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Wisconsin Hears Lung Association Lies

The American Lung Association continues to tell brazen lies about electronic cigarettes.

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Following the release of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, demonstrating that teen smoking rates continues to plummet – and, this time, has been accompanied by a drop in teen vaping rates too – Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) covered it and invited the American Lung Association (ALA) to comment. They did, and told lies.

Dona Wininsky, director of public policy for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, has been banging an anti-vape drum wherever she can, for years. Back in March, she was still at it: “They’ve been promoted by the industry as nothing other than harmless water vapour, but we have plenty of scientific research now to know that they have chemicals in them. Some of them are carcinogens; they have heavy metals in them and they are not simply harmless water vapour.”

No respectable company is promoting their products as having nothing but water vapour, Ms Wininsky. Of course vape has chemicals in it – so do hot dogs, pints of water and the air you breathe. And your food, water and air also contains carcinogens, vape isn’t unique in that, because it is about the relative levels not if they exist or not.

The ALA, and in turn Wininsky, have an odd preoccupation with having pure air to breath. They worry about vape contaminating it despite there being no evidence of harm, quite the opposite given recent tests.

“Now granted,” she said to WPR, “we only have maybe about two year’s worth of really specific data on e-cigarettes, so it’s hard to say if that’s a trend, or a blip. But our high school usage rate is higher than the national average.”

It’s a disingenuous statement, and she knows it.

Teen vaping in Wisconsin is now at 11.3% of high school students, down from 16% in 2015. That’s quite some “blip”. Plus, even if the rate of vaping remains higher for the state when compared to national figures – maybe, just maybe, that’s why the teen smoking rates are considerably below national rates (having fallen to a remarkable 8%).

Finally, she makes an utterly bizarre statement: “I think there’s still a perception that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes and so for some kids who never would have tried smoking cigarettes they get the idea this might be a safer alternative.”

Nobody wants children to take up smoking or vaping – nobody. But for Wininsky to question the relative safety of vaping is as big a lie being told about electronic cigarettes as you are going to come across. Even those staunchly opposed to the concept of harm reduction will begrudgingly admit that vaping is safer – the more conservative among them going for a 60% safer figure. Public Health England states that ecigs are “at least 95% safer than smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes”.

This makes Michael Siegel angry. On his blog, he writes: “why is the American Lung Association picking up where the historical fraud and deception of the tobacco industry ended?”

It is unlikely the ALA will provide us with an answer any time soon.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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