Harm Reduction Newsletter, August 11
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Harm Reduction Newsletter

Harm Reduction Newsletter, August 11

Federal News Round-Up

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb continues to highlight the agency’s new approach to tobacco and nicotine regulation via his Twitter account. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price also indicated his support for the new policy. Guy Bentley and Brian Fojtik of Reason Foundation outlined the highlights of Gottlieb’s announcement in the Washington Examiner.

The FDA docket for public comment in regard to the modified risk tobacco product application filed by Philip Morris S.A. is open. Philip Morris is seeking approval to make specific claims about its heat-not-burn product not yet approved for sale in the U.S.

State News Round-Up

Three state legislatures (and Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are meeting actively this week.

California (local) flavor bans for vapor and tobacco products continue to receive attention, with legislation adopted in San Francisco inspiring a coalition to challenge the bans via referendum. The newly formed “Let’s Be Real, San Francisco” coalition of vapers, California vapor businesses and tobacco companies opposing the ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored vapor products submitted enough petition signatures to request a referendum challenging the ordinance. The measure was approved by the Board of Supervisors on August 7. San Francisco now has the opportunity to withdraw the ordinance, schedule a referendum vote in a special election or add it to the July 2018 primary election ballot.

By two votes in the House, the Maine legislature overrode Governor Paul LePage’s veto of legislation that increased the age of purchase for tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21. Reason Foundation’s Brian Fojtik expressed support for LePage’s decision to veto and encouraged the legislature to uphold the veto.

Science and Harm Reduction

A study published in the British Medical Journal provides some of the strongest evidence yet that e-cigarettes are helping adult smokers quit. “Our analysis of the population survey data indicated that smokers who also used e-cigarettes were more likely to attempt to quit smoking, and more likely to succeed,” said the study’s lead researcher, UC San Diego professor Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D.

A study published in the journal Tobacco Control comparing the cancer potencies of emissions from vaporized nicotine products with those of tobacco smoke found the cancer risk associated with vaping to be less than one percent of that associated with smoking. “Optimal combinations of device settings, liquid formulation, and vaping behavior normally result in e-cigarette emissions with much less carcinogenic potency than tobacco smoke,” the researchers concluded.

Writing in The Hill, Reason Foundation’s Guy Bentley commented on the opportunity heat-not-burn products present for tobacco harm reduction.


Reason’s Jacob Sullum argues the FDA’s plan for low nicotine, nonaddictive cigarettes is misconceived and could actually harm public health. Smokers could engage in compensatory behavior by inhaling harder and longer on reformulated cigarettes to make up for the reduced nicotine. A thriving black market for cigarettes containing satisfactory amounts of nicotine would also likely to emerge. “While competing products such as e-cigarettes and snus promise harm reduction through consumer choice, a nicotine cap would be the opposite: harm maximisation by government fiat,” writes Sullum.

Director of strategic initiatives at Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) Paul Blair and Reason Foundation’s Brian Fojtik discussed the FDA’s new approach to tobacco and nicotine regulation on the Smoke & Mirrors podcast which can be found here.

President of ATR Grover Norquist featured in a Vice News item discussing the FDA’s deeming rule and politicization of vapers.


Two ballot initiatives have been filed with the Secretary of State’s office in South Dakota to raise tobacco taxes. The first would raise the tobacco tax from 35 percent of the wholesale price to 45 percent while the second initiative would increase the tax to 55 percent.

What’s Coming Up?

Early registration is now open for the 71st Tobacco Science Research Conference on September 17-20 in Bonita Springs, Florida.

The Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum will be held September 12-14 in New York City.

Quotable Quotes

“The FDA’s top-down approach to tobacco regulation, with its glacial bureaucracy and barriers to entry that favor large corporations, was always ill-suited to the dynamic market for e-cigarettes,” – Jacob Grier, freelance writer and author of “Cocktails on Tap: The Art of Mixing Spirits and Beer”

Additional Resources

The Proposed Tobacco Product Standard for NNN Level in Smokeless Tobacco Should Be Withdrawn
The World Health Organization’s Opposition to Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Threat to Public Health?
The Vapor Revolution: How Bottom-Up Innovation Is Saving Lives
Reason’s Research and Analysis of Nicotine and Vapor Issues