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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insists its fighting the good fight. And “The Real Cost” of losing could be a lost generation.

“We are acting on very clear science that there’s an epidemic on the way,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s active commissioner. “We’re in possession of data that shows a disturbingly sharp rise in the number of teens using e-cigarettes.

“We’ve had to start taking some actions before the final results of this data can be made public. We will make these results public very soon. But we have an obligation to act on what we know. And what we know is very disturbing.”

When the agency opened the “The Real Cost” campaign this past September, it marked the most ambitious effort to combat the FDA teen vaping epidemic we’ve seen to date.

The Chicago Tribune appeared to back up the FDA’s claim, reporting a 75-percent rise in high-school vaping in 2017.

Seventy-five percent?

Hold on, said Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a noted researcher and anti-smoking advocate. At least teenagers are not smoking combustible cigarettes, like generations past.

Farsalinos pointed to the potential health risks. While long-term vaping studies are being explored, numerous early studies indicate vaping is far less hazardous than its nicotine-laced predecessors.

Teens are going to rebel. To look cool and “more mature” they are going to find something to smoke. The 75-percent rise is a legitimate concern, but isn’t it better for rebelling teens to have a smokeless alternative? Farsalinos asked.

“It is extremely important to see detailed data on the ‘epidemic’ declared by the FDA,” Farsalinos wrote in a blog. “I emphasize that published data SHOULD include frequency of use and smoking status of e-cigarette users – and of course the prevalence of tobacco cigarette use.”

Curbing the rise of vaping among adolescents is a worthy cause and the FDA vows to continue “dramatic action to try to curtail this.”


But are there any better alternatives? And is this FDA teen vaping epidemic being overstated?

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