Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, authored an op-ed Wednesday in the Washington Blade endorsing electronic cigarettes as a form of “tobacco harm reduction.” Angelo urges the LGBT community to embrace e-cigs, arguing: “Until we snuff out smoking for good, e-cigarettes should be considered as part of a multifaceted approach to tobacco harm reduction.”
Angelo correctly notes that tobacco addiction is extremely high in the LGBT community — smoking cigarettes at rates roughly double that of the rest of the population — but he neglects to mention that that has a great deal to do with predatory marketing efforts targeted at their community. By writing this piece, Angelo is perpetuating the industry’s predatory marketing toward a population already at high risk of tobacco use.
Angelo told ThinkProgress that while his group does not discuss its donors, neither her nor LCR was “paid to promote e-cigarettes.” He also noted that his Blade op-ed “is perfectly in line with our mission of supporting individual liberty and the betterment of the LGBT community by encouraging harm reduction and smoking cessation.”
The op-ed, lauding “less toxic” e-cigarettes as a “healthier alternative,” identifies Angelo as LCR’s executive director. But it does not note that Log Cabin Republicans received at least $11,000 from tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds last year. This amounted to more than 6 percent of the organization’s reported $172,087 in contributions and grants for 2013.
While there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to traditional smoking, and a recent World Health Organization report noted a lack of evidence that they are an effective cessation technique, tobacco companies have been making a strong push to encourage their adoption in an era of declining tobacco use. Reynolds has invested heavily in its RJR Vapor subsidiary and its Vuse e-cigarette.
According to its website, the mission of Log Cabin Republicans is to “advance the interests of the gay and lesbian community within the Republican Party of the United States of America.”
In a similarly strange alliance, the now-defunct GOProud also provided an op/ed for the Daily Caller last year, calling a proposed New York City ban on e-cigarettes “harmful to the gay community.”