Recent Readings in Tobacco Harm Reduction – week of 4 May 2011

By THR.o Staff

Must Reads

Mapping graphics illustrate WHO’s FCTC priorities
The World Health’s Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the world’s first health treaty. Isn’t it odd that it imposes the priorities of rich countries (e.g., lung cancer) on low-income regions that should have other public health priorities (e..g malaria)? A new graphical analysis illustrates the point:

Worth Your Time

Charlie Sheen hired to tout e-cigarettes
The product name, “Sheen Safe Smoke”, is likely to trigger FDA prohibitions about health claims. One implication of this is that Glantz’s short reign, following Banzhaf’s retirement, as the most narcissistic person in anti-smoking has come to an end. Also, Sheen apparently still has to take smoke breaks despite puffing away on the e-cigarettes, so it is not exactly the best endorsement in the world.

Yes, it’s The Onion and, no, it is not really about THR. And yet…
“Pfizer Breaks Psychological Need To Always Seek FDA’s Approval”
“Pfizer spokesman Vincent Martin announced that the company had achieved a major personal breakthrough Monday by finally summoning the courage and confidence to overcome its need to constantly seek the FDA’s approval. ‘We’ve spent so many years fretting and obsessing over what the FDA would think of our new drugs, when all that time, the only people we really should have been worried about pleasing was ourselves,’”
Full satire:,20298/
It worked for Star Scientific and Njoy. (Cue Sinatra: “…I did it my way.”)

Other THR

Tobacco Control‘s anti-e-cigarette broadside
At what point can a special-interest advocacy periodical/website no longer maintain the pretense that it is a scientific journal? This is not really worth reading for content, which consists of the same old boring incorrect anti-e-cigarette claims, but it is worth noting what the people on the tobacco control gravy train are being told they are supposed to think.

Some American youth apparently engaging in THR via pharma products
The authors seem oblivious to the possibility that “NRT” can be used for anything other than R and T, but they accidentally provide evidence of low-risk nicotine use in adolescents.

Are anti-tobacco extremists creating a “gateway” from low-risk products to smoking?
The “gateway” claim has always been a refuge for dishonest activists seeking to rationalize attacks on low-risk behaviors. While the evidence does not show that low-risk nicotine products are a gateway to smoking, if they were it would be due to the “they are just as bad for you” message from extremists. Restrictions on e-cigarettes are creating a market for less- or un-regulated nicotine-free versions, leading to claims (as in this story from Hong Kong) that these might cause smoking. While this seems unlikely where users have access to nicotine e-cigarettes, it is imaginable that prohibitions could create a path to easily-available cigarettes.
South China Morning Post

Siegel opines that reducing toxins in cigarettes holds no promise for harm reduction
Claims the available research invalidates this whole part of the FDA approach (does not mention similar thinking at WHO and EU) and suggests that tobacco companies know this.
Nevertheless, there is new published research in the area almost every week, e.g.:

“Health promotion” activism remains mired in 1990s
An article in American Journal of Health Promotion calls for just doing more of the same tobacco control strategies that have already been played out. The greatest threat to THR (which they do not even mention) remains that this field is dominated by people who mistake “I do not understand why this does not work” for “this works”.

Smokeless tobacco is cheaper, if price is the problem
A California man was arrested for a string of nicotine gum thefts. Since the thefts started last year, this is apparently evidence of off-label use for THR.–.html

Related Topics

Junk science claim that ETS increases boys’ blood pressure
It is difficult to imagine a better example of bad epidemiology. The data shows higher blood pressure among children with the lowest second-hand smoke exposure, but by looking at only one subgroup (and ignoring the bizarre dose-response relationship), the authors spin it as showing just the opposite.

Further evidence of smoking’s value for relieving PTSD
Too bad the authors insisted on spinning it as being about what creates a risk of smoking and not nicotine’s benefits, and implied that the relief was just a “belief” of those deluded smoking soldiers.

Chinese indoor smoking ban takes effect, but widespread disregard is predicted,0,1092056.story

Meanwhile Chinese firm announces method for reducing nicotine delivery while keeping most of the health risk
It is not clear if market for reduced-nicotine products in China is created by anti-nicotine disinformation, as elsewhere, or if desire to smoke for social reasons is broader than desire for nicotine.

Nepal planning new anti-smoking measures
Good news: the pictoral warnings will be implemented several months after other provisions, making analysis of their specific effect possible (if anyone is honest enough to do it). Bad news: I would really hate to be a merchant trying to enforce the provision banning sales to pregnant women (“are you saying I look pregnant?!”). Also, most harms from chemical exposures are worst before the mother is showing (still not known for smoking), so it boggles the mind how they would enforce this when it matters.

Great quote re Greek PM getting WHO anti-tobacco prize for unpopular and unenforced smoking ban
“I am not sure that ‘political courage’ are words that describe the actions of a leader who follows a global health agenda at the expense of his people’s livelihoods and against their wishes.”

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