The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Releases Misleading E-Cigarette Study

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report earlier this month claiming the percentage of minors using electronic cigarettes has more than doubled compared to previous years. Many electronic cigarette advocates and insiders have examined this evidence and found several fallacies within the report.

The two surveys included in the CDC’s new report were given to respondents in 2011 and 2012. The first red flag in the CDC’s report appears where the government agency did not include numbers reflecting continued use of e-cigs, but instead focuses on teens that have tried an e-cig at least once or have used one in the previous 30 days.  In the first survey, students were asked if they have ever used e-cigarettes. In the second survey, respondents were asked if they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.  The inconsistent questions do not allow for an accurate representation of respondents answers over the two surveys and leaves room for skewed results.

In addition, many e-cigarette advocates have taken issue with the different number of teens who were questioned in each survey. In the first survey, 19,000 minors were interviewed whereas in the second survey, 25,000 were interviewed.  Accurate and unbiased results depend on proper survey techniques, which in this case, would have dictated surveying the same number of teens with similar backgrounds. Shortly after the report was releases, the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) released a statement refuting the CDC’s study explaining that the findings were misleading because of unequal survey methods.

According to the CDC study, about 3 percent of respondents said they had tried an electronic cigarette at least once. Without any other knowledge about e-cigarettes, many readers would assume the CDC’s 3 percent number represented all minors in the United States. The CDC did not specify that 3 percent of its survey respondents have tried an e-cig, which leaves room for many to interpret that thousands or millions of minors are using e-cigs, when in reality, they are not. The second survey conducted in 2012 noted that the number of minors who have tried an e-cig had increased to 7 percent, which could be interpreted as nearly 1.8 million minors in America if you perceive the information in the report as covering most minors in America. In reality, 7 percent of the respondent pool tried an e-cig, which represents less than 2,000 minors. Without understanding the numbers, one would not understand the true reality of the results. The e-cigarette industry does not in any way promote the sale or use of e-cigarettes to minors and promotes e-cigs as an adult alternative only, but that does not mean the CDC can inflate data.  

The timing of this report has many e-cigarette insiders speculating the CDC’s motives; many believe it may be designed to put additional pressure on the Food Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the e-cig industry. Many e-cigarette advocates are having trouble understanding why a national government agency like the CDC would treat the health risks of traditional cigarettes exactly the same as electronic cigarettes when the scientific data clearly proves that e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes have very few similiarities. Whether you are pro or anti-electronic cigarettes, scientific evidence states that e-cigarettes do not contain the nearly 4,000 deadly chemicals that traditional cigarettes possess. In addition, e-cigs do not contain tobacco, the ingredient known to cause serious health risks in humans.

It is important for the public and especially the FDA to know that e-cigarettes generally only offer a combination of nicotine and various food flavorings. E-cigarettes do not produce an explosive combustion, like that of traditional cigarettes. Furthermore, e-cigs do not produce smoke, but instead an odorless vapor. It is SFATA’s mission to be the voice of the e-cigarette industry, advocate for business owners and promote the truth about e-cigarettes as a reliable alternative for adults.

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