The American Heart Association has unveiled a new campaign which uses the hashtag #QuitLying and the website quitlying.org. The campaign is directed against "Big Vape" and it attacks e-cigarette companies for lying to the public. Among the lies that the American Heart Association claims e-cigarette companies are making are:
(1) that vaping is different than smoking; and
(2) that e-cigarettes can help smokers to quit smoking.
They claim that the lying on the part of e-cigarette companies is "leading more people to smoking" and has "landed hundreds of e-cigarette users in hospitals."
The Rest of the Story
In a massive ironic twist, it is actually the American Heart Association that is lying, and their lies -- unlike anything that e-cigarette companies have asserted -- are actually leading more people to smoking and possibly landing some vapers in hospitals.
The American Heart Association's claim that vaping is no different than smoking is blatantly false. Vaping is fundamentally different than smoking because it involves the heating of an e-liquid that doesn't contain tobacco, while smoking involves the combustion of tobacco. Vaping does not produce any smoke; it produces an aerosol. Smoking produces smoke because that is the product of the combustion process.
The American Heart Association's claim that e-cigarettes cannot help smokers to quit is also false. A recent randomized clinical trial published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that e-cigarettes are actually twice as effective as the nicotine patch in helping smokers quit. The epidemiological technique that you get from this study to the claim that e-cigarettes cannot help smokers to quit is called lying.
Even more ironically, the end result of the American Heart Association's lies is precisely what they attack the e-cigarette companies for doing: these lies are leading more people to smoking and may be landing vapers in hospitals.
The American Heart Association's lies are leading more people to smoking because by making smokers think that vaping is no different than smoking and that it can't help them quit, they are undoubtedly persuading many ex-smokers to switch back to cigarettes. After all, if vaping is the same as smoking and if it cannot help you quit smoking, then why bother vaping? You might as well just go back to smoking. These lies are also undoubtedly deterring many smokers from trying to quit using e-cigarettes. If e-cigarettes cannot help you quit, then why bother trying?
The truth, of course, is that at least 2.5 million smokers in the U.S. have quit smoking completely using e-cigarettes. By ignoring this evidence and claiming instead that vaping cannot help anyone quit smoking, the American Heart Association is both persuading some vapers to return to smoking and dissuading some smokers from switching to vaping. This will lead people to smoking and eventually result in an increase in smoking-related disease and death.
So what about the claim that vaping company lies about e-cigarettes are sending hundreds of people to the hospital? That's not true either. What is sending hundreds of people to the hospital are not e-cigarettes, but tainted THC vaping products in which vitamin E acetate oil has been used as a thickening agent. This lie is undoubtedly going to make the public think that e-cigarettes rather than THC vaping is causing the respiratory disease outbreak, and that will almost certainly result in more people continuing to vape THC than would have if the American Heart Association had told the truth and explicitly warned them not to vape THC.
To make matters worse, the American Heart Association is also encouraging teachers to lie to our students about the health facts regarding e-cigarettes and smoking. They instruct teachers to inform students that "There are many unfounded beliefs that vaping is safer than combustible cigarettes." Of course, these beliefs are not unfounded. What is unfounded is the American Heart Association's claim that smoking is no more hazardous than using an e-cigarette. To instruct teachers to further promulgate this lie among students is quite irresponsible.
The American Heart Association is also lying to teachers when it states that e-cigarettes "have no standards and can say/claim almost anything to get you to buy them." Actually, e-cigarettes are regulated by the FDA and cannot make any claim they want. For example, they are not allowed to make drug claims, they are not allowed to claim that they are to be used for smoking cessation, and they are not allowed to claim that they are safer than any form of tobacco product use.
The rest of the story is that it would be a major public service is someone could fund a #QuitLying campaign to get the American Heart Association to stop lying about electronic cigarettes and to stop putting the lives of the nation's youth at risk by misleading them into thinking that e-cigarettes, rather than THC vapes, are causing the vaping-associated respiratory disease outbreak.