Weekly suggested reading in Tobacco Harm Reduction – 29 June 2011

Must Reads

Snowdon on report in BMJ shows smoking reduces overweight
A great case for the benefits of THR (as compared to abstinence, that is). Smokers are much less likely to be overweight; the weight benefits of low-risk nicotine alternatives, while unknown, are probably substantial. Funny how neither anti-smoking nor anti-obesity people ever make that connection, and quite a fluke that the information was even published.

Amusing Enough Not to Miss

(it was a banner week for THR-related humor)

A new high point in anti-tobacco junk science…
Probably not really — there is way too much competition for that title. Anyway, this one was was just too funny, so CVP stole from this spot for his EP-ology blog today. It deserved a few extra paragraphs of explanation. You can find the analysis of it here:
It was based on this amusing “research” about the “effects” of No Smoking Day:

…and a new high point in ad hominem attacks by anti-tobacco
It takes some time to read this post, its comments, and especially the comments it links to, so this is not for everyone. But it is quite fascinating. A very brief summary: As the current (apparently orchestrated) campaign to try to pretend that only industry is anti-anti-tobacco heats up, the anti-tobacco propagandists become increasingly self-parodies.

Ellen Hahn vs. Brad Rodu: Libel?
Nah. Just anti-tobacco sloppiness. A typical level of sloppiness, but particularly amusing.

Other THR

Rodu suggests that there is a scripted anti-THR disinformation campaign underway in US press
He calls it “misinformation”, but it is clear that these are intentional efforts to mislead people.

…though in posts that allow comments, the readers seem to know the truth
For example, this response to the disinformation in this news post about Swedish snus coming to North America:

Rodu provides a fill-in-the-blank for ACS to report on smokeless tobacco
As we, Rodu, and others have written for years, ACS has attempted to portray ST-based THR as a bad idea while carefully avoiding reporting the data they have that obviously shows otherwise. Since this data is, de facto, the US government data that leads to the dominant world estimates about risk from smoking, it seems to approach a criminal act to keep this information a secret.

Canadian Vaper Awareness Week
“Vapor Awareness Week (July 25 – 31) is intended to increase general awareness of electronic cigarettes in Canada – as an alternative to cigarettes.”

The U.S. government continues to ignore THR
The Office of the Surgeon General published its National Prevention Strategy report. Unsurprisingly, there is not a word on the most under-utilized public health intervention, THR.

More grassroots THR
Facebook cause started to eliminate the Health Canada ban on e-cigarettes, and make Canadians aware of their existence.

Anti-electronic-cigarette policies an attitudes motivated by hatred of a population group
An interesting analysis that argues that opposition to THR is motivated by what might be called “smoker-ism” (as in “racism”), a desire to inflict harm on an out-group. Nothing new there, but it is a nice take on it.

New article questions success of prohibition based on Bhutan experience

New Swedish use prevalence study
Many results that are potentially useful, but not new or soundbite-worthy. It is notable that using snus instead of smoking is associated with greater educational attainment.

Wisconsin noise, signifying nothing
We are honestly not sure what to make of this other than “they are all idiots”, but it generated so much attention we felt we had to cover it. The increasingly fascist (for reasons unrelated to this) state of Wisconsin was lobbied heavily by anti-harm-reduction groups (American Cancer Society et al.) to not change taxation of smokeless tobacco from price- to weight-based. Altria, whose premium products would be more competitive, supported the change; opposition seemed to just be knee-jerk. The governor vetoed the change, claiming it would make some products cheaper and thus more appealing to kids. But it would actually tighten the difference between the cheap and expensive products, which seems to have the opposite effect on kids’ access.

Related Topics

New US graphic pseudo-warnings are crafted fiction and emotional violence
A very good analysis based on real reporting makes these points, though not in so many words: “Visually, in terms of repulsiveness, there is little difference between the tactics of the abortion protesters and those of the federal government. In fact, the only difference is that the government doctored its pictures. And you paid for them.”

Irish report says taxes effective but maxed out
The report says that raising cigarette prices, via taxation, lowers consumption (though their estimate of the effect seems implausibly high) but estimates that the current Irish tax rate is at the top of the Laffer curve. That is, higher taxes will lower collections due to tipping portion of smokers to the black market.

St. Kitts & Nevis ratifies FCTC
With failed states and tax havens alike ratifying it, the “tobacco haven” niche is narrowing. Until the backlash or simple failure to enforce comes.
Or there is always Indonesia. No doubt their problems will be blamed on not having large enough graphic “warnings”, and not the lack of a productive, constructive harm reduction approach.

Australia plain packaging backlash continues
…with the “No Nanny State” website from Imperial Tobacco…
…and a lawsuit from PMI…

ASH UK facing serious challenges over the legality of its lobbying
It will be interesting to see if good-government are enforced in Britain, or if anti-tobacco spending will be treated like “homeland security”, where the people and the law are routinely ignored.

Smoking bans currently merely a suggestion
Only one citation has been issued since the New York parks ban was implemented, and that was to a reporter who was begging for it.
Though that is nothing compared to the flouting of China’s new indoor ban, of the type generally accepted in the West. Ban activists search for some hope of enforcement by a government that is the world’s biggest cigarette company.

Champix: US FDA warns about risk, Canada investigating, but anti-tobacco groups have not eased their support

Review article suggests waterpipe smoking has typical health effects of smoking
But notes that the quality of the research to date is poor so little can be known for sure.

Phillips proposes that tax-based incentive programs be made non-profitable
Making tax-based public health programs (like cigarettes, and increasingly soda and other goods) revenue-neutral, or better still costly, with no benefits going to their advocates (like government coffers or Legacy Foundation-like boondoggles), supporters would have be really believe in the benefits.

**Credit were due: We comb through numerous news sources and anonymous feeds to produce this list, but we also benefit from the efforts of others who do the same. We want to thank those who post their results to twitter and facebook (particularly J Johnson, BK Ainsworth) as well as the TMA’s daily headlines.

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  • GC  On June 29, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    In reference to a news bit from last week, the Legacy Foundation’s “Become an EX” program deleted virtually all of the e-cigarette related posts from their Facebook.


  • GC  On June 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Correction: Last week’s post was in reference to Unstoppable UK (https://www.facebook.com/Unstoppable.uk), which I see has also removed several postings relating to e-cigarettes.

  • Stubby  On July 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Being a resident of Wisconsin I was fallowing the tax change (now vetoed). The whole thing was a joke. It may have made the premium brands a bit cheaper and the budget brands a bit more expensive but the differences would have been small.

    The real issue in Wisconsin is that we have the highest ST tax rates in the country at 100% or wholesale. The new law would have taxed ST at $1.76 ounce, among the highest in the country. It’s this type of anti-public health taxation that is hurting the people of WI.

    The tobacco control zealots of course used the meaningless change as a hugh threat to public health and pushed all the usual misinformation about ST. It was a zoo that went national to a small degree with progressive talk radio showing their usual anti-tobacco fanaticism. According to them it was all a plot by the evil big tobacco to addict the children… and all that rubbish.

    No need to worry, big tobacco has been brought under control once again and we can all sleep easy. That is except for the nearly one million Wisconsin residents who still smoke and continue to be misinformed by the zealots.

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