Tuesday’s News at a glance:
Still Screaming – Science Lesson: The Optimal Tax Rate for Vapor is Zero – The British Psychological Society endorses vaping – Why I’m tempted to attend the 2017 E-Cigarette Summit – Use science to inform public policy in matter of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices – Promise or Threat for India? – NSP Daily Digest
Facts Do Matter
It’s been about a month since the announcement of a lot of cash being spent (transparently mind, unlike tobacco control) to further support research into harm reduction products which caused quite a stir within the tobacco control industry. Much to mine, and several others, delight.
As far as it is understood, Phillip Morris – who right now is trying to cosy up to public health (and failing miserably – take note vapers) – are going to be shovelling a rather large amount of cash into this initiative. Rather large equating to approximately 80M US Greenback.
Carl V. Phillips, Daily Vaper
An ongoing debate in legislatures and academic papers is what should be the excise tax on vapor products. It turns out that answering this is really quite easy once the goal is specified. However, almost all the debate seems to be assertions of personal opinions, devoid of calculations.
The first lesson in this science lesson is, well, that this is a matter of science. Many people who would not make the mistake of asserting mere personal opinion about whether an exposure causes cancer or the age of the Earth do make that mistake when it comes to economics. This is partially explained by the same words being used for both assertions of political opinion (“it is morally fair to impose high taxes on the rich”) and hypotheses can be tested scientifically (“imposing high taxes on the rich will slow economic growth”). This is made worse because tobacco policy discussions seldom separate any scientific analysis from personal opinion.
Once we specify an objective for taxing vapor products, which is a matter of opinion, the optimal tax level can be calculated. That is not a matter of opinion.
Dr Colin Mendelsohn
The British Psychological Society has just released a statement supporting the role of e-cigarettes for helping smokers to quit.
The report states that ‘success rates in those attempting to quit, even with the use of proven effective methods such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or other pharmacotherapies (e.g. bupropion, varenicline), remains very low’. As a result many smokers want to quit but are unable to do so.
Quitting smoking is a priority for people with mental illness. Although smoking may seem to be relaxing, it actually increases stress levels and ex-smokers are more relaxed and happier after they quit.
Simon Clark, Taking Liberties
Dick Puddlecote has posted a damning indictment of the E-Cigarette Summit on his blog.
Echoing many of my own views about this annual event, Dick highlights the lack of consumer involvement and concludes:
Basically, the whole day will be a load of people who mostly don’t vape or smoke talking about what to do to people who do. In other words, yet another public health conference, and all the more pointless for it. Still, it’ll suit tobacco controllers not to have to field any awkward questions, and further prove that this sphere of policy is now controlled, dictated and owned by ‘public health’.
From a promising beginning in 2013 (which I wrote about here), the E-Cigarette Summit has become yet another forum that allows public health campaigners to dictate the terms of the debate.
— Dick Puddlecote (@Dick_Puddlecote) October 10, 2017
In his commentary, “Singapore should aim to be smoke-free, not just smoke-lite” (Oct 5), Dr Chia Kee Seng said that “emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn cigarettes… are no less harmful than cigarettes”.
There are now credible, rigorous, published, peer-reviewed scientific studies that indicate that heat-not-burn devices (HNBs) and e-cigarettes are materially safer than cigarettes.
Notably, there are no credible published studies that conclude that HNBs and e-cigarettes are as damaging as cigarettes.
Mawsley, Planet of the Vapes
A new study poses the simple question: “E-cigarettes: promise or threat?” It is a question is demanding an urgent answer given that moves are afoot to deny Indian smokers access to a technology that represents around 5% of the risk of smoking traditional tobacco products.
The paper opens up with the grim reality of the situation: “The biggest public health threat the world has ever faced is the tobacco epidemic. It kills more than 7 million people a year, of which approximately 1 million deaths occur in India.”
The article has been written by Arun Nachiappan, Nottingham University Hospitals, and T. S. Selvavinayagam, Institute of Community Medicine at the Madras Medical College. In it they give credit to the work politicians have already done in tackling the tobacco-related death toll: “India has been successful in bringing down the use of tobacco among adults from 34.6% (14% smokers) in 2009-10 to 28.6% (11% smokers) in 2016-17”. What is of great concern is that “India seems to be edging towards a total ban.”