Monday, June 27, 2022

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Sustains Teen Vaping “Epidemic” By Ignoring 2021 Data


The teen vaping “epidemic” was never real; it was a passing fad, blown out of proportion by anti-tobacco zealots (here, here and here).  There is no question that past-30-day (i.e., current) high school vaping increased from 12% in 2017 to 27% in 2019.  However, by 2021, the high school vaping rate had plummeted to 11%, and smoking rates sank from 8% to 2% during those four years (here). 

The “epidemic” may have been fake, but the concocted crisis led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale of millions of lifesaving e-cigarettes and vaping products, the latest being JUUL. 

The “epidemic” lives on at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, as evidenced by a May 24 presentation by CTFK president Matt Myers at the Clear the Vapor Conference, sponsored by Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes.  I will not link to his YouTube video, as I don’t want to inadvertently increase the 43 views he has earned. 

Here is an image from his presentation on high school smoking, using information from the National Youth Tobacco Survey:


Myers frequently cites the NYTS because it produces the highest teen vaping numbers.  But this time he plays fast and loose with the survey, seen in this slide from his presentation:


After 2019, high school vaping plummeted for two years.  How did Myers deal with that challenge to CTFK’s “epidemic” narrative?  He simply ended his chart at 2020, omitting available 2021 data.

Here is the corrected chart: 



As I have noted in a prior blog entry, anti-tobacco crusaders are doing a great job of promoting e-cigarettes and vape products to America’s youth, using cartoons, hip images, photos of kids vaping, and attractive vape flavor illustrations.  The CTFK even offers a powerful, though misguided, teen-oriented vaping promotion featuring 42 vaping scenes in under five minutes (here). 

Tobacco prohibitionists will use any trick to ensure that the teen vaping “epidemic” never ends.


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

There Never Was a Tobacco/Nicotine Addiction “Secret”


Mitch Zeller, former director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, provided valuable insights on the war against tobacco harm reduction in a May 19 presentation at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.  His slide presentation is available here.

Zeller justifies tobacco regulation primarily on perceived industry misdeeds, which he illustrates with quotes from the 1960s, 70s and 80s from industry documents: “Tobacco products uniquely contain and deliver nicotine, a potent drug with a variety of physiological effects,” “Nicotine is addictive,” “Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle of nicotine.”

Zeller implied that corporate executives knew but covered up critical nicotine facts, like nicotine was the active, addictive ingredient in tobacco.

Everybody knew about the nicotine addiction “secret.” 

Nicotine is one of the most thoroughly studied drugs in the history of medicine. A mere 80 years after Columbus discovered tobacco and the New World in 1492, crude nicotine was isolated and identified.  It was chemically purified in 1828, and its molecular formula was determined in 1843.  British scientists described the effects of nicotine on the nervous system as early as 1889.  From the 1930s to the 1950s, many medical authorities already considered tobacco use to be habit-forming or addictive. In 1936, tobacco use was described as “a form of drug addiction, even though a pleasant one, not affecting criminal statistics.”

In 1942, L. M. Johnston conducted some remarkable experiments where nicotine was successfully injected into smokers to satisfy their cigarette cravings.  Johnston reported these findings in the renowned British medical journal The Lancet, where he also discussed nicotine tolerance, craving and withdrawal symptoms, concluding: “Clearly the essence of tobacco smoking is the tobacco and not the smoking. Satisfaction can be obtained from chewing it, from snuff-taking, and from the administration of nicotine.”

By the 1950s, the topic of nicotine addiction had moved beyond medical journals to books for the general public.  The Habit of Tobacco Smoking (by W. Koskowski, Staples Press Ltd.) appeared in 1955, followed in 1959 by A. King's The Cigarette Habit: A Scientific Cure (Doubleday and Co.).

During the 1960s and 1970s, when, according to anti-tobacco zealots, suppression of tobacco industry research on nicotine peaked, nicotine was the subject of thousands of independent research articles. Medline, the National Library of Medicine's computerized data base, lists 1,000 such studies between 1966 and 1976. The number increased to 1,500 in the period from 1976 to 1984, and to nearly 4,000 during the next decade. Many of the 1970s and 1980s research reports provided scientific validation of what smokers had been saying for nearly a century:

It's hard to quit smoking.



Wednesday, June 1, 2022

FDA Commissioner Misleads with Grossly Inaccurate Tobacco & Vaping Tweet


FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf on May 27 tweeted a grossly inaccurate statement (here): “I worry that our academic centers & professional societies are not activated enough on the tobacco issue.  Almost 500,000 Americans will die this year from tobacco related illness and millions of teenagers are becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping.”

There is no evidence that vaping is enslaving “millions of teenagers.”  The number of high school students who reported vaping in the past 30 days in 2021 was 1.72 million (here), a 58% reduction from the peak of 4.1 million in 2019.  Additionally, not all of these teens are or were “addicted”, as the majority in both years used e-cigarettes infrequently.  Only 467,000 in 2021 had not used cigarettes or other tobacco and had vaped 20+ days, which is the baseline for even considering addiction.

As to the commissioner’s assertion that “Our academic centers & professional societies are not activated enough on the tobacco issue,” the FDA Center for Tobacco Products transfers to the National Institutes of Health $200-300 million annually – funds that end up in the coffers of those “academic centers & professional societies,” and that’s on top of the massive NIH annual budget allotment for tobacco research (here and here).  This network of heavily funded academicians is hyperbolically active in producing articles and press releases that exaggerate and distort vaping risks, especially in comparison to smoking, which actually does kill some 500,000 Americans each year. 

Dr. Califf, a cardiologist, is absolutely wrong in using the term “tobacco” when he refers to cigarette smoking.  When he tweets about COVID-19, he focuses on that virus and its variant; he doesn’t say RNA virus (here).  When he tweets about the infant formula crisis, he focuses on Abbott Nutrition’s deficiencies, not on the product category (here).  It is crystal clear that the commissioner knows the difference between various tobacco products, as seen in his agency’s April 28 tweet announcing its menthol and flavor bans for cigarettes and cigars (here).     

Health organizations have been conflating “tobacco” and “cigarette smoking” in their public statements for years (here, here and here), but those organizations are faceless.  Dr. Califf is a physician and the commissioner of the federal agency that regulates products accounting “for about 20 cents of every dollar spent by U.S. consumers.” (here)  He should not be tweeting misinformation, especially when on April 29 he tweeted, “I believe that misinformation is now our leading cause of death, and we must do something about it.” (here)

Indeed, the FDA commissioner must do something about it.