That sounds like a very rhetorical question, doesn’t it? While everybody is focusing on the tobacco industry’s efforts to slander electronic cigarettes as dangerous devices that require decades of testing, the pharmaceutical industry has apparently also started showing its teeth against e-cigarettes.
Although apparently united in the same goal – to help people quit smoking and live a healthier life – electronic cigarettes and NRTs (Nicotine Replacement Therapies) are also fierce competitors. At least that’s how pharmaceutical companies are looking at the situation. In fact, many of them would probably like to keep the sales of tobacco cigarettes at current levels, thus protecting their own income from the drugs used in treatments of smoking-related diseases and the sales of various NRTs. Unfortunately, just like Big Tobacco, pharmaceutical giants have very deep pockets and according to recent rumors, they are prepared to go to any lengths to protect their interests.
While all the three largest tobacco companies in America have seemingly decided the phrase “if you can’t beat them join them” fits better in their dispute with electronic cigarettes, Big Pharma isn’t considering such a strategy. According to the UK’s Electronic Cigarette Consumer Association, there are rumors circulating in research circles about a “request for proposals” originating from the pharmaceutical industry and backed by a hefty six-figure sum, to identify issues with e-cigarettes. As you can probably guess, this sort of information would then be used to create the impression of a serious health problem coming from the unregulated sector of electronic cigarettes. Unleashed by Big Pharma’s impressive propaganda machine, these negative findings would build on consumer fear and ignorance, and probably even get e-cigarettes banned.
According to this ECCA UK article, researchers should look for problems at every level, such as lead solder used in cartomizers, asbestos in wicking material, adulterants in e-liquid, toxic chemicals in electronics. Levels of these “contaminants” would then be exaggerated, just like it happened when the FDA reported levels of carcinogens in e-liquid, although the concentrations of known carcinogens were “millions of times lower than conceivably harmful to health”, just like in nicotine replacement therapy products sold in pharmacies.
Asked about the source of these rumors, Chris Pine, the author of the ECCA article said it was provided by people working in the field of medical research. He added that significant sums of money are available for works discrediting electronic cigarettes, even if based on non-factual information. Although conspiracy theory adepts probably already thought about this sort of actions from Big Pharma, it’s disturbing knowing e-cigarettes now face even more opposition from the medical field. Things weren’t too hot before, but they’re apparently going to get even worse.
In light of these rumors, we can’t help but wonder if the latest series of unfounded studies and statements regarding the use of electronic cigarettes is tied to Big Pharma’s denigration campaign. Just thinking about the issues brought up by Dr. Ellen Hahn, a professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky and the Director of the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy, regarding the safety of e-cigarettes, I can’t help but make some connections. She claims “a recent study showed serious changes in the lungs of e-cig users just minutes after use” but doesn’t mention which study, and that the e-cigarette cartomizers and vapor contain “very dangerous chemicals”. We already know what is in e-liquid and none of the ingredients are considered dangerous. In closing, Hahn claimed electronic cigarettes are not safe and people who choose to quit smoking should only use “medications that are approved by the FDA.” Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?