October 24th, 2018

Rethinking nicotine: FDA asks six questions about the future of nicotine regulation

Will no-one rid me of this turbulent molecule? (after Henry II on Sir Thomas Beckett)

Mitch Zeller, the Director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recently published an article with six questions about the future of nicotine regulation.

See: Zeller M. The Future of Nicotine Regulation: Key Questions and Challenges.  Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2018 Oct 12. [link]

As he has taken the time to put some questions and expressed interest in the answers, here are mine. I have spent most effort on his sixth question, the one about youth.  Mitch Zeller’s six questions are in bold below and my responses follow each. I also address a further three questions posed by Ken Warner in the same series.  >> read the full post

October 1st, 2018

Over 70 experts call on WHO to embrace technology innovation in the fight against diseases caused by smoking

Dear WHO FCTC, do not block the exits for people trying to quit smoking using vaping, smokeless, heated tobacco or novel products. Remember, the enemies of innovation can do more harm than good.

Every two years, the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control meet to discuss how to advance the treaty. The 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-8) is being held this week, 1-6 October, 2018 in Geneva.

I was one of those agitating for the FCTC back in 1999-2003. Generally, the FCTC doesn’t do what normal international treaties do – address some transboundary issue like climate change, international trade or intellectual property. It tries to establish norms for regulation of tobacco commerce within countries – a kind of solidarity mechanism for national anti-tobacco policy.  The problem is that this idea all goes sour when the WHO, Convention Secretariat and/or Parties agree, in solidarity, to normalise truly terrible policies – for example, to encourage prohibition of e-cigarettes, to treat all smokeless tobacco as though it is the same and just as risky as smoking, or to regulate heated tobacco products as though they are cigarettes.   All really harmful ideas that protect the cigarette trade, perpetuate smoking and cause more disease and death.

Letter to WHO

So, determined to resist this drift into globally harmful policy promotion, a group of 72 of us have put together a letter to register our concern and to suggest there is a better way: to embrace tobacco harm reduction… here it is.  The PDF here: Innovation in tobacco control: developing the FCTC to embrace tobacco harm reduction 

>> read the full post

September 5th, 2018

Letter to WHO's DG against prohibition and for risk-proportionate regulation

Mike Bloomberg and the WHO DG  launching the Bloomberg-funded report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2017. An unsurfaced conflict of interest?

We’ve sent a letter to WHO and the FCTC secretariat in advance of FCTC COP-8 (1-6 October, Geneva) – protesting about WHO’s inclination towards prohibition and excessive regulation of alternative nicotine delivery systems (ANDS).  For background, see papers on vaping (FCTC/COP/8/10) and heated tobacco products and others (FCTC/COP/8/8).

The letter by David Abrams, Ray Niaura, David Sweanor and me is available in PDF form with all footnotes here – and the text is reproduced without notes below. >> read the full post

September 5th, 2018

Innovation for Consumers: E-cigarettes and novel tobacco products – Part of the problem or part of the solution?

My presentation slides to a meeting in the European Parliament organised by Monika Beňová MEP…

August 8th, 2018

South Africa draft tobacco Bill - protects cigarette trade and denies smokers options to quit

South Africa smoking prevalence – Tobacco Atlas

Source: South Africa Factsheet – Tobacco Atlas

David Abrams, Ray Niaura, David Sweanor and I have submitted comments on the draft tobacco and vaping legislation under discussion in South Africa. South Africa is always influential in low and middle income countries, especially in Africas, and is always an important player in WHO meetings.

The draft legislation is almost completely disproportionate in its approach to tobacco harm reduction technologies. It mostly treats reduced-risk products as though they are the same as smoking products. The alternative philosophy, which we advocate, is to adopt ‘risk proportionate regulation’ that encourages (or rather, does not inhibit) smokers from using vaping, novel nicotine products, heated tobacco or smokeless tobacco products to quit smoking.

Our full 20-page submission is here.

The short summary is reproduced below. >> read the full post