Sunday, 15 January 2017

That's Your Problem, Not Ours

There has always been a suspicion that the real reason that the tobacco control industry tends to dislike vaping is simply because it looks, to the uneducated, like smoking.

They can never say that, of course, because it's akin to claiming that water should be treated as a controlled substance because it looks like vodka. As a result, we have seen some quite desperate contrived arguments as to why e-cigs should be distrusted, mostly centred around the sector of society that tobacco controllers most like to exploit; children.

However, this week saw an article published by the University of Chicago which is the closest yet to admitting that, yes, the fact that vaping looks like smoking really is the reason many want the devices banned.
Seeing vape pen use boosts desire to smoke among young adults
Although they look less like cigarettes than first-generation e-cigarettes, a new study found that the newer generation e-cigarette vape pens (also known as vaporizers) stimulate the urge to smoke as powerfully as watching someone smoke a “combustible” tobacco cigarette.
We'll leave aside the fact that they seem pretty ignorant of the subject matter if they describe an e-cig as a 'vape pen', although I suppose it's marginally better than their usual preferred clinical renaming of e-cigs as "ENDS" (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems).
“The new e-cigarettes, known as vape pens, are now larger and more powerful devices,” said study director Andrea King, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience and director of the clinical addictions research laboratory at the University of Chicago. “They have low resemblance to cigarettes, so some people were hoping they might not produce the same urge to smoke.” 
“But we found that they do stimulate the urge,” she said. “Vape pens look different but they share too many salient features of the act of smoking – including inhalation, exhalation and hand-to-mouth behaviors. This makes them a potent trigger, encouraging people to smoke. Their impact is roughly equal to watching someone light up a cigarette. They made the young adults in our study want to smoke.”
And? Who cares, quite frankly.
“We’ve made real progress on reducing smoking in our country,” King said. “We’ve done a good job banning indoor smoking. We rarely see two-pack-a-day smokers like we used to. Yet seeing people smoke in public remains common. Our study focused on a classical Pavlovian trigger, as seeing someone smoke is a known potent cue that can induce others to smoke. We did not expect that the vape pen would be as potent a cue as the regular cigarette, but it was as potent.”
Well, it was "potent" because the researchers placed cigarettes in front of their subjects - all smokers - while they were watching others vape; what other result did they expect? But, that aside, it seems clear that the point of this research was merely to sling a little more mud around about e-cigs, and to hint at how it might be viewed by legislators.
“The regulations in the U.S. on when and where somebody can use an e-cigarette are not yet standard,” she added.
Not standard, no. Vaping is banned by lazy and ignorant businesses and authorities worldwide but - to the horror of many tobacco controllers - it is still perfectly permissible in many public places!
“But we do know that, so far, the use of e-cigarettes has not had a major direct impact on smoking cessation efforts above and beyond public health messages and taxes.
Yes. Millions of smokers have quit using an e-cig but tobacco control still pretends it didn't happen. Instead, only tobacco control initiatives work ... because their colleagues - who would also lose funding if they were shown to be irrelevant - have done, erm, 'impartial' studies to 'prove' it.
The sight of someone using a vape pen bumps up the urge to smoke, so this may play a role in dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, but future studies are needed.”
Nudge, nudge, wink wink eh politicians (and funders)?

Andrea King stopped short of demanding vaping be banned in public places alongside smoking, but it's safe to say that's what the dried-up witch was hinting at, it wasn't well hidden.

Of course, this is just a standard tobacco control industry exercise in junk science. We don't actually need to test King's theory in focus groups because we have compelling evidence already. In something called "real life".

So if King's bullshit was true, we'd have seen a marked decrease in quit attempts since e-cigs emerged, now wouldn't we? In England, at least, that certainly hasn't been the case (pdf).

I'd say it's not the case in the US either considering the country is experiencing record low levels of smoking prevalence across the board. So it's safe to dismiss this 'study' as a pitiful fairy tale spun by warped prohibitionists; about as useful to 'public health' as picking fly shit out of pepper.

Not surprising, then, that the only news outlet willing to publish on King's bullshit propaganda was the Mail and - seeing as the 'public health' community as a movement routinely condemns the Mail as bog roll - that fact should, ironically, tell them what an embarrassment King and her colleagues are to their University, and to science in general.

Still, it's all moot anyway. Let's assume for the purposes of debate that King's conclusions are 100% correct, and that smokers reach for their tabs the moment someone vapes. So what? There is still no reason to ban vaping in public places. In countries like the US and UK, we have conventions that say we don't ban our people from doing things as long as they don't harm others. E-cigs are legal products and there is no evidence whatsoever (nor will there ever be) that they have the potential to cause illness in others; while cigarettes are legal products too, and it is up to the smoker whether they smoke or not.

Anyone who proposes a ban which goes against these rules of liberty - a concept which is 150 years old - is simply a fascist, as I've said many times before. If smokers are tempted to light up when they see someone vaping, (the same could be said about no smoking signs and graphic health warnings that tobacco control favours) so what? That's your problem sunshine, not ours. Go for a stroll on the freeway and leave us alone. 

1 comment:

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