Public health expert: FDA claim of teen vaping epidemic is ‘shockingly reckless’
For anyone following the Trump Administration, the evidence makes clear that the President of the United States has no strong affinity for government regulations of any kind. In fact, in most cases, he seems to despise them outright.
President Trump has allowed the Department of the Interior to slash the bureaucratic red tape surrounding the fishing and wildlife industries. He’s made moves to completely abolish the Clean Power Plan, which makes things much easier for the oil, gas, and coal industries. And let’s not forget the reversal of the Net Neutrality Act which takes the federal government almost completely out of the equation regarding the consumer costs of Internet services provided by private companies.
It’s not a big secret. Trump hates regulations. Period.
So, why would the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Dr. Scott Gottlieb instigate and promote a teen vaping conspiracy of “epidemic” proportions that threatens to regulate an entire industry out of existence? And why would his successor, Dr. Ned Sharpless, continue endorsing such a monstrous movement, especially when his boss is so clearly anti-regulation?
Vaping epidemic not supported by science
According to public health and regulations expert Michelle Minton, the new FDA Commissioner Sharpless has a tremendous opportunity to do the right thing, save millions of lives, and make the President proud at the same time. By countersigning the “bad recommendations” of Gottlieb, Sharpless is only further eroding the public mistrust in federal agencies as a whole. In an article recently published in The Washington Examiner, Minton makes the following assertions.
“Americans’ trust in national institutions is lower than ever. If that lack of confidence extends to health institutions, it can have deadly consequences when there are true emergencies, such as outbreaks of infectious or food-borne illnesses. The ability of agencies like FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect the public from immediate threats depends on the public’s confidence in those agencies …”
Minton’s comments mimic those made recently by a rather highly regarded epidemiologist, Dr. Raymond Niaura of the New York University College of Global Public Health. In a July 2019 interview with Brent Stafford of Regulator Watch, Niaura says that he finds the FDA’s claims of a teen vaping epidemic “annoying and frustrating.”
Related Article: Renowned epidemiologist debunks FDA claims of teen vaping ‘epidemic’
He posits that scientists typically reserve the term “epidemic” for outbreaks of diseases with extremely high mortality rates like yellow fever or the current Ebola virus scare occurring in the Congo. By hijacking the term “epidemic” and applying it to an alleged increase in underage e-cig use, the nation’s top public health agency is essentially peddling in easily disprovable, non-scientific nonsense.
Rejecting Gottlieb’s ‘bad recommendations’ will save millions of lives
Ms. Minton, who is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and appears regularly in mainstream media news shows as an advocate for the vapor industry, takes a no holds barred approach when discussing her opinions of the former FDA chief. Minton initially blasts Gottlieb for creating the notorious FDA deeming regulations of 2016 which immediately reclassified vaping devices and e-liquids as tobacco products, even though e-cigarettes are completely tobacco-free. She also rebuffs the so-called science that purportedly supports Gottlieb’s claims of a teenage epidemic.
“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.”
Minton calls upon FDA Acting Commissioner Sharpless to reject Gottlieb’s inability to “communicate truthful information” before it’s too late. His “blatant falsehoods” surrounding both teen vaping and smoking rates are a significant cause for alarm. Furthermore, Minton states, Gottlieb has repeatedly stated or implied that vaping may cause “irreversible lung damage” and perhaps cancer, even though there is no scientific evidence to support such wild accusations.
She then warns Sharpless that if he continues to endorse, promote, and amplify the “fear-mongering” tactics of his predecessor, he, too, will become complicit in the resulting ominous aftermath. If the vapor industry is indeed regulated out of existence or even more severely restricted by incessant FDA over-reach, millions of new smoking-related deaths are almost certain to occur as adult smokers become too frightened to switch to vaping.
Sharpless is at a crossroads. What he does now – in this moment – matters greatly.
(Image courtesy of CTV News Channel, Facebook)