There is perhaps no better proof of the federal government’s collusion with Big Pharma than the government’s crusade against "vaping" — inhaling or exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette. Testimony from experts reveals that vaping is less harmful than smoking and can be an effective tool in helping smokers kick the habit. As such, it poses a competitive threat to pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs with the alleged purpose of achieving the same result. Hence, federal agencies have targeted vaping, even funding studies to distort the facts.
A newly released study from a lab research team at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System is the latest example of the government’s propaganda against vaping. In this study, researchers concluded that, like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes can lead to the development of a cancer known as head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. But how scientifically sound is this study?
According to The Daily Caller, scientists in the study extracted vapor from two popular e-cigarette brands—V2 and VaporF — and used it to “treat human cells in a petri dish.” The results revealed “the exposed cells showed several forms of damage, including DNA strand breaks. The familiar double helix that makes up DNA has two long strands of molecules that intertwine. When one or both of these strands break apart and the cellular repair process doesn’t work right, the stage is set for cancer.”
Dr. Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, one of the lead researchers, concluded, "Based on the evidence to date, I believe they are no better than smoking regular cigarettes."
However, a more careful examination of the press release that accompanied the study revealed a number of significant flaws with the conclusions.
Wang-Rodriguez admitted that “cells in the lab are not completely comparable to cells within a living person.... So it could be that e-cigarette vapor has different effects than those seen in the lab.”
Additionally, she noted that the team “didn’t seek to mimic the actual dose of vapor that an e-cigarette user would get," adding, "In this particular study, it was similar to someone smoking continuously for hours on end, so it’s a higher amount than would normally be delivered."
Furthermore, Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, told the Daily Caller that the study in fact confirms previous findings that damage caused by e-cigarette vapor to epithelial cell lines in culture is significantly lower than that caused by tobacco smoke.
“However, it cannot be concluded from this cell culture that e-cigarette vapor actually has toxic or carcinogenic effects in humans who use these products,” he added.
Siegel asserts that the study’s conclusion that e-cigarettes are no less harmful than traditional cigarettes is “baseless” and actually quite threatening to public health, as it “undermines decades of public education about the severe hazards of cigarette smoking.”
According to Siegel, misleading statements such as these can provoke ex-smokers to switch back to traditional cigarettes if they believe that there is no difference between the two.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, labeled the study’s findings “shameless” and “transparent” in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation that calls into question the agenda behind the research. He stated:
Government-funded researchers have realized that when it comes to vapor products, there is no benefit to honestly presenting their data. Instead, the path to larger government grants appears to be a competition where the best rewards are given to those whose studies generate the most salacious headlines.
The press release for this study was distributed just days before millions of American smokers make New Year’s quit attempts. This is shameless and transparent behavior aimed at discouraging smokers from quitting.
It’s no secret that federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control have targeted e-cigarettes with misleading campaigns in an effort to expand the FDA’s regulation of tobacco to include e-cigarettes.
Some view the government’s opposition to e-cigarettes as an attempt to keep competitive products off the market, citing the pharmaceutical industry's powerful influence in Washington.
The New York Times has reported that GlaxoSmithKline, which sells Nicorette gum, and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures nicotine patches, have helped lead a “strong opposition” against e-cigarettes. What’s more, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, which headed the regulation of e-cigarettes, is led by former lobbyist Mitch Zeller, whose consulting clients included GlaxoSmithKline.
According to the Tobacco Control Journal, these companies’ nicotine replacement therapies, which have been approved by the FDA, have no better success rates than quitting smoking cold turkey.
Unlike the pharmaceutical alternatives, e-cigarettes are believed to be a valuable tool in helping smokers quit the habit. California Polytechnic State University professor of economics Michael Marlow asserts, “E-cigarettes have become the greatest source of ‘creative destruction’ that we’ve seen against the tobacco industry."
For this reason, its easy to see why drug companies would be so adamantly opposed to products that are sure to undercut their profits — a point raised by Marlow. “Unfortunately, maybe it’s also a source of creative destruction for those who make a living out of tobacco control,” he added.
Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical and executive director of the American Council on Science and Health, contends that the “science” behind the anti-vaping campaigns is paid for by Big Pharma.
“Some of the group’s advocating for this anti-science, anti-public health charade ... are influenced by undisclosed but generous financial support from the pharmaceutical industry," he notes, "which is devoted to keeping effective competition to its poorly performing nicotine replacement therapy patches, gums, and drugs off the market.”