Public Opinion on Vaping? It’s Complicated

A new survey shows that most Americans support regulations to control what outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb describes as a youth vaping epidemic. However, the survey questions were designed to get the answers the researchers wanted, rather than to simply measure public attitudes. And some questions were aimed squarely at promoting political actions the researchers support, as is the whole survey.

The AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Health survey was done by NORC at the University of Chicago. NORC (National Opinion Research Center) surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,004 English-speaking adults online and by phone. The survey has a 4.12 percent margin of error.

The survey found that:

  • The public is almost equally divided on whether flavors (“such as mint, cucumber, and fruit flavors”) should be available (35% yes, 35% no, 29% unsure)
  • 55% support restricting the sale of flavored vapes, and just 16% oppose restrictions
  • 39% support a total ban on e-cigarettes, 29% oppose a ban, and 29% neither support or oppose
  • 78% support restricting vape advertising that “targets teens”
  • 73% support restricting nicotine levels in vapor products

The survey was obviously created to generate more support for FDA vaping restrictions, and possibly for legislation in states and municipalities like Chicago. At least one of the researchers, Sherry Emery, has been part of several questionable social media studies about vapers before, and it’s quite clear where these authors stand.

If Americans are concerned about teens “becoming newly addicted,” it’s because they’ve been told that they should be.

The questions are designed to get the results the researchers want, and the NORC press release reads like a warning letter to incoming FDA acting commissioner Ned Sharpless. And Sharpless will get to read about it in possibly hundreds of newspaper stories — all based on the press release.



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