Tag Archives: Bates

My recent contribution to Clive’s weekly reading list

by Carl V Phillips

As some of you know, Clive Bates puts out a weekly somewhat-annotated list of PubMed-indexed articles that are related to low-risk tobacco products and/or tobacco harm reduction (the search string for that appears at the end of what follow). It is a great resource; if you do not receive it, I am sure he would be glad to add you to the distribution list. As part of a planned projected that I have alluded to before, I am working on how to reinterpret this as an annotated weekly suggested reading (or knowing-about) list. To that end, this week I was a “guest editor” for Clive’s distribution list, and I thought I should share what I wrote here to broaden the audience. Yes, it is a little weird to publish a one-off “weekly reading” that is mostly based on an existing format that you might not be familiar with. But you should be able to get the idea. Hopefully I will be producing one every week before too long.

In the meantime, here is what I wrote that went out via Clive’s distribution lists. Sorry for the weird formatting — it is an artifact of the way the original PubMed search was formatted. Yes, I could have fixed the for aesthetics to re-optimize for this blog’s formatting, but since they do not hinder comprehension, I am not going to bother — sorry.

Greetings everyone. Carl V Phillips here, doing Clive’s list this week. I am trying out a new format for it, as follows: (1) They are not listed in the order that popped from the PubMed search string, but rather is in order of how worth reading they are. Obviously this is my own rough blend of various considerations, including importance of what is being addressed, value of what was produced, how potentially influential it is, and how much reader effort it takes to get value from it (note that I put relatively little weight on the latter). I have left the serial numbers from the search on the entries in case anyone wants to recreate the usual ordering. I add a full-text link if I think there is anyone other than specialists in the particular area would want to look at the full text. (2) I am not limiting this to PubMed-indexed papers. I am including popular press and policy statements (and would have included blogs but there were not any apparent candidates this week).

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Next round of gateway claims

by Carl V Phillips

Tomorrow a new paper about the supposed gateway effect from e-cigarettes will come out of “embargo”. Over the last few days, Clive Bates and Michael Siegel have published pre-rebuttals of it (Clive basically declared as much on Twitter. Mike did not, but the timing seems like more than coincidence.) Sometime I will analyze the paper based on the framework I developed for assessing whether evidence actually supports a gateway claim (which the authors of the paper ignored). For now it is interesting to go meta. Continue reading

Peer review in “public health” — Tobacco Control journal own-goal edition

by Carl V Phillips

Clive Bates prods me to write something about this editorial in the journal/political magazine/comic book, Tobacco Control, by Editor-in-Chief Ruth Malone, honoring their “top reviewers”. (Oh, wait, it is a British publishing house, so that should be: “honouring their toup reviewers”.) You can view it yourself, because it is open access, unlike their regular articles which they hide behind a paywall to inhibit real peer review (very few libraries subscribe to Tobacco Control, to their great credit). They really should have hidden this one from scrutiny too. Continue reading

Endgame: the Islamic State approach to tobacco control

by Carl V Phillips

Clive Bates has just published an excellent analysis of tobacco control’s “endgame” fantasies, specifically about a special issue on the topic in the journal entitled Tobacco Control (at least they were honest enough to give the journal a title that says “this is all about supporting a special-interest political position rather than doing honest science”). I wanted to add a few additional thoughts to what he wrote. Bear with me through a few musings before I get to the substance evoked in the dramatic title.

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WHO responds to criticism over e-cigarettes with attempted censorship

by Carl V Phillips

My previous post should have sat at the top of the page for the rest of the day, or two, because it is important (so please read it), but this is breaking news that I wanted to report on.

As many readers know, the World Health Organization (WHO) came out this week with an attack on e-cigarettes which presages them trying to pressure governments into acting against e-cigarettes. CASAA has not tried to address this in detail because (a) most of what we would have to say is generic observations of how many of the claims are wrong and proposed policies are bad, and we have already done that in other contexts, and (b) it seemed a reasonable division of labor to leave this to European supporters of tobacco harm reduction because we had to deal with the CDC and FDA this week. One of the Europeans who took on the WHO was Clive Bates, including with these posts. In response to Bates’s challenge to them, WHO did not pause to consider that they might be wrong and doing harm, nor did they try to defend themselves substantively. Instead, they threatened legal action against Bates. Continue reading

Glantz takes a vacuous swing at Bates; Pruen eviscerates Glantz

by Carl V Phillips

I was not planning to comment on the recent mass-signed letter that was sent to the WHO, telling them how they should think about e-cigarettes.  But then Tom Pruen wrote this gem of an analysis responding to Glantz’s ignorant response to the letter, and I had to post simply to link to that.  It is an insightful and very informative analysis (obvious caveat: that is not an endorsement of every word of it). Continue reading

TVECA letter ups the controversy for THR-vs-THR

by Carl V Phillips

My post about damaging battles among supposed THR advocates, and its unplanned follow-up, were among the least read posts on this blog lately.  I think this is sad and, frankly, a little embarrassing for our community.  Sure, I read the news as much for entertainment as enlightenment as much as the next guy.  But the sharp contrast is troubling, between the few hits on those posts that include actionable thoughts about what those on our side need to do differently, compared to posts about silly liars that are, for knowledgeable readers, frankly just entertainment (they serve a critical practical purpose as a reference to direct honest undecided or not-fully-informed people to, of course).

I have a feeling that this third entry in the unintentional series will change that (though I wish that were motivated by genuine reflection rather than the hatred that is brewing over this one).

[UPDATE: The response to yesterday’s post about NCI’s “tell your quit smoking story” page has included over one hundred tweets and retweets (counting just those that linked to the page or were sent to me, as of 11:30 am Eastern Time today), as well as FOIA filings and proposals to create a competing site.  That is great, but you know what:  It just doesn’t matter much!  It might prove embarrassing enough to NCI that they have to just take down that page (which is what they will do).  It will provide a footnote we can maybe mention in some contexts.  But it is not like that page was really hurting THR.  What I am talking about in this series is hurting THR.]

Today, TVECA, one of the U.S. e-cigarette industry groups, along with European partners, sent a letter to members of the European Parliament supporting the EU’s latest proposed regulation of e-cigarettes.  This was quickly followed by some prominent calls to boycott TVECA members and other companies who supported this move, because it is generally agreed among knowledgeable THR and vapors advocates that the current proposal is a very bad thing.  Clive Bates reprinted the letter and excoriated TVECA (within hours of it being submitted) here, and also reprinted his observations that presented the consumer position.  He points out the contempt and scorn TVECA et al. direct toward the real consumer advocates and their lobbying efforts.

(Note that CASAA does not consider itself expert enough on the EU law and process to become directly involved in this fight, thus the somewhat neutral language of this post.  We are expert on the U.S. law and process, and do not want to play the half-informed dilettante pundit game, as people do when they try to opine about everything in the field.  Personally I trust Clive as the leading expert and best advocate on EU regulation.)

By all appearances, this is a classic case of industry supporting a regulation that gives them a competitive advantage (it hurts the competition more than it hurts them), and while they pretend it represents concern about the consumers, it clearly hurts consumers.  That lack of concern about the consumers also translates into: they do not really care about THR; this is all just making money to them.  It looks no different from NRT merchants wanting to eliminate other low-risk tobacco products, big e-cigarette companies (mostly, but not entirely, the cigarette companies) favoring stringent regulations that only they can meet, or Kind Consumer lying about current-tech e-cigarettes.

I trust this will be properly disillusioning for some of you.  There are genuinely caring people in companies in all of these sectors, and thus units of companies of all sizes and business models that are genuinely pro-THR.  Because of this, sometimes the entire company is genuinely pro-consumer and pro-THR.  But  it is the nature of business (and government) that sociopaths — those who are naturally born and those who evolve those traits through seeing what is successful in business — tend to rise to the top.

The post is summed up best in the comments:

Q: Are they nuts?

CB: The short answer is ‘yes’.  It’s hard to see the public affairs logic of such a crude intervention. … It takes an especially divisive talent to do it as badly as TVECA, and they have yet to explain why they think their companies will benefit from agreement to all the things they list in their letter.

So they might be shooting themselves in the foot too, because they do not understand what they are saying (see above points about dilettantes).  But it seems pretty clear that while they might have accidentally hit their own foot, the fact that the consumers took a direct hit from this was no accident.

On a brighter note from Europe, comes this story about how one smokeless tobacco manufacturer released a product that avoids the ban on snus.  It has long been the case that some Danish manufacturers produced smokeless tobacco products designed for dipping (which is banned) but were able to sell them because they declared them to be for chewing (which is not).  The recent move takes this one step further, creating a minor variant on standard pouched snus and marketing it as pouched chew (yeah, right!).

Now that is the right way to deal with bad laws:  Figure out how to let people reclaim their liberty in spite of the law.  Those who favor tightening laws for their company’s — or their personal favorite products — advantage, please take note.