Vaping, or e-cigarette use, is an electronic method of inhaling flavors. Most people, myself included, do not consider burning leaves to be be flavorful, but that is outside the scope of this article.

Recently, there has been data regarding vaping, which has been widely distributed. The conclusions could be used as a case study in how to identify an abuse of statistics. You may have heard that teen use of vaping is “at a record high,” and that the long-term effects of vaping are “uncertain” and many are “deeply concerned.” There is “some evidence” which “may” point to “harm.” “Data suggests” vaping “may” encourage switching to smoking. Wording like this has the signs of trying to mislead, while still being technically correct.

I smell the incineration of the truth.

Yes, teen vaping has increased. The rate of gain is shocking because the numbers were low to start with. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. has gone from 5% of students who vaped in 2013, to 16% in 2015 — a more than 300% increase. Yet these statistics leave a lot of meaningful information hidden in the back of the filing cabinet, and some powerful interests would like to keep it that way.

According to the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), conventional cigarette use among teens has dropped 53% between 2009 and 2017. The smoking rate over-all is at 14%, the lowest since the CDC began keeping such records in 1965. So if vaping is causing people to pick up smoking, it sure has a funny way of going about it, which is to say, it isn’t, at least in any meaningful way in comparison to the number of people who are quitting smoking.

The CDC reports that less than 6% of respondents did not smoke before starting to vape. In fact, they found that 67% of vapers smoked cigarettes for greater than 10 years prior to vaping.

A survey of more than 4,000 vape users conducted by VapeWild shows that nine out of 10 vapers have tried to quit smoking more than once.

No one should think that it is wise to breathe in the chemicals used in vape equipment. Propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and chemical flavorings are not as good for your lungs as plain air. But what if the alternative is tobacco smoke? A study performed by the Royal College of Physicians in London concluded, “the hazard to health arising from long-term vapor inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.”

A study by the CDC concluded, “e-cigarettes are twice as effective at getting smokers to quit as government-approved smoking cessation products like the nicotine patch.” When Queen Mary University of London conducted a similar study, they reached the same conclusion.

The Pennsylvania Senate passed SB-396, and the House passed HB-97, both of which would make vaping, and the use of nicotine patches in school, illegal. The bills refer to vapes as Electronic Nicotine Delivery systems, or ENDS, however, the vaping flavors used do not always contain nicotine. In fact, over half of student vapers report not using any nicotine in their vapes at all.

To reiterate the lesser-known vaping facts: The explosion in the use of vapes has come almost exclusively at the expense of traditional tobacco. The results so far show that vaping is vastly superior to tobacco for one’s health. And vaping has been proven effective in helping people kick the habit.

So what is the government trying to save us from this time?

Big tobacco is scared witless at the sudden loss of revenues, and has teamed up with governments, who are equally concerned over the plummeting sin-tax receipts from decreasing tobacco sales. Thus, public relations firms were hired and the war drums came out for the vapes — your health is of no concern. Big tobacco and big government are more addicted to your money than the public is to nicotine.

If you expect government to behave rationally, you would expect they might propose a reasonable tax levied on the amount of nicotine in the vaping fluids, right? Actually, six states are proposing taxes on vaping equipment at more than 70%, whether the product involves delivering nicotine or not. Pennsylvania is at 40% today. Legislation has been proposed in Utah and Washington that would tax vaping equipment at a whopping 95%. It’ll never pass, you say? Minnesota already has such a tax.

This appears to be yet another unholy alliance of corporate and government interests. This time they are working hand-in-hand to keep their tax gravy train rolling, even if doing so will place millions of Americans into an early grave.

Burd is a resident of Coal Township.

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