After following the e cigarettes industry for years, you start to pick up on some trends. This principle also applies to observing the inexplicable action of the prohibitionist crusaders. At first, it might have seemed like a healthy dose of skepticism from people spending years fighting Big Tobacco and their assorted underhanded tricks. But, after some point, as more evidence and data becomes available, it becomes increasingly difficult to dismiss e-cigarettes and other valid forms of tobacco harm reduction, also known as THR.
The ability to let new discoveries about e cigarettes simply wash over the critics is enabled by what has essentially become a mantra of the anti-tobacco industry. “There’s no science.” It’s the equivalent of a kid covering her ears and shouting “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
At some point the prohibitionists added qualifiers to their claim of ignorance. Things like there’s no long-term studies, no independent studies, nothing handed down by the gods themselves on gold leaf tablets, or whatever.
Maybe the anti e cigarettes ‘zealots‘ will sometimes pick out something from an otherwise legitimate study. Something that makes things sound like they are much more dire than reality holds. Or, for extra credit, some will actually acknowledge the existence of a positive study and find some sort of flaw with it to declare the whole thing a wash.
On the other hand, take any sort of study that has something negative to say about the electronic industry, and it will be taken as gospel by the believers. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the CDC survey of tobacco use among middle and high-schoolers. The announcement put out by the agency (clearly in support of the FDA’s efforts to regulate e-cigarettes) included a passing comment that e cigarettes are a gateway for teens to start smoking real cigarettes.
The CDC later released more information from the same survey including the fact that teen smoking rates were down, and the data pointed to smokers switching to e-cigarettes, not the other way around.
Gateway theories are a popular thing for prohibitionists to tout, yet there are exactly zero scientific studies that prove this conjecture. The same goes for theories that e-liquid flavors that don’t taste like ass are only appealing to kids. No such evidence (yet, there is evidence to the contrary stating that adults depend on flavors to keep vaping.)
Surely, that must mean that the anti-smoking camp dropped the argument, since there is no credible scientific evidence to support the idea.
Of course not.
The gateway and flavor thing is probably the most popular theory among prohibitionists against e cigarettes who have gone through great lengths to inject this argument into the media to make it part of the national conversation.
Clearly, there is a double standard at play here. Not only is it a double standard, but it is institutionalized among the opponents of e-cigarettes. A personal bias double standard would soon be washed out with so many other people discussing the same subjects. These are often people with advanced degrees in science, so bias is something that would quickly be brought to the front. Yet, only the pro-THR camp point out the issues with the “science” quoted by prohibitionists.
Not only is it prevalent. Sometimes it crosses the line from selective listening, to willful deception. Take for example an anti-tobacco professor who quoted a study on quitline success as demonstrating e cigarettes are ineffective. The authors of the study specifically told the professor that the study results were not an accurate measure for e-cigarette success. Yet, the professor continues to cite that study.
Clearly, so blatantly misrepresenting a study for one’s own ends while at the same time claiming that there is not enough science to prove e cigarettes are safe and effective is proof of the existence of a double standard.
With the deck stacked so heavily against e cigarettes, it’s no wonder every little thing has become an uphill battle of heroic proportions.
Steve is the guy behind Steve K’s Vaping World, the e-Cigarette Information Supersite. He often takes on topics like this as well as product reviews and regular e-cigarette industry news commentary. You can also find Steve on Twitter and Facebook.