WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

American Cancer Society on vaping: Nicotine is not tobacco

When the American Cancer Society essentially endorses vaping as a safe and effective tool for tobacco harm reduction, should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration be listening?  In its official position statement on electronic cigarettes, the ACS compares the perceived health risks of multiple products facing millions of Americans today.  And vaping rates the lowest on the list.

In its evaluation of carcinogenic and toxicity risks associated with conventional prescription medications, alcohol, combustible tobacco, and vaping products, the ACS determined that vaping is by far the safest.  On the other hand, cigarette smoke is laced with about 70 different carcinogens and a whopping 7,000 needlessly-added chemicals of varying toxicities and addictive qualities.  The statement also attempts to make a clear and definitive distinction between the perceived dangers of nicotine compared to those of tobacco.

“Although many ENDS deliver nicotine, flavor additives, and other chemicals, they do not burn tobacco, a process that yields an estimated 7000 chemicals, including at least 70 carcinogens. Thus, public misunderstanding underscores the urgent need for consumer education about the absolute and relative risks posed by different tobacco products and to reinvigorate smokers’ understanding of the importance of quitting combustible tobacco. Whereas complete information on all the potential risks and benefits of ENDS is not yet available, there is sufficient information to allow ACS to act now with a clear focus on the primary goal of ending deadly combustible tobacco use, which is responsible for approximately a one-half million deaths per year and 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States.”

Peppered throughout the multi-page position statement are allegations that certain anti-vaping activist groups are employing fear-mongering tactics to intentionally misinform the general public.   The ACS specifically mentions the Monitoring the Future study, but a more recent campaign called The Truth is particularly abhorrent.

The Truth campaign is publicly claiming that a single Juul pod is the equivalent of smoking twenty cigarettes.  By focusing only on the comparative nicotine content while ignoring the associated tar, carcinogens, and toxicity levels altogether, “The Truth” is anything but.  In fact, it’s a deviously evil attempt to persuade teenagers and young adults to switch to smoking instead of vaping. 

Related Article:  Vaping lies: ‘The Truth’ campaign falsely claims 1 Juul pod = 20 cigarettes

The ACS strikes back at these types of anti-vaping organizations in its effort to simultaneously endorse vaping.  The public health organization further claims that sufficient evidence exists which supports its position that vaping is a far less harmful than smoking.

“Many consumers are misinformed about the harms of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). (In this document, the term ENDS refers to the variety of products that heat, but do not burn, liquids that contain nicotine, water, and other constituents, such as propylene glycol and flavorants.) Many adults believe, erroneously, that ENDS are as harmful as combustible tobacco products, and the level of public understanding has deteriorated over time. In 2012, only 11.5% of respondents to a national survey held this view. By 2015, 35.7% of respondents mistakenly believed that the harm associated with electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) was ‘about the same’ as that of smoking conventional cigarettes. At the same time, the Monitoring the Future study reports that, as of 2017, ‘e-cigarettes have one of the lowest levels of perceived risk for regular use of all drugs, including alcohol” among adolescents.’”

Unfortunately, the ACS falls short of providing a full-throated endorsement of vaping.  Like many public health organizations, the ACS continues to push the notorious and somewhat cowardly argument that more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of e-cig use.  While feeble arguments like these are usually an attempt to avoid legal liability issues, they grossly undervalue the significant life-saving capabilities of e-cigs while only further confusing the American public.  

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)


  • Hey Shelley, Ths link is located under the large quoted content. Thanks kindly!

    Matt Rowland
  • This is a great article and had alot of truth to it but when I was looking for references, they are missing. I would suggest that you request the author to provide those. That will give more power to this researched based opinion.

    Shelley Corey
  • I read ACS statement. They quoted The Truth Initiative, but did not deliver any harsh comments regarding their stance. They have aligned with FDA, Truth Initiative, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, in regards to Tobacco 21, taxation, removal of discounts, etc. They have definitely made REAL progress, but are a far cry from aligning with Vape Advocacy. This article is not really laying out what ACS has to say. Yes, they are supporting vaping as an alternative to smoking, but they are still supporting FDA’s harmful regulations and authority 100%.

    David Higginbotham
  • While others down me I am a 4time survivor of cancer and have went from cigarettes to vaping it’s a rough process but takes time like anything else. While enjoying my vape juice I do have the need for a cigarette every now and then and while your talking about raising the age limit that will do no good what so ever cause if it’s the lates trend kids will find away to get it legally or illegally. On a side note I’ve been vaping for nearly two years now and each time I go back to my cancer doctor he says my throat and everything look perfect (laryngeal cancer 2015) so I’m pretty sure while I’ve done and am doing both on and off I can offer more insight being that my throat and lungs are in good condition. People who do these so called studies do not realize each body is different and people react differently to other things.

  • I own a Vape Shop…for 6 years now. When used “as designed” there is NO DOUBT that E-cigarettes are the safest. They were designed to aid in quitting smoking. You begin at a nicotine level equivelant to your cigarette brand. (18mg for example), then, over the next several weeks. You drop to 12mg, then 9, 6,3, and finally to 0mg. However, the Vaping industry has turned vaping into a hobby. With “competiton” vaping, and Cloud tricks. This is irresponsible. We started this business to help people quit smoking. We do not advocate using vaping as a hobby, as “fun” or any manner other than smoking sessation. Even though the law prevents us from advertising it as so. (STUPID) I have personally witnessed 1000’s of people quit smoking and change their lives. Thank God for Vaping!!!

    Todd Kundert

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