CDC says teen vaping is down; mainstream media blames ‘juuling’ error

On June 8, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released is yearly report on tobacco use and vaping among teens.  The new statistics show that roughly 11 percent of middle and high school students have engaged in vaping or tobacco use at least once within the previous 30-days.  This figure remains relatively unchanged from the 2016 data, which identified a 5 percent drop from the 16 percent figure from 2015. 

However, mainstream media is still actively and aggressively complicit in recent months with inciting panic in the American public by spreading allegations that teen vaping is a gateway to smoking.  These negative media campaigns seem to be largely working, too, as is evident by the recent passage last week of Prop E in San Francisco which now makes the sales of all flavored e-liquids illegal.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in its final days of a 90-day probe – recently extended by another 30-days -  which requests “public input” regarding a similar nationwide flavor ban. 

Related Article:  San Francisco vaping gets a shellacking; Prop E passes & flavor ban goes in effect

So, when the CDC report was made public last Friday, one might naturally assume that news outlets would either spread the good news that teen vaping and tobacco use is down (not likely) or simply ignore the vastly improved statistics entirely (more likely).  After all, even mainstream media seems to have trouble admitting that they are wrong.   Instead, journalists are now spinning the CDC findings by taking issue with the very questionnaire provided by the CDC itself.

FDA Scott Gottlieb and the CDC teen vaping study

Apparently, the CDC did not specifically address the issue of juuling when polling the over 20,000 students.  Anti-tobacco lobbyists are now claiming that due to this perceived discrepancy in wording, the statistics are somewhat inaccurate because American teenagers often fail to identify juuling as vaping.

The CDC report entitled Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2017 involved respondents from Grades 6 through 12 and touched on everything from smoking, to electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products like snus.  The CDC even asked the teens about pipe tobacco, but the word “juuling” was nowhere to be seen.

But mainstream news outlets were not the only ones to use this unfortunately word choice as an opportunity to continue bashing the vaping industry.  Even FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, once thought to be a staunch advocate of e-cigs, issued a press announcement on the day following the release of the CDC report – a statement that seemed slightly skeptical of the CDC findings.

“These figures are particularly concerning because youth exposure to nicotine — whether it comes from a cigarette or an e-cigarette — affects the developing brain and may rewire it to be more susceptible to nicotine addiction in the future. And while there was no change in e-cigarette use from 2016 to 2017 among high school-aged teens, it’s too soon to tell whether this represents a leveling off, following a steep decline from 2015 to 2016. But this bears watching.”

Gottlieb also attacked vapers on the previous Saturday at the June 3 annual conference in Chicago of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).  In his speech, the FDA Commissioner boldly asserted that the vaping industry had better “step up and step up soon to prevent underage vaping.  He also stated that he has “mostly been disappointed by the tepid response” of e-liquid and vaping companies to the pending FDA probe. 

Related Article: Time is running out to comment on the FDA flavor ban probe for vaping

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