Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Indefensible Action By the U.S. Army Public Health Command

On February 28, I saw the “Great American Spit Out/ Tobacco Cessation” webpage (from my archive here), published by the Army Public Health Command (APHC) to “raise awareness of the dangers associated with smokeless tobacco.” The site was inaccurate and unprofessional with regard to smokeless tobacco use among army personnel.

After the ironic introductory statement, “Unfortunately, the myths concerning smokeless tobacco are still in existence,” the webpage contained this egregious claim: “Smokeless tobacco is as harmful as smoking tobacco.”

I contacted two APHC staffers and explained that this statement was factually incorrect and indefensible. A 2004 National Cancer Institute study 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.” (abstract here).

To its credit, the APHC responded quickly. Less than 24 hours later, on February 29, the just-as-dangerous myth was removed from the website (here).

I also explained to the APHC that the word “spit” is demeaning, disrespectful and deplorable, as I pointed out in a previous post (here). Two years ago, I wrote to federal officials, strongly objecting to use of this term (here). The Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research responded by removing the offensive term from websites and other publicly available materials (here).

It’s time for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Medical Command to abandon this offensive language, treat smokeless tobacco users with respect, and provide accurate medical information, particularly on the subject of tobacco harm reduction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So glad to see that you are still "out there", and still swinging the baseball bat of truth! (I've been out of touch for a long while.)

I am glad I came across your blog here. I will have to look to see if you have commented on another indefensible move by government ... when, over a year ago, FDATP declined to tell the inescapable truth, that being that Star Scientific's (I know you know the name) new BDL smokeless tobacco products were, inarguably, the first "modified risk" tobacco products (under new FDATP rules that created and define that category).

(Star put in the first application with FDATP for that status, and as you know those tobacco products are the safest [literally safe, regarding cancer and all other major illness] tobacco products in the world.)

How did FDATP accomplish THAT feat, in the face of absolute fact? They declared another matter of absolute fact to be fiction: FDATP declared that these orally consumed smokeless tobacco products "are not" smokeless tobacco products", and thus were not even regulated by FDATP as such.

That means that, by FDATP definition, these tobacco products are neither smoked nor smokeless tobacco products ... yet they are more than 50% (powdered) tobacco, and are consumed orally without ignition. It's a bit like saying that there is fire, and there is the absence of fire, and then there is something else. Maybe more than "a bit".

Now there is even more such FDATP nonsense going on as you likely know: Star also has their TRADITIONAL type oral snuff (not powdered tobacco, but cut leaf, traditionally textured and consumed, BDL oral "Stonewall" snuff) up for the same "modified risk" classification, something the FDATP ABSOLUTELY CANNOT deny. Star has been waiting now for well over a year now on THAT also ... with no word from FDATP.

I keep urging Star to file a declaratory suit against FDATP in these matters, but I guess they are afraid to rock the boat.

SOMEONE needs to! How can every facet of our government, including agencies that are bound by law to inform the public by telling them fact and truth, just continue such travesties and insults to the whole idea of truth?

I'm so glad that there is someone with a name and some clout still swinging. One of these days you're going to hit one out of the park! (In my mind, you have already done so ... many times.)