Waiting for Evidence, or Banning Now?

You may have noticed lately that there is suddenly a campaign against vaping. It’s stupid, unnecessary, and unwarranted. But that never stopped people who want to control you. Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine reminds us:

Consumption of cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable death in this country. David Abrams, a professor at New York University’s College of Global Public Health, estimates that 1,300 people die from smoking every day. The life expectancy of a cigarette smoker is said to be a decade less than someone who has never smoked.

Vaping is a method of taking in nicotine, via e-cigarettes, that unlike smoking cigarettes, does not involve the intake of tar. And it is tar that causes the cancer that produces death. If cigarette smokers switch to vaping, they are far less likely to die from the habit.

Already smokers’ lives are in the process of being saved, thanks to vaping. Its advent has led to a significant reduction in the consumption of cigarettes.

Recently, however, there have been half a dozen vaping-related deaths, and a significantly larger number of vaping-related hospitalizations. This development, coupled with concerns that teenagers are becoming addicted to vaping (a concern I discussed here), has led to serious attempts to curb, if not eliminate, the practice.

That is spot on. I know this, back in 2013, I switched from smoking to vaping, within weeks I quit coughing, and much of my endurance came back. The surprising thing is that I also find that I can go far longer without vaping than I could smoking. I perhaps vape a bit more heavily than I should, but I was smoking 2 and sometimes more packs of filtered cigars a day. A huge improvement, and everybody I know that has made the switch says much the same.

Adam Mill at The Federalist adds this:

Vaping, we are told, is not an overall benefit to public health because it draws its customers from non-smokers. This is a lie. The real outcry is a result of the fact that vaping poses an existential threat to the tobacco industry’s business model. Sales of cigarettes declined 11.2 percent in May 2019. This follows 18 consecutive months of decline in tobacco sales.

You might also note, as I do, that much more than half the price of a pack of cigarettes is tax, Federal, state and local. So who is hurt most by the reduction in cigarette sales? Why does New York worry more about cigarette smuggling than they do gun smuggling? Very good. I knew you could figure it out.

Steven Greenhut at The Spectator chimes in as well.

[Banning alcohol because:  kids] Lawmakers never propose that “solution” because it’s wrong to punish all adults for the actions of a small number of them who provide liquor to teens. Some products — alcohol, tobacco, and guns, to name a few — are meant for adults only. Our society can never completely keep such things out of the hands of underage people who want them, but the sensible approach is to enforce laws that ban their sale to and possession by youngsters.

When it comes to vaping products, however, such good sense often is ignored. Various cities, especially in liberal enclaves in the San Francisco Bay Area, have passed new laws that would ban the sale of flavored nicotine products such as menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarette liquids. Now Michigan and New York have banned the sale of flavored vaping products — and the Trump administration is using the Food and Drug Administration to ban flavored e-cigarettes. […]

“The role of flavored vape products in the current outbreak is unknown at this time,” reports National Public Radio. “Some lawmakers and public health advocates have been pushing for flavored vape products to be banned since flavors first entered the market, out of a concern that they appeal to children. The timing of the recent move to ban flavored vape products may be linked to the current public concern about overall e-cigarette safety.”

This is clearly a case of those who oppose vaping in general using the latest crisis as a means to create a banning frenzy. It’s reminiscent of the way that anti-gun legislators use gun-related violence to promote “emergency” policies to ban things they want to ban anyway. It’s disturbing to see President Trump, whose administration has been largely immune to hysteria-driven public-health campaigns, jump on the bandwagon.

Yep, and it’s also noteworthy that the people that died were all, according to reports, not vaping either tobacco flavored or other flavored vaping liquid. The were vaping a marijuana-derived substance called THC. Which is already illegal. Maybe instead of banning things, we should enforce the law. Just a thought.

Preferably before I have to go back to smoking and shortening my life even more.

How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans

Some Kills

Some Kills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may have noticed that the FDA recently decided that E-cig should be regulated (by themselves, natch) as tobacco products. Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to me, maybe because I expect tobacco products to contain, well, I don’t know, tobacco, maybe.

Jared Meyer wrote about this the other day in The Federalist, here’s some of it.

Most people agree minors should not have access to products that contain substantial levels of nicotine (and “substantial” is used because many foods contain trace amounts of nicotine). But, in focusing on this move, commentators are missing how the FDA’s new regulations will destroy 99 percent of an industry that offers an option the Royal College of Physicians finds is 95 percent safer than cigarettes.

We Don’t Care About Your Health

The FDA’s regulations will force all e-cigarette products to go through the costly and time-consuming premarket tobacco product application process, a step that all but the big tobacco companies will not be able to comply with. (For more on how the FDA’s approval process will harm innovation and consumers, see my previous E21 article).

The fundamental reason FDA placed the public at greater risk of the health problems that come with smoking traditional cigarette was that it cannot pass up on a chance to expand its power. As the tortured language of the regulation shows, the FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences. Instead, the agency twists congressional intent in its deadly power grab.

The FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences.

Last week Nicopure Labs, an e-cigarette company, filed a lawsuit against the FDA that argued the agency’s dictates violate free speech by prohibiting e-cigarette makers from advertising that their products are smoke-free or safer than cigarettes. When addressing public comments on page 248 of the regulation, the FDA preemptively brought up this legal challenge by writing, “A few comments expressed concern that imposition of section 911 of the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act] will force e-cigarette manufacturers to implicitly lie by not permitting them to tell consumers that their products are safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes, to advertise that they do not contain tobacco, and to state that they are ‘smoke free.’”

The FDA replied to the objection by stating, “Section 911 is one of the provisions of the statute that applies automatically to deemed products. It was included in the FD&C Act to protect consumers from manufacturers making invalid or unsubstantiated claims, as many had done with respect to their designation of cigarettes as ‘light,’ ‘low,’ or ‘mild.’”

via How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that while government talks a good game about wanting us to quit smoking, they don’t really, smokers pay for a good bit of the FDA, and they provide a lot of money to both the local and federal government. Do you really think the cost of a pack of Marlboros is all that much greater now when they cost at least $5.00 than when the cost about 35¢? Nope, almost all of that difference goes to the government(s). If everybody quit smoking today, they’d be broke beyond fixing next month.

In full disclosure, I’ve been a smoker since the 60s, when all the cool kids smoked, probably averaging about 2-2½ packs a day, a good part of the time on non-filtered Pall-Malls. I always enjoyed it, and in fact, still do occasionally, although now I’m more likely to indulge in a fairly decent cigar. How did I get to that point? Easy answer, E-cigarettes. It’s very true, they allowed me to very easily quit smoking, and yes, my health has improved a lot. My stamina isn’t what it was when I was 20, but it’s a reasonable comparison to what it was at 45. I rarely cough anymore, where it was constant before, and in general, I just feel much better. And you know what else? When I was smoking, I spent around $20 a day on the habit, now I spend roughly $50 a month on its replacement. To me, that’s quite a product, that can do so much for me. And yes, I tried all the (very expensive) replacement programs too, I likely spent something like $1000 on trying (unsuccessfully) to quit smoking.

Not a good thing for either the FDA or ‘Big Tobacco’. So in true crony-capitalist fashion, it looks to me like they decided to destroy something, by taxing it out of existence, that has the usefulness to destroy one, and damage the other. And the Health of the Public, be damned, our money is much more important.

About those health benefits, the Royal College of Physicians had some things to say, these are just the ones that caught my eye, the paper is linked below.

  • Smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of death and disability, and social inequality in health, in the UK.
  • Quitting smoking is very difficult and most adults who smoke today will continue to smoke for many years.
  • NRT is most effective in helping people to stop smoking when used together with health professional input and support, but much less so when used on its own.
  • E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.
  • However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.
  • Rather, the available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
  • A regulatory strategy should, therefore, take a balanced approach in seeking to ensure product safety, enable and encourage smokers to use the product instead of tobacco, and detect and prevent effects that counter the overall goals of tobacco control policy.
  • The tobacco industry has become involved in the e-cigarette market and can be expected to try to exploit these products to market tobacco cigarettes, and to undermine wider tobacco control work.
  • However, in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.

From Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction

The FDA’s approach is very suspect because it goes against the best available evidence, which I think is brought out by the RCP paper. The FDA’s approach in collusion with the tobacco companies is, in fact, against the best interests of the taxpayers, and will cause more smokers to die of tobacco-related diseases.

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