05 Oct

American Anti-Smoking Organisations and Their Opposition to the Electronic Cigarette

With more and more scientific research being published that demonstrates electronic cigarettes are much less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and can help significant numbers of smokers quit smoking, it might surprise people to learn that eight leading anti-smoking organisations in the United States have called for them to be banned.

This might seem strange, especially given that the aim of these groups is to reduce and ideally eliminate the use of tobacco cigarettes and the negative health consequences of smoking. Why would these organisations call for the banning of a product which could save the lives of millions of Americans?

Part of the answer might lie in the fact that all eight groups received money from Pfizer, a multi-billion dollar international pharmaceutical corporation known for its illegal and immoral business practices, which range from illegally marketing painkillers in the United States to experimenting on children in Nigeria, killing some of them and leaving others with mental and physical deformities.

Pfizer manufactures one of the most popular quit smoking drugs, Chantix, which generated $720 million in sales in 2011 alone. With the growth in popularity of the electronic cigarette, Pfizer stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Pfizer gave the anti-smoking groups the following sums of money in 2011 and the first half on 2012:

American Medical Association: $857,500
American Academy of Pediatrics: $720,800
American Legacy Foundation: $300,000
American Cancer Society: $252,750
Action on Smoking and Health: $200,000
American Lung Association: $190,250
American Heart Association: $136,000
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: $100,000
TOTAL: $2,757,300

All eight organisations submitted briefs to the United States District Court urging it to permit the Food and Drug Administration to ban electronic cigarettes. One is left wondering if their opposition to e-cigarettes stems from the facts or the influence of Pfizer’s generous monetary gifts.

Fortunately for American smokers, the judges hearing the case in question decided that electronic cigarettes were tobacco products and thus were to be regulated in the same way as regular cigarettes, which means that they can be imported into the United States.

Electronic cigarettes are readily and legally available in Australia to people who want to quit smoking. There do not appear to have been any calls to ban them here, but if such calls should appear, it would be worthwhile to see whether those making them have been on the receiving end of donations from pharmaceutical corporations like Pfizer for whom the e-cigarette is a threat to their bottom line.