Non-profit fights to reduce harm rather than to prohibit tobacco

May 16, 2011 

Atissue | May 9 column by Ellen Hahn and Carol A. Riker, "E-cigs must be tested, regulated for safety"

Contrary to the claims of Ellen Hahn and Carol Riker, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association is not "closely affiliated" with any e-cigarette, tobacco or pharmaceutical industry associations. The Electronic Cigarette Association, which they mentioned, is a defunct group that has not even been active in quite some time.

CASAA is a non-profit, all-volunteer association of former smokers and smokeless alternative consumers. Its mission is solely to educate the public, media and legislative bodies about the benefits of tobacco-harm reduction for smokers who cannot or will not quit nicotine or tobacco use.

Tobacco-harm reduction includes the use of all modified or reduced-risk, smoke-free products, including but not limited to electronic cigarettes and low-risk, modern smokeless tobaccos.

CASAA has never taken an official position on any smoke-free policies relating to tobacco smoke. We have only actively opposed or proposed amending legislation when it has attempted to prohibit or limit the use of vapor-producing e-cigarettes, which should not be prohibited under laws which apply only to smoke.

And we oppose attempts to reduce the availability of innovative smokeless tobacco products in favor of cigarettes, other combustible tobacco products and ineffective pharmaceutical products.

Smokers deserve more choices than the heavily lobbied, ineffective nicotine-cessation products made by pharmaceutical companies, which also provide millions in funding to anti-tobacco groups, who in return heavily promote their nicotine products.

Maybe Hahn should also disclose that she's received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is "closely affiliated" with Johnson & Johnson, which makes nicotine products directly competing with e-cigarettes.

However, CASAA's members and its board of directors are not beholden to any companies with a vested interest in one product over another.

CASAA exists because prohibitionists continue to misinform the public about the ineffectiveness and dangers of FDA-approved nicotine cessation products; refuse to acknowledge the proven science that smokers who switch to reduced harm smokeless tobacco have reduced their health risks to nearly that of non-tobacco users; insist on ignoring real research and rely upon conjecture and assumption that tobacco harm reduction will somehow negatively impact overall public health; and mislead the public about e-cigarettes.

All testing and research to date has revealed no harmful levels of any chemicals or carcinogens and anecdotal surveys and reports by hundreds of thousands of e-cigarette users have shown no serious adverse affects in the seven years they have been on the world market.

CASAA agrees e-cigarettes should continue to be studied and monitored for quality, standards and any possible adverse effects. But a product widely hailed by consumers as an effective and acceptable smoking replacement, without any reports of serious illness or injury associated with its use, should remain on the market.

There is simply no justification to remove these products from the market at this time, other than protecting the bottom line of companies that fund Hahn's and Riker's benefactors.

Kristin Noll-Marsh is the secretary of directors of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association.

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