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Written by Steve Birron
A major health group appeared to discourage smokers from using e-cigarettes in the wake of a study showing vaping has aided a steep decline in the U.S. smoking rate.
The American Lung Association responded to the study, released by the University of California Wednesday, by warning the public that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved e-cigarettes as effective devices for quitting smoking. The implication suggests the health consequences of vaping are potentially dangerous, despite ample research showing the devices drastically reduce harm to the user and those around them.
“It’s important to remember that no e-cigarette has yet been found by the FDA to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit,” Erika Sward, the American Lung Association’s assistant vice president of national advocacy, told The San Diego Tribune Thursday.
Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health, criticized the organization for encouraging smokers to avoid vaping devices, even if the FDA approved patches and gum failed to help them quit.
“They are urging smokers to only use FDA-approved methods that are clearly not going to work for many smokers,” Siegel said on his blog, The Rest of the Story, Thursday. “And if you are one of those smokers, the American Lung Association would apparently rather that you continue smoking than try to quit by switching to vaping.”
The University of California study showed the rate of Americans quitting smoking jumped from 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2015. That means roughly 350,000 smokers gave up the habit between 2014 and 2015, which the researchers largely attribute to the rising popularity of vaping.
The study also revealed roughly 65 percent of people who use vape devices are likely to attempt quitting smoking, compared to only 40 percent of smokers who do not. The researchers concluded e-cigarettes give smokers trying to quit a leg up on their peers.
“The American Lung Association’s advice is tantamount to a physician telling a smoker who has failed to quit multiple times using FDA-approved drugs and who expresses interest in e-cigarettes that she should not try vaping and instead should stick to the failed methods in which she has no interest,” Siegel said in the blog Thursday. “In my opinion, the American Lung Association should either correct this misinformed and dangerous advice or it should get out of the business of making medical recommendations altogether.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to the American Lung Association but did not receive a reply at the time of publication.