Health organizations congratulate selves on sticking to quit or die approach

Today on PR Newswire Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Legacy characterized this first anniversary of the FDA Tobacco initiative as a giant step forward.

In any other area of health, this would have been accompanied by some mention of lives saved or fewer at risk but the only metric here is how many new policies have been added to the disagreeable stew already being ladled out in the tobacco control soup kitchen.

The popular response to electronic cigarettes shows that people are not inescapably wedded to cigarettes as the only nicotine delivery devices. When that self directed and officially disparaged search for healthier alternatives is placed beside this year of monumental silliness within tobacco control, it is disingenuous to describe the year as progress in any way.

In all honesty, considering the available resources and the further evidence for effective alternatives to the political games that keep current tobacco policy so firmly anti-harm reduction, the last year has been a backward stumble.

In war, a mounting body count can be justified as a means of keeping score; in the inappropriately named tobacco wars, the flat numbers of those lost to smoking as a result of being denied the education that might have turned them toward smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes, and the regulatory hurdles being constructed and fiercely maintained to make sure than people do not remove the blinders they have been forced to wear, can only mean this last year has been an abject failure.

But even amidst the tragedy, there are moments of such sublime stupidity that you have to laugh. In the release there is this wonderful passage which is a beautiful indicator of the mindset at work.

Some companies have sought to circumvent the ban on flavored cigarettes by introducing clove cigars that look and, according to news reports, taste like cigarettes. Vigilant monitoring and strict enforcement by the FDA are vital to ensuring that the law succeeds in reducing tobacco use and the industry does not succeed in evading it.

Let me get this straight. The company has been told to change their product so they do not taste like cloves. So, they modify their product so it does not taste like cloves or any sort of “candy” but like tobacco. This is considered evasion.

The lunatics truly are in charge.

And while they do provide laughs with their astonishing defiance of all reason, the sad thing is that the punch line to all their dated comedy routines is death on a scale that beggars comparisons with anything else.

-Paul L. Bergen

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Comments

  • Janet Andersen  On June 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I think the quote was poorly worded, but what they mean is that these little clove cigars simply evade the spirit of the law. Most people who smoked clove cigarettes simply switched to these.

  • Paul  On June 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Janet,

    But then, what is the “spirit of the law”? My impression was that the argument was to ban non-tobacco flavours on the basis that it attracted youth and/or new smokers. If it is a flavour ban, then how is it circumvented by producing a cigarette that tastes like tobacco no matter what the cigarette is actually made of?

    If it hasn’t been clear from posts so far, I don’t see any justification for singling out flavoured tobacco products for adult consumers. (After all, this is one way in which we hope to attract tobacco users to safer products). The larger issue is that if cigarettes remain a legal product, then how anyone justify forcing companies to make them less pleasurable for willing adult consumers. If it is justified then there is no reason they cannot come after my kahlua.

    Adults enjoy better tasting food, liquor, and better tasting tobacco. Do we really want a world where we remove all flavour from any morally disapproved items be they tobacco, liquor or fast food? There is more to life than consuming 100% healthy tasteless fuel.

  • Treece  On June 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    “And while they do provide laughs with their astonishing defiance of all reason, the sad thing is that the punch line to all their dated comedy routines is death on a scale that beggars comparisons with anything else.”

    An especially eloquent post. Thank you. Wow.

  • Nathan Dunn  On June 23, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Here’s the interesting thing about flavors. From the Centers for Disease Control (2004, 2006):

    “The three most heavily advertised brands, Marlboro, Newport and Camel, continue to be the preferred brands of cigarettes smoked by established student smokers in middle and high school. Among middle school respondents, the preference for these three brands was 78.2%, ranging from 67.7% to 80.5% across racial/ethnic groups and by sex. Among high school respondents, the preference for these three brands was 86.5%, ranging from 79.2% to 90.3% across racial/ethnic groups and by sex.”

    Of those, only Camel offered (at the time) flavored cigarettes, and they were mildly flavored at best. None of the three brands featured clove cigarettes. At best, 21.8% of youth smokers *may* have been deterred by a ban on clove flavoring.

    Obviously, menthol has a much bigger market share (all three brands offer a menthol option). I cannot believe that any significant portion of the current high school and younger smokers will just stop smoking because they can’t smoke menthol. More likely, they’ll continue to smoke “unflavored” cigarettes, and tobacco companies will continue to develop richer blends, as seen in the Camel Turkish line.

    You are correct in your statement that “Adults enjoy better tasting food, liquor, and better tasting tobacco.” The only thing that is being accomplished with these restrictions is to deny adults options while using a perfectly legal (and indeed protected by law) substance.

  • Nathan Dunn  On June 23, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I’m sorry, I forgot to link my source to the CDC findings:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5805a3.htm

  • Paul  On June 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks Treece for the kind words.

    And thank you Nathan for that information about youth preferences. Its always good to have some numbers to back this up. You hear so much these days about kids being attracted by “candy” tobacco. Other than using the word “candy” to draw a line from tobacco use to innocent children, you have to think that if kids are attracted to tobacco because it is like candy, it would make it just as likely that they would spurn tobacco because it is such a poor substitute for candy…..why not just get the real thing.

  • Tenburn  On June 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    There’s a lot of “stay the course” mindset within the anti-smoking ranks. Having attending a few meetings, you won’t see much youth or a fresh perspective represented. I think a strong desire to remain intellectually lazy about alternatives is the major motivation behind the perceived lack of reason. They’ve been so programmed to consider smokers “the enemy” that they don’t consider them people, or even that they deserve to live. They refuse to do anything but give “no quarter”, and diminish the real issues and problems to something akin to a sporting event. They don’t see people using tobacco as people. They see them as enemies to a cause that has become so convoluted by big pharmaceutical companies, and big money lobby groups, that they don’t even realize they’ve become yet another tool that big tobacco is using.

    Feel very sorry for these people. I do. Someday they are going to wake up and realize how many people they put to death. I wouldn’t want to be in that position when I have to eventually reconcile the actions of life with my children, and my God.

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