Tuesday, July 28, 2009

E-cigs and the FDA's lies of omission

Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to manipulate public perceptions thereby eliciting a response which will achieve the desired intent of the propagandist. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission), in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.

Nothing better illustrates this propaganda technique than the July 22, 2009 press release by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration), designed to demonize the electronic cigarette.

The press release stated that electronic cigarettes contained toxic and cancer causing chemicals. On the surface, it's an honest claim. But the big lie is not in the claim itself; it's in the omission of certain facts which would have served to put the FDA claims into proper perspective.

In fact, the level of deceit and deception in the press release issued by the FDA is appalling; public health scaremongering at its most devious.

Bill Godshall, an anti-smoking activist and director of Smoke Free Pennsylvania, had this to say in a comment on Dr. Michael Siegel's blog: “Wednesday's scare mongering press conference by the FDA and CDC (Centre for Disease Control) was the single most egregious conspiratorial action ever taken by a federal health agency to intentionally mislead the public about scientific evidence and to prolong the leading cause of disease, disability and death.”

Godshall, a proponent of less hazardous tobacco products, fears that the banning of the e-cig will force smokers who have managed to reduce or eliminate cigarette consumption with the e-cig, to return to conventional tobacco products. And, there can be little doubt that the press release was deliberately designed to mislead the public as Godshall claims.

The FDA message, stated clearly and unequivocally in their press release: “These tests indicate that these products (electronic cigarettes) contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed."

But, according to Dr. Michael Siegel, an anti-smoking activist, and Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, “it would be nearly impossible not to have detected these carcinogens in the cartridges because the nicotine is derived from tobacco and there are residual traces of carcinogens even in nicotine replacement products.” (Emphasis his)

The FDA failed to mention, thus lying by omission, that nicotine replacement products (NicoDerm, Nicorettes, the inhaler, etc.) were also found to have detectable levels of the same tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA). A fact that has been known for many years. Why attack the e-cig because of the presence of trace amounts of TSNAs while ignoring their presence in NRT products?

Nor did the agency report the actual levels of TSNAs, ignoring one of the most basic tenets of medicine: the poison is in the dose. Reporting only whether TSNAs were detected or not provides little of value. The important question is whether the carcinogens are present in sufficient quantities to represent a health hazard. And, according to many experts they aren't.

In addition, the content and tone of the press release suggested that the e-cig is being deliberately marketed to minors because the flavoured nicotine cartridges appeal to children. “These products are marketed and sold to young people and are readily available online and in shopping malls” And this:. “They are also available in different flavors, such as chocolate and mint, which may appeal to young people.”

But, there are other, more appropriate methods of dealing with the possibility of minors acquiring and using the e-cig. There are ways to control use by minors while allowing the adult population to continue their use of a product that has potentially enormous health benefits for those unwilling (or unable) to quit smoking.

And, they fail to mention that the FDA recently approved cinnamon and cherry-flavored nicotine lozenges. Nicorettes have come in different flavours for some time. And, they are just as accessible by young people. Just last week, a British lad was hospitalized after overdosing on nicotine gum distributed in his school.

Hypocrisy just oozes from the FDA press release. The double standard is blatant and impossible to ignore. And, the science leaves a lot to be desired. The press, as usual, pays little attention to opposing voices within the public health community, parroting the allegations of the FDA with little or no attempt to provide balance.

And, there is one more troubling, more ominous aspect to the FDA attempt to demonize the e-cig. But, I'll talk more about that in my next post.

Additional reading:
Prominent Public Health Physicians and Tobacco Researchers Expose Double Standard in the FDA's Recent Study of Electronic Cigarettes and Challenge the FDA's Alarmist Attitude Toward the Devices


Michael J. McFadden said...

The FDA also failed to mention how their nicogummy products are being distributed, not just to "young people," but to actual children just 12 years old at schools. Just last week a 14 year old came close to dying after stuffing the gum equivalent of 180 cigarettes into his mouth during his lunch period.

Rambler, you also note that the FDA didn't mention a word about the *amounts* of "toxic chemicals" that they found in the e-cigs. Of course they didn't: they would have been forced to admit that the amounts were probably on the order of one-hundredth to one-thousandth of what they're selling in regular FDA-Approved tobacco cigarettes!

If there's any real justice left in the world, eventually we'll see huge class-action suits brought by smokers, not against the tobacco companies, but against the FDA and the various antismoking groups for all of what they've done.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

electronic cigarette said...

What makes tobacco cigarettes and better than an electronic cig?Over 4000 different toxins, poisons & carcinogens thats found in a burning tobacco that kills over 400,000 people just in the US, Not counting worldwide. Compared to an electronic cig which is mainly made of 96-99 % H20 (water) % 1-3 % nicotine, which is NOT harmful since your only vaporing and not smoking. My research shows that NO deaths have been reported withing this 5 years of the making of any Electronic Cigs! But we know & understand that the tobacco & pharmaceutical companies are over a 100 billion dollar industry a year & the FDA is being fairly treated from this industries by not allowing for any competitions being able to compete with well established billion dollar companies,so for this reason this Industries feed the FDA so it will do everything within it's powers to stop & regulate such premature markets before it expands... I have been a tobacco smoker myself for a long time & when I was first introduced to an electronic cig, I thought this device is either going to overcome my habit of tobacco smoking or it's gonna stop me for good. Well I'm here to say that it has done it's job pretty impressively by making me quit smoking for good! Now I choose Vaping with an electronic cig, instead inhaling poison, toxic and & carcinogens into my lungs. So please think twice before you ignite another tobacco cigarette, instead choose a better alternative for you & for others! I choose an Electronic Cig.

electronic cigarette said...

Politics should never interfear with human health rights!!! electronic cigarette vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking compared to a traditional tobacco cigarette dmoking which is responsible for over 500,000 deaths annually in the US !!!