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.


  1. The truth for these "health" associations is that the only good nicotine is Pharmaceutical nicotine. Why? Not because it's healthier, rather that is the industry that pays their salaries.

    Once people understand that these organizations are no different than the paid lobbyists that sway the votes in Congress, funding to them, other than from Drug Companies will dry up. These organizations are there to sell you drugs and protect their sponsors.

  2. Wouldn't it be great if someone there had a brain and actually THOUGHT about the ramifications of their policy? Well written!

  3. Update: I just received a snail mail response to the above letter, signed by Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer. Guess what! It is (I kid you not) word for word the same letter that I wrote to them about. Word for word! Duh! Why is it that people who can't read are running major organizations and getting paid millions of dollars to do so? They should hire me to replace Nancy Brown. At least I can read.

  4. I have been a State Certified Health Professional for the past twenty-five years. I strongly urge every honest, tax paying citizen to discontinue any/all donations to the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and other like minded "supposed" health organizations until such time that they 1)get honest about their participation in disseminating misleading and disingenuous information re: the electronic cigarette technology; 2)Fully disclose and admit to their 'conflict of interest' regarding the huge donations they receive from the Big Tobacco Industry and the Pharmaceutical Industry; 3)Cease immediately any/all attempts to obscure and in other ways obvusgate the 'Entire Clinical' picture in terms of this technology, the true nature of nicotine itself (outside of tobacco cigarettes) the true significance of nitrosamines and carcinogens/and exactly what the levels mean - including Full Disclosure of these same levels in ALL of their references to FDA approved Nicotine Replacement/smoking cessation products; 4)Reverse their currently held position of supporting the FDA in their misguided, ideological/not science-based attempt to demand that electronic cigarettes be wrongfully classified as a "drug-delivery device" which is in fact a de-facto ban on this technology. This is a "Public Health" issue and not just a smokers' health issue. This technology is capable of preventing the loss of literally hundreds of thousands of lives annually as well as enormous disease prevention, which saves money for everyone....except the aforementioned entities. To outright disallow this technology, absent Any tangible, substantiated evidence of use related harm, is tantamount to Public Malpractice of epic proportion, in my opinion.

  5. The new prohibitionist goals of these organizations are ultimately damaging public health. By insisting upon complete abstinence, they exacerbate the devastating effects for the 20% of the U.S. population that cannot or will not quit smoking. REAL science shows that smokeless tobacco products are up to 99% safer than smoking tobacco, because 99% of the truly harmful health effects originate from the SMOKE. Selective harm reduction (ie. promoting SOME harm reduction products such as low-fat, low-sugar, low-cholesterol foods) yet dismissing others (smokefree tobacco) is hypocritical and needlessly endangering the public. Realistically, what consumable product is 100% safe? A quick review of the list of FDA-approved products shows that ALL of them have risks.

    Another popular claim from these groups is that public health has a duty to do "no harm" not "less harm." If that were true, these groups could not support low-fat foods, seatbelts, bike helmets, chemotherapy, vaccinations and any product currently on the market with ANY kind of potential side effects. Think about it - driving kills millions of Americans and seatbelts/helmets are an attempt at harm reduction. Obesity causes heart disease and diabetes and low-fat, low-sugar foods are also an attempt at harm reduction. We don't see public health telling people not to drive or not to eat.

    Additionally, public health groups claim that promoting reduced harm products may encourage more non-smokers to use tobacco products. This most certainly would be true - remove 99% of the health risks and more people may try it. However, what these groups refuse to acknowledge is that the health benefits to the millions of Americans exposed to first and second-hand smoke will far outweight the number of projected non-smokers who may decide to try smokeless tobacco.

    Think of frozen yogurt. Millions of people were eating high-fat ice cream and switched to low-fat yogurt. Addtionally, some people who weren't eating ice cream at all, because there were no healthier alternatives, now began eating frozen yogurt. Granted, those people were now exposed to SOME fat, but because the exposure was so low and the ice cream-eaters were GREATLY lowering their exposure, overall it was better for fighting obesity.

    The rhetoric of these "public health" groups just doesn't stand up under the most cursory examination.

  6. How right you are, Kristin. Even if every man, woman, and child in the U.S. commenced using a smokeless tobacco product (which is unlikely to the point of impossibility), millions of lives would be saved compared with the death toll for 46+ million people continuing to smoke.

  7. Of course, that would be a disaster for the public health groups. What would they campaign against then? And who would fund them?