Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Huffington Post Suppresses Tobacco Truth

In his Huffington Post blog on April 18, Dr. Glenn Braunstein penned “Chew on This: The Real Dangers of Smokeless Tobacco.” (available here) Dr. Braunstein is professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The “dangers” he described are demonstrably fictitious. Compounding this offense, Dr. Braunstein subsequently violated HuffPo blog moderating rules by removing my April 19 reasoned and fact-driven comment, which read:

“It is regrettable that Dr. Braunstein used the Huffington Post to misinform Americans about smokeless tobacco.

“Dr. Braunstein: ‘Contrary to popular belief, ingesting [smokeless] tobacco carries risks just as serious and severe as smoking.’ This ignores numerous scientific studies documenting that smokeless tobacco use is 98% safer than smoking. Smokeless does not cause lung cancer, heart disease or emphysema, and the risk for mouth cancer is far lower than with cigarettes. Statistically, smokeless users have about the same risk of dying from mouth cancer as automobile users have of dying in a car wreck.

“Dr. Braunstein goes even further, suggesting that ‘…ingested tobacco may be even more dangerous than cigarettes...’ because of nicotine. This is grossly misleading. All tobacco products have roughly the same nicotine content and produce about the same blood levels. More importantly, nicotine does not cause any smoking-related disease.

“Dr. Braunstein’s comments are at odds with the viewpoint of prominent tobacco research and policy professionals. A group of leading tobacco experts in 2004 concluded: … ‘[smokeless] products pose a substantially lower risk to the user than do conventional cigarettes. This finding raises ethical questions concerning whether it is inappropriate and misleading for government officials or public health experts to characterize smokeless tobacco products as comparably dangerous with cigarette smoking.’

“The established scientific and medical literature on tobacco harm reduction clearly refutes the major objections raised by Dr. Braunstein concerning modern smoke-free tobacco products.”

My comment appeared just long enough on HuffPo to elicit a supporting comment from another reader: “I agree with Dr. Rodu. I'd like to see Dr. Braunstein's reponse to Dr. Rodu's points, though we probably won't. As a dentist, I encourage those who use smokeless to quit, but not by giving them false information. The information in this article is very very misleading.”

According to Dr. Braunstein’s HuffPo biography, he is an endocrinologist with an interest in the treatment of thyroid cancer and in male and female reproductive endocrinology; he has no apparent expertise in tobacco issues. His blog entry on the subject closely aligns with smokeless tobacco misinformation issued in the past by the leading tobacco-prohibitionist organizations (Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and others).

HuffPo says on its site that its mission is “to promote an open and transparent conversation.” But allowing Dr. Braunstein to erase a fair and factual rejoinder to his unfounded remarks violates that tenet, and disserves the public interest.


cigarbabe said...

Another anti nicotine/tobacco extremist doing what they do best, lying. You'd think if someone was in the right there would be no need to lie to people but as the anti smoking factions have demonstrated time and time again, that is not so!
Shame on all those like ASH,ALA,ACS and The Legacy foundation for promoting such a poor,low standard for the kids, they claim to be concerned about to follow.

Treece said...

How infuriating.

I left the following comment:

Dr. Brad Rodu is a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville and a prominent researcher and expert in the field of tobacco harm reduction. Few are as qualified as he to address issues pertaining to the use of smokeless tobacco.

And yet, it appears that Dr. Braunstein deleted his comment. This is a disservice to HuffPo readers.

I'd like to see Dr. Rodu's comment restored. To do otherwise leaves the impression that Dr. Braunstein's position is so weak and lacking in credibilit­y that it cannot withstand any scrutiny. Surely Dr. Braunstein doesn't want to leave that impression­?


And no, I don't expect it will be approved, but it made me feel better ... for a minute....

Ashley Williams said...

Thank u for the nice blog!! i enjoyed reading this !!

Snus Blog said...

Whenever i read some "expert" stating that smokeless is as bad as cigarettes i figure they must either.....

1) be working for a cigarette company and don't want to lose and smokers (to smokeless. death is expected once enough profit has been extracted)

2) be so hardheaded they can't admit the truth after they find it.

3) be nuts.

when i look at my father hooked up to that air hose and dying from lung cancer because of cigarettes i wish he would have had snus 20 years ago. Finally i woke up to government lies about smokeless and started using snus. i quit a 35 year old cigarette habit. hopefully i found it soon enough. going by my fathers example i will know for sure in about 30 more years.