Sunday, 30 July 2017

Very Low Intelligence


Here is another to file in the "how e-cigs expose the hypocrisy and ignorance of tobacco controllers" folder.

There has been a lot written about the announcement on Friday that the FDA in Yankeeland has shifted very slightly on the subject of e-cigs.

Of course, this is very welcome, they have frozen their appalling policy designed - most probably at the behest of pharma lobbying - to take as many competitive vaping products off the market as possible by pricing them out. The policy was daft, ignored prevailing and accumulating science and was clearly unsustainable in the long run. Well, actually, it was sustainable only if the US decided to stay a barking mad outlier to the rest of the enlightened first world (Australia excepted, of course), but you get the idea.

This, for me, was the clunky passage that said they are now reluctantly recognising the concept of vaping as a harm reduction measure.
A key piece of the FDA’s approach is demonstrating a greater awareness that nicotine – while highly addictive – is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes.
Hardly a succinct sound bite, is it?

But, as others have already said, there is nothing to celebrate too wildly because of the other quite disgraceful announcement made at the same time.
The FDA plans to begin a public dialogue about lowering nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels through achievable product standards. 
Yep, this is the first country ever to try the extremely daft idea of reducing nicotine in cigarettes (Very Low Nicotine Cigarettes (VLNC)) to somehow stop people smoking.

There is nothing in that which recognises that nicotine is not the problem. In fact, it cleverly avoids saying that nicotine is benign. Shall we revisit that Michael Russell quote that the tobacco control industry embraced when they were promoting pharmaceutical patches and gum but seem to have completely forgotten since e-cigs emerged?
‘People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar’
That was in 1976, and Russell was seen as a visionary back then, but he also said this in the same paper.
The logic of expecting people who cannot stop smoking to switch to cigarettes that have hardly any nicotine is questionable.
It's not just questionable, it's insane. One can only assume that the people endorsing it are either corrupt or mentally compromised.

The US FDA seems to think this is a great idea though. They will mildly relax regulations (perhaps) around vaping while at the same time taking an innocuous ingredient - nicotine - out of cigarettes but leaving all the other crap in. They couldn't be more crazy if they announced that they were to embark on an expedition to find out where unicorns live.

This is the end result of decades of tobacco control lunatics having the ear of government. Prohibition should have taught America that if you listen to extremist prohibitionists, you destroy society and create black markets, but it seems they are too stupid to learn.

So, why are they doing this with cigarettes? Well, apart from being subject to an almost Calvinist religious cult of a tobacco control industry in the good old US of A, there are also many financial pressures which mean they are reluctant to rock the boat.

What I find absolutely astonishing above all else though, is that US-based tobacco control are even considering this. For years, they have been painting the tobacco industry as animals for producing low tar cigarettes. The fact that this was partly due to legislators forcing them to doesn't seem to matter.

But now the tobacco control industry has had this fantastic idea that reducing nicotine in cigarettes is a brilliant new initiative, what went before seems to have been conveniently forgotten, at least in the USA. Fortunately, we are not subject to as much ignorance in this country.
“The idea of gradually reducing the addictive ingredient of cigarettes, nicotine, looks attractive on the surface,” said Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London. “But unless nicotine is pretty much eliminated quickly and comprehensively in all available tobacco products – which seems unlikely – it runs a serious risk of making things worse as smokers smoke cigarettes harder in order to get the nicotine they need, leading to more exposure to the harmful tar.” 
Linda Bauld, deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and professor of health policy at the University of Stirling agreed that the move could end up exposing smokers to higher levels of toxins.  
“[The FDA] want to shift people to alternative products like vaping, which is good, but there are a number of risks,” she said, pointing out that reducing nicotine levels could also have other unintended consequences including people smokers smoking more cigarettes, or even an increase in black market activity.
Well, duh!

When 'light' cigarettes were introduced, there was an uptick in the amount of cigarettes smoked due to compensatory behaviour. Why the fucking hell do tobacco controllers think this will be different if nicotine is taken out of fags altogether?

Simple to answer really. It's because, yet again, they don't understand smokers. In truth, they never have done. This policy is borne out of non-smoking twats believing their own propaganda that smokers only smoke because they are addicted to nicotine. If they would ever actually talk to the people they are trying to "control" they would know this isn't the be-all and end-all of the matter.

I have many smokers work for me for whom giving up is not even an option. They don't consider themselves addicts, they consider themselves as smokers. They have done for years and it's part of their identity. Nothing will shift them. If you take the nicotine out of their cigs they will just feel the urge to smoke more. What sort of perverted 'public health' movement could come out with a policy which drives people to smoke more? It's the very opposite of harm reduction, it is harm promotion.

Even darker than that though, is the idea that the FDA - by mildly relaxing rules on e-cigs - may be doing something benevolent. No. It is not.

The FDA's announcement relents on some e-cig rules but only on the proviso that it might make vaping more attractive to smokers who will be deprived, by force, of nicotine from their combustible cigarettes. That is nothing more than vile coercion and should have no place in a land that claims to be free.

I cannot possibly cheer the FDA's overall plan and I don't think there is anything particularly concrete to be happy about yet anyway. Smokers are being thrown under a bus but apart from that everything else is up in the air and subject to change.

But at least it still shows I'm right in saying that it's never been about health, so I have that. 



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