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Big Pharma and the American Lung Association: A ‘Baptist-bootlegger’ alliance

Big pharmaceutical companies, otherwise collectively known as Big Pharma, have a lot to lose if vaping is allowed to continue thriving in an unregulated society.  And tobacco-control organizations like the American Lung Association (ALA) are also equally at risk.  Big Pharma worries that their profits from traditional nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, and nasal sprays will plummet.  Meanwhile, organizations like the ALA worry that their untarnished reputations as advocates for public health will take a huge hit.

If vaping is allowed to survive, then both of these very powerful and politically connected groups will have to admit that they were wrong.  This can never happen.  Their very lives depend on it, which is why the War on Vaping is now a fight to the death.

"Nobody wants to admit when they're wrong.  These are people who have never had to admit they're wrong. You're dealing with tobacco control! These are the white hats!"
-Greg Conley, President of the American Vaping Association

Conley goes on to suggest that there exists a huge ego problem within these two camps.  Even organizations like the ALA have grown so accustomed to their stature within the public health community that they are unwilling to budge an inch.  They cannot and will not openly admit that their initial opinions of vaping were completely wrong, even when foreign health organizations like the Royal College of Physicians publish medical research that directly contradicts their own.

Big Pharma and the ‘Baptist-bootlegger’ alliance

The American Lung Association lists Big Pharma’s Pfizer and AstraZeneca and as two of its prime sponsors. The American Heart Association boasts Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Bristol-Myers Squibb as major financial donors.  And even the American Cancer Society has Genentech and Merck on its roster.

Coincindence?  According to Law Professor Jonathan H. Adler of Case Western University, this type of partnership is called a classic “Baptist-bootlegger” alliance, two unlikely parties joining forces to achieving a common goal.  Adler uses the analogy of 1920’s bootleggers joined forces with the Bible Belt Baptists during the 1920’s to ensure that alcohol prohibition laws remained intact.


For the Baptist-bootlegger alliance to work, the first goal would be to implement federal legislation that essentially prohibits vaping, but passing such a controversial law is nearly impossible. It would also require unlimited amounts of time, money, and scientific research – research that unfortunately requires a decades-long list of associated American fatalities attached to it.

The trouble is, vaping doesn’t kill.  And even if it did, Big Pharma and tobacco-control organizations don’t have enough time to wait for the death toll to climb high enough to make a difference in the minds of the politicians who vote on anti-vaping legislation.  Vaping must end, and it must end now!

Big Pharma and the ALA infiltrate the FDA

The best alternative was to secretly push the legislation through the FDA, but first the Baptist-bootlegger alliance had to stack the deck in their favor.  They would need previous members of Big Pharma and anti-smoking organizations like the American Cancer Society to infiltrate the FDA.

Mitch Zeller was one of the first.  Zeller joined the FDA after a long stint as a political lobbyist of Big Pharma.   He is also the FDA staffer chiefly responsible for writing the newly announced FDA deeming regulations that threaten to wipe out the entire vaping industry within the next two years.


Another Big Pharma double agent is Jack Henningfield, a founding member of the newly formed Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.  This is the federal organization that works in tandem with the FDA to review the public safety of oral tobacco products, which now includes all vaping devices thanks to the FDA deeming regulations. Henningfield also happens to be an old boss of Mitch Zeller back when he was a mere political lobbyist.

We also have past employees of anti-smoking advocacy groups like Dr. Bert Vogelstein who regularly publishes “research papers” for the FDA, claiming that vaping is the cause of everything from cancer to popcorn lung and even teen smoking.  Vogelstein is also coincidentally a previous winner of the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor. 

Big Pharma and the tobacco-control advocacy groups have a lot to lose in the War on Vaping.  But they also have a lot to gain, including money, power, and prestige.  While hiding behind a public perception of well-intentioned healers within the community, these two very powerful allies might just be the most devious duo currently threatening American public health.


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