Message to Tom Frieden on e-cigs: Zip it

Creativity in Progress

Tom Frieden is the enemy of vapers everywhere. He has consistently waged a war against electronic cigarettes, and has used his position as head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to project his (own) perceived legitimacy and even integrity. As a mouthpiece for public health concerns, he has misinformed his audience.

His work is through the CDC, and this means he is responsible for the public comment the CDC makes. The CDC often comments on the e-cig situation because Tom hates e-cigs and he doesn’t want them to help people live healthier lives.

A new report has just come out from the CDC that shows, ostensibly, that the battle against tobacco cigarettes is being won. But we noticed the presence of Frieden in the accompanying media coverage.

The good news on smoking first, please

The CDC has just released a press release that shows that cigarette smoking among high school students in the United States has finally sunk to it’s lowest level in 22 years. This has amazing implications for public health, and is a credit to all the work that has been done by the government to reduce smoking amongst teenagers.

Back in 1997, an incredible 36.4% of high school students were smoking cigarettes, according to the CDC survey. That figure has now dropped to 15.7%, helping the CDC to meet all of its targets for health among teenagers in schools.

These numbers on smoking are fine, but read on for the CDC attacking e-cigs

But the biggest problem here in this press release has nothing to do with the numbers. These numbers are great and they’re showing that young people are starting to lead healthier lives. Towards the bottom of the press release though, the CDC cannot help but stick a knife into the electronic cigarette industry with this ridiculous paragraph:

‘Despite this progress, reducing overall tobacco use remains a significant challenge. For example, other national surveys show increases in hookah and e-cigarette use. In the YRBS, no change in smokeless tobacco use was observed among adolescents since 1999, and the decline in cigar use has slowed in recent years, with cigar use now at 23 percent among male high school seniors.’

We know Tom Frieden is running the CDC and he can’t help but attack electronic cigarettes at every opportunity. That’s why this press release makes it clear that electronic cigarette usage has increased.

We could take this argument one step further and say what everyone is thinking. If electronic cigarette use has increased among young people, and it may well have, this could actually have a direct impact upon the number of tobacco cigarettes that are smoked by teenagers. Electronic cigarettes are helping some people to reduce the amount of tobacco smoking they do, or even quit tobacco cigarettes for good.

Tom and his wonderful perspective on e-cigs

As Tom Frieden is at the heart of all this mess, we thought we might take a look at some of his ideas around electronic cigarettes. We know he is a medical doctor, but his lack of intelligence around this topic is staggering. He has gone on record as saying that electronic cigarettes are tobacco products, for example.

That kind of thinking alone is evidence enough for us to state quite confidently that he is misinformed about electronic cigarettes. There’s an article here from the LA Times, which gives further evidence and proof that Tom Frieden really does not know what he’s talking about. For example, he gives five reasons why E cigarettes are ‘bad’ in the article.

The first reason is here:

–“If they get another generation of kids more hooked on nicotine and more likely to smoke cigarettes, that’s more harm than good”

What’s wrong with this reason? Well, it’s not actually possible to state categorically that children who become addicted to nicotine through electronic cigarettes are then more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes. But Tom likes his gateway argument, so he can’t resist talking about it in this way on a regular basis.

We also like the one where Tom talks about the glamorising of smoking, or rather the re-glamorising of smoking. Again, this makes no sense. As we have stated before, electronic cigarettes are not attractive or cool, even those that are heavily modified and adapted and customised still look rather strange.

Secondary vaping is still in Tom’s worldview

But our favourite quote from this article comes around the idea that nicotine can be spread to other people, including pregnant women, through a second-hand vape instance. We have spent decades now getting over second hand smoke, but Frieden seems to think that vaping means just the same thing.

There could be one silver lining to this whole thing. As an employed salaried professional, Tom Frieden will eventually have to leave his job at some point, either through retirement or moving to another position. We would like to say that we are looking forward to this day, because this man just comes out with discourse after discourse on the evils of electronic cigarettes, and he makes the fundamental mistake of classifying them as tobacco products.

But in the meantime, Tom keeps coming up with gems like this one:

‘I certainly see the theory that they could be helpful, and I’ve heard some anecdotes about individuals who say they’ve helped them quit. But much more importantly is the actuality that right now we’re getting millions of kids experimenting with or using regularly e-cigarettes. We’re getting smokers who are perhaps not using them to quit but to keep smoking regular cigarettes.…We’re seeing the reglamorization of smoking…We’re also seeing potential exposure of nonsmokers, including pregnant women, to the nicotine in e-cigarette products. So I see theoretical potential benefits but definite harms occurring.’


In the end, this kind of misinformation will only do more harm than good. People will start to believe what he says, and they will act accordingly. We are happy that there are less children using tobacco cigarettes, but we can’t in any way imagine how you could see electronic cigarettes as being evil. If anything they help the situation.

So Tom, for all our sakes, zip it.

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