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Fear & Loathing in Sacramento

The California State Health Officer, Ron Chapman, has issued a report declaring e-cigarettes to be a health hazard, and announcing plans to spend taxpayers' money on a huge advertising campaign against them.

The reason given for concluding that e-cigs are toxic is that teenagers use them, a non-sequitur. Much of the report's verbiage is devoted to a horror-stricken account of the rising popularity of the product among youth. While this is a matter of concern, since the report is correct that nicotine can slow adolescent brain development, it is a matter that can be dealt with by effectively banning sale to persons under 18, which California has done, but the Food and Drug Administration has not, for mysterious reason. But it is not linked, logically or factually, with the issue of whether or not e-vapor is toxic. Sequential logic is not a strong point of the report.

Regarding toxicity, the report lists 10 toxic substances that can be present in e-vapor in trace amounts, comparable to trace amounts in a variety of household products, but neglects to mention that they are traces. Once again the result is faulty logic.

The report states flatly that e-cigarettes have been proven to predispose youth toward later addiction to cigarettes, a hypothesis that has no basis in fact. This is an outright falsehood. In fact everything points to the probability that youths prefer vaping to smoking. The report states with horror that young people are vaping more than they are smoking, but concludes from this that vaping will make them smoke in the future. Hello?

Great attention is devoted to the issue of candy-like flavors. Readers of this website are familiar with that song-and-dance. Nothing new here. The report also drags out the familiar litany of accusations that effective advertising of e-cigarettes shows that they are evil. The reasoning goes like this: cigarettes are evil. Agreed. Cigarettes were advertised effectively with cute cartoons, celebrity endorsements, and the like. E-cigarettes are being effectively advertised in similar ways. Therefore e-cigarettes are evil. Doesn't the University of California offer courses in basic logic?

The report flatly states that the nicotine in e-cigarettes is as addictive as the nicotine in tobacco cigarettes, another outright falsehood. As scientists at the Schroeder Institute have demonstrated, nicotine from e-cigarettes is deposed to the brain in a different way than is the nicotine from burning tobacco, and is less addictive as a result.

It is flatly stated that e-cigarettes do not help with smoking-cessation as effectively as other methods, also completely false. Chapman has been reading some of the distorted number crunching coming out of UCSF.  

Oh yes, and  babies. The report does not fail to mention that if parents of toddlers buy e-liquids in non-childproof containers, and leave them lying around the house open, the little tykes might drink the  stuff. This is for some reason said to prove that vaping is evil, rather than that the  FDA has failed in its mission to mandate childproofing.

Back to Logic 101 for Officer Chapman. The University of California might even have an online course so he won't have to drive 2 hours to UCSF. He should stay away from there. 

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