Monday, September 26, 2016

American Lung Association Tells Public that Smoking May Be No More Hazardous than Vaping

Despite the abundance of scientific evidence, including clinical studies, which demonstrate that vaping is much safer than smoking, the American Lung Association - as recently as last week - told the public that smoking may be no more hazardous than vaping.

A UPI article quoted the American Lung Association's senior scientific advisor as stating: "We have no idea what the long-term effects are because they [e-cigarettes] haven't been around long enough, but there's no reason to consider e-cigarettes safe. Whether they're going to cause less disease than tobacco cigarettes, we'll eventually get that answer but it's going to take years."

The Rest of the Story

Unfortunately, in my view, the American Lung Association has completely lost any semblance of scientific credibility. They are telling the public that smoking may be no more hazardous than vaping, which is inconsistent with the scientific evidence, which definitively demonstrates that vaping is much safer than smoking. While one might argue about the exact magnitude of the decreased risk, there is no legitimate scientific argument that vaping is not drastically safer than smoking.

Even the fiercest vaping opponents - like Stan Glantz - agree that smoking is much more hazardous than vaping.

The evidence that vaping is dramatically safer than smoking continues to build. Recently, a study out of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute demonstrated substantial reductions in carcinogens and toxicants in vapers who had switched from cigarettes:

"Researchers measured levels of seven nicotine metabolites and 17 biomarkers of exposure to carcinogens and toxicants present in cigarette smoke. Their analysis revealed that while the nicotine metabolites remained unchanged among the majority of study participants – suggesting that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine effectively – the levels of the 17 toxicants and carcinogens measured dropped significantly after just one week of switching to e-cigarettes. For 12 of these 17 chemicals, the decline in was similar to the decline seen among tobacco users who quit smoking. “Toxins and carcinogens we measured in the body almost disappeared – the body cleared the 17 different chemicals we were looking for,” Goniewicz said. “They are safer, less toxic. It’s the first time we have very strong evidence that we will be able now to give (smokers) that the answer is, yes , this you should consider a transition, a substitute for your tobacco cigarette that will save your life.”"

You have to go back at least 16 years - and to the old playbook of the tobacco industry - to find another example of an organization lying so blatantly to the public about the severe hazards of smoking and undermining decades of education by public health officials. It is just far too ironic that the organization reverting to this tactic is a health group that is supposed to be fighting smoking in order to reduce lung disease.

It is highly irresponsible for the American Lung Association to be undermining the public's appreciation of the severe hazards of smoking in such a blatant and destructive way. This not only does a disservice to the American Lung Association's donors and contributors, but it also threatens the credibility of the ALA and other public health groups and undermines the stated mission of the ALA which is supposed to be to fight against, not for, lung disease.

The ALA should be jumping for joy to see a feasible alternative to smoking that is popular among smokers and which is successfully helping millions of smokers to quit smoking completely or to cut down substantially on the amount they smoke. They should be encouraging all smokers to quit, even those who want to try to quit using e-cigarettes. By demonizing these products, they are actually promoting smoking by deterring many smokers from trying to quit and by getting many former smokers who quit by vaping to think about going back to smoking, since if there is no clear health benefit, then why not just go back to smoking?

Anyone who cares about the integrity and reputation of the American Lung Association should be protesting this fallacious statement and urging the ALA to get back into the business of telling the truth.

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