Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Smoking is addictive; get help to quit?

It's said that, if you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually believe it. And, the bigger the lie, the more likely people will be to accept the falsehood as the truth. Nowhere is this bromide more apparent than in the Alice in Wonderland world of the anti-smoker.

For example, one of the common myths perpetuated by the anti-smoker crowd is that smoking is addictive, and that smokers are simply incapable of quitting on their own. They need help to quit. The concept of nicotine as addictive is re-invented with every incarnation of the holy crusade against smoking.

To be sure, the concept has been embellished upon, and exaggerated, through the years, but it's still the same old lie.

Nowadays, the anti-smoker crowd will tell you that nicotine is as addictive a substance as cocaine or heroin. Of course, to prove their theory, they had to redefine addiction. And, they've had to ignore (or conceal) all evidence to the contrary. But, because the public has been conditioned to believe the lie, through many decades of repetition, it was easy to sell them on the idea that smoking was as addictive as mainlining or snorting hard drugs.

To understand just how pervasive the lie has become, take the following statement: “Trying to quit the tobacco habit unaided is a losing fight against heavy odds, and means a serious shock to your nervous system. So don’t try it! Make the tobacco habit quit you. It will quit you if you just take Tobacco Redeemer according to directions.” Uh-Huh.

So, what is “Tobacco Redeemer”? A brand new smoking cessation product from Pfizer or Glaxo-Smith-Kline to add to their list of nicotine replacement therapies and anti-smoking drugs? Well, to be honest, I've been unable to find out much about the stuff. You see, the assertion comes from an ad in the December,1919 issue of Popular Mechanics. According to one source, it was a medicine manufactured by the Newell Pharmaceutical Co. of St. Louis, Missouri.

Surprising, isn't it, how long the anti-smoker fanatics have been with us? And, the snake oil salesmen peddling smoking cessation products are even more likely to be working for the pharmaceutical industry as they were ninety years ago.

And, the reason is simple. The pharmaceutical industry profits handsomely from the sale of smoking cessation products such as Zyban, Chantix and NRT products (or Tobacco Redeemer). Or, to reiterate another cliché: “Follow the money.”

I suspect that a full page ad in Popular Mechanics was just as expensive ninety years ago as the blurbs for smoking cessation products you see several times a night on TV. And, the manufacturers of Tobacco Redeemer were no more interested in public health than they are today. Their motivation then, as now, is profit.

To be sure, the pharmaceutical companies are riding the coattails of another growth industry – the anti-smoker cartel, but their motivation is the same; turn a profit and keep the shareholders happy. The massive funding of the anti-smoker movement by the drug companies is simply another marketing tactic. It's an investment they hope will pay off in increased sales.

The anti-smoker cartel created the need, quitting smoking, and the pharmaceutical industry is prepared to fill that need . . . and to fill corporate coffers at the same time.

Anti-smoker advocate Simon Chapman, noted in a recent article that: “In 2006, the global nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) market was estimated at $1.7 billion. The pharmaceutical industry places more messages about quitting in front of smokers than any other source: in the USA, smokers see 10.37 pharmaceutical cessation advertisements per month compared with 3.25 from health agency messages. The constant megaphoning of the idea that quitting requires drugs is causing a rather spurious tail to wag a large banished dog carrying an important message.”

That's a lot of advertising. And, $1.7 billion is a lot of sales.

But, as Chapman also points out in his article, “studies repeatedly show two thirds to three quarters of permanent ex-smokers stop unaided and about half find it easier than anticipated.” In other words, the vast majority of smokers who quit, did so without drugs.

Or, as Chapman says: “The good news on cessation is treated almost like a state secret. There are no campaigns highlighting that most ex-smokers quit unaided despite globally hundreds of millions having done so. Among my colleagues, unassisted cessation is rarely researched, instead framed in studies often funded by the pharmaceutical industry as a challenge to be eroded by persuading more to use drugs.”

But, the efficacy of smoking cessation products is even more dismal than Chapman admits. The failure rate of smoking cessation products has been estimated by some at more than 95%. (Quit Smoking)

Yet, the belief that it is difficult, if not impossible, to quit without help is being fraudulently perpetuated by the the anti-smoker cartel. The Canadian Cancer Society, Non-Smokers Rights Association, Physician for a Smokefree Canada and even government agencies like Health Canada, maintain the myth and actively promote the use of smoking cessation drugs.

It's a situation which can, and does, carry with it some serious negative consequences. The message, constantly repeated, is that giving up the habit requires medical intervention in the form of drug treatment. The message betrays the truth; the vast majority of quitters can do so on their own.

And, the constant repetition of the anti-smoker mantra makes it all the more difficult, for those who wish to do so, to quit. The message subverts their confidence in their own inner strength, forcing them into an unnecessary drug regimen.

Unfortunately, the truth also undermines the marketing strategies of the pharmaceutical industry. And, any drop in sales of smoking cessation drugs jeopardizes the funding of the anti-smoker industry. So . . .

The myth lives on.


Richard 23 said...

I really appreciate your blog. When I first found it I went back through around a year of material. So keep it up, not enough people seem all that concerned about the constant encroachment of basic human liberty.

Since legislators legislate (because they want to be seen as doing something) and they tend to legislate crap (do not do laws mostly), shouldn't there be a periodic flushing of stagnant statutes.

Legislation added after a nation's founding should be dumped every 20 years (or some other period). This would hopefully end the brainless "it's the law" arguments used to pretend that stupid laws are justified. It would also hopefully force politicians to keep justifying stupid legislation. I would hope a few rounds of stupid justifications would give people a chance to figure it out.

What is your take on DARPA's latest project. What in the world are they trying to do? First the Internet, and now sainthood for the tobacco plant? What gives?


The Pentagon’s after a better way to strike back against infectious diseases and bio-threats. Now, a team at Texas A&M may have come up with a way to turn tobacco plants into vaccine-making machines.

Hmmm.... wut?

The Old Rambler said...

Re: Richard 23

For readers who may be unfamiliar with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), it's the R & D arm of the US Department of Defense. Their mission appears to be to turn science fiction concepts into reality. And they apparently have a multi-billion dollar budget to fund some pretty far-out projects.

I'm afraid I must admit to a measure of ignorance of the organization and their current (and past) projects. However, it's not surprising that the DOD would be interested in the beneficial properties of the tobacco plant and would be conducting research in this area to develop defense mechanisms against bio-terrorism (or perhaps to develop their own weaponry).

The pharmaceutical industry has been conducting experiments for years into tobacco derived drugs which might alleviate or control the symptoms of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other medical conditions.

Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

About nicotine being non-addictive, or at least not of the nature the anti-smoking industry likes to make claim.

A hypnotist who offers quit smoking therapy to his clients and quite successful in his quit rate once told me that the anti-smoking industry is well aware nicotine is non-addictive and tobacco manufacturers are well aware that it is only by adding sugar to tobacco products they are able to make people have cravings.

It is the sugar he said, which when one smokes or chews, makes it very much like having a candy bar or any other large jolt of sugar, only in the case of it being mixed in with tobacco, the sugar jolt goes directly to the bloodstream very quickly - and it is that, not the nicotine, which causes cravings.

He also told me that NRTs don't work, are ineffective and the tobacco control people know that it's ineffective.

That's just a little insider-secret from someone working inside the anti-smoking industry told me and I only assume he knew what he was talking about, perhaps things they conference about when they go to meetings, discuss, much like the global-warming people discuss ways to hide the truth while saying something else in the public forums.

Richard 23 said...

Well one of the practical things that DARPA was involved in that most people know about is DARPANET, it eventually became popular with scientists and researchers and eventually went commercial: I think it's called the Internet or something now. The original name in 1962 was catchier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergalactic_Computer_Network

But using "far out" to describe DARPA, that's a bit of an understatement. I'm sure that the public only hears about the sexy stuff, but I've read writeups of some of the really crazy stuff.

With the kind of budget they've got and the seemingly impractical and crazy (not necessarily psychotic) nature of the projects, I can't help but think that DARPA is actually an asylum for those with an aptitude to become super villains, those who didn't go on to work in modern tobacco control anyway, who if not kept busy working on their mad scientist stuff would have tried to take over the world with a shrinking ray or something. And since it's under the Defense Department (formerly the War Department) the security around the mads is played off like it's to keep classified material secret instead of keeping the world safe from the next Riddler.

I'll just conclude this silly aside with a final stat on DARPA now: 522 pages of unclassified projects for 2010-2011. Busy bees.

Actually one more bit on the tobacco angle, there's bound to be a genetic reason for the plant choice, but it would have to make some anti-smoker heads explode if genetically tweaked tobacco became a major saver of lives, and that alone is a net good. But I'm not all that keen on the risk that unintended consequences of tinkering with genes might possibly bring. So far I haven't been asked my opinion by the people being paid to tinker. Still waiting....

Anyway, keep writing, I'll be back again and again. Thanks!