Updates: FDA, ACS, and CASAA

by Carl V Phillips

A few days ago, we reported about FDA CTP’s moves toward reducing the anti-THR lies in their public statements and otherwise shifting toward supporting the public interest.  I missed an important change that had appeared a week before, the elimination of one of the most blatant anti-THR lies to appear in FDA materials, one that stated an out-and-out falsehood that could not be cloaked in terms of being technically true like the “tobacco” conjunction lie emphasized in the previous post.

(The conjunction lie is to create a list that includes one bad exposure and implicitly blame everything on the list.  Example:  “Car and plane crashes are the leading killer of young people in America.”  Of course that toll is approximately 100% from car crashes, so it is a lie because it implies that plane crashes contribute importantly.  Similarly, anytime “tobacco” or some other conjunction of products is blamed for the toll from inhaling smoke, it constitutes the most common anti-THR lie.)

At this page, this older statement:

 To date, no tobacco products have been scientifically proven to reduce risk of tobacco-related disease, improve safety or cause less harm than other tobacco products.

was replaced with this:

To date, no tobacco products have met the requirements that would permit them to make claims of reduced risk or harm to users and nonusers of their regulated tobacco products. These requirements were put in place so that American tobacco consumers are not misled about the harms of tobacco products.

To provide context, this appears on a page title “Health Fraud” — rather ironically, given that the old statement was about as clear a fraud against health that someone could ever perpetuate — which contains information that is really directed at merchants of low-risk tobacco products.  It tells them that they are forbidden from telling anyone that everyone with half a clue knows that those products are much less risky than smoking.  That is obviously bad for public health, but it is true — they are forbidden.  However, this is presented in a child-friendly format that seems to be directed at consumers.  Given the “if you see… contact us” statement at the bottom, it seems that FDA is channeling the Stasi.

But though it seems unlikely they recruited any informants that are not already paid by the tobacco control industry, they did succeed in misleading a lot of consumers.  In fairness, it seems reasonably likely that whoever wrote the first version of this page was trying to communicate the message that was properly clarified in the second version.  But obviously the original author failed to communicate the truth to an unforgivable degree.  (Unforgivable, but not difficult to explain:  Many FDA careerists clearly do not understand the fact that there is a huge difference between “no scientific evidence” and “no FDA approval”, nor do they understand that “FDA approval” is not the same as “proof” of anything.)

Some observers still do not like the new message.  It would certainly be more precise and truthful to say “we have not approved any ‘modified risk tobacco product’ applications” or “we have not agreed to accept any such claim.”  The actor-free version of the statement, as if the institutional author of the web page is not the one making the decision and it is somehow an existential phenomenon, is rather misleading.

Also, attributing the MRTP requirement to a genuine concern about public health seems like rather a stretch, given that it was crafted by a coalition of cigarette manufacturers and anti-tobacco extremists.  But I trust that anyone seeking the truth already knows to pay no attention to “we were doing this to protect Americans” claims, whether about “public health” efforts to tax soda, ban salt, or ban e-cigarettes, or about drone aircraft assassinations, or subsidizing alternative electricity generation, or reading people’s emails; so that is kind of just a throw away.  (Note to readers: If you find yourself having a conversation with someone from another political “tribe” about such points, you should be able to identify something from this list where they agree that the government claims about doing something to protect us are bullshit.  Use that!)

But to circle back, let’s not let the details of the analysis distract from the main point:  FDA replaced a prominent, explicit anti-THR lie with something that is basically accurate.  Kudos.

By contrast, the American Cancer Society continues to damage public health.  As explored here extensively (like back from here), ACS is leading the fight to block state laws that would ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors.  This seems to be because they want to create a situation where lots of kids are using them as an excuse for restricting adult access to these lifesaving (and cancer-eliminating) products.

Their most recent “victory” came in Oklahoma on Thursday, when such a bill was voted down.  This case is a bit more complicated than the Rhode Island or Arizona cases noted in the previous posts — there was some tinkering with the tax laws built into the bill also.  This bill was originally written by R.J. Reynolds and included provisions that would have given them a competitive advantage over other e-cigarette merchants (which CASAA opposed because we believe diversity in the marketplace is in the best interests of the consumer). CASAA worked closely with the sponsor to remove the provisions that would have favored RJR over its competitors.  (For those who do not know, this is typical — most bills are crafted by stakeholders and other interested parties, not by lawmakers themselves.  Though many merchants do support consumer-friendly bills in this arena, it is CASAA that is actually working in the legislative process to make sure bills are in consumers’ interests.)

Those of us who had the misfortune to watch the floor debate heard the opponents repeatedly identify nothing bad about the bill, but rather just kept repeating that ACS (and the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association) opposed it, so it must be bad.  After all, we should all trust them, right?

Obviously not.  They are liars who are willing to sacrifice children in order to impose harmful restrictions on adults in a free society.  Something really needs to be done about them.

So, to recap, the scoreboard for the week:

Government: removing lies, moving toward real public-interest stakeholder involvement.

Private “public health” charities: blatantly lying, ensuring children’s access to nicotine, trying to create harm in order to impose severe restrictions on the public.

CASAA and other real public health consumer advocates:  Got FDA’s attention and action.  Lost the final vote in Oklahoma, but killed the anti-competitive original version which mattered more in the long run.

2 responses to “Updates: FDA, ACS, and CASAA

  1. Excellent analysis Carl. I hadn’t clearly followed what was going on there. Well done! Sad and amazing, but well documented.

    – MJM

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