Monday, July 11, 2022

U.S. Tobacco Harm Reduction Opposition -- Déjà Vu and Nothing New Since 1994


Today’s attacks on tobacco harm reduction (THR) follow the same playbook used against me 28 years ago, when I published my first professional medical article proposing the substitution of smoke-free products for cigarettes. 

One can see the attack unfold in a 1994 Good Morning America debate I had with a tobacco opponent. A video of that encounter, available

here, was recently included as a resource for the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, Poland.  You’ll recognize the following features from the flat-earth playbook, in which my opponent: 

  • refused to acknowledge any difference in risk (“tobacco is tobacco is tobacco”; “trading body parts”, etc);
  • grossly exaggerated the risk of vastly safer smokeless tobacco;  
  • claimed that THR is unethical;
  • appealed to authority (“every major health organization in this country… has said that smokeless is not a safe alternative…like jumping from the 3rd floor instead of the 10th floor”); and,
  • alleged, without support, the existence of a teen smokeless tobacco epidemic, before unintentionally promoting the specific product I was then evaluating in a smoking cessation pilot study.


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