CDC Must Come Clean Over Anti-Vaping Scandal

Posted by Robert Taney on

CDC Failed to Follow Science or Protect Public

The ultimate abrogation of the scientific method is to ignore all evidence and to stand by a failed hypothesis for the sake of political expediency. It is equally inexcusable to hide or downplay errors once they are discovered and to make no effort to correct the record. When lives are at stake, the citizenry deserves accurate answers as quickly as possible to protect them from injury, illness, and death.

 

Mysterious Lung Disease

The CDC’s errant response to an outbreak of lung disease in 2019 was completely avoidable. The cause of the egregiously misnamed EVALI (E-Cigarette or Vaping use-Associated Lung Injury) was traced to vitamin E acetate in black market THC cartridges by Labor Day 2019. Leafly Magazine warned about vitamin E acetate in THC cartridges that spring. 

The New York Department of Health, no ally of vapers or vaping, announced that cutting agents in THC carts were responsible on September 5, 2019. This did not stop the state from imposing the most restrictive ban on nicotine vapes in the US that fall.

NPR stated that the sharp spike in lung disease hospitalizations pointed to a single culprit and commercially available nicotine products were not associated with any of the incidents. The CDC dubbed the disease EVALI but failed to weigh in. This led to countless headlines blaming "e-cigarettes" for the mysterious lung disease which impacted about 2,000 people. Not one case was tied to nicotine vaping or commercially available e-juices. 

 

CDC’s EVALI Findings

On December 20, 2019, the Friday before Christmas, the CDC finally released their study into EVALI. Released hours before the holiday weekend, their conclusions were largely missed and ignored by media wags who had opined at length about the dangers of vaping for three straight months.

For anyone who was paying attention, there was no denying the results. The CDC failed to find one drop of vitamin E acetate in any of the nicotine vapes they tested.

There are several reasons for this. The first is that the vaping industry is strictly regulated. Secondly, vitamin E acetate is incompatible with the propylene glycol-vegetable glycerin blends used in vape products. 

“Pure THC oil has a viscosity like that of vitamin E acetate. Cutting THC oil with vitamin E acetate has been reported to be common in the illicit market.9-11 The FDA reports that most case-associated THC product fluids contain vitamin E acetate, at an average concentration of 50% by weight, ranging from 23 to 88%.8 By contrast, the FDA detected no vitamin E acetate in 197 case-associated nicotine products analyzed to date. The viscosity of vitamin E acetate makes it undesirable as an additive to nicotine solutions; the propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin in nicotine solutions create a fluid with a much lower viscosity than that of vitamin E acetate.

Centers for Disease Control, " Vitamin E Acetate in Bronchoalveolar-Lavage Fluid Associated with EVALI", 12/20/2019

 

CDC Errors Cost Adult Vapers

Despite the incontrovertible evidence that was widely known in September, a mainstream media narrative that commercially available nicotine vaping products might be playing a role in “vaping lung disease” persisted for months and dominated the fall news cycle.

The fallout from the CDC’s errors and failures of communication provided an opening for anti-vaping lobbyists and politicians to implement long sought vape bans and flavor bans.  Many of these bans passed as emergency orders due to this manufactured threat. While EVALI was real, nicotine vapes had nothing to do with it.

Informed vapers were aware of this bad reporting but certainly there were many who lacked this crucial information were funneled back onto combustible cigarettes.

 

Conflicts of Interest

Interestingly, Michigan was very slow on the draw when it came to warning their citizens that contaminated cannabis products were responsible or that commercially available nicotine products played ZERO role in the outbreak. Michigan, like many other states, was quick to enact a flavor ban and restrictions on nicotine vaping products.

It was not until mid-November that any warning about THC additives in cannabis products appeared on that state’s CDC website. This only occurred after the Metro News of Detroit pointed out that this failure could potentially cost Michigan citizens their lives, as they were being told to avoid products that were not responsible for EVALI and not being informed about the types of products that were more likely to be contaminated.

The flavor ban in Michigan was blocked by a judge but the emergency order to ban nicotine vape flavors was never rescinded.

 

Hemp Industry Money and Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer campaigned for cannabis legalization and accepted donations from lobbyists from the powerful industrial hemp and cannabis industries.

Was she repaying a favor when Michigan completely failed to provide clear guidance to its citizens regarding the outbreak of vaping lung illnesses? There is no question that it took an unacceptably long period of time for THC cartridges to be called into question by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Every effort should have been dedicated to warning THC cart users, rather than an effort to score cheap points against the embattled vaping industry.

 

Pharmaceutical Conflicts of Interest 

The first choice of anti-vapers is total nicotine abstinence. At Kure Vapes, we would also like our customers to pursue a vape and nicotine free lifestyle. We provide multiple nicotine strengths and find that over time our customers reduce their nicotine intake.

Anti-vapers want no part in this. They tout the nicotine replacement therapies sold by Big Pharma or outright abstinence. A New England Journal of Medicine Study found vaping to be over twice and effective for smoking cessation. 

In the Philippines, a scandal tying Bloomberg’s money to anti-vaping laws has resulted in a liberalization of policies and that country’s FDA losing the right to regulate vaping.

The usual laundry list of Bloomberg sponsored initiatives, including a ban on the flavors that adult vapers prefer, will be lifted when the law passes. 

Filipino politicians found it suspicious that Bloomberg and Gates had heavily invested in the companies that manufacturer nicotine replacement therapies and while investing millions to stamp out vaping never promoted a corresponding ban on combustible cigarettes.

 

Pharmaceutical Investments 

The authors of an expose on Bloomberg’s anti-vaping practices were quoted in the Manilla Bulletin. They discovered a link between Bloomberg’s philanthropies, the millions he donated to local organizations to fight for his agenda and financial links to the pharmaceutical industry.

“The billionaires are tied to the charities, the charities are tied to the pharmaceuticals, and the pharmaceuticals are tied to the billionaires. Most alarmingly, they don’t reveal these ties as money changes hands and their talking points are unwittingly parroted out of the mouths of government officials”

“The corruption and conflicts of interest are blatant. For example, big pharma is using their charitable organizations to attack vaping while marketing their own smoking cessation products,” said Clarisse Yvette P. Virgino, the Philippine CAPHRA representative.

On January 20, 2022, The Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act (SB2239) passed the Philippine Senate by a 19-2 vote.  It has already passed the House. Strongman Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the bill, as it is protected by veto proof majorities.

The public are government are scandalized that a single billionaire hijacked their country’s nicotine policy. It is hard to believe that on this side of the Pacific there are not similar concerns about the motivated and monied interests dictating government policies.  

 

Continued Fallout and Misinformation

The CDC’s utter refusal concede serious errors were made when dealing with an outbreak of lung disease in 2019 calls into question their ability to protect public health when the science conflicts with the agenda of influential politicians and lobbyists.  

The CDC established in December 2019 what was known in September, nicotine vapes had nothing to do with EVALI. Yet this myth is persistent and continues to be parroted by those opposed to adult access to vaping.

John Hopkins University still warms that “there has been an outbreak of lung injuries and deaths associated with vaping.” Yale Medicine is intentionally obtuse, claiming that the primary risk for EVALI is the use of a vaping device. Harvard’s health blog even has a colorful infographic, fabricated out of whole cloth, supposedly showing vaping money and conflicts of interest are responsible for EVALI. You must read closely to find the link to vitamin E and THC.

Apart from EVALI, the debunked vaping heart attack study and other examples of fraudulent science have done considerable damage. The vaping heart attack study attributed heart attacks suffered by participants before they had ever vaped. They also failed to factor in the increased heart attack rate caused by smoking. Critics of the study have said such rudimentary errors must have been intentional in order to provide the desired result. 

The result of this misinformation has been viewed with alarm in the UK. They hope that their efforts to offer prescription vapes and continued research into vaping safety can prevent the vaping rates from plateauing.  The UK's National Health Service hosts the Using E-Cigarettes to Quit Smoking, web domain.

Cigarette sales were up for the first time in 20 years in 2021 in the United States. A combination of restrictions on the flavors that adults prefer, inaccurate reporting of EVALI, debunked studies still cited as gospel, and a propaganda campaign by well-financed lobbyists has surely played a role. 

A 2020 survey by the National Cancer Institute outlines just how effective this propaganda has been. Keep in mind that the foremost and most heavily funded experts on vaping science, the government of the United Kingdom, estimates that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.

  

The UK is starting a program that will result in prescription vapes. The logic is obvious and humane. Most smokers are in marginalized groups with less access to resources.

Underwriting the transition from combustible cigarettes to vaping will save the country money for long-term care. If their bean counters didn’t think vaping worked, they would not do it. The NHS has been quick to dismiss health modalities they have found ineffectual in the past. 


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