Public health expert says ‘Fear Profiteers’ are behind FDA push to kill vaping

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to ramp up its anti-vaping regulatory actions over the past few years, many within the vaping community appear to be living in a state of denial.  Mistakenly assuming that, ultimately, good always triumphs over evil, many vapers refuse to believe that the American vaping industry could be essentially regulated out of existence.  Unfortunately, it may be happening right before our very eyes as the FDA officially released its long-awaited PMTA guidelines last week which could go into effect within the next four months. 

Senior Fellow Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. is an expert in FDA and other government regulatory strategies. She’s often a guest on shows like Fox News and has been asked several times to testify in congressional hearings, as well.  But it’s Minton’s rather controversial research paper which alleges a sort of anti-vaping conspiracy occurring at a national scale that is currently garnering increased attention.

FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb claims teen vaping is a national ‘epidemic'

According to an interview conducted by Brent Stafford of Regulator Watch, Ms. Minton was immediately taken off-guard when the former Commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, released a press announcement last year labeling teen vaping as a national epidemic.  As reports of the FDA statement began surfacing in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CNN, and elsewhere, she could not understand where these allegations were coming from. 

I started noticing all these media stories about Juul and adolescents, and I started wondering.  Where is this coming from, because the research data wasn’t showing an epidemic?  It was showing a very small percentage of teenagers experimenting with e-cigarettes, but it didn’t – in my mind – nowhere near rising to the level of the panic that I was seeing in newspapers, on blogs, etcetera.”

Related Article: Judicial Watch sues Feds over secret emails linked to FDA vaping regulations

These initial thoughts of alarm are the basis for her provocative white paper entitled Fear Profiteers: How e-cigarette panic benefits health activists.  While many within the vaping advocacy community firmly believe that either Big Tobacco or Big Pharma (or both) are somehow conspiring to eradicate vaping, Minton alleges that a third and perhaps even a fourth player may also be involved in the diabolical plot – anti-smoking advocacy groups and the mainstream media itself.  

“Yes. The misleading media response is the result of an orchestrated effort meant to create confusion and public panic over electronic cigarettes—part of a strategy to pressure governments to restrict or eliminate these alternatives to traditional cigarettes. As this paper will explore, the individuals and groups behind this fear campaign are those most likely to profit from it: anti-smoking and health advocacy groups.”
“For public health regulation to do more good than harm, regulators need to base decisions on an objective analysis of sound research and a thorough examination of the potential unintended consequences of policy proposals. They should not make decisions based on assumptions, blind fear, or political pressure.”

Related Article: Public health experts ask: Should ‘stupid kids’ be allowed to kill vaping

In short, Ms. Minton believes that “anti-smoking and health advocacy groups” are making money when they use widespread fear-mongering tactics to demonize vaping.  Even though these types of organizations are often listed as non-profits, they can boost their international profiles and professional reputations considerably by promoting intentionally falsified public scares.  As their reputation soars, they tend to appear higher on the lists of government agencies looking to award research grants and other forms of financial support.

“The air of authority these health charities seek to cultivate is heightened by the fact that they often function as an extension of government, sometimes as paid contractors of public health agencies. Not only do these health advocacy organizations receive government endorsement, they also receive financial support. Government entities are prohibited from lobbying. Instead, they route funding to health advocacy non-profits, either as direct grants or through programs sponsored by local health agencies. In this way, health advocacy nonprofits work as subcontractors for government entities, legally executing their shared Health advocacy nonprofits work as subcontractors for government entities, legally executing their shared political agenda. Fear Profiteers political agenda. Often, a centerpiece of that agenda includes lobbying to protect or increase access to public funds.”

In her research paper, Minton further illustrates her theories with a very relatable example involving TV commercials from the 1950s. Back then, it was very common for movie and television stars to appear in these televised advertisements promoting their favorite brands of tobacco cigarettes.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, for example, were regularly featured in TV commercials for Phillip Morris and Lucky Strikes which ran during their famous I Love Lucy sitcom.  In 1952 alone, well before the invention of cable TV or Internet video streaming, that single TV show captured a whopping 67.3 percent of the viewing audience.  

1950’s ‘I Love Lucy’ and its TV commercials hawking cigarettes

Then in the 1960s, the medical community began releasing data showing the significant health risks of smoking.  A few anti-smoking advocacy groups began to sprout up, but by the 1990s, there were thousands because more and more people began learning just how much money the federal government was willing to dole out in order to prevent smoking addiction.

While a noble endeavor in the 1990s, Ms. Minton suggests that the same thing is now happening to the vapor industry even though e-cigarettes are proven to be as much as 95% less harmful than smoking.   Through the intentional creation of misinformation campaigns demonizing e-cigs, anti-smoking advocacy groups like the notorious Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids are essentially raking in millions of American tax dollars in the process.

Related Article: Public health expert: FDA is ‘overblowing the argument’ against vaping

(Image courtesy of YouTube/Fox News)

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