Public health expert rebukes WHO for spreading misinformation about ‘vaping’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently made some rather startling allegations about nicotine-based vaping that are drawing significant criticism from public health experts around the globe.  The focus of the global disgust centers around the acronym ENDS which stands for Electronic Nicotine Delivery System.

The “N” in ENDS blatantly stands for nicotine.  It absolutely cannot stand for anything else, such as THC-containing vapor cartridges, for example.  According to WHO, the mysterious outbreak of lung disorders occurring in the United States in recent months is cause for concern.  But rather than warning the worldwide medical community of the dangers of THC vaping, WHO says the following per a recently published document of last Monday.

“There is growing evidence to show that ENDS use could cause lung damage.

“On 17 September 2019, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated an emergency investigation into links between ENDS use and lung injuries and deaths.
“By 10 December 2019, the USA reported more than 2409 hospitalized cases and 52 confirmed deaths.
“At least five other countries have initiated investigations to identify cases of lung injuries related to ENDS use.”

Because each of these four statements references the word ENDS, each of these statements is utterly and totally false.  As far back as mid-December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publicly acknowledged that the culprit behind the respiratory disorders was the vaping of THC-infused cartridges laced with vitamin E acetate.  In total, 150 different THC vapor products were linked to the disorder after interviewing over 2,000 EVALI patients.  No nicotine-based vapes were found to be involved in any way whatsoever. 

Is WHO repeating the past mistakes of the CDC?

Then in early January, well before the WHO publication, the CDC issued yet another press release.  This one was a revision to the earlier, more generic public warning from this past fall about the “vaping related” scandal which caused mainstream media to go into an anti-vaping feeding frenzy.  In the revised CDC press release, officials update the public warning to focus primarily on THC-containing cartridges and products. In a January 14 tweet, CDC officials put the warning very succinctly.

“CDC recommends that you should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources. Data suggest these products play a major role in the current lung injury outbreak. Learn more: http://cdc.gov/lunginjury.”

Also noteworthy in the updated public health warning is the term “informal sources” which the CDC defines as “friends, family, or in-person or online dealers.”   In short, the CDC appears to be being very careful not to lambast the entire THC vaping industry as it did during the “vaping related” lung scare of 2019 that led to multiple statewide vape bans on nicotine-based vapes.

Related Article:  CDC issues updated warning: Most lung patients purchased THC vapes from ‘informal sources’

According to an internal CDC investigation, approximately 79 percent of all EVALI patients purchased their THC-infused products from these informal sources.  Perhaps even more alarming, the average age of EVALI patients range between 13-17 years.  Clearly, based on these three CDC press releases alone, THC vaping is the true cause for concern among public health professionals – not nicotine-based vapes.  Yet WHO insisted on publishing what appears to be intentionally misleading information about “ENDS.”

The WHO document also makes accusations that nicotine vapor products are “highly addictive” and that “young people who use ENDS are also more likely to use conventional cigarettes, cigars or hookahs.”

However, one UK researcher was quick to lambast WHO’s claims as “particularly malign.”  In a report issued in the medical journal ZME Science, Peter Hajek of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at London’s Queen Mary University stated the following.

“The WHO has a history of anti-vaping activism that is damaging their reputation. This document is particularly malign…”
“There is no evidence that vaping is ‘highly addictive.  Less than 1% of non-smokers become regular vapers. Vaping does not lead young people to smoking—smoking among young people is at [an] all-time low. … There is clear evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.”

The trouble with WHO and organizations like it is that they almost always fail to compare their published “findings” to those of daily smokers – or more recently, THC vapers.  Yes, nicotine-based vaping can theoretically cause lung disease, but statistically speaking, smoking is much, much worse.  WHO refuses to acknowledge the tremendous significance of vaping as a tobacco harm reduction tool especially for active smokers trying to quit.  For many scientists and public health officials, this lack of accuracy and accountability by WHO officials is both dangerous and completely unforgivable.

Related Article:  CDC finally confirms: ZERO nicotine-based e-cigs linked to ‘vaping-related’ illness

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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