An article published recently by the American Lung Association claims that vaping causes popcorn lung and COPD. There is no evidence to support either of these assertions. In fact, I'm not aware of a single case of either popcorn lung or COPD that has ever been diagnosed in a vaper without a history of cigarette smoking. Even active smoking itself is not associated with popcorn lung, and cigarette smoke contains about 750 times the amount of diacetyl (the putative cause of popcorn lung) than e-cigarette aerosol. So the American Lung Association is lying about the health risks of vaping.
The Rest of the Story
However, that's not what this commentary is about. This commentary is about something very interesting that the American Lung Association inadvertently revealed about the way they think about science.
In the very first sentence of the article, the American Lung Association writes: "Scientists have been working hard to debunk the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes."
So this is how the American Lung Association thinks about science? According to them, scientists are not doing objective research to compare the health effects of vaping and smoking. Instead, they have come up with a pre-determined conclusion that vaping is more dangerous than smoking and they are frantically trying to come up with evidence to prove that conclusion. The truth, of course, is that there is no legitimate scientific debate about whether vaping is less harmful than smoking. It is much safer and no credible scientist can deny that based on a multitude of evidence.
So what the American Lung Association is basically saying is tantamount to its stating that "Scientists have been working hard to debunk the belief that global warming exists."
It's obvious that the writers of this article didn't think about what they were writing very carefully. So what we were left with is a revelation of the true thinking of the American Lung Association. Apparently, their true thinking is that they want to be able to claim that vaping is more dangerous than smoking, they have come to a pre-determined conclusion that vaping is more dangerous than smoking, and now they are hoping that scientists will somehow come up with evidence that vaping is more harmful than smoking.
This is no less damaging and no less unethical than the behavior of groups that are denying global warming or claiming that vaccines cause autism.
This is painful for me to watch because I have a long history of working with and for the American Lung Association and have many dear colleagues with whom I have worked over the years, especially in the movement to achieve smoke-free workplaces, bars, and restaurants.
Sadly, the scientific integrity of the American Lung Association has apparently deteriorated to the point that they have become just another denialist organization - like the global warming deniers or anti-vaxxers. Their actions are completely undermining the public's appreciation of the severe health hazards associated with smoking, something I worked for decades with the American Lung Association to achieve.