Tag Archives: smoking

HuffPo Scrambles To Fix E-Cig Story Amid Torrent Of Criticism

By Guy Bentley – The Huffington Post has made a series of corrections to an error-strewn video featuring Dr. Margaret Cuomo, sister of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, claiming e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes.

The video published Monday stirred up a torrent of criticism from scientists, doctors, and the public. Cuomo, who fails to cite any evidence during the course of the video, puts forward one of the most radical and as of yet unsupported views about the risks of e-cigarettes.

The Daily Caller News Foundation published a story on the video’s inaccuracies, complete with expert and academic commentary that refuted several obvious falsehoods. (RELATED: Experts Come Out Of The Woodwork To Slam Gov. Cuomo’s Sister For HuffPo Video About E-Cigs)

Here’s how HuffPo scrambled to correct its video, and how it has failed to correct Cuomo’s most controversial assertion.

The Controversy

After releasing the video Monday morning, there was a backlash on social media over its inaccuracies. “Because of their chemical composition e-cigarettes are at least as harmful to your health as regular tobacco cigarettes are,” says Cuomo in the opening line.

Fortunately, experts were quick to discredit Cuomo’s argument. “All the available research to date suggests that although there are toxicants in e-cigarettes, they are at far lower levels than in smoked tobacco,” said Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling; Deputy Director, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.

“E-cigarettes contain many harmful chemicals that tobacco cigarettes do not contain such as formaldehyde, benzene, propylene glycol, and metals like cadmium, nickel, and tin,” Cuomo went on to say. As anyone with the ability to navigate a search engine can discover, tobacco cigarettes contain all of but one of these chemicals.

The video was later ripped from the site but put back up on Wednesday morning. According to HuffPo, the video was taken down to make a minor alteration.

“A previous version of this video misidentified one of the chemicals in the e-cigarette smoke as tin; it is zinc,” a correction note beneath the video states. But this change was just the start of HuffPo’s backtracking.

A Comedy Of Errors

HuffPo staff went back to look at the video when The Daily Caller News Foundation inquired about other inconsistencies, including the assertion that formaldehyde, benzene, propylene glycol, and metals like cadmium, nickel, and zinc are found in e-cigarettes and not in tobacco smoke.

Updated for the second time Thursday, HuffPo scrapped the section which stated e-cigarettes contain many chemicals that tobacco cigarettes don’t. HuffPo also cut out a part where Cuomo alleges “e-cigarettes will raise your risk for lung cancer, but also other cancers. Like liver cancer.”

“A reference to risks of cancer associated with e-cigarettes has also been removed; rather, some compounds found in e-cigarettes are associated with risks of cancer and liver disease,” HuffPo added to their first correction.

Instead, Cuomo now says, chemicals identified in e-cigarette vapor are “in many cases cancer-causing agents.” What Cuomo omits from her analysis is that the proportion of these chemicals in regular cigarettes dwarfs the quantities found in e-cigs by many times.

E-cigarettes need to be turned to such a high power setting to produce anything close to hazardous levels of formaldehyde, that it’s wildly unrealistic to assume that users would be exposed to them. These settings produce a burning condition known as a “dry puff,” an experience conventional users typically avoid.

To make the picture even more complicated, HuffPo has two different links to the video now, both with different headlines and explanatory paragraphs. But one of them was drastically altered following questioning from the DCNF. Here’s what the original headline and paragraph explaining the video said.

Screenshot HufPo
Screenshot HufPo

And here’s the second:

Screenshot HufPo
Screenshot HufPo

The canyon sized difference between the two headlines cannot be overstated. Equating e-cigarettes with regular cigarettes would mean vaping is one of the most dangerous, legal consumer activities one can undertake.

Few experts will assert e-cigarettes have zero risk and are totally safe. The relevant question for those using e-cigs to help them quit smoking is how much safer are they than traditional, combustion tobacco cigarettes.

Public Health England (PHE), an agency of the United Kingdom’s Department of Health provides a useful answer: E-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than tobacco and could be a “game-changer” for getting people to quit smoking.

The Response

HuffPo had no answers when it came to including citations or expert studies to back up Cuomo’s assertions in the video. Similarly, with regard to fact-checking procedures. HuffPo’s spokesperson only said, “We have updated the video to reflect corrections and have made note of them in both the video and article.”

The Biggest Error Remains

Even though there is as of yet, no scientific basis for her claim, HuffPo’s staff decided to leave the part of the video where she alleges e-cigs are just as harmful as regular cigarettes unchanged.

TheDCNF asked HuffPo if Dr. Cuomo would like to reply to any of the criticisms of her video. Cuomo has not responded.

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Nanny State Alert: Put Out Your Cigarette Or Get Fined In Boston

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A new ban in Boston, effective immediately, prohibits smoking in city-run parks.

Individuals caught smoking cigarettes, marijuana, or other “lighted or vaporized” substances will be slapped with a $250 fine.

251 separate parks and cemeteries are affected by the ban — this includes the Boston Common, one of the most popular and central places to go in the city.

Park rangers will be responsible for enforcing the ban, but officials are trying to encourage citizens to enforce it themselves. Signs alerting people of smoking rules will be posted at each city-run park — Boston officials hope that park-goers will see the signs and report smokers to park rangers.

Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said, “Secondhand smoke in any concentration is dangerous. There’s no safe level of exposure. [The new ban]  makes it less normal for smoking to happen around you.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino was also in support of the new rule. In a public letter, he wrote, “This amendment is necessary to maintain the health and safety of our public parks and ensure that these valuable resources can be enjoyed by all Boston residents.”

The Boston Globe reported, “The ban is an expansion of an existing law that prohibited smoking at so-called tot lots. Six other large US cities have similar bans, including Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, according to the Health Commission. In Massachusetts, 35 municipalities have banned smoking in parks, beaches, or some other public space.”

Bureaucratic do-gooders in cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago have been passing regulations in the name of “keeping us healthy” for years.

Is smoking a health concern? Absolutely. But government interference and laws are not always the answer.

Laws dictating our food and lifestyle choice consistently fail at making us healthier consumers. But more importantly — when did it become the government’s job to control how we live? Of course, food and lifestyle regulation is tied to the advent of public health care. When Washington provides and pays for your health care, it will then try to control what you eat and smoke. Government keeps growing.

Still, it is easy to understand the logic behind an attempt to prevent secondhand smoke.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

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Latest Attack On Freedom: NY Raising The Age To Buy Cigarettes To 21

On Wednesday, New York City lawmakers adopted the strictest limits on tobacco purchases in any US city.

The change would make 21 the minimum age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco items (the current minimum age is 18). The New York City Council also voted to set a $10.50 minimum price for a pack of cigarettes.

The Council passed these new rules in the name of “keeping us healthy.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, “This legislation will reduce smoking rates among New Yorkers — especially young New Yorkers — sparing them years of nicotine addiction and health problems.”

City Councilman James Gennaro, the bill’s sponsor, said, “This will literally save many, many lives.”

The new rules compliment recent efforts by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been trying to raise tobacco taxes and make all restaurants and bars smoke-free.

Following the Council’s vote, Bloomberg said, “By increasing the smoking age to 21 we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking. It’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start.”

As noble as the Council’s rules sound, there could be some down sides.

ABC News points out that “cigarette manufacturers have suggested young adult smokers may just turn to black-market merchants. And some smokers say it’s unfair and patronizing to tell people considered mature enough to vote and serve in the military that they’re not old enough to decide whether to smoke.”

Even if the new rule did make some people “healthier,” when did it become the government’s job to control what adults do to their own bodies? Has America become a complete nanny state? Of course, increased smoking regulation is tied to the advent of public health care. When Washington provides and pays for your health care, it will then try to control what you eat and smoke. Government continues growing.

America is supposed to be the Land of the Free. If people want to make poor choices, they should be allowed to. Of course, it is unfair to make the rest of us pay for their lung cancer. This is why ObamaCare (the biggest government power-grab in a generation) must be overturned immediately. In a free country, government cannot dictate lifestyle choices, nor can it become the overprotective Mommy and Daddy of its citizens. Freedom means having the right to make bad choices and then deal with the consequences ourselves.

Still, politicians will likely keep regulating. Quinn said, “We have to do more and that’s what we’re doing today.”