by Carl V Phillips
I am back from the recent FDA TPSAC hearings (my live blog/commentary is not too far down the CASAA Members Facebook page for those interested). During the public comments period (in which only special-interests, not the public, were represented this time — CASAA decided to sit this one out), the ANTZ groups (Legacy, CTFK) kept making vague references to the risks that consumers would tamper with “MRTPs”.
(For those who do not know, “MRTP”=”modified risk tobacco products”, which were the main focus of these hearings, is FDA-speak for anything that is lower risk than a standard cigarette. It is a very misleading collection, since it includes everything from minor modifications of cigarettes that might or might not reduce risks by 10% to smokeless tobacco which is definitively demonstrated to be about 99% less risky. It is also a dumb term since many of these products are not “modified” — they are what they have always been — they are just different. Finally, the word “modified” could refer to either increases or decreases, so what they really mean is lower. I am tempted to say that the government is a clear and present threat to effective communication, but they are hardly the only one so that would be a bit glib.)
My reaction to these references to tampering were WTF are they talking about? These are consumer products, designed to be used in the quantity and with the particular behavior preferred by the consumer. “Tamper” is a meaningless concept in that concept.
What was immediately apparent, though, is that whatever they meant, it was the next orchestrated campaign of anti-THR lies. As I noted in the previous post, the anti-THR extremists and other ANTZ maintain semi-secret channels of communication in which they engineer talking points that can then simultaneously be stated by the various paid activists and their useful idiots at the same time, as if it were something people were really thinking. It is the same thing political parties do (and entirely different from what honest and truth-seeking organizations and associations do). Sometimes these talking points are so utterly inane, like the one I discuss next, that you would think that the press etc. would figure out that they are engineered lies. (Who remembers the classic when they got their useful idiots to recite “Camel Snus packages look like cellphones (i.e., they are rectangular with rounded corners), which appeal to chiiiildren”?)
As soon as I had a chance to think about it for a few minutes, I realized that my CASAA colleagues had already picked up on some of the chatter and identified one of the meanings of these bizarre claims: The ANTZ plan to claim that e-cigarettes should be restricted because the devices can be used for vaporizing certain cannabis products. The reason this is a lie is not because there is not a developing technology for vaporizing a cannabis wax in devices that are quite similar to e-cigarettes — such technology is developing. The lie is that this has any bearing whatsoever on the regulation of e-cigarettes.
First, vaping a wax requires a different atomizer and not just any cartridge/tank. (The batteries can be the same, of course. Batteries are batteries.) Thus, it is not like someone can just put the wax in an e-cigarette that is designed to vape an aqueous liquid. They need new hardware. This contrasts with combustible tobacco products which are easily used to smoke cannabis leaf (sprinkle or roll some in, set it on fire).
Second, the liars are going to try to imply that the supply of cannabis vaping equipment can be eliminated if e-cigarettes are banned. But see the first point: different equipment is needed, and so they are not diverting that from e-cigarettes. But maybe we could stop cannabis users from getting, say, eGo batteries, if the e-cigarettes supply chains are banned. Um, people, they manage to get cannabis. Do you think that the supply chain that provides this can perhaps expand to include the hardware too? Do you think maybe it already has? I am sure that the ANTZ puppet masters are smart enough to know this, and thus know this new campaign is a lie, though their useful idiots include a lot of idiots (in the basic sense of the term) who can be tricked into believing that somehow the chiiiildren would not be using weed because were it not for e-cigarettes. As I said: idiots.
One additional point: Vaping cannabis is almost certainly less harmful than smoking it or than the devices that are normally called vaporizers in that world. (The latter are called “heat-not-burn” when used for tobacco, and the guess is that they are perhaps about half as harmful as smoking, maybe somewhat less, but that still makes real vaping a lot less risky.) If the ANTZ do not abandon this talking point quickly, as they usually do with their dumb claim of the month, but stick with it, we could use it to drive a wedge between them and the real public health people who support harm reduction for illicit drugs.
Thinking about this further, I realized there was a second implication to these bizarre pronouncements about the risks of tampering, this one more of a hand-tipping about a future threat, rather than a lie per se. The statements by the ANTZ at the hearing yesterday included references to altering delivered doses. But, of course, using your snus or modding your e-cigarette to get the dose you want is just part of using it — as I said, the notion of tampering simply makes no sense. So, what would make that bizarre claim make sense? If the ANTZ managed to persuade the government to impose restrictions on the physical properties of low-risk products (most likely e-cigarettes, not smokeless tobacco, for obvious reasons) such that they could not be used the way consumers wanted to use them.
So the ANTZ are tipping us off that a core part of their plan, given that they have failed in their attempt to ban e-cigarettes, is to cripple them. Banning flavors (such that “tampering” consists of adding flavor) is an obvious example, though it does not relate to the point that they hinted at, restricting dosage. But there are others the come to mind: Forcing a shut-off of the device after a certain number of puffs over a certain period. Restricting battery options or tank sizes. And, of course, limiting nicotine strength.
So do not be surprised when these attacks on THR start flying from every direction. You are warned. Now make sure that we push back against the engineered “tampering” campaign any time these attacks pop up, rather than treating these as random stupid comments that will just disappear on their own.