Friday, May 09, 2014

American Lung Association is Also Disingenuous in Promoting Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes

Earlier this week, I revealed that a group of U.S. senators is disingenuously pushing for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. They are disingenuous because while they pretend to be concerned about the potential for flavored products to addict youth to nicotine, they actually supported an exemption for menthol from the cigarette flavoring ban, and they are taking no action to remove this exemption or to demand that the FDA ban the addition of menthol to cigarettes.

Today, I reveal that it is not only politicians who are pulling the wool over the eyes of the public. The national anti-smoking groups are doing it as well.

In an opinion piece published in the New York Times, the president of the American Lung Association – Harold Wimmer – argues that e-cigarettes are addicting our nation’s kids and serving as a gateway to tobacco addiction. Based on that alleged “fact,” Wimmer argues that electronic cigarette flavorings should be banned.

Wimmer writes: “E-cigarette companies have revived some truly repugnant past tobacco marketing tactics – cartoons, celebrities, candy flavors and health claims – to promote their unregulated new product. Further, e-cigarettes are available to kids everywhere – online and in stores. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows e-cigarette use by children has doubled in just one year. The extended regulatory delay is contributing to another generation of Americans’ tobacco addiction. … the F.D.A. must build on them and propose rules to close the Internet sales loophole, eliminate candy and fruit flavors that attract kids, and require companies to alter their products to help reduce tobacco’s lethal toll. Each day of delay in finalizing this proposal means more newly addicted children and more disease, death and misery.”

The Rest of the Story

This piece by the American Lung Association is completely disingenuous. First of all, the Lung Association opposed an amendment that would have eliminating the menthol exemption in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Second of all, the Lung Association is not also calling for a ban on flavors in cigarettes that attract kids (i.e., menthol).

If the American Lung Association were sincere in its alleged belief that no nicotine-containing products should have flavors that attract kids, then the first and most important action it would take is to demand an immediate ban on the use of menthol flavoring in cigarettes. Short of that, all of this claptrap about eliminating flavors that attract kids and requiring companies to alter their products to help reduce tobacco's lethal toll is a bunch of crap.

Furthermore, the Lung Association's position is not at all science-based. There is no evidence that electronic cigarettes are contributing to "more disease, death, and misery." In fact, the current evidence suggests that electronic cigarettes are contributing significantly to the reduction of disease, death, and misery.

Like Senator Blumenthal's statement which I discussed yesterday, this piece by the American Lung Association is completely divorced from science and scientific evidence and falls solidly into the realm of political propaganda.

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