Monday, May 17, 2010

Anti-Smoking Groups Refute Contention that Cigarettes are More Dangerous than Tobacco-Free Nicotine Delivery System, Call for Statewide Bans on E-Cigs

In a policy guidance document issued for its constituents, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and American Cancer Society take issue with the contention that active smoking is more dangerous for you than inhaling vapor from a tobacco-free product that delivers propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and only traces of tobacco-specific nitrosamines, at levels up to 1400 times lower than in cigarettes.

In doing so, these anti-smoking groups have gone further even than Big Tobacco. Even the tobacco companies do not claim that their products are no more hazardous than electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes).

Nevertheless, the anti-smoking groups claim that they do not know enough to be able to tell the public that smoking is more hazardous than vaping. According to the policy guidance document: "E‐cigarettes are battery‐powered nicotine inhalation devices that claim to deliver nicotine to the user through a vaporized propylene glycol solution. E‐cigarette manufacturers and retailers are making unproven health claims about their products – asserting that they are safe or safer than traditional cigarettes. ... The health claims being made by e‐cigarette companies are misleading and illegal under federal law."

The anti-smoking groups encourage their constituent groups to promote state laws that ban the sale of electronic cigarettes. Further, they urge their constituents to oppose laws that would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. Only laws that completely outlaw the sale of electronic cigarettes are to be supported: "Our organizations support legislation that would prohibit all sales of e‐cigarettes until these products are approved by FDA. Bans on the sale of e‐cigarettes should prohibit all sales and avoid including e‐cigarettes in youth access laws while at the same time allowing sales to adults to continue."

The Rest of the Story

You have got to be kidding me. These anti-smoking groups do not have enough information to be able to conclude that cigarette smoking, which kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, is more dangerous than a device which "delivers nicotine to the user through a vaporized propylene glycol solution."

It doesn't take a rocket anti-smoking group to be able to figure out that inhaling nicotine plus more than 10,000 chemicals - including 60 carcinogens - is more dangerous than inhaling nicotine without those 10,000 plus chemicals and carcinogens. In fact, the very study to which the policy guidance document refers - the FDA laboratory study - confirms that there are only trace levels of carcinogens in electronic cigarette cartridges, comparable to the levels found in nicotine replacement products.

If these anti-smoking groups are not convinced that electronic cigarettes are safer than smoking, then there is no way they should be convinced that the use of nicotine replacement therapy is safer than smoking. After all, the levels of carcinogens in these two types of products are virtually identical. How could it be that nicotine replacement products pose a much lower carcinogenic risk than smoking, while electronic cigarettes don't, if both products contain the same amount of carcinogens?

More disturbing than these groups' apparent scientific incompetence is the fact that they are promoting a policy which would cause severe harm to the public's health. Banning electronic cigarettes would force thousands of vapers who have successfully quit smoking to return to cigarettes. The result? Increased disease and death.

That these groups are urging their constituents to oppose laws to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors is even more appalling. They are willing to sacrifice the health protection of minors in order to promote their ideological position: that the very act of looking like you're smoking is unacceptable, even if by doing so you have become an ex-smoker.

Most disturbing, and unethical, is the fact that these groups - in their policy guidance document - fail to disclose their financial conflict of interest: their receipt of funding from pharmaceutical companies which manufacture smoking cessation medications.

Banning the sale of electronic cigarettes would benefit two major industries: Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Every electronic cigarette used is one less cigarette smoked and/or one less sale of a nicotine replacement or other smoking cessation pharmaceutical product. Thus, any financial conflict of interest with pharmaceutical companies must be revealed in a policy document which is promoting a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes. But these organizations have failed to disclose their conflicts of interest.

By promoting bans on electronic cigarettes, the anti-smoking groups are - once again - doing a huge favor for Big Tobacco. Such policies would help protect Big Tobacco profits by ensuring that a product which is being used by many vapers as a very successful strategy for keeping off cigarettes is taken off the market.

The rest of the story is that the anti-smoking groups are apparently more concerned about ideology than about the lives of smokers. Better that ex-smokers who have quit without the aid of Big Pharma products be forced to return to cigarette smoking than that they remain off cigarettes, but continue to go through a motion that looks like cigarette smoking.

No comments: