category factcheck
score Mostly False πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯🟧
claim "Synthetic nicotine now causing teen vaping"
author New York Times / Christina Jewett
tags ['third-party-fact-check', 'linguistic-analysis', 'flavour-fallacy', 'EVALI', 'popcorn-news', 'nicotine-addiction', 'brain-damage', 'vaping-epidemic', 'regulatory-misdeclaration', 'correlation-causality', 'title-exacerbation']


Presuming the workaround for FDAs regulation failure leads to teen vaping

This article in the NY Times caused a minor uproar, but turns out fairly dull.
Mostly relies on the usual appeal to fear and argument by quantity. Its claim arch - about "synthetic nicotine" being an unprovoked scheme by the vaping industry to addict and kill all the children - remains mildly unsubstantiated.

The FDAs framing campaign about teen vaping being an epidemic doesn't hold up to scrutiny nor dictionaries. Neither is its portrayal as well-meaning regulator. The loophole being decried is real, but the readers aren't being bothered with origin and cause. It was actually the FDA that facilitated the workaround that e-liquid manufacturers resorted to.

There's also an interesting timing aspect to the article. Publication right before the omnibus sneak amendment seems apt for news posts. But the recent release of the NYTS survey data (teen vaping down, but seemingly killed off teen smoking along the way) leaves a less coincidental impression. Cause that's the articles core bugaboo.

framing check

Loophole Fueling a Return to Teenage Vaping πŸŸ₯ Experimental and regular teen vaping are actually down. (But let's see if the incorrect assessment leads to a great diagnosis later on...)
Sales are rising 🟧 At best they've been substituting for the older variants. Rising sales aren't really documented anywhere, implausible at best.
synthetic nicotine that evades regulatory oversight 🟩 That's fair. (But misses the point.)
… tobacco-free nicotine products 🟧 Might be redeeming phrasing. Usually those would be decried as tobacco products. OTOH might be too obvious to write: "novel tobacco-free tobacco products".
crackdown on flavored e-cigarettes in 2020 πŸŸͺ This lingustic construct is making up a non-existent product category. All commercial e-liquids are flavoured, unless they're pure VG/PG bases.
curtail the epidemic of teenage vaping. πŸŸ₯ Not real. But if, the first step would have been advertisement rules, not funding sci-fi brain worm scarevertisments to all teenagers.
They have circumvented federal oversight 🟩 True, but backstreet boys be like: tell me whyyyyyy.
wiped out the use of flavors […] crΓ¨me brΓ»lΓ©e […] mango. […] candy flavors πŸŸ₯ flavour fallacy 101, portraying teens as 3 year-olds and thus insinuating adults don't deserve disassociation from smoking.
harm caused by vaping and flavor ingredients πŸŸ₯ alluding to popcorn lung.
protect a new generation from nicotine addiction. 🟫 Vitalstrat phrasing? (reverse spaCy scan: more likely CTFK)
trucks of poison through this huge loophole 🟫 Insects Meredith, for insects. Also chill with the coffeine.
although it is unclear if the issue will be included in the final bill. 🟦 ... ?
… health victory over β€œbad actors” who circumvented the F.D.A.’s πŸŸͺ kin liability
close this loophole […] regulate all tobacco products πŸŸͺ equivocation
synthetic […] nicotine went from virtually nonexistent […] to taking up shelf space in two-thirds of U.S. vape shops 🟧 And this is where it would have been useful to ask, why tho? (Just ignore the 2/3rds allusion; not actual market spread, just synth-nic occurences in shops.)
F.D.A. enforcement actions have had little effect on Lizzie Burgess’s ability to get vapes over the last four years. 🟨 Again, interested minds would go for the cause not just the observational reporting. Otherwise, you know, creating an illicit market is not going to help with the supposed problem.
more than a million tobacco-sales applications had been denied. πŸŸ₯ false equivocation
… identified himself … of Puff Bar, did not respond to requests for comment. 🟧 (appeal to spite) Other contacts than PAVe`s preferred scapegoat might have been available.
sales of disposablee fruit- and candy-flavored devices have grown […] […] […] pod and cartridge devices have nearly vanished. 🟧 Maybe got nothing to do with the flavours then, but it's just fairly obvious market diversion, CJ?
The National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in early 2021, […] about 11 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes. 🟧 That's telling, not because of the one-time "used" inclusion, but because NYT would then have been aware of the fallen overall prevalence. But got to make sure the readers aren't.

Then a whole lot of quotes, mostly boring allusions. And the EVALI thing with selectively scary pictures to obfuscate the context. Some appeal to pity and teenager claims that bear some reminiscence to CTFK postulates.

The unregulated vaping market at this point is a problem of the F.D.A.’s making 🟩 Shocking revelation. And you might be confused how the NYT author reached it. But turns out that was a Gregory quote.
Dr. Robert Jackler […] created a β€œsynthetic teenager” 🟨 Hope he doesn't fall prey to one of StanfordTRs timeline anomalities...
β€œWhen we buy them, there’s no age gating,” Dr. Jackler said. 🟩 Now wouldn't that be somewhat more useful to investigate than synthetic causes and the more simplistic conjectures?
chemicals used to simulate butter, which πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ popcorn news round up the NYT article.
β€œIt could alter nerve transmission in the brain in different ways from classic nicotine,” Dr. Jordt said πŸŸ₯ This is actually a rehash of the mice-brain talking points. R-nic might pose a problem for the liver, given sufficient quantity. But brain effects are fiction at this point. (But surely there's no shortage of funding for hyperbolic TC research.)

Quite synthetic EVALI formulation

Those who use kids as pretext, rarely have them in their hearts. And the article has no qualms invoking EVALI cases and again obfuscating the origin. It's not much of a preventive measure, but clearly resembles the formulaic misattribution.

                   ┃        amod           ┃    
      ┏━━━━━━━━━━━┓┃         ┏━━━━━━━━━━━━┓┃    
      ┃  npadvmod ┃┃         ┃  compound  ┃┃    
      ┃           ┃┃         ┃            ┃┃    
      β–Ό           β–Όβ–Ό         β–Ό            β–Όβ–Ό    
    vaping-    related      lung        injury  
     vape       relate      lung        injury  
     VERB        VERB       NOUN         NOUN   

The sentence construction reveals how much this note seemingly had to be strung into an unrelated topic:

At 19, she said, she was vaping THC and using a device β€” now advertising tobacco-free nicotine β€” that has as much nicotine as two packs of cigarettes, every two to three days. […]

Using a NVP that later switched to synthetic nic, does not imply any revancy nor relation to the THC vaporizer. The tobacco control math on pod nicotine equivalency strongly indicates a trope origin. (CJ: a pack of cigs contains 200mg, a pod around 40mg. Just saying.)



While the original concern of a legal oversight exploitation was warranted, none of the contextual explanations hold up. There's no counter indicators for this being anything but an orchestrated article. Other factual errors could have been averted with two minutes of googling. Hence "Mostly False."

πŸŸ₯ The author hasn't responded to email inquiries about sourcing. (Others had tried as well.)

Other potential issues in article