Public health expert: FDA is ‘overblowing the argument’ against vaping

As public health agencies around the world continue to escalate their anti-vaping rhetoric, recent surveys now indicate that the general public mistakenly believes that vaping is just as deadly as smoking. One survey newly released by scientists of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) of the University of Chicago even shows that a small percentage of the general population, about 9 percent, mistakenly believe that vaping is even worse than smoking.

Of course, this assertion is grossly untrue. In an interview with Brent Stafford of Regulator Watch, public health expert Dr. Mark Tyndall takes these issues of disinformation head-on.  Stafford’s interview offers a no-holds-barred conversation with an expert in public health who is both insightful and surprisingly candid.

Mr. Tyndall is the former Director of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and a current Professor of Public Health at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population.  Mr. Stafford begins the conversation by asking Tyndall about the widespread negativity involving vaping that seems to be saturating the public conversation.

 “Certainly, the media is really focused on the unintended consequences of this technology (vaping) as it relates to new entrance into nicotine – which is youth.  And rarely does the conversation ever start with the great potential that this has currently for people who are using combustible tobacco…there is still so much misinformation out there, and I think as public health people, we haven’t done a very good job of getting any truth or real information out to people.”
“On the way to your studio today, I stop and I – often when I see people smoking on the street, I  just ask them about vaping, and I stop into vape shops and things, and  this one woman I talked to today – like half an hour ago – she was probably in her 50s…she says she’s smoked for a long time…and [I asked] why was she still smoking when she could be vaping. And she said that vaping has too many chemicals.  And I said, well, the chemicals that we’re interested in are when you light up your tobacco and that’s when you get all those chemicals.  And she said, ‘Oh, no.’ And she pulled out her (cigarette) package and it says ‘no additives.’ And she says, ‘I smoke 100% pure tobacco, and there’s no chemicals in it. But vaping products have chemicals, and I want to avoid that.’”

Of course, t Stafford rather alarmingly points out immediately that this woman’s ill-conceived point of view is “literally opposite” the scientific facts. When tobacco leaves are burned, they produce all sorts of noxious chemicals, including highly carcinogenic tar.  And there are reams of scientific research that prove Stafford’s point to be true.

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In fact, a recently published report from scientists of Harvard University openly recommends that public health officials should focus their attention on the regulation of chemical additives found in combustible tobacco cigarettes rather than the alleged dangers of teen vaping and nicotine consumption.  The Harvard report entitled A study of pyrazines in cigarettes and how additives might be used to enhance tobacco addiction is still readily available via BMJ Tobacco Control

Tyndall: 'But for God’s sake.  Don’t try cigarettes.'

Eventually, the interview veers into the controversial assertions of teen vaping as a national “epidemic” often promoted by public health officials like the former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.  According to Tyndall, anti-vaping advocates are vastly “overblowing the argument,” and teenagers can see right through it.

“We’ve talked about ripping doors off stall s of washrooms and stuff in high schools, and it’s like, really?  This is like a really over-the-top response to this, and kids need education and the truth…we know that so much from...creating panic..overblowing the argument, youth especially see right through that, like ‘What are you talking about? I just tried vaping.  I feel fine.  It tasted okay. Why are you telling me this is going to kill me or something.’ They can see right through that.  So, I think that our approach to public health needs to be way more upfront and transparent.

Tyndal then suggests that he would tell any teenager experimenting with vaping that they should be careful and avoid becoming addicted.  And in a particularly personal moment, Tyndal says he would also add, “But for God’s sake.  Don’t try cigarettes.”  Click Here to see the entire Regulator Watch interview with Brent Stafford.  

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