A very high percentage of the population kept on smoking which concerned the ones who wanted them to stop, so the ones who wanted smokers to stop invented Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) which gave the smokers nicotine which was not addictive, and did not provide any fun – that was good. Something else that was very good indeed was the fact that the new NRT did not work very well. The fact that NRT did not work very well was also good because by the time it was invented, all sorts of people were enjoying all sorts of benefits for being a part of the new Stop Smoking Industry… All they had to do was make it LOOK like they were trying to get people to stop smoking.
Then something happened. In their piety, the people who wanted to control smoking had prayed for an effective intervention. (Nod, wink) When it miraculously appeared, they rejected it.
It was the electronic cigarette.
If that was not bad enough, disaster struck – it came in the form of Heat Not Burn technology, and horror of horrors, it was the creation of the tobacco industry. This new ‘baby’ was born into the middle of a war. A war between prohibitionists who pretended to be fighting to achieve an end game to smoking, and harm reductionists, who, as the name implies, wished to see an end to the harm that smoking creates.
But first, a quick word about Heat Not Burn, then a look at the world into which it came.
Heat Not Burn is clearly a risk-reduced product. It is almost bound to come into the category of harm reduction but how do things stand from an advocacy point of view.
We need to think about…
- Smoking and harm
- Effectiveness and effects of current attempts to reduce smoking rates (Prohibition)
- Vaping and the evidence (We perhaps do know enough)
- Heat Not Burn. (Its place as harm reduction.)
- Harm reduction as smoking cessation or recreation.
Smoking and Harm
There is not much doubt that smoking cigarettes is extremely harmful. The suffering caused by the habit is immeasurable. keeping this in mind, in attempts to use fear to encourage people to stop smoking, some things have been grossly exaggerated.
One aspect of harm to do with smoking is not just the physical harm from the smoke itself, but the damage and divisions, including intolerance toward smokers which have been deliberately created within societal and family groupings by the prohibitionists. (De-normalisation)
Effectiveness and effects of current attempts to reduce smoking rates (Prohibition)
Danger from cigarette smoking was highlighted by The Royal College of Physicians. This was in 1962. HERE.
The consequent campaigns, which followed were instrumental in creating a dramatic decline in smoking rates in the developed world. Having said that, it is difficult to attribute what actions had exactly what effect on smoking cessation. Any studies conducted, so far, to ascertain what the different measures taken have had on smoking rates have been, at best, weak, and some, indeed many, have been badly skewed and have contained fundamental flaws.
What is clear is that smoking cessation rates suffered a hiatus between 2004 and 2010, despite huge sums being spent. Before that they had fallen year on year There is a theory that says that there are no exceptions to the ‘rule’ that smoking will remain at around 20% no matter what happens – UNLESS- tobacco harm reduction is practiced. HERE. There is one developed country where the 20% barrier has been smashed and that is Sweden, and guess what? They practice harm reduction. Swedish snus is a harm reduction product and is used extensively as an alternative to smoking and the result is a country where smoking related illness is the lowest in the developed world, but the EU banned snus everywhere else in the union. (That should set warning bells ringing).
Large falls in smoking prevalence have occurred recently. Ironically, at the same time as smoking rates became static, the e-cigarette was introduced in China. However, its popularity did not explode until 2010/11 and, not unexpectedly, smoking rates resumed their fall, and at an accelerated rate, sending them crashing through the formally impenetrable 20% barrier.
But the correlation between rising e-cigarette use and falling tobacco cigarette use does not mean that one is the cause of the other. Tobacco Control prohibitionists offer other possibilities, rising taxes, plain packs, smoking bans and hiding smoking products from sight.
So, we turn to Australia which boasts significant falls in cigarette smoking as a result of Tobacco Control prohibitionist measures. [As apart from Harm Reduction measures which are something quite different] A great deal has been made of the ‘success ‘ of bans, tax hikes and plain packs in Australia. But how successful is this ‘success?’
In May 2016, Cancer research UK published, ” World No Tobacco Day 2016: how plain packs are helping Australia’s record-low smoking rates.” HERE. It was a glowing report praising Australia’s efforts to control smoking. Note very carefully some of the dates mentioned in the article and the accompanying comments.
- smoking among 12 -17 year olds is at the lowest levels ever recorded and between 2010 and 2013, fewer 18-24 year olds were smoking.
- In 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to introduce standard packs.
I really should leave you to spot the inconsistency, but I will not. Question: When were the lowest levels recorded, and when were plain packs introduced? I do not really have to spell it out, do I? [And you should also note the careful wording of the question, “helping,” not causing – they knew damn fine that the Tobacco Control measures were not nearly as effective as they wanted people to believe.]
This is compounded if we look at what Simon Chapman.., [a prohibitionist who dabbles in Tobacco Control, and who produces the odd pamphlet] … if we look at what he has to say. HERE.
“The full extent to which e-cigarettes are used in Australia isn’t fully known due to their relatively new introduction to the market. It is however, known that their popularity in the world has increased exponentially since their introduction” …From around 2010 perhaps?
Then we have this statement. “But smoking by young people has been in continual decline since 1994. HERE Oh aye! “Continual?” Then he slips in the comment, “…before the advent of e cigarettes.” It is funny how switching ‘overall’ with ‘continual’ skews the whole picture. Yes there has been an overall decline, however it has been anything but continuous. And after an interval spanning around six or seven years where there was no fall in smoking rates that fall only resumed when, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, e-cigarettes exploded onto the market. How can any literate person make a ‘mistake’ with the definitions of the terms, ‘overall,’ and ‘continuous,’ particularly as the ‘mistake’ covers up the point that the author wishes to hide; which buries the very fact that destroys the central argument?
Deceptive, dishonest, and dangerous!
The typical tactics of Tobacco Control prohibitionists! And, also, look at the contradiction inherent in their argument, one that tries to deny that vaping has not impacted on smoking, yet, at the same time, that large numbers are taking up e-cigarette use. I am sorry, but anyone who accepts both to be true, is, quite frankly, lacking something in the upstairs department: there is something very seriously wrong.
But the real harm that smoking has caused is the creation of a monstrous organisation created to combat the ‘evil’ of smoking, Tobacco Control, and its prohibitionist stance: The creation of a movement which has demonstrated itself, in the light of vaping, to be dishonest, twisted and completely hypocritical.
A fundamental flaw in Tobacco Control prohibition is that the very thing that they wished for was delivered. An intervention, a disruptive technology which would offer choice and hope for the smokers who could not otherwise quit: Something they could only dream about.
In the document, “Beyond Smoking Kills: Protecting children, reducing Inequalities,” Action on Smoking & Health (UK)(ASH UK) present a ‘wish list’ for what they would like to see for the future.
Just twelve years after the publication of, “Beyond Smoking Kills,” The stated dream of ASH UK, an integral part of Tobacco Control and staffed by zealous prohibitionists, came true. But it was, for them, no longer a dream. It turned, for them, into the worst possible nightmare. In chapter eight of Beyond Smokng Kills, we read…,
“New ways of driving down smoking prevalence are needed. Smokers are addicted to nicotine but are harmed by the tar and toxins in tobacco smoke. It is therefore possible for smokers who are currently unable or unwilling to quit to satisfy their nicotine craving at much lower risk by switching to pure nicotine products (which, like the current medicinal products on the market, contain only nicotine and not other tobacco derivatives.
Although these products are not 100% safe, they are many orders of magnitude safer than smoking. Given the higher levels of addiction among the most disadvantaged smokers, the promotion of wider access to pure nicotine products as an alternative to smoking is an important means of tackling health inequalities…
Extensive experience with nicotine replacement therapy in clinical trials has shown pure nicotine products to be very safe. They are not, however, 100% safe… it would be a perverse use of the precautionary principle to await the outcomes of this research before encouraging smokers to switch from tobacco to pure nicotine products, given that the use of pure nicotine products is many orders of magnitude safer than smoking ” HERE (then follow the link in the document to obtain the PDF)
A nightmare indeed for a ‘prestigious’ Tobacco Control prohibitionist organisation.
Once again, I need not say much more. The above statement ASH speaks for itself. NOTE: ASH UK have been dragged, kicking, and screaming along the tobacco harm reduction path. Read, “An appeal to ASH: Save e-cigarettes from your stupid colleagues.” HERE. The writer concludes, talking about the EU’s restrictive regulations on harm reduction products, ” Anyone who supports these restrictions is either stupid or malevolent; it’s that simple.”
Vaping and the evidence (We perhaps do know enough)
Keep in mind the words, “… it would be a perverse use of the precautionary principle to await the outcomes of this research before encouraging smokers to switch from tobacco to pure nicotine products” But this is one of the main arguments used by anti-vaping organisations. How often do we hear, we just do not know enough,” and this being presented as a reason for draconian regulations, and even outright bans, on vaping and other harm reduction products?
It is a: specious; false; factitious; counterfeit; fraudulent, trumped-up sham. It is a mock up. It is feigned, pretentious and contrived… Its real purpose is not just to create doubts with regard to the safety and effectiveness of harm reduction but to gain time for the huge multi-billion-dollar machine of Tobacco Control to grind into action so that it can invent the lies and the dubious studies needed to support those lies. (And yes I consulted a thesaurus)
Yes we do know enough, but we do know enough to say with confidence that harm reduction works and that the materials used in harm reduction are far, far safer than smoking.
Heat not burn: its place as harm reduction
And now we have another development in harm reduction. Tobacco companies have created heat not burn technology.
This technology uses tobacco leaf which is processed and heated to produce a vapour which is, claimed by studies, to be around, or at least 90% safer than tobacco smoke – this is a considerable difference, and so, in all probability, be considered as harm reduction.
Where this technology is forcing Tobacco Control Prohibitionists to make repeated visits to their hairdressers, it also placing vaping advocates in a bit of a quandary.
You see, “we just do not know enough.”
However, unlike Tobacco Control, Harm Reductionists do not question Heat Not Burn with a view to stymying or preventing its further development – it is just a genuine issue. At this point, we just do not know enough. There are issues. But there is absolutely nothing to support a view that regulation is needed to ban or limit the product. In the immortal words of ASH UK, “… it would be a perverse use of the precautionary principle to await the outcomes of this research before encouraging smokers to switch from tobacco to pure nicotine products.”
Oh but, dear oh dear! Heat Not Burn IS a tobacco product.
I would argue that tobacco product or not, it would be a perverse use of the precautionary principle to await the outcomes of further research before encouraging smokers to switch from smoking to vaped tobacco products.
We already have research to say Heat Not Burn is safer, and yes, produced by the manufacturer. HERE.
Two questions here: How reliable is the research? Can we trust tobacco companies to be honest?
In answer to the first question all I can say is that I have not come across any definitive counter research: That the tobacco company experiments can be duplicated and that the tobacco industry has, I believe, issued an invitation for this to happen. The only criticisms I have come across so far have been complaints that this research is from Big Tobacco and that is just not good enough to prevent smokers from having unrestricted access to a safer product.
This is where it gets interesting…
Now, I have already mentioned ASH UK, and I used the term, “…kicking and screaming.” The next reference ties everything up beautifully. I will try to demonstrate how ‘tied up in knots’ ASH is, what with them teetering on top of the wall: trying to marry both sides of the arguments between Harm Reduction and Prohibition.
ASH have commented on Heat Not Burn and the research that has been conducted. They say… “Particularly because of the tobacco industry’s long record of deceit over the health risks of smoking, there is an urgent need for independent research into the level of harm these products may cause.”
The tobacco industry’s long record of deceit?
The tobacco industry does have a record of deceit, but this, in fact, is a reason to trust what they are saying about the new product. They now have to be VERY careful, and let’s face it, Tobacco Control also has a record of deceit, one which equals ‘Big Tobacco’s’ in every respect and perhaps even surpasses it.
This can be illustrated using a single, famous example.
In 1994 the presidents and CEO’s of the largest American tobacco companies testified before Congress. Part of this testimony has been presented as evidence of the deceit practiced by Big Tobacco. There is a fabulous irony to be identified here and that is when the bosses were asked, one at a time, if they thought nicotine was addictive and one at a time they answered that they did not believe nicotine was addictive.
As I have stated, this has been held up as a glaring example of the dishonesty of these people.
But, do you know, they were telling the truth. Nicotine, on its own, is hardly addictive at all. There is something else involved, perhaps an interaction between chemicals in the processed tobacco or/ and the burning process – I am convinced the executives, even at this time, knew this.
Now back to the ASH comment on Heat Not Burn. According to ASH, the tobacco companies have already admitted that their new product is addictive. So, are tobacco lying when they claim nicotine is not addictive when that claim is true, or are they lying when they state that their new product is addictive when they think it will be? (Yes, you might have to read that again – I did)
The bottom line is that the tobacco industry will be as honest or as dishonest as any other industry but will most certainly not display the same levels of hypocrisy as that demonstrated by avid tobacco prohibitionists.
There is an issue over addiction – but first – we need to understand what causes addiction. Is it the substance itself or the circumstances of the victim when introduced to the substance, or both?
What has become clear is that nicotine can be delivered without addiction and that the prohibitionists have already tried to stamp out some addiction free technology and that is criminal.
Harm reduction as smoking cessation or recreation.
And the reasons that Tobacco Control hate the very thing they should have loved were… It was not conceived by them: It terrified them because it might actually work; they would be made redundant as people turned in their millions to do something which replicated smoking, but worst of all, it was fun; people enjoyed the experience.
This was not the result they really wanted. They wanted the status quo: to remain the ‘health heroes’ – and in an instant, it could be gone, so they fight tooth and nail to keep what they have. They lie and cheat and the industries which profit from the suffering caused by smoking, the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries, pay huge sums to all and sundry willing to take the side of the prohibitionist Tobacco Control. And governments encourage the prohibitionists, eager to hear that huge increases in excise duty on both smoking and harm reduction products are a good thing and need to be controlled.
There is only one thing needs controlling and that is Tobacco Control itself.