Tag Archives: chris snowdon

Potpourri: Nicotine related news and articles

Rather than post a full article today. it seemed appropriate to promote a couple of articles elsewhere worth reading and some short comments on a couple of recent news items.

First the articles.

1. I was going to critique another of the Tobacco Control envisioning “new ways” articles, the Hatsukami et al which suggested various avenues of research to determine whether (and they really had already concluded that the whether was only a polite way of saying when) nicotine reduction could be applied to tobacco products in order to wean off the population however Brad Rodu said as much as needed to be said on that, and said it very well. See Imagining Tobacco Without Nicotine at TobaccoTruth; from October 6th.

2. Over at VelvetGloveIronFist, Chris Snowdon has a close look at the contradictions embodied in the work of Stanton Glantz (from his earlier writings critiquing methodological errors endemic in the health literature to his later publications transgressing his own guidelines for evidential significance. See Stanton Glantz: Then and now from October 14.

Now the news items:

3. Is Iceland going Swedish?. Cigarette sales are down 13% and snus/smokeless sales are up 9% (see here at Iceland Review Online). Its a straight forward report with no editorializing which contrasts strongly with a similar smoking down/smokeless up story out of Washington back in August (see here for my comments on that story).

4. More support out of Maryland for nicotine being protective or ameliorative for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This is not really surprising since nicotine is strongly anti-inflammatory. It is a very good option since most of the drugs used to counter the effects of AD have fairly common and fairly aggravating side effects. The article is unusually calm in its discussion with only a passing mention of manipulating the drug in order to reduce the addictiveness.

What is beautiful about nicotine for this application is that given the typical AD sufferer being 65 or over, addiction is irrelevant (and in any case would be preferable to cognitive decline) and even if the most dangerous form of obtaining nicotine (smoking) were the administration, with the effects tending to lag far after the start of chronic use, the usual health concerns are almost negligible.

-Paul L. Bergen

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Third Hand Smoke, Again!?

I see that Chris Snowdon has a great post on the absurdity and a bit of history on the third hand smoke meme that refuses to die. It seems that while good ideas are often unnoticed or ignored that the really bad ones, and this one is bad in so many ways, tend to get a lot of press. I suppose that they do serve a purpose in uncovering which journalists uncritically repeat items without examining the source materials (for instance, this article from Roni Rabin at the NYT).

The third hand smoke nonsense is particularly dear to us here as we responded (quite some time prior to this blog’s existence) to the Journal of Pediatrics article when it came out. At the time, we had noticed how fast and furiously this story spread throughout the news media and the blogs. It was as though so many had been waiting for this, just like someone suddenly getting some small evidence of what previously rated as little more than a conspiracy theory. You could hear the “I knew it” s resounding throughout the land. Perhaps the most risible of the follow up stories was of Apple techs refusing to touch smokers’ computers.

One small excerpt from our letter:

The authors, in the article, press release and subsequent interviews, argue the danger of third hand smoke, such that smokers are encouraged to change clothing and bathe before holding their children. And yet, the authors still encourage the smoker to breastfeed the innocent child, rather than substitute a tobacco-free bottle of milk or formula (6). This can only mean that, despite repeating the nonsensical mantra of there is no safe level of exposure¬Ě, whatever this non-safe level of exposure is, it must be much lower than the toxicity of bottle-feeding. The authors also suggest, not in the article but in related interviews, that the nose is an accurate determiner of toxicity, an interesting but outdated pre-scientific method that cynically takes advantage of the lay population (8, 19, 24, 26).

Many educated readers already have a jaundiced view of what passes for epidemiological research, and this article not only justifies their attitude but serves as the epitome of sloppy science, of politics and opinion and desire masquerading as science. We predict that a decade from now, if books and blogs continue to claim that epidemiology is junk science, they will still be citing this article as a perfect example.

-PLB