A new study employs some blatantly obvious sleight of hand to amplify the so-called teen vaping ‘epidemic.’ Here’s what you need to know.
You know someone is losing an argument when they try to shift the topic of the debate.
There is no better example than the public health establishment’s foolish campaign against vaping. Case in point: a just-published research letter in JAMA has found that “e-cigarette use among adolescents may have countered” some of the benefits of the decades-long decline in teen smoking. The study was accompanied by the usually uncritical media coverage in major outlets like US News and World Report:
“Electronic cigarette use is driving a rise in the proportion of young people who try but fail to quit using nicotine, a new study indicates … Lead study author Richard Miech, a research professor in the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, says e-cigarettes are a potential threat to the progress made in recent decades in decreasing nicotine use among youth.”
Nonsense, every word of it, and the study itself was no better. The misdirection began in the second sentence of the research letter:
“The prevalence of lifetime adolescent cigarette use has declined from 57% in 1997 (the year before the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 that prohibited marketing of cigarettes to children) to 16% in 2020. However, e-cigarette use among adolescents may have countered some of this decline in nicotine use and its potential effects on health.”
In case you missed the sleight of hand, the authors shifted from declines in cigarette smoking to decreases in nicotine use. This is misleading because most adolescent vapers were cigarette smokers who have transitioned from a very dangerous product, combustible tobacco, to a far less harmful alternative in electronic cigarettes. ACSH opposes teen use of any nicotine-containing product. But as I’ve argued previously, we have to be honest about what the data show.
Cameron English – American Council on Science and Health – 2022-03-23.