Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why is the American Cancer Society Lying to Its Members About the E-Cigarette Regulations?

In an urgent action alert, the American Cancer Society (through its Cancer Action Network) is encouraging its members to write their federal legislators and demand that Congress not strip the FDA of its authority to regulate electronic cigarettes.

The "suggested" letter which the ACS pre-populates for its members states: "Congress should not strip FDA of its oversight authority when electronic cigarette use by high school students has jumped to 16 percent in a very short time... ."

This action alert seems to be clearly informing ACS members that Congress is considering stripping the FDA of its authority to oversee the regulation of electronic cigarettes.

The Rest of the Story

Now why is it necessary for the American Cancer Society to lie about the pending Congressional legislation, which absolutely does not strip the FDA of its authority to regulate electronic cigarettes. The legislation would merely change the predicate date for new products, meaning that it would allow vaping products now on the market to continue to compete against cigarettes for a share of the nicotine market, but in a much safer, tobacco-free form. The FDA would still have the authority to regulate vaping products and in fact, the Cole-Bishop amendment would force the agency to be more aggressive in its regulations by requiring it to set uniform safety standards for vaping products.

I don't see the inherent value in the American Cancer Society lying to its members. Does it think its membership is too stupid to be able to handle a more subtle and nuanced message? Does it even care about the truth, or is it just using its members as pawns on a chessboard to manipulate them to do its work for it? Does the ACS not see the damage it could be causing to itself, its reputation, and its relationship with its membership if members find out that they were being lied to? What is wrong with being candid, frank, and transparent? I know that we don't expect that from our politicians, but we should it expect it from the non-profit public health advocacy groups.

I had to change the pre-populated text of my message in order to exculpate the lie and replace it with the truth. I told my Congressmembers that in contrast to what the ACS told me to tell them, the Cole-Bishop amendment would not strip the FDA of its regulatory authority over e-cigarettes, but instead would strengthen it by forcing the agency to promulgate uniform safety standards as well as to regulate e-cigarette marketing, something it failed to do in its deeming regulations. The Cole-Bishop amendment would not strip the FDA of its regulatory authority. Quite the opposite. It would strengthen the FDA's regulatory authority by forcing it to actually do something to protect the health of the American people, rather than to simply create a gigantic bureaucracy that accomplishes little else than to shield toxic tobacco cigarettes from competition from a much safer, tobacco-free alternative.

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