Sunday, September 01, 2019

American Lung Association Condemns 2.5 Million Ex-Smokers for Using E-Cigarettes to Quit

What do you say to a person who smoked two packs of cigarettes per day for 30 years and then quits completely by switching to vaping?

I would say: Congratulations on this amazing and difficult accomplishment. You've saved your life and done a huge service not only to yourself but to your family and friends.

The American Lung Association, in contrast, is saying to vapers: Shame on you! You shouldn't have done that. You're a bad person because you're still using a tobacco product. And you're at risk of dying from acute respiratory failure.

Specifically, the American Lung Association stated: "The bottom line is that e-cigarettes are not safe, and from the American Lung Association’s perspective, no one should be using e-cigarettes."

By saying that "no one" should be using e-cigarettes, that obviously includes ex-smokers who have quit smoking successfully using e-cigarettes and are reliant on these products to remain smoke-free. Based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, there are more than 2.5 million of these ex-smokers in the United States.

Essentially, what the American Lung Association is saying to the 2.5 million vapers who accomplished the difficult task of quitting smoking is: "F... you."

The Rest of the Story

I find this incredibly interesting because it demonstrates that the American Lung Association simply cannot tolerate the thought that someone could use a product in a way that "looks like" smoking to quit smoking, even though it is much safer than smoking and has been shown to be a much more effective of quitting smoking than using a nicotine patch or other nicotine replacement products. The efficacy of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation is on par with, if not better than that of varenicline, making it the most effective strategy for quitting smoking for anyone who is unable to quit cold turkey (which is the overwhelming majority of smokers).

It's fascinating to me that the American Lung Association, whose goal is supposed to be to prevent lung disease, would be condemning vapers rather than congratulating them. That the ALA is essentially flipping vapers the bird is a clear sign that they really don't care if someone quits smoking; they only care that someone quit the way the ALA thinks they should quit: that is, using pharmaceutical products from companies with which the American Lung Association has had a financial relationship. If you look at the financial supporters of the ALA, you'll see almost the entire roster of Big Pharma, including corporations that manufacture smoking cessation products, such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

In addition to rubbing vapers' noses in the ground and showing them disrespect, the American Lung Association is lying through its teeth about the health consequences of e-cigarette use, claiming that they cause "popcorn lung" and "irreversible lung damage" and that e-liquid contains "formaldehyde and acrolein."

All of these claims are false. E-liquid does not contain formaldehyde or acrolein. Think about what the ALA is saying: they are accusing e-liquid manufacturers of purposely putting formaldehyde and acrolein into the e-liquids, which would be criminal. The truth is that in some devices, the e-liquid may be overheated and the excipients (propylene glycol and glycerin) may degrade, resulting in the formation of aldehydes. But these chemicals are not present in the e-liquid as the American Lung Association is falsely claiming.

The American Lung Association continues to tell the public that the use of e-cigarettes can cause "popcorn lung," even though there has not been a single case of this disease associated with vaping despite these products being used by millions of people and being on the market for more than a decade.

The rest of the story is that the American Lung Association is acting in a way suggesting that protecting the public's health is not their most critical value. Their primary value seems to be purity: that is, freedom from any tobacco product. This suggests that they are viewing tobacco use on moral terms, not health ones. If you use tobacco products, you are a bad person. It is a character flaw. It is a vice that cannot be tolerated or accepted. You have to cleanse yourself completely or you remain tainted. Even if switching to vaping has saved your life!

This is not public health. It is some form of puritanism. But more importantly, it is a type of public health malpractice. Recommending that ex-smokers who are relying on vaping to keep them smoke-free stop vaping is tantamount to telling them to return to smoking, since that would be the practical effect if they actually took such advice. If a physician instructed a vaping patient to return to smoking, that would essentially be malpractice.

Whatever the biases or political views that are motivating the American Lung Association, it is clear that this organization is not in any position to be giving medical advice.

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