Thursday, June 25, 2009

When Big Tobacco Says Fewer Carcinogens Means Safer, It's a Fraudulent Lie; When the Anti-Smoking Groups Say the Same Thing, It's Their Best Argument

The anti-smoking and health groups which promoted the FDA tobacco legislation based the bulk of their argument in support of this bill on their assertion that FDA regulation of tobacco products would make cigarettes safer by virtue of the FDA requiring the reduction or elimination of certain toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in cigarettes or tobacco smoke.

For example, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids boasts that the new FDA tobacco legislation will "empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of nicotine levels."

Today I reveal, however, that these very same groups recently attacked the tobacco companies for making exactly the same argument. At that time, these groups told the public that this very argument was fraudulent.

In a special report entitled "Big Tobacco's Guinea Pigs: How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on America's Kids and Consumers," the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and American Lung Association attacked the cigarette companies for marketing new products with reduced levels of, or elimination of, a number of the carcinogens in tobacco smoke. The health groups claimed that the tobacco companies were fraudulently lying and that there was no evidence that having fewer carcinogens translates into being a safer cigarette.

The report laments that: "Over the past several years, a number of new tobacco products have been introduced to consumers with unproven claims of reduced risk. These products have included cigarettes like Omni and Advance, or tobacco lozenges like Stonewall and Ariva. These products are only the beginning of a series of new products being unveiled by the tobacco companies in an effort to address the health concerns of current tobacco users and to provide an alternative product to individuals seriously considering quitting tobacco use altogether."

"Omni was produced and marketed by Vector Tobacco, Ltd, with the statement, “Omni has significantly reduced those carcinogens that are the major causes of lung cancer in smokers. Compared to any other cigarette currently on the market, Omni delivers less carcinogens to the smoker. While Omni has not been proven to reduce the health risks of smoking, Omni’s reduced carcinogen levels are a logical and important first step. If you smoke, Omni is clearly the best alternative.” The magazine ad claims, “Introducing the first cigarette to significantly reduce carcinogenic PAH’s, nitrosamines, and catechols, which are major causes of lung cancer in smokers.” There has been no evidence supporting any of Vector’s claims for Omni."

The Omni ad states: "What happens to a cigarette when you reduce carcinogens?" Another Omni ad says: "Reduced carcinogens. Premium taste."

So what the health groups are saying here is that the tobacco companies are deceiving the American public by claiming that there is any connection between the reduction of carcinogens or toxins in a tobacco product and the safety of that product. This would be the only grounds for these health groups to attack Vector for stating in its ads that these cigarettes reduce levels of various toxins and carcinogens. If the health groups believed, at the time, that reductions of the levels or number of carcinogens and toxins in tobacco smoke was connected in some way to reduced health risks, then there would be no valid compliant against Vector for advertising the elimination of various toxins and carcinogens.

Now, however, the very same health groups are making exactly the same argument for which they attacked Vector: that the FDA can mandate a safer product by reducing or eliminating toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke. In other words, these groups are asserting that there is a connection between the levels and number of these toxins and carcinogens and the health risks for smokers.

The Rest of the Story

As the health groups should know based on abundant scientific evidence, there is no reason to believe that the reduction of certain toxins and constituents in tobacco smoke translates into a safer cigarette. A number of products which made such claims have been tested and no evidence has yet been produced to suggest that they are any safer. If anything, products which have documented lower yields of carcinogens have been found to pose a much greater risk of lung cancer among smokers. In other words, lower yield products are believed to be more dangerous, not less dangerous, for smokers. Clearly, we cannot assume that lower levels of carcinogens and toxins means a safer cigarette.

This blows the health groups' main argument in support of the FDA legislation right out of the water.

That would be fine, and we could merely conclude that the health groups were guilty of making a fallacious argument, were it not for the fact that those same health groups attacked cigarette companies for making that very argument.

In other words, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, ACS, AHA, and ALA are two-faced, double-sided, smoke-blowing hypocrites.

When Big Tobacco says fewer carcinogens means a safer cigarette, these groups tell the public that the companies are full of crap, and they take them to court and try to convict them as being guilty of lies, deceit, and fraud.

But when the health groups then make the very same argument - that fewer carcinogens and toxins will mean a safer cigarette - they apparently now suddenly believe that argument to be true.

Perhaps these health groups should come out with a new special report entitled: "Big Government's Guinea Pigs: How the Federal Government Experiments on America's Kids and Consumers."

If a governor of South Carolina who opposed same sex marriage on the grounds that a marriage should be between one man and one woman hadn't just been found gallivanting around in Argentina with a mistress, I would have said that these health groups were guilty of the most hypocritical action of the day. But I still think they come in a close second.

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