Thursday, May 14, 2015

Harvard Medical School, Like the Tobacco Companies of Old, Unwilling to Admit that Smoking is More Harmful than Non-Tobacco Products

It used to be the tobacco industry that refused to acknowledge that its products were any more hazardous than non-tobacco consumer products, but today it is Harvard Medical School (HMS) which is refusing to make that acknowledgment.

The Rest of the Story

In a Harvard Health Publication from HMS, the Medical School refuses to admit that cigarette smoking is any more hazardous than vaping, which involves no tobacco and no combustion and has been demonstrated to greatly improve the health of smokers who make the switch.

The newsletter asks the question "Are e-cigarettes safer than regular cigarettes? and then goes on to talk only about the risks of electronic cigarettes, leaving the reader with the clear impression that the answer is a resounding "No."

Here is the complete "answer":

"E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco. So people who use them aren’t getting tar, carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and other potentially toxic compounds in cigarette smoke. But the liquid in the cartridges contain other chemicals. One study showed immediate harmful changes in lung function after smoking an e-cigarette as have been seen after smoking a regular cigarette. E-cigarettes are so new that experts don’t know if inhaling the vapor they produce causes cancer or other health problems. Another unknown is whether second-hand e-cigarette vapor poses any danger."

"Nicotine in e-cigarettes has the same effect on the body as the nicotine in cigarettes. It is addictive and increases heart rate. One underplayed danger of e-cigarettes is nicotine poisoning. The nicotine in the cartridges can be absorbed through the skin or get into the eyes. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and eye irritation. Cartridges contain high amounts of nicotine that can be fatal if a child eats or drinks the fluid."

"The FDA regulates many forms of tobacco, but not e-cigarettes. That may change soon. The FDA is seeking authority over more smoking products, including e-cigarettes. That means the agency would be able to ban sales to children and insist that package labeling is accurate. Until then, the amount of nicotine in a cartridge may be more or less than what is on the package. The FDA would also be able to require that e-cigarette packaging includes health warnings, if such warnings are warranted."

So after all is said and done, not a word is spoken about the risks of smoking while multiple risks of e-cigarettes are provided. The reader is left with the clear impression that electronic cigarettes are just as harmful as, if not more harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

The newsletter then asks the question of whether e-cigarettes can aid in smoking cessation. It clearly wants to answer this question with a resounding "No." However, the scientific evidence does not support such a conclusion. So rather than admitting that a clinical trial showed e-cigarettes to be effective for smoking cessation, the article uses a sleight of hand and states that e-cigarettes have not been shown to be any more effective than the nicotine patch, implying to the reader that e-cigarettes don;t help smokers quit.

But the truth is that the clinical trial found that e-cigarettes are just as effective for smoking cessation as the nicotine patch. Since the nicotine patch is a well-accepted, FDA-approved smoking cessation treatment, one must conclude that e-cigarettes are also a legitimate smoking cessation treatment.

The newsletter fails to admit that, most likely because it has a strong anti-e-cigarette bias.

The newsletter then goes on to lie to its readers by stating that: "studies suggest that smoking e-cigarettes is likely to lead to smoking regular cigarettes studies suggest that smoking e-cigarettes is likely to lead to smoking regular cigarettes." I challenge the newsletter to provide even a single study which provides credible evidence that using e-cigarettes leads to smoking.

Moreover, calling the use of e-cigarettes "smoking" is extremely (and intentionally) deceptive. Vaping is not smoking because there is no smoke. There is no combustion. There is no tobacco.

These are facts which Harvard Medical School apparently doesn't want you to know.

The article concludes that to address the problem of youth use of e-cigarettes,parents should talk to their kids about not using tobacco: "It’s never too early to talk with your kids about avoiding tobacco." The rest of the story is that kids who use e-cigarettes are avoiding tobacco.

Why does the Harvard Medical School have to lie to the readers of its health newsletter?

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