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New England Journal of Medicine ‘cooks’ vaping statistics

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The use of e-cigs and vaping has become increasingly popular and more widely accepted in recent years, but there will always be those who consider smoking of any kind to be an infringement on the rights of the non-smoking public. And many of these activists groups are beginning to play hardball by spreading damaging misinformation and downright lies about the vaping industry.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) seems to be the latest protagonist in the “War on E-cigs.” On January 22, 2015, the NEJM posted a report on their website with claims that the vapors from e-cigarettes contained excessively high levels of formaldehyde, a chemical that can be deadly if consumed in high amounts. The national media immediately picked up the story, and it has been spreading like wildfire ever since.

Fox News calls the NEJM report ‘bogus’.

However, many in the vaping industry believe that the miinformation contained within the NEJM report was carefully worded to intentionally mislead the American public, legislators, politicians, and most especially, the officials of the Food and Drug Administration.  After all, the FDA is the very same government agency that is actively involved in the nationwide regulation of e-cigs.

In the controversial report, NEJM researchers increased the voltage of the vaping device from the traditional 3.3 volts to over 5 volts. Not surprisingly, with the increased electrical charge came a rise in vaporized formaldehyde by some 10 to 15 percent. When e-cigs are used properly at the 3.3 voltage, the levels of formaldehyde in e-cig vapor are completely non-detectible. Fox News immediately picked up the story, calling the NEJM report completely and utterly “bogus,” and so did several other major news outlets in the country.

Fox News calls NEJM Report 'bogus'.

Courtesy of YouTube/KingZer0110

Many vaping enthusiasts find it rather humorous that such a notoriously conservative news organization like Fox News would be so outspoken about the deliberately misleading and highly inaccurate information contained in the NEJM report. As the Fox commentator stated on-air, this story “collapses faster than Michael Moore in a spin class,” and the panicky media "gobbled it up like a pot brownie" once the contents of the report are actually scrutinized.

Forbes Magazine calls for ‘scientific honesty’.

A San Diego news site has also recently run another controversial article on February 3, 2015 about the NEJM report, and Forbes Magazine is demanding that the Surgeon General “prescribe scientific honesty” when releasing health information about vaping and e-cigs to the American public. Forbes sites a second falsified report recently issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), calling e-cigs a “ community health threat .”

The Forbes article continues to attack the “breathless media coverage” of the misleading NEJM report, demanding that national news organizations stop willfully slanting their news stories in a negative light in order to get ratings. When falsified news stories go viral, the result is a surge of unsubstantiated alarmist reaction that leads to the passing of unnecessary legislation and the spending of massive amounts of tax dollars on needless research by numerous government agencies.

The debate continues.

Everyone agrees that overheating the vaping liquid to 5 volts would cause a noxious level of formaldehyde, but the vapor would be so irritating and distasteful that no vaping device user would ever be able to inhale it anyway. So why would the NEJM post such a sham report and cause such widespread panic?

At first it was Big Tobacco that was leading the fight against the vaping and electronic cigarettes industries, fearful that the increasing sales and availability of e-cigs a  eliquids would put traditional tobacco companies out of business entirely. As early as 2010, companies like Reynolds American and Phillip Morris began using their significant levels of political influence to lobby lawmakers to make e-cigs illegal. They haven’t been entirely successful…yet...but Big Tobacco has actually made some significant headway.

A recent story published on February 4, 2015 by Mix96 Radio of Buffalo, New York, is lambasting a new law that was just passed this week, making the use of e-cigs in public illegal. And now, states from California to Connecticut are officially declaring electronic cigarettes to be a national health threat.

California enters the debate.

Another recent article posted by ABC News reports that the California Department of Public Health believes that vaping leads to nicotine addiction and to an increased risk of cancer. The agency stops short of calling for a statewide ban, instead demanding for “more research” to be conducted before this decision is eventually made. This is yet another example of wasteful spending, all of which is only fueled by such intentionally deceptive publications like the NEJM report from last January.

So why is the CDPH so up-in-arms over e-cigs? Any rational human being knows that vaping is significantly healthier than smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. We would think that the CDPH would jump at the chance to endorse e-cigs as a way to rid the American public of nicotine addiction once and for all. This is a battle that has been fought by the FDA, the CDPH, and every other governmental health organization for over thirty years now. So why are they so committed to attacking the vaping industry?

Fear.

The CDPH and many other state and national health agencies are afraid that the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes will lead to a nationwide resurgence in popularity of traditional tobacco products.

Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration is proposing pending legislation that would require warning labels on all vaping products.  At the same time, many state officials across the country are demanding that more severe restrictions be placed on the sale and marketing of electronic cigarettes as well. And over 30 different states currently have legislation in front of their state senators and congressional leaders to ban the use of e-cigs in public, just like the law most recently passed in Buffalo, New York.

Many state health agencies are even threatening to begin rolling out television commercials that warn against the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. With no concrete proof yet to be discovered that e-cigs are harmful to our health, we might expect to see a flood of TV commercials filled with the same sorts of misleading information that is very similar to that contained in the recently published NEJM report.

CBS This Morning guilty of spreading NEJM misinformation.

Courtesy of YouTube/CBS This Morning

Cardiologists lash out against NEJM and misinformation.

As the public-at-large becomes more and more concerned with the long-term negative effects of traditional tobacco cigarettes, many are shifting to e-cigs as an alternative. The inhaled vapor is far less harmful, and users of vaping devices tend to feel more energized and motivated to quit smoking altogether almost instantly upon making the switch. And two world-class cardiologists are now making headlines by condemning health agencies like the NEJM for posting misguided information.

Drs. Riccardo Polosa and Konstantinos Farsalinos were particular offended by a particularly scathing report posted by the BMA Occupational Medicine Committee in mid-2014. But when the NEJM report was issued last week, the cardiologists became even more critical of the sea of misinformation being forced on the American public. Both doctors are alarmed at the ever increasing amounts of falsified data and statistics which drastically inflate the potential negative health consequences of using vaping devices.

Should e-cigs be ‘isolated and quarantined?’

Even in cases where the FDA approves the sales and marketing of new drugs and medications to the public-at-large, there is never any guarantee that future health concerns will never be discovered somewhere down the line. When reports like the one recently issued by the BMA Committee come to light, making such disturbing statements that all e-cigs should be “isolated and quarantined” until more definitive research can be conducted, Farsalinos and Polosa come to the defense of vaping enthusiasts.

“Even for (prescription) medications, no regulatory agency is asking for long-term safety data before being approved for use.” If this same method of isolation and testing were to be implemented on all forms of medications, the advancement of modern medicine would become essentially paralyzed.

And much like the falsified NEJM report, the BMA document also contains certain statistics that were completely untrue. According to the BMA report, 40 to 60 mg of nicotine is considered lethal, but more recent medical research indicates that the number is actually closer to 500 or 1000 mgs instead. And even if the lower numbers happened to be true, the levels of nicotine found in e-cigs is miniscule in comparison.

Polosa and Farsalinos also like to point out that manufacturers of electronic cigarettes tend to market their products as a “stop smoking aid” rather than a long-term lifestyle choice like Big Tobacco companies. It is their belief that all of this government hand-wringing is simply an enormous amount of wasted time, energy and money. 

by Matt Rowland

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