ALA Updates Popcorn Position

Posted 28th September 2018 by Dave Cross
In 2016, the American Lung Association (ALA) wrote that popcorn lung was “A dangerous risk of flavoured e-cigarettes”. This month, it updates its position and maintains that this is still a real concern, despite over a decade of zero incidents – which should have at least arisen from those with a lifetime of smoking previously.

“Over a decade ago, workers in a microwave popcorn factory were sickened by breathing in diacetyl—the buttery-flavoured chemical in foods like popcorn, caramel and dairy products,” writes the ALA.

“As a result, the major popcorn manufacturers removed diacetyl from their products, but some people are still being exposed to diacetyl - not through food flavourings as a worksite hazard, but through e-cigarette vapour.”

The statement is actually grounded in a bit of truth.

In 2014, Dr Farsalinos conducted some research and found diacetyl and acetyl propionyl in some eliquids. The findings prompted a change in the industry; Canada removed products from shelves, vendors began testing liquids and manufacturers began demanding diacetyl-free flavour agents from their suppliers.


The testing demonstrated that even the worst-case scenarios in liquids were better than levels found in tobacco cigarettes.

“In fact, researchers at Harvard found that 39 of 51 e-cigarette brands contained diacetyl,” continues the ALA. It took time for brands to be removed from shelves. People might wonder why the ALA are referring to a study published in 2015, using liquids from 2013 and 2014, if their statement is an ‘updated position?

Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Programme Lead for Public Health England, said at the beginning of this year that opponents to harm reduction talk about flavouring additives and diacetyl and link this exposure to the possibility of developing bronchiolitis obliterans (the proper name for popcorn lung). He worried about the “inaccuracies and misconceptions about e-cigarettes and vaping”.

Dockrell said: “Diacetyl is banned as an ingredient from e-cigarettes and e-liquids in the UK. It had been detected in some e-liquid flavourings in the past, but at levels hundreds of times lower than in cigarette smoke. Even at these levels, smoking is not a major risk factor for this rare disease.”

POTV spoke to a representative of one of the world’s leading flavour houses yesterday. They told us that as a major supplier to the US market, none of their flavours or finished liquids contains diacetyl. Nor, they added, do those supplied by any of their large competitors.

We Vape

The ALA asks: “How is this possible that many Americans are unknowingly inhaling chemicals that can cause traumatic respiratory harm?”

The answer, in short, is that they aren’t. The ALA is knowingly lying and presenting old evidence from a bunch of anti-vape researchers as modern fact. British and American made juices are diacetyl-free and routinely tested, a lot on a batch-by-batch basis. The Tobacco Products Directive demands that all nicotine-containing liquids have to be tested – this does not apply to short-fill bottles.

That old Harvard study being misused by the ALA has formed the basis of a slew of hysterical media articles over the years, but even that was debunked because the team elected to ignore that it is “the dose that makes the poison”.

UK vapers choosing to buy quality, tested liquids have nothing to fear from popcorn lung.

Pure Eliquids

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
B+MOR Vape