Friday, May 07, 2010

IN MY VIEW: American Cancer Society Doesn't Want Smokers to Quit, Unless They Use Pharmaceutical Products

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), quitting or cutting down on smoking by use of electronic cigarettes is not a good thing and harms the public's health.

According to an article in the Washington Post: "A spokesman [of the ACS] said it believes the devices were created to get around smoking bans and violate the spirit of smoking bans. "Allowing them would really be turning back the clock on what we're trying to do in Virginia to create smoke-free workplaces and environments that promote health," said American Cancer Society spokesman Keenan Caldwell."

The Rest of the Story

The American Cancer Society needs, first of all, to get its facts straight. Electronic cigarettes are not tobacco products and therefore, they are not devices which were created to "get around" smoking bans. In fact, electronic cigarettes were created in order to give smokers a safer alternative to the deadly regular cigarettes. In other words, they were created for an inherently health-promoting purpose: getting smokers off cigarettes.

The American Cancer Society needs, second of all, to look at the scientific evidence. There is compelling evidence that electronic cigarettes are being used by many smokers to either quit smoking or at very least, to significantly cut down on the amount they smoke. Thus, these devices are contributing towards a major improvement in the public's health. Moreover, there is strong evidence, based on extensive laboratory testing, that these products are much safer than conventional cigarettes.

What the American Cancer Society appears not to recognize is that every electronic cigarette used is one less cigarette smoked. Actually, it's about 10 less cigarettes smoked because a single cartridge can last for quite a while. In what way is a great reduction in cigarette use not a health-promoting effect?

The problem for the American Cancer Society is, apparently, that while smokers may be quitting or cutting down using e-cigarettes, that quitting is not being done using pharmaceutical products made by companies with which the ACS has a financial arrangement or from which the ACS has received substantial funding.

The American Cancer Society appears not to be inherently concerned about the health of smokers, but instead, to be primarily concerned with whether or not those smokers support the pharmaceutical companies upon which the ACS relies for funding. If a smoker quits using a nicotine inhaler or nicotine patch, it's a great thing. If a smoker quits by switching to vaping, it's a bad thing. Sorry, but that's not supporting health. It's supporting the financial interests of two big industries: Big Pharma and Big Tobacco.

The American Cancer Society should be ashamed of itself for telling the nation's vapers that cutting down significantly on smoking or quitting smoking entirely is bad for their health and that it doesn't promote improved health in the nation. But what they should be even more ashamed of is that their financial conflict of interest with Big Pharma, undisclosed in any of these articles, is shaping their public position and leading to advice that is going to substantially harm the public's health.

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