Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“Deception or Evasion” by FDA CTP & National Cancer Institute Regarding Smokeless Tobacco?

“A majority of adults do not think smokeless tobacco is less harmful than cigarettes,” according to a study by the FDA Center for Tobacco Products and the Tobacco Control Research Branch of National Cancer Institute (abstract here). 

Sheri P. Feirman and colleagues analyzed responses to a question in the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), 2012, 2014, and 2015: “Do you believe that some smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and snuff, are less harmful than cigarettes?” 

Do You Believe that Some Smokeless Tobacco Products…Are Less Harmful Than Cigarettes?
Don’t Know17.1%15.9%22.2%

Simply put, only 9 to 12% of Americans correctly believe that smokeless tobacco is less harmful than cigarettes.

In a PubMed Commons commentary on this study, David Sweanor and I note:

“The article failed to specify that the correct answer [to the question] is:  ‘Yes, smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes.’  The article instead focuses on the majority of participants who inaccurately answered ‘No’ or ‘Don’t Know,’ which demonstrates the misperception fostered by an effective ‘quarantine’ of truthful risk information by federal agencies (Kozlowski and Sweanor, 2016).

“Decades of epidemiologic studies have documented that the health risks of smokeless tobacco use are, at most, 2% those of smoking (Rodu and Godshall, 2006; Rodu, 2011; Fisher 2017; Royal College of Physicians, 2002; Lee and Hamling, 2009).  Unlike cigarettes, smokeless tobacco does not cause lung cancer, heart and circulatory diseases or emphysema.  The Royal College of Physicians concluded in 2002: ‘As a way of using nicotine, the consumption of non-combustible [smokeless] tobacco is on the order of 10–1,000 times less hazardous than smoking, depending on the product.’” (Royal College of Physicians, 2002)

”Low risks from smokeless tobacco use extend to mouth cancer.  A 2002 review documented that men in the U.S. who use moist snuff and chewing tobacco have minimal to no risk for mouth cancer (Rodu and Cole, 2002), and a recent federal study found no excess deaths from the disease among American men who use moist snuff or chewing tobacco (Wyss, 2016).

“As one of us recently wrote, ‘Deception or evasion about major differences in product risks is not supported by public health ethics, health communication or consumer practices.  Public health agencies have an obligation to correct the current dramatic level of consumer misinformation on relative risks that they have fostered.’ (Kozlowski and Sweanor, 2018).”

The FDA and NCI must be more forthcoming with the American public.


Unknown said...

Brad you are right as always. It is almost unbelievable that e.g. an official memo to the general public, from FDA Tobacco stating the correct answer i.e. YES, smokeless tobacco is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, can save thousands of lives.

Nothing could be more efficient than the "pen" writing such official memo for the sake of the populations public health. So why don't they!?

During my visit to the #GTNF2017 forum in New York City in September I actually put the question about FDA director Mitch Zeller's views on "The Swedish Experience" of a smokeless tobacco product called #snus and he replied that "FDA absolutely understanding The Swedish Experience" and its epi-data and encourage it more or less. Sweden has by using snus in a higher degree than smoking cigarettes become the country with the lowest rate of daily smokers and tobacco mortality in all Europe. This is The Swedish Experience in a nut shell.

Anyone can see it for him/her self in this video from the forum staring the director of the FDA Tobacco Center and a Swedish snus improvement innovator.

Unknown said...

seems the link did not work as a hyper link should do so I try again. Here is
the video with FDA director Mitch Zeller on snus and the Swedish Experience.