My home state of New Jersey has many things to be proud of, from being the only state of two colonial colleges to hosting the first baseball and college football games to having the only official Twitter account that routinely traffics in "your mom" jokes. Sadly, it now has something to be just as ashamed of as its number-one ranking in toxic dumps, its role in the Hindenburg tragedy, and its absolute bottom-of-the-barrel standing in the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index.
I speak of this anti-vaping poster, which comes via the Twitter feed of Commentary's Noah Rothman and asserts that "vaping is as safe as skydiving without a parachute!"
Learn the truth: imminent and inevitable death. pic.twitter.com/hnNUzZcR31
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 13, 2020
This is not simply wrong, it's unbelievably wrong, for all sorts of obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. For starters, the death rate of jumping out of airplanes without parachutes is 100 percent (the odd Vesna Vulović story notwithstanding). For vaping, not so much. In fact, even New Jersey's official site for anti-vaping propaganda admits that there is only a single confirmed case of a Garden State vaper—out of what must be hundreds of thousands if not millions of users—dying from illness related to electronic cigarettes. The site also links approvingly to an article from last October that notes there are at least two "vaping epidemics" at play. The first, writes Cristine Delnevo of Rutgers, "is the outbreak of more than 1,000 vaping-associated lung injuries nationwide, which appears linked to vaping THC, marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, and has caused more than 25 deaths, includng one in New Jersey. Separately, there is the skyrocketing rate of nicotine vaping among youth, with its risk of long-term addiction." For what it's worth, neither of the vaping devices pictured above are the sort that use the black-market THC cartridges that have been most plausibly linked to most serious illnesses, let alone deaths.
But when you're dealing with propaganda, it's best not to get too lost in the weeds (perhaps especially when the propaganda is somehow related to weed). When targets of such communications realize they're being lied to, they tend to tune out all the information from official sources because they know it's not really unbiased, scientific, or seeking the truth.
As it stands, there is every reason to believe that vaping is, as Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum recently told me, saving the lives of countless individuals who would otherwise be smoking conventional cigarettes and developing all of the illnesses and medical conditions associated with them. For more on that, click below.