Friday 22 November 2013

Taxi for the 'gateway effect'

In September, prohibitionist bampots like Stan Glantz gleefully latched onto a Centers for Disease Control report which showed rising e-cigarette use amongst minors, albeit at a very low prevalence. Spurred on by the CDC's director, Tom Frieden, they resurrected the hoary old gateway hypothesis.

“Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes,” CDC Director Tom Frieden worried. In a Medscape interview a few weeks later, Frieden suggested that fear had already materialized, asserting that “many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes.” 

However, as Jacob Sullum reports, this is not a theory that stands up against the facts.

Yet the CDC’s data, which came from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), did not support that claim. In fact, nine out of 10 high school students who reported vaping in the previous month were already cigarette smokers, suggesting that the increase in e-cigarette consumption might signal successful harm reduction. 

New evidence has fired another bullet into the gateway theory's zombified corpse..

Last week the CDC reported additional NYTS data that further undermine Frieden’s claim, showing that smoking among teenagers fell as vaping rose.

Between 2011 and 2012, when the share of middle school students who reported using e-cigarette in the previous month rose from 0.6 percent to 1.1 percent, the share reporting past-month consumption of conventional cigarettes fell from 4.3 percent to 3.5 percent. Among high school students, past-month e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent, while past-month consumption of tobacco cigarettes fell from 15.8 percent to 14 percent. Although these trends do not necessarily mean e-cigarettes are responsible for the decline in smoking, the numbers hardly seem consistent with the story Frieden is eager to tell: that the availability of e-cigarettes is leading to more smoking than would otherwise occur.

Don't expect Glantz or his chums to bother mentioning any of this inconvenient information as they continue their jihad against vapers.


Unknown said...

Well spotted, Chris. This needs wide distribution - it's simply scandalous that the CDC are pushing this faulty interpretation of their data. And they are past the date of guilty knowledge on this, having had the facts forcefully pointed out to them (Tim McAfee) by Dr. Michael Siegel at the TMA conference on electronic cigarettes earlier this month. Since then, the CDC appears to have redoubled its press campaign to push out the same faulty interpretation. So, rather than retracting, they've actually decided to increase distributing these, well, lies. It's starting to seem like a lobbying campaign by a publicly funded organisation that has no business doing such work. For more background, please do read Dr. Siegel's blog on this:

Unknown said...

the TC's newest blathering blah about nicotine use by youths and touting an unscientifically proven hyposthesis that nicotine is damaging to adolescent brain development. Where are their studies??? They don't have any!

Golfkahn said...

Chris, your public humiliations of Glantz and his "Anti" pals is amusing as heck. Please do keep up the great work!

Norbert Zillatron said...

There is another simple fact that all those "Gateway!"-yellers are totally missing. No need for scientific proof. Just ask us vapers, why we are fighting so hard:

Nobody with working tastebuds wants to return to smoking!

Once a vaper has discovered the still available great diversity in devices and flavors and found some he really likes, why would he ever want to return to the vastly inferior taste of burning stuff?

Ok, there are some dual users / vaping quitters that are still strongly hooked on some of the other addictive stuff in the smoke, that they can't get from vaping, since nicotine is the only such substance in the liquids. But for most the superior experience of vaping is enough to compensate for this lack. It also explains the abysmal "success" rates of NRTs - nobody enjoys them. This is from my personal experience and the reports of hundreds of vapers in forums I read.

I also noticed - and many other vapers confirm this - that after almost two years of vaping the "craving" is greatly reduced. Where once I was ready to climb the walls when I couldn't smoke for a while, I now feel only mildy uncomfortable when I'm denied vaping for some time.

This is something, where I find serious scientific studies missing.

That was about us current vapers who usually have a history of decades of smoking before discovering this wonderful alternative. Now about the hypothetical neversmoker getting hooked on ecigs.

First of all, there are several studies that indicate that the potential to induce an addiction is rather low with pure nicotine. There are other ingrediences in tobacco smoke that need to be present for it to develope. One study indentifies MAO inhibitors, another acetaldehyde.

Now, what in the world could be reason enough for one of those rather improbable youths hooked on vaping to go for the comparatively vile taste of burning plants?

I can think of only one: Availability!

If the ecigs get crippled by regulation to taste- and useless NRTs, then the only way to satisfy a longing for nicotine with at least some kind of taste would be tobacco again. With all its proven to be harmful ingrediences.

When someone has accuired a taste for high quality coffee/tea/single malt, why should he switch to some bland to vile supermarkt stuff? Especially if that is even more expensive?

Fanatic Prohibitionists: Think about it!
(If you can.)