Weekly suggested reading in Tobacco Harm Reduction – 13 July 2011

Must Reads

Rodu on history of anti-THR by American Dental Association
The ADA has historically been anti-THR, taking up this cause in earnest well before the other pseudo-public health groups like Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids or even the American Cancer Society. Rodu, who tends to be private about his personal professional history, hints in this blog post that their crusade was triggered as an effort to censor him (a dental clinician, in addition to being a scientist) and his early (c1994) efforts to promote THR. We urge skeptical readers to not dismiss this as paranoia; we can speak from the experience of having seen anti-tobacco activists, including those in the government, switch most of their efforts to being anti-THR (rather than anti-smoking) when we started to make progress in Canada. This is what happens when “antis” are so focused on being anti — they have a knee-jerk urge to fight against anyone who annoys them and forget that perhaps they once were motivated by fighting for a good cause.

Other THR

Results of some of CASAA’s FOIA requests
A leader in the e-cigarette consumer group, The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, has initiated freedom of information requests from government actors who have pursued or considered anti-e-cigarette actions. This is a great example of the citizen oversight of government that is needed in a free society. (Note to those only vaguely familiar with such matters, this should not be confused with the behavior of the extremist antis who often use freedom of information rules to harass researchers who are not involved in policy making but happen to work at public institutions like state universities. They did this to us, and such threats were part of the motivation for privatizing.) Some of the results are posted at e-cigarette-forum (free login needed to download the files, but not to browse the excerpts and discussion). It’s an interesting window into what seems to be fairly typical local government behavior on matters that require scientific expertise that simply does not exist there — they treat it with about the same level of sophistication as the popular press, which is to say, as if it were a football match (mere stylized competition) and not a matter of science.
(Thank you to Gregory Conley for bringing this to our attention.)

FDA public workshop for “Scientific Evaluation of Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) Applications” upcoming
Smart money predicts that this will be to good, honest, learned science what the Republican presidential candidate debate was to good, honest, learned macroeconomics.

Will new BAT inhalers be widely referred to as “safe”?
This article, which was clearly mostly dictated from company marketing, uses the term multiple times. It seems safe to assume that the company would not make such a claim, but it is possible it will become the preferred possible shorthand.

Ashtray Blog provokes response about nicotine content by Eissenberg
Anti-tobacco researcher/advocate Thomas Eissenberg is notorious for claiming, in a classic bit of bad science that ignores the real evidence in favor of one artificial measurement, that e-cigarettes do not deliver nicotine. James Dunworth called him out on this, and received a response that offered protest but no reassurance that Eissenberg has gotten any better at scientific thinking or has recanted his obviously incorrect claims.

Upcoming vaper gatherings
Vegas Vapefest, September 16-17, 2011.
Utah Vape’n Q, July 17th, 2011.

Related Topics

Anti-tobacco moving further into anti-enjoying-life
There has been a lot written about this lately, as anti-tobacco crusaders are overtly moving into anti-alcohol. Example:

Hints of recognition about illegal lobbying by CDC
While not anywhere close to Britain’s or Canada’s scandalous QUANGOs, wherein the government uses tax dollars to support fake-private advocacy groups’ efforts to lobby in support of government policies, the CDC’s funding of lobby groups clearly violates US norms of good government. The press seems largely oblivious, but there was some hint of recognition in a report about the CDC-funded advertising in support of expanding indoor smoking bans in Las Vegas.

Anti-“doping” research taking an interest in nicotine?
Nicotine is clearly a performance enhancing drug in many ways, but the naive view that nicotine=smoking and smoking=respiratory impairment meant there was little interest in testing in sport. That might be changing with the belated discovery of the benefits of smoke-free nicotine.

Siegel ridicules new graphic “warning” (i.e., emotional violence) labels
Talks of ineffectiveness of labels and “lack of insight” in Senator Lautenberg’s statements. Perhaps more interesting, given that it is obvious to anyone with even mild expertise in the field that these labels are going to have approximately zero effect, are his implicit statements about his notion of addiction and claims about the beliefs of label proponents: He seems to embrace a pure loss-of-rationality model while crediting his opponents (in the form of criticism) with treating people as rational. This gives too much credit to the rhetoric (horrific graphics that are designed to trigger emotional responses are obviously not an appeal to the rational, or even a real warning, no matter how many times someone claims otherwise) and introduces some obvious questions about why support for THR is inversely correlated with the supposed belief in rationality.

WCTOH conference agenda is explicitly about exporting local activist experience
The grammatically-challenged “World Conference on Tobacco Or Health” in Singapore announced an emphasis on “learning from” local efforts. This should be seen as a warning to everyone who thinks that over-the-top restrictions imposed on yetis and kangaroos do not really matter much.

**Note to readers: If you have written something you wish to see included in the weekly readings, or produce a relevant news feed that we might be missing, please call it to our attention. If you think we missed a specific THR story of note in the previous week, let us know and we can include it the following week. Finally, if you figure you are someone whose feed we are using to help us collect stories — you can probably guess who you are — and would like to be sure to get an occasional hat-tip, let us know and we would be glad to do it (and please do the same for us if we are helping you).

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