When President-Elect Donald Trump first announced Rep. Tom Price as his nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the immediate reaction within the vaping industry was rather positive.  However, the Georgia Congressman is drawing new criticism in recent days for potential conflicts of interest after it was discovered that he traded stocks in both Big Pharma and Big Tobacco while working on Capitol Hill.

As Secretary of the DHHS, one of Price’s chief responsibilities would be to oversee the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for the newly announced FDA deeming regulations that threaten to bankrupt the American vaping industry.  Since Price has had a long history as a vocal opponent of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, many in the vaping industry were initially hopeful that Price would overturn this Obama-driven legislation that essentially grants the FDA full authority to regulate e-cigs as tobacco products.

With new information surfacing this week from a Wall Street Journal report regarding the Congressman’s strong ties to Big Pharma and Big Tobacco, vaping advocacy groups are now questioning the Price nomination with a bit more cynicism.   Will Price recommend to Donald Trump to overturn the FDA deeming regulations?  Or will he want to keep them in place to benefit his former allies from the nearly 40 pharmaceutical, biomedical, and tobacco companies from which he has profited since 2012?

Mitch Zeller of the FDA also had strong ties to Big Pharma

Mitch Zeller is the current director of the Center for Tobacco Products, a new branch of the FDA that was created from the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.  He has long been accused by the U.S. vaping industry of spreading false information and trumped-up scientific research that intentionally demonize vaping to financially benefit both Big Tobacco and Big Pharma.

Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, prior to working for the FDA, Zeller was employed by the major pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of more traditional nicotine replacement therapies like “the patch” and nicotine gum.  To vaping advocacy groups, Mitch Zeller’s appointment by President Obama to spearhead the new branch of the FDA is a huge conflict of interest.

How can the vaping industry get a fair deal when the guy writing the deeming regulations comes from Big Pharma, the very group of companies that wants to eliminate the vaping industry once and for all?

This may be the very same question that vapers will be asking themselves in the coming months, should Rep. Tom Price be approved by Congress to become Secretary of the DHHS.  If the Wall Street Journal report is to be believed, Price has stronger ties to Big Pharma than even Mitch Zeller.

Tom Price also traded in Big Tobacco stocks

Meanwhile, Price also traded in Big Tobacco stocks while in the House of Representatives.  One of his biggest financial windfalls came from trading Altria Group stocks, a tobacco company whose products are heavily regulated by the FDA.  Perhaps even more strange, the Altria Group has also acquired former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) as the new Class II Director of the company’s Corporate Governance, Nominating, and Sustainability Committee.

But Price’s largest single transaction of all time came from an August 2016 purchase of stocks in a biomedical company Innate Immunotherapeutics Inc.  His initial investment of between $50,000 to $100,000 in stock has since more than doubled in value in the less than four short months since the transaction took place.

While Donald Trump ran his election campaign on promises to “drain the swamp,” many in the vaping industry are growing ever more fearful that the “swamp” is simply being restocked with more cunning creatures of corruption than ever before imagined.

Article Credit: Matt Rowland

Helen Stokes-Lampard has only been in her new role as chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs (General Practitioners) for about a month, but already she is breaking from conventional wisdom prevailing the UK medical community by demonizing vaping. In a Christmas Eve interview posted in The Times, the UK’s top doc called for an immediate ban on public vaping, labeling it a “lifestyle choice.”

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For those who are still wondering if the American Educational System is broken, look no further than the school superintendent of Rome, New York, Peter Blake.  On December 11, Blake posted a short blog post about the alleged dangers of e-cigs, but the article was filled with loads of either completely false or intentionally misleading statistics.

The blog post is entitled A 900% Increase, a number that Blake claims represents the increase in teen vaping within the past four years.  The American-educator-gone-wrong claims to have come to his erroneous epiphany after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) regarding the U.S. Surgeon General’s most recent press conference on the subject.

“My blog this week is not a philosophical thought, rather an attempt to inform our community about a reality and a concern for our youth. What has increased by 900% recently you ask? E-cigarette use among high schoolers has increased 900% in the past 4 years. This past week, the Wall Street Journal and many other major media outlets of reputation have released articles in relation to the surgeon general’s most recent comments. “

To be totally accurate, the WSJ article that Blake refers to makes no such claim of a 900% increase, even though Blake deviously implies that it did.  Unfortunately, Blake must have failed to read in its entirety the very article that he claims is so insightful.  If he had, then he would have quickly discovered that the WSJ article entitled “E-Cigarettes Pose ‘Major’ Risks, Surgeon General’s Report Warns” puts the word Major in quotes.

NY school superintendent needs to do his homework.

To a less sophisticated individual, speed-reading this headline and perhaps the first couple of sentences of the article might lead one to believe that the WJS supports the Surgeon General’s outrageous claims.  But after reading deeper, the WSJ is essentially warning parents not to believe everything that they read.

Ironically, in the A 900% Increase blog post written by Peter Blake, the school superintendent instructs parents to do the very same – to “do some more homework” on teen vaping and e-cig use.

“I strongly urge our parents to do some more homework on the e-cigarette prior to thinking that it is a safe alternative for anything. The e-cig has become the gateway drug to more serious things, has shown to stunt brain growth in teenagers, and falsely advertises their product on most occasions.”

Yet Blake goes on to tell his parental readership some undeniably incorrect facts.

“The e-cig has become the gateway drug to more serious things, has shown to stunt brain growth in teenagers, and falsely advertises their product on most occasions. Research is showing that 4-times more teenagers are using e-cigarettes than other forms of tobacco products and on average 40% of high schoolers have at least tried smoking them. Of greater concern that isn’t discussed as much about e-cigs is that sellers are constantly finding ways to ‘lace’ the syrups with other products that are much more addictive, altering, and dangerous than nicotine. “

Peter Blake is lying to the parents of his students.

      • No evidence exists that e-cigs are a “gateway drug to more serious things.” Furthermore, parents should demand that their school superintendents use more accurate language than the term “things.”
      • No evidence exists that e-cigs “stunt brain growth in teenagers.”
      • No evidence exists that the vaping industry is “constantly finding ways to ‘lace’ the syrups with other products that are much more addictive, altering, and dangerous than nicotine. “
      • No evidence exists that “4-times more teenagers are using e-cigarettes than other forms of tobacco products.”

This last claim is particularly outrageous.  If Peter Blake is to be believed, then teenagers are vaping four times more than they are smoking!  This statement is appallingly inaccurate, to say the least.

Teen e-cig use might be on the rise, and teen smoking rates are falling as a result, but to tell parents that vaping is equally or more appealing to teenagers is dead wrong.  Furthermore, by implying that e-cigs are equally or more deadly than smoking, Peter Blake is intentionally misleading his parents with an ignorant, uneducated falsehood of epic proportions.

Article Credit: Matt Rowland

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is joining Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in calling for an immediate recall of those brands of e-cigs reportedly involved in a new surge of explosions in recent months.   After hearing about a Stratford man named Manny Almodovar, 24, whose vaping device unexpectedly exploded while he was walking to his car after a long work day, Blumenthal held a press conference on Friday to double down on his anti-vaping stance.

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In a breaking investigative report, the Washington Post is alleging that approximately 42 agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have been intentionally targeted as new hires to employment by Big Pharma.  At least 31 of them have been directly responsible for enforcing certain laws concerning the regulation of opioids, drugs that many public health officials believe are involved in a nationwide epidemic of overdoses.

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Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg is rarely afraid to speak her mind, especially when it comes to vaping medical marijuana with her trusty vape pen nicknamed “Sippy.”   The 61-year old actress and current co-host of The View began vaping several years ago after being diagnosed with glaucoma, a medical disorder of the eyes with side effects that include excruciating headaches without a moment’s notice.  According to Goldberg, vaping cannabis gave her back her life.

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At a press conference on Sunday, the soon-to-be Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted e-cigs as “ticking time bombs” that demand immediate federal oversight.  Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is officially in charge of regulating the vaping industry thanks to the newly announced deeming regulations of last May, Schumer wants the agency to figure out once and for all why so many electronic cigarettes are still exploding and causing physical injury.

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