3 Recent anti-vaping myths and the scientists that debunk them

In the summer of 2019, the mainstream media began spreading disinformation suggesting that conventional nicotine-based vapes were the cause of a mysterious lung ailment plaguing the nation.   The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named the disorder EVALI, an acronym standing for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.  Even though the outbreak of lung injuries were largely being reported only in the United States, the CDC pushed this false narrative for months.

Public health experts like Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health almost immediately began shouting from the rooftops that the CDC was misidentifying the true culprit – black market THC-containing products illegally laced with vitamin E acetate.  After several months of misinforming the general public (and multiple deaths), the CDC was finally forced to acknowledge the obvious.  In a February 25 press release, the CDC stated the following.

“Due to continued declines in new EVALI cases since September 2019, and the identification of vitamin E acetate as a primary cause of EVALI, today’s release is the final biweekly CDC update on the number of hospitalized EVALI cases and deaths nationally. CDC will continue to provide assistance to states, as needed, related to EVALI and will provide future updates as needed at: www.cdc.gov/lunginjury.”

Unlike the circumstances surrounding the initial outbreak, the mainstream media remained relatively silent in their reporting of this latest chapter in the EVALI saga.  So, a larger percentage is still under the mistaken impression that vaping kills.  Unfortunately, his type of journalistic malpractice is usually the norm when it comes to the American vaping industry. 

Related Article: With a whimper not a bang, CDC finally closes the case on ‘vaping related’ EVALI

Over the years, anti-vaping activists have floated one conspiracy theory after another, each of which has garnered a significant amount of alarm and notoriety in the national news outlets.  And just like with the EVALI scandal, journalists rarely report when the allegations are proven to be grossly inaccurate or perhaps even outright lies.  Here are two additional anti-vaping allegations that attracted widespread media attention - and the scientists who successfully debunked them.

Anti-vaping myth #2:  Vaping causes heart attacks

In June 2019, news outlets were going bonkers when a “researcher” by the name of Stanton Glantz published a report that claimed, “vaping causes heart attacks.”   Because the paper came with such an attention-grabbing headline and was endorsed by the American Heart Association, news reporters felt accusation had credibility.  So, they ran with it.

Related Article:  Tobacco expert Brad Rodu debunks latest ‘vaping causes heart attacks’ study

However, Dr, Brad Rodu – a world class scientist and tobacco analysist from the University Of Kentucky - insisted that the Glantz study was pure fiction.  Rodu discovered that a large percentage of the patients involved with the experimental research had experienced their cardiac episodes long before they started vaping.  Months later, the medical journal which published the Glantz paper was forced to issue a retraction, claiming the “editors are concerned that the study conclusion is unreliable.”

Anti-vaping myth #3:  Vaping causes COPD

In December 2019, Glantz was at it again.  This time, his research paper centered around the allegation that vaping increases the chances of being diagnosed with respiratory disorders like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).  Never mind that the notorious Glantz failed to conduct comparative analysis between vaping and smoking, but he also failed to document the prior smoking histories of his participants in experimental research. 

Once again, the mainstream media – including CNN, in USA Today - picked up the story and ran with it.  Yet, Dr. Michael Siegel called the allegations, “not even plausible.”  On his website, The Rest of the Story: Tobacco and Alcohol News Analysis and Commentary, Siegel tore the Glantz study to shreds. 

“It is not even plausible that e-cigarette use could cause COPD within three years. Even with heavy smoking, it takes decades before a person develops COPD. If you walk into a respiratory intensive care unit, you're not going to find a lot of COPD patients in their 30s or even 40s. So if it takes at least three decades of smoking to develop COPD, how is a person supposed to develop COPD from e-cigarettes in only three years?...
“This evidence demonstrates that the truth is the opposite of what is being reported here. E-cigarette use is not a cause of chronic lung disease. On the contrary, it helps improve respiratory health among smokers who are able to quit completely using these products.”

Siegel also blasted the “Vaping causes COPD” research for failing to include a control group of participants who were never smokers. The public health expert was so alarmed at the level of scientific incompetence behind the Glantz report that we warned on Twitter and other forms of social media, “Vapers Beware: New Study Does NOT Show that E-Cigarettes Cause Chronic Lung Disease.”

Related Article: Study saying vaping causes lung disease ‘not even plausible,’ says Siegel

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