Monday 9 September 2013

E-Cigs And Kids - An Audit Trail Of A Manufactured Moral Panic

Back in July, there was an incredible political move by tobacco control organisations in Rhode Island, USA. It was successful.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Chafee has vetoed legislation that would have banned anyone under the age of 18 from using or purchasing electronic cigarettes
The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and other health advocacy groups, in calling on Chafee to strike down the measure, said it represented a "stalking horse" for tobacco and e- cigarette companies that want to exempt the growing industry from the regulations and taxes imposed on traditional tobacco-based products.
Here were the behemoths of anti-tobacco - after decades of crying 'think of the chiildren' - objecting to a rule which would have made e-cigs an adult only product. Surely a bout of madness, you might assume.

However, Boston University's Michael Siegel perfectly explained what they were really up to.
Why would any public health group want to work to ensure that youth have free access to electronic cigarettes? 
There is no legitimate public health justification for such a position. 
However, there is a possible political explanation. These anti-smoking groups, which have an ideological opposition to electronic cigarettes because they look like cigarettes, don't want the electronic cigarette companies to be painted as responsible companies that have supported actions to prevent youth access to their product. Instead, they would prefer that youth do have access because if large numbers of youths do start using these products, then they can successfully argue for a ban on electronic cigarettes. If youth continue to avoid these products (as they are now), it will be difficult for these organizations to convince policy makers that they should ban the products or put severe obstacles in their way (such as high taxes or stifling regulation of their sales or marketing).
Indeed. And so it came to pass that the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) created a typhoon of publicity this week by releasing an alarmist report on youths using e-cigs. It prompted loud, garish, and largely derogatory articles about e-cigs from Yahoo, CBS News and the LA Times amongst others, despite the CDC's article being desperately flawed and pre-determined junk.

Scroll on to today and the appearance of Linda McAvan - the most dangerous European alive today with more than a whiff of pharma conflicting interests - on Radio Sheffield this morning (from 1:23.30 on).

She was worried, you see, about kids using e-cigs; referred to the CDC report from the US ... and used that as justification for strangling the devices with EU-ordered medicinal licensing.

It fits together like a jigsaw, doesn't it? Just as Dr Siegel predicted.

It doesn't matter that kids using e-cigs is not a significant danger to worry about anyway (recommended read), nor that the e-cig industry is being more responsible and scrupulous than those who pretend they hold the moral high ground. The job is done; a smear story has been manufactured; and is working exactly as planned - just as the tobacco control industry has been doing successfully for decades.

About health, is it? Think again.


prog said...

Proposed legislation won't make much difference, many kids smoke, drink, vape, whatever. Others don't, of course, but not merely because of any current laws. If they ban e-cigs for 'health reasons' they've got to ban tobacco. But there's too much to lose if they did - tobacco duty, which is (essentially) a tax on nicotine. I guess the main reason why herbal cigs are exempt. Technically, non nicotine e-cigs/juice would fall into the same category. Imposing a ban on under age sales will simply give them more reason to push for taxation of nicotine juice.

JonathanBagley said...

She ignores the fact that nicotine gum is handed out to school children without their parents' knowledge - one 14 year old was famously hospitalised a few years ago; and also that NRT products, which are "addictive" - many people chew the gum for years - are approved for use by 12 year olds. So why is medical regulation better in this respect? One answer is that NRT products are so unpleasant and useless that no sane person buys them, including sane 12 year olds.

Carl Phillips said...

For the record, that analysis of what the ANTZ were up to in
opposing the ban on minor sales came from me and CASAA. See

truckerlyn said...

There will always be some youngsters that will smoke, it is that rebellious streak that many have. Surely, if they are going to it would be better that they go straight for E-cig rather than proper cigarettes? After all, they are safer and kids that were never going to try proper cigs are not likely to try E-cigs.

Then again, as we all know, it never has been about the health of anyone, never mind the children!

Off topic, briefly - the story of the decline of the Woolly Mammoth on the news the other day was interesting in that it is now believed they became extinct due to climate change/global warming. Those of us with any common sense have known that climate change/global warming (and cooling) has been happening since the beginning of time and I am sure there were no man made causes back in the time of the Woolly Mammoth.

Politicians must either be extremely arrogant or extremely stupid if they think that WE are as gullible and stupid as they are!