ALA’s Connor Joins ECIG

It was announced late last week that Charles Connor is joining the Electronic Cigarette Industry Group (ECIG). Connor was president and CEO of the American Lung Association (ALA) from 2008 to 2012, meaning he was at the helm for much of the ALA’s ongoing campaign against electronic cigarettes. E-cig supporters have never quite been able to understand why a group supposedly in favor of reducing the harm done by smoking remains adamantly opposed to what appears to be the best harm reduction option to date. The American Lung Association wants people to quit smoking, but opposes the use of electronic cigarettes, the single best way of quitting tobacco to date.

Apparently Charles Connor felt the same way, or at least does now. The former president and CEO of the ALA has just joined the Electronic Cigarette Industry Group (ECIG). In a recent article in U.S. News & World Report he is quoted as saying “the breakthrough product that gives the smoker an alternative.”

It is refreshing to see another leader in the medical community on our side. Connor is exactly the type of expert that the e-cig industry needs, particularly given his past leadership of the ALA.

The expertise that he brings to ECIG is also important. We all speculate on what drives groups like the ALA and the American Cancer Society in their continuing opposition to electronic cigarettes. “It looks like smoke” and “they’re a gateway to smoking” just don’t seem like valid reasons coming from these organizations. Is big pharma setting the agenda? Are these groups so afraid of losing their bureaucratic foothold that they would make up an adversary? Are they just not that smart? Connor should be able to give ECIG some insight into the mind of the antis, and I hope we get to see some of it.

Connor will be a great liaison between electronic cigarette proponents and their detractors. He can put his substantial experience, leadership and political skills to good use in helping the anti-smoking crusaders to see the light. Surely that is what ECIG hopes to gain from bringing him on board, and we certainly hope it works out.

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