As vape sales decline, is the CDC responsible for a recent surge in smoking?

In a story published on July 28, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claims evidence exists of a recent surge in the sales of combustible tobacco cigarettes.  The dramatic increase began in the days and weeks immediately following the distribution of the coronavirus stimulus checks last April.

When WSJ journalist interviewed several American smokers for her article, many reported that they were buying conventional cigarettes due to being unable to travel outdoors during a pandemic and because of the increased “federal restrictions on e-cigarette flavors.” 

As of 2019, national smoking rates among both adults and teens had plummeted to an all-time low.  Now, those statistics are apparently rising again.

Related Article: University of Michigan: Research shows teen smoking hits ‘historic lows’

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the nation had just undergone a months-long anti-vaping campaign by representatives of both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The topic of intentional and wrongly-induced hysteria, of course, was the mysterious discovery of a “vaping related” lung disorder which the CDC would eventually nickname EVALI. 

The CDC instantly began issuing repeated public health warnings for Americans to avoid vaping products of any sort, and anti-vapers were all to happy to begin spreading rumors and conspiracy theories on the mainstream and social media platforms.

Governors ban flavored vapes amid EVALI hysteria

A mass feeding frenzy, of course, ensued, which instigated several state governors to issue “emergency executive actions” enabling them to skirt the law and quickly implement supposedly temporary vaping bans statewide.  Vape shops across the nation soon filed lawsuits opposing the bans, and some of them even won their cases in courts of law.  Other state flavor bans would eventually become permanent.

Related Article:   Tricks of the trade: How mainstream media spreads disinformation about vaping

After the dust had cleared and the damage had been done to the American vapor industry as a whole, the CDC would only then finally acknowledge the truth.  THC-enhanced cartridges containing vitamin E acetate and illegally distributed through the black market were to blame for the less than 70 EVALI deaths nationwide.  In a February 25 press release, the CDC issues the following statement.

“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.”

Oops.  But the vaping community was already well-aware that contraband THC products were the true culprit behind EVALLI.  As far back as August 2019 – six months prior to the CDC press release - the cannabis-centric e-magazine Leafly was already warning its membership to avoid any CBD or cannabis-based vapor products using vitamin E acetate as a dilutive.  Apparently, Leafly’s California bureau chief, David Downs, deserves most of the credit for being the first to unravel the mystery.

Related Article:   Dr. Siegel: CDC’s e-cig hysteria contributed to COVID death toll

In the meantime while vaping was under constant attack by the press, by governors, by anti-vaping activist groups, and even by the President of the United States for a brief few weeks,  Big Tobacco had a six-month opportunity to entice former smokers around the nation to return to the loving arms of Marlboro, Salem, and Virginia Slims cigarettes.  According to Brent Stafford of Regulator Watch, the CDC-enacted and FDA-approved anti-vaping campaign using EAVLI as a backdrop was successful beyond anyone’s comprehension.

Tobacco sales rise amid EVALI fears, COVID panic, and an alarmist mainstream press

Prior to the EVALI outbreak of 2019, the vaping community was forced into battle over yet another CDC-inspired attack which continues to this very day. Former FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb began peddling an unsubstantiated claim that teen vaping was now a national “epidemic.”  When an actual epidemic called coronavirus reared its ugly head in January 2020, it was only then that the falsified claims of a vaping epidemic began to dwindle ever so slightly.

Related Article:   World class epidemiologist blasts FDA claims of so-called vaping ‘epidemic’

In a recent interview with Dr. David Sweanor, a renowned tobacco-control policy expert from Ottawa, Canada, Regulator Watch host Brent Stafford discusses the WSJ article and its possible negative impacts to the American vaping community.

“It should be of no surprise the result of never-ending attacks in the war on vaping would be a collapse in public awareness and confidence in vaping as a legitimate life-saving alternative to smoking.
“After 18-months of ceaseless hammering by vaping opponents, a seismic shift is underway as people in droves are switching back to cigarettes from vaping, according to Billy Gifford the CEO of Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. Gifford points to trends that are significant enough to slow the years-long decline in U.S. cigarette sales.”

Throughout their nearly one-hour conversation, Dr. Sweanor reacts to what he calls a “remarkable but predictable recovery in cigarette sales” instigated and perhaps even endorsed by the CDC, the FDA, and federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  They also discuss comments by a representative of The Altria Group, manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, claiming that the American vapor industry is heading towards a market decline that “could flatline over the next two years.” 

Click here to view the Regulator Watch video in its entirety. 

Related Article:   Stanford teen vaping report ‘smells fishier than month-old cod,’ says expert

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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