Wednesday, May 12, 2010

American Heart Association Prevents Smoking Abstinence

Excerpt from email received May 9, 2010

Helping people quit using tobacco is a top priority of the American Heart Association and we will continue to do all that we can to make sure that all people have access to safe and effective tobacco cessation therapies including pharmaceutical approaches as well as counseling. The U.S. Public Health Service has found that that the seven drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in combination with individual or group cessation counseling are the most effective way to help smokers quit.

Thank you and have a great day!

Copy of snail mail response

American Heart Association
National Service Center
1100 E. Campbell Rd, Suite 100
Richardson, TX 75081

Subject: American Heart Association Email - Sunday May 9, 2009

When did anti-smoking campaigns turn into anti-smoker campaigns? Until recently, I had no idea that the American Heart Association had changed its policies. It used to be that smoking, quite appropriately, was the enemy. Now it is all tobacco products – some of which could be very effective at reducing the smoking prevalence rate as well as the rate of smoking-related diseases and early deaths.

You know very well – or at least you should know – that many smokers cannot function well without adequate nicotine. Some smokers have been able to stop killing themselves with smoke by transferring to the nicotine provided by nicotine gum, but the dosage is inadequate for most. Some have been able to transfer to smokeless tobacco products. Unfortunately, too few have made this life and health-saving switch because 85% of the general public believes (erroneously) that these products are no less hazardous than smoking.

The nicotine products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for smoking cessation are only 10% effective. Electronic cigarettes allow the users to adjust their own dosage of nicotine, and these products are proving to be 80% effective at eliminating the habit of setting fire to tobacco cigarettes. A comparison of the number and quantity of toxins and carcinogens shows that these are much safer than tobacco smoking. Not only have their been no reports of serious adverse events in the 6 years the products have been available world-wide, but 90% of users are reporting that their health has improved since switching from smoke to vapor.

There is ample research to show that smoking has an adverse effect on cardiovascular health, but the morbidity rates for other forms of tobacco use are much, much lower. In fact, a person who continues smoking for just 30 more days and then becomes nicotine abstinent would do more damage to health than becoming smoking abstinent by switching to one of these reduced-harm products and using it for the rest of his or her (longer) life. So why isn't the American Heart Association's top priority "helping people quit smoking" rather than "helping people quit using tobacco"? Why is the new policy, “If you can’t stop using nicotine, we don’t care if you die”?

Helping people to quit smoking would be a much more easily attainable goal if health agencies and organizations such as yours would start telling the truth about the relative risks of tobacco products. Very few smokers know that health risks for smoking-related diseases can be reduced by up to 99% by switching to products such as reduced nitrosamine Swedish snus or electronic cigarettes.

If the public had not been misled into believing that all forms of tobacco use are equally harmful, more smokers would have made the effort to switch to a safer alternative. Think how much lower the smoking prevalence rate would be today if smokers had been given the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We might have achieved the Healthy People 2010 goal instead of missing it by a mile. Think of how many heart attacks and strokes could have been averted during the years when people were hoodwinked by misleading “safety” labels. Smokers and their loved ones should be outraged.

What is even more outrageous is the American Heart Association's goal of banning the only product that allows hundreds of thousands of former smokers to maintain their state of smoking abstinence. The American Heart Association's unachievable goal of nicotine abstinence works to prevent the achievable and more effective goal of smoking abstinence. The prevention of smoking abstinence is not in keeping with the mission of the American Heart Association. I find it shameful.

Thank you and you have a great day, too.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lung Association Recommends Smoking

"Until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines that e-cigarettes are safe for consumers, the American Lung Association urges consumers not to use these products." -- Letter from Charles D. Connor, President and CEO, American Lung Associatioon

Why is the head of the organization that is dedicated to lung health urging me to stop using the tool that has kept me smoke-free for over a year?

Does the American Lung Association (ALA) have any evidence that it is safer to inhale tobacco smoke?

It can’t be the carcinogen levels. A day’s supply (about 1 ml) of the 16 mg liquid contains 8 ng/g of TSNAs—about equal to the amount in an FDA-approved nicotine patch. Compare that to the whopping 11,190 ng/g of TSNAs in the most popular brand, Marlboro cigarettes.

It can’t be the number of toxins. In addition to the “chemical found in antifreeze,” conventional tobacco cigarettes contain arsenic used in rat poison, hydrogen cyanide used in gas chambers, formaldehyde used to embalm dead bodies, polonium radiation dosage equal to 300 chest X-rays in one year, and many more harmful substances that you will not find in the liquid or the vapor.

It can’t be the tar, carbon monoxide, and particulates. These are only found in smoke. If I go back to inhaling these substances along with my nicotine, I’m fairly certain that the wheezing that kept me awake at night and the productive morning cough will return. I also suspect that my recently regained ability to laugh out loud without triggering a coughing fit will disappear

I could understand the ALA taking the stance, “Until more is known, the American Lung Association cannot recommend the products.” However, in view of the known negative health consequences of inhaling smoke, it seems unethical to urge consumers not to use the products.

The ALA cannot ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of users report that they are using the products as a complete replacement for their tobacco cigarettes. It also cannot ignore the fact that the health effects reported by users have been overwhelmingly positive. Not one serious adverse event has been reported. Meanwhile, 440,000 Americans per year die of smoking-related diseases.

We know that the FDA is not quick to pronounce any product “safe.” During those years, how much damage will be done to the lungs of the continuing smokers who heed the ALA advice?