In a statement of advice to the public issued on Monday, the American Lung Association (ALA) warns the public against using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking because they have been found to contain "cancer-causing agents." Instead, the ALA advises people to use "FDA-approved" drugs, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
According to the American Lung Association statement: "There is no scientific evidence establishing the safety of e-cigarettes. The FDA has found that these products contain cancer-causing agents and toxic chemicals, including the ingredients found in anti-freeze."
The Rest of the Story
The rest of the story is that the American Lung Association is deceiving the public. The truth is that the level of "cancer-causing agents" (i.e., tobacco-specific nitrosamines) found in electronic cigarettes was miniscule. It was so low that it is in fact comparable to the level found in ...
... you guessed it: the nicotine patch!
According to the FDA laboratory study, the level of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in electronic cigarettes was so low that it could not be quantified. It was below the level of quantification for the laboratory method.
Laugesen reported that the level of NNK in electronic cigarette cartridges is 1.5 ng per gram.
Stepanov et al. have reported that the nicotine patch (Nicoderm CQ) contains 8 ng of NNK per gram.
Thus, the level of NNK in electronic cigarettes is actually less than that of the nicotine patch. The level of total tobacco-specific nitrosamines in electronic cigarette cartridges is about the same as in the nicotine patch.
However, the American Lung Association is not informing the public that the nicotine patch - which it recommends as being safe - contains cancer-causing agents. The ALA is only telling the public that electronic cigarettes contain cancer-causing agents, even though the levels of cancer-causing agents in the two products are identical.
This is a biased reporting of the science and I believe it is deceptive.
Why does a public health group like the ALA need to deceive the public? What happened to the scientific integrity of tobacco control organizations like ALA? And why is there no apparent concern for the ethical principle of telling the truth to the public?
I believe the answer, sadly, is that anti-smoking groups are committed to a pre-determined agenda and rather than objectively reporting the science, they only report the information that supports this agenda. This, I believe, is why you don't see the ALA informing the public that the nicotine patch also contains cancer-causing agents or that it was only trace levels of these agents that the FDA detected in electronic cigarettes.
Unfortunately, anti-smoking organizations are largely failing to report to the public the whole truth. This is why there is a need for someone to report the rest of the story.