Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

October 12, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Woody Allen has blocked release of his new film , Blue Jasmine, in India because the Indian government requires an anti-smoking ad to run concurrently with the smoking on screen while the film is running.

This policy response was developed after years of negotiation and litigation with Bollywood over the issue of smoking in the movies, in part as an alterative to giving smoking movies an mature audience rating (what Smoke Free Movies recommends).  

Blue Jasmine,' a PG-13 film with echoes of A Streetcar Named Desire, is the first of Allen's films released since India began enforcing movie-smoking rules last year. These rules aim to discourage the tobacco industry from exploiting Indian film and to lessen the harm to young audiences from tobacco imagery, no matter where it originates.

Mr. Allen's specifically objected to the warning text under smoking scenes that India requires. Of course, he could avoid the crawl by omitting the smoking. The choice he made should be respected.

At the same time we should applaud India for implementing policies to protect its youth from the effects of onscreen smoking and applying its policies to all films.

October 9, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Ling and Popova recently published "Alternative Tobacco Product Use and Smoking Cessation: A National Study" in American Journal of Public Health that , like earlier research, found  that an important reason that adults tried e-cigarettes (as well as smokeless products) was because they through they would help them quit smoking conventional cigarettes.

Ever use of e-cigarettes was not associated with being a successful quitter (OR 1.09; 95% CI 0.72-1.65) but was associated with being an unsuccessful quitter (OR=1.78, 95% CI 1.25-2.53) compared to people who had never tried to quit.

This evidence is from a cross-sectional study (i.e., a snapshot in time) rather than following the same people over time (a longitudinal study), so by itself does not allow making causal conclusions.  Taken with the two published longitudinal studies, one of which found that e-cig use had no effect on quitting and the other of which showed lower quit rates for e-cig users, it does add to the case that the loudly made claims that e-cigs help smokers quit are wrong.

October 5, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The Guardian reported on October 5, 2013, that Germany was preparing to oppose the strong "track and trace" provisions in the pending EU Tobacco Products Directive designed to make it much more difficult for the tobacco companies to smuggle cigarettes. 

The companies are pushing their own ineffective plan (called Codentify) as opposed to something that will actually crack down on smuggling.

This is not the first time that Germany has acted as Big Tobacco's agent to block EU action against tobacco.  As we described in detail in our 2002 paper "Tobacco industry strategies for influencing European Community tobacco advertising legislation" (published in Lancet), Germany worked hand-in-glove to push the tobacco companies' desired language.  We reported:

September 30, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Last January we submitted a public comment to FDA containing extensive documentation that ecig companies were making therapeutic claims by promoting ecigs for smoking cessation.

This is important because the court decision on FDA regulation of ecigs said that the agency could regulate them as medical devices if the companies made therapeutuc claims.  This means that the FDA can act now on this issue as an enforcement action rather than through the years-long (and getting ever longer) rulemaking process.

Last Friday (Sept 27, 2013) KRMG radio in Tulsa, OK, san a story, "Tulsa doctor touts e-cigarettes, invests in company:His company, Palm Beach Vapors, offers a special deal for smokers who want to quit," which said in part:

September 30, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Last week the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council wrote to California Attorney General Kamala Harris urging her to join the effort to ban menthol in cigarettes by, at a very minimum to "submit comments through the Docket asking the FDA to protect our children by banning the use of menthol in tobacco products."

Harris, who purports to care about health and children -- as well as being a high ranking African American political leader -- has been remarkably silent on the issue of menthol and tobacco control in general.

In addition to the importance of her providing general support on the menthol issue, as Attorney General of California she is well-positioned to address industry claims that a menthol ban would generate a black market in cigarettes.  California has strong policies designed to limit smuggling that she could describe as well as use to provide guidance on steps that the FDA could require to require tracking of tobacco products from the point on manufacture on as a way to block the alleged smuggling (which, after all, could only happen with the companies' tacit cooperation).

She could also make the point that an outright ban would be easier to enforce since any menthol cigarettes would be illegal.