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
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.
On 17 November 2016, the Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, gave a speech at the E-cigarette Summit 2016 (with biography) on e-cigarettes examining the claims of anti-vaping activists, and their scientific, ethical and legal basis. The full text of the speech is here: America Needs England (PDF). I reported an earlier speech here.
The speech should be widely read, especially in the United States. To facilitate an informed reading, I have reproduced the speech here, with some thematic subheadings, source links and illustrations [these are my additions].
The UK official statistics bureau, the Office of National Statistics, has published new official smoking and vaping stats for 2014, with the bonus of an e-cigarette survey for 2015. The geographical base is Great Britain (GB) – the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom is Northern Ireland. The age range is ≥16. Pretty good news… Continue reading “Smoking and vaping in Britain? Show me the data!”
Good grief. Researchers at the San Diego State University and the University of North Carolina have been studying internet searches on vaping. I would actually find this interesting if they had attempted to learn something from the trends and find new insights, but they have just fabricated a cheap and deeply unconvincing scare, and that is based on a wholesale misunderstanding of the subject of their study.
On 20 October, I received an enigmatic reply (above) from the Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. This was to my letter from April complaining about the publication of a flawed study on e-cigarettes and formaldehyde in the NEJM. His note didn’t say much, but it was copied to around 40 others, so I thought I ought to reply. It is an opportunity to write explaining some of the fallout.
You can refresh your memory of this sorry episode here and here.
(1) E-cigarettes: The potential to transform the tobacco industry. Imagine a product that is possibly >99% less harmful than cigarettes, delivers a similar use experience and offers a better economic bargain— this is the proposition of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs). We believe e-cigs have the potential to alter the status quo of the US tobacco market and accelerate the volume decline of traditional cigarettes.
But what does the academic literature tell us about regulating disruptive new technologies like e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products or novel nicotine products? If you want to get beyond zealous proposals for outright bans, crude restrictions and gratuitous burdens you will need to bypass the health journals and consult scholarship in academic law journals. Here are three paper that offer useful insights – none deal explicitly with tobacco or nicotine. Sadly, there is little sign that these insights have been grasped by FDA, the European Union or WHO. Continue reading “Regulating disruptive technologies – three papers”
I responded to the Department of Health consultation on implementing the EU Tobacco Products Directive [documents / consultation]. The on-line survey system accessible from the consultation page is by far the easiest way to respond. Closes 3rd September 2015.
To be candid, I find this consultation quite patronising. In the manner of putting lipstick on a pig, they are not consulting on the Directive itself – that is irrevocably fixed (albeit subject to legal action that could strike it down), but on implementation detail.
The part of the directive itself that deals with e-cigarettes (Article 20) was never subject to consultation.
Unsurprisingly it amounts to little more than pointless bureaucratic harassment – see why here. So this consultation deals only with options allowed within the fixed terms directive. I was thinking of not responding, but figured any opportunity to discourage the creation of an even bigger mess should be taken. The big mistakes were made in October 2013 – this consultation is a consequence.
My response below – questions not answered are greyed out. PS. if you respond, please give your own thoughts, in your own words, politely and constructively.