Tag Archives: AHA

Anti-THR Liar of the Year, the American Lung Association, and Runner-Up, the American Cancer Society

  • Anti-THR liar of the year Runner-up (#2): American Cancer Society (ACS)
  • Anti-THR Liar of the Year (#1): American Lung Association (ALA)

While neither the most aggressive liar (that was the apparently conscience-free Glantz at #8) nor the one causing the most harm with their lies (the WHO, at #3, has that homicidal distinction), these organizations top the list because of a combination of aggressive lying, influence, the particular policies they advanced with the lying and influence, and the baldness of the contradiction between their stated missions and their anti-THR efforts.  Their little friend, the American Heart Association, often signs off on the same lies, but has been relatively quiet this year so is not specifically ranked.  But AHA should be considered to be part of this, along with the American Cancer Society Action Network, ACS’s dirty-work non-charity (almost entirely pharma-funded) corporation that, unfortunately, no one other than the tax authorities distinguishes from the actual ACS.  ALA edges out ACS for first place because ACS started quieting down toward the end of the year, with ALA picking up the slack (though perhaps they were taking marching orders from ACS to run point — there are some reasons to suspect that).  

The lies from ALA and ACS are particularly influential because they have a lot of foot soldiers.  With offices across the country, they can easily send local people to regulatory hearings for some astroturfed lying (i.e., it gives the illusion of being local grassroots-ish activism, even though they are paid flacks and their salaries and orders are coming from a giant corporation’s headquarters).  In 2013, they used this in particular to try to block laws and regulations that would have forbidden sales of e-cigarettes to minors.  (If you find that shocking or do not understand why they would do it, you really need to read the archives of this blog — there is a lot of good stuff there, if we do say so ourselves.)  To do this, they deployed a random assortment of the usual lies, along with some unusual and particularly bald lies like “if you do this, it will interfere with the FDA’s ability to regulate them” or “we need to learn more about the harms from e-cigarettes before we take any action”.

Of course, they also showed up to offer lies in support of proposed state and local regulations that would restrict adult access to or use of e-cigarettes.  They were the go-to ANTZ for the local media in many cases, which almost always just transcribed their lies.  And they appear to have had substantial influence on many of those fights.  Before 2013, CASAA et al. won most of the fights over anti-e-cigarette regulations.  In 2013 the tide turned, and the forces of darkness were more often successful.  These organizations seemed to have played a critical role in that.  Fights over smokeless tobacco (mostly taxation, since bans are off the table) were relatively less prominent than e-cigarettes, but they also continued to bring their lies to those as well (as they have been doing for many years).

We admit that putting these two at the top of the list reflects our focus on the USA, though we suspect that these groups have more global influence than their counterparts in other countries.  Ranking them above the WHO did give us pause, given how much more damage the latter has caused.  But this list is about the lies, not about ranking the damage inflicted through other anti-THR actions.  (The government of China would top such a ranking since it could use its autocratic powers to encourage the use of e-cigarettes by about a third of the world’s smokers — with low shipping cost too! — but instead blocks their use and remains the world’s largest cigarette merchant.  Of course, they do not really have to bother to lie in order to do that.)

What really tipped the scales, though, are the issues of mission and credibility.  Few people who are not in thrall to the WHO are influenced by them.  In particular, Westerners who are, at least for the immediate future, the primary audience for THR, tend to completely ignore the WHO, to the point of barely even knowing it exists.  People who are aware of the WHO seem to recognize it as a “public health” advocacy special interest.  But most Americans tend to hear and trust the ALA and ACS and to believe that their missions really are to fight lung disease and cancer.  They have no idea that these organizations are actually anti-tobacco extremists and that they allow that goal to trump their titular missions.  So when they speak out against a THR product, they are abusing people’s faith in them and sending the message that their opinion is based on lung or cancer risk, not on the goal of eliminating all tobacco use regardless of risk.

Mission is also the ultimate reason that ALA beats out ACS for the #1 spot.  While anti-THR is a hypocritical position for both of those corporations, clearly contrary to their stated mission, this is more the case for ALA.  Smoking is a major contributor to cancer, of course, but there are a lot of other causes.  But lung diseases, in modern rich countries, are overwhelmingly caused by smoking.  Yes, e-cigarettes might adversely affect the lungs (though the risk is trivial compared to smoking, so this is no excuse for them opposing e-cigarette-based THR), but smokeless tobacco clearly poses no threat to the lungs.  And despite this,  ALA actively opposes smokeless tobacco use for THR also.  It is difficult to imagine a more blatant misrepresentation of an organization’s mission than ALA opposing smoke-free alternatives.

We wish all the readers of this blog a happy and healthy 2014.  As for those who made our countdown list (who undoubtedly do not read this blog for fear of accidental enlightenment), we wish them the development of a conscience, lawsuits, boycotts, and maybe even a little enlightenment — and, most of all, a continuing erosion of their undeserved credibility.

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.

Siegel takes up the charge on ACS efforts to keep e-cigarettes in the hands of children

by Carl V Phillips

Most of you recall our two posts from about a month ago, analyzing the American Cancer Society’s efforts to block laws that would ban e-cigarette sales to minors.  (At least I assume you have, since they are about the most read entries on this blog.)  You might also have seen CASAA’s recent call to action about a proposal in Arizona that would ban sales to minors — we urge support of it, while the ACS is leading the opposition.

This week, Mike Siegel took up the charge on this issue.  Yesterday, he published a post that reviewed our posts here and endorsed my argument (based on careful elimination of all other apparent explanations) that ACS was actively trying to maximize children’s use of e-cigarettes in order to make e-cigarettes look bad.  This would support a real (anti-health) agenda of creating rules that would restrict adults’ access to e-cigarettes and THR more generally.

Today, Dr. Siegel further analyzed the situation and concludes:

that the American Cancer Society has admitted that Dr. Phillips is correct. This is no longer just a theory. This is a bona fide explanation for the ACS position on this issue. And the ACS admits it.

Based on a letter from the ACS (also signed by the American Lung Association and American Heart Association) to Arizona senators, which CASAA published as part of our Arizona call-to-action, Siegel argues that a smoking gun in support of my theory is their statement that having a minor ban:

“sets the stage for tobacco companies to claim they are protecting children via this legislation…”

This is certainly consistent with the content of ACS’s Rhode Island testimony that I analyzed in the first post.  Siegel goes on to argue that their motive for wanting adult bans (and thus for wanting children to keep using) is found in their statement:

“The use of these products by adults could have a serious negative impact on the social norms around smoking especially around children.”

and argues that this shows,

Thus, the ACS opposition to e-cigarettes is ideological: they can’t stand the idea of a behavior that looks like smoking, even if that behavior is helping to save thousands of lives.

No doubt this is part of their motivation, but as harsh as this accusation is, I am actually rather less charitable about the real motives of anti-THR liars, as readers will recall from previous posts.

I will add a couple of observations about that ACS quote.  First, though the tobacco companies who are in the e-cigarette sector all support sales bans to kids, these efforts have been led by (real) public health people and CASAA, not industry.  And with “claim they are protecting children” ACS is trying to try to keep the reader from realizing that the full statement is that they could “accurately claim they are protecting children”.  Or put in normal human language, that they/we “are protecting children”.  But since ANTZ live in a world where claims matter more than reality, they may not have even realized that their wording was a lie.

Siegel also adds this additional observation to CASAA’s previous analyses of ACS:

On its web site, the ACS asserts as follows: “We do know that e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction, especially in young people who may be experimenting with them, and may lead kids to try other tobacco products, many of which are known to cause life-threatening diseases.”

So according to the ACS, we have the scientific evidence needed to conclude that e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction in young people who are experimenting with them.

However, in its letter to the Arizona Senate, the ACS claims: “Very little is known about the use of electronic smoking devices by youth…”.

Well, which is it?

In the former statement, the ACS’ goal is to scare the public about how much of a threat electronic cigarettes pose to minors. So they manufacture evidence (which doesn’t exist) to show that these products are leading to nicotine addiction among young people.

In the latter statement, the ACS’ goal is different. Here, they want to convince the Arizona Senate that e-cigarette use among youth is not a problem, negating the need for this new legislation. So the ACS now claims that there is no evidence that youth are actually using these products.

Often, all it takes to show that the anti-THR activists are liars is to accurately quote them twice.  Keeping up an internally consistent web of lies takes a lot more care, intelligence, and planning than they are capable of.

Why do the American Cancer Society et al. oppose regulations to prevent kids from using e-cigarettes?

by Carl V Phillips

The previous post, which pointed out that the American Cancer Society (and, as noted in a comment and the update, the American Lung Association and American Heart Association) is leading the fight against banning sales of e-cigarettes to minors, has probably generated more attention than any previous entry in this blog.  After spending time writing long analyses of scientific points, it is a bit disappointing that what was basically a transcript of testimony by an ACS representative — with some analysis — got far more attention.  (Oh, that reminds me, I forgot to h/t Julie Woessner for creating that transcript from the recording of the hearing.)

I am kidding about being disappointed (mostly), because I do understand the interest.  People who are supportive of THR — in particular, people’s whose health has been saved by e-cigarettes — naturally wonder about those who are trying to prevent people from using e-cigarettes: what they are doing, and why?  I realize that it must seem like quite the mystery to most readers.  In the previous post I hinted at the motives behind ACS’s testimony, which I will examine in more detail today.

The first thing to realize is that ACS’s effort to block regulations banning the sales of e-cigarettes to minors is a calculated strategy.  ACS is an almost-billion-dollar corporation, and like any such corporation, it is run by shrewd decision-makers who do not take actions like this by accident (big corporations do a lot of dumb things, but they do not do them by accident).  They are not some random activists writing crazy rants or trying to do silly things like ban smoking in movies.  Ms. Susan Roberts, who delivered the testimony in the previous post, may have known the real motives or she may have actually believed what she was saying — she might just be a useful idiot who actually thinks that banning sales to minors in Rhode Island would somehow derail the FDA’s research and regulations.  Either way, you can be sure that those who make decisions at ACS are not so naive.

Once we are confident that a decision was made deliberately by a sensible decision-maker, then it becomes possible to learn from it.  I have no inside information about their motives, but I have devoted a great deal of attention, both formal study and informal time-wasting (you will recall my presumably annoying foray into some details of chess a few days ago), to the question of what you can infer from the observed actions of rational actors.

Rhode Island was not the first time ACS has tried to block a ban on sales of e-cigarettes to minors, so this was not some local employee going rogue.  It is obvious that no one with the skills necessary to be a decision-maker at ACS would believe the vague rationalizations presented in that testimony.  Moreover, if those garbled transparently inaccurate rationalizations were the best they could come up with, it suggests that their real reasons are sufficiently unpalatable that they do not want to even come close to admitting them.

[UPDATE: We just happened to hear, a few days later, a leading ANTZ legal authority confirming that ACS’s stated claim — that a state law could interfere with FDA regulation — was wrong.  So this is not only obvious to anyone who understands regulation, but the message is being actively disseminated in ANTZ discussion.  This makes it even more implausible that ACS did not know that their rationalization was fiction.]

It is also implausible that ACS wants to ensure minors’ access to e-cigarettes because they believe that kids should be able to employ THR.  There is some merit to that position, though no one (literally no one, to my knowledge) actively supports it.  But we know, despite the fact that e-cigarettes reduce smoking and so reduce smokers’ cancer risk (and improve their lung and heart health), ACS and their allies (who claim to be anti-smoking, pro-lung health, pro-heart health, etc.) discourage THR in all forms, including the use of e-cigarettes.  The reasons for this goal are a complicated story in themselves, which I have addressed at some length previously.

They presumably even more vehemently oppose the use of e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco when they are used for reasons other than THR by long-term smokers.  It is not plausible, as vaguely claimed in the testimony, that they are waiting for further study in case they might change their mind and embrace THR for kids.  Given their active opposition to THR for adults, despite overwhelming evidence of its merits, it is impossible to imagine any study result that would cause that change of heart about THR for kids.  Thus it is impossible to believe that they anticipate such a possibility and so do not want to act.  Besides, if they eventually changed their minds and thought that minors should have access to THR, they know that they could probably get the sales bans reversed.

This really leaves only one apparent explanation that we can think of for the policy of trying to stop states from banning e-cigarette sales to minors:  The American Cancer Society and their allies prefer that more children use e-cigarettes because that would look bad for e-cigarettes.

It is fairly clear that their political faction is trying to bring about a ban or similar crippling restrictions on adult access to e-cigarettes.  But they and other ANTZ cannot have failed to notice that their goals are not shared by normal people (the vast majority who believe that public policies should support freedom, happiness, health, etc.).  When state or local proposals to restrict adult access to e-cigarettes are considered, we are able to mobilize people — most of whom have quit smoking by using e-cigarettes — to explain why this is a bad idea.  Almost every single time when the decision-makers are legislators or other representatives of the people, they hear this, understand its merits, and do not implement the restrictions.

Despite this general opposition to ACS et al.’s goal, they have a chance to achieve it if they can claim that banning or severely restricting availability is needed to protect the chiiiiiildren from this scourge.  But right now few minors are using e-cigarettes, and for most of them it is a passing lark.  If there are minor bans, then furthermore it can be pointed out that (a) there are existing laws that could be enforced to further reduce underage use and (b) those who are using are already violating the law so further regulations are unlikely to change much.  Under those circumstances it is pretty hard to justify severe restrictions on the freedom, happiness, and health of adults to ostensibly protect them.

But if children can legally buy e-cigarettes (and just a few merchants are willing to sell to them, even though most have a policy of refusing to do so even where it is legal) the number of underage users will increase and the arguments about just enforcing existing laws will not apply.  So it would be a reasonable plan to try to maximize the use of e-cigarettes by children in anticipation of using that prevalence as a tool in the ultimate fight for prohibition or semi-prohibition.

It might sound over-the-top to suggest that ACS et al. would sacrifice the children in pursuit of their real goals, but I have not thought of or heard any other explanation for the behavior that has been observed.  Besides, the real brains behind the ACS policy must know that a little dabbling with e-cigarettes does not pose any serious threat to the kids (especially when compared to the illegal products that can easily get and dabble instead).  So even though ACS’s useful idiots do not realize this, the leadership know that any harm from children’s use is quite minor.

This tactic is not particularly unusual; indeed, it is quite common and proven effective.  When you want to solve a problem (to them, the existence of THR products is a problem), but do not have the support to make it happen, it is often effective to intentionally make the problem worse in order to gain more support.  Can’t get the world to care about the oppression of your people?  March in the streets or sit down at lunch counters until you are arrested or battered or shot, and the world will eventually decide that something needs to be done.  Can’t get the complacent peasants to fight back against the occupying force or government that you believe is oppressing them?  Provoke those in power into acts of greater oppression and violence against the people to motivate the resistance.  The world has forgotten that you have been imprisoned without charges at Guantanamo for your entire adult life?  Go on a hunger strike.  Compared to those uses of this tactic, causing more kids to use e-cigarettes is pretty benign.

Those dramatic examples obviously involve greater sacrifice, but notice that in such cases those suffering the sacrifice are also (at least in the eyes of the actors) the ones who are already seriously suffering.  So causing more kids to use e-cigarettes is comparatively harmless, but would be a rather more cold and calculated application of this tactic.

Could I be wrong about my inferences here?  Of course.  But no alternative explanation for ACS’s actions is apparent.  And my analysis does pretty closely match the stated position (pdf) of ACS et al. on indoor smoking bans, of refusing to support “step in the right direction” regulations when they cannot get everything they want.  Of course, the official statement dresses it up nicer (and merely calls for not supporting, rather than actively torpedoing), but the unstated motive is the same:  If you let the world move more toward the state where normal people think that things are basically fine, then you cannot get them to support radical policies as the “only” alternative to the status quo.  This is basically the same as the assessment I reached before someone pointed out that document to me:  Intentionally make things worse (compared to a world where generally-supported regulations have been implemented) to try to manipulate the people into supporting much more radical steps than they would otherwise support.

If ACS (or their allies who have worked to prevent minor sales bans) offer CASAA an alternative explanation for their actions, one that does not include intentionally getting more kids to use e-cigarettes, I will let you know.  They had a chance in the Rhode Island testimony to give a plausible explanation for their position, but they chose to talk around it and make non-credible claims about their motives.  Their allies from Rhode Island have engaged in a Facebook conversation with us, but have said nothing of substance yet.  This blog has a standing offer to let anyone who is indicted here write a guest post to reply, so they could take advantage of that.  I know that the previous post was sent to them, and I am confident this one will be too (hint hint!), so if there is no such reply it will not be because they have a defensible alternative explanation but merely did not realize they needed to explain it.

The random ANTZ in academia and exclusively anti-tobacco and anti-THR organizations can easily get away with socially destructive behavior because they have engineered a situation where they only have each other to answer to.  ACS has a lot of support from other constituents and the general public.  I wonder how those supporters would react if they knew about this?

[UPDATE: another post about this here]

Who leads the fight against banning e-cigarette sales to minors? Guess again: it is the American Cancer Society

by Carl V. Phillips

In the U.S., some state-level regulations to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 years of age (the same age for legal purchases of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco) have been introduced, though not as many as you might expect, with even fewer passing.  This seems kind of odd, since no company or industry group opposes such restrictions (and many actively support them and even enforce them even when not legally required), nor does any consumer advocate.  That is not to say that there is no argument against the restriction — someone could argue that it is better that kids have easier access to e-cigarettes than they do to cigarettes, or that they should be no more regulated than similar products like coffee, “energy” drinks, or nutritional supplements, which kids can buy.  But whatever such arguments could be made, no one is making them.

So who is preventing universal adoption of bans on sales to minors, and what arguments are they making?  The opposition to such restrictions is led by the American Cancer Society and their anti-THR allies.  Yes, you read that right. Someone jumping into this discussion with no knowledge might not find that surprising: “The American Cancer Society opposes sales restrictions on e-cigarettes? Well that makes sense, since they are a great tool for reducing cancer risk.”  But, of course, they do not really care about reducing cancer risk in this case, and they lead the campaigns of regulation and disinformation to prevent adult smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.

What are they up to?  Well, let’s consider the testimony of the ACS representative at the recent hearings in Rhode Island (quoted in its entirety).  The bill under consideration would impose onerous restriction on e-cigarette merchants (not merely prohibiting sales to minors), and thus CASAA and those who share our concerns with preserving adult access to e-cigarettes oppose it.  But the stated focus is preventing children from buying them.

Good afternoon, Chairman.  I’m Susan Roberts.  I am the State Director of Governmental Relations and Advocacy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.  And again, I want to reiterate what my former colleague [from an allied ANTZ group with a similar position] testified to, that we really appreciate that the chairman has taken a look at protecting our youth here in Rhode Island.

We do have some concerns about this bill, and we also recognize that you realize that this bill has an identity crisis.  It looks like a Trojan horse to us.  I mean, it is coming to us saying that it’s protecting youth, and, in fact, what it’s really doing is circumventing some things we didn’t really get into a little bit today:  FDA regulation of these products.

Um, how is that again?  FDA regulations of FDA-regulated products preempt state law.  There is no way a state law could circumvent FDA regulation of the products.  This is especially true because: (a) There is no FDA regulation right now to circumvent, other than general lab standards and regulation of the food-quality ingredients, nor will there be for quite some time.  (b) It is impossible to imagine that anything in a bill that imposed requirements on retailers and prohibits minors from purchasing — which is all this does — could circumvent anything FDA might ever do, even apart from the preemption issue.

So that is of great concern because right now, FDA is looking at these products to figure out how safe and effective they really are, and we want to wait.

Except that they are not.  They have not even asserted regulatory authority over these products (yet), and FDA itself certainly does not have the capacity to do such research even if they were ready to move.  FDA outsources research, usually to the manufacturers themselves.  You would think that ACS would know that.

It’s essential that we wait until we get guidance from FDA before we even put in any kind of ban for the products for youth.

*cough* Wait, did I mishear that?  The people who want regulators to aggressively act to restrict adult use of THR, based on various speculative claims about what might happen someday, think that a “go slow and wait for more information” is the right approach to restricting children’s access.  Exactly what do they think we might learn that would change our minds about acting.  It is not like there is any chance they would ever reach the conclusion, “based on new guidance, we think that kids should be allowed to buy e-cigarettes”.

And we would ask that you do that and work with the Department of Health when it comes time so that we can make sure that we define those products in the appropriate way, that we capture all of the products to keep those out of the hands of youth.

So, um, the worry is that the definition is not broad enough yet?  So the argument is “because there will be more and different products in the future we should not restrict any products now until we know what they all are”?  Actually that seems like a great idea.  If they were to offer the same argument for adult access, that is.  Maybe we should start quoting them on that:  “The American Cancer Society says that we should wait for further evolution of the e-cigarette market before any regulations are imposed.”

And not only that, since FDA has not had a chance to evaluate these products in full, you know, there’s also great concerns that these are in the hands of adults right now.  I can tell you in the back of the room, there were folks using these vapor products right here in the room, and my chest began to hurt, and my throat was hurting.  And I’m very sensitive to those things, and there were other folks in the room saying the same thing.  So we ask that you wait until FDA actually reviews these.

Ah, so there it is.  Ms. Roberts used her claims of psychosomatic reactions to a few people vaping (and presumably barely exhaling much vapor in order to be discreet) and her projections of her rather unique reactions onto others to try to hide the admission of ACS’s real motives:  We do not like preventing sales to minors because it might interfere with our goal of banning sales to adults.  I will write more about the implications of this tactic in a subsequent post, because it is quite significant.

There’s another thing in here that you had mentioned about youth access, and there’s some penalization of youth for products in here.  That’s no mistake by the industry.  They put that in.  They actually want to see youth penalized and not the retailer penalized for selling those products to youth.  And so it’s a long-term tactic of the industry.  We just want to make you aware of that.

Again, huh?  If they did not like the penalty for the kids themselves — a reasonable position — why did ACS call for rejection of the bill rather than a simple amendment?  Apparently she is trying to imply (lie) that the kids faced punishment while the merchants did not, which is very much not true.  As for the “industry” bogeyman, it is true that this is one of several e-cigarette bills secretly authored by R.J. Reynolds, which CASAA has opposed because they are designed to hurt sales channels (internet, e-cigarette specialty stores) that would compete with RJR’s own e-cigarettes, which would presumably be sold alongside their cigarettes.  But if ACS were honestly interested in supporting the minor sales ban (which is CASAA’s position) they would just try to get rid of the bit they did not like (which is what CASAA has been doing with these bills) rather than trying to scrap the whole thing.  The only apparent explanation is that this is just an excuse for their real goal, blocking the minor sales ban in order to use the lack of such bans as an excuse for prohibition.

And then the Clean Indoor Air, this could actually roll back Clean Indoor Air.  So there are several things in here, circumventing taxes, FDA.

I am just going to assume that passage was a burst of Tourette Syndrome, since it seems like just a bunch of random words that bore no relation to this bill about retail sales practices.

And one of the other things I just wanted to bring up when we talk about FDA.  So imagine for a moment Big Pharma, pharmacy industry, would come in and tell you, “Hey, we’ve got a drug that’s under review by FDA, but we’re asking you as a lawmaker to circumvent that altogether, and you determine what should happen.”  That’s just completely wrong.  FDA was put together by Congress.  They have the authority to do what they need to do to protect your constituency.

Yes, from the steel-trap minds of tobacco control:  Restricting sales to minors of a product that FDA does not regulate is exactly the same as violating federal law by allowing sales of a drug that is currently illegal to sell pending FDA approval.

And I know, Chairman Melo, you’ve done a great job in the past, and we really look forward to working with you in the future to help guide you, and we’ll serve as a resource.  People–you were asking what we’re doing to protect children from these products, we–once FDA gives us that guidance, I can assure you, sir, with you and with all of the others, we’ll work to protect the youth from these products.  So thank you so much.

I have no further questions for the witness.

[UPDATE: Julie Woessner points out that the role of “public health” groups blocking minor sales ban is not exclusive to ACS, but rather American Lung Association and American Heart Association have taken the same position (though perhaps not recently).  See her comment about Illinois in 2010 for interesting details.  I have added ALA and AHA to the tags for this post.]