Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

August 20, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Big tobacco mounts ad blitz against Calif flavor ban (SB 793) making its usual failing arguments

The big tobacco companies have launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign in a last ditch effort to stop SB 793.  My favorite ad so far is one urging Assembly members to vote against the bill because it will reduce anti-tobacco education (copy below).  Their unstated argument is that without flavors kids would buy fewer tobacco products, which would reduce tobacco taxes, some of which goes to education to reduce tobacco use.

This is the same argument that they made in their unsuccessful campaign to defeat Proposition 56, a big tobacco tax on the ballot in 2016. 

The public wasn’t tricked by this argument then.  Hopefully the Assembly won’t be tricked now.

A related argument that the tobacco interests are making is that SB 793 would reduce tax income to the state at a time of growing demands because of COVID-19 and, now, wildfires. 

While it is true that SB 793 would reduce tobacco tax income, it is likely that there would be a net increase in California economic activity, including associated tax income.

August 18, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Senator Jerry Hill and Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Jim Wood have written the FDA urging it to take immediate action against illegal therapeutic and modified risk claims that Swedish Match (through a lobbyist) is making about their products.  (PDF of letter)


This is yet another example of tobaco companies misrepresenting FDA action on their products.  The FDA needs to heed their request and begin immediate enforcement actions.


August 18, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Today SB 793, Sen. Jerry Hill’s bill to end the sale of almost all flavored tobacco products – including menthol – faces its last committee vote before going to the full Assembly.  In an effort to get an exception for smokeless products, last week lobbying firm Norwood Associates wrote members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee arguing that because FDA had authorized (not “approved” as Norwood claimed) sale of Swedish Match snus, the committee should amend SB 793 to exempt flavored smokeless tobacco.

Bonnie Halper-Felsher, Lauren Lempert and I wrote the committee pointing out the misrepresentations of the FDA action in the Norwood letter and, more important, flavored smokeless tobacco is popular with youth and likely to get more popular if it is the only youth-friendly flavored tobacco product on the market.

We also tell the Committee that Norwood – on behalf of Swedish Match – has made illegal cessation claims for snus and Swedish Match’s even-more-youth-friendly ZYN nicotine pouches.

August 15, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Companies that violate laws intended to protect kids from nicotine addiction, tobacco-related diseases and death can face penalties ranging from a slap on the hand to seizure and removal from the market.

The FDA Center for Tobacco Products has several options for enforcing against tobacco companies that violate the law.  They can assess civil money penalties, obtain injunctions, impose no-tobacco sales orders, or seize and remove products from the market.

The first step is for FDA to issue a warning letter.

August 11, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

There have been several reports, mostly in non-peer reviewed preprints, reporting lower levels of COVID-19 infections among smokers than nonsmokers. This is a surprising finding because, based on what we know about the effects of smoking and vaping on immune function of the respiratory system, one would expect that smoking and vaping would increase risks of COVID infection.

A big problem with all the studies to date has been that they have been based on people who were tested, rather than samples drawn from the population as a whole.  Because of limited availability of tests in many places, the resulting samples are biased toward people who may already have symptoms.