by Carl V. Phillips
NYC is considering various restrictions on tobacco products, including display bans for low-risk products and raising the age for purchase to 21. As background, see the CASAA call to action on this (and take action if you are so inclined!).
While it is not the type of lie I normally cover here, it is worth calling out the public officials who assured constituents the new proposal was not supposed to cover e-cigarettes (the inclusion was due to subtle wording); they strongly implied that this would be fixed. Instead, the Royal Principality of Bloomberg changed the legislation to explicitly include e-cigarettes, and moreover to explicitly lie about them.
Of course, sweeping e-cigarettes into anti-smoking laws (regardless of what you might think about the validity of anti-smoking laws) is exactly the same as sweeping in smokeless tobacco, which they always intended to do. But lies and inexcusable restrictions and punitive taxes on smokeless tobacco have become so commonplace that people tend to forget this. Indeed, the historical acquiescence to such anti-THR measures pretty much make it inevitable that similar restrictions will be proposed for e-cigarettes.
The proposed legislation begins with the usual anti-THR conjunction lie, which recites statistics about the effects of smoking and attributes them to “tobacco use”. No need to point out why that is a lie about the low-risk tobacco products (follow the link if you want explication). They throw in various lies about how restrictions like this will change behavior as well as some, at best, dubious statistics about historical trends.
In discussing e-cigarettes, they actually lead off with the best argument against their restrictions,
Electronic cigarettes have emerged as an alternative to cigarettes.
Apparently they are so clueless that they do not realize that this single sentence definitively condemns their proposal, given that all of their stated goals are about reducing smoking and its health impacts.
But then they start lying:
Electronic cigarette marketing is often designed to deter smokers from quitting and to attract youth.
They do not cite a shred of evidence to support this, of course, because there is not any. E-cigarette marketing is, of course, designed to encourage smokers to quit, as should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. (To a lesser extent it also includes efforts to get e-cigarette users to switch brands, but it is remarkable how minimal that is compared to its focus on encouraging smokers to quit.) Why exactly would marketing be designed to encourage people to use a competing product? As for attracting youth, that would be a rather dumb thing to waste marketing budget on, given the very limited sales potential and the fact that young adults are quite resistant to traditional marketing.
Of course, to the ANTZ, the observation “this blog is written in English and many children can read English” means that I am writing for chiiiiiildren. Their claims about children are always based on such tenuous connections, and therefore are all lies. (Perhaps 1% of the time their claims have some validity, but if you lie about something 99% of the time, you cannot expect to believed, ever.)
They do produce one shred of evidence for their next claim,
electronic cigarette use is increasing among youth and young adults
(Aside: notice the changing use of the word “youth” to sometimes collect statistics about young adults and sometimes to imply “chiiiiiiildren”.) They mention one study in support of this. Not that they need to. Approximately no one used e-cigarettes five years ago and now a fair number of people do. So of course use is increasing in every demographic — that does not mean it is substantial. They also overlook the fact that this is a good thing, since (as they noted themselves) it is basically always in place of smoking. Oh, also the study they cite is about high school students having tried e-cigarettes (which of course is increasing more rapidly than use), not about children actually using them.
To the consternation of some of my colleagues, putting on my researcher hat, I have to say that if NYC actually does this (which we are fighting hard against, of course), it could be quite interesting. NYC is probably the second best (after Canada) source of data about tobacco product consumers’ inclination to turn to black markets in the face of extremist laws. That tells us a lot about preferences, which we modelers love. It is also a great case study in comparison to London, a generally similar city where e-cigarette use has really taken off. (Notwithstanding the threatened creeping ban of 2016, I still hold by belief that London will be the definitive proof of concept for e-cigarette-based THR.) If NYC imposes strict limits on e-cigarettes as compared to London, the contrasts will be even more stunning.
Need I say: don’t read too much into the previous paragraph. I hope you might find it interesting, but CASAA is obviously fighting this proposal, and obviously would never throw New Yorkers under the bus for the sake of data (maaaybe Bostonians, but definitely not New Yorkers). We do not want to throw the smokeless tobacco users under the bus either (and neither should those of you who are purely-vaping activists — see above), but we are going to lose on that one. We might still win on e-cigarettes though, so step up on the CTA if you are inclined to engage in politics.