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1 jvic  Fri, Jan 10, 2014 6:43:59pm

1. The editorial is written by one Sarah Milov:

Sarah Milov is a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Center for History and Economics and will be an assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia beginning August 2014. She is writing a book on tobacco and politics.

2. Here’s a thought for Ms. Milov, the FDA, HHS, various foundations, etc:

a. By all means, research e-cigarettes’ effect on individual and public health.

b. If there are adverse impacts, weigh them against individuals’ right to make choices about their lives and bodies.

c. Only after that tradeoff (if any) is assessed, consider creating regulations.

3. Milov: The hard-won public health triumph over the cigarette… Triumph? I see a lot of smoking in working-class sections of the nearby city. The taxes involved in that “hard-won public-health triumph” fall hard on people who have limited means to pay them. Let them eat cake smell potpourri?

4. Milov has a personal stake in this issue. If e-cigarettes are regulated, Milov’s area of scholarly specialization will increase in importance. If her area of scholarly specialization increases in importance, her prospects of tenure will improve. She is of course entitled to the presumption of integrity, and her personal stake does not invalidate her arguments; nevertheless, it bears noting that she is not a disinterested commentator.

2 bratwurst  Fri, Jan 10, 2014 6:54:24pm

re: #1 jvic

3. Milov: The hard-won public health triumph over the cigarette… Triumph? I see a lot of smoking in working-class sections of the nearby city.

The rate of smoking has been halved since 1965. Public indoor smoking bans became nearly ubiquitous in just one decade. The are both huge health triumphs in my book. I think you are being highly disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

3 jvic  Fri, Jan 10, 2014 7:39:49pm

re: #2 bratwurst

The rate of smoking has been halved since 1965. Public indoor smoking bans became nearly ubiquitous in just one decade. The are both huge health triumphs in my book. I think you are being highly disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

The thrust of my comment related to Milov’s proposals about e-cigarettes.

I quit smoking a long time ago. Regulation played no role in my decision. Information about the long-term effects did. I’m far from alone in that. I would not resume smoking cigarettes if regulations were repealed and the price dropped precipitously. I suspect I’m far from alone in that too.

Iirc: Back in the day there was a lot of corruption in the relationship between politicians and tobacco companies. Then the politicians were shocked, shocked to learn that the companies had known tobacco was addictive. Then there was a lot of corruption in the settlement between the politicians and the tobacco companies. And, to repeat, a lot of the penalty, via taxes, falls on people little able to pay it. Some triumph.

Here is a different perspective:

The force working against the introduction of e-cigs is big pharma. Now, this will come as no surprise to some: big pharma profits from treating disease, including diseases stemming from smoking; if there is less disease to treat, then their profits will fall, which is bad news for shareholders.

In addition, big pharma is highly active in the nicotine-replacement therapy, or NRT, market. NRT includes such items as nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches, and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK ) is the leading marketer of these products within the United States. Obviously, if smokers who are in the process of quitting turn to e-cigs rather than NRT, Glaxo will lose revenue.

Unfortunately, it would also seem as if Glaxo has support from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; in particular, Mitch Zeller, a former anti-tobacco lobbyist who was appointed head of the FDA’s center for tobacco products earlier this year. Now, Zeller should not be taking sides in this argument, but according to an article published in The Wall Street Journal back in 2009, Zeller disclosed that he “…provides consulting support to GlaxoSmithKline consumer health through Pinney Associates on an exclusive basis on issues related to tobacco dependence treatment.”

4 bratwurst  Fri, Jan 10, 2014 7:50:40pm

re: #3 jvic

The thrust of my comment related to Milov’s proposals about e-cigarettes.

Yet, you felt compelled to dispute that common sense and public health had scored a triumph against smoking anyway.

I quit smoking a long time ago. Regulation played no role in my decision. Information about the long-term effects did.

Great, so we are in agreement. We need to get a LOT more information about the health ramifications of e-cigs so users can make informed decisions.

I don’t know about you, but I am not interest in leaving this research to the private sector in general, and the people who profit from cigarettes of all description in particular. That leaves the FDA.

If they turn out to be perfectly safe and non-addictive, don’t regulate. If they addict and ultimately kill people, regulate.

5 jvic  Fri, Jan 10, 2014 9:40:51pm

re: #4 bratwurst

Yet, you felt compelled to dispute that common sense and public health had scored a triumph against smoking anyway.

Afaic Milov’s usage of ‘triumph’ is far too strong because my impression is that people like working-class smokers, who most need help with cessation, have benefited least from the public health programs. I’m not sure I could set up a better arrangement, but that doesn’t mean I endorse a victory lap. If Milov intended to set me nodding agreeably by introducing her article with ‘triumph’, she did not succeed.

Great, so we are in agreement. We need to get a LOT more information about the health ramifications of e-cigs so users can make informed decisions.

In the meantime and to a significant extent afterwards, it is none of the government’s legitimate business what I put into my body.

I don’t know about you, but I am not interest in leaving this research to the private sector in general, and the people who profit from cigarettes of all description in particular. That leaves the FDA.

I have worked on government projects and, without disputing its mission, am skeptical about the the FDA: less so than of the tobacco companies, but still skeptical. I’d like to see a consensus emerge from a variety of research, both interested and disinterested.

If they turn out to be perfectly safe and non-addictive, don’t regulate. If they addict and ultimately kill people, regulate.

That sounds reasonable although, per my already voiced opinion, the devil in such matters can lurk in the details. I’m for the government providing information to consumers, but afaic the government is usually overeager to regulate.

6 Just never mind.  Sat, Jan 11, 2014 5:41:22pm

Some e-cigs dispense nicotine, which is already a regulated substance.
And, there is BIG money headed into this “growth industry”.

7 lawhawk  Tue, Jan 14, 2014 11:28:06am

Frankly, I think the regulations prohibiting the advertising of tobacco products on television/media should be applied to e-cigarettes as well. Especially since they contain nicotine and their sustained use has yet to be fully studied for health purposes.

8 Political Atheist  Wed, Jan 15, 2014 8:52:26pm

Study first, then regulate based on the scientifically understood and documented risks. Regulate first and study later is a mistake. It need not take years.


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