Saturday, August 29, 2009

Evaluating Health Canada smoking statistics

Many readers will be aware that I have little faith in the smoking related statistics postulated by the anti-smoker brigade. I believe they've been grossly exaggerated and manipulated to the point where they're totally unreliable.

Last year, two long-time members of the housing co-op in which I live were diagnosed with lung cancer. Both are in their early seventies. As might be expected, the prognosis is not good for either of them.

One is male, a never smoker who was not exposed to secondhand smoke to any significant degree. He worked most of his life in a smoke-free environment (a school) and his now grown children never smoked in the house. He took care of himself, and up until a year or so back, still rode his bicycle on a regular basis.

The other, a female, has been smoking since she was a teenager in Northern Ireland many years ago. Her sister, also a resident of the co-op and a heavy smoker, died a few years back from the same dread disease. She continues to smoke. In fact, when doctors suggested she move into a palliative care facility, to make her remaining life a little easier, she refused. “Not bloody likely,” she told them, “they'll take me fags away.”

One of these two people will become a statistic; a smoking attributable death. As a smoker, she will be stigmatized in death, as she was in life. But what about the non-smoker, the male who never smoked a cigarette in his life? Will he too become a statistic? The answer, apparently, is yes.

Health Canada determines smoking attributable deaths by calculating an SAF (Smoking Attributable Fraction) which is applied to all lung cancer deaths whether the deceased was a smoker, a former smoker or a never smoker. The last report compiled for Health Canada (based on 2002 data from StatCan) indicates that the SAF for males was 88.6%.

So, if, or perhaps more accurately, when, my neighbours succumb to lung cancer, the man who never smoked a cigarette in his life will have 88.6% of his death attributed to smoking. The lifelong smoker will have 62.5% of her death attributed to smoking (the SAF for women). At an individual level, it's an absurd proposition, since only one of these lung cancer deaths can reasonably be associated with smoking.

Using an SAF means that for every 1,000 male smokers who die of lung cancer, 886 can be attributed to smoking. Likewise, for every 1,000 former smokers who die, 886 will be attributed to smoking. And, yes, for every lung cancer death experienced by those who have never smoked, the same number, 886, will be attributed to smoking. Uh-huh. 886 out of every 1,000 lung cancer deaths among those who have never smoked will be attributed to smoking.

Of course, this means that 2, 658 (3,000 X 88.6%) of those three thousand lung cancer deaths would be attributed to smoking, even though the maximum number that could reasonably have died as a result of smoking was 2,000, the combined total of smokers and former smokers. The numbers are inflated by statistical chicanery.

First, they estimate the relative risk through epidemiological studies. The Lung Cancer Alliance claims smokers face a risk of contracting lung cancer that is 23 times higher than those who have never smoked. Former smokers carry a Relative Risk of 9 according to the Lung Cancer Alliance.

Then, using a complicated mathematical equation, they calculate a smoking attributable fraction which is then applied to all lung cancer deaths, regardless of the actual smoking status of the deceased. But, doing so raises the possibility of serious error in the calculation of smoking related deaths, as noted in the 3,000 deaths scenario. Using this kind of statistical model can lead to an inflated, and misleading, number of deaths attributed to smoking.

A statistician would likely argue that, if the relative risks estimated in the epidemiological studies are accurate and the smoking prevalence rates estimated in telephone surveys are accurate, then the statistics derived from these data should provide an accurate snapshot of the number of deaths that could be attributed to smoking population wide.

And, being neither an epidemiologist nor a statistician I would be hard pressed to argue the fine points of statistical analysis. But . . .

First off, it's not really the mathematical precision of the calculations which concerns me. But, the reality is that the smoking related statistics Health Canada postulates as fact have never been verified. They are statistical deaths, based on assumptions that may, or may not, be accurate.

For example, up until November, 2007, estimates of smoking attributable mortality were based on 1998 mortality data. SAM (Smoking Attributable Mortality) was estimated to be 47,581, or according to Health Canada, 21% of all deaths recorded in that year. In 2007, Health Canada quietly revised these figures downwards to 37, 203, or 16.6% of total deaths.

Overnight, with the simple stroke of a pen, there were over 10,000 fewer deaths attributable to smoking. But, there was no change in the number of actual deaths. The change was in the statistical deaths attributed to smoking.

The reason – faulty data.

Health Canada had been using data from CPS-II, an American study, which they had been criticized for using for many years. Said Health Canada of the modification: “Thus, direct application of a large US survey to the Canadian population may not be appropriate.“ Uh-huh.

Knowing that inappropriate figures from a US study were used to generate what turned out to be grossly inflated numbers of smoking related deaths does not exactly inspire confidence in Health Canada's statistics. And, knowing that 88.6% of lung cancer deaths among those who have never smoked will be attributed to smoking also contributes to a degree of skepticism.

But, I'll have more to say on their damnable statistics in my next post.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Smoking bans & casino workers in Pennsylvania

1,771 Casino Employees in PA Will Die from Secondhand-Smoke Illnesses, New PACT Study Says.” So claims the headline of a press release issued by the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT). It's dated October 15, 2007, and provides a media resource list; Joy Blankley Meyer, Executive Director of PACT; Deborah P. Brown, Vice President, Community Outreach and Advocacy, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic; and James Repace of Repace Associates.

Of course, the “almost 1,800” won't all die at once. Reading the full text you find out that it will take 40 years, at 44 non-smokers a year, for those non-smoking casino workers to die from exposure to secondhand smoke. But, that's still a lot of non-smokers dying from that nasty old secondhand smoke. If, in fact, they were non-smokers.

According to the October 15 press release: “Within the next few years, the five currently licensed casinos will employ approximately 10,000 people. Of those 10,000 people, 1,771 nonsmokers — or 44 nonsmokers per year — will die during the subsequent 40 years specifically as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

But, did those casinos actually hire only non-smokers? That's the inference of the statement.

I came across this item while looking for information on a claim made on another anti-smoker site. The claim was that “six out of every 10,000 nonsmoking Pennsylvania casino workers will die each year because of exposure to secondhand smoke.” The claim referred to a study conducted by “internationally renowned secondhand smoke scientist James Repace.”

So, I followed the link to the study. And, sure enough, the Repace study concluded:
“SHS-induced heart disease and lung cancer will cause an estimated 6 Pennsylvania casino workers' deaths annually per 10 000 at risk, 5-fold the death rate from Pennsylvania mining disasters. Casinos should not be exempt from smoke-free workplace laws.”

Only six non-smokers a year? But, that's only 240 non-smokers who will die from secondhand smoke over the next 40 years. That's a far cry from 1,771 claimed in the press release from PACT. And, even the 240 non-smoker deaths over the next 40 years is predicated on the assumption that all employees of casinos in Pennsylvania are non-smokers.

So, just how many people did those five casinos employ? They obviously weren't up to 10,000 in 2007.Time for another Google search.

I didn't find the employment figures for the Pennsylvania casinos. But I did find a number of links to the “1,771 non-smoking casino workers” who were about to die from secondhand smoke.

But, wait a minute. One link was a little different; it claimed the 1,800 deaths may have been over-stated.

It seems Jacob Sullum over at had noticed a discrepancy between the October 15 press release and a second press release issued only three days later by the same bunch of anti-smoker fanatics (including the internationally renowned secondhand smoke scientist, James Repace).

The second press release was dated October 18, 2007. In three days, employment at the casinos had increased to 12,000. The additional 2,000 were, apparently, non-smokers. But, don't be concerned; smokers are becoming used to discrimination in employment.

But, the second press release was claiming only 300 dead non-smoking casino workers over the next forty years, or eight non-smoking deaths annually. In only three days they managed to save 1,500 non-smokers from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. And, they did it with the stroke of a pen.

The fact is that both press releases were almost identical, except for the numbers.

In the first (Oct 15), James Repace is quoted as saying: “Twenty times OSHA’s Significant Risk Level will eventually kill 44 casino workers every year. This is comparable to the total number of deaths from coal mine disasters in 2006 – and we all appreciate that coal mining can be a dangerous job.”

In the second (Oct 18), the Repace quote is:
“Twenty Seven times OSHA’s Significant Risk Level will eventually kill 8 casino workers every year. By comparison, between 1995 and 2002, 16 miners died in Pennsylvania mine disasters, or about 2 per year. We all appreciate that coal mining can be a dangerous job,”

And, although PACT, the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic and Repace Associates issued a new press release, with revised numbers, the original, with the gross exaggerations, is still being widely circulated on the web.

And, by the way, did you think to look at the date on the Repace study I quoted from earlier. It was apparently published in the American Journal of Public Health in August, 2009. In fact, the AJPH indicates the study was published online, ahead of print, on June 18, 2009. It contains a similar reference to Pennsylvania coal miners as the quote attributed to Repace from the PACT press releases.

But, the PACT press releases were issued in October, 2007, and were based on a “new study”, presumably by Repace. Do these guys get extra credit for publishing the same “scientific” study in multiple journals?

Go ahead. Ask me again why I refer to the rantings of the anti-smoker cult as bullshit and bafflegab.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smoking – a loosely defined addiction?

In China, a fifteen-year-old boy was allegedly beaten to death at a training camp designed as a rehabilitation facility for the treatment of internet addiction. Uh-huh. Chinese officials, apparently, believe there is a growing problem of wwweb addiction among teenagers and are taking steps to deal with the pandemic. In fact, rehab facilities for internet addicts appears to be a growth industry.

A pandemic, of course, is an epidemic on steroids, one that has spread beyond national borders, often affecting entire continents, or even the world. That's serious shit.

And, I hope Health Canada is taking appropriate action to prevent the spread of this gruesome affliction into Canada. We certainly don't need another addiction. I mean, we already have problems with drug addiction, caffeine addiction, video game addiction, work addiction, compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, alcoholism, nicotine addiction, pornography addiction, etc.

The point I'm trying to make is that addiction has become a grossly overused (and abused) word.

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines addiction as
“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”

Their medical definition says it's a: “compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful.”

But, I'm not convinced that smoking, so called nicotine dependency, fills all the requisites usually associated with addiction.

For example, drug addiction and alcoholism are usually associated with an intoxicating effect which reduces cognitive skills, impairs judgment, and adversely affects motor responses; smoking does none of those things. It's unheard of for anyone to be arrested for driving under the influence of tobacco. And, airline pilots and commercial drivers are not prohibited from flying or driving after having a smoke as they are after using illegal drugs like heroin or prescription drugs like Chantix.

Drug addiction is also strongly linked to deviant behaviour and criminal activity. Drug addicts are known to steal and engage in prostitution to feed their habit. I would suggest that young women (or men) are unlikely to sell their body to feed a tobacco habit.

And, despite claims to the contrary, smoking cessation is unlikely to cause “severe trauma”. It may be difficult for many people to break the habit, but to suggest quitting smoking can be as traumatic as heroin withdrawal or the DTs is ridiculous.

Says Health Canada about quitting:
“More than half of all people who have ever smoked in Canada have already quit smoking. This includes men and women of all ages and all levels of addiction. “

The fact is that there are more former smokers in Canada than there are current smokers. Far more. According to Health Canada, 21.8% of females and 26.3% of males smoked in 2002. But, their 2002 report on smoking related mortality also showed that 37.8% of women and 44.6% of men over the age of 15 were former smokers.

That means roughly 8 million Canadians were former smokers. And, the vast majority, perhaps as many as 95% managed to quit cold turkey, without smoking cessation aids; without taking up residence in a drug rehab facility or detox centre. Equating the smoking habit to heroin or alcohol addiction is just so much bullshit and bafflegab.

The simple truth: smoking has been declared an undesirable behaviour by the anti-smoker cult. And, everybody knows undesirable behaviour has to be corrected or eliminated. Branding smokers as poor, addicted misfits satisfies the anti-smoker strategy of denormalizing smokers.

The intent is to create feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety; to convince the smoker he or she is a hopeless failure who needs to be converted from their wicked ways and to seek salvation. And, the road to salvation begins with a visit to the local drug store to stock up on Nicoderm, Nicorettes and candy-flavoured nicotine lozenges.

“Nicotine replacement therapy provides the body with nicotine - generally in the form of a gum or patch - without the other harmful parts of tobacco. These aids can help a person concentrate more on quitting the habit of smoking by relieving the symptoms of withdrawal.” (Health Canada)

Health Canada notes that, in addition to possibly creating a chemical dependency,
“Smoking is also a learned behaviour. We begin to learn or associate things such as the way we hold or light a cigarette or take it out of the package with the pleasant feelings or sense of relief that it brings us.”

So, to cure the nicotine dependency, the anti-smoker cult prescribes nicotine. To cure the habit of smoking, they dictate a bizarre experiment in behavioural modification called denormalization.

I wonder how Health Canada will treat the deadly internet addiction.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Whoops !

On Friday, I erroneously stated that bans on tobacco displays had been implemented in Scotland and the UK. It seems I may have jumped the gun. That legislation is still pending and, as yet, has not been approved by parliament.

However, my comments about some public health and/or tobacco control groups misleading the House of Lords are no less valid.

For a very thorough analysis of the subject of my post, I would refer readers to an article on Spiked, by Patrick Basham. The piece is titled “
Displaying the truth about policymaking, Newly released correspondence shows how UK government tobacco policy is being created by anti-tobacco groups”,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Anti-smokers deceive Britain's House of Lords

The United Kingdom recently implemented a ban on tobacco displays in retail outlets across the country . According to the anit-smoker crowd, bans on tobacco displays reduce smoking prevalence among children. There's nothing new about this strategy, similar bans have been put in place in Scotland and Canada. In fact, the Canadian ban was used to justify implementation of the ban in Scotland earlier this year.

Unfortunately, the Canadian information they relied on was not exactly . . . er, accurate. OK, OK. Screw it, the bastards lied.

Some MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) had claimed that teenage smoking prevalence rates fell after the display of tobacco products was made illegal in Canada. But, as I pointed out in an April 16, 2009 post, Canada’s most populous province (Ontario) only approved their ban on power walls in May, 2008, not 2002 as claimed by anti-smoker elements. In fact, bans on retail tobacco displays were implemented in only three provinces and one territory between 2002 and 2007. And, the three provinces were among the least populated in the country.

More recently (July, 2009), Sheila Duffy of ASH (Scotland), claimed in an letter to the editor of the Grocer that: “In Canada, where the Tobacco Reporting Regulations require full disclosure of tobacco industry marketing spend, publicly available figures show tobacco companies’ payments to retailers have increased steadily over recent years, despite a majority of provinces implementing display ban legislation.”

Ms. Duffy was trying to convince the politicians (and the public) that removing the displays would cost small retailers nothing; that the tobacco industry would take care of them just as they had in Canada.

But, the tobacco companies had been paying Canadian retailers for in-store displays; to guarantee their products were featured prominently in retail outlets. Those payments ceased when the displays were banned. And, the tobacco companies weren't interested in paying to convert the advertising displays to plain white walls where they were prohibited from showing even a company logo.

The claim that tobacco company payments had continued “despite a majority of provinces implementing display ban legislation” was simply untrue.

So the anti-smoker crowd resorted to their standard tactic when disseminating disinformation. They simply kept repeating the lie.

An “anonymous” letter writer in the same publication (The Grocer) stated clearly and unequivocally: “The Canadian Government requires the tobacco industry to report its advertising and marketing payments to retailers, so we know for sure that over the past decade or so, total payments to retailers have almost doubled in spite of tobacco display bans having been introduced across most of the country. Canadian retailers now receive more money from the tobacco industry than they did before the display bans came into effect. Why should things be any different here?”

But, Canadian retailers did not receive more money after the bans; payments to retailers ceased when the ban was imposed. The claim was, once again, an out and out lie.

But, apparently, there is evidence of an even greater deception by the anti-smoker crowd. New evidence suggests the British House of Lords was deliberately provided with inaccurate information during consideration of a Bill to ban in-store tobacco displays.

One of the concerns being addressed by the House of Lords was the cost of retrofitting the tobacco displays in convenience stores and other retail tobacco outlets to comply with the proposed new law. UK shop-keepers had anticipated that the cost to build and install new display cabinets would be £1,000 and likely more; a hefty sum of money for a small business.

The anti-smoking lobby had to convince the House of Lords that the cost would be considerably less and would impose no undue financial burden on small retail establishments. So they manipulated data provided by a Canadian supplier to establish a ridiculously low price of £120 to £200 per unit. And, then they passed this misinformation on to the peers in the House of Lords before they voted on the pending legislation.

What is most disconcerting about this rather shameless propaganda effort is the agencies involved. These included the UK Department of Health, CRUK (Cancer Research United Kingdom) and ASH (UK).

Author Christoper Snowdon, after obtaining a number of e-mails exchanged by these agencies through the Freedom of Information Act, has unraveled the litany of lies and deception in an article called “the Dark Market”. It's an excellent piece which exposes how the anti-smoker element manipulate data and obscure the truth to achieve political goals.

After reading Snowdon's article, it should be easy to understand why I take anything and everything the anti-smoker cult (including government agencies) have to say with a grain of salt.

Anti-smoker bullshit and bafflegab at its finest.
Whoops: It seem I screwed up. I've been informed that neither Scotland nor the UK have actually approved legislation to ban in-store tobacco displays. My apologies to readers who were misled by my confusion. The Rambler

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are smokers unfit parents?

Nurse Goodbody watched intently as the pretty six-year old said good-bye to the well-dressed young couple. The child was positively beaming as she watched her prospective new parents disappear around the corner of the building.

Goodbody smiled and held out a beckoning hand to the youngster. “A perfect match”, she thought.

Melissa skipped across the polished marble floor and grasped Goodbody's out-stretched hand. “They're nice.” she said enthusiastically.

“I'm sure they are.” said Goodbody. “Let's go see Miss Cratchit and see what she has to say. Maybe she'll have some good news for you”

And, with that, they skipped hand in hand to the office of the hospice administrator.

Goodbody's happiness for what she perceived as Melissa's good fortune was short-lived. In fact, it ended before she had fully entered the administrator's office.

“I thought I asked you to do a thorough background check on the Tuttle's.” demanded an angry Miss Cratchit.

“I . . . did . . .” Goodbody hesitated, unsure of the reason for the obvious anger in Cratchit's voice.

Her investigation had turned up nothing sinister in the background of either Mr. or Mrs. Tuttle. The couple was childless, both were hard-working and well respected in their community. And, they wanted desperately to adopt a child. Neither drank anything other than an occasional glass of wine and neither had a criminal record; not even a paring ticket. What could she have missed?

“They're smokers!” snapped Cratchit, spitting out the word smokers as if it were a synonym for pedophile. “Do you really want to place a child with those foul smelling degenerates?”

“They're nice.” Interjected Melissa defensively. “And, Mrs. Tuttle smells good.”

She had no real understanding of what was happening. She didn't even know what a smoker was. But, judging from Miss Cratchit's tone of voice, it must be something bad. And, she knew instinctively that her dreams of having a real Mommy and Daddy of her own were about to be put on hold.

“And, I know they liked me,” she continued, her voice quivering; pleading. “She said I was bootiful, and she wants to help me with my homework and give me a room of my own and everything."

“You'll understand why we can't let you go with the Tuttle's when you're older, Melissa.” Cratchit ignored the tears welling up in the young girl's eyes. Then, turning to Goodbody, she said: “Take Melissa back to class. You and I will discuss this matter later.”

Noting the finality in Cratchit's voice, Goodbody once again offered her hand to the now sobbing child. There would be no skipping along the hallway as the two made their way to Melissa's classroom.

Such is the world of the anti-smoker; peeking at life through the distorting lens of a peephole, unable to see more than a tiny fragment of the big picture at any given point in time or space. So fixated are they on the eradication of smokers, they are oblivious to the very real damage they inflict on those they claim to protect.

A recent
article on Wales Online says a council in Wales has imposed a blanket ban on smokers adopting or fostering children It's not the first jurisdiction in Britain to ban smokers from becoming foster or adoptive parents. But, most such bans have usually (though not always) been restricted to children under the age of five. The new Welsh ban is extended to all children and young people.

Roslyn Rees is head of operational children’s services at Merthyr Tydfil council, which took this extreme, and in all probability counter-productive, action since potential foster parents are in short supply. Said Rees: “The health, safety and well-being of children and young people are at the heart of policies and practice related to children."

Uh-huh. The health, safety and well being of the children obviously does not include their emotional or psychological needs. Can't have smokers providing a loving home for these youngsters and maybe subjecting them to the mostly illusory hazards of secondhand smoke. Better to confine the kids to an institutional setting until they can find “decent” parents.

The incoherent decision by the Merthyr Tydfil council, branding smokers as unfit for parenting, maligns the character of every smoking parent in recent history, no matter how conscientious they may have been in nurturing their children and providing for their needs. The anti-smokers have decided that, even with no real evidence of harm; some people are unfit to be parents simply because they smoke.

The rabidly anti-smoker group, ASH (Wales), welcomed the news, claiming removal of smokers from the list of prospective care-givers and adoptive parents was “a step in the right direction.” Will the next step in the “right direction” be to demand that natural parents quit smoking or run the risk of losing custody of their offspring?

The contempt for smokers is both irrational and appalling. Using innocent children as pawns in their de-normalization campaign against smokers is simply disgusting.

Additional reading:
Welsh Council Bans Smokers from Adopting or Fostering Children

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Could big pharma cash in on FDA ban on e-cigs

The distinguished looking gentleman put aside the magazine he'd been reading as the newcomer pulled out a chair and sat down.

“So, what have we come up with by way of a name for this new smoking cessation aid?” the man asked his new companion while sipping on his Chivas on-the-rocks.

“It's to be called the BreakFree Inhalator.” said the well-dressed young man . “I'd have preferred something a little more catchy, but the marketing gurus say BreakFree will be just fine.

They've advised us to avoid anything remotely sounding like “nicotine”; they want to avoid any connection with currently marketed products like Nicoderm or Nicorettes which are immediately associated with the pharmaceutical industry. That could be a drawback since the potential market will be comprised mainly of current smokers.

They wanted something that suggests freedom. BreakFree, for example, suggests a struggle with the evil tobacco plant. The marketing campaign would go something like: Liberate yourself from the deadly smoking habit with the BreakFree Inhalator, the latest hi-tech innovation in smoking cessation.”

The younger man paused as a pretty young waitress approached the table.

“CC and Seven.” He told her, smiling. She returned his smile with one of her own and, turning away, went to fetch the drink for the newcomer.

As the waitress moved away, the young man resumed. “And, of course, they suggest we avoid the term “electronic cigarette” as much as possible. It's to be referred to as a new, high tech smoking cessation device.”

“That makes sense”, the older man interrupted. “Our, er . . . anti-smoking allies have done a pretty thorough job of discrediting the e-cig in the eyes of the public; perhaps too thorough. How do we counteract all that negative publicity?”

“That may not be as difficult as you think.” countered the young man. “The FDA's opposition to the e-cig is predicated on the fact that the manufacturers and distributors have not proven that their product is safe or obtained FDA approval. As a well-established pharmaceutical company, we can provide the “proof” they say they need; remember, we already have approval for our other smoking cessation products; an established history, if you will.

Then there's all the fuss being raised by some anti-smoking elements who think the e-cig represents the best bet to reduce the health risks associated with smoking. We just tell the public that, after further study, we find the e-cig is not as hazardous as first thought, as long as proper quality control measures are adopted.”

“And, of course, the drug industry can provide the most effective quality control standards.” the older man interjected, “And, by moving manufacturing capacity to the good old USA, we can negate any criticism stemming from the fact that the e-cig is manufactured in China.”

“You got it, DJ.” chuckled the younger man. “The manufacturing facility is geared up and ready to go. We'll use the same distribution network that's in place for our other products. And, a multi-faceted media campaign is ready to be unleashed. In a few months we can have the BreakFree Inhalator available in every drugstore in North America.”

There was a brief lull in the conversation as the waitress returned with the younger man's drink.

As the waitress disappeared again, the older man asked. “But what about our friends in public health. They've gone to some lengths to demonize the e-cig. Won't they be a little pissed off when we introduce a similar product?”

“Maybe,” the younger man replied, “but do we really care? As long as they continue to get funding for their anti-smoking agenda, they won't get too indignant.”

“Besides”, he explained, “we've already taken care of their main objections. Initially, the BreakFree Inhalator will be available only by prescription. That eliminates their opposition based on the availability to kids. We can demonstrate that our new device is just as safe as our current, FDA approved, smoking cessation products. At this point in time we don't plan to market the Inhalator cartridges in flavours other than menthol. That's a year or so down the road. Public Health can easily save face by claiming that all their concerns have been addressed.”

“And,” he continued, “there's the added bonus that they've been actively promoting our other smoking cessation aids and drugs. They'll have little choice but to promote the Inhalator once we've “proven” it to be safe, effective and subject to strict quality control standards.”

“But, what about their criticism that it mimics the act of smoking? Won't we catch a little flak over that?” queried the older man.

“I don't think they'll get too vocal about it. A subtle hint that we might consider reducing or eliminating their funding should do the trick. They'll come around to our way of thinking.” The younger man was grinning broadly. “And, remember, unlike the e-cig, the Inhalator is meant for smoking cessation. People won't be smoking; they'll be quitting . . . using our new hi-tech smoking cessation device.”

The younger man's broad grin grew even broader.

“I like it.” chuckled the older man. “There really is a sucker born every minute.”


To the best of my knowledge. No such meeting has ever taken place. But, then again, it might have. And, if it did, it might explain recent efforts by the FDA to discredit the e-cig and prevent its distribution to the public. Nor should it imply a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical industry. They would simply be taking advantage of a potentially lucrative business opportunity.

And, the FDA would come out smelling like a rose. It would effectively stifle criticism by anti-smoking activists who think the e-cig has the potential to save lives. They stopped the distribution of those chinese-made, cancer causing e-cigs and provided consumers with a safer, more suitable, alternative.

On that front, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan is the latest anti-smoking advocate to criticize FDA attempts to ban the electronic cigarette. In a Washington Times article she says: “In making its distorted, incomplete and misleading statement, FDA was violating its long-cherished tradition of sticking to sound science as the basis for its policies. And in doing so, it is putting the lives and health of millions of Americans at risk.”

Think about it. Could a major pharmaceutical company overcome FDA opposition to the e-cig and obtain their stamp of approval? Remember, stranger things have happened in the Orwellian world of the anti-smoker.