Saturday, December 11, 2010

Anti-smokers . . . immoral and irresponsible

Last year, two distributors of e-cigs sued the FDA over their efforts to regulate the product as a drug delivery device. The two companies were granted an injunction barring the FDA from having US Customs seize shipments of e-cigarettes manufactured outside the country, most notably China.

The FDA, under heavy pressure from anti-smoker zealots, appealed the ruling. A number of anti-smoker organizations filed a brief of Amicus Curiae supporting the FDA appeal. Amicus Curiae, literally “friend of the court”, is someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it.

Anti-smoker groups supporting the FDA included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Washington Legal Foundation, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Legacy Foundation, the American Lunch Association, the American Medical Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Earlier this week, a US Appeals Court ruled that the FDA must regulate electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product, rather than a drug delivery device. Essentially, the ruling means the FDA can oversee the marketing of e-cigs, but not ban their sale as the zealots were demanding.

The anti-smoker crowd, of course, is up in arms over the ruling. And, several are clamoring for the FDA to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court.

What is apparent, is that neither the media nor the politicians seem interested in why the fanatics seem so determined to deprive smokers of an alternative to conventional cigarettes; one which could offer significant protection against the death and disease they attribute to smoking. After all, if smoking is a public health issue, shouldn't the anti-smokers crowd be embracing alternatives with the potential to greatly reduce the morbidity and mortality allegedly due to smoking?

One reason the anti-smoker forces are so vehemently opposed to the electronic cigarette is the belief that smokers will turn to e-cigs to cut back on smoking or quit rather than using NRT products (the patch, nicotine gum and lozenges, etc) sold by their partners in the pharmaceutical industry. They don't want the massive amounts of funding, invested by the drug companies for the war on smokers, jeopardized.

A second reason is that many of the fanatics are driven by their pure, unadulterated hatred of smoking and, by extension, smokers. They believe that the electronic cigarette will undermine their attempts to denormalize smokers. If smokers can use the e-cig to thwart their draconian smoking bans and punitive taxation, they may not be “encouraged” to quit.

The anti-smoker crowd believe e-cigarettes will addict new “nicotine” users (including children); former smokers may resume nicotine use through e-cigarettes, or; current smokers may attempt to use e-cigarettes for smoking cessation instead of FDA-approved products provided by the drug companies.

Also of concern to the zealots is the fact that “vaping”, as those inclined to use the e-cig refer to it, so closely resembles smoking. If smokers should switch to e-cigs in great numbers, public sightings of the imitation fags might make it more difficult for the zealots to convince the public that smoking is an abnormal behaviour.

In short, they view the e-cig as a threat to their utopian dream of a “smoker free” society.

But . . . despite punitive tobacco taxes, smoking bans, and open discrimination against smokers, there is a significant number of the population in the US, Canada and around the world who continue to smoke. And, it is unrealistic to assume that they can be forced into quitting any time in the near future.

The “perfect solution fallacy” assumes that a perfect solution to a problem, in this case the morbidity and mortality associated with smoking, exists, and that any solution which does not resolve the problem in its entirety should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist.

The zealots have taken a legitimate public health concern, smoking, and insist that the perfect solution is to have smokers quit. Unfortunately, to the fanatics, it has become the only acceptable solution, and they are prepared to use whatever means, fair or foul, to force smokers to give up their habit . . . for their own good, of course.

The anti-smoker position is completely devoid of logic or reason.

If the objective is to reduce the the morbidity and mortality associated with smoking, how can they object to a product which has been shown to reduce the use of conventional cigarettes, and helped many quit smoking entirely? How can they, in good conscience, ignore the significant health benefits which might accrue from substituting a product which has been stripped of the thousands of potentially toxic chemicals allegedly found in conventional cigarettes.

And, it has to be pointed out that this is not the first tobacco product with the potential to reduce the death and disease associated with smoking which has become a target of the zealots.

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that snus, and other smokeless tobacco products, may be much safer alternatives to smoking. Yet, the anti-smoker crowd has committed to opposing these products simply because they won't eliminate the professed problem in it's entirety.

The “quit or die” philosophy adopted by the fanatics runs counter to the stated objective of reducing the harm allegedly caused by smoking. Harm reduction, apparently, is not a concept with which the anti-smoker fanatics are familiar.

It's insane. The anti-smoker position is unethical, immoral and irresponsible; driven by an irrational hatred of smokers. Depriving smokers of acceptable alternatives to smoking is counter-productive and may be causing more death and disease than would otherwise occur.

So, why do politicians and policy makers continue to support their unholy crusade?


Anonymous said...

Just what part of the e-cig are 'they' hoping to ban ?
The battery ?
The atomiser ?
The cartridge ?
Many cartridges do not contain a trace of nicotine and are merely food glycerine flavoured
What can be 'banned' I wonder

bull smoke said...

heh! for all I know smoking or using electronic cigarettes is quite the same as using the standard cigars. But I am not sure about the results its offering.