November 17th, 2017

Letter to the Foundation for a Smoke Free World about money, governance, conflicts and Philip Morris International

For some, it would be better to waste a billion dollars

Go straight to letter (PDF) or cover note and letter

So, a big tobacco company puts up $1 billion over twelve years to fund a foundation with an objective “to accelerate global efforts to reduce health impacts and deaths from smoking, with the goal of ultimately eliminating smoking worldwide“. I certainly share that goal or something like it (see my ‘endgame’ scenario), and would like to see plenty of money spent wisely on pursuing that cause.  But then there is the issue of a big tobacco company putting up the money.  Should it be dismissed as the obviously flawed work of evil-doers? Or is the opportunity too important to pass over?  >> read the full post

October 25th, 2017

FDA wants to reduce nicotine in cigarettes - what could possibly go wrong (and right)?

Some things don’t have to be used to be useful

On 28th July, FDA announced that it wants to hold a “public dialogue” about regulating to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes to “non-addictive levels”. I’ve previously written about this idea in my critique of ‘tobacco endgame’ ideas, and I was pleased to present on the subject at SRNT 2017 conference.  Generally, I’ve taken the view that the idea is crazy, unworkable, unethical and will never happen, and I have a hefty bet against it.

But now that FDA has announced it, everyone should ask: might any good come of it?  That has prompted me to reconsider my previously entirely hostile approach. So here are some updated views in a report done in collaboration with Dr Carrie Wade, Director of Harm Reduction Policy at the R Street Institute, Washington DC.

The three minute version…

>> read the full post

October 11th, 2017

Is Australia falling behind on tobacco policy?

Sources: Office for National Statistics (UK). Smoking habits in the UK and its constituent countries, 2016.  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2016.

Updates: New Zealand moves / Media interviews

Update: two new submissions (available at Committee submissions page #336)

Introduction

I’m visiting Australia next week and looking forward to some good discussions with people holding any and all points of view on vaping, nicotine and smoking.  My aim is to share experience from the US and UK where we are seeing encouraging uptake of low-risk vaping alongside an unusually rapid decline in smoking. Historically, UK has always had substantially higher levels of smoking than Australia, but in 2016 that gap has finally closed. Both countries have comprehensive tobacco policies – albeit with some differences in the details and Australia generally the first to do new measures, like plain packaging. But there is one major difference. UK (and especially England) now encourages smokers to switch to low-risk alternatives like vaping, while Australia actively prevents it and actually criminalises people who try to protect their own health in this way.

Five talking points inspired by the Royal College of Physicians

The case I want to make is that Australia is missing an opportunity, and there is a human cost for that in terms of cancer, heart and lung disease and premature death. I’ve structured my talking points around five of the key findings of the excellent April 2016 Royal College of Physicians (London) report: see Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction and press release.  It was, of course, the RCP that first put the dangers of smoking on the public agenda with its groundbreaking 1962 report, Smoking and Health. >> read the full post

September 26th, 2017

Guest post: BAT executive on disruption of the tobacco industry

BAT’s O’Reilly on the disruption of the tobacco industry

On June 12th, I published a blog, Pariahs, predators or players? The tobacco industry and the end of smoking, in which I tried to guess how tobacco companies are thinking about the future from my vantage point on the sidelines.  But I also asked if any industry figures would like to offer an informed insider’s view and offered a right of reply. Well, to my surprise one executive did reply.  David O’Reilly is BAT’s Group Scientific and R&D Director, and here is his perspective. >> read the full post

September 24th, 2017

Advertising code at fault over e-cigarette public health ad ban

This year’s Stoptober campaign encourages smokers to try vaping – bravo!

Update 24 September: Cancer Research UK says its hasn’t “been prevented from doing anything by the ASA that we are aware of, so don’t know why this story appeared” and PHE ads were still running on TV last night. So please treat the posting below as an analysis of the legal situation.

So newspaper reports suggest we have the ridiculous situation of the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banning adverts for vaping that are part of a public health quit smoking campaign, ‘Stoptober’. The Sun reports UP IN SMOKE: Anti-smoking adverts by Cancer Research see charity in row over barmy Brussels rules that would BAN them.

The ASA is quoted in The Sun’s article:

The ASA said yesterday:  “Our rules prohibits ads for unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, in line with European law which took effect in 2016.  Ads for products and brands are prohibited and have not been seen or heard on TV or radio since last year.”

I have not seen the Cancer Research ads, but the TV advert from Public Health England (screen shot above) clearly mentions e-cigarettes so would be caught by the ASA’s reasoning.

The Sun concludes that the problem lies with the ‘barmy’ EU directive?  But does it?  Not so fast… >> read the full post