Major pharmaceutical companies and pubic health activists are among the leading culprits spreading disinformation about the health risks of e-cigarettes.
A new film set to be released in 2016 titled “A Billion Lives” exposes one of the main reasons behind the increasingly visceral campaign to tax, regulate and ban e-cigarettes — money. The title of the film is based on the World Health Organization’s estimate that one billion people will die from smoking over the course of this century.
The film’s trailer, released Friday, shows a slew of anti-smoking activists, doctors and health professionals slamming their colleagues for peddling falsehoods about the dangers of vaping.
Clive Bates, a long-time anti-tobacco activist and former head of the United Kingdom’s Action on Smoking and Health, said “I always flinch when I hear colleagues saying things about e-cigarettes that they know, or they should know, are completely wrong or exaggerated or scaremongering. There’s too much of that going on.
“We used to have very dangerous products and the makers of those used to lie about those. We have much safer products and the public health community is lying about those.”
An independent study by Public Health England in August found that e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than tobacco. The trailer features a montage of e-cigarette opponents claiming not enough is known about the effects of vaping or that it’s flat out dangerous. Senator Edward Markey has gone so far as to say “today’s electronic cigarettes are no better than the Joe Camels of the past.”
But the motivation behind the campaign against e-cigarettes may have less to do with health than with cold hard cash. “Money is corrupting our most trusted organizations. The cover up is real,” says director Aaron Biebert. Many of the participants in the film say the pharmaceutical industry has vested interest in government crackdowns on e-cigarettes.
This is because the rise of e-cigarettes is eating into the profit margins of companies that sell smoking cessation aids like nicotine patches or gum that are notoriously ineffective. “If you are a pharmaceutical company whose starting to see your share of the market on nicotine replacement therapy slide. What are you going to do?,” said Dr. Derek Yach.
The tide against e-cigarettes is gaining strength at the both the state level and on Capitol Hill. Senate Democrats are urging the White House Office of Management and Budget to finalize its review of a rule to regulate e-cigarettes. Their suggestions include clamping down on advertising, adding compulsory health warnings, banning different flavors and introducing a minimum age standard.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) has threatened to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public housing.
HUD has opened a 60-day consultation on whether to include vaping in its blanket ban on smoking in public housing. The new rule would affect more than 700,000 units “including over 500,000 units inhabited by elderly households or households with a non-elderly person with disabilities.”
The prospect of making public housing a vape free zone was slammed as “cruel” and “unenforceable” by one the nation’s leading champions of vaper’s rights.
Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association said, “for years, HUD tenants have had to deal with the consequences of rampant waste, fraud, and mismanagement by public housing bureaucrats.
“Now, the bullying bureaucrats want to stop smokers from switching to dramatically reduced risk products that are both smoke-free and tobacco-free.”