EVALI showed us the political hypocrisy of vaping vs. marijuana
Early in 2016, Dr. Scott Gottlieb was appointed to Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and he immediately began labeling teen vaping as a national “epidemic.”
Gottlieb was lying.
Citing so-called evidence that the numbers of middle and high schoolers engaging in vaping was on the rise, the data he was citing was intentionally manipulated to fit his anti-vaping agenda. Sure, the numbers were rising, but for two significant reasons.
First, the mass marketing of vaping products was still in its infancy stages. Vaping had only just gone mainstream in 2015, the year before Gottlieb took office. So, of course, the numbers had nowhere else to go but up. Meanwhile, Gottlieb conveniently forgot to tell Americans that the teenage smoking rates were at historic lows.
Secondly, the data that Gottlieb was claiming as evidence was grossly inaccurate…or misleading, at best. And Gottlieb knew it.
Yes, the numbers of teen vapers were rising, but less than 1% of the youngsters surveyed claimed to be daily users. Most of the other 99% of teens reported to have only tried vaping experimentally or claimed to have vaped only sporadically at parties or social events. Gottlieb’s lies had parents around the country questioning their own children’s morals and truthfulness.
EVALI wrongly gave vaping a bad name – but not cannabis
Then came the EVALI scandal of 2019. Gottlieb’s FDA began whispering to the mainstream media about a mysterious “vaping related” lung disorder supposedly plaguing America’s youth. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) almost immediately began issuing public warnings against vaping of any kind.
By February 4, 2020, only 2,758 cases of EVALI had been reported to the CDC nationwide, with 64 confirmed deaths. While the mainstream media was deviously focusing on bogus claims of “vaping related” respiratory disorders, a little thing called the coronavirus was already secretly taking hold in America. As of the date of this writing, more than 490,000 American deaths area attributed to the COVID pandemic. And the United States has 4% of the world population and a whopping 25% of the world’s deaths.
It was around this same timeframe—about six-months after the initial news of the EVALI outbreak— that the FDA and the CDC finally acknowledged what the vaping community knew all along. The “vaping related” disorder was not vaping-related at all.
Contraband cartridges illegally laced by black market criminals with THC oils and Vitamin E acetate was the true culprit. Nicotine-based vapes are not to blame in any way. Quietly and without the media fanfare this time, the CDC issued the following press release on February 25, 2020.
“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.”
Unfortunately, the press had already been spreading the unsubstantiated EVALI claims for several months by this time, and the American vaping industry had become demonized in the eyes of the American public. Meanwhile, potentially millions of adult former smokers were tempted to relapse into the welcoming arms of Big Tobacco.
But what was the response of our politicians to the CDC’s press release? Did they begin implementing safer restrictions on the manufacturing and selling of cannabis-based products? No, not really. Instead, government officials at the local, state, and federal levels began passing vaping ban legislation at record speeds.
The city of San Francisco kicked things off in June 2019 by passing Prop E which prohibits the sales of flavored vapor products across the region. Other metropolitical areas – predominantly in California – soon followed. By September of the following year (and after the CDC press release was already published), California Governor Gavin Newson would ghoulishly sign new legislation for a statewide vape ban right at the height of the state’s catastrophic response to the global pandemic.
Other states joined in the vaping ban mania, including Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, Montana, and Michigan—whose Governor Gretchen Whitmer tried and failed to ban vaping at least three times only to be rebuked on two accounts by the state courts.
Meanwhile, more and more states are seeking to legalize marijuana. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is trying to legalize recreational pot by including a provision in his state budget proposal for 2021. And Virginia just legalized weed this month…although…to be fair…Virginia is also one of the very few states in the entire country to never have passed vaping ban legislation of any kind.
The EVALI debacle has shown us the deep, dark underbelly of our political system. Vaping is a threat to Big Pharma companies who manufacture smoking secession products like nicotine patches. Vaping is also a threat to Big Tobacco. Since the taxes collected from Big Pharma and Big Tobacco far exceed those of the American vaping industry, vaping must go.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is a threat to neither Big Tobacco nor Big Pharma. It is also a brand-new marketplace with a massive potential for government taxation regulations that can rake in billions of dollars for the local, state, and federal governments. Therefore, legalized weed gets a free pass.
No marijuana bans. No threats to prohibit even “flavored” cannabis. And no mainstream media stories about a “marijuana-related” lung disorder named EVALI.
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)