AVA's Conley annihilates CNN’s Gupta over Trump’s proposed vaping ban

In response to last week’s press conference where President Trump announced his intention to ban flavored vapes, the ill-prepared mainstream media immediately rushed to cover the event. And as is becoming increasingly more commonplace, many television news anchors are left flatfooted when an invited guest openly disputes their poor journalism skills.

On the day following the Trump announcement, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota of the morning show New Day ran a segment in the 7:30 AM block featuring Dr. Sanjay Gupta with Greg Conley of the American Vaping Association as his factual counterpart.   Camerota and Gupta begin the discussion fairly amicably, perhaps mistakenly assuming that this segment was going to be an instant home run.  After all, how difficult could it possibly be to argue in defense of teen vaping?  

National smoking rates at historic lows, thanks to vaping

Right away, it becomes immediately clear that Gupta is out of his depth.  CDC-documented statistics indicate that teen smoking rates are at an all-time low.  In fact, they have been in steady decline for the past several years.  However, when the TV Doc suggests that teen smoking rates would be even lower had it not been for the rise in popularity of vaping, Conley goes for the jugular.   

“Vaping products have rapidly denormalized – whether or not we approve of it - vaping products have rapidly denormalized cigarette smoking.  And I’ll remind you that, Dr. Gupta, you were wrong about marijuana. You admitted it. 20-plus years you were wrong about marijuana. And I hope that there aren’t body bags on the streets because of policies like these in 20 years when you realize vaping products are saving lives."

Bam!  Take that Gupta!  At this point, the interview is about four-and-a-half minutes in, and CNN’s Camerota has mostly been staring blankly into the camera the entire time. Having been smacked down by Conley’s disproving of the oft-repeated anti-vaping myth that vaping is a gateway to smoking, Gupta changes the subject.  What about all those kid-friendly e-liquids?  Isn’t it enough that the FDA wants to keep menthol flavors?

“Actually …the most popular flavor with adults according to FDA/CDC data is not actually mint and menthol.  It could be mint and menthol in 2019, but as of one year ago or two years ago, the most popular flavor both among adults and switchers – the people benefiting the most by getting away from cigarettes – are fruit flavors.  And so again, you can talk about inappropriate marketing, you can talk about restricting flavor names, marketing, but just getting rid of these products is going to do nothing to combat the Black Market contaminated THC products that are causing lung illnesses.”

Another Gupta talking point debunked.  So, Gupta tries again.

“Can you say, for sure, that this (nicotine vaping) is safe?” I mean, this is ultimately what it comes down to.”

This is the question that anyone who knows anything about vaping loves to be asked.  It’s a question that is so easily refutable by pure scientific evidence.  The most often cited research published by a national public health agency comes from Public Health England (PHE), the UK’s equivalent to the FDA and the CDC in the United States.   

“That’s NOT what it ultimately comes down to.  This is about harm reduction.  The Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, Cancer Research UK have all said that vaping is at least 95 percent safer than smoking.  SAFER – this is about harm reduction in giving smokers a better option than continuing to smoke…”

By this point, Gupta is flailing, and CNN host Camerota knows he needs a lifeline.  So, she jumps into the debate by refocusing on the “vaping-related” health scare.  In a very aggressive move, Camerota says definitively that the FDA and the CDC are publishing public health announcements which warn all Americans to avoid all vaping products.  Period. 

‘Vaping-related deaths’ linked to Black Market THC not nicotine vaping

She then begins to tug on the heartstrings of viewers by referencing a 17-year old allegedly on life-support who apparently claims to have caught her mysterious lung ailment from conventional nicotine vapes.  When Conley points out that even the FDA and the CDC are readily admitting – although very quietly - that illicit THC products are the likely cause, Camerota says, “You don’t know that.”

“They absolutely do know that…the FDA issued a specific warning only about contaminated THC products. Why did the FDA decide that only contaminated THC products warranted a public warrant (he probably meant to say ‘public warning’)?”

Conley then goes on to provide even more scientific evidence by saying, “Lipoid pneumonia comes from inhaling oils.  There are no oils in nicotine vaping products.”

As the interview comes to a close, even Gupta and Camerota appear to be somewhat impressed by the Conley appearance.  But the vaping advocate doesn’t stop there.  His closing statement is a devastating blow to all anti-vaping conspiracists and ham-fisted journalists with pre-convinced. Ill-informed biases.

“Smokers should know. They can save their lives and improve their health by switching to store-bought nicotine vaping products. Don’t be scared off by activists who are trying to keep you smoking.”

Many tobacco control experts are backing up Conley’s claims that a Trump flavor vape would be detrimental to public health. The mainstream media’s continued refusal to properly distinguish between the terms “nicotine vaping” and “marijuana vaping” is irresponsible at best and intentionally negligent at worst.  Well done, Mr. Conley.  Well done. 

Click here for the full CNN interview with Greg Conley and Dr. Sanjay Gupta

(Image courtesy of CNN and YouTube)

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