Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mythic Tobacco Endgames

A new $1.2 million campaign to promote tobacco prohibition on college campuses was announced on September 19 (here). 

As I have noted, the federal government annually spends hundreds of millions of dollars in support of academic anti-tobacco research (here).  This time, the money is coming from pharmacy giant CVS’s Health Foundation as part of a five-year, $50 million campaign.  CVS collaborators include the misnamed Truth Initiative (see here and here) and the American Cancer Society, whose numerous prohibitionist exploits are reported in this blog (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here).

Campaign awards to several Texas schools were reported in a Houston Chronicle article (here) that included illustrations offering and refuting four tobacco “myths”.  In this effort, the paper (or the campaign) repeated fantastical claims that are often made by prohibitionists.

Myth #1: “Almost no one smokes any more [sic].”  A myth, by definition, is a widely held view, so this attempt fails from the start. The latest data from the CDC, for 2016, shows 38 million smokers in the United States – a substantial and highly visible group of people, all in need of effective quit-smoking tools and support.

Myth #2: “e-Cigarettes, hookahs and cigars are safe alternatives.”  Again, few people hold this view (here).  Scientists, the industry and public health officials agree that no form of tobacco use is perfectly “safe.”  Eminent authorities like Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, however, have pronounced that vaping “is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.” (here)  Furthermore, FDA data shows that smoking one or two cigars a day have almost no health risks (here and here).

Myth #3: “Infrequent, social smoking is harmless.”  This is creating a myth when one doesn’t exist.

Myth #4: “Smoking outside eliminates secondhand smoke dangers.”  Myths convey false information.  This statement is entirely true.

Ironically, some viewers of the online Chronicle article are shown an advertisement for Nicorette gum, reproduced here.  While pharmaceutical nicotine has a known 93% quit-smoking failure rate (here), this ad touts one day of success – an extraordinarily low bar for cessation.

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