Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Washington Post Embraces the Flawed CDC Youth Vaping “Crisis” Narrative


The CDC’s latest report on youth vaping, based on the National Youth Tobacco Survey, showed that the vaping rate among U.S. high school students plummeted by half, from 28% in 2019, to 14% this year.  Still, the Washington Post editorial board on October 16 proclaimed the behavior “a public health crisis.”  Since their editorial is paywalled, I’ll give you the highlights.

The Post cited as evidence of a “public health crisis” the new findings released by the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC.  My readers know that these agencies don’t initially release unvarnished data; they issue spin on the data, keyed to supporting the crisis narrative.  The actual raw data will only be released after months of needless delay, when more thoughtful and balanced analysis will be ignored.

The editors focused on the news that “9.4 percent of middle and high schoolers — more than 2.5 million young people — reported using e-cigarettes in the month before taking the survey.”  Actually, from 2019 to 2022, the vaping rate among high schoolers was halved, a fact that should have lessened the editors’ fear of “lifelong health and behavioral risks associated with adolescent vaping.”  Additionally, the data show that youth smoking declined to record lows. 

While the number of youth vapers is still too high, it pales in comparison to the half-million adult smoking deaths that are recorded in the U.S. annually.  That’s the real crisis that is all but ignored by Washington elites.

The Post went on to repeat the vacuous claim that “nicotine… can harm adolescents’ cognitive development,” which would mean that a substantial number of today’s 89 million current and former adult smokers are brain damaged.  Kids should not vape, but the FDA knows there is no human research demonstrating that nicotine is detrimental to brain development or function.  Eschewing actual science, the agency is currently promoting a teen zombie social media campaign labeled “Real Costs.”

The influential Post is all-in on FDA action, urging it to “double down on getting illegal products off the shelves and streets.  Until most flavored products are taken off the market, teenagers will continue to consume them.”

The problem is that high school students engage in a wide range of harmful behaviors, and vaping is low on the risk chart above.  Marijuana use, which was totally illegal for most of the past 30 years, persists at 20% among high schoolers.  The chart shows that many other high school behaviors, from driving while distracted or intoxicated, to drinking and binge drinking, to bullying and carrying a weapon, are far more dangerous and virtually ignored by federal authorities who choose to focus on a drug that is no more dangerous than caffeine.



Friday, October 7, 2022

@CDCTobaccoFree is Obsessed with Teen Vaping, But It Has Reduced Far More Harmful Teen Smoking


Yesterday the CDC released results from this year's National Youth Tobacco Survey, and the agency focused only on teen vaping.  The data will likely be embargoed for several months, preventing analysis by independent investigators.  The CDC never mentioned smoking, so I expanded findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) that I originally published in this blog (here).   

The new results, seen in the chart at left, are crystal clear.  Everyone knows that teen vaping started after 2010.  Teen smoking had been declining prior to that, but the pace was modest.  The pace accelerated after 2010, and the connection to vaping is not coincidental. 

Unfortunately, NSDUH has never collected teen vaping data -- yet another bizarre omission by government health authorities.

Another important point is that the NSDUH calculated the teen smoking rate in 2018 to be 5%.  This is far lower than NYTS rate of 8.3% for the same year.  I have previously documented that NYTS smoking rates are much higher than those recorded in other federal surveys.