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

Update January 2018: reply to this letter from Dr Derek Yach

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?  Continue reading “Letter to the Foundation for a Smoke Free World about money, governance, conflicts and Philip Morris International”

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. Continue reading “Guest post: BAT executive on disruption of the tobacco industry”

Reshaping American tobacco policy: eight proposals for the Trump administration

Many variations, all much safer than cigarettes – but what does FDA/CDC do about that?

Welcome to a new report written by me, Clive Bates, with David Sweanor of Ottawa University, and Eli Lehrer, President of the R Street Institute. The fully designed report is available at R Street with press notice.

Reshaping American Tobacco Policy

Eight federal strategies to fight smoking and ignite a public health revolution

[PDF – 23 pages]

The report is an unforgiving and but fair critique of the United States’ federal approach to tobacco policy, which we think is an unmitigated regulatory disaster.  Whatever the stated intent, the effect is to protect the cigarette trade from competition, damage pro-health American businesses, mislead and harm consumers and add unnecessarily to healthcare costs.  Federal agencies are preoccupied with negligible or imaginary risks at the expense of great opportunities to address the health risks to America’s 38 million smokers. Around nine million vapers are already taking action to protect their health, the federal bureaucracy is set to block their efforts.

So far smart, self-interested consumers, innovative producers and disruptive technologies have interacted in a lightly regulated free market to begin to tackle the huge burden of disease arising from smoking. That is about to change: the dominant reaction of the federal government is to choke these highly positive developments with huge regulatory burdens, opaque authorization procedures, impossible evidential tests and misinformation about risks.

American federal tobacco policy couldn’t be much worse, but it could be a lot better. The fundamental change required is to embrace and maximise the huge opportunity of vapor and other low-risk nicotine products, while keeping a sense of proportion about minor risks.

The eight proposals to reshape policy are listed below. The report provides a context, summarises the proposals and provides two pages on each. Continue reading “Reshaping American tobacco policy: eight proposals for the Trump administration”

The wilful ignorance of tobacco control McCarthyites


Just when you thought public health could sink no lower, it pulls it off again! This time, a couple of “tobacco control” organisations, CTFK and ENSP, have been writing to several participants in a conference (GTNF 2016) to be held next week. The letters tell them they must be mistaken, that they can’t possibly have realised tobacco companies were involved and that they should pull out before it is too late.  All backed with a threat of reputational damage if they don’t. I find this deeply depressing and disturbing. Let’s take a look at:

Continue reading “The wilful ignorance of tobacco control McCarthyites”

Death by paperwork: consultation on EU e-cigarette notification regime

Death by paperwork: no estimate has been made of the damage that paperwork burdens will do

Under the Tobacco Products Directive Article 20(2), e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturers or importers will have to notify the authorities of any product they want to place on the market. A low-key (to put it mildly) UK consultation run by MHRA on the data requirements for notification closed on 3 September.  Of course most of it was already settled when the directive was agreed without any consultation whatsoever and cannot be changed by humble objections from those who bear the burdens.

I was on holiday, so only put in a short response from my temporary HQ in the mountains of Sardinia. However, I think it is important to take every opportunity to register despair at the way the TPD Article 20 on e-cigarettes was negotiated and to try to reduce the damage it will do. It will be interesting to see if anyone cares.

These were the documents circulated by MHRA for comment: Commission Decision on TPD Implementation / Annex: E-cigarette Data Description.  Here’s my response:
Continue reading “Death by paperwork: consultation on EU e-cigarette notification regime”

Misleading the public for their own good? Changing the warnings on snus

Misleading labels implicitly exaggerating risk?  These are the current U.S. snus warnings

What sort of ‘warnings’ should go on tins of snus? Modern snus use is probably around 98% less risky than smoking – but do the regulatory ‘risk communications’ in the form of these warnings really reflect that?  Do they give the consumer useful information that helps them make decisions about which risks they are willing to bear and the options they have to reduce risks associated with tobacco or nicotine use?   It’s an interesting time for these questions: the United States is in the middle of a process that might lead changes to these warnings on some snus packaging.

Continue reading “Misleading the public for their own good? Changing the warnings on snus”

Wells Fargo second annual e-cig conference – some reflections

Photo: Clive Bates taken at Wells Fargo event 20 November 2014
The switch to 2nd generation products arrested the decline of NJOY

I participated as a panel member in the Wells Fargo Securities Second Annual E-cig Conference, chaired by Bonnie Herzog, the lead beverage and tobacco sector analyst at Wells Fargo.  It was a fascinating occasion and good moment to take the temperature of the vapour market – at least as seen through the eyes of the main American players (agenda). I’m not going to write the whole thing up, but just give some overall impressions and my reflections on and after the day. Continue reading “Wells Fargo second annual e-cig conference – some reflections”

Big Pharma anti-vaping ad complaint

I found this annoying and decided to complain
Update: MHRA (predictably) rejected this complaint.  So, medicine regulator defends regulated medicine maker in attack on non-medical but superior alternative to smoking.  To do otherwise would have been to draw attention to the folly of regulating recreational nicotine products as medicines. See letter (PDF). End of update.
It’s perhaps a good sign that Big Pharma feels compelled to apply its boneheaded, plodding, utterly uncreative advertising skills to persuading smokers to use its inferior products rather than take up vaping. For a characteristically entertaining account of the righteous petulance of Big Pharma see Redhead Full of  Steam. Even so, I found this advertisement annoying, especially as e-cig vendors can’t fight back and likely to be counterproductive for health (if enough people followed its advice).  So I decided to see how they can be held to account. As it turns out MHRA is the regulator and it applies a code called the Blue Guide, Advertising and promotion of medicines in the UK.  So here is the complaint:

Continue reading “Big Pharma anti-vaping ad complaint”

Regulation for tobacco harm reduction – four pillars


Four Pillars

In my last post on regulation I set out some general ideas that I think should guide and constrain the regulation of e-cigarettes.  From my presentation at Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, here’s a suggested four pillars for regulation of e-cigarettes and other low risk products. Continue reading “Regulation for tobacco harm reduction – four pillars”

E-cigs and regulation – what do investment analysts think?

canary-wharf-007The investment analysts are always interesting on tobacco and e-cigs, and in a usefully dispassionate ‘follow-the-money’ kind of way.

Here’s a small collection of quotes I’ve seen in recent analyst reports mainly as they relate to regulation of e-cigarettes.  I don’t see all reports of course so this is necessarily selective. For ease of reference, I have highlighted some parts of quotes in red – these are my emphasis.  The bold emphasis is in the original.

Continue reading “E-cigs and regulation – what do investment analysts think?”