The past year has been a constant and unremitting stream of manufactured headlines vilifying vaping. This has been a campaign created by the very government agencies responsible for protecting us. These agencies proclaim half-truths, misinformation and bald-faced lies in the total absence of scientific fact, and do so while totally ignoring real, meaningful problems.
The media have become a mindless echo chamber of this campaign of fear-mongering, ignoring actual data in favor of the FDA's campaign of outright lies and gerrymandering.
What are the facts then?
1. All elements of vape juice are approved for use by the FDA in other products.
All production of Eliquid is tightly controlled by the FDA. Manufacturers must be licensed by the FDA, and manufacture it in FDA inspected facilities, conforming to food quality production standards. This is a good thing. Yet despite this, it is often reported that vape juice contains terrible things like toluene or acetone or a host of other contaminants. The most likely explanation is that someone's home brew vape juice was terribly contaminated and forever more is cited incorrectly as a norm. Of course, the source of said test results are never cited nor the producers charged with any crime as they should be. ELiquid manufacturer's products are tested by third party labs, and make these test results freely available, should anyone care to look. No journalists ever do, preferring to report only in the capacity of FDA mouthpieces.
2. Vape juice contains no carcinogens.
Nicotine cannot cause cancer. Water vapor cannot cause cancer. FDA approved food flavorings cannot cause cancer. Vegetable glycerine or propylene glycol cannot cause cancer.
3. Vaping is not smoking
Smoking is the inhalation of particulate and fumes resulting from the oxidation of tobacco. Vaping is the inhalation of water vapor, food flavorings and nicotine. Tobacco has thousands of known carcinogens, vape has none.
Further, vape juice or eliquid, is not burnt, which is to say, is not oxidized. The juice is heated to a point where weak bonds in the liquid medium are broken, resulting in water vapor and CO2. Neither of which, are carcinogenic. Inevitably the two are lumped together as one when examined as a statistic which is meaningless at best.
People smoke for the nicotine, but contrary to what the vast majority believe, nicotine causes little if any of the harm. The toxic smoke is the culprit and is the overwhelming cause of all the tobacco-related disease and death.
Professor Ann McNeill, lead author and Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London
4. Lung Cancer rates have dropped since 2011
According to the American Cancer Society, for the very first time in history, lung cancer rates have dropped by 3% every year since 2011, until 2018, when they dropped by 4.5%. In real world numbers, more than 2.6 million fewer cases of lung cancer . Granted, not all of these cases are due to switching to vape, many are due solely to total cessation. Sadly the ACS does not include those statistics and help to clarify the matter. An informed guess would say that near a third of those were due to switching to vaping as a means of cessation. If that is indeed so, then nearly 1 million lives have been saved by vaping. This is again not a fact, merely an informed guess, but even if there were only one fewer case of lung cancer, that would still be one more life saved than vape has ever taken. More on that later.
5. No one has ever died from vaping
I reiterate, still not a single death attributable to vaping. To be fair, there is one known case of death attributable to an infant drinking e-juice, which is the reason all ejuice has child-proof packaging. This, however, is a case so rare and unusual as to be unprecedented and meaningless in the context of assessing the risks of vaping.
Lion Shahab Associate Professor, Behavioural Science and Health, University College London states:
"A helpful comparison is to look at coffee. An average human can die from drinking 70-100 cups of coffee, but cases of caffeine overdosing are also very rare, because, as with nicotine, it would result in vomiting before enough coffee could be consumed. Therefore the only way that nicotine can readily result in overdosing is to consume it orally by drinking e-liquid.
In terms of long-term health effects of vaping, these are currently difficult to estimate because of the long time it takes for health problems to manifest: we simply do not have the data yet. But looking at early signs and biomarkers, which we know are related to later health outcomes (such as cancer), the data seem to suggest that e-cigarettes (compared with smoking cigarettes) are several orders of magnitude safer—though obviously not risk-free compared with not using anything.
6. UK Hospitals feature vape shops on premises.
As noted in this NYTimes article, two UK hospitals requested vape shops to operate in their facility as vaping posed “only a small fraction of the risks of smoking” and that switching completely to vaping brought “substantial health benefits.”
7. Public Health England (PHE) releases its data that completely contradicts FDA propaganda
- vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits
- e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more
- e-cigarette use is associated with improved quit success rates over the last year and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the country
- many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette
- there is much public misunderstanding about nicotine (less than 10% of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine)
- the use of e-cigarettes in the UK has plateaued over the last few years at just under 3 million
- the evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people (youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline, regular use is rare and is almost entirely confined to those who have smoked)
Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE said:
Every minute someone is admitted to hospital from smoking, with around 79,000 deaths a year in England alone.
Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know.
It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.
Professor Ann McNeill, lead author and Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London said:
It’s of great concern that smokers still have such a poor understanding about what causes the harm from smoking. When people smoke tobacco cigarettes, they inhale a lethal mix of 7,000 smoke constituents, 70 of which are known to cause cancer.
People smoke for the nicotine, but contrary to what the vast majority believe, nicotine causes little if any of the harm. The toxic smoke is the culprit and is the overwhelming cause of all the tobacco-related disease and death. There are now a greater variety of alternative ways of getting nicotine than ever before, including nicotine gum, nasal spray, lozenges and e-cigarettes.
Professor Linda Bauld, author and Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling and Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention, Cancer Research UK said:
Concern has been expressed that e-cigarette use will lead young people into smoking. But in the UK, research clearly shows that regular use of e-cigarettes among young people who have never smoked remains negligible, less than 1%, and youth smoking continues to decline at an encouraging rate. We need to keep closely monitoring these trends, but so far the data suggest that e-cigarettes are not acting as a route into regular smoking amongst young people.
There are risks to vaping. There are risks to anything.
The question is not really if there are risks, but rather what is the LEGITIMATE quantified risk? Rarely does media portray anything with a thoughtful and objective statistical approach, preferring to regurgitate party line. Sampled populations are too wide, mixing and mashing data together that should have been segregated initially. You and I understand that if one is to study the effects of vaping, one only analyzes data of people that have only vaped. Why? Because if those studied were cigarette smokers previously, that data is useless, hopelessly contaminated and skewed, rendering a conclusion that is wholly inaccurate.
Everyone also knows that smoking tobacco is very risky in the big picture. Approximately 1 person in 22 will die of lung cancer that results from cigarette smoking. Yet when that's compared to cigar smoking, the risks drop dramatically to around 9000 deaths per year that are directly attributable. As would stand to reason, smokeless tobacco users have a near-zero incidence of lung cancer and likewise for heart disease. But what about oral cancer? It would stand to reason that there would be a significant rate of death from oral cancers due to smokeless tobacco use. But there really isnt. A study using NHIS data determined
"Mortality risk from oral cancer among SLT users was not measurable in either dataset because there were too few deaths in this group to derive a risk estimate. Within the restricted NHIS data, there were less than five deaths due to cancers of the oral cavity, lip, and pharynx among SLT users and none among SLT users in the NLMS data. We note that almost all instances of death due to oral cancer occurred among current or former cigarette smokers." Further, "we did not detect significantly elevated mortality risks among SLT users for the broad category of diseases of the heart in either the NHIS or NLMS data sets nor did we detect significantly elevated risks for IHD (ICD-10 codes I20-I25) mortality among SLT users"
Physician's weekly states there are risks of "bronchiectasis, eosinophilic pneumonia, pleural effusion, and possible hypersensitivity pneumonia. In another case, a young man suffered subacute respiratory failure due to diffuse alveolar hemorrhage caused by vaping." As usual, there are no specific cases cited, nor is there other information regarding level of use, contributing causes, pre-existing conditions or any details at all which accurately inform the reader or medical community. What conditions, exactly, have to exist for these things to occur? Have they even occurred or is this merely a statement to appease management, that it could occur? Likely this is a person suffering from a severe compulsion disorder, who vaped once every few seconds for long periods. But that doesn't make headlines, and this is the real epidemic that needs to be addressed. The true cancer that is eating us alive is the metastasis of crusade-based reporting citing meaningless stats cherry-picked for the sole purpose of supporting a political agenda, or even worse, ignorant, blind activism.
There are risks to anything, however, even drinking water. Several people yearly die from hyponatraemia, or hyperhydration. There are risks to OTC (over-the-counter) pharmaceuticals as well. A great example of this is the approximately 16,500 fatalities and 115,000 hospitalizations in 2018 from taking nSAIDS like Ibuprofen. Or even the 88,000 who die yearly from alcohol toxicity.
9 It's about the money
If there's any conclusion one can draw, it's that the things that seem to kill a lot of people also happen to have exorbitant ( read: profitable) excise taxes attached to them. This is the most plausible explanation of why the FDA has embarked on its smear campaign and so may other government agencies carry the banner. The problems that they are experiencing in swaying public opinion is that there are no stats to support their conclusions, so as usual, they turn to sounding the alarm about children, because the population is more reactive to the fear that something is threatening their children. Even when there is no statistical proof of either harm or a significant likelihood that the vaper will become a smoker.
Ironically, the one true thing CDPHE's smear campaign communicates is the pithy "What you don't know about vape can hurt you" tagline. It is deeply appropriate, because ignorance is much more harmful than vaping could ever be.