The 5 Best Drug Scares of 2013

Caffeine conniptions, lethal LSD, pot-smoking punks, vaping vapors, and devouring dope

(Page 4 of 5)

FIN e-cigarette adFIN e-cigarette ad2. No Smoke, Yet Ire

Last September the CDC noted with alarm that the percentage of teenagers who had tried electronic cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012. "Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes," CDC Director Tom Frieden worried. In a Medscape interview a few weeks later, Frieden suggested that fear had already materialized, asserting that "many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes."

The CDC's data, which came from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), did not support that claim. In fact, nine out of 10 high school students who reported vaping in the previous month were already cigarette smokers, suggesting that the increase in e-cigarette consumption might signal successful harm reduction. Last month the CDC reported additional NYTS data that further undermine Frieden's claim, showing that smoking among teenagers fell as vaping rose.

Between 2011 and 2012, when the share of middle school students who reported using e-cigarette in the previous month rose from 0.6 percent to 1.1 percent, the share reporting past-month consumption of conventional cigarettes fell from 4.3 percent to 3.5 percent. Among high school students, past-month e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent, while past-month consumption of tobacco cigarettes fell from 15.8 percent to 14 percent. Although these trends do not necessarily mean e-cigarettes are responsible for the decline in smoking (which is part of a long-term trend), the numbers hardly seem consistent with the story Frieden is eager to tell: that the availability of e-cigarettes is leading to more smoking than would otherwise occur.

Does the gateway effect Frieden fears—a switch from e-cigarettes to conventional cigarettes among people who otherwise would never smoke—show up after high school? Not according to a recent survey of college students, in which only 3.3 percent said e-cigarettes were the first form of nicotine they'd tried. Of those, only one (2.3 percent) later started smoking conventional cigarettes. "It didn't seem as though it really proved to be a gateway to anything," the lead researcher said.

Yet politicians calling for a crackdown on e-cigarettes commonly cite the CDC's survey numbers, ignoring the continued decline in smoking by teenagers. When the New York City Council voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places last week, one of the main rationales was preventing an increase in underage smoking. Councilman James Gennaro, a co-sponsor of the ban, warned that "just seeing people smoking things that look identical to cigarettes in subway cars, colleges and public libraries will tend to re-normalize the act of smoking and send the wrong message to kids." As usual, the kids don't seem to be listening.

Next: You thought the cannibalism drug was bad…


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  • BakedPenguin||

    Interesting how so many of the negative effects are a result of prohibition, but are then used to argue for more prohibition.

    It really mirrors the effects of government intervention in so many areas.


    It's really amusing in regards to most progressive ban happy policy.

    Many will readily agree that the war on drugs and the previous war on alcohol was a failure, but the next war will seriously work this time.

  • Duncan20903||

    I would like to see the gov't declare a war on war...I'll bet there are some government stooges who could do that with a straight face too.

    Of course if we prefer to benefit society in the long term we should lobby for a war on peace.

    Now those are just silly. But if we're to have hope for the end of the war on (some) drugs we need something to keep the prohibitionist parasites and their sycophants from getting into real mischief.

    When I consider that the sycophants of prohibition are just none too bright and are very easily confused, I can only come up with one solution: the war on bugs. Since bugs rhymes with drugs and has the same number of syllables that will make for a more orderly facilitation of the transition by not confusing the sycophants more than is humanly possible to avoid.

    The prohibitionist parasites will not lose any job security since this is yet another futile war. There's actually a darn good possibility it will increase their potential for employment because there are so many damn bugs. Also, bugs don't vote, picket, have any Constitutionally protected rights, or know how to petition the government for redress of grievances. The only potential problem here may be family loyalty or professional courtesy since many bugs are also parasites.

    Mandatory disclosure of personal interest: I may or may not support the proposal as a result of my genuine, deep seated hatred of insects. But unless I'm grossly mistaken nobody really likes bugs.

  • PD Scott||

    You have aroused the enmity of entomophiles everywhere.

  • Miley||

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  • Madisonian||

    My roommate's sister makes twice as much per hour, as a prostitute. Try

  • thom77||

    Hey libertarians - how about this...

    First we work on getting government completely out of the health care business, shrinking its regulatory powers to something the founders may actually recognize, and instilling a sense of personal responsibility back into the population... THEN we can talk about legalizing all the drugs you want.

    Because any other way is just putting the cart before the horse. I have no interest in legalizing something which, in our current political climate, will quickly become an entitlement and then a 'civil right' with all the associated taxes, costs and regulations that go along with it.

    Legalizing drugs today will absolutely equate to the government giving away 'free' drugs tomorrow. A lot needs to change before its even worth discussing.

  • Duncan20903||

    I've got a better idea, thom, why don't you bite me? Why in the world would anyone give any significant consideration to the priorities of a delusional narcissist? You've got bats in the belfry if you think that the basic human right of self determination is less important than your petty, short sighted beliefs.

    Are you seriously unaware that the war on (some) drugs is the foundation for the government control you claim to abhor? If Constitutional rights were money you'd be stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. If brains were dynamite you wouldn't have enough to blow your friggin' nose.

    Don't expect me to lend you a hand with your pet peeves as long as you think that my essential liberty which is the birthright of all Americans isn't important.

    I know how people like you think. E.g. thom says, "Hey lady, I've examined a cross section of buses used in public transportation. Every seat is exactly the same, front and rear, so just move to the back and kiwitcherbitchin! You should be grateful that you have reserved seating anywhere on the bus."

    You could prove me wrong. Just tell me where to go to get my free government paid for booze and cigarettes. Do you even have a clue of the total sum of money that our government has borrowed, squandered, and has yet to pay back in prosecuting the war on (some) drugs boondoggle?

    Reality is that freedom is a two way street pal. I reiterate...bite me.

  • Ann N||

    drugs arent helpful. they are harmful. there is a reason there are groups of ppl across the world who go to AA and NA meetings on a weekly basis.

    its a net ill.

    i am with you about govt staying out of our business. i think its a travesty suicide is illegal. they just want more rats producing $.

    the problem is that druguse DIRECTLY harms others besides the user. inasmuch as a drug only harms the user it should be as legal as suicide. the second it makes a person violent we have a problem.

    and its not just the drug itself that changes ppl. its withdrawal too. that is one of the strongest factors it produces in crime.

  • Jan S.||

    No, it produces crime because the government makes it a crime. People who do drugs are going to do drugs whether they're legal or not - making drugs accessible and reasonably affordable will keep the crime rate down. Yes, it's really that simple. We were supposed to learn something from Prohibition; you know, when the government made alcohol illegal? Gangsters became kind of scarce after it was repealed.

    Interesting little tidbit to go along with that: Prohibition actually made it EASIER for teenagers to obtain alcohol. Because those criminals the government created when they made it illegal didn't care who they sold it to. Whoops.

  • thom77||

    No, it produces crime because an addict looking to get a meth or crack or heroin fix will do pretty much anything to pay for it. Alcohol and cigarettes don't have the same effect on users.

    Unless we plan on giving the stuff away for free, hard drug use will lead to crime for a significant percentage of users.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    Transform’s outstanding book titled, After the War on Drugs: Blueprints for Regulation, provides specific proposals for how drugs could be regulated in the real world. The book is available for free online. If you would like to read it then here it is: download.htm

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    According to DrugRehabs.Org, national (USA) mortality figures for 2009 were: tobacco 435,000; poor diet and physical inactivity 365,000; alcohol 85,000; microbial agents 75,000; toxic agents 55,000; motor vehicle crashes 26,347; adverse reactions to prescription drugs 32,000; suicide 30,622; incidents involving firearms 29,000; homicide 20,308; sexual behaviors 20,000; all illicit drug use, direct and indirect 17,000; and marijuana 0.

    Researchers led by Professor David Nutt, a former chief drugs adviser to the British government, asked drug-harm experts to rank 20 drugs (legal and illegal) on 16 measures of harm to the user and to wider society, such as damage to health, drug dependency, economic costs and crime. Alcohol scored 72 out of a possible 100, far more damaging than heroin (55) or crack cocaine (54). It is the most harmful to others by a wide margin, and is ranked fourth behind heroin, crack, and methamphetamine (crystal meth) for harm to the individual.

    TheAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicinefound that in the U.S. alone, an estimated 79,000 lives are lost annually due to "excessive" drinking. The study estimates that the overall cost of excessive drinking by Americans is $223.5 billion each year.

  • Carnival||

    You don't know many drug users, do you?

    Here are a few things for you to chew on (don't choke).

    1) Not all drugs are the same. Most of the drugs known as psychedelics are non-addictive and some have been shown to have anti-addictive properties. When you say: "ban drugs because they are a net ill" you are making the assumption that all drugs look like meth or heroin. Psilocybin mushrooms (to pick an example, although there are others I could choose) are, in fact, more illegal than meth, and yet, there's really no downside to their use.

    2) Addiction looks different from what you think it is. I know drug addicts, I've worked with them. The vast majority of them have jobs (some even have good jobs and contribute to society). They need their drug to function (much like I'm sure you need caffeine). Once they've gotten their fix and are no longer going through acute withdrawl, they are totally functional human beings, and often go off to work.

    3) The vast majority of users of any drug (even the 'scary' ones) aren't addicts.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    For those of you who, like Ann N, who are still living in some strange parallel universe, one where prohibition actually works, here is part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings of 1926:

    "For the first time in our history, full faith and confidence in and respect for the hitherto sacred Constitution of the United States has been weakened and impaired because this terrifying invasion of natural rights has been engrafted upon the fundamental law of our land, and experience has shown that it is being wantonly and derisively violated in every State, city, and hamlet in the country."

    "It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature. It has brought into our midst the intemperate woman, the most fearsome and menacing thing for the future of our national life."

    "It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law."

  • thom77||

    Oh I get it, you're a crazy person. Carry on.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    Seeing you claim to be fully compos mentis, kindly explain to us, how does spending billions attempting to prevent people growing, selling, buying, and smoking various psychoactive plants protect us?

    Want to know what a return to alcohol prohibition would look like?

    Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance, Feb, 2010: A 13 strong, heavily armed gang of illegal alcohol "bootleggers" kidnapped two members of a rival gang, tortured them, sexually assaulted them, and then buried them alive.

    Now add to that the problem of tainted booze:

    In just one instance alone, in 2009, more than 100 people died after drinking toxic alcohol in the Indian state of Gujarat (India's only dry state) and another 200 victims were hospitalized. The Indian police raided 1,200 liquor dens and arrested more than 800 people as they searched for those responsible for the illegal alcohol.

  • PD Scott||

    I must have missed the government distributing free alcohol and cigarettes.

    Re: First... THEN, so, never? Never re-legalizing?

  • thom77||

    The government may not distribute free alcohol and cigarettes, but we sure as hell pay hundreds of billions of dollars every year for federally mandated treatment and rehabilitation for alcoholics and smokers... the cost of which will only rise as the government gets deeper and deeper into the business of providing healthcare as a 'civil right'.

    And we already have entrenched government-funded programs directed at drug addicts, many of which include 'free' needles and other paraphernalia, courtesy of the taxpayer.

    Do you honestly think that with outright legalization, those programs will NOT grow exponentially? That the costs associated with medical care and all the various support services for addicts will not skyrocket? What planet are you living on?

    Drug legalization is a bullshit issue for libertarians. It makes them sound edgy around the local college campus and is easier to talk about than constitutional originalism, but that's about it.

    So as I said before, work on getting government out of healthcare and out of people's lives in general, THEN talk about legalizing drugs. Any other way will have the exact opposite effect on society that a true libertarian would be interested in seeing.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    We can either ask the Tooth Fairy to stop people taking drugs or we can decide to regulate them properly. Prohibition is not regulation, it's a hideous nightmare for all of us.

    Because Drug cartels will always have an endless supply of ready cash for wages, bribery and equipment, no amount of tax money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safe again—only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    Debating whether a particular drug is harmless or not is missing the whole point. Is marijuana dangerous? Is Cocaine dangerous? Is Alcohol dangerous? It simply doesn't matter if they are or not; If it's not directly hurting you and you forbid it, then you can be sure that it WILL create unforeseen circumstances, which WILL have an adverse affect on ALL our wellbeing.

    If you support prohibition then you've helped trigger the worst crime wave in history.

    If you support prohibition you've helped raise gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging.

    If you support prohibition you've helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

    If you support prohibition you've helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent.

  • Mock-star||

    Right. Because locking up non violent drug users to to the tune of 25000-38000 dollars a year doesnt affect the taxpayer in anyway. Herp derp derrr.

  • John Galt||

    Sincere libertarians would be wise to stay focused on the greater picture and not be lulled into a very false sense of victory over some modest changes involving marijuana.

  • MSimon||

    The bigger picture is that government doesn't work. All aspects that are causing problems need to be attacked.


  • Malcolm Kyle||

    In addition to the many economical and societal costs of prohibition, it has a long history of driving the spread of harder or more dangerous drugs. Certain people wish/need to get high. If we attempt to block their access to the drugs they want, they will find ever more harmful ways to get them.

    MARIJUANA to dangerous synthetic concoctions —such as AM-2201, JWH-018, JWH-073, or HU-210, (called Spice or K2 etc.)
    POPPIES to morphine, to heroin, to Desomorphine (dihydrodesoxymorphine, Permonid, street name KROKODIL)
    COCA to cocaine, to crack, to Paco/Kete/Bazuco/Pitillo.
    EPHEDRA to ephedrine, to methamphetamine.
    MAGIC MUSHROOMS, PEYOTE or AYAHUASCA TEA to synthetics with similar hallucinogenic and/or amphetamine-like properties like ECSTACY (MDMA), to PMMA, to MDPV, to 2CB/designers.

    At every step the reasons for the rise in popularity of the new form of the drug are one or more of the following:

    * It may be easier to smuggle.
    * It may be more addictive, thus compelling the buyer to return more frequently.
    * It may be cheaper to produce, therefore yielding more profit.
    * Like a game of "whack a mole" a shutdown of producers in one area will mean business opportunities for another set of producers with a similar product.

    So how come so many of us have been deluded into believing that big government is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual vices?

  • Miley||

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