by Carl V Phillips
The American Lung Association (ALA) may soon surpass the American Cancer Society (ACS) as the most dishonest anti-public-health charity in the country. It would be one thing if their position were, “smokeless tobacco poses absolutely no threat to the lungs (and decades of research show that it poses very little other risk also), while e-cigarettes might affect the lungs and have greater unknowns, and therefore we recommend that those seeking a low-risk substitute for smoking stick to smokeless tobacco.” But, of course, it is not. They take a dishonest anti-public-health position on smokeless also. It is that which serves as the proof that they are not genuinely concerned about e-cigarettes — they just do not want smokers to have a pleasant way to quit smoking.
ALA’s latest lies blitz came out during yesterday’s Great American Smokeout, an ACS project to encourage people to quit smoking. This project is obviously fine on its face, but ACS’s opposition to THR, the method that best helps smokers quit, demonstrates their fundamental dishonesty on the subject. They are more interested in punishing smokers than helping them. And, of course, both ACS and ALA depend on smoking for a lot of their income, both individual donations (“In memory of the dear departed, who would still be with us but for the anti-THR liars who kept him smoking, the family asks for donations to the ALA in lieu of flowers”) and far more important, big government grants and corporate donations.
If you want to read some truth about the Smokeout, please check out CASAA’s press release (which, sadly, did not go viral).
Interestingly, though, ACS seems to assign the role of lying about THR on this Smokeout day to their junior partner and pet, the ALA. Perhaps they are starting to realize that the lies are going to haunt them. Thus, we have statements, or more accurately, a series of lies, from Erika Sward, associate vice president for national advocacy for the American Lung Association.
She throws in all the usual lies about there being no regulation of e-cigarettes, that we do not know what is in them, that flavors are designed to appeal to kids, and such. She demonstrates her fundamental ignorance of the topic by claiming that one company sued the FDA in 2009 and it was because they did not want to be regulated (what they did not want, of course, was for e-cigarettes to be banned). Further ignorance (or perhaps a blatant lie) can be found in her claim that there are no state regulations of e-cigarettes (yes, really, she claimed that).
The ALA’s core lie in their current disinformation campaign seems to be this one:
Some manufacturers have promoted the devices as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes and as a way to quit. But there is scant evidence to support those claims, Sward said. “The FDA has not found any e-cigarettes to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit,” Sward said. “All of that is based on the companies’ own assertions. What the American Lung Association sees is a new product but the same industry and the same old tactics.”
Of course, no manufacturer can make health or cessation claims in the USA, despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that such a claim would be accurate. Of course that “FDA has not found…” bit is literally true — the classic tactic of the worst kind of intentional liar is to find something that is literally true but causes the reader to believe the falsehood that the liar wants to communicate. You know what else the FDA has not found to be safe and effective for helping smokers quit? Going cold turkey, which is the method that is most often successful, by far.
And, of course, it is not the companies that are making the claims about low risk and effective cessation. It is not merely that the companies are not responsible for “all” such claims — they are not even, in any way, tied to most of them, which come from independent researchers, consumers, and CASAA and other consumer advocates.
The whining about the industry might have deserved the benefit of the doubt if ALA and ACS had embraced e-cigarettes during the many years that the “same industry” was completely uninvolved in the category. If that had been the case, we might conclude that while they are more interested in hurting the tobacco industry than in helping smokers (or, perhaps more likely, failing to hurt the tobacco industry, but using them as the devil-figure to support fund-raising), they might still want to help smokers. But given their opposition to THR products in general, this is obviously not the case. They still want to use “the industry” as a devil for fundraising, of course, but it is clear that they also want smokers to suffer (which is also good for fund-raising).
I recently heard an authoritative rumor that a very high executive at one of these organizations (that is as much as I will say about the source) was caught declaring that their hostility toward e-cigarettes comes because, “we cannot fund-raise for s**t off of them”.
So, everyone, what do you think (just talking off the top of my head here): Is it time to organize a boycott of the ALA? If they are willing to go along with ACS hanging them out as their surrogate liars, they are asking for it. I would bet that the friends and families of the millions of Americans who practice THR make a few donations to them.