The Truth About Chicago’s Anti-Vaping Campaign
By Lisa Marie Farver
Chicagoans woke up to a harsh reality on New Year’s Day, and I’m not talking about your average hangover. January 1, 2016 marked the first day of Chicago’s e-cigarette tax, which increased the cost of e-liquids by 55 cents per milliliter and 80 cents per item at retailers. Vapers may have to pay nearly twice as much as they did for e-liquids bought in retail stores. This change came on the heels of a harsh anti-vaping campaign by the Chicago Department of Public Health and Julie Morita, which thinly veils lies about e-cigarettes under the hashtag #vapingtruth on social media. In the wonderful Windy City, you can’t walk into a vape shop, open a newspaper, or ride the CTA without being slapped in the face by the effects of Chicago’s anti-vaping campaign.
A friend of mine jokingly sent me an image of a sign she saw on the CTA that read, “Vaping: Liquid Poison” with the hashtag vapingtruth. This sign is nothing but a load of fallacies, for lack of a less-safe-for-work term. It’s a hasty generalization, over-simplification and a scare tactic, for starters. It’s fear-mongering, manipulative propaganda and blatant misinformation. Like most political agendas and media hype, Chicago has balanced its vaping truth on a shoddy foundation. And with the weight of Chicago vapers joining in, this type of infrastructure will ultimately crumble.
Chicagoans don’t take well to being lied to.That’s why support for manipulative mastermind Rahm Emanuel has disappeared faster than an open parking spot in the Loop. Oh, wait, Chicago doesn’t own the parking spots anymore. Rahm sold those off too. Vapers don’t take well to being lied to either. That’s why many of us started vaping in the first place: to find a smoking alternative that took us out from under big tobacco’s thumb. Since #vapingtruth went live, social media has been flooded with tweets and posts from vaping advocates who want to stand up for the real vaping truth. Internet users are debunking Chicago’s fallacies about vaping one by one. For the record, let’s do a little debunking of our own:
Vaping Untruth #1: Vaping: It’s Liquid Poison
The majority of e-juices are composed of three main FDA-approved ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and water, in addition to flavorings and nicotine. Of these ingredients, nicotine makes up the smallest amount of a bottle of e-liquid. Instead of looking at the broader picture, Chicago has zeroed in on select studies that perpetuate their villainization of vaping instead of looking at cold hard facts.
Vaping Untruth #2: Vaping: It’s Still Addiction
This is another product of big tobacco’s pocketbook. As Forbes columnist Sally Satel is quick to point out, “Of the great advantages to smokers – no exposure to carcinogenic tar and carbon monoxide, or improved respiratory health – there is no mention.” She goes on to call the claims behind Chicago’s anti-vaping campaign “alarmist.” Studies have increasingly shown that e-cigarettes have been helpful in smoking cessation. At Vapor4Life, many people who start with e-cigarettes eventually taper down their nicotine consumption to zero, but still continue vaping for the hand-to-mouth feel of smoking. When it comes down to it, the nicotine in e-cigs is only as addictive as caffeine, and both are out of your system in roughly three days.
Vaping Untruth #3: Vaping is As Harmful As Smoking
This is a false analogy if I ever heard one. In countries that are less manipulated by money and greed, medical experts have acknowledged that e-cigarettes are nearly 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. That’s straight from Public Health England, where doctors are already prescribing e-cigarettes to help with smoking cessation. Other studies right here in the United States, have claimed vaping is 99% less harmful than puffing on cigarettes.
Vaping Untruth #4: Vaping Will Make Teens Smoke or Vape
Take one look at a study that wasn’t distorted by the media, or secretly backed by big tobacco, and you’ll actually find that fewer teens are smoking cigarettes in recent years. Those that do smoke aren’t drawn to e-cigarettes just because of their flavorings, despite what Julie Morita might have you think. As Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement in reference to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, “regular use [of e-cigarettes by high schoolers]—if defined by usage in 20 or more days in the last 30 days—is actually 2%” and not the distorted figure of 13%, which refers to high schoolers who have ever even tried an e-cig, according to the survey.
Cities around the world are recognizing e-cigarettes are an effective means of harm reduction, so what gives, Chicago? The evidence suggests one thing: Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Public Health would rather adults in Chicago smoke cigarettes than vape or smoke disposable e-cigs. The reward for them? Media attention and money from big tobacco. The cost to everyone? The ability to choose to smoke smarter and very likely to choose to live longer.
What You Can Do
What do you think about Chicago’s anti-vaping campaign? What’s your vaping truth? Respond in the blog comment section to help get your story told.