11.8% of those youths used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days; that contrasts with the 7.3% estimate from PATH.  The NYTS percentage translates to 1.35 million underage vapers; the PATH number is half a million fewer, at 832,000.

There is no legitimate reason for federal officials to ignore PATH, which was purposefully designed, implemented and funded by the FDA to inform federal tobacco regulation.  PATH should be the logical choice of all researchers, and, in fact, it has over the past five years appeared in twice as many PubMed articles as has NYTS.

For over a decade, I have noted how government agencies cherry pick their sources for smoking statistics.  Sometimes, when they want to emphasize lower smoking rates among adults, they choose a source (NHIS) that undercounts smokers by 9 or 10 million.  This time, the government is straining to sustain the “teen vaping epidemic” narrative in order to justify prohibitive policies.

Four years of comparison is important, but the real test will come when PATH releases the fifth wave of its youth survey – for the year 2018, when the NYTS was the basis for the government’s dire warning, in the words of former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, that “e-cigarette use…threatens to hook an entire generation of kids into a lifetime of addiction.”  It is likely that PATH will show a modest increase, but not enough to support such a dramatic claim.  Stay tuned. 


No comments: