Why Is the CDC Lying About E-Cigarettes?

The agency falsely equates vaping devices with tobacco products.



Survey data released last week show that smoking continues to fall among teenagers as use of electronic cigarettes continues to rise. In my latest Forbes column, I explain why the CDC's spin on these two trends is grossly misleading:

For years anti-smoking activists and public health officials have tried to justify their irrational hatred of electronic cigarettes by arguing that vaping leads to smoking, especially among impressionable young people who otherwise would never touch tobacco. But that is not happening. To the contrary, vaping and smoking rates among teenagers are moving in opposite directions. Rather than admit they were wrong to claim that e-cigarettes are a "gateway" to the conventional kind, opponents of vaping have escalated their prevarications by implying, in defiance of all scientific evidence, that there is no important difference between the two kinds of nicotine delivery devices.

Read the whole thing.

NEXT: Friday A/V Club: The Only Good Star Wars Sequel

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Because they are zealots.

    1. Probably more to do with remaining relevant. Missions must grow, budgets must expand. Regulatory reach must stretch.

    2. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……

  2. Something something loss of control.

  3. Related: The anti-smoking commercials in CA are getting out of hand. Sometimes, 3 out of 5 commercials are anti-smoking on my kids’ cartoons in the morning. And they don’t really even know what smoking is.

    They are getting increasingly graphic, to the point where I have to censor them and keep my kids from watching. I fully expect this trend to continue, because zealots.

    1. NYC was at that stage a couple years ago – until they got caught faking it and suddenly it went from “smoking caused my fingers to fall off” to “call this hotline for help quitting”.

      1. I think we’re in faking territory here. Hopefully, there’s an end in sight.

    2. I’m convinced the soccer moms in my neighborhood obsessively discussing gun control is the primary reason all their sons love guns.

      1. Gun control is one of the easy battles, IMO. I only have to take somebody shooting once to change their mind. And I get to go shooting. Other issues take a lot more work.

        1. I feel for your magazine limits though, Playa. All my handgun cases say “Not Legal in the State of California”

          1. They fucked up when they passed the law. Possession is NOT illegal, import and manufacture, and sale are. If a hi-cap magazine falls off the back of a truck, there’s nothing they can do about it.

            1. So your magazines did fall off the turnip truck yesterday.

              1. The CA attorney general is suing 44mag.com because they’ll ship disassembled magazines to CA from Oregon. I think they told her to fuck off.

        2. I worked in Tokyo back in the late 90’s for several months.

          I had gotten to the point where my Japanese coworkers had accepted me as a mostly normal human, not some crazed violent American.

          Then there was some shooting in the US and we were talking about it and they made the comment that it was a shame that the US was so gun crazy. Didn’t I agree.

          When I started counting off the arsenal I owned they were stunned. It didn’t help that I told them I owned a .22 for squirrel hunting. I guess it would be like a foreigner talking about owning a gun for hunting dogs back home.

          1. Did you tell them that you hunt squirrels with 00 buck?

  4. Can’t really justify a sin-tax on something that isn’t harmful, can you?

    1. Is that a challenge?

  5. As one tobacco researcher told The New York Times, “They’re not a gateway in, and they might be accelerating the gateway out.” That cannot be anything but good news from a public health perspective, given the huge difference in risk between vaping and smoking.

    But a pathway out determined by disgusting private market forces, not pure white government intentions.

    1. White? Racist.

    2. But, but my taxes!

  6. Why is the CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL, even talking about e-cigarettes? Are they a communicable disease?

    1. That drives me nuts too. They have a legitimate function in controlling dangerous communicable disease outbreaks. Not fucking smoking and diet/obesity and the effects of gay conversion therapy.

      1. The other thing they’re trying to get into: gun deaths.

        Look out for bullet cancer.

        1. Look out for bullet cancer.

          Lead poisoning.

      2. It is because leftists destroy any organization they control by turning into a political weapon. Stopping disease doesn’t further the leftist cause. So when leftists took over the CDC, it stopped doing that and started doing things like trying to control people’s diets and stop them from smoking that leftists see as furthering their cause.

        1. That’s why they redefine disease to mean, well, whatever they want to control.

          1. Or anything that can be statistically analyzed like a disease. There is a lot of politics and power games to it as well, but I also notice that “public health” people tend to treat anything that you can analyze like a disease and isolate risk factors and all that as if it is properly something to do with medicine. That’s (partly) why doctors will ask if you wear your seatbelt or have guns or other things that don’t really. They see those as risk factors right along with smoking or bad diet or other things that contribute to the development of disease. They seem to want to manage all risk rather than risks having to do with actual medical conditions.

    2. You can’t prove second-hand vapor doesn’t kill!

  7. The only danger I see from e-cigs is the vision obscuring cloud that seems to occupy every vaper’s vehicle on the road.

    1. It is much less obscuring when you are inside it. Unless you drive around with all your interior lights on.

  8. The invention of e-cigs will bring a sharp decrease in future lung cancer rates. Whoever invented them deserves wealth beyond their wildest dreams before being eaten in the imminent nicotine psychosis upheaval.

  9. I think at this point the CDC is just feeding the popular leftist image of smoking as something only poor and/or minorities do. And vaping sort of resembles smoking so there.

  10. I was concerned that Virginia’s cigarette exporters/smugglers were going to lose revenue from decreased tobacco use, but really it’s only a matter of time before the northeast makes e-cigs illegal.

    1. You know, the Northeast isn’t a state. Nor is it the only region where anti-smoking stuff it out of control.

      Can we stop with the regionalism bullshit? I bet if any state makes them illegal it will be CA. But I think that the FDA is much more likely to be the driver of a ban or stricter regulation.

      1. Can we stop with the regionalism bullshit?

        Fans of Portlandia agree.

      2. My bet is New York first.

        1. NY and CA kind of run neck-an-neck in the modern era. I’m not sure I’d be willing to put money on either. Seems 50/50 to me.

        2. That wouldn’t be surprising either. Or NYC might do it all on their own.

    2. it’s only a matter of time before the northeast makes e-cigs illegal

      As unhinged as they are, I really don’t see what leg they would have to stand on. Not without also banning cigarettes. And that’s just not happening. Not when there are pubsec pensions to fund.

      1. The leg they stand on is CDC’s press release about kids becoming addicted to nicotine and leading to more smoking.

        1. So, ban one legal product because of the disproven notion that it will increase the use of another legal product? That’s so crazy it might work.

  11. Watch out. The next thing is going to be nicotine as a gateway to addiction.

  12. …but yet my company, who randomly tests for tobacco/drug use, puts vaping at equal footing with smoking.

    1. Presuming they’re testing for Nicotine and many e-juices contain nicotine, how would they tell the difference?

    2. Ugh. I hope that if a company I work for ever asks me to pee in a cup for them I am in a position to tell them to get fucked. I don’t know why more people don’t find that insulting and offensive, even if they have nothing to lose.

      I suppose it is pushed by insurance companies. Which sort of makes sense. But it’s not as if tobacco and illegal drugs are the only significant risk factors. You can still eat horribly, not exercise and get shitfaced every night. But don’t enjoy an occasional cigar or vape or smoke some weed or you’ll be fucked.

      1. 1000x all of this. It is all so frustratingly superficial – and it saddens me that insurance companies are buying into such nonsense. I work in insurance (not health) and in no other realm that I can tell do we fall for so much superstition. Risks are based on sound analysis, not feelz.

    3. Same here, Humungous.

      I pointed out that by piss testing for nicotine, they were penalizing people using a safe substitute, the (vast?) majority of which come to vaping from actual smoking.

      Blank looks were given. Policies were unchanged. Health was not improved.

  13. I just can’t help but think of the old SNL skit with Dan Ackroyd and Gary Busey, where Busey was portraying a Buddy Holly-like rocker and Ackroyd was a school principal. For every sin that the principal saw, real or imagined, he’d say “…you know what that leads to…” and his chain of argument always ended at “…you know what that leads to: drinking beer”.

  14. Great article, Jacob, but one fact that you fail to mention, but one that I believe is crucial to expose the ridiculousness of the CDC stand on e-cigarettes: Vaping juices can be purchased in varying amounts of nicotine, or none at all. Therefore, when the CDC (and others) conduct a study such as these, do they differentiate between the amounts of nicotine being consumed. The CDC and others claiming e-cigarettes are a tobacco product is absolutely absurd, but even more so if there is not even nicotine in the product.

  15. Why Is the CDC Lying About E-Cigarettes?

    They lie about everything else, so why would this time be any different, Jacob? Don’t act so surprised all of a sudden.

    1. Sure us long-timers know the score, so I think of Jacob’s rhetoric as mostly targeted at newbies.

  16. I smoked 10-30 cigarettes a day (variance for drunkenness and other things) for almost 10 years. I quit often and miserably and never really made it stick. I tried vape stuff in 2009 then again in 2013 and most recently 45 days ago. The technology wasn’t cheap enough or good enough to replace cigarettes for me until now. It’s a fucking godsend. I’ve saved over a hundred bucks including whatever batteries, tanks, chargers, and liquids I bought. Over a year that’s going to be closer to 1000, perhaps more. I’m convinced these fuckers just want people to be as miserable at they are. Quitting smoking is supposed to suck. Now it doesn’t.

    I’m sure the missing tax revenues are part too.

    I’m hoping there are enough people like me out there to get righteously pissed off when government forces try to smash a do-it-yourself, small guy fledgling industry that it scares them off.

  17. Not Blowing Smoke

    So there is a grassroots organization out there fighting back. They’ve been accused of being a mouthpiece for big tobacco, but that is absurd. This was created by two guys on their own then the reddit e-cig community got on board and it took off from there. It’s good.

  18. The picture adds up. They laud those products that are introduced as “therapy” (gums, patches), while criticizing those that are not brought out on some huge budget by Big Pharma (snus, vape).

    1. Seriously, if vape or snus had come out of Big Pharma w therapeutic claims, even bogus ones, do you think they’d be saying the same things about them? It’s transparently slanted.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.