๐Ÿ‘†The New War On Vaping

welcome back to the channel ladies and
gentlemen let me know in the chat if you
can hear me and see me okay
sometimes the audio gets a little weird
think we're doing good
appreciate you all all joining in we
have a really special guest today his
name is Ethan Adelman the founder of
drug policy Alliance Ethan thanks so
much for taking the time
hey man it's my pleasure to be on your
show so let's you don't have to go too
deep into it because you have such a
long history but just to give those
people a backstory that that don't don't
know your story yet do you want to kind
of kind of give that how you how you got
into the the drug policy world and why
you started drug policy Alliance yeah
sure Matt I mean I mean you know it's I
spent most of my adult life in the cause
of drug policy reform which basically
means ending the war on drugs and yeah
well obviously I got interested
initially because I was 18 years old a
long time ago and started smoking weed
when I was in college and enjoyed it
wonder why it was criminalized but now
it's my 20s in graduate school
interesting the issue landed up writing
a PhD became an assistant professor at
Princeton started writing and speaking
about what was so crazy and ridiculous
and counterproductive about the war on
drugs and then after a year a few years
of doing that as an academic I got a
call one day from George Soros who was
interested in this area
he had just played a pivotal role in the
fall of communism and socialist
dictatorship Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union and he was asking
himself what in America is antithetical
to open society values and the war on
drugs was one of the first things they
hit him between the eyes so he gave me a
call we had lunch and then kind of the
rest was history I left the university
set up an advocacy organization that
eventually became the drug policy
Alliance became the leading organization
in the world advocating for alternatives
to the war on drugs and really focusing
on three main issues Matt the first
third of our work was about ending
marijuana prohibition first for medical
purposes and then more broadly and
replacing it with a responsible system
of legal regulation the second issue was
ending the role of the drug war in
incarceration and the third was making a
serious commitment to treating drug use
and addiction as a health issue not a
criminal issue and that's where my deep
involved in a harm reduction began with
respect illicit drugs and throughout
this time I kept an eye on the whole you
know issue of tobacco harm reduction it
seemed to overlap with my work on
illicit drug harm reduction and then
when I step down from loading drug
policy Alliance about two and half years
ago this issue started to draw me in
yeah if if anybody ever wants to go down
that rabbit hole sorry I got a little
bit of echo again oh I'll get over it if
anyone wants to go down the rabbit hole
Google Ethan watch some of his old
interviews for the 90s it's kind of
masterful the way you kind of
incrementally introduce people to
cannabis legalization you didn't start
out you didn't start out just you know
let's recreational everywhere it was
started as a medical thing talking about
you know especially you know people that
are dying cancer patients stuff like
that because you kind of had to ease
people into it a bit well that's right I
mean you know I mean you know my
academic years only need is really
nineties it was really about the broader
principles and making the case but
beginning in the mid 90s when I started
to get more political and the first of
those with the medical is the medical
marijuana initiative in California where
a couple local activists had drafted it
but I was able to pull the other funding
in the campaign to make it a real
political victory and my view there was
that medical marijuana was really two
things it was on the one hand really
about the rights of people who used
marijuana as a medicine to have legal
access to this and their right to be
first in line when it came to no longer
be being treated as a criminal for the
use of marijuana but we also had to hope
in the intention that in opening up the
medical marijuana issue and in
legitimizing that that that would help
transform the broader public discussion
around marijuana in a way that would
ultimately lead to broader legalization
for adults and in fact it turned out
that way so it was about being political
in our inner strategizing and obviously
a lot of the lessons I learned in
those things whether it was with respect
to marijuana decriminalization or
whether it's with regard to harm
reduction it's the sort of stuff that's
always in the back of my mind now is I
mean getting more and more engaged in
the battle over tobacco and nicotine
harm reduction yeah for sure and I think
that that's that's one area where we've
struggled a bit in tobacco harm
reduction is messaging and in kind of
opening eyes a bit and getting people
kind of incrementally over to our side
because tobacco use has been so
stigmatized over over the decades you
know a lot of it for good reason
obviously but but yes and no it's been
difficult for us to to create the the
proper arguments to get people over into
our camp what do you what do you think
are are some of the best ways to do that
as far as just kind of changing hearts
and minds when when when people just
have this big tobacco 2.0 you know
scenario ingrained in them well I mean
obviously sticking with the facts the
truth is obviously pivotal on this stuff
I mean I mean you know maybe you're one
of the ones who taught me about the
evolution and emergence of the whole you
know vaping world and how that has
nothing to do with Big Tobacco really
and in fact has been antithetical to Big
Tobacco and so part of it's just about
continuing to put that information
forward and calling out the people who
claim that all of this amounts to Big
Tobacco I think that's one thing I think
that um you know part of it is just the
basic element of harm reduction the
element of harm reduction is accepting
acknowledging that both young people and
old are going to engage in activities
which may be undesirable or risky or
dangerous and that the first response
may either be to say don't do it just
say no and that works for some people or
quit and that works for some people but
therefore large numbers of people they
are unable or unwilling to quit doing
the thing that they enjoy that they like
and therefore the objective has to be to
make that activity less dangerous right
that was the basis of needle exchange to
reduce the spread of hiv/aids and
people who are injecting illicit drugs
and also drugs wasn't causing AIDS right
it was basically that and heroin wasn't
causing AIDS it was the sharing of
surgeons that have been infected and it
was sort of making this argument that
yeah you may want everybody to stop but
the number one thing has to be keeping
people from dying and the same thing
with getting people to switch for heroin
to mess it on a lot of people are saying
that's just substituting one drug for
another messing on it's harder to get
off her than her on all the anti messin
on stuff the horrible stigma and so much
of that we see play out again with
respect to tobacco and e-cigarettes and
nicotine on nicotine replacement so it's
about sort of holding people's hands
sometimes it's actually also about
asking what people would want if it was
their own relative you know I mean what
if you're asking people of unit if
you're your father your brother whatever
smoking what would you want what if they
can't quit you know it's just it's
putting it on a very personal human
level that sometimes helps people get to
where they need to be yeah I I see a lot
of parallels with with opioids I I'm
someone that had you know I had my own
troubles with opioids a decade ago
because I hurt my back and and the same
arguments are used where it's just it's
just swapping one thing for another
because people they don't it's almost
like they're more worried about the
addiction than than the harm itself
sometimes and and they they look at it
as like having your cake and eat it too
scenario like vaping it's just another
way for you to enjoy a drug as opposed
to a way to save your life yeah I think
remember we have in America a very
attached a very deep attachment to the
notion of abstinence and sobriety and
it's always important to remember that
the United States is one of the few
countries in the Western world that
banned alcohol right we had a temperance
movement you know we're a great
temperance minute late 19th early 20th
century that resulted in the national
prohibition of alcohol you know and that
failed experiment for 14 years in fact
with just right now celebrating you know
I think the hundredth anniversary
that of that entering into effect and
and in a way that belief in sobriety
it almost quasi religious belief in it
that that on some level this body my
body this is God's vessel and I have an
obligation to my Lord and my maker to
keep this vessel of God's you know
freely drug-free free of impurities free
of these dangerous substances it was a
key element that drove alcohol
prohibition and it's been a very strong
underlying element with respect to all
of the illicit drugs and I must say I
didn't see it coming up so fast with
respect to back to tobacco and nicotine
but now you have you know is essentially
the now read people have remarkably um
you know begun to become more accepting
of people getting high smoking marijuana
and we're beginning to see some real old
things with respect to psychedelics
primarily their legitimization as a
medical thing we're beginning to see
subjects from growing acceptance around
heroin and cocaine not as a recreational
drug but around the notion that people
who are addicted should not be
stigmatized and punished on because they
are addicted but it's it's almost as if
that as we're easing up a bit on all of
those that in a way every society needs
a boogeyman and in America we need our
drug boogeyman and right now you know
cigarettes but even more so east
cigarettes and vaping has somehow become
the new boogeyman the thing that we can
all attach our fears our fears around
our children our fears around addiction
our fears around loss of control and
that that current one's deeply in the
u.s. is the same time we have to
acknowledge that in the u.s. drug area
we also look to Europe as a role model
for being pragmatic in harmony with
policies but in this issue sometimes
some of the European countries are just
as backward on tobacco harm reduction as
we are here yeah and I think about that
topic a lot and and why we see some in
politics that are so gung-ho on harm
reduction when it comes to other other
drugs or marijuana legalization but they
they have this big blind spot with
and you know maybe you can give me your
input on that so of it I think it's like
a corporate thing you know like they see
big business coming in trying to
addiction but I mean isn't that good
this is not what happens when you
legalize alcohol again or cannabis you
know if we have recreational I think
you're right because I'm talking about
it's insufficient I'm sitting in San
Francisco right now New York but I'm in
San Francisco
and I've talked to some of the people
who were input politically my great
allies in California on drug policy
reform you know helping out on issues
like overdose prevention and clean
needles and medical more medical
marijuana marijuana legalization and
rolling back incarceration and they
regret on this stuff and get some of
those same people have been leading the
charge to ban e-cigarettes and clearly I
noticed that when I were we talked and I
comments there with all of the
scientific evidence read this article
that just appeared in science leave this
piece look at the evidence
look what's really going on with
adolescent youth look at the potential
harm reduction benefits of this for
current smokers thirty five forty
million American smokers look this is a
reason why these these cigarettes can be
so effective they're not and they don't
want to talk about the evidence he keeps
coming back to big corporation and
especially big tobacco and then
especially when jewel when jewel kind of
had a double double bogey right we're on
the one hand they were rapidly becoming
enormously popular with young people in
a way that other east cigarettes and the
vape devices at open systems never had
become quite so popular and on the other
hand selling a third of themselves to
Altria which really was big tobacco
right when they did those two things
they became the big tobacco reigniting
the threat to our children and i think
that just kind of sees the political
imagination especially the liberal
imagination although obviously not just
liberals when you look at the bipartisan
support for crackdowns in this area and
i think that really was a major piece of
it i think the second thing that went on
is that there was some element of
believing oh my god we finally had big
to back on the road cigarette smoking is
dropping among
and adults and and we're gonna get them
and now and now damn these isa grits are
coming up and kids are developing a
whole new attachment to nicotine and
tobacco et cetera et cetera so there was
that piece of it part of it was that on
the anti-icing folks anti vaping folks
took up a couple of wines and say that
the anti marijuana folks had tried for
over and over and over what was the
gateway hypothesis they could do this
you go into harder drugs and here it was
okay you're gonna beep and you're gonna
go on to smoking cigarettes the other
one was the adolescent brain you know oh
smoking weed is going to destroy the
Allison brain die mature IQ and in both
cases you know there were little bits of
truth to each of these claims but they
were overwhelmingly just bullshit you
know I used to brief you to the Gateway
hypothesis as an ounce of truths are
better than a pound of bull and the
analysts of brain stuff was more or less
the same and those things just ran a
steam on the marijuana front and now
that could kind of been reignited with
respect to the anti vaping front see in
that piece as well I mean the major
difference in a way in this fight is
there's not at least as yet there's a
big class dimension to this issue around
the fight over vaping and tobacco harm
reduction which you also see in the
illicit drug area especially on the
opioids which you don't have in this
area at least as yet is the race
dimension which has been so powerful
with respect to illicit drugs but not
really much of a factor in this one is
yet yeah I mean on the on the business
point it seems like if we get federal
cannabis legalization you're gonna have
some big players that are gonna pop up
there as well and then what is it going
to get demonized again because you have
multibillion-dollar corporations selling
weed to people I don't know look I mean
I don't know delighted I mean I devoted
a big part of my life to working to
legalize marijuana and marijuana
prohibition have responsible regulatory
powers we responsible inventory policies
I knew in theory that you know big
business was going to end up playing a
major dominant role once we legalized
and a lot of the mom-and-pop shops on
you know we're gonna basically struggle
this or
I ever even go out of business and that
was one of my regrets about what it was
that I was fighting for but I'll say
that marijuana is on you know marijuana
is a drug and there is a minority of
users for whom it's a deeply problematic
drug I know people that the terrible
time with marijuana so I mean I think
marijuana is you know there's I think
going to be a growing health concern
around marijuana use that it's now kind
of in its subsided a bit but I can see
that well coming back around um you know
there are some people got in cavalier
about the potential health health out
elements of marijuana so and I think
once big business starts to play a big
of a bigger role as marijuana gets more
and more normalized so it could be
issues around that so I think and
remember also these things always go in
cycles as well
you always go inside this as well you
know and there's one reason there's that
cyclical element that makes me hope and
think that maybe some of this anti
vaping hysteria with respect to nicotine
is going to begin to fade as more and
more of the science comes out as you
know hopefully the kids stop doing as
much of it as they've been doing on so
we'll see yeah well and on that I mean
it seems like it's never gonna go away
for as long as we have groups like
tobacco free kids getting funded with
millions of dollars to you know and then
like you said we're their new boogeyman
so that they they kind of always need a
purpose it seems like it's true they do
although I'll tell you back in the day
in the late eighties nineties the
partnership for drug-free America was
getting doodles of money from you know
all sorts of places and a lot of that
was focused on anti marijuana stuff so
sometimes you know the even well-funded
campaigns when they begin to reach too
far and lose their connection with
American public opinion I mean right now
you consider for example the fact that
as a result of all of these scare
tactics that have been put out by the
anti vaping groups as a result of the
miscommunication I think the liberals by
the center of Disease Control and to
some extent by the FDA as a result of
the sensationalist things being put out
by politicians as a result of all the
crappy media coverage you now we now
live in a time where a majority of
sixty to seventy percent believe that
vaping nicotine is as or more dangerous
than smoking cigarettes others believe
the exact opposite of what is true it's
also the case that for a long time I
think over fifty percent of Americans
have believed that nicotine is what is
the reason that cigarettes kill people
right as opposed to just hooking them
but not killing that and so you have
massive misinformation out there now I
think the challenge on behalf of you
know for us harm you know Chinook
supporters is basically to just keep
ramming home the information what's been
lacking so far is any kind of
independent funding I mean what are
these I'm looking at right now you know
I'm sort of semi-retired I'm figuring
out what role can I play I'm not you
know I'm enjoying getting more
knowledgeable in this field and
beginning to speak out and do interviews
and this and that but what's clearly
needed in this field is funding it does
not come from the e-cigarette or the
tobacco world because right now you have
Bloomberg putting in a couple hundred
million dollars to this you have other
foundations putting in you have
government funding being strongly in yet
both state and federal being strongly
anti harm reduction you're the
International World Health Organization
being strongly anti tobacco harm
reduction on the other side the tobacco
companies could afford to put in in
firmly to counter that but anything they
put out is tainted by virtue of their
being involved and what do you really
need is somebody like the role that
George Soros played and kind of teaming
up with me 25 years ago where we could
begin this long term effort you need
essentially a George Soros type
philanthropist somebody who has no
financial involvement in the tobacco
nicotine vaping field but who sees that
this is a man-made major hypocrisy that
this is a violation of human rights that
is antithetical to public health and
that we don't want to have a whole new
drug war emerging where tobacco's the
subject of a criminalized drug war in
the way that marijuana was in the past
and cocaine and heroin still are yeah
yeah I agree that's where you need to go
to George Soros and be like hey what do
you think about Bloomberg I mean they
stop and frisk he's not a friendly
fellow let's
I mean you know I mean Soros a bloomer
and they barely know one another they
met some years ago oh I know we're
George called out Bloomberg a bit on his
intensive you know stop and frisk
policing and arresting huge numbers of
young people on marijuana but you know
at this point George he's 89 there are
threats to open society all around the
world you know fundamental threats to
human rights so you know although I
think he's aware of my interest in this
I'm not about to go picture yeah it
seems like that's one issue is like in
this day and age where there are so many
things going on like he seems like a
minor fight to some people yeah I mean
thank God he's kept his commitment to
the broader drug policy reform struggle
and continued supporting my old
organization drug policy Alliance and
the global harm reduction effort he's
still the number one funder of that
issue in the world which I'm very glad
about but I don't think this is
something he's gonna Alex Clark from
casaya actually asked a good question
here he said curious what Ethan thinks
about the notion that vapor products
should be approved and marketed as
therapies before being phased in as
recreational products like cannabis you
know I mean first of all looking forward
to meeting Alex Lorie these days I've
admire what you saw or you know we're
doing you're trying to do in the US on
you know if one were to go backwards and
to say how might this have evolved I
mean obviously with medical marijuana we
need and now with psychedelics they need
to go the medical route before there's
any possibility of looking at a
non-medical form of legalization I think
in the way that on the tobacco the the
you know the substitution products are I
don't know if that would have been
viable I mean one good when one
sometimes things could there be some
compromises you know there's now this
issue should they start to ban the 5.0
or 50 was a milligram or whatever you
know ii cigarettes the Joule and others
produce or or limit the way they do the
UK to i think it's 20 milligrams or
something like that and it raises
questions well maybe the higher dose
should only be you know by prescription
and the lower dose would be over the
counter or or you know
compromises like that but my
understanding is that given the fact you
already have this thing out there it's
already being used by millions and
millions of people it's already there's
what roughly three million people who
have already dead who have already made
the switch I think that's the best
estimate there's only three million
people who have switched from cigarettes
yeah I mean there's millions more of
dual users but like complete switch
there's a whole spectrum like there's
another seven eight ten million dual
users which range obviously for people
who primarily smoke and vape a little to
people who primarily vape and smoke a
little but in terms of people who truly
made the switch it looks to be about 3
million people so how one man says that
well let's make this medical or require
those 3 million people to all go the
medical route at this point and get me
if one if we were to make that
incredibly easy like to say okay we're
gonna make it only by prescription but
this description will be as easy to get
as a prescription for Viagra or
prescription for you know anything where
doctors just write it off and you know
you know maybe there would be something
there but a point of fact the FDA's
gotta go through a process in ago years
and years and years before something can
become medical all blade and even when
you do that you start if you go that way
you start adding too because the cost of
the healthcare system and then the
notion is would that actually make it
substantially less accessible to young
people and that's where it might around
the edges but the thing I can forget is
that we had an entire war on marijuana
for almost a century where we arrested
tens of millions of Americans largely
adults we spent ten thought maybe
hundreds of billions of dollars to ban
it for adults because we said we were
worried about the kids but for as well
dead period who has the best access to
marijuana the entire time the kids right
so the notion that we're jumping through
all these hoops to make you know
flavored e-cigarettes less available
maybe banning all these cigarettes are
under protecting kids and if marijuana
is any guide the kids are going to be
the most resourceful and the least
risk-averse in terms of continuing to
get what they want where is it going to
be adults who might uses it as a harm
and vice who are going to be most
effectively deterred by all this over
regulation and prohibition yeah and I
have a hard time with it - because
vaping is such a like spur of the moment
on a whim thing for so many people where
like they were at the gas station one
day they saw some some weird contraption
said oh I'm gonna try that too and then
all of a sudden they liked it and they
went down that road and ended up
quitting smoking completely so a lot of
people accidentally kind of do you know
they sort of fall into it and if you
take it you know the analogy here is
with harmless gorilla central gear yeah
you know they're you know I remember
some early years when we were in some
states which did not want a lot of
needle exchange programs and so there
was an effort in some places like Rhode
Island to allow to increase access to
sterile syringes with a prescription
right so doctors could prescribe a
sterile syringe in states where you
needed one set to get that but the truth
is with people who are addicted to
heroin or cocaine it's also it's the
same thing you know they're addicted but
almost anybody who's addicted to those
drugs goes through a few minutes or a
few hours or a few days where they think
they want to quit and then they go back
and they want to quit and therefore
making it making it easy access to get
what it is they want right to get the
clean needle or the same thing you know
one of the problems with this on our
program is often times is that you got
it wait there's a wait list to get into
the clinic or you got a schlep down to
this place and you know and all this and
it's why there's been all these
proposals to make messing on every
preneur fee and access the United States
more like it is in other countries
around the world where if people want to
get it they can get it quickly when they
had that impulse to do something that's
less dangerous and I think that that's
the that's the nature of harm reduction
to some extent of harm reduction is
about non medicalizing the alternative
right there's a medical approach to
dealing with addiction and there's a
harm reduction approach to dealing with
addiction and they overlap but there are
major elements of harm reduction which
is basically antithetical to
medicalization which says keep the
doctors out of there controlling role in
this and let us as adult you Minh beings
with all our foibles and all our
frailties have the ability to try to
ourselves when we can when we want to
reduce the harms we're doing in our old
wise and sometimes the people around
them yeah I mean I think with vaping
it's one of those times where the you
know the open market worked out I mean
because flavors were a user driven thing
you know like you and I have talked
about that before like people created
what they wanted to help them not smoke
and whether that was some weird banana
cream pie flavor or whatever peanut
butter and jelly like they they created
you know but but nowadays you know it's
just these plate they they frame it like
you have a bunch of scientists in a lab
in a big tobacco lab that are creating
the most addicting flavors for youth
when that's not at all how this house
it's awesome right I know exactly if I
can makes you wonder now right with the
band that Trump announced on the flavors
other than menthol and tobacco flavor
and with the band's you're seeing around
the country I mean an interesting
question so if you look with respect to
young people well some of them will just
stop doing it because they can't get
blueberry of or tutti-fruitti or
whatever it might be some of them will
switch to mental or tobacco flavors in
all likelihood which may make it more
likely that they will go on to smoking
because they'll develop a familiarity
with the way that tobacco taste some of
them will switch to cigarettes on
because you know one of the things that
you know people are always saying well
oh my god adolescents you know that
smoke rates are dropping so much but
they're beginning to bake and oftentimes
with them correctly to say that is
smoking among adolescents dropping so
much in recent years and one reason for
that may be the increase in vaping right
I mean one of the biggest proportional
jumps I think ever may be the biggest
proportional DBS last four days right in
the last couple of years right coincides
with the jump in main thing and there's
reason to believe that they things
should claim with some of the credit for
that meanwhile respect to adults my
understanding is you know if you have
longtime smokers who are looking at
trying to do dual use or to face out
they may go for a tobacco flavor to miss
well flavored babe you know initially
but awesome that is people want to
forget about the flavor of tobacco or
they begin to lose the taste for
and so shifting into the mentor the
flavors of the whatever they are sweet
or fruity flavors is a way to stay on
help stay off of cigarettes so there's
this element about the ban on flavors on
that that just I'm going to get why
they're concerned about it I didn't
think concern why it's more appealing to
kids what it tastes good like that but
to ignore entirely the fact that adults
like the flavors as well and that
flavors are an important part of people
quitting or not getting into it you know
I think that's where CDC and all the
other players are being incredibly
disingenuous yeah that's the flavor
arguments one of those it's very
difficult to explain to non vapors and -
you know politicians and and whatnot you
have a part of it is like you're
disassociating yourself because when I
quit I was like okay well I obviously
need to be smoked camel lights I
obviously need to get a camel light
flavored liquid and it'll be a one to
one thing and that's what I'll help I
quickly realize like that's not what I
wanted whatsoever and then you had the
variety where you could change your
flavor up every couple of weeks and so
you had these advantages with vaping
that smoking didn't have that I think
helped urge a lot of people over into
into that camp even some people that
didn't even necessarily even care about
quitting smoking in the beginning they
might have they might have you know they
went to vaping because it was cheaper
and they had more variety and it was
honestly just a little more fun and more
interesting for him yeah my friends who
made the switch you know at this point
they say why
once you become accustomed to vaping why
would you want to go back to that burnt
tobacco that some people still like the
old time feeling of this cigarette in
the smoke and all this sort of stuff but
a lot of people really just lose the
taste for it and that's what you want I
mean like you know the other thing of
course that's here is that the argument
that needs to be said and yet it's
almost impossible to say it in the
broader political environment is to
really look deeply at the question of
what is the real issue around
adolescents getting in to vaping right
now we already know there's a wonderful
study that came out just two
few days ago by Dave Abrams and rainy
our and a bunch of others on then
basically looked at the monitoring the
future data on vaping and they made the
observation that the large majority of
people who vape in fact had already
tried cigarettes or were dual users with
other tobacco products and also observed
that if you looked at the question of
how many people had never tried a
cigarette or other type of tobacco
product got into vaping without ever
having trying for tobacco before and had
now become regular smokers you were
talking about 0.4 percent of vapors who
had never smoked becoming cigarette no
serious cigarette smokers so if you look
at it just purely in terms of
adolescents who start to fade they want
has to ask well what are the issues
there now the first most obvious one is
that there's something a bit offensive
about businesses or corporations
pitching products which are appealing to
young people right and then they be and
then some of them becoming dependent for
life on this thing the idea of getting a
14 15 16 year old and there's some group
attendant will never quit better and so
there is something problematic in
defense of what like that even if this
stuff causes minimal harm to something
problematic right the second thing is on
is what are the real risks now the
analysts and brain stuff you know Mike
Bloomberg going on national TV and
saying if your kids they've they're
gonna lose five to ten points also like
you for life I mean the fact that the
guy who's running for president and the
number one donor of the anti vaping
effort is muttering and that supposedly
believing that kind of bull I mean
that's a scary thing that's a true
fanatic in an incredibly powerful
powerful place but if you look at what
were the studies that shows that there's
a problem you know with the the analyst
and brain right you basically has some
animal studies you know rat studies of
limited potential value to human beings
and you're the big question if there's a
real risk the Allison brain what about
the hundreds of millions of Americans
including America's greatest generation
you know 50th percent of whom at least
of the men were addicted cigarette smoke
and we the signals going here we never
about always having to their brain so I
mean that whole argument seems a bit a
bit disingenuous right the Gateway thing
or we just went through that all sorts
of reasons to believe that that's not
really gonna pan out to be very much
although all these bands may actually
push it people kids into yourself out
felling prophecy kind of like yeah do
these bands you you're there more and
then the question so what are the
long-term negative consequences of
vaping well there's that very small
possibility that there's something about
vaping that actually is problematic for
the lungs in ways we haven't detected as
yet obviously the fact that as is more
research being done on the bait devices
on their batteries on the you know
chemicals that are in the flavors in
this then we might be able to that we'll
be able to reduce whatever risk there
are even more but there's a slight risk
that we can't totally you know say
doesn't exist but it's a very very small
risk you know is that risk any greater
than the risk that the mobile phones we
have next to our heads all the time are
gonna cause that to increase the rate of
brain tumors or something like that I I
don't know I don't know but quite likely
not or how those risk compared to a
whole bunch of other things that we do
including having sugar or facts or all
the other things in our diet which may
prove and probably greater risk to young
people then taking a nicotine we know
that with respect to cancer you know
there appears to be almost no real link
between you know nicotine causing cancer
by itself right and then you have the
evidence from Sweden where people have
been doing snus
you know the oral nicotine thing for
decades and now most of the old that is
people who had initially started smoking
so it's hard to get a pure take on
people who are purist this users never
having smoke going into cancer but the
evidence appears to be that this
presents remarkably little in the way of
long term harms to health so it raises
this issue that if there were no
hysteria now and if in fact you know we
see millions of people young people
getting into vaping and we know that you
know any number then percentage will
continue doing it and if we were to
somehow project out 30 or 40 years
now we're today's adolescent may pursue
their 40s or 50s as some percentage are
still doing it
well the question becomes what do we
think are actually going to be the harms
associated with that to their health and
of course the other question which is
are there any potential benefits are the
reasons to believe that getting into
vaping may reduce the likelihood of
young people getting into other illicit
drugs or reduce the likelihood of them
having other problematic behaviors safer
around food right you know I mean so we
don't know those things but those are
the things that are essentially can't
even be part of the public dialogue
right now because when you say kids
it's as if rationality and Sensibility
and perspective and context go out the
window and we have to you know do
anything in order to you know put a
barrier between kids and that's always
one of those arguments of vaping
advocates have in the back of their head
but they know it's not super useful like
well you know they're not smoking its
gear you know what are the harms really
or or are they potentially treat it you
know self treating depression issues and
think things like that but yeah it
doesn't it doesn't go over super well
you know I find the whole rewiring your
brain term just problematic in itself
because it's if there's no way to really
measure that it's more so like any kind
of habit can rewire your brain
especially as a teen so if I give my kid
candy every day and that's his new habit
or addiction that his brains rewired you
know we were giving our kids up adderall
and stuff like that every day
that's quite frankly the TV that's on
today is very different the TV was on
forty years ago I mean you know there's
the rapidity of the screen changes every
couple of seconds now every one or two
seconds and parents are being told
always you're young out of young kids
watch big screen TV or then kids being
on these phones all the time it being it
basically addicted to mobile phones and
all this stuff you know pinball machines
video games it's all rewiring the brain
in some respect and the brains are I
mean it's true adolescent brains are
they are plastic etc but they're also
quite resilient in many ways and we
often times underestimate the extent to
which analysts and brains are resilient
I mean there is of course trauma there
are things like that but also you know I
think we get into this I mean I think
one reason why-y-y the anti marijuana
folks it was over the last stand really
about 10 years ago was to try to hype
that adolescent brain thing as much as
possible and and you know in the end
people just didn't really buy it yeah
well they're buying it again now but
people have really short it short
memories though they don't they don't
yeah I can't draw the parallels if
they're not really thinking deeply about
about this topic well I mean for me it's
dispiriting to because you know my own
politics are generally left center and
you almost sort of what you might call a
social justice libertarian I wish I mean
I care a lot more about you know
economic equity and social justice that
libertarians do but I care more about
personal freedom that a lot of liberals
did right I don't know so my politics
were kind of in that camp I have to say
seeing a lot of my liberal friends and
allies and political allies kind of
jumping on this drug war hysteria
because the drug is now nicotine or
vaping its dispiriting it makes you
appreciate that on some level they
didn't get the broader principles
fortunately people who work and fight in
the ilis a drug harm reduction area they
tend to get it very quickly yeah you
know that was one bright spot to me over
the last few months with with all the
vaping hysteria as we did start to see
you know because we said we had these
horrible news articles every day and
everybody's just talking bam bam bam and
we started to see some of the
contrarians pop up and be like whoa hold
up guys you know do you not understand
what you're doing so like in the harm
reduction realm we saw people like like
yourself speaking up but then we also
you know even some journalists starting
to kind of well let's pump the brakes a
little bit and like we're doing it again
goes you know I mean the problem is like
you get this great you know the
wonderful economic columnist Joe Nocera
you start from The Times that writes for
I see previously like sir bloomer
Bloomberg News and you know he did a
nice piece on the recent science article
by by Cheryl Hilton the former head of
the Legacy Project you know and Dave
Abrams and Amy Fairchild another Dean a
bunch of others I mean so ya have that
piece pop up is a column you have a
piece pop up in the New York Times
questioning the value of increasing
taxes on these cigarettes or equalizing
them with regular cigarettes you'll have
a piece here in the Washington Post a
piece here in the Wall Street Journal
the problem of course is the headline
writers and oftentimes the principal
reporters writing for these major news
outlets nevermind the television stuff
and when I remember most Americans write
probably including us get what we know
about the news primarily from headlines
right we leave through the headlines
whether it's TV whether it's internet
whether it's newspaper we see the
headlines and that's it and if you were
to just look at the headlines
overwhelmingly those things are gonna
reinforce incorrect understanding of
this issue and of the silence and I mean
for me I mean I've talked about this
publicly before I can I've been in any
work for most of my life and I'm born
there I live there last 30 years
whatever the New York Times to me is a
great one of the great bulwarks of
democracy it's one of the things you
know is it Benjamin Franklin or somebody
who say you know give me a give me a
free you know three a free press or the
free votes of press is the most
important I think of Ted Earley crucial
important paper but I saw them do the
worst coverage sometimes on the drug
issue on the marijuana issue on the
cocaine issue on the ecstasy issue you
name it and now I see them often times
when that poor fellow in the Midwest
died over in the fall right over I died
his family said he could never use THC
this had to be a pure you know nicotine
vaping thing and they put that on the
front page with a long profile and then
the times this is half our video news
program once a week they made that the
focus now look at the CDC acknowledging
that it appears that the entire lung
disease state was between ninety and a
hundred percent about tainted illicit
tainted THC vape cartridges right
what the power of that New York Times
front page story and video special in
terms of really misinforming it's an
elite educated readership was monumental
and the CDC retraction I think it's
maybe maybe gets a little kind of corner
piece in The New York Times right now
and with The Times did which you should
which does and should all this up to a
very high standard that's been true of
almost every other media outlet outlet
out there as well you know same time so
we get to you know the the Joe Nocera is
in the John tourneys and the people
writing some good stuff here and there
from an economic perspective but but
it's against this onslaught and
Bloomberg funded on salt and jump on the
bandwagon on Saul onslaught that some
you know just so powerful
basically it reminds me of of what I was
dealing with back with the drug war late
eighties early nineties when everybody
across the political spectrum was on the
drug war bandwagon in just a few people
or stepping out saying yeah I mean I
think the damage is done at this point
it could take years to undo it I saw a
new step where I mean even in Canada
it's it's twice as many people now think
vaping is is as bad or worse than
smoking it's up to like 60% in the last
like year that's that's over a year's
time yes right I think the the Gallup
poll and a Kaiser poll coming to those
results whereas if you looked at the
polling you know four five years ago
fewer people knew about dating but among
those who did you know more tended to
see it as a harm reduction thing as
opposed to a more dangerous thing yeah
for sure um if if anybody has any
questions go ahead and drop them in chat
we have about another 15 minutes or so
so kind of what are your thoughts about
the about the future I mean this year
definitely seems like it's gonna be
rough from a from a you know regulatory
standpoint especially in some of the
states yeah you know I mean basically
you have small groups you know the face
shop owners and kasaya on a range of
others Greg ha and his folks the vaping
Technology Association you had people
mobilizing obviously what was most
impressive was that rise
and you were there right the rally
outside the White House and you had the
work that you know Grover Norquist and
his colleague Paul Blair did and
engaging Trump's pollster to make the
argument that this is not going to be in
his political interest um now what's
gonna happen at the states I mean just
seeing that ban rushed through New
Jersey the other day almost impossible
to stand up against that I'm trying to
figure out where there's going to be a
sort of line drawn in the sand on this
thing or where there's going to be
musician to sort of stop the form of
momentum and push back and to do so not
with behind-the-scenes effort I mean not
just with behind-the-scenes efforts by
lobbyists advocates but with some public
playing out of this issue and and
oftentimes the problem is that
oftentimes takes money I don't know
where that's gonna come from I know it
is crucially important is that you know
one of the things that's going on is you
have folks trying to organize the vape
shop owners it's Center on a local level
but I think there's not a long tradition
of advocacy and collaboration so you
know I often times hear about a God if
we could only get to vape shop owners to
look beyond their own noses and you know
to coalesce and to form a powerful group
that could mobilize but then again
they're also small business people who
are you know consumers running a
business it's not as if they have lots
of time to be showing up at the Capitol
so I think you know where this is gonna
play and whether there's a certain state
that can provide a role model for
stopping the stuff somewhat um I'm not
sure where that's gonna happen yeah sure
the tough thing is is like with up with
the thing with Trump we were forced to
play politics we were backed into a
corner and he had to play politics and
so you had to talk votes and you had to
do polling and whatnot then he softened
his tone a little bit on it and you know
didn't do a full band at a partial ban
but then because it's political now his
his you know political enemies seem to
seem to kind of step in deeper into
their position and hate vaping even more
because Trump went too soft on it in
their opinion so analytical you know
back and forth yeah
that's right and it's also the fact that
if you look in Southern California you
know I mean a democratic politician
gonna stand up against these kind of
hysterical upper middle-class white
parents who are freaking out about kids
jool and stuff like that that's a type
of political courage that's rare now the
question is will this play out a little
more in some Midwestern places I know I
was a little surprised to see the
governor of Michigan be one of the first
Democratic governor of Michigan you one
of the first to jump on the beginning
flavored ecigs because Michigan is a
more mixed Midwestern state it is
something of a swing state I mean
obviously she's responding to similar
sorts of pressure and and and in
communications as folks in other states
but I'll be curious to see if this issue
can get some kind of higher profile I
think it's also you know I have not seen
this issue debated much on the national
media on the television I've seen a few
you know I've seen a Dave Abrams from
NYU showing up I think on NBC there's
been a few things like this but it's not
you know it's now that some of the the
with Trump stepping back making his
decision and a lot of these battles
playing at the state level I'm not sure
how this how the public's going to get
well-educated on this issue yeah it's
it's a challenge it's gonna take some
time for sure Danielle Jones asked a
question she said I would like to hear
Ethan's thoughts on the usage of the
word addiction haha
that's a great question uh my general
view is to avoid the phrase we first of
all generally avoid the phrase addict
because it is a stigmatizing track to
call somebody an addict is not quite as
bad for a junkie but I have generally
tried to avoid you know it's usually a
person struggling with drugs right or a
person dependent upon drugs and to only
use words like drunk your addict if I'm
using it for sort of dramatic effect to
make a broader point when it comes to
addiction I remember one of the
intellectual exercises I used to put
people through though when I was
teaching or running my organization was
I say write what you want to write use
the phrase addiction if you like
and then go back and substitute in what
you wrote addiction what you actually
met by your use of the term right there
addicted or addiction or addict and what
often times you'll find is that people
we use the same word addiction in the
course of say a thousand word essay to
mean very different things right or it
will all turn elyse it to people try
saying writing what you wanted to say
without using the phrase of the word
addiction because it's used in a way
that's not clear because when I use the
phrase in one way it may bring up a
whole different notion or set of
associations in the listener so I think
we should generally avoid it the last
thing I'll say when I'm asked to give a
definition of addiction the definition I
give is addiction equals dependence plus
problems addiction equals dependence
plus problems and by that I mean that
one can be dependent on the drug in the
way a diabetic is a dependent upon
insulin or somebody with heart disease
is dependent upon a hard drug or the way
somebody who's been addicted to illegal
heroin is now dependent upon miss and
entrepreneur fear there's you're
dependent on taking it every day or that
I may be dependent on my coffee every
morning or I don't feel right but if
that dependence is not causing any real
harm in your life it's not an addiction
it's just a dependence conversely I may
have a problem with a drug I may when I
drink sometimes if you do incredibly
stupid things or I may you know you know
just have a problematic relationship
with drug but I'm not dependent upon it
I'm not I'm not using it every day I
don't need it or I start to get the
shakes or the shivers or or what keep
functioning and so I would say that's
not addiction either so my best
definition of addiction is addiction
equals dependence plus problems and it
means that what we're talking about
cigarettes we tend to talk about
cigarette addiction because we know
there's a pretty damn good chance maybe
50% that if you stick with it it's gonna
kill you prematurely and it is going to
be undermining your health but when it
to ease cigarettes or for that matter
Iko source no sore or patches or gums or
whatever might be I would not call that
addiction even if one is dependent upon
him because if you're using it in a way
we're just causing little or no harm to
that's not addiction that's dependence
and some dependence is actually
perfectly okay and sometimes even
medically necessary for the benefit of
your own health yeah
Bruce and I asked how do we take what
drug policy is attempting to do to teach
kids about risks and apply it to this
controversy well I mean is that basic I
mean when people would ask me about harm
reduction I'd say I would give you know
basically four definitions of harm
reduction the first one would simply be
Harmonix that starts off as needle
exchange you know the recognition in the
early 80s that people injecting drugs
were spreading and contracting HIV by
sharing infected syringes and so it was
the simple way stop the deadly disease
for which we have no cure by making
sterile syringes more readily available
and getting rid of the dirty one that
was the person but the second one was
any form of of any any intervention or
policy it seeks to reduce the harm of an
activity that can be riskier dangerous
right and so the examples I would use is
designated driving norms right we don't
want people especially for young kid we
don't like people drinking while giving
young people you know getting drunk but
if they do we definitely don't want them
drive it right so getting the notion of
designated driving norms out there is
arm adduction seatbelts they used to be
the claim that if you put seatbelts in
people would drive faster right and
maybe the tiny bit rooted I don't know
but the bottom line was we know the seat
belt saves live sea pose harm reduction
we know that skateboarding or skiing or
playing football or motorcycling are all
somewhat dangerous activities but
wearing a helmet or pads is a form of
harm reduction of reducing the harms and
the risk that result from this activity
right and so it's that basic idea right
then that if there are things that
people are doing that we don't like
there are ways to reduce the
arms associated with that by changing
the form of the drug the form of the
behavior by putting on protective wear I
think that's the most important thing
you know when I was running drug policy
Alliance on we started a project called
safety first
it was the basic idea for young people
and it was the the basic idea that look
the first message to young people with
respect to drugs should be don't do it
the second message to kids with respect
to using drugs should be dumb do it the
third message was that the kids should
be well if you do do it there's some
things I want you to know because my
bottom line at the end of the day isn't
whether you know is whether you do it or
you don't do it my bottom line is you're
gonna come home safely at the end of the
night and hopefully grow up to make me
healthy with my head kids that's my
bottom line so it's about this thing on
the bottom line of people especially
kids health and safety that's what
matters most more than whether they did
it same thing applies to sex education
as well right worry less about did you
or did you and more about the health and
safety of the people involved yeah and
the harm reduction issue really seems to
stick with the younger generations more
we're like you know they're they're
doing it on their own as far as a you
know like with marijuana use they're
vaping marijuana now yes we had the lung
illnesses but that was a whole different
issue because of a certain ingredient
being used but they see more in tune
with with harm reduction as a concept
and maybe it is because their sex
education was different than a lot of
our older generations and they're
getting taught a little bit differently
about drugs at least some of them and so
there's some hope there where at least
they seemed to be a you know like for
example with marijuana it's not like
there's the numbers are going up but
they're transitioning from smoking to
vaping it or smoking to to add a little
bit of it yeah it's really actually if
we actually look at it it turns out that
young people in polls are better
educated about risk then are the adults
yeah so if you look for example but the
relative risk of smoking in vaping young
people are
the purport of part of the population
that is most accurate because in the
science is young people not older people
and when it comes to the relative risk
associated marijuana same thing right
when it comes to me the interesting
thing is young people seem to get it
more than the adults and we live in a
world where we expect adults to be
paternalistic and to make sure I protect
the young people whereas the young
people actually better informed than the
adults who are making policy to affect
them they think yeah yeah um here's a
question what do you what do we need to
do to get drug policy groups to take a
visible stand against vaping
restrictions well I think it's really
about engagement I know that before I
left drug policy Alliance and you know
may 2017 after you know founding and
running it for a long time I began I
introduced this issue to my board and
most people were sympathetic
we never formalized the position but you
know my staff had you know the freedom
to write and to speak out in favor of
tobacco harm reduction and vaping so we
were generally inclined that way I think
that you know with respect to drug
policy Alliance now which is leading to
a policy reform organization there's
definitely people there get and the
question is whether or not they had the
ban was to also take on this other issue
I think the prospect of of all of these
local bands and other sorts of bands
becoming increasingly criminalized we're
going to see more and more people
beginning to get you know arrested we're
gonna begin to see police getting
involved in this stuff we're just gonna
see more and more proposals to drug test
kids without cause or the sort that we
saw with marijuana in years past I think
that you're gonna see the drug policy
reform organizations getting more
engaged and then when it comes to the
leading harm reduction organizations
which is harm reduction coalition in the
US and harm reduction international I
think they also get it in principle and
once again it's a matter of bandwidth
and whether it's time for them to take
this thing on I know there's a few
interesting things going on right now I
think a few studies to see whether or
not because there among you know if you
look at which populations smoke most
heavily generally its mentally ill
population it's got the highest rate of
it's also true there people who are
problems with illicit drugs tend to have
high rates of smoking and you know the
especially used to be what's the
smokiest room in America it's an AAA
meeting or an NA meeting right it's
people been struggling with other
substances using that so there's an
interesting question to say then target
being add people who've been struggling
with illicit drugs right would be the
right thing to do and also asking the
question if people have struggled with
heroin cocaine booze or other drugs like
that if they can make the switch to
smoke from smoking to vaping is there
some spillover benefit in terms of how
they relate to their other drugs that
they've had problems with and I think
people are just beginning to look into
that issue right now yeah I think we
need to in some some like on Kassar
already doing this but do more outreach
with like the LGBTQ community as well
you know who had a really high rate of
smoking and there's a lot of vapors in
that community now but we kind of need
rise here in yes here in San Francisco
with a large LGBTQ community you would
have thought that would have been more
of a factor in keeping San Francisco
from being the national leader in
banning vaping and I'm not sure why it
did not play out that way I know it's
very very odd but yeah we definitely
need because that's the one really
interesting thing about this is like
there's they're smokers from all walks
of life you know like there's a lot of
smokers in the red states and there's a
lot of smokers in the that there's older
smokers there's younger smokers there's
people of all different colors all
different sexual backgrounds and trying
to kind of have this umbrella and be
inclusive with everybody is really
important in in my opinion ya know it
really is and of course the question
always is how many people are willing to
engage and and make this an important
part of the life you know for a long
time I remember that one of our allied
organizations normal the nationalization
for marijuana laws you know they're
always here my god we attentively as
American smoking weed if only everyone
of them was
giving us you know 20 bucks a year if
it's once a year and beginning commit we
would really step out but in fact the
vast majority of people don't incline
aren't inclined to get politically
engaged and here you have millions and
millions of vapors you do have three
billion people who have fully switched
right we say from smoking to vaping and
for whom the slogan you know this is not
I think you told me if you're the first
one to tell me the slogan that you know
this is not a lifestyle for us this is a
life or death issue you know it's a
powerful a powerful claim the we wait we
vote ashtag or I vote I go at hashtag
that obviously had some impact I think
in moving truck so it requires some
level of political engagement now the
more serious these bands become on the
question will become whether that would
be enough to juice some people into real
action and that we'll have to see
ultimately political victory in terms of
pushing back these anti science bands is
going to require moving a lot of people
who don't smoke or don't date and you'll
have to come at this in terms of what's
rational public policy what works for
people they know people they care about
so it is going to be a struggle and a
huge amount of harm was created in this
past year you know with all the hysteria
and really deliberate miscommunication
by CDC and others and the terrible
coverage by the media including elite
media and the role of politicians and
being utterly irresponsible so just
digging ourselves out of that it reminds
me of how much time we've had just been
digging ourselves out of this horrific
drug war for decades because of this
Syria that happened in the eighties yeah
not just these but you know we have no
well unlike someone brought out a point
here they said the difference between
stigma against marijuana of the past and
the negativity against e-cigs of today
is social media the news cycle is
instant an average person doesn't read
more than the headlines so yeah it's a
message a message of misinformation can
get spread even faster nowadays than
than it used to be and that's it's a
tough battle for sure well it's also you
know one of the important roles in
medical marijuana played back in the
nineties and the arts was that it
to shift the imagery of who was a
marijuana consumer so until the mid 90s
I would yeah here I was a professor at
Princeton I you know where my tie Jackie
whatever it was I'd give interviews
there was a politician there were famous
you know intellectuals and conservatives
like William Buckley Milton Friedman
liberals others but inevitably the media
well photo maybe they show our photo but
they were much more inclined to plot a
photo of some teenager with bloody no
hemp leaves in his blonde dreadlocks
with a great big blunt in marijuana
smoke right and that was the imagery
that played it on TV they almost always
were showing imagery of smoking and this
and all this sort of stuff now once we
move forward with legalizing medical
marijuana first in our tea yeah and then
otherwise it began to become about
ordinary Americans it began to come
about my aunt or my grandmother you know
who had chemo was dealing with
chemotherapy for breast cancer and was
smoking a little joint it was about the
cousin or the friend who was dealing
with AIDS wasting syndrome or had
multiple sclerosis and needed to
marijuana for that so we began to
humanize it in the in the legislative
hearings people would come in you know
you know who were clearly disabled or
what happened then as the evidence
emerged last 10-15 years about the
benefits of of marijuana and and and CBD
for these infants who had this terrible
form of epilepsy or event syndrome it's
called you know and their parents
showing up and basically nobody wanted
to get in their way you know yeah it was
about humanizing this issue and shifting
the image reading and I think the
importance now for people who have
shifted from smoking today thing and
being able to testify being able to have
their children their siblings or loved
ones say I was worried my daddy was
gonna die but I know this thing is going
to save his life and here's the evidence
of the medicine doctors that
humanization right and that my god my
dad didn't stop did quit smoking until
until he tried that mango flavor he
tried the creme brulee flake
yeah the human element with the science
element encounter this stuff about the
that you know around the whole
fear-based campaigns around kids right
now yeah I totally agree well we are
that went fast
we're over an hour we'll go ahead and it
there appreciate you coming on man we'll
have to do it again yeah though mouse in
my pleasure a listen I also appreciate
the role that you personally play in a
big my tuner on some of these issues as
I begin to really immerse myself in this
field so thank you for that
thank you for everything you're doing
with the show and your advocacy and all
of that well thank you thank you
hopefully we get to meet face to face
again when I wasn't you know just on a
flight for 13 hours and barely any sleep
I'm sure we will I'm sure we will I
locate me right here thank you sir
have a good one thanks everyone for
tuning in we appreciate it and we'll
we'll see you next Monday