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Polosa: Mysterious rise in lung disease among Wisconsin vapers ‘very suspicious’

The War on Vaping is escalating to a new and more dangerous phase that goes well beyond the spreading of bogus research and the hysterical rantings of politicians.  When the history of vaping is ultimately written, The Summer of 2019 will likely be remembered as the specific turning point in which anti-vaping activists reached too deeply into their bottomless pit of diabolical propaganda. 

It all began with a few Wisconsin teenagers who, together with their parents and press agents, began making unproven claims that vaping had somehow led to their diagnoses of several mysterious lung ailments.  By August, the number of alleged victims had ballooned from under twenty to well over 100. This weekend, the demise of a young man in Illinois is resulting in a slew of ominous headlines touting the strong possibility of the nation’s first-ever vaping-related death. Ambitious journalists across the country simply cannot ignore the temptation to gain massive amounts of likes and retweets by crafting catastrophic and unsubstantiated headlines implying that vaping literally kills.

Regulator Watch interviews Dr. Riccardo Polosa

Dr. Riccardo Polosa is a well-known advocate of electronic cigarettes as both a tobacco harm reduction tool and as a smoking cessation aid.  He is also the Director of the Institute for Internal Medicine & Clinical Immunology at University of Catania, Italy.

Polosa has gained the trust and respect of the vaping community by debunking multiple false claims by pay-for-play researchers publishing the most outlandish accusations against vaping. Polosa is also responsible for the most authoritative longitudinal study regarding e-cig’s possible adverse effects on the lungs.  His study entitled Health impact of E-cigarettes: a prospective 3.5-year study of regular daily users (Nature) remains comparatively unmatched for its duration of a single vaping study and its professional adherence to scientific testing protocols.

Related Article:  New study shows no negative health impacts after 3.5 years of vaping

When news of the vaping-related lung disorders in Wisconsin began surfacing in Europe, Polosa quickly became the go-to interview that every vaping advocacy group wanted to land.  Leave it to Regulator Watch and host Brett Stafford to finally land the gig.

In a remarkable video interview posted last week, Stafford peppers Polosa with pointed questions about the recent events.  According to the Italian scientist, the fact that over 100 cases of mysterious lung ailments just happen to materialize all of a sudden in Wisconsin, no less, is “very suspicious.”

“The 94 cases that have been showcased, I guess yesterday, by the U.S. media, and you know, my opinion is that we really need to very careful with [highlighting] these headlines and pointing the finger…the accusing fingers towards vaping products.  My understanding is that there is a huge variety of respiratory ailments and conditions, and this is, per se, very suspicious because how can a single trigger, in this case an electronic cigarette, cause such an assorted list of respiratory conditions such as lipoid pneumonia, eosinophilic pneumonia...organized pneumonia, hypersensitivity…asthma, COPD, lung cancer…oh, common on! That’s not credible!”

In his thick Italian accent that is sometime difficult to discern, Polosa then goes on to state the obvious.  The notion that vaping is some newfangled fashion trend that only recently appeared in the pop culture landscape is complete nonsense.  Vaping has been in the public realm for over ten years.  So, how is it that “all at once,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reporting a massive outbreak in mysterious lung afflictions…94 of which appeared in a single state – Wisconsin?

 “I really think some investigation is needed there.  I mean, after ten years of vaping, now all at once, in Wisconsin, there have been something like twenty cases in the last month…I mean , these micro-academics...if it is true and it is due to vaping, it may be related to some street stuff  (ie: the vaping of restricted or illegal products) or to some do-it-yourself kind of things that kids are involved into.  And has nothing to do with commercial products that have been tested and retested according to the internal industry standards.” 

Related Article:  Research debunks claims that second-hand vaping increases asthma attacks

Host Brett Stafford then interrupts to rephrase statements made recently by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“Specifically, the CDC has said that they do not know what product was used, what brand was used, or what substance was used.  But yet, it’s national news, and it’s connected to ‘vaping.’”

Dr. Polosa responds by placing a significant portion of the blame on the ineptitude of the American press.  The vaping community has long complained of the inaccurate reporting by the so-called journalists of mainstream media.  Perhaps one of the most notable cases of unprofessional journalism is the scientifically debunked and widespread conspiracy theory that vaping causes popcorn lung.   The “deepening mystery of lung illness linked to vaping” in Wisconsin and elsewhere seems to be eerily similar in tone, style, and substance.

“I think this is a responsibility that stands with the journalists.  We have a big problem with journalists and critical thinking of journalists is that this-and-that needs to be addressed pretty quickly.  Of course, they need to sell the news, they need to sell newspapers, they need to be on-air with very catchy headlines. So, I’m not surprised that people try to emphasize on the negative aspects of any product that are available to the public.”

Stafford then makes the point that perhaps the mainstream media is only partially to blame.  Since the CDC and the FDA) both continue to support and “push” these unproven falsehoods aggressively and continuously, the media may feel an increased sense of urgency to report these agencies’ press releases.  They also might fail to even question or validate the validity or the underlying scientific evidence – or lack thereof.

Dr. Polosa does not dispute Mr. Stafford’s assertions, but he also admits that he cannot add any further insights.  Since he lives in Italy, Dr. Polosa readily admits that he is unable to adequately follow the many press announcements of the FDA and CDC on a regular basis.

Related Article:  Research debunks claims that second-hand vaping increases asthma attacks

(Image courtesy of Regulator Watch)

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