Public health expert blasts AHA for claiming vaping is ‘just as dangerous’ as smoking

When a representative of the American Heart Association made statements to the press that vaping is essentially just as deadly as smoking, public health expert Dr. Michael Siegel nearly flipped his lid.  Proclaiming to be “frustrated by denialists,” the Professor of Community Health Sciences from the Boston University School of Public Health immediately took to his blog to express his outrage.

The ordeal began with an article published in the UK’s Daily Mail entitled, E-cigarettes are as dangerous as smoking - just ONE puff could be all it takes to increase the risk of a heart attack. As if the headline was not disgustingly disturbing enough, the Director of the Tobacco Research and Addiction Center of the American Heart Association, Dr Aruni Bhatnagar, offered the following irredeemably false statement.

“We just don't know if moving to e-cigarettes is good enough to reduce the harm.”

The article also discusses some sort of vaping research conducted by researchers from West Virginia University.  According to the study’s co-authors, when mice are exposed to e-cig vapor, the diameter of their arteries narrows by 30 percent within 5 minutes.   Given the fact that mice are not people, this begs the question.  Why didn’t the West Virginia scientists conduct their testing on human subjects in the first place? 

Siegel’s scornful rebuke continues

In his scathing rebuttal of The Daily Mail article, Seigel does not address this silly study directly.  Instead, he references “overwhelming scientific evidence” which proves that switching to vaping from smoking produces vast improvements in the spirometry measurements of dual users.   It also improves the lung functions and respiratory systems of smokers turned vapers and has shown tremendous medical benefits for patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“The American Heart Association's claim is not only false, but it is potentially damaging. If smokers believe this false information, they may decide that there is no reason to quit smoking using e-cigarettes. Or, even worse, ex-smokers who quit using e-cigarettes may return to smoking. After all, if it is not clear that vaping reduces harm compared to smoking, then what's the point of vaping? You might as well enjoy the real thing.”

Siegel suggests that when the American Heart Associations makes such outlandish claims that vaping is no better than smoking, the organization is essentially telling its constituency that it’s okay to keep smoking.  Following their nonsensical theory, switching to e-cigarettes is just a waste of time and money.

Related Article:  In case you missed it: Dr. Siegel debunks ‘vaping causes heart attacks’ study as Junk Science

In fact, Siegel further marvels why Big Tobacco hasn’t jumped onboard this pro-smoking bandwagon, jokingly wondering why Phillip Morris hasn’t created an advertising campaign centered around the American Heart Association’s ill-informed conclusions.

“So, if you're thinking of trying to quit smoking by switching to vaping, don't bother. There's no certainty that it will reduce your health risks. But it will certainly decrease your enjoyment of the tobacco smoking experience."

Unfortunately, social media is filled with intentionally misguided reporting like that of The Daily Mail, articles whose headlines alone are enough to plant a significant seed of self-doubt about vaping in the minds of unwitting smokers wanting to quit.  Thankfully, the vaping community has public health experts like Dr. Michael Siegel who consistently comb the web and debunk such bogus reporting.  And while The Daily Mail reaches millions more readers than Siegel’s simple blog on public health, every little bit helps.   

Related Article:  Dr. Siegel praises new UK study claiming e-cigs are only 1% carcinogenic

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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