Weekly suggested reading in Tobacco Harm Reduction – 22 June 2011

Must Reads

Swedish Match plans major push into US
They will produce new versions of General, presumably re-tuned for American tastes, launching in Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia (home of no excise tax on smokeless tobacco). Many American snus users swear by Swedish snus due to some combination of weak nicotine delivery by the US smokeless tobacco products called “snus”, beliefs about different health risks, and affect. If successful, this could be a big step toward what we have predicted: growing breadth of competition, without dominant players, in the post-cigarette nicotine market.

EU considering new anti-tobacco rules, including anti-e-cigarettes
Introducing new, incredibly patronizing anti-smoking campaigns, the Health Minister says that the existing rules could be extended to potentially harmless e-cigarettes. (He actually said “potentially harmful”, but isn’t that the same thing?)
Though it may not have been what he really meant, the Minister’s statement may suggest he thinks e-cigarettes are more hazardous than smoking.

In response, vapers hijack the EU’s “unstoppable” anti-smoking campaign
The Facebook page is dominated by e-cigarettes. It is always so fun to watch big awkward institutions that try to implement a social media strategy. And there is an “e-smokers are unstoppable” counter campaign.

Amusing Enough Not to Miss

Karolinska exports its lying to West Virginia
Those who follow the unethical pseudo-science practiced by the anti-snus shop at the Karolinska Institute might want to check out the absurdity by Juhua Luo who studied Lying with Epidemiology there (we are guessing at the translation of the name of the program). As we reported last week, WV officials honestly reported that their smoking rates had not declined, so perhaps as karmic balance comes the dishonest claim that the indoor smoking ban there reduced heart attacks, kind of unbelievable even by extremist standards. See what Chris Snowdon wrote for more info:

THR is working for youth also
Though many would like to pretend that no one underage uses tobacco, it is better they use the low-risk kind. Of course, anti-smoking advocates complained about the increase in popularity of smokeless tobacco (up 15% from 2003-2009). In particular, the Lung Association’s Brown (perhaps forgetting that lungs were his purview or maybe just “thinking out of the box”) restates their position that “there is no safe tobacco”.

WHO continues to not care about health re nicotine use
A discussion of how e-cigarettes won’t help you quit… Quit what? Smoking? Nicotine? It appears from this article that nicotine addiction is the only thing they care about, not public health.

Nicotine-free chewing gum?
This seems like quite the thing. Marketed as a smoking alternative, for a satisfying way to curb cravings for a smoke in environments where people cannot smoke, this product contains no nicotine. As if using a chewing gum as a smoking alternative wasn’t difficult enough… Instead, this product contains taurine, something that has far less evidence of its safety than nicotine does, and I imagine the makers of this product are relying on the stimulant effects of taurine to emulate nicotine (someone should tell them nicotine does far more than just stimulate). http://www.istockanalyst.com/business/news/5229293/cigirex-tm-will-release-the-world-s-first-all-natural-smoking-alternative-chewing-gum

Wisconsin being inconsistent on harm reduction in general
Though moving to make smokeless tobacco economically more feasible for nicotine users, this state is taking the lead in increasing risk in other areas. Already facing disgruntled factions due to the contentious limitations on collective bargaining, sage minds decided to remove restrictions on concealed weapons and also remove metal detectors from the State Capital. Though the politicians might personally have the right to flirt with danger, the sobering result would be that previously weapons-free sensitive areas (as pointed out by Legal Aid when they are dealing with emotional divorce and child custody cases) could no longer enforce such a restriction. http://www.piercecountyherald.com/event/article/id/36979/

US researchers follow Japan into low nicotine cigarettes folly
22 Century Limited of New York has submitted plans to the FDA for low nicotine cigarettes. Anti-smoking groups should be complaining since this would be just a variation on the compensatory smoking problem (smoke more to get enough nicotine) and also pro-actively against any potential cessation claims. But since these groups do seem attracted to any unsatisfying method of nicotine delivery they will no doubt welcome this product.

Other THR

US Senators wants Star Scientific’s dissolvables regulated as smokeless tobacco
Of course, common sense says that smokeless tobacco produces are smokeless tobacco products, though public health benefits if FDA keeps their hands off. But the reason given by the senators is: “Won’t somebody think of the children!”. They fear the purely hypothetical poisoning of children, and in the process may end up condemning real live smokers.

A review of e-cigarettes
Unfortunately this article gives far too much credence to non-experts masquerading as experts, in a misguided attempt to balance the article.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ignores THR
Not a word mentioned about tobacco harm reduction or using smokeless tobacco to quit.

Related Topics

Rodu reminds us that switching avoids the quitting weight gain
There has been a flurry of not-worth-reading excitement about some research that suggested that nicotine can be used to aid calorie restriction and weight loss (we believe it was from The International Journal of Duh!). Brad Rodu reminds of his research that shows that Swedish smokers who switched to snus did not suffer the well-known weight gain from quitting.

Cigar aficionados catching on to the politics?
Premium cigar consumers, merchants, and advocates have largely ignored the policies toward cigarettes and even OTPs (“other tobacco products”), overlooking the storm blowing their way. Various writings are starting to bubble up with a different tone, though you can tell that they have not yet caught on to what’s what. Example:

Anti- “war on drugs” articles still proliferating
The report issued by the Global Commission on Drug Policy is still causing a flurry of activity with respect to anti-drug war movements, many of them quite critical of Obama’s lack of address. It has also been 40 years ago this week since Nixon declared the war on drugs.
Op-ed by Jimmy Carter on the war on drugs

Avaaz petition to end the war on drugs
This was delivered to the UN with 600,000 signatures, and Avaaz reports that a new UN task force will be created “to develop a comprehensive approach to drugs and organized crime”. (You can still sign the petition if you haven’t already.)

Helpful, but illegal, drugs
It is fairly well established that hallucinogens can assist those with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. This study is particularly interesting, and shows it can improve the lives of those without disorders as well.

More on the FCTC’s meddling with developing nations: fighting malaria is so old school
The Framework Convention Alliance is trying to make non-communicable diseases the priority for developing nations.
And on that note, Sierra Leone – one of the poorest developing nations – discusses how to implement the FCTC, having been told by the rich developing nations that spending money on tobacco control should their priority.

Bolivia to implement pictorial warnings. Oh yeah, the US too.
Some people (see, e.g., FDA’s twitter posts that had the feel of a radio station trying to hype an upcoming concernt announcement) are excited about the new US policy. Users and those with a realistic sense of what matters give it a yawn, except those threatening to sue over free speech issues. You can see where we come down — it is not listed last by accident.
Meanwhile, it is not clear if Bolivia will include low-risk tobacco proucts too (in one paragraph it’s specifically for cigarettes, in another it’s tobacco).

Morehead State University goes tobacco-free
Again, like last week’s report on a hospital going tobacco-free, it is not clear why smokeless products are included in this ban.

More news from India: Warning strengths should reflect risk differences
The Smokeless Tobacco Association of India complained that the new smokeless tobacco pictorial warnings are harsher than those for smoking. They cite “competitive disadvantage” but the health aspects should also be a concern.

Big Tobacco sues First Nations to pay their share of health cost levies
If the Ontario government succeeds in its 50 billion dollar lawsuit against tobacco companies to reclaim health costs, the companies’ third party claims against First Nations tobacco companies will take effect. Though portrayed as Big versus Little, in terms of where people actually obtain cigarettes in that part of Canada, its close to even.

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