Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

September 9, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

On the heels of withdrawing its tepid attempt to keep the Trans Pacific Partnership from becoming a powerful tool for Big Tobacco to block tobacco control policies in the US and countries participating in the TPP negotiations, the FDA has ignored the health community and granted the tobacco companies the full 60 day extension it asked for to comment on its long-delayed report on menthol.

For all Obama's talk about "respecting international standards" in his so-far unsuccessful effort to mobilize support to bomb Syria, he seems oblivious to the strong international consensus, as manifest in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, that cigarettes and other tobacco products are chemical weapons that are killing millions every year.

September 9, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

I was just on a conference call with the US Trade Representative as part of their effort for "public engagement." 

After sitting on hold for about 10 minutes, we were treated to a statement from the US Trade Representative Ambassdor Froman, about how important they thought public engagement was and congratulating their staff for the great job they were doing

They then had about 10 or 15 minutes for a few questions. (I pushed the button to get in the que almost immediately after they invited people to do so and never got called on.)

The last person they did call on was Greg Haifley from American Cancer Society, who asked a pointed question about whether or not the US would support Malaysia's carve out for tobacco.  Needless to say Froman gave him a run around about "balancing" issues.  Needless to say there was no time for a followup question from Greg or anyone else.

September 8, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Christopher Bullen and colleagues from the University of Auckland just published a nicely done randomized clinical trial in Lancet that compared ecigs, the nicotine patch and nicotine-free ecigs as cessation aids. They found no difference in 6 month quit rates among the three groups.

Hopefully this study will get ecig promoters to stop claiming that ecigs are better than NRT for quitting.

The trial also encouraged people to use the local Quit line.  Few people did and at about the same rates for all three groups. 

These results are about what I would have expected, since ecigs are a way to deliver nicotine just as NRT.  Because NRT, however, does so with much lower levels of accompanying toxins than  ecigs deliver, clinicians should refrain from recommeding ecigs for quitting.

September 7, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

I just learned from one of the Attorneys General that three tobacco companies have requested that the FDA extend the public comment period on menthol, currently scheduled to close September 23, for 60 more days on the grounds that they need more time to respond.

This is ridiculous.  The FDA has been dragging its decision on menthol on for years since the TPSAC report was issued in March 2011, giving the tobacco companies have had plenty of time to think about it and muster their arguments.

This is a delaying tactic, pure and simple.

The FDA needs to deny this request and keep the process moving forward, then act on the science and ban menthol and menthol analogs.

September 5, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

As one would expect given the heavy marketing of ecigs to kids, today the CDC reported that ecig use among youth doubled last year.

This effect on kids is something that has been almost completely absent from the "ecigs as harm reduction" debate within the health community.  The fact that some kids are initiating their nicotine addiction with ecigs and that, like with adults, there is very high dual use with cigarettes, increases the liklihood that, in the end, ecigs will enhance harm by increasing smoking.

Needless to say, the ecig companies, like the cigarette companies that own many of them, will be "horrified" that kids are using them and loudly claim that those cherry flavored ecigs are really meant to help 50 year old smokers quit.

The ecig companies will also likely capitalize on public concern about kids using them to push for passage of more bad bills establishing preferential treatment for ecigs under the guide of youth access, much as the tobacco companies co-opted the Synar Amendment to pass bad youth access legislation decades ago.  (The American Cancer Society has been taking the lead in fighting these bad bills.)