Health Departments Working Against Taxpayers
The Food and Drug Administration is getting some help from unelected officials in its apparent fight to decimate the vape industry.
The Heartland Institute is reporting that several county health departments across the country have entered the war on vaping by knowingly distributing information that paints the vape industry as a horror that will addict an entire generation of young people. Grant money is being used spread misinformation and unverified claims for ad campaigns targeting those who would need vaping the most, a tactic that negatively impacts smokers as well as the public interest.
The “Get Healthy Clark County” campaign, which was designed and organized by the Nevada Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, is one such department working against the interests of its taxpayers. The campaign claims to “advocate for policies that support healthy lifestyles” while simultaneously encouraging the public to avoid vaping altogether.
In fact, this county goes one step further and has released a radio commercial that, among other things, tells listeners that: “tobacco companies have gotten around a ban on selling candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes by marketing flavored cigars, hookah, e-cigs, or vapers to us instead.” Because the speaker sounds like a young adult, it can be surmised that the ad was meant to target young adults, although the novelty of vaping has already seemed to be wearing off for this demographic.
Over in Kentucky, the Coalition for a Healthy Oldham County is supporting their own campaign against vaping, this time using claims that border on lunacy.
The coalition has been using the claim that stipulates that vape “use is not proven safe (and) is not an effective way to quit smoking,” which has been disputed by several countries and health agencies that do support using vape products as a smoking cessation method. To accompany the claims, a print ad campaign has been devised that is aimed at rejecting the mountain of evidence that vaping can help people quit smoking.
More concerning is the fact that the coalition is actively spread the claim that vaping products “are also used to smoke marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.”
While it is true that vape devices can and do support marijuana use in states where it is legal, vape devices do not lead to drug use, which is what the coalition seems to be suggesting. Those who wish to ingest drugs will do so by any means possible, which has been the case in America for centuries. Trying a vaping device does not lead to drug use, and to make the correlation between the two shows a dangerous trend of misinformation in order to quell public interest in a product that could make lives better.
Finally, North Carolina has joined with these states in its own attack against vaping, this time headed by the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services.
This county recently received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health initiative that was delivered in order to address vaping use by residents. The grant money was then used to buy a billboard ad that features a teenager vaping along with the statement: “It’s the next generation cigarette…for the next generation of addicts.”
All of these initiatives have been designed and implemented by unelected officials who cannot be held accountable by the people in the counties they serve. Without the need to explain or be responsible for their actions, these officials are actively working to demonize vape products, which have already been proven to be successful at curbing smoking as well as shown to be less dangerous than traditional tobacco products.
Research has proven, time and again, that vaping products are safer than tobacco products, culminating with the 2015 conclusion by Public Health England, a leading health body in the United Kingdom, that stated that vaping is “95 percent safer than cigarettes.” This conclusion was quickly followed by encouragement by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, also located in the UK, that vaping is in the “interest of public health” and that employers and the government in that country should do more to promote the usage of the devices to curb smoking among its citizens.
But that doesn’t seem to be a factor for these health departments, who are continuously distributing the claim that teens and young adults are increasing their use of vaping, which people have claimed to be a “gateway” to smoking traditional cigarettes. These counties claim that if vaping is mainstreamed in America, young people will become addicted to nicotine and they will experience the same devastating side effects that people who smoke traditional cigarettes experience.
These two assertions are wrong.
First, evidence has shown that teens and young adults do not vape as much as they have in recent years and that smoking rates for traditional tobacco products is also decreasing. Those that have reported vaping are increasing numbers not regular users or have vaped an e-liquid that does not contain nicotine; this detail is often left out of local and federal studies to increase the fear in adults that their children are vaping nicotine on a regular basis.
The interesting thing to note is that there are studies that show that states that have a ban on youth access to vape products actually saw an increase in traditional smoking rates in the pre-teen and teen demographics.
Second, the idea that health departments are forcing their opinions, which are based on biased reporting or simply made up, on the residents in their county shows a disturbing trend to control public perception on health products and services that have the potential to be beneficial. By utilizing misinformation campaign and designing studies and conclusions to showcase their opinion, many anti-vaping advocates and health department officials are doing the citizens of this country a disservice while also making it harder for their residents to trust that they are getting accurate and reliable information.
In a twist that throws a wrench into some states’ assertion that vaping costs the taxpayers money, the industry could actually save states money. J. Scott Moody, the chief executive officer and chief economist at State Budget Solutions, has released a statement that states that if vape products were to replace traditional tobacco products, states could have saved at least $48 billion in Medicaid expenses in 2012.
While legislation has been introduced in Congress to revise the FDA’s “deeming” rule on vape products, it is apparent that the health departments that are headed by unelected officials have their own agenda that is not consistent with the overall goal of protecting public health. So now what remains is a question:
Why are taxpayer dollars being used to fund misinformation campaigns that aim to destroy the country’s best hope of eradicating tobacco usage from the future?