[This is an ASTOUNDING editorial considering that the OC PHS spent no small amount on their own misinformation campaign aimed at young adults last year. I am writing to thank them for doing their OWN research to reach their own conclusions.]
March 26, 2015
War was declared in early January, and the armies are on the move. On one side stands the mighty California Department of Public Health; on the other, purveyors of a small, unassuming device, the electronic cigarette.The state agency’s greatest weapon is the propaganda of association. In a collection of print, television and online ads, the department consistently draws a link between two different products: cigarettes and e-cigs.The first TV spot, “What Could Go Wrong,” opens with a panel showing various packs of cigarettes, then transitions to blocks of text that read, “From the people who brought you lung cancer. … e-cigarettes, a new way to inhale toxic chemicals.”The message: “Here we go again,” more text reads. E-cigarettes are no different from cigarettes – indeed, the spot repeatedly blocks out the “E” with an asterisk.A second advertisement, “Kids Aren’t Alright,” is somehow even less subtle, highlighting some of the various flavors of e-cigarette fluid and suggesting they are “marketed to minors.”Never mind that industry research and consumer studies have shown these flavored fluids are preferred by adults as well – especially those trying to quit smoking, for whom distance from tobacco’s taste is surely a benefit.Such shaky conclusions pervade the announcements, reflecting the poor work done in the CDPH’s January health risk report. As these pages advised at the time, the report ignored or incorrectly cited multiple studies that call into question many fundamental claims – namely, that e-cigarettes do not assist in smoking cessation (studies show they do) and release harmful chemicals like formaldehyde (only if they are purposefully overheated and in significantly lower concentrations than could be found in cigarette smoke).“Just like the tobacco industry years before, the [CDPH] is cherry-picking studies and hoping no one calls them on it,” wrote Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association.Further, the repeated reference to “Big Tobacco” is misleading at best. Is this the same Big Tobacco that has lobbied in favor of additional FDA regulations to burden and cripple the budding e-cig industry – one it has yet to gain control of? The same group that has the potential to fund expansive e-cigarette operations and has both the ability and incentive to buy market share and support stifling government regulations that push everyone else out of the marketplace?