E-cigarette makers have long billed their products as a safer alternative to smoking, a way for consumers to wean themselves off the real thing. The American Lung Association is challenging that approach.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit health organization launched a campaign urging smokers to “quit, don’t switch.”
“One of the biggest problems with e-cigarettes is that many people have switched to e-cigarettes believing it will help them quit tobacco products, which it doesn’t,” said Albert A. Rizzo, the American Lung Association’s chief medical officer. “Many of them become dual users, meaning they smoke cigarettes when they can and use vaping devices at other times.
“E-cigarettes have not been found to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit,” Dr. Rizzo added. “They were designed to appeal to people who wanted to use something besides a cigarette, or in addition to a cigarette. Instead of helping smokers quit, e-cigarettes have rapidly created another generation addicted to tobacco products by marketing products that appeal to kids, including flavored products like gummy bear, unicorn blood, and bubble gum – even apple juice.”
Vaping devices came under intense scrutiny this year, as thousands of individuals across the United States fell seriously ill after using e-cigarettes, while dozens more died due to illnesses that were linked to the products. The epidemic has prompted policymakers and government regulators to call for bans on certain devices, while questioning the industry’s claims that the products are indeed safer. Some states have issued bans on some of the products, while President Donald Trump said in September his administration intended to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Under immense pressure from tobacco and vaping industry lobbyists, Trump eventually walked that proposal back.
In announcing the campaign on Wednesday, the American Lung Association also challenged what it called rampant “misinformation” about e-cigarettes, noting that “no tobacco product is safe” and that the Food and Drug Administration “has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.”
The group also pointed to research showing that e-cigarettes “contain dangerous metals and toxic chemicals including propylene glycol, heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead, diacetyl (which can cause a dangerous lung disease often referred to as ‘popcorn lung’), acrolein (which causes irreversible lung disease) and formaldehyde, known to cause cancer.”
The American Lung Association isn’t the only group to take on the vaping industry. Last month, the American Medical Association issued a call for an immediate ban on all e-cigarettes and vaping devices, citing a significant spike in usage among teenagers.
“It’s simple, we must keep nicotine products out of the hands of young people.” Dr. Patrice Harris, AMA’s president, said in a statement.
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