NYT: Peering Through the Haze

A follow up article on the CDC report in the NY Times, emphasizing the historic drop in combustible cigarette consumption by teens and giving credit to e-cigs.



And yet buried in the news release — and played down by Frieden and others at the C.D.C. — was an astonishing fact. Actual cigarette smoking — the kind that requires inhaling carcinogens, that kills one out of every two long-term smokers and that public health officials have been trying to eradicate for decades — that kind of smoking has dropped to a mere 9.2 percent among teens.

That is a 25 percent drop in a year, a nearly 42 percent drop since 2011—and the first time that teen smoking in America has ever hit single digits. That sure sounds like big news to me.

In fact, to take it a step further, it seems pretty obvious that the decline in cigarette smoking has largely been caused by the rising popularity of e-cigarettes. This, too, was denied by Frieden. But as David Sweanor, a tobacco policy expert at the University of Ottawa, put it to me: “What other huge interventions have there been? It’s not like there has been a big new cigarette tax, or tough new package warnings. The only thing that is new is the introduction of e-cigarettes.”

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