Outsource: Rodu on the American Cancer Society

by Carl V Phillips

In his recent post, Brad Rodu calls attention to some of the evils committed by the American Cancer Society (ACS) in trying to discourage smokers from adopting THR. Everyone who reads this blog should read it. He points out that ACS has, for decades, been a major player in the lie-based war on smokeless tobacco, and are now doing the same in the war on e-cigarettes. (Brad links to many of his other posts about ACS, and mine can be found at this tag.)

The ACS is a good example of the anti-tobacco extremists and reactionaries that I am writing about in my ongoing “Why is there anti-THR?” series. They also raise a lot of money thanks to smoking, which explains part of their opposition to THR. But that observation should not be overstated as being their major motivation since they are also substantially responsible for anti-smoking lies and trying to censor scientists whose results contradict their anti-smoking claims. Mostly those pulling the strings just seem to just be typical anti-tobacco extremists, though these guys are particularly harmful because they have droves of useful idiots. The extremists at the top manipulate their local volunteers and staff — people who would mostly not agree with the extremist agenda or condone lying — into believing and repeating the anti-THR lies.

ACS is ultimately a huge rich corporation that hides under the technicality of being a charity. Making money is job #1 for them. Brad notes:

…the American Cancer Society in 2013 received $878 million in contributions – nearly a billion dollars for their perceived fight against cancer.  In reality, a good portion of that largess was squandered on their dishonest and harmful tobacco prohibition crusade.

A lot of those donations happen to result from smoking, often in the particular ironic (nay, evil) form of bequests from smokers or memorial gifts in their honor, for individuals who would have lived longer were it not for ACS’s war on THR. ACS is willing to bite the hand that feeds them by trying to discourage smoking, to the point of employing dishonest methods. Thus it would be unfair to say they love smoking so much that they would try to encourage it, unlike some players in the area. But, as I point out in my ongoing series, there is a lot of space — given underlying anti-THR motives — between preferring that smoking prevalence continue to decline at its glacial rate, even though this reduces funding, versus being willing to lose that funding (much faster than expected) because people are quitting the “wrong” way.

But similarly, ACS would probably not be enthusiastic about leading the charge for anti-THR at the state and local level if that cost them money. To that end, Brad suggests:

While there is little that can be done to stop…misuse of taxpayer dollars, pressure can be brought against the American Cancer Society. It is time for tobacco users, their families and friends to send a message to the American Cancer Society:“Say goodbye to our donations.”  Tell ACS volunteers in your community that the society must acknowledge scientific facts and abandon its tobacco prohibition stance.  Until the ACS tells the truth about tobacco harm reduction, charitable contributions should be directed elsewhere.

If this were fully implemented, ACS would put an end to their anti-THR lying and campaigning overnight. Of course most tobacco users are not politically educated or mobilized, and are as likely as anyone to be tricked into thinking that the ACS are on their side. But politically mobilized vapers are another story. If they all vowed to boycott the ACS, and explain to their friends why they should also do so (reminding them every few months), and many of them wrote to ACS to tell them they were doing that, it could really have some impact. I have observed some vapers defending the ACS and even recall one vendor doing a fundraiser for them. It is time to make sure everyone recognizes that ACS are the bad guys, enemies of all tobacco product users, including vapers, and a major impediment to people quitting smoking.

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12 responses to “Outsource: Rodu on the American Cancer Society

  1. For people who REALLY want to see *honest* cancer research, that does not censor scientists, where is “elsewhere” ?

    • Carl V Phillips

      I will let others answer this if they want. Personally I think that contributing to cancer research, if you are not named Gates, Bloomberg, Page, or Brin is poor use of money. It is kind of like being concerned about national defense, and so donating to the Navy. Cancer research is an enormous industry that is both for-profit and massively government funded, and any individual’s donation will fund about a minute of work on a research project. There are small real charities that can do a lot more with donations on the normal human scale (I will resist the urge to point out the obvious one :-).

  2. While I doubt it was the only driver, there was a lot of consumer interaction with Cancer Research UK, around 2 years ago – when they were routinely coming out with (specifically) anti-ecig stuff. A significant fraction of this was of the “I used to donate regularly, that’s the last money you’ll be getting from me” type comment from successful ecig switchers. They are now broadly in favour (although have yet to acknowledge the damage our impending regulations will do).

    • Carl V Phillips

      I have to think that mattered some, yes. Though CRUK is far more of a fake charity than ACS is, so individual donations matter less. There was also a push by the “elite opinion leader” types to get CRUK to change, which matters a lot more in Old Europe than it does here. There really are no such people here (and if there were, they would probably not be on the right side of the issue), and ACS is more dependent on individual and corporate donations (the latter can also be threatened) than on government, so it has to be more grassroots here.

  3. Regardless of whether or not people are Bill Gates, the emotional urge to donate is strong-enough that I know vapers who donate “because I still want the research even if they are dishonest about vaping, because of my [father,mother,sister,brother,child,aunt……]” Guess I’ll Google some more. The answers don’t appear easy to find, especially for cancer IN GENERAL instead of organ-by-organ. I personally donate to vaping-related things, I think there are more lives to be saved per $ in that area because we’re starting off with nearly nothing.

  4. The problem I have with the ACS is more with their all-volunteer lobbying group, the Cancer Action Network (CAN). These are the zealots who continue to operate unchecked, and presumably with the wink-wink, nudge-nudge approval of their funder, the ACS. It is likely that the CAN has been one of the primary deciding factors in most all of the knee-jerk local legislations, as was my experience with them in my County. When they lobby & testify in hearings, it seems that legislators think they are hearing the voice of ACS, but at least one ACS officer (unfortunately now retired) is on record as being supportive of THR with e-cigarettes. Thomas Glynn, MA, MS, PhD, was director of Cancer Science and Trends and director of International Cancer Control for the American Cancer Society until his retirement in mid 2014, which was probably due to his frustration in being one of the only people at ACS who was actually trying to do the right thing and help people avoid cancer from cigarettes.

    Because of the ACS’s funding & use of CAN to lobby at local levels without telling all of the facts, and their burial of Dr. Glynn’s opinion, I will NEVER give the ACS so much as a penny. Ever. Even if I or a loved one wind up with cancer of some sort. There are too many options with groups who really care about individuals & cancer prevention.

    It’s worth reading Dr. Glynn’s final blog post on the ACS web site. You won’t find it by doing a search on “e-cigarettes” even though it’s titled “E-Cigarettes – It’s Complicated”. Search just for “it’s complicated” or use this direct link- http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/expertvoices/post/2014/06/24/e-cigarettes-its-complicated.aspx

    He is a bit reserved in the post, but his final sentence and following quotation send a strong message that even Stevie Wonder should be able to see, imo. He’s written more on the subject in other venues. Google him and watch his position evolve over the last 5 or more years. Untimely departure from the ACS, imo.

  5. The Irish Cancer Society is hugely opposed to vaping.

    They have funded a study that found that 2 out of 3 vapers are also smokers, so called dual users. They made this out to be proof that e cigs don’t help smokers to quit and in fact increase their dependence on nicotine. Ignoring the fact that 1 in 3 no longer smoke.

    In the same study they found that 5% of young people had used e cigs before they smoked cigarettes.

    I know they receive funding from pharma, GSK and Pfizer I think. It says it on their website.

    The rise of vaping is unstoppable here at the moment, so a lot of people are ignoring them. They have a greater influence among the non smoking population, and they are giving e cigs a bad name.

    • Carl V Phillips

      The absurd claim that dual use is a bad thing has been repeatedly addressed in this blog and by CASAA elsewhere, of course.

      The next step after organizing a boycott of direct donations to these operations is to loudly (it does not work if it is not loud for obvious reasons) boycott companies that donate to them. Unfortunately, you cannot really boycott GSK and Pfizer so it really only works for normal consumer good companies.

      • To be fully truthful, there is ONE condition (not cancer) for which dual use can be pretty bad. It is one of 2 types of heart condition. For that particular heart condition, 5 cigs/day is the same as 5 packs/day. The curve goes up very steeply from 1-5 then goes level. I smoke 4/day so that is 80% as bad. But I don’t have a heart condition, so that point is moot. However, Prof. Stan the Mechanic *has* studied heart valves, and when he says dual use is as bad as still smoking, he skips over the fact that 2/day is pretty durned good, and that cardiologists often inform their patients of this so many vapers who are cardiology patients do NOT dual-use, and then he says “as bad for the cardiovascular system” as though that were the only system harmed by smoking. So, still lying.

        • Carl V Phillips

          Even this is only true if you assume that the second product is added to the first rather than substituted. If total consumption of anything harmful increases then there can be more risk. To take an extreme case, if someone still smokes exactly as much as they did before and adds some vaping too then risk almost certainly increases (though to a trivial degree for the average person). And, to torture the hell out of this, if you take someone whose CV system is so close to failure that the mild stimulus from nicotine is a threat, and he reduces his smoking but increases his total nicotine intake (i.e., it is not full substitution — which would still be a wash) he might be at greater risk.

          But, come on. That guy knows he really is a quit or die case. For everyone else, the reduction in smoking by even a little bit is a net gain even if total product consumption increases. It is like saying that antibiotics are bad because someone is allergic to them.

        • I meant *that* particular dual use is bad only in the sense that a cardiac patient might mistakenly believe that “every cigarette not smoked is a victory” applies usefully to his particular case. That’s what one’s doctor is for, of course.

  6. Per RainMan Jim’s post, ACS CAN is just the lobbying arm of ACS (and most folks with ACS CAN are also paid staff, not volunteers).

    I’ve known Tom Glynn for two decades, and have sent him weekly e-mails citing THR research and policy battles for the past decade (that used to focus on smokeless tobacco, but have primarily focused on e-cigs since 2008).

    I hadn’t seen Glynn’s 2014 blog post before now, but I found it interesting that he tried to portray himself as a fence sitter on THR (just like Ken Warner has done for two decades). But Glynn and his employer (ACS) have opposed THR for 25 years (i.e. they opposed smokeless tobacco since the 1980’s, they’ve urged FDA to ban Ariva and Stonewall in 2001, they’ve opposed snus since 2003, they opposed Reynolds’ dissolvables since they were introduced in 2008, and they’ve even more vehemently opposed vapor products since urging FDA to unlawfully ban the products in 2009).

    Although Glynn appeared to be more open minded about THR in 2014 (when he wrote that), he failed to correct, clarify or apologize for any of ACS’ many false claims about e-cigs (that ACS has repeated since 2009), and he cited the FDA’s deeming regulation (that would ban >99.9% of e-cig products) as something that both THR opponents and supporters could not only support, but could support its rapid implementation.

    Please note that I had informed Glynn that the deeming regulation would ban >99% of all e-cig products back in 2102 and 2013, long before he wrote that.

    Last week, Big Pharma financed ACS issued yet another report that repeated disproved fear mongering lies about e-cigs, falsely claimed cancers caused by cigarette smoking are caused by “tobacco use”, promoted unwarranted and hateful vaping bans, claimed far less hazardous smokeless tobacco, dissolvables, cigars and OTP should be taxed at the same rate as cigarettes, criticized States for not banning smoking in workplaces (even though ACS lobbyists have insisted that smokefree bills also ban vaping) , and criticized States for not spending more public funds on counterproductive anti tobacco and vaping propaganda, less-than-safe Chantix, ineffective gums/patches/lozenges, and less-than-effective tobacco cessation counseling.
    http://www.acscan.org/content/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/HDYMU-2015.pdf#page=10
    http://www.acscan.org/content/media-center/new-report-shows-majority-of-states-missing-opportunities-to-reduce-toll-of-cancer/
    http://www.acscan.org/tobacco/smoke-free/news/acs-can-releases-13th-annual-how-do-you-measure-up-report/
    http://www.acscan.org/content/report-cards/2015/

    So if Glynn believes what he wrote in that blog, why hasn’t he publicly come out in support of THR or vaping, and why hasn’t he criticized and condemned ACS for its decades of lies about THR or its 6 years of lies about vaping?

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