Margaret Cuomo, the sister of New York Governor Mario Cuomo, recently posted a video on Huff Post to talk about ecigs and vaping. Cuomo is a physician, a radiologist, and a known advocate in the fight against cancer.
She has done amazing work in cancer prevention. However, her anti-vaping video was very misleading and full of obvious errors and severe misinformation about vaping.
In the Huffington Post video, Margaret Cuomo makes several claims that easily prove false with the slightest scrutiny. She claims that electronic cigarettes “are at least as harmful to your health as regular tobacco cigarettes are (because of the chemical composition) Ecigarettes contain many harmful chemicals that tobacco cigarettes do not contain such as formaldehyde, benzene, propylene glycol, and metals like cadmium, nickel, and zinc.”
Experts Speak Out Against Video
Well, it is very common knowledge that cigarettes do contain formaldehyde, benzene, cadmium, nickel and zinc. Experts have slammed Dr. Cuomo for lying about ecigs. Peter Hajekm Salley Satel, Linda Bauld and other experts from around the world have expressed concerns about the misrepresentation of vaping. Studies show that Americans are very misinformed about ecigs and this Huff Post video has the potential to create more alarmism and depend the misunderstanding of vaping in the US.
As for Dr. Cuomo’s inclusion of propylene glycol, no scientific body anywhere regards PG to be harmful. PG is used in medications, toothpaste, foods, cosmetics etc. Propylene glycol is recognized as a safe food additive and we have been using it for a century! Connecting PG to cancer is totally unfounded.
She also claims that ecigs are directed at minors. That is a popular criticism but the reality is that teen smoking is at an all-time low. You can see the video here. Watching it you would conclude that ecigs are worse than lighting up tobacco. He claims are flat out false. Claiming that tobacco does not have benzene or cadmium etc, what is that?
The idea that ecig vapor contains formaldehyde has been totally debunked. The most comprehensive study to date has shown that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Dr. Cuomo would do well to become better acquainted with the facts. If she did, she just may discover that vaping could be a key to cancer prevention.
Real World Consequences Of eCig Misinformation
At ECCR, we wish that anti-vaping forces would really think about what they are doing. While it is rare for an anti-vaping voice to go so far to claim that ecigs are worse than tobacco, not even Tom Frieden at the CDC goes that far, claims like this can actually lead to the continuation of smoking. I can speak to this firsthand.
On more than one occasion, I have spoken to a smoker who is making no effort to quit because they have given up. When I ask about vaping as an alternative, the smoker will tell me that ecigs are worse than cigarettes so they might as well keep smoking. Essentially, ecig misinformation leads people to the conclusion that if accepted smoking cessation methods do not work, forget about vaping and keep smoking. This is the real world consequence of ecig misinformation.
It happened again just last week. I met a gentleman who was smoking a cigarette and he saw my vape. He told me that vaping was worse than smoking and that tobacco was safer. He truly believed it. I tried to explain my perspective but he would have none of it. He was convinced that smoking was better than vaping. He had read some stories, seen a few things on the news and drew a conclusion that essentially gave him permission to not even consider smoking alternatives. Permission to keep smoking because he believed there was no other option.
Is it a stretch to say that telling people that cigarettes do not have benzene, cadmium or zone is outright dangerous? Dr. Cuomo very much needs to invest some time educating herself about the other side of the vaping argument. She needs to look at the work of progressive researchers in Europe. Perhaps then she might reach vastly different conclusions. Perhaps then we could all really start to move toward a world without smoking.
There are many doctors out there who are working hard to combat this misinformation. Just like the group of global researchers who collaborated in an effort to communicate to the World Health Organization that vaping has the potential to save millions of lives.