Pariahs, predators or players? The tobacco industry and the end of smoking

What would he do?

Given the confusion, anxiety and indignation that surrounds the role of the tobacco industry in tobacco harm reduction, I thought it would be interesting to imagine how a tobacco company chief executive might be thinking about vapour,  heat-not-burn or other low risk products. Here’s my best shot – perhaps erring on the side of optimism. Feel free to imagine differently in the comments, especially if you are actually in the industry (you are welcome to post anonymously) or are unconvinced or if you are actually a tobacco CEO you can have the right to reply!  Continue reading “Pariahs, predators or players? The tobacco industry and the end of smoking”

Are e-liquid flavours really “hooking another generation of kids”?

Attraction to vaping? Or attraction from smoking? Or just a consumer preference?

Predictably, depressingly, the US anti-vaping lobby has mobilised against a new Cole-Bishop Bill, HR 1136 that would hold off near complete destruction of the industry by grossly disproportionate FDA deeming regulation and implement the first steps in a sensible reshaping of American tobacco policy. But look at the argument they used.

“By working on what purports to be a technical change, “ Myers said, “ it leaves on the market the candy and fruit-flavored e-cigarettes that are so popular among young people.”

“You can put any gloss on it you want, this is the tobacco industry’s effort to continue to market flavored tobacco products to hook another generation of kids.

You hear this narrative a lot: regulators protecting kids from industry predators bearing flavours as bait. But I just wonder whether the anti-vaping activists have paused to even think about flavours and teens at all. 

To evaluate the demand to regulate these flavours (by which they mean ban them) you first need a framework for thinking about the issue – and that is not simple and may yield surprises.

Here is how I would think about this… Continue reading “Are e-liquid flavours really “hooking another generation of kids”?”

How does Big Tobacco see its future? Guest blog by Jonathan Fell

City of London
What is the tobacco industry up to?  Let’s ask someone from the City who knows about it…

Note from Counterfactual. There’s much speculation and theorising from public health academics about what the tobacco industry is doing and what motivates it. But this often based on a simplistic understanding of business, markets and how the industry (indeed any industry) works, and seasoned with selective reading of now-dated industry documents. I thought we might gain more by asking an analyst and investor for his views. So here is a guest post from Jonathan Fell, a former City of London investment bank equity analyst with over 20 years’ experience following the tobacco industry and other consumer packaged good companies. He now manages a fund, in which he himself invests, that owns shares in a number of consumer companies, including tobacco stocks.

These are Jonathan’s own views. This piece is not intended as investment advice, nor should it be taken as such.

________ Jonathan Fell’s guest blog starts here ________

Continue reading “How does Big Tobacco see its future? Guest blog by Jonathan Fell”

The wilful ignorance of tobacco control McCarthyites

mccarthy2

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”

FDA shoots itself in the foot, cigarette trade celebrates, public health loses – a summary in two quotes

A typical day at the FDA Center For Tobacco Products

The FDA’s deeming rule went live yesterday, 8th August 2016. You will see a blizzard of expert comment about what it all means (feel the pain of Phil Bursado – see 8/8).  In essence, FDA requires an enormously burdensome Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) to be filed and accepted by FDA for any new product from now on. So that’s the end of innovation, including pro-health and pro-safety innovation. For all products currently on the market, a PMTA has to be filed within two years, with a further year for FDA to review – that will wipe out most products and most smaller firms and open the way to the black market. (For the official view, see FDA overview and Q&A)

When thinking about this regulation from a public health point of view, there are two quotes I think everyone should have in mind: Continue reading “FDA shoots itself in the foot, cigarette trade celebrates, public health loses – a summary in two quotes”

Who or what is the World Health Organisation at war with?

Dr Chan is at war
Dr Chan is at war – but who or what is she fighting?

The World Health Organisation does a good line in war-like rhetoric when it comes to tobacco policy. But what is it actually at war with? In this post, I examine the confusion in ‘tobacco control’ about what it is actually trying to achieve. Continue reading “Who or what is the World Health Organisation at war with?”

Fighting the Vape Militia Online and Off – a reply to the speakers

California Public Health Conference
Offensive: a failed campaign mocks its critics

This session from a California tobacco control conference was circulated on Twitter and caught my eye. To me, it summarises a lot that is wrong with the anti-nicotine crusade and also with the behaviour of public servants and public health professionals in this field.  Here was my reaction on twitter, but I decided to go further…

Click to go to Twitter
Click to go to Twitter

Continue reading “Fighting the Vape Militia Online and Off – a reply to the speakers”

The tobacco control high command has lost its way – what we learn from its views on FDA priorities

A recent editorial in the journal Tobacco Control discusses what’s wrong with the FDA. In fact, the editorial is more telling about what’s wrong with tobacco control.

Update: my e-letter in Tobacco Control – Missing the point  Continue reading “The tobacco control high command has lost its way – what we learn from its views on FDA priorities”

Mayo Clinic progresses from blatantly wrong to deeply misleading

william-blake-truth

Some trusted health institutions seem unable to cope with the reality of a huge variation in risk between different tobacco products – notably combustible versus non-combustible. If you were paying attention, you may have noticed a subtle change in the Mayo Clinic’s approach to smokeless tobacco last week. Continue reading “Mayo Clinic progresses from blatantly wrong to deeply misleading”

TPD implementation – maximising harm by going beyond the minimum

julie andrews
Caption contest: the hills are alive with the sound of…

It’s hard to keep up with the public health madness in Europe.  Not content with creating the worst EU Directive ever made, laden with unintended consequences, many member states are now working hard on compounding their error by gold-plating the directive’s wholly unjustified costs, burdens and limitations on e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco with additional measures that go beyond the minimum.

Professor Gerry Stimson and I have made a small effort of resistance – here are two submissions to the Austrian consultation on TPD implementation. Austria proposes to ban internet sales of e-cigarettes and to ban all forms of smokeless tobacco, not just snus. We have tried to place these in the wider context of harm reduction and unintended consequences of poor policy-making. Continue reading “TPD implementation – maximising harm by going beyond the minimum”