Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

December 29, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

I was recently asked to put together one page on this issue to help with discussions with the USTR.  In case it is useful to others, here is what I said.  (PDF version)
·         Noncommunicable diseases are the dominant health problem of the 21st Century and most of these diseases are the result of promotion and consumption of unhealthy products (tobacco, obesity-inducing foods, alcohol to excess)
·         These products are profitable to sell, especially for transnational corporations
·         Reducing the health impacts (and attendant impacts on health costs and the economy) requires regulating these products
o   Such regulation will almost certainly reduce profits of these companies
o   There is little dispute that public health officials, and state and national officials, have the power to enact and implement such regulations generally, though particular measures can be contested.
o   Trade agreements toss an exogenous barrier into the mix, requiring that regulations avoid even inadvertent “discrimination” against businesses, based on their country of origin. 

December 19, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

There is no question that e-cigarettes pollute the air, so it makes complete sense that they be included in clean indoor air laws, as New York City did yesterday.

In response, there is a lot of overheated rhetoric coming out of ecig advocates that doing so is banning ecigs and depriving them of these "life saving" devices that helped them quit smoking cigarettes.

Leaving aside the fact that population-based studies of ecigarettes consistently show that adults and kids who use smoke ecigs are less (not more) likely to quit cigarettes, there is nothing in the New York or any of the other clean indoor air laws that prohibit people who want to use ecigarettes because they think they will help them quit smoking.  All these laws require is that that vapers use their ecigs in ways that do not hurt anyone else.

December 16, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Today the New York Times published its second editorial calling on President Obama to support language clearly exempting tobacco from the corporate protections that are included in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty that he is negotiating. 

This editorial follows an excellent story in the Times on December 12 on how the tobacco companies have been using existing trade agreements to bully low and middle income countries to block tobacco control policies.
Despite these clean calls to adopt unequivocal language to "carve out" tobacco from the TPP, as proposed a few months ago by Malaysia, the Obama Administration keeps tap dancing around the issue. The problem is that some finely crated technical language will just mean that Big Tobacco's lawyers will earn a little more money beating up smaller countries.

December 13, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The research group at Roswell Park Cancer Center has just published a nice paper in which they measure the amount of nicotine, fine particles, and several other toxins in the air around someone using e-cigarettes.  They also collected the same information for conventional cigarettes. 

It is also consistent with work showing that passive vapers absorb nicotine.

The e-cigarettes were used for 5 minutes and, separately, two cigarettes were smoked during a 30 minute period.
There were significant increases in nicotine and ultrafine particles following use of both products, with the cigarettes producing about 10 times as much nicotine and 7 times as much particulate matter as the e-cigarettes.

Bottom line:  For a given level of consumption, e-cigarettes pollute the air less than conventional cigarettes.

But they pollute the air than nonsmokers are breathing,

December 12, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

As part of the process of issuing regulations, the FDA (or any other agency) conducts a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed regulation to make sure it is worth doing.  The FDA's ill-fated regulation on graphic warning labels was no exception.  The Agency's cost-benefit analysis did find a very small net benefit, but that small showing was not enough to convince the courts that the warning label rule was legal in the face of a constitutional challenge.
Last month Jidong Huang, Frank Chaloupka, and Geoff Fong published an excellent paper showing that the FDA gross underestimated the benefits that graphic warning labels would have on cigarette consumption and made the point that this severe underestimation undermined the FDA's ability to defend the warning labels in court as necessary. 

Today we published a paper in American Journal of Public Health that shows how the FDA grossly overestimated the costs of reducing smoking by counting, as a substantial cost, the lost pleasure people would experience if they were not smoking.