As you probably noticed, we have not kept up our weekly schedule of suggested readings. Unfortunately, we were too busy to keep up and are now too busy to catch up with our usual format of summarizing and analyzing the readings (as you might know, none of us receive any compensation for doing this). However, we want to try to keep a fairly comprehensive list of suggested readings, for the record, so we are catching up now by offering little more than a list of headlines and links, without much analysis for most of them (think of it as being Twitter-style). Chances are that the breadth of our coverage is unintentionally off a bit, in addition to the depth being intentionally reduced.
We hope to resume our usual value-added in October.
Tobacco Harm Reduction
Groundbreaking Rodu project has town in Kentucky USA promoting THR
American Legacy Foundation reports some good news about RJR and Altria snus test markets
29%, 20% and 6% of male smokers aged 18-24, 25-35 and 36-49 respectively tried using snus, that 9% of female smokers aged 18-24 tried using snus. Naturally, anti-tobacco extremist legacy spun this as being bad because it is so high, while those of us interested in public health see it as an impressive level of success.
RJR refuses to stop test marketing its dissolvables in Colorado
In a triumph of actual public health over “public health” charlatans, the Colorado Board of Health urged RJR to remove the products following its kangaroo court proceeding we reported on previously; RJR refused.
RJR has asked the FDA to change a warning label
They would like the label on smokeless tobacco to read: “No tobacco product is safe, but this product presents substantially lower risks to health than cigarettes.”
Phillips’ presentation at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco conference
Carl V Phillips discusses the research behind e-cigarettes.
Also, he discusses his opinion of his session and some of the other sessions on smokeless tobacco that he attended at the conference.
Phillips now editor of tobacco articles at Harm Reduction Journal
HRJ Editor-in-Chief Ernest Drucker has appointed Carl V Phillips to the position of Senior Editor in charge of tobacco-related articles. Some interesting related projects are afoot, so stay tuned. The immediate impact is clearing out the backlog, so that tobacco papers submitted to HRJ are now all on a fast-track. (This has been in the works for a while, so some of you who were watching might have thought it had already happened, but it really just started in the past week or two.)
UK’s cabinet-level “nudge” unit endorses THR via e-cigarettes
The influence of that unit is quite limited, but at least it is a vote of confidence.
Paul Bergen’s assessment:
Boston will regulate e-cigarettes as cigarettes.
THR supporters quite reasonably consider this to be a step backward, but the treating of e-cigs like cigarettes (i.e., no worse, so no bans) is a lot better than the worst-case scenarios that the anti-tobacco extremists are pursuing.
Paul Bergen interviews Katherine Devlin of ECITA
FDA’S Deyton suggests he does not understand the desire to smoke, or science
How does he reconcile “I like the pure joy of exploration of applying scientific principles to the good of the population” with making scientifically-honest health-improving THR information and action almost impossible. The article is about him being up for some award, but that part is not very interesting.
Condemnation of US proposal to dramatically raise smokeless tobacco tax
Criticism came from the usual THR media spokesmen (Godshall, Ballin), but also Kathleen Dachille, director of the Center for Tobacco Regulation at the University of Maryland School of Law: “There’s the potential that by raising the smokeless-tobacco tax, you could lead smokers to stick with cigarettes rather than potentially less-harmful alternatives because the alternatives are just as costly.”
New Zealand scientists to research whether e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers quit
Next they will be checking to see if the world is round, which is pretty critical for them in New Zealand since it keeps them from falling off the edge. In fairness, it is possible that such a study can help deal with government red tape that currently results in a ban, but it is still sad that artificial research projects with very narrow implications are considered more useful than the actual evidence.
Surprisingly honest info about nicotine use by pharma company
No, it is obviously not GSK — it is Johnson & Johnson’s information for Canadian Nicorette customers. This bit about addiction is predictably silly, but the rest makes a nice case for THR.
US Department of Transportation on its way to banning e-cigarettes on planes
A reasonable policy as part of their proposed ban on perfumes, failure to bathe, and other possibly offensive outgassing — oh, they are not going to ban those too. Damn. (At least it is not as bad as Delta Airlines’ unilateral and totally pointless prohibition against smokeless tobacco; fortunately it is rather trivial to violate with impunity, but it is still a good reason to seek another airline.)
Cuba claims to have highly effective anti-lung-cancer drug
If true, this could be very annoying to the anti-tobacco extremists, who dislike anything that makes tobacco use less harmful. It also would substantially change the comparative risk calculations, making all those inaccurately conservative pundits who say “…90-95% less harmful that smoking…” close to right (because the denominator would get smaller).
Same source: different results. Two federal surveys differ by over 7 million in adult smoking counts but smoking is in the decline…or is it?
To paraphrase Rodu’s analysis with an eye to THR, the ANTZ use the low number to claim we do not need THR because smoking is going away (which even the low number does not remotely suggest) and the high number to demand more funding for themselves.
What would happen if Americans stopped smoking?
An interesting, and perhaps fairly accurate, economic analysis. Notice that they recognize that any savings in Social Security (general government pension), even without quantifying other pension savings, would largely offset any reduction in medical costs. It would still be good, but it is a myth that it would dramatically reduce resource consumption.
A short simple analysis showing the hollowness of biological “definitions” of addiction
The World Health Organization announces the theme of World No Tobacco Day 2012
Announced on the Facebook page for the Framework Convention Alliance, the theme will be “Tobacco Industry Interference”. Notice that this theme has absolutely nothing to do with improving public health, but at least it is not like the year Henningfield wrote the policy statement (and we launched THR.o in response).
…speaking of, Jack Henningfield’s name no longer listed on the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee
…though we could clearly use a bit more housecleaning: FDA TPSAC member Neal Benowitz grossly misrepresents evidence on tobacco harm reduction and smokeless tobacco
Analysis by Bill Godshall and Elaine Keller (scroll down) with link to original op-ed.
For anyone who still thinks that political influence and financial corruption comes primarily from industry…
Glantz et al. received a new $2.6 million grant to study state and local anti-smoking efforts to determine which are most effective (spoiler alert: the best is Utah’s clever tactic of having people raise their babies as Mormons, followed by communities that are clever enough to be rich so that people have easy access to other drugs and sources of satisfaction). Not surprisingly, this is the same pig-at-the-trough who is demanding states spend all of their enormous MSA sales tax on anti-tobacco, based on the absurd fiction that this produces immediate savings elsewhere in the budget.
Meanwhile, Glantz tries to protect the cigarette market by offering testimony against allowing people to be informed about THR, and further demonstrates his complete incompetence as a scientist with various claims.
Bhutan may back off on their futile efforts to make Glantz look sensible by comparison
In other tobacco control humor…
From the journal whose very name admits that their scientific standards are merely those of tobacco control, a study of a whole 18 people for a few weeks, using an almost push-poll methodology and no concrete outcome measure, concluded that plain packaging reduces the desire to smoke. That, of course, did not stop them from issuing a press release as if they had actually learned something.
…yet that not as funny as the study that claims that quitting smoking causes greater willpower compared to those who do not quit
…or this similar one that claims that quitting causes people to have a “better” personality
Cannabis use up in US
The stories are about “illicit drug use” being up, but it is entirely driven by cannabis; this potentially creates more demand for smoke-reducing HR tactics. Amusing is the alarmist remark by the government about not knowing why this is happening, but wanting to do something about this before the users end up in trouble — because we all know that young adults using reefer leads to idleness, loss of motivation, and unemployment …er… is it maybe the other way around.
Jamaica proposed public place smoking ban
Amusingly (see previous story), the news stories consistently fail to answer the question, smoking of what?
Supreme Court of Canada rules in favor of keeping Insite open
No industry or NGO’s allowed to attend International Tobacco Regulators’ Conference
Welcome back to the days of monarchy, when governments talked to each other about how to better enforce their will, and simply did not care what anyone else thought about it.
Australia given more warnings about plain packaging causing a chill to business confidence
Lib Dems in UK back panel that will consider decriminalizing drugs
They will focus on the science behind decriminalization and the effect it will have on drug use.
From the “I am not now nor have every been…” Witch Hunters Department
Even as Britain is hand-wringing over lack of adoptions and the need for more foster care, a couple is turned down to foster children because the husband smoked two cigars at parties away from the home.
In the same vein, the New Baylor Health Care System policy denies work to smokers as well as ex-smokers who are using low-risk and zero-externality nicotine products, even with the intention of becoming abstinent. No word on when they will fire the, let’s guess, 20% of their clinical psych staff who are on drugs to deal with their own mental illness.
UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies launches attacks on alcohol in movies
Portraying life realistically in files declared to be unhealthy for young people. We await the return of portrayals of couples’ bedrooms with two twin beds about five feet apart.
**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).