In a position that can only be described as absurd, the American Lung Association is seeking legislation that would give a government seal of approval to conventional cigarettes -- which are known to be extremely hazardous -- but wants demonstrably safer electronic cigarettes taken off the market because we don't know whether nicotine plus 4,000 chemicals and 43 carcinogens is worse than just nicotine.
On the one hand, the American Lung Association is a strong supporter of the FDA tobacco legislation, which even the bill's supporters admit will give a government seal of approval to conventional cigarettes and create a false impression that cigarettes have been made safer.
On the other hand, the American Lung Association is quoted in a recent WebMD article as arguing in favor of the removal of electronic cigarettes from the market because they haven't been studied enough to determine whether the delivery of nicotine plus thousands of chemicals and many carcinogens is more hazardous than the delivery of just nicotine. The American Lung Association's chief medical officer is quoted in that article as stating: "They are nicotine delivery devices intended to be used like a cigarette. What happens to someone who stops inhaling the tars of cigarettes and inhales only nicotine? We don't know. There is at least the potential for harm."
The Rest of the Story
What an absurd position. Electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine rather than nicotine plus thousands of chemicals but because they haven't been studied in clinical trials, they should be removed from the market. Conventional cigarettes deliver nicotine plus thousands of chemicals and many carcinogens and have been extensively studied and found to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, but they must not only remain on the market but must be given an official government seal of approval.
In fact, electronic cigarettes have been studied and this laboratory testing has revealed that these products deliver just what they say they deliver: nicotine. They do not deliver other tobacco constituents in any appreciable amounts. Thus, they are demonstrably safer than conventional cigarettes. It doesn't take a clinical trial to figure this one out.
Moreover, what Dr. Edelman says about electronic cigarettes - "What happens to someone who stops inhaling the tars of cigarettes and inhales only nicotine? We don't know" - could also be said about the nicotine inhaler.
While it's true that there is the potential for harm from electronic cigarettes (nicotine may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease), there is certainly much less of a potential for harm than there is with conventional cigarettes (which also cause lung disease and cancer).
Electronic cigarettes are being marketed to, and used by smokers, most of whom are trying to quit smoking and stay off of conventional cigarettes. Why would you want to take away this device which is helping many smokers to stay off cigarettes? Especially when conventional nicotine replacement therapy is so dismal in its efficacy.
Once again, you have to question whether the public's health is the primary concern, or whether there is a more basic ideological consideration underlying the absurdity of the American Lung Association's position on cigarettes.