Two public health officials in Fargo, North Dakota, this week were the source of grossly misleading claims about smokeless tobacco for a local media story.
In this episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, research fellow Jesse Hathaway is joined by Dr. Brad Rodu, Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Hathaway and Rodu talk about how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) corrupt the scientific process in academia, by refusing to fund studies which do not conform to the federal government’s stated vision of a “tobacco-free world.”
If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Friday with a highlight show.
As a pathologist working at two large medical centers, I have studied the effects of smoking on health for over 20 years. I’ve published scores of papers on the impressive benefits of switching from cigarettes to safer, non-combustible forms of tobacco (such as Swedish snus). This strategy – called tobacco harm reduction – has vast potential for improving public health.
Publishing a study of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in American smokeless tobacco products (abstracthere), Dorothy Hatsukami and colleagues at the University of Minnesota called for the FDA to issue “regulations…to reduce levels of…NNK and NNN in smokeless tobacco products to the lowest levels possible.” The authors make illogical and unscientific claims in their article and media interviews (here).
The New England Journal of Medicine yesterday published a letter claiming that vapor contains “hidden” formaldehyde at far higher levels than cigarettes (here), which made headlines worldwide. That conflicts with a report I discussed last week, documenting that formaldehyde levels in e-cigarettes were far lower than those in traditional cigarettes (here).
The Michigan Legislature got it right last year, passing bills to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Only a handful of states haven’t gotten around to this sensible, limited form of e-cigarette regulations.
Under pressure from activist groups who oppose this approach, Gov. Rick Snyder hasn’t signed the bill, and may veto or pocket veto it in the next week.
Researcher Naoki Kunugita at Japan’s National Institute of Public Health recently fueled anti-e-cig hysteria with this unverifiable claim: “In one brand of e-cigarette the team found more than 10 times the level of carcinogens contained in one regular cigarette.”
Recently I attended a forum on e-cigarettes, sponsored by a political organization that wanted to educate its attendees about the devices. During the discussion my opponent [from the prohibitionist American Legacy Foundation] repeated the baseless claim that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.
The Monitoring the Future survey shows that past 30-day cigarette use among 12th graders dropped from 16.3% in 2013, to 13.6% in 2014, the largest single-year decline in the survey’s 39-year history (datahere).
The New York Times has published (here) a reasonably accurate portrayal of the Swedish snus experience that I have chronicled for over a decade (here, here, andhere). Reporters Matt Richtel and David Jolly examined Swedish Match’s FDA application to remove the federally mandated mouth cancer and not-safe-alternative warnings from snus products. I have discussed this landmark filing previously (here).
The British government has just released statistics on e-cigarette use (here). The Office for National Statistics reports that e-cigarettes were used by 12% of smokers and 5% of former smokers in the UK during the first quarter of this year, but the rate of use among never smokers was only 0.14%.
Washington Times columnist and editor Drew Johnson joins The Heartland Institute’s Budget and Tax News managing editor Jesse Hathaway to talk about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Article 6,” a proposed global tax aimed at making tobacco products prohibitively expensive.
Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak recently tweeted, “@OxfordWords #Vape may be #WOTY but the increase in never-smoking youth using e-cigs is a not a trivial story.” The tweet referred to the Oxford English Dictionary’s having designated “vape” as the word of the year, and reflected a CDC report claiming that e-cigarette use among children had increased in 2013. The prevalence of e-cig use among youth who had never smoked was 0.3%.
As noted previously (here), Drs. Karl Fagerström and Tom Eissenberg have described a continuum of dependence among tobacco and nicotine products. They concluded that cigarettes are the most dependence-producing (addictive) product and that smokeless tobacco is intermediate, evidenced by clinical trials showing that quitting cigarette smoking is more difficult than quitting ST.
As early as 2004, various medical journals published articles claiming that small-community smoking bans resulted in nearly immediate reductions in heart disease. For example, the high-profile BMJ reported that hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) declined 40%, from 40 to 24, in Helena, Montana, after implementation of a smoke-free ordinance (here). Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, reported that AMI admissions dropped 27% “within months” in Pueblo, Colorado (here). Similar reports came from Bowling Green, Ohio (here), Monroe County, Indiana (here) and beyond.
In their war against e-cigarettes, government officials often claim that the devices are a gateway to smoking. CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden asserted (here) that “…many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes.” The National Cancer Institute last March promoted (here) Dr. Stanton Glantz’s tortured analysis of youth e-cigarette use (discussed here and here). While his data failed to support a gateway effect, his employer, the University of California San Francisco, made the claim anyway (here).
Swedish researchers from several institutions document that snus use is not associated with atrial fibrillation (commonly known as AFib), the most common heart arrhythmia (irregular timing of the heart beat) and a risk factor for stroke (abstract here). The same group previously reported that snus use conferred no significant risk for heart attack (discussed here) and stroke (here).