The Arkansas Department Health took an aggressive step in the battle against electronic cigarettes this week by issuing a public health advisory. The notice was a long, drawn out explanation for why ecigs present a threat to both smokers and bystanders. It included a list of sources that were mostly government funded and easily disproven with a quick Internet search. After reading the advisory notice from beginning to end, it’s easy to see that it is full of bad information. We found six key areas where the public health officials really failed to present the truth. Here is complete analysis of the myths in this week’s advisory as well as a research-backed response to each of them.
Myth: “These devices contain and emit harmful chemicals, are currently unregulated, and pose known and unknown health risks to users and non-users alike.”
Truth: After conducting a detailed systematic review of the chemistry involved in vaping, a Drexel University professor concluded that ecigs do not emit harmful chemicals. During this study, the researchers conducted more than 9,000 observations sessions with assorted e-liquids and their vapor. When the data was analyzed, the scientists concluded that there is “no apparent concern” for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor – even under “worst case assumptions” about exposure.
Cancer and Disease
Myth: Nicotine “activates multiple biological pathways through which smoking increases risk for adult onset diseases, including atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer.”
Truth: This statement from the health advisory basically debunks itself. The key phrase is “through which smoking”. Nicotine is not the agent responsible for cancer and other diseases. It is the tobacco that causes a major health threat. It seems that Arkansas officials neglected to read this important publication from the American Council on Science and Health. The report is long, but it gives a science-based perspective on the ecig debate. After gathering lots of research, the American Council on Science and Health concluded that ecig vapor appears to be “chemically incapable of causing cancer as cigarette smoke has done.” We will say it one more time – nicotine doesn’t cause cancer, but smoking tobacco does!
Secondhand Vapor Threat
Myth: “E-cigarettes/vapor products are not emission free and their pollutants could be a health concern for users and secondhand smokers. These products should not be used indoors or in cars.”
Truth: Secondhand vapor is not dangerous or harmful. In a study of e-liquids with high nicotine content, scientists found “no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed.” In another report, the American Council on Science and Health also found that vapor wasn’t harmful. “Electronic cigarettes used in planes or crowded situations are clearly not a health risk… E-cigarettes do not produce sidestream smoke. One e-cigarette releases 3 millionths of a gram of nicotine per cubic meter of room air. Modern laboratories can detect such traces, but it is of no clinical consequence. Similarly, the chemistry of fine particulates in e-cigarette vapor argues against it being harmful to health.”
Increased Childhood Addiction
Myth: “E-cigarettes may lead to an increase in nicotine addiction among young people… Parents should be aware that electronic cigarettes and similar electronic nicotine delivery devices are available in a variety of flavors, such as bubble gum, strawberry, chocolate, and mint, which may be attractive to children.”
Truth: Ecigs are not turning kids into smokers. Instead, these devices are turning smokers into former smokers. Ecig critics love to argue that the growing availability of ecigs is attracting kids to cigarettes and increasing nicotine addiction. They claim that the sweet flavors make e-liquid even more tempting for youth. In reality, research shows that ecigs do not act as a gateway to teen smoking. Dr. Ted Wagoner studied this theory by doing a survey of young people to learn whether vaping increased the likelihood of later tobacco use. After more than 1,300 surveys were completed, Dr. Wagoner found that ecigs were not leading teens to smoke regular cigarettes. In fact, ecigs were helping college kids kick the cigarette habit they had picked up in high school.
No More Stigma Around Smoking
Myth: “Many electronic cigarettes/Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems emit a vapor that looks like cigarette smoke. The similarity of these products to combustible cigarettes creates confusion for employees and visitors and presents enforcement challenges for workplaces, restaurants/bars, state agencies, and other indoor/outdoor campuses that have existing tobacco-free policy/ordinances… (Ecigs) re-normalize smoking behaviors and reverse clean indoor air gains.”
Truth: Arkansas health officials claim that vaping is making it acceptable to smoke again. After years of working to end the widespread acceptance of tobacco as a social norm, they fear that ecigs are reversing all that hard work because people can’t tell the difference between cigarettes and ecigs. In reality, they couldn’t be further from the truth! As people embrace vaping as an alternative to smoking, it gives tobacco users an even worse reputation. People will have no patience for smokers when ecigs are readily available and offer the same nicotine fix without the secondhand smoke and health risks. As far as confusion between ecigs and cigarettes, it’s as simple as using your basic senses. Smoking stinks, but vaping doesn’t. Cigarettes produce ashes and have a burning tip. Ecigs are battery operated with no ashes.
Not For Smoking Cessation
Myth: “Electronic cigarettes and similar electronic nicotine delivery devices have not been tested adequately as tobacco cessation devices. Until Food and Drug Administration approval is given, the Arkansas Department of Health recommends that FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products, such as nicotine patches, which contain controlled doses of nicotine, be used for tobacco cessation efforts.”
Truth: Ecigs would not be popular if people were not using them for smoking cessation. It’s extremely rare to meet a vaper that isn’t a former smoker. If you don’t want to actually talk to vapers to discover this truth, then there is plenty of research to give you the same information. For example, this study reveals that ecigs are very effective for smoking cessation and they can even help prevent a relapse. Another study proved that when you give ecigs to smokers, they drastically reduce cigarette consumption or quit altogether, even if they have no intention to stop smoking beforehand.
Spread the Truth!
The kind of bad information we saw from the Arkansas Department of Health is running rampant in our society today. The only way to stop the myths is the spread the truth. It’s time to speak up and silence those that want to take away your rights to use ecigs.
Has vaping helped you kick a long term cigarette addiction? Have you enjoyed health benefits since you made the switch? Speak up about your experience! Leave a comment here and tell your story. Let’s get the word out that vaping isn’t the enemy.