Why does the Canadian Lung Organization get it so wrong when it comes to nicotine?

Its not that unusual for an organization that promotes health to do a lot of good but still abandon all its standards when it comes to anything to do with nicotine or tobacco.  Case in point – the Canadian Lung Association.

I recently commented on a welcome reconsideration of a ludicrous position statement on e-cigarettes by Jennifer Miller of the CLA in a Globe and Mail article. And since her statement clashed with what was still displayed on the CLA website I emailed Janis Hass at the CLA to see if I could expect to see the new enlightenment reflected on their site soon.

Her response was:

Contrary to what appears in the article, The Canadian Lung Association does not recommend e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.  Currently, e-cigarettes sold in Canada do not contain nicotine and are not an approved smoking cessation aid by Health Canada. We do encourage people who smoke and want to quit to use one of the Health-Canada approved smoking cessation tools. If, in the future, e-cigarettes did receive approval from Health Canada as a smoking cessation aid, then we may change our position.

To be kind, one might think that perhaps Janis was so stuck on the idea of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid that she couldn’t wrap her head around them simply as a safer alternative to smoking.  It is absurd that an organization devoted to better lung health would not endorse switching from smoke to vapor independently of whether quitting was part of the equation.  And the message ends up being that only if e-cigarettes function as quitting devices (and are approved by Health Canada) would the organization ever promote them to smokers.  This is equivalent to saying they would prefer that people smoke than  switch and would prefer them to damage their lungs rather than not.

Time to change that mission statement:

The mission of the Canadian Lung Association is to lead nationwide and international lung health initiatives, prevent lung disease, help people manage lung disease and promote lung health.

It seems as though Jennifer Miller, who is probably suffering through dressings down from the politically correct rank and file at this anti-nicotine group, is probably one of the few there who have taken the mission statement to heart. She is promoting lung health whereas their official response is that they will if and only if it is properly regulated.  I do see the appeal of regulation but it should not be the major factor in determining whether a proven healthier alternative is suggested.

In the meanwhile I would suggest spreading the word not to donate to this organization until they agree with their mission statement.

On looking further into their site I see that this organization, which I am sure does good work when it comes to non-tobacco related issues (tuberculosis etc.) goes nutty when nicotine enters the picture and uses junk science for evidence.  Witness the following absurdity regarding second hand smoke:

Just 30 minutes’ exposure to second-hand smoke hardens your arteries (arteriosclerosis); more exposure puts you at risk for heart problems

And their discussion of third hand smoke – the dumbest avenue of research in years and supported by a study which polled people’s thoughts about it rather than its effects – is a clear indication that quality control is lacking.  One only hopes that it is restricted to this area.  The scary thing is any group that actually worries about third hand smoke cannot distinguish between science and politics.

If you are in a room or car where people usually smoke, even if they aren’t smoking right then, you are exposed to third-hand smoke. This means you are exposed to toxic chemicals like lead and arsenic.

However I leave the final word to the Lung Association:

You can get involved in the fight for better lung health. Many lung health issues need your attention: air pollution, cigarette displays, open burning, access to prescription medicines for people with lung diseases, and more. Have your voice heard by writing a letter to your Member of Parliament, your MPP or MLA, or your local councillor asking for laws that respect and protect lung health.

Add e-cigarettes to that list and write the Association and tell them why they won’t be getting your dollars and what they could do to change that. Write your MPs and agitate for removing the impediments to easy access to safer alternatives for smokers. And if the CLA continues to be one of those impediments, write about that too.

One thought on “Why does the Canadian Lung Organization get it so wrong when it comes to nicotine?

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