Arkansas Officials Fight Ecigs With Fear Mongering and Lies
This week, the Arkansas Department of Health released a public health advisory about electronic cigarettes. Apparently, the recent spike in ecig use warranted a public statement and officials were happy to oblige with a long list of reasons why people should stay away from ecigarettes. After carefully studying the advisory, we discovered that it was full of misinformation, scare tactics, and outright lies. Here is a closer look at the warning from Arkansas officials and a complete rundown of all the reasons that it is absolutely garbage. It’s time to set the record straight and present real facts about ecigs instead of relying on speculation and rumors.
Lie #1 – Ecigs contain and emit harmful chemicals.
You don’t get past the opening sentences of the health advisory before you encounter the first problem. “These devices contain and emit harmful chemicals, are currently unregulated, and pose known and unknown health risks to users and non-users alike.” That definitely sounds scary, right? Well, let’s take a look at the scientific facts.
According to a Drexel University professor that conducted a systemic review of the chemistry of ecigs, these devices aren’t emitting harmful chemicals at all. In fact, after covering 9,000 observations of e-liquid and ecig vapor, the study concludes that there is “no apparent concern” for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor – even under “worst case assumptions” about exposure.
Lie #2 – Ecigs contain nicotine, so they must cause cancer.
Next, the advisory warns that ecigs contain nicotine, which is toxic and addictive. They claim that 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.” There is one glaring problem with this argument – ecigs are not cigarettes and vaping is NOT smoking!
No one would be stupid enough to deny the link between tobacco cigarettes and cancer, but we have legitimate evidence that vaping doesn’t cause cancer. According to a publication by the American Council on Science and Health, ecig vapor appears “chemically incapable of causing cancer as cigarette smoke has done.” In numerous sections of this lengthy report on nicotine, the authors repeat that nicotine does not cause cancer. It is the tobacco component that makes smoking so lethal.
Lie #3 – Ecig vapor contains pollutants and chemicals.
Next, the Arkansas officials pick on ecig vapor. They claim that the vapor produces pollutants and chemicals that pose a “health concern for users and secondhand smokers.” They advise that ecigs should not be used indoors or in cars. It’s almost comical to read this section because there have been numerous studies that prove ecig vapor is harmless. For instance, one study did a series of experiments to analyze vapor from high nicotine e-liquids. The researchers concluded that there is “no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed.”
The American Council on Science and Health also affirms vapor as harmless in their report: “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.”
Lie #4 – Ecigs increase nicotine addiction among kids
It’s not really surprising that the Arkansas officials threw in a paragraph about ecigs impacting kids. This is the ecig critic’s favorite talking point. They claim ecigs act as a gateway to smoking for teenagers, but we have research that proves it isn’t true. Dr. Ted Wagoner conducted a massive survey of college students to find out how ecigs impacted their current nicotine habits. After reviewing over 1,300 survey results, the study concluded that ecigs do not act as a gateway to smoking among teens.
Lie #5 – Ecigs re-normalize smoking
Next, the Arkansas advisory states that ecigs make smoking publicly acceptable again. Because ecigs look like cigarettes, they are changing how society views smoking. Logic alone is enough to debunk this argument. First, vaping and smoking are completely different and it’s pretty easy to distinguish the two. Ecigs have no smoke, no odor, and no ash. As our culture grows comfortable with vaping and we learn more about the health benefits of switching out cigarettes for tobacco-free ecigs, it creates an even greater stigma around smoking. Basically, people won’t tolerate smokers because they know that a better alternative exists with ecigs. With the easy availability of electronic cigarettes, continuing to use tobacco products is irresponsible.
Lie #6 – Ecigs shouldn’t be used for smoking cessation.
The final ecig health warning is perhaps the most devastating of them all. The public advisory states that since the FDA has not approved ecigs for smoking cessation, they should not be used as such. Instead, the Arkansas Department of Health urges smokers to turn to nicotine patches and other traditional methods of nicotine replacement therapy that have already been preapproved by the FDA.
This is probably the most damaging section of the entire advisory because it could deter smokers from giving ecigs a chance. There have been a multitude of studies to determine if ecigs are really beneficial for smokers that want to quit and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. For instance, this study in Science Direct found that ecigs help smokers quit and even prevent relapse. Another study proved that ecigs even lead to smoking cessation among smokers that have no intention to quit.
Stop the Lies!
After doing some research, it’s easy to see that the Arkansas Department of Health could stand to do some basic fact checking. Not only is this public health advisory full of bad information, but it is creating an environment of fear that will discourage a lot of smokers from experiencing the amazing health benefits that are possible by switching to vaping.
If you live in Arkansas, we encourage you to speak out against this advisory and alert your local politicians to the truth about ecigs. Share the truth on social media and get the word out that these lies are not okay. It’s time to stop giving ecigs a bad rap when they are actually an amazing step forward for our society.
Why do you think Arkansas officials are content to publish these lies? Are they too lazy to do basic research or has tax revenue from tobacco become too important to lose? Sound off in the comments and tell us what you think!