Last September the FDA launched “The Real Cost” Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign, a new effort aimed at deterring adolescents from taking up vaping.
“We are acting on very clear science that there’s an epidemic on the way,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. “We’re in possession of data that shows a disturbingly sharp rise in the number of teens using e-cigarettes in just the last year.”
“We’ve had to start taking some actions before the final results of this data can be made public. We will make these results public very soon. But we have an obligation to act on what we know. And what we know is very disturbing,” he added.
Factors to take into account
In his blog, anti-smoking activist and researcher Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos pointed out that according to the Chicago Tribune, the unpublished data that the FDA is referring to, shows a 75% increase in e-cigarette use among high students when compared to 2017.”
However, he added, the risk of dependence on nicotine and the risks associated with e-cigarette use cannot and shouldn’t be compared to the risks from smoking. Farsalinos points out that the duty of public health officials is to weigh the benefits and adverse effects of any intervention and check where the balance lies. Farsalinos adds that in the case of e-cigarettes, the benefits outweigh the adverse effects, and this needs to be taken into account.
Additionally adds the public health expert, it is important that FDA officials take into account ever use, and differentiate between this and regular use, and when it comes to regular use vaping for smoking cessation should be taken into account.
“It is extremely important to see detailed data on the “epidemic” declared by the FDA. I emphasize that published data SHOULD include frequency of use and smoking status of e-cigarette users – and of course the prevalence of tobacco cigarette use).” said the researcher.
The declining smoking rates should be mentioned when presenting the data
“Even if e-cigarettes are causally linked to subsequent smoking (which has not been proven to be the case, the common liability phenomenon is a much more plausible explanation), the contribution of e-cigarettes to smoking prevalence is minimal. We should not forget that all these years that e-cigarette use (mainly experimentation) was increasing among youth, the smoking prevalence has substantially declined. This is why I mentioned above that the smoking rates should be mentioned when the data are presented.”
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