Friday, December 4, 2020

Dear Canadian Smokers: Please Follow Britain’s Guidance


I sent the following message to Canadian smokers.  It appeared in a Maclean’s magazine health supplement, with sponsorship by the Canadian Vaping Association (available here).


You may wonder why an American professor accepted an invitation from the Canadian Vaping Association to author an article about e-cigarettes. In part, it’s because I want to apologize to you for the way my government, which is engaged in a coordinated, expensive campaign to create a tobacco-free society, has wrongfully destroyed the prospect of a smoke-free future for millions. Don’t listen to American health officials, who emphasize only the negatives, untruths, and urban myths. Don’t let their campaign stop you from stepping away from the fire.

Instead, you should follow the lead of Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical societies. Nearly 20 years ago, it advised, “as a way of using nicotine, the consumption of non-combustible tobacco is on the order of 10-1,000 times less hazardous than smoking, depending on the product.”1

In 2007, the Royal College published a report2 challenging governments to consider “that smokers smoke predominantly for nicotine, that nicotine itself is not especially hazardous, and that if nicotine could be provided in a form that is acceptable and effective as a cigarette substitute, millions of lives could be saved. This report makes the case for radical reform to the way that nicotine products are regulated and used in society.” It described its ideas as “controversial and challenge many current and entrenched views in medicine and public health. The principles behind them have the potential to save millions of lives. They deserve consideration.”

Unlike their American counterparts, British authorities have consistently told smokers the truth about vaping since 2011 (here, here, here and here). In fact, their Department of Health helps smokers switch from combustibles to vapour. As a result, the U.K. vaping population ballooned from 700,000 in 2012 to 3.6 million in 2019.

The Royal College (here) provided the perfect reason for you to switch from cigarettes to vape in 2016: “The hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5 percent of the harm from smoking tobacco.”

Nothing has changed the Royal College’s hazard assessment, so don’t be fooled by the tsunami of exaggerated and outright fictitious vaping “dangers” concocted by prohibitionists.

Note: I have restored some links that were removed by the publisher.



Monday, November 30, 2020

Covid-19 Deaths in the United States: It’s Not the Flu

In the past I have been critical of how the Centers for Disease Control Office on Smoking and Health has exaggerated and distorted smoking-attributable deaths, teen vaping and smoke-free tobacco risks.  But there is another branch at CDC that does a sterling job year after year: the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).  That center counts deaths in the United States.  The numbers it produces are invaluable, because they are the final arbiters of the quality of Americans’ lives…and how they die.  And for anyone out there who still thinks that Covid-19 is a trivial illness no worse than the flu, take a look at the following table.  It compares deaths from influenza and pneumonia, the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S., with deaths from Covid-19 so far this year.

Comparison of Influenza/Pneumonia Deaths in 2016 with Covid Deaths in 2020 (through November 25)
Age (yrs) Flu/Pneumonia Deaths 2016 v Covid Deaths 2020Ratio

Less than 15356 v 874 : 1
15-24189 v 4281 : 2
25-34452 v 1,8121 : 4
35-44894 v 4,6631 : 5
45-542,133 v 12,3711 : 6
55-645,034 v 29,8881 : 6
65-748,169 v 51,6671 : 6
75-8412,596 v 64,5751 : 5
85+21,714 v 74,7221 : 3

I’ve purposefully compared Covid deaths to influenza and pneumonia.  Not only is the latter combination a standard category, its numbers are much higher than for influenza alone.  From ages 25 to 84 years, Covid deaths are four to six times the numbers for flu/pneumonia, and we still have over one month to go.  The flu/pneumonia numbers are for the whole year 2016, but the Covid-19 numbers are only from the end of January until November 25.  So expect Covid-19 deaths and the ratios to increase substantially, especially with the pandemic exploding now in virtually all states.

There’s another reason that the Covid-19 deaths are conservative.  First, the CDC reports only estimates that there have been only about 12 million cases to date (here).  A recent study in JAMA reported that only about 10% of the U.S. population has been exposed to the virus. 

Overwhelming hospitals and health care systems will also have consequences for millions of Americans with serious heart diseases, cancer, emphysema and stroke.  Mortality rates for all of these diseases have been on a substantial decline for decades.  However, when Covid-19 overloads health care resources, Americans with these diseases will be shortchanged and may die, resulting in higher mortality rates for those illnesses.

In fact, physicians in maximum-capacity hospitals are already talking about nightmare scenarios.  They will have to make triage choices about the patients who will receive resources and care, and those who will not.  “‘I don’t see how we avoid becoming overwhelmed,’ says Dan Johnson, a [Nebraska] critical-care doctor. ‘People need to know that the assumption we will always have a hospital bed for them is a false one.’” (here) 

These scenarios are on the cusp of occurring across the country, and they are being driven by some Americans’ refusal to wear masks and to not meet with friends and relatives in bars, restaurants and elsewhere, all because they believe these measures infringe on their freedom.  I wonder how many of these refuseniks would extend their freedom to volunteer not to be treated if they develop a serious illness.