Anti-Vaping and Anti-Vaccinators: Spreading Fear at the Cost of Public Health
While using electronic cigarettes isn’t the same as being vaccinated against a serious disease, there are some comparisons that can be made between anti-vapers and anti-vaxxers. For both vaping and vaccines, there has been a widespread misinformation campaign against the American public. Although long ago debunked and retracted, the anti-vaccine propaganda has led to a disease resurgence of the measles, after it had been eliminated from the United States. If the fear campaign against electronic cigarettes is successful, the costs will be much higher. About a billion lives in the next century higher.
What Do the Measles Have to Do With Vaping?
The first measles vaccine was developed and released in 1963. Before that, measles ran rampant through the nation, especially in the young population. Did most people with the measles die? No, but most felt extremely sick for at least a week, and up to 30% suffered some complication from the disease. Of course, the most vulnerable (the young, old, and pregnant), faced the highest risk and sometimes died as a result. Luckily, the vaccine was a success, and measles was declared eradicated by the CDC in the United States in the in the year 2000.
Unfortunately, in 1998 a study, led by the British fraudster Andrew Wakefield, was released by a number of authors declaring a link between the measles vaccine and autism. It was widely disseminated, parents began to worry about and resist vaccinating their children, and the anti-vaccination movement begins. By 2010, this study has been debunked and retracted by every reputable source, and Wakefield had his medical license stripped, but the damage was done.
The connection has been made and set in our minds, and fools with microphones like Jenny McCarthy continue to spread this damaging propaganda. This is why the measles is back. Yep, no longer eliminated in the United States. 2014 saw almost 700 cases of measles in the United States, and an outbreak in Disneyland alone in early 2015 caused over 100 cases. The lesson from this is that you cannot un-ring the bell, once you spread misinformation and lies that scare the public. With the anti-vax propaganda, it has led to a resurgence of measles. The stakes are much, much higher when it comes to the misinformation campaign that surrounds electronic cigarettes.
“But Vaping is Dangerous!”
I see why you think this, given that 90% of the news articles related to vaping are sensational: headlines warning you that children are picking up e-cigs in droves, vaping is a gateway to drug use, e-juice is the same as anti-freeze, that you will get POPCORN LUNG if you vape. These are dire warnings indeed. And they are being given by people that we trust to give us sound medical advice. This is hard to explain, but for reasons not completely clear, the public health community, democrat lawmakers, and big tobacco are all likeminded in the demonization of e-cigarettes as a means of smoking cessation.
Meanwhile, in the UK, E-Cigs are Available by Prescription
Yes, you read that right. While we here in the United States rush around making knee-jerk laws raising the vaping age to 21 (while still sending 18 year olds off to fight our wars), the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has awarded a license to an electronic cigarette device called e-Voke. This means that the e-Voke electronic cigarette, produced by British American Tobacco (yes, that totally sucks that the first e-cigarette accepted as a medical device is made by big tobacco), can be prescribed by doctor’s to patients that need help quitting smoking. What a fantastic, smart idea. Seems sort of like a no-brainer, given the research proving that vaping is about 95% safer than smoking, but in the United States, the dialogue could not be further from this reality.
Speaking of No-Brainers, Back to the United States
Instead of focusing on what we do know, the media and lawmakers like to focus on what we don’t know. If I hear one more time how little we really know about e-cigs, I am going to scream. First of all, we know way more than we knew, say, five years ago, and we know the most critical piece of information we need – that vaping is about 95% safer than smoking. We also know that Americans are quitting smoking in record numbers, and teen smoking has dropped by percentages never before seen.
While it seems obvious that prescribing a much safer product to help people quit smoking, the vice responsible for almost a half a million deaths annually in the US alone (one out of every five deaths), the Food and Drug Administration here in the US is about to pass stringent regulations on e-cigarettes which may result in eradicating more than 90% of the current vaping industry. This is for a product that is scientifically proven to be significantly less dangerous than the #1 killer of Americans: smoking. The official government and public health position on vaping is going to be known historically as the Jenny McCarthy position. Wise up, let smokers use any and all available safer measures at their disposal to quit smoking, and lets all work together to start the business of saving a billion lives!
Julie Selesnick is the president of The Happy Vapor Company, , and a contributing columnist for Spinfuel eMagazine. You can expect to see much more from Julie in Spinfuel eMagazine