A poster spotted on the University of Kentucky campus warns the college community that electronic cigarettes cause cancer and advises them to quit using e-cigs. Obviously, that is one big lie spread by the same people who have been slandering e-cigarettes lately.
Electronic cigarettes have been under fire ever since they started gaining popularity and posing a serious threat to Big Tobacco and the pharmaceutical industry, and while some pretty outrageous claims have been made throughout the years, no one has gone as far as to declare that they cause cancer. Now, a poster sponsored by an organization known as Tobacco-Free UK has started making these ridiculous claim and making a series of misleading statements without any scientific evidence. Here’s what the poster says:
“E-cigarettes. 3 Strikes. You’re out.
1. In Your Brain
You think e-cigs help you quit real cigarettes. There’s no evidence of this.
2. In the Vapor
Acetone and Xylene. Nail polish remover and paint thinner? You’re going to breathe that? Really? And what about the friends next to you?
3. In the Cartridge
Nitrosamines. Known carcinogens. That means it causes cancer.
Formaldehyde. Highly toxic to all animals, including you. Good for embalming dead bodies. Causes cancer.”
Before we start analyzing the poster, you should know that the organization that created and sponsored it is apparently headed up by Ellen Hahn, the Kentucky professor who recently made some very false-yet-damaging statements about electronic cigarettes and stated that people who want to quit smoking should only use FDA approved treatments. This is the same doctor Hahn who has apparently either served on a speaker’s bureau or received financial compensation from Pfizer, the maker of Chantix and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Coincidentally (or not) just a few days ago I wrote an article about Big Pharma’s campaign against e-cigarettes in a desperate attempt to protect its own financial interests and maintain the status quo.
As Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor at the Department of Community Health Sciences and Boston University of Public Health, notes on his Tobacco Analysis blog, the statements in the poster are either lies, misleading statements or unfounded scientific claims. First off, it says there is no evidence electronic cigarettes can be useful as a smoking cessation aid, when in reality various scientific studies have proven just the opposite. Do we need more research into this field before asserting the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in quitting smoking? Without a doubt, but to claim there is no evidence they can be helpful is just wrong.
Then comes the misleading information about cancer-inducing elements in electronic cigarettes and e-liquid. It’s true that traces of nitrosamines have been found in e-liquid, but what the poster fails to inform is that the levels were about 1,000 times lower than in tobacco cigarettes and way below the danger risk for humans. Also, there is no evidence to support the claim that e-cigarettes contain significant amounts of acetone and xylene that would put vapers’ lives at risk. What everyone should know is that all products containing nicotine will have some levels of nitrosamines because nicotine is a product derived from tobacco. If electronic cigarettes cause cancer due to the nitrosamines they contain, than so do the FDA-approved NRTs (Nicotine Replacement Therapies) supported by Ellen Hahn. There is just no scientific data to support the claim that nitrosamines found in e-cigarettes or NRTs cause cancer, because it has yet to be proven that nitrosamines found in them have any kind of clinical significance.
While the Tobacco-Free UK poster advises people not to use electronic cigarettes to quit smoking, and to stop using them if they’ve already gone down that path, it fails to mention the much higher danger of using tobacco cigarettes. If they would follow this kind of advice, many vapers would have no choice than to go back to smoking, because they’ve already tried the NRTs praised by Ellen Hahn and other anti-tobacco activists and guess what, they didn’t work. It’s sad to think that people who have reported great improvements to their health thanks to electronic cigarettes might go back to the infinitely more hazardous analogs because of some misleading information they read on a poster.