by Carl V Phillips
I intend to write a proper post or two on PMI’s iQos and heat-not-burn (HnB) cigarettes more generally, but haven’t had much chance to blog lately. Those products have very serious potential to be the most important thing that ever happened in THR (and, yes, I know what I said there). For now, I can just do a quick one on the back of a recent post by Dick Puddlecote, and recommend reading it.
DP recounts how ASH (UK), true to form, are marketing their doubt and general anti attitude, trying to block the huge benefits that these products could bring. He invokes my concept of anti-tobacco extremism, and links to one of my posts that invokes the concept. Here is another one, about how anti-tobacco extremism naturally results in stronger opposition to low-risk products than to cigarettes, just as we have seen.
The one bit of DP’s post that I really wanted to expand on, was this, where he quotes ASH’s chief (chief propagandist?), Deborah Arnott, reacting to this low-risk substitute for cigarettes:
“We still need to be very cautious about what the industry’s up to. Philip Morris is a tobacco company. They are still making most of their profits from selling cigarettes,” she said: “On current trends, smoking will kill one billion people in the 21st century, most in poor countries.”
There is actually a very oblique and opaque hint of reasonableness in the last bit. HnB systems are more normal (can’t quite put my finger on the right word) than ecigs, but are similarly expensive. Westerners may not realize how much more expensive they are than cigarettes because of taxes, local labor costs, and brand premiums, but they are out of reach for most people. (This is why I and a few others have not forgotten about smokeless tobacco, which can be produced locally at affordable prices.) Still, it is only a hint of reasonableness, since it is not as if offering a potentially better alternative to rich populations actually adds harm for the poor people.
What is really absurd about this, however, is the fact that someone said it as if it meant anything. They are still making most of their profits from selling cigarettes. So what? How does that have any bearing whatsoever on the merits of iQos? Guess what, Deborah, you and most of the influential tobacco controllers work for the American and British governments (please spare me the silly pretense that she — and those living of off NIH grants — don’t work for the government). Those governments killed more Iraqis, in a war that made the world worse off in almost every way, than smoking ever will. They keep nuclear stockpiles sufficient to destroy civilization. And if you want to smear with ancient history, as tobacco controllers always love to do, let’s not forget about their massacres of Indians (ambiguity intended).
Obviously I could go on forever with that list. Or we could go with: tobacco controllers are, as far as is apparent, members of H.sapiens, the species responsible for the largest mass extinction event in 65 million years. Or go more specific, and identify them as members of the arrogant out-of-touch rich elitist class that is responsible for the current Western backlash toward something resembling nazism.
The obvious point is that the value of HnB products is unchanged as a result of whatever else the inventor/manufacturer/merchant does (or, more precisely, what a particular busybody thinks of what they do). Notice that this is not a case like tobacco control’s usual “we, personally, don’t like their cigarette business, so we want to prevent them from playing any role in the political discussions, research, etc., because they might use the resulting influence to further that particular business” (subtext: “…because they are a lot smarter than us and have truth on their side, so we dare not fight fair”). Creating a competing product is actually a threat to the standard cigarette business. Moreover, is commerce, not politics, so tobacco control has no reason to fear being outmaneuvered, and does not have their usual excuses for trying to interfere with freedoms of speech and associations. More moreover, their comments about the product have nothing to do with the product.
It is all just another excuse for them to pursue their mission of harm and deceit that DP goes on about at greater length.