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Follow the Money to Find Out Why the American Lung Association is Hating on Leo for Using Ecigs

Over the weekend, the world watched eagerly to see who would take home this year’s prestigious Screen Actors Guild awards. One of the highlights of the night was the moment when Leonardo DiCaprio was chosen for “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role” for his appearance in “The Revenant”. Of course, social media soon forgot all about Leo’s on screen accomplishments when a camera panned over to capture him casually puffing on an e-cigarette at his table. All of a sudden, Twitter was at war but the first strikes came from the American Lung Association.

The ALA didn’t miss the opportunity to try to grab attention and sent out a tweet to call out Leo for setting a bad example. “Spot someone vaping at the #SAGawards Sat. night? Learn more about health risks of #ecigs,” the tweet said. Then it mentioned a link to the ALA webpage about ecig dangers.

The ALA’s approach to ecigarettes is simple: don’t do it. The website they linked gives bad information from the first sentence to the last. In fact, it opens with completely lies. “Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are a popular new tobacco product that have still largely unknown public and individual health effects.”

Obviously, the ALA is willfully ignorant about electronic cigarettes. These are tobacco products at all. In fact, smokers switch to ecigs for the express purpose of quitting tobacco. Then there’s the whole matter of research. While the ALA wants people to believe that we just don’t know how ecigs impact health, that’s simply untrue.

With a quick google search, any amateur could provide a ten-page list of studies that show ecigs are a smart alternative to cigarettes. Most recently, this study from the UK’s National Health Service declared the ecigs could save 76,000 lives annually. UK researchers concluded that ecigs are 95 percent safer than tobacco cigarettes. Another study revealed that ecigarette vapor actually contains 450 times fewer toxins than cigarette smoke. And yet another study concluded that inhaling ecig vapor was no more risky than breathing normal air.

So why is the American Lung Association so determined to make ecigs look like a bad choice? Isn’t this organization’s purpose to help smokers kick the habit and protect their lung health? It could be a matter of ulterior motives at play. What would happen to the ALA if smokers all switched to ecigs? Suddenly, their multi-million dollar organization isn’t needed at all.

Anytime you doubt the motives of an organization like this, you can start by looking at the money trail. The ALA’s financial statements from 2015 are pretty telling. Last year, the association valued its assets at more than $38 million, bringing in $59 million in public support just in 2015. We would hope that money is going to a good cause, but a significant portion is paying salaries. In fact, last year, the ALA spent more than $6 million on salaries and benefits for “program services” and an additional $7.1 million on salaries and benefits for “supporting services”.

For the big wigs who depend on a tobacco health crisis to collect a nice sizable paycheck each month, dissing ecigs and the celebs that use them is a no brainer. Do you think the ALA had an ulterior motive in their public criticism of Leo’s ecig habit?

Electronic Cigarettes • April 5, 2017

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