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.