Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Memo to Feds: Tobacco ≠ Smoking

Government officials almost always use the word “tobacco” when they are actually discussing “cigarettes” or “smoking”.        

This practice is apparent in a 2015 progress report from the Centers for Disease Control’s “Winnable Battles” campaign (here).  In the body of the document, the agency states that “smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke are responsible for more than 480,000 premature deaths annually, as well as at least $289 billion in health care expenses and other economic costs each year.” But, as shown in the image from the report, it’s headline and list of key strategies substitutes the catch-all term “tobacco” for “cigarettes” and “smoking” seven times.

The obvious purpose of this conflation of terms is furtherance of the government’s decades-long drive for tobacco prohibition (here). 

Eradication of all tobacco products could only be justified if all such products posed substantial risk to public health.  They do not.  Decades of scientific studies document that use of smokeless tobacco products is vastly safer than smoking (here, here and here).  Even strident tobacco control groups like the Truth Initiative acknowledge the difference (here).     

Maintaining that tobacco, cigarettes and smoking are synonymous is indefensible.

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