Clinic facilities

Cleveland Clinic pushes dangerous anti-vaping propaganda

For many years, the science communication landscape looked like this: Universities and reputable public health institutions conducted extensive research and informed consumers of the risks they faced; sneaky activist groups fabricated health scares that credulous and dishonest journalists indiscriminately amplified; ACSH and other science-based organizations have refuted the nonsense emanating from the headlines. [1]

Things are different today. Often its reputable healthcare providers and other trusted institutions that mislead consumers. There is no better example than this recent article published by the Cleveland Clinic: How vaping or smoking affects your physical activity:

Contrary to some popular beliefs, vaping is not a safe alternative to smoke. In reality, researchers say the vaping boom “threatens five decades of progress in tobacco control.”

The article is a simmering mixture of misunderstandings, hand-picked statistics and outright lies. There’s an eight-letter word for it that we won’t use to preserve our family reputation. Let’s take a look at some details and hopefully help the Cleveland Clinic right their ship.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the vast majority of vapes sold in the United States contain nicotine, which has long been known to be a dangerous and addictive chemical.

Absence of carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco smoke; nicotine is just a mild stimulant. The clinic agrees with this observation because he recommends gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers and nasal sprays containing nicotine as smoking cessation aids. Small doses of nicotine cannot be “dangerous and addictive” when vaped and “medicinal” when sold by giant pharmaceutical companies. These are mutually exclusive designations.

Vaping is on the rise, especially among teens and young adults. Studies have shown youth vaping increased from around 1% in 2011 to 21% in 2018.

The trend reverses completely when you include the most recent results from the CDC’s National Youth Smoking Survey, which goes through 2022 — four more years of data that the Cleveland Clinic ignored. Less than 10% of teens vape today, and the vast majority are already smokers. The same goes for young adults; they are smokers who turn to vaping because help them stop combustible tobacco. In fact, vaping is more efficient than Cleveland Clinic-approved withdrawal medications.

Smoking has both immediate and long-term effects on exercise and physical activity…Like inhaling cigarette smoke, vaping can cause coughing and chest pain or tightness. (Not exactly the kind of symptoms that will help you get that extra round or boost your energy to do a few extra reps in the gym.)

I lift weights and do sprints three times a week; I also vape daily, but my indoor performance does not suffer. I’m not the only one either. According to a May 2022 study published in Drug and alcohol addiction:

Among 30-year-old smokers, 36% adopted vaping some or all of the time by age 39. Higher relative vaping frequency was linked to 4 of the 9 outcomes examined, including a lot more exercisea more constructive engagement, [and] better physical health…at age 39, based on behaviors prior to age 30 [emphasis mine].

Follow-up question for the Cleveland Clinic: If vaping hinders physical performance, why do people do it? After do sports after switching to e-cigarettes? Maybe the growth pile of studies documenting the benefits of vaping, including improved respiratory health, could help us answer this question.

Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical. Quitting vaping and smoking isn’t easy. Many smokers may need more than one technique to find what works for them, and relapses are common…

The word “technical” above refers to This article on the clinic’s website, “How To Quit Smoking: 7 Ways to Kick the Habit.” Here is technique number two:

Try over-the-counter methods like nicotine patches, lozenges, or gum. You can also talk to your doctor about prescription nicotine that comes in the form of a nasal spray or inhaler.

So, to ditch this “dangerous and highly addictive chemical,” the Cleveland Clinic suggests you use the same dangerous and highly addictive chemical. The absurdity here cannot be lost on anyone, even the morons who wrote the article.

This does not mean that nicotine replacement therapy is useless. It works quite well for many ex-smokers, including people who reduce or eliminate their addiction to nicotine with e-cigarettes. But it is logically impossible to demonize a substance and simultaneously prescribe it to your patients.

It’s no surprise that anti-tobacco groups and journalists are attacking vaping. Ideologues and idiots regularly get the facts wrong. But when the Cleveland clinic, which looks like “the first integrated international health system in the world”, parrots the fallacious rhetoric of the Truth Initiative, we have a very serious problem.

Public health institutions have done a lot to discourage smokers to switch to vaping, a decision that can literally cost them their lives. Whatever its motives, the Cleveland Clinic is ignoring the evidence and needlessly putting many people at risk.

[1] There have always been exceptions to this rule, of course. The decades attack on saturated fat is probably the best example of conventional medicine dispensing questionable health information to the public.