American Lung Association Vs. the Electronic Cigarette and Other Harm Reduction Products

I am a non-smoker. I have been using the electronic cigarette for nine months, the last two as a non-smoker. I am publishing this article due to the fact that I was unable to issue the complete text from an e-mail I sent to the ALA as a comment to an article published by Kristin Noll-Marsh titled American Lung Association vs. the Electronic Cigarette.

My story is the similar to the thousands that could be told by other non-smokers. The stance of the ALA and other supposed Health Associations prompted me to write to the ALA. The following is that Email.

This e-mail is in regards to Illinois in particular, but for the entire country in general. Your support for banning these products is deplorable. How can an organization that supposedly is concerned with public health take a position that takes 20% of the US population and basically states “QUIT OR DIE”. That is not what a true health organization’s stance would or should be. The authorization of the aquavape e cigarette liquid should be availed through the person. The percentage of the nicotine should be less so that no side-effects are provided on the health. The person will be educated about quit or die movement for reducing the addiction of smoking cigarettes for long period. 

A stance such as this only implies that there are external forces at play in the form of financial support from the two largest contributors to the Health Association Industry- Big Pharma and Big Tobacco. How do you people sleep? I don’t want to hear the rhetoric about the carcinogens, the DEG, the Children, the flavors etc. that were spewed by the FDA in their July 22 “Press Release” and their Dog and Pony show. I’m not a scientific type, but reviewing the actual report that the FDA based their “conclusions” on it was readily obvious that the “study” was seriously flawed. It compared E Cigarettes to “safe” (whatever that means compared to what FDA approves as safe Drugs, take a look at the Chantix version of safe) rather than comparing them to already approved NRT products or real cigarettes. The study only proved that E Cigarettes were tremendously safer than conventional cigarettes, It also showed them to be a more promising product to actually get people to stop smoking and improve their health. I believe this is your mission statement, improved health, why don’t you work toward that goal?

Look, I’m just a senior citizen that happened to smoke for 43 years. At the end, I had a two to three pack a day habit. I started smoking while in college waiting to graduate with the real prospect that my first job would be after I got drafted into the military. I did graduate and I did get drafted. Smoking gave me the relaxation from some major anxiety at that time in my life. By the time I got out and tried to resume a normal life I was hopelessly hooked.

I tried for years to quit using every FDA approved smoking cessation method that they approved. You know the ones I’m talking about. Expensive prescription drugs or, later, expensive OTC drugs that have less than a 10% success rate after a year. I tried herbal remedies over the years and hypnotism twice. I truly wanted to quit, I had a strong desire to quit, but I couldn’t quit, at least not for any reasonable length of time. My story is not that different than many of the 20% of the population that smokes in this country.

The best thing that the government did for me was to force the tobacco industry to add FSC to cigarettes. For me that was the reason that I started looking for a viable alternative to cigarettes. FSC changed the taste of cigarettes and almost immediately I developed a cough and started wheezing. I own property in Virginia and Pennsylvania so for a time I could buy non-FSC cigarettes in VA which helped. When they also added FSC the symptoms returned and I found the electronic cigarette. Just to mention, this addition to cigarettes was not tested by the FDA to see what the long term effects might be, but I’m willing to guess that it won’t be good.

Nine months ago I began the journey to finding a solution and it started with the E Cig. Within a few days I was down from an average of 50 cigarettes a day to about six. I also amazingly was coughing less and the wheeze went away. In two weeks, I was sleeping well through the night and not coughing at all, the changes were amazing. I felt healthier, I breathed like I hadn’t in years.

The electronic cigarette didn’t get me off cigarettes completely and I was frustrated for seven month. I wanted to quit but the E Cig was missing something, Researching further, I found Swedish snus, not the variation that Big Tobacco is now trying to sell to the American Public. I read the Karolinska Institutet cohort study and corresponded to others that have used snus and decided to try that. Two to four portions of snus a day along with vaping and I knew I had my last cigarette. That was two month ago and there will be no looking back, as long as these products remain on the market.

Today, after vaping up to 36mg nic liquid fairly often during the day and having a handful of cigarettes, I’m having those few snus portions and vaping as needed to deal with the “habit” portion of smoking- the hand to mouth and visual aspects of the smoking problem. I’ve reduced the level of nicotine in the vapor liquid I’m using to less than 10mg liquid and I’m almost certain that I could get away with no nicotine liquid, but don’t want to press the issue at this point in time.

What I’m saying in summary is that, from my experience, the anti smoking “science” of today is no better than the tobacco industries “science” of decades ago. Nicotine has been demonized in the anti-smoking conspiracy we have today as a means to justify an end. In my view, nicotine is only one third of the problem with smoking- the other two being the habit itself and the alkaloids that exist in tobacco. I view the alkaloids at this point as being the most damning aspect for the long term smoker, thus the reason for using anti-depressants as NRTs. The long term smoker will not get off cigarettes even if totally banned, we’ll just create another of a long line of black markets in America. No change in health, just more crime.

I have never been politically active, but I am one gray hair that will fight for the right to have this one decision left to the individual. I cannot sit back and watch our government kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in the name of health. Putting the electronic cigarette in a NDA or ANDA cycle, which will more than likely end in a refusal, only protects Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and FDA interests. The ultimate result will be the continued holocaust for those that were just unable to quit.

Organizations such as yours must look at harm reduction for you certainly know how bad cigarettes are. Do the right thing.

As to full disclosure, I have no financial interests in either the Electronic Cigarette industry or the Snus Industry. I also am retired from the Pharmaceutical Industry having worked for 18 years with Wyeth.

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James Scott is a general news and feature writer of Untitled Magazine. Prior joining the company, he previously worked as a senior writer in different publishing companies in New York.