Mythic tobacco endgames
As I have noted, the federal government annually spends hundreds of millions of dollars in support of academic anti-tobacco research. This time, the money is coming from pharmacy giant CVS’ Health Foundation as part of a five-year, $50 million campaign. CVS’ collaborators include the misnamed Truth Initiative (see here and here) and the American Cancer Society, whose numerous prohibitionist exploits are reported in this blog here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
Campaign awards to several Texas schools were reported in a Houston Chronicle article that included illustrations offering and refuting four tobacco “myths.” In this effort, the paper (or the campaign) repeated fantastical claims that are often made by prohibitionists.
Myth #1: “Almost no one smokes any more [sic].” A myth, by definition, is a widely held view, so this attempt fails from the start. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for 2016, shows 38 million smokers in the United States – a substantial and highly visible group of people, all in need of effective quit-smoking tools and support.
Myth #2: “e-Cigarettes, hookahs and cigars are safe alternatives.” Again, few people hold this view. Scientists, the industry and public health officials agree that no form of tobacco use is perfectly “safe.” Eminent authorities like Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, however, have pronounced that vaping “is unlikely to exceed 5 percent of the harm from smoking tobacco.” Furthermore, Food and Drug Administration data show that smoking one or two cigars a day have almost no health risks (see here and here).
Myth #3: “Infrequent, social smoking is harmless.” This is creating a myth when one doesn’t exist.
Myth #4: “Smoking outside eliminates secondhand smoke dangers.” Myths convey false information. This statement is entirely true.
Ironically, some viewers of the online Chronicle article are shown an advertisement for Nicorette gum, reproduced here. While pharmaceutical nicotine has a known 93 percent quit-smoking failure rate, this ad touts one day of success – an extraordinarily low bar for cessation!
Image by Eviart