Weekly suggested reading in Tobacco Harm Reduction – 16 October 2011

Must Reads

Kevin Libin sums up hypocrisy of medics who are pro-HR for heroin, but anti-THR
The National Post’s Libin is probably the strongest voice for THR at a major newspaper. (It includes comments from an interview with Phillips, though he apparently declined to include the observation from that interview: That it is a limousine-liberal class issue: junkies are the highly downtrodden that good “liberals” are supposed to look out for; smokers are the proletariat who should just do what their “betters” tell them to do.)

New Polosa et al. study shows the THR effectiveness of promoting e-cigarettes to smokers
The study was more informative than the “smoking cessation trial”-style trials with THR products (the fatal flaws in which we have discussed before) because subjects were smokers without an active interest in quitting and were offered e-cigarettes in what sounds like a fairly real-life manner. A remarkable number of them switched — hooray!
See also Bergen’s interview with Polosa.

Other THR

Petition at US government site in support of e-cigarettes
American? Sign it, please!

Godshall rips US FDA for focus on lists of chemicals
He recognizes that the inventorying of chemicals in tobacco products is required by law, but urges FDA to downplay the results, since claims that fiddling with chemistry reduce harm for cigarettes (or matter at all for low-risk alternatives) are contrary to FDA’s promised science-based approach. This very short, cogent comment would affect the behavior of anyone with shame about making silly scientific claims. In other words, it will be ignored.

British Columbia offering free pharma nicotine
It is kind of an interesting experiment, given that smokeless tobacco is hugely over-taxed and e-cigarettes have to be smuggled in: How much do you have to lower the price of pharma products to make them more attractive for THR. Apparently “free” is sufficient, since there was huge interest on the first day. It will be interesting to see what they do when they figure out that most people taking the offer are not trying to become abstinent.

Pilot studies of what happens when you kinda sorta recommend a THR product
We are not quite sure what to make of this article, in which combined two small studies in which smokers in two countries were offered a small quantity of free smokeless oral tobacco products under very different protocols, without education or recommendation, to see what they would do. We suggest giving the authors credit for getting a summary of data from the pilots out into the world, but seriously question their choice to draw conclusions based on it. (Iin case you were wondering, this was the last THR article accepted by Harm Reduction Journal before Phillips took over as editor for tobacco articles.)

UK grant that claims to be for THR
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence awards a grant for “guidance development services”, whatever that means. But regular readers will recall that NICE is basically just trying to co-opt the term THR for business-as-usual extremist approaches (and you will recall that they allowed us to be a “registered stakeholder” for these efforts — until they got our comments, at which time they booted us). So it seems safe to decide that the best we can hope for is that nothing comes of this.

US Congressman explicitly compares his attacks on food marketing to his championing of anti-THR
Fortunately for us, even Waxman cannot manage to kill countless people by restricting food marketing, as he has done with anti-THR. Perhaps not so fortunate for food companies, though.

Siegel cleverly challenges disingenuous concern about propylene glycol
In response to trumped up worries about PG exposure from e-cigarettes from several of what he calls “anti-smoking and health groups” (he cannot bring himself to identify the as anti-tobacco extremists), Michael Siegel wonders why they are not calling for a removal of PG in cigarettes. This, of course, is also disingenuous, since the quantity of PG taking in from smoking is much smaller, but that is what makes it such a great “nyah nyah”: force the people who are making anti-scientific claims to try to figure out how to argue the science.

Related Topics

Quebec primed for safe injection sites
Landmark Supreme Court ruling over Vancouver site clears the way for Quebec. Can we expect e-cigarette promotion to follow? Not a chance (see the first article above).

Australian plain package saga drags on
The new cause of drag is the Conservative opposition in the Senate questioning the wisdom of the policy, and so delaying a vote. Supporters of the proposal immediately leaped into full paranoia/denial/Orwell mode, suggesting that any opposition to them must be about tobacco company interests. Meanwhile, the UN is shocked! shocked! that cigarette companies whose core assets (brand identity) would effectively be confiscated by this policy are taking legal action, and this action might discourage other countries from pursuing the same treaty-violating policies. The bastards.

Commentary on how Australia’s costly plain packaging fight is rather silly in light of failure to try THR
David Sweanor does not use most of those words in this brief commentary, but that is the basic message. It contains nothing that our regular readers do not already know, but it is a nice mash-up of the two themes, silly extremist behavior and the basic case for THR.

American Legacy Foundation now funding daydreaming
Arguably even sillier than opposing THR while coming up with controversial policy interventions that have measurable effects only in someone’s dreams, Legacy has skipped the policy and skipped right to the dreaming with their book and associated only discussion, “After Tobacco: What Would Happen If Americans Stopped Smoking?” …. Sorry, zoned out there for a minute, thinking about how nice it would be to get paid big bucks to daydream about what will happen when the extremists stop working to prevent THR.

Mexico’s black market in cigarettes up 400% in one year due to tax increase
In fairness, it only increased from 2% of the market to 10%, so it is still way short of Canada’s and many other black markets. We were just following the lead of the ANTZ, who would use the huge-sounding relative figure if it was a statistic they wanted to create alarm about.

Heartbreaking story of the lengths that anti-tobacco-extremists have gone to

This must mean that Big Pharma is marketing to kids, right?
In a study to be presented at this year’s American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition, it was found that kids and teachers could not tell the difference between medicine and candy 20% of the time. The study was conducted by two seventh-grade students (not yet inculcated in ANTZ thinking patterns) who came to the common sense conclusion that safe storage was the key rather than removing the medicines from the market.

**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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  • David Degonzaque  On October 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I enjoyed reading your information. nice work. Very Well written.Ive quit smoking for five month now from another quit smoking aid called smoke deter. Ive smoked for over 20 years


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