January 27th, 2019

Think before you sign: a new letter attacking the Foundation for a Smokefree World

WHO Executive Board – will it see beyond the pestering of abstinence-only activists?

A draft activist letter to the WHO Executive Board is circulating widely on email networks – so widely that it has even been sent to me. It is a response to an open letter from the Foundation for a Smokefree World to the WHO Executive Board, which is having its annual meeting 24 January – 1 February, 2019.

I won’t be signing the activist letter, but I would like to suggest that others who are inclined to sign think carefully before they put their name and reputation behind this one. I recommend asking seven questions before signing:

  1. Does the letter truthfully reflect the approach of the Foundation?
  2. Does the letter truthfully reflect the approach of PMI?
  3. What is the Foundation actually doing that you don’t like?
  4. Would you be criticising what are, in fact, positive developments?
  5. Are you opposed to public health benefits if tobacco companies make money as a result?
  6. Are you joining the enemies of innovation?
  7. Are you joining a mob?

Here is the draft activist letter that I received:

>> read the full post
January 23rd, 2019

The great American youth vaping epidemic. Really?

But is it really?

Updated: 15 February 2019 to add section 17

Update 19 July 2019: Note that Scott Gottlieb, who features in this post, left the FDA on 5 April 2019 and joined the board of Pfizer on 27 June 2019: Ex-FDA boss joins Pfizer 83 days after leaving US drug regulator, Financial Times. 

I have been following FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Twitter and was alarmed at the threat he issued to vapers and the vaping industry in response to recent trends in US adolescent vaping.

I disagree with the FDA’s analysis of what is happening with adolescent vaping and also what should be done about it. So I need to put some flesh on the tweet above and examine some of FDA’s claims in more depth. Please dip to these talking points… it’s a long blog but I hope at least some of it will be illuminating.

>> read the full post

January 22nd, 2019

Lynne Dawkins: E-cigarettes - an evidence update

Dr Lynne Dawkins of London South Bank University gives her terrific myth-busting lecture on e-cigarettes – see the YouTube video above. Here are the slides (Slideshare) and here below is Lynne’s summary of the key points.

>> read the full post
November 25th, 2018

More heat than light - new US statistics on youth vaping provide no basis for FDA policy

What’s going on in their lives?

New data on youth vaping. Time to take a closer look at the disclosure of some 2018 U.S. National Youth Tobacco Survey data (see MMWR).  The survey is conducted annually, with field work in February-June.  Usually, the results are published in headline form about a year later (2017 data was published in June 2018) and full datasets some time after that. 2018 is different however.  CDC and FDA (the co-authors) have rushed out data that they argue supports the claim there is an ‘epidemic’ of teenage vaping use (see FDA chief calls youth e-cigarette an ‘epidemic’, Washington Post).

FDA action in response. In response to the alarm that it has done much to create, FDA has now taken a variety of actions, notably to restrict access to e-cigarette flavours that are not tobacco, menthol or mint – as described in a 15 November statement by Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner.

Backing for the action? But does the data support any of this regulator activity? I conclude that the partial release of data does not provide justification for FDA’s policy. This is because the data required to understand underlying changes in the pattern of tobacco use has been withheld. In other words, the data to create alarm has been released, but the data required to understand if the alarm is justified and the policy is sound has not been released.  >> read the full post

November 15th, 2018

Youth vaping and the dangers of over-reaction - a letter to the FDA


Letter from Iowa Attorney General Miller and others, including me, to Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner. See PDF at the link below:

Re: Youth tobacco and nicotine use – proportionate and responsible reaction

This is a letter and 7-page briefing to set out issues with youth vaping and to caution against over-reaction. For the fully referenced version, please see the PDF at the link above.  The main text is below.
>> read the full post