If you are a regular Twitter or Facebook user you would have come across the latest shenanigans from the Chicago Department of Health that was launched amid much fanfare by none other than the Mayor himself. The VapingTruth campaign designed to increase youth awareness.
So what do we have here then? A “public education campaign” to increase youth awareness (The Children™) on the public health risks of e-cigarettes. Oh there’s a surprise. An education campaign to increase awareness on the “risks” of e-cigs.
Uh oh, have these folks not learned a thing from social media campaigns on vaping from the disastrous #curbit campaign in San Francisco and #stillblowingsmoke in California? But here’s the thing, they are claiming “to provide resources and scientifically proven health information on the risks” of vaping. The Mayor even states, to my incredulity “this campaign is part of our comprehensive effort to reduce youth smoking”. But in the very next breath goes on to completely undo that aim “from regulating e-cigarettes, to banning the sale of flavoured tobacco near our schools”.
Hang on a tick. Smoking prevalence has been falling as the prevalence of vaping increases. Granted there’s going to be other factors involved, such as those actually quitting altogether, or the survey wasn’t completed by the same people. The last figures for Chicago that I could track down reported a prevalence of 17.7% (2014), a decline of almost 5% from 22.6% in 2011. Now this short-sighted Mayor is planning on “educating” the general public on the risks of using e-cigarettes; one of the greatest factors in the decline of smoking prevalence. We all know exactly how that’s going to work don’t we?
The CDPH Commissioner is already pointing out how this campaign is going to go by clearly pointing out that she thinks vapour products are “dangerous and addictive”, complete with a short (but not limited to) list.
Odd that CDPH looks at the “skyrocketing” use of e-cigs, but completely ignores the fact that smoking prevalence is falling, and falling far faster than any other intervention to date. Something that anyone with half a brain cell could spot, sure it’s correlation not causation but the fact remains widespread use of e-cigarettes is not re-normalising smoking. It is telling that Dr Robert A Winn, Director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center alludes to the exact same fact the Mark Drakeford has done on countless occasions – undermines the smoking bans put in place – in other words, these vapers are doing something enjoyable where they once couldn’t smoke.
This is the same Mayor Emanuel that has proposed taxation on vapour products, among other….unique ideas yes? To claim Chicago has become a “national leader in tobacco cessation” is probably a bit of a stretch, but it is abundantly clear that under his leadership he wants folks in Chicago to be dull, boring and to lead those dull boring lives for a long time. The thing is, this tax on not smoking was thought to bring in some much-needed greenback to the City, but it’s fallen woefully short of what is needed to balance the books, all it is going to do is force the smaller businesses to close their doors which includes loss of employment for the staff (and associated benefits/healthcare), in-city vapers will need to look outside the City (perhaps the State) for their gear and smokers will be stuck with NRT (a wonderful %4 success rate) or, heaven forbid the Chicago Department of Public Health.
More telling information here – “to address the known and sometimes misinterpreted health dangers..” – reading between the lines here, the “misinterpreted” dangers are likely to be “exaggerated concerns” natch. But of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a direct link to their very own cessation service which make no mention at all of vaping, just the regular ol’ NRT thank you very much; not that surprising considering it’s run by both the CDPH and the American Lung Association. I would guess that the QuitLine is short of funding, or maybe they are getting bored with not getting calls from folk making the choice to switch for themselves.
Two of the prominent images used by CDPH show Vaping: Liquid Poison and Vaping: It’s Still Addiction, and every time they tweet one of them (which was about ever 5 minutes from the 23rd December until Christmas Day), there would be a link to a variety of sources all claiming pretty much the same thing:
- e-cigs won’t help you quit
- e-liquid is toxic
- second-hand vapour (amusingly this was a “background paper” with one of the authors being none other than Frampton A Blands)
- Plus regular links to the American Lung Association “Facts” on e-cigarettes
Mind you, if you searched the hashtag VapingTruth now (link) you might find it difficult to find much from CDPH as, well us vapers know a thing or two about VapingTruth. But it seems CDPH is now trying to play a little dirty. You see, we vapers are real people from different walks of life, but despite that we still get called “shills” and “astroturf” which is kind of hurtful considering all we want really is to be left alone with our choices. Instead we get nannied into doing what some in public health feel is “best” for us. So imagine the surprise when “new” accounts start popping up to follow and retweet CDPH.
A bit of digging suggests that one of these accounts is operated by the Public Information Office & Social Media Manager for the Chicago Department of Public Health, and is acting like a “concerned citizen”. What does that suggest to you? Co-ordinated effort to “retake” the hashtag or something more sinister? Oddly enough, I replied to a tweet that included this account. Not even replying directly to the account. The result?
Oh but of course. Still it’s not like the government organisation would do that right?
Tell you what CDPH, if you want some #VapingTruth, feel free to have a read of the posts on this blog; there’s probably a lot more truth contained in these posts then in your campaign.