Today is the 38th annual Great American Smokeout, established and sponsored by The American Cancer Society (ACS) in 1976. Their stated goal and this occasion has been taken up by many anti-smoking/anti-tobacco organizations worldwide over the years is to encourage smokers to quit long-term, but to start with quitting for just one day and see how that goes.
This is a most worthwhile goal; surely, since over half of smokers want to quit, this would represent a good first step. But over the course of the past several years, for reasons that are not abundantly clear, ACS has lost its way toward its ostensible goal of reducing the toll of cigarette smoking. There are about 45 million smokers in the USA, and over 400,000 of them die each year from smoking. A new technology, electronic cigarettes (e-cigs), presents a possible path toward quitting for the 90+percent of smokers who relapse to smoking after trying to quit. They need more help the FDA approved methods don t help much.
Yet, in a perverse reversal of history, the ACS has been in the forefront of distorting and downplaying truthful communication of the potential lifesaving benefits of e-cigs. They have actually sent out emissaries to testify and lobbying against banning e-cig sales to minors, IF those proposals have given any preferential treatment (e.g. lower taxes) to e-cigs. The effect of this policy will be obvious: keep addicted smokers on deadly cigarettes, preserving cigarette markets and condemning smokers to premature diseases and death.
So that s why, if they want to be less hypocritical, the ACS should just call this observation The Great American Smoke-In. Or a better idea the ACS could resume its pro-public health stance and stop its mindless, unscientific, or (dare I say it?) greedy approach to this lifesaving smoking cessation device.