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New NYU study disputes FDA claims of a ‘teen vaping epidemic’

For several years now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been peddling the theory that teen vaping is rising to epidemic proportions.   Meanwhile, agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consistently post new yearly data clearly indicating that both teenage and adults smoking rates are at historic lows.

This seemingly contradictory evidence has led numerous politicians to call for the banning of all vapor products nationwide, particularly those “kid-appealing” flavors like cotton candy and unicorn milk.  However, the so-called evidence may not really be contradictory at all.  According to researchers from New York University (NYU), claims of a teen vaping epidemic are simply unfounded – especially when one reads the fine print of these FDA and CDC reports.

Most teens don’t vape, and those who do vape very sporadically

Just this morning, the NYU School of Global Public Health issued a press release announcing the publication of a new vaping study in the medical journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.  Led by co-author Allison M. Glasser, the findings are based off of earlier data obtained via the CDC’s National Youth Survey of 2018 (NYTS).

While the CDC and the FDA often claim that teen vaping is on the rise per the results of annual surveys like the NYTS, digging into the data further uncovers some rather astonishing discrepancies.  In these surveys, the NYU researchers found that the CDC makes no differentiation between teenage daily vapers/smokers and experimental or occasional vapers/smokers.  The CDC also rails to take into consideration any possible dual usage of tobacco products. 

Related Article:  Renowned epidemiologist debunks FDA claims of teen vaping ‘epidemic’

After interviewing over 20,000 middle and high school students who participated in the 2018 NYTS survey, the NYU team discovered that about 86 percent of all students have never vaped.  Of the remaining 13.8 percent, more than half admit to vaping less than five days per month.  This would suggest that kids are most definitely not “hooked on vaping” as the mainstream media and various politicians love to claim.

"Our findings underscore the importance of examining the full context of how youth are using vaping and tobacco products," said Glasser. “The key to protecting youth in the United States is determining the patterns of frequency of use and co-use of vaping and tobacco products, which will give public health decision makers the best possible information to protect the public's health."

Grasser and her team also acknowledge that they are working with data that is about two or more years old.  However, the latest 2019 NYTS survey results are not yet available for public review – meaning that the CDC has yet to release them – which, in itself, sounds fishy.  The NUY teams suggests that a comprehensive view of all surveys spanning several years identifies a particularly noteworthy pattern of teenage behavior.

“A critical finding across all surveys from 2013 to 2019 is that smoking actually decreased much more rapidly to a record low during the very same years vaping increased. From 2015 to 2018, daily cigarette smoking among youth declined from 1.2 percent to 0.9 percent, while regular vaping (20 or more out of the past 30 days) increased from 1.7 percent to 3.6 percent.”

Farsalinos, Minton make similar accusations

The NYU findings closely resemble recent remarks by several public health experts across the globe.  In August of 2019, federal regulatory expert from Competitive Enterprise Institute Michelle Minton told The Washington Examiner that the FDA’s claims of a teenage vaping epidemic are “shockingly reckless” and “blatant falsehoods. ” She also stated that the 2018 NYTS data simply does not support such a claim. 

“The study showing e-cigarette use among adolescents rose between 2017 and 2018, the CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, is a survey that only captures any use in the last 30 days. That might capture habitual users, but it also includes mere experimentation (e.g. a one-time puff off a friend’s vape at a party), not necessarily regular use. Once you exclude 18 year-old adults, students who used other tobacco products, and experimental users, the survey actually found that only 0.6% of high schoolers regularly vaped (about 95,000 kids). While that is still concerning, it is not an “epidemic.” Yet, that is how the FDA portrayed the problem to the public.”

As far back as October 2018, Dr. Konstantinos E Farsalinos of Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, University of Patras, Greece, was also publicly questioning the validity of the FDA and CDC research data.

“The FDA has unpublished preliminary data that shows a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students this year compared with 2017,” said Farsalinos. “It is extremely important to see detailed data on the ‘epidemic’ declared by the FDA. I emphasize that published data SHOULD include frequency of use and smoking status of e-cigarette users – and of course the prevalence of tobacco cigarette use.”

Related Article:   Farsalinos questions FDA ‘unpublished preliminary data’ of so-called vaping epidemic

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