In a public comment, CASAA is asking the White House to tighten the reins on a federal agency known for its anti-vaping propaganda.
In a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the pro-vaping consumer advocacy organization has called on the Trump Administration to end funding for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) program that is famous for creating deceptive print ads and TV commercials about vaping.
The best-known ad campaign, known as Tips From Former Smokers, began as an anti-smoking effort. But the CDC also used the $48 million crusade to launch a sneak attack on vaping. One of the ads focused on a long-term smoker named Kristy who tried vaping but also continued to smoke, eventually suffering a collapsed lung.
“I thought I could quit smoking if I was smoking an electronic cigarette because it’s the same thing, they said, minus all the chemicals,” Kristy tells the camera. “It wasn’t any better for me. I never did quit.”
The ad implies that Kristy was unable to quit smoking with e-cigarettes, and also that vaping contributed to her collapsed lung. Unfortunately, most TV viewers are unlikely to parse Kristy’s words carefully. “I think their main purpose here is to demonize e-cigarettes,” Dr. Michael Siegel told VICE News.
The CASAA letter to the OMB pulls no punches:
“One of the key assets in a government agency is public trust,” it reads. “Trust is built on honesty and integrity – in this case, an adherence to the integrity of the science upon which public health depends to protect the public it serves. The Campaign forsakes scientific rigor and fidelity for the convenience of innuendo and distortion to promote a singular ideal, that the only way to reduce the harm from smoking is abstinence.”
“It is time that CDC change its focus from a nearly religious adherence to abstinence and align its mission with the core principle of public health – reduce the harm to the whole population, including smokers, through the promotion of harm reduction policies.
“It could do this best by recalling and retooling The Campaign towards promoting less harmful alternatives to combustible tobacco rather than presenting smokers with ‘Quit or Die’ propaganda.”