Weekly suggested reading in Tobacco Harm Reduction – 20 July 2011

Must Reads

None this week.

Amusing Enough Not to Miss

Test fight over outdoor smoking ban proposal in British town
Absolutely hilarious rest of the story:
But more seriously, Snowdon observed: “The problem with compromising is that it only works when both sides are normal, decent people. It doesn’t works with fanatics because the deranged never stop.” This was in the context of observing that extremists effectively use the tactic of making what was and should be unthinkable something on the table, not something that will happen, but an anchor point for “compromise”. Works for the people destroying the economy just like it works for the anti-nicotine fanatics.

Other THR

Rodu call for stories of switchers
He recounts some of the stories he reported in his pioneering research from almost two decades ago and asks for readers to submit more. Hmm, one of these days someone should try to consolidate the collections of such stories that various of us have gathered over the years….

American Legacy Foundation declares war on e-cigarettes, particularly new and creative variations
An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine contains the usual anti-e-cig propaganda, but also perhaps some important between-the-lines information. See our analysis:

Swedish Match expanding marketing in Canada?
Following the quiet demise of du Marier Snus, some consumers have reported an apparent increase in availability of General Snus varieties in Canada. This is plausible given that, as we reported a few weeks ago, Swedish Match has announced that it is expanding its marketing efforts in the US.

Yet another study confirms snus-based THR good for dental health
Keeping with the scientific evidence, but contrary to the anti-THR propaganda, the study did not find evidence that snus causes periodontal disease, whereas smoking does. Will this help educate the anti-THR activists? (Answer: Of course not; they do not care about science.)

Related Topics

India remains FCTC’s testing ground for its new weapons and tactics
Though eyes are on Australia, with efforts that we speculated were designed to fail, it is in the poor countries that lack the ability to push back against political force and propaganda that are really being targeted. Politicians, medics, and the leading newspapers have effectively been enlisted in a war against dip (which is not primarily smokeless tobacco, though it gets called that) that, as in this article, includes claims that it (the choice of the poor masses) is worse than smoking (preferred by the richer minority).
See also the suspiciously consistent calls for bans or severe restrictions on dip products (often mis-identified)

Similarly this apparently WHO-sponsored anti-THR story from Uganda.

More calls from India to ban or restrict smokeless tobacco

Anti-tobacco “scientists” demanding they be able to keep their research secret
PMI made a freedom of information request for data from a pro-plain packaging study from Stirling University’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research. This prompted an outcry about “harassment” and misuse of FOI. Speaking as victims of actual harassment by inappropriate use of FOI laws — by anti-tobacco extremists — we can can only smile. Speaking as scientists, anyone who cries “harassment” and objects to being asked to show that their data really supports their conclusions is probably what is technically known as a lying weasel.
Scotland Herald newspaper article can be accessed from this blog, which also gives a nice commentary:

Study shows lower willingness to pay for cigarettes with ugly graphics
But the authors draw the wrong conclusion. What they actually showed was that the emotional violence graphics (usually mis-identified as “warnings”) work like a tax from the consumer perspective, but produce no revenues, so are a pure deadweight loss. Moreover, they claim that the labels will reduce demand, but if taxes are already near the top of the Laffer Curve then what they will actually do is drive consumers to the black market (though this assumes the effect continues in the long run, though it seems more likely that the initial shock will wear off fairly rapidly).

Tech failure delays Orwellian mind control (temporarily)
Nabi Biopharmauticalss announced that its nicotine “vaccine” failed to aid smoking cessation. (See our first entry from a few weeks ago for our analysis of the ethics of such products.)

Snowdon presents the best argument to date that anti-smoking is morphing into anti-drinking
Certainly best in terms of amusement value, and arguably the best analysis even given the brevity and taking the time out for the snarky humor. “Drinkers, don’t make me spell it out to you, this is getting embarrassing for both of us. Let me just say it again in two words. You’re next.”
See also:

…though drinkers might not be quite next for a ban…
Australia continues its epic transformation into a Bloomberg fantasy with an increase in penalties for cannabis possession or growing.

…with all this coming amid further evidence that bans do not really matter
Formerly legal club drug mephedrone remains highly popular despite criminalization.

CDC falls into “blame the movies” pseduo-science
In the latest MMWR, CDC allows Stanton Glantz to report on a “study” of the depiction of smoking in movies. There is no content worth mentioning or reading, but the fact that CDC highlighted it is interesting. Glantz seems to genuinely believe claims that are contrary to the science and the modicum of common sense that he lacks, like a large fraction of all youth smoking initiation is caused by depictions in movies. But CDC has generally avoided the worst of these absurdities even when they do make misleading claims.

Godshall observation about new WHO report on tobacco “epidemic”
We did not mention this last week because it is basically content-free and our critique of it was not that interesting. It was easy to make fun of their lack of knowledge about what “epidemic” means and their breathless excitement that 80% of the toll from smoking is now in low- and middle-income countries (which is not so exciting when you realize that 80% of the people live in those countries). But Bill Godshall offered a bit more substance, sending out this commentary (no link):
“New WHO report acknowledges “People have a right to accurate information about the harms of tobacco use,” but deceptively attributes cigarette diseases/deaths/costs to use of other tobacco products, misleadingly refers to “cigarettes” as “tobacco” and “smoking” as “tobacco use” dozens of times (including twice in title) to confuse readers to believe all tobacco products pose similar health risks, claims WHO’s goal is a “tobacco-free world” instead of reducing disease.”

Larger warning pictures don’t satisfy tobacco control
What a surprise, tobacco control advocates aren’t satisfied with bigger warning labels in Thailand.
Also interesting is this line, which they use to support their position: “The Global Adult Tobacco Survey recently found that seven out of 10 smokers quit after seeing warning labels on cigarette packs, she said.” As it turns out, that is an out-and-out lie: (http://www.who.int/tobacco/surveillance/thailand_gats_fact_Sheet_2009.pdf).

Will state of New York turn into Ontario
It probably will not see a Canadian level of economic recovery anytime soon, but might see the solidification of Native American defense of their economic advantages, specifically the right to profit from grey market cigarettes. The Seneca Nation has vowed to draw a line in the sand in the fight over tax collection.

**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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