Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Anti-Smoking Groups Calling for Evidence on E-Cigarettes, But Evidence Doesn't Matter to Them

For many months, anti-smoking groups have been refusing to acknowledge the experience of literally thousands of vapers: that electronic cigarettes can be helpful in smoking cessation. How have they justified this refusal to acknowledge the facts? Simple. By arguing that no clinical trials have been conducted on electronic cigarettes.

Now that a clinical trial on the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes has been published (it reported that electronic cigarettes were as effective for smoking cessation as nicotine replacement therapy), have the anti-smoking groups changed their tune?

Sadly, the answer is no. Many of these groups are simply ignoring the evidence and continuing to argue that there have been no clinical trials on electronic cigarettes.

For example, according to an article published three days ago in the Pioneer Press, an anti-smoking group in Minnesota continues to argue that there are no clinical trials and that evidence of the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes is based solely on anecdotal evidence.

According to the article: "While the FDA considers regulating e-cigarettes, states, counties and local governments are taking the matter into their own hands. Chris Turner, program and media specialist for the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota, said Minnesota is one of the few states that regulate e-cigarettes, which are treated like tobacco products when it comes to sale to minors. While e-cigarettes are being hailed by some as safer than cigarettes, Turner said there are still health concerns. She cited an FDA study that showed traces of toxic chemicals and the presence of nicotine even in e-cigarette cartridges that claimed zero nicotine. 'The main thing is they have not been proven safe and have not been proven effective in helping people quit in terms of clinical trials,' Turner said. 'What you're seeing now is anecdotal -- people are saying these are helping them smoke less, but studies have not shown that.'"

The Rest of the Story

What Turner is asserting is not true. Studies have shown that electronic cigarettes can help many smokers to smoke less or to quit smoking entirely. In a trial conducted among smokers who wanted to quit, electronic cigarettes were as effective as nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation. This despite the fact that the product used was an inferior one: an early generation electronic cigarette.

The Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota is not the only anti-smoking group that is simply ignoring the clinical evidence. In fact, I can find few anti-smoking groups that actually reported the results of the electronic cigarette clinical trial. The overwhelming majority of anti-smoking groups are simply ignoring it.

For example, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights still falsely claims that: "there is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are an effective cessation tool."

The rest of the story is that anti-smoking groups are not publicizing the results of the electronic cigarette clinical trial because they don't actually care about the scientific evidence. They have taken a pre-determined position against these products based purely on ideology (they can't possibly endorse an activity that looks like smoking) and money (many of these groups have received money from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture competing products).

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