Harm Reduction Newsletter, August 25

Harm Reduction Newsletter

Harm Reduction Newsletter, August 25

Federal Update

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Director of Center for Tobacco Products Mitch Zeller co-authored an article in the New England Journal of Medicine outlining and expanding upon the agency’s new approach to combustible cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other noncombustible nicotine products.

Reason Foundation’s Brian Fojtik outlined the FDA’s new policy direction and upcoming challenges related to vapor products, heat-not-burn tobacco products, and smokeless tobacco in a commentary in National Review.

The FDA docket for a Modified Risk Tobacco Product remains open for public comment in regard to the application filed by Philip Morris S.A. seeking approval to make specific claims about its heat-not-burn product not yet approved for sale in the U.S. Citizens Against Government Waste filed a comment in support of the application August 10.

State Updates

Five state legislatures (and Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are meeting actively this week.

California (local) – A coalition opposing the San Francisco ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored vapor products successfully met legal requirements that would force the Board of Supervisors to withdraw the proposal or send it to the voters for approval. David Sweanor of the Center for Health, Law, Policy, and Ethics at the University of Ottawa debated the flavor ban on KGO-810 radio.

Science and Harm Reduction

study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Rutgers School of Public Health found that among US adults who were established smokers in the past five years, those who vaped daily were significantly more likely to have quit smoking compared to those who have never tried e-cigarettes.

Research published in Tobacco Control assessed whether adolescent e-cigarette use was associated prospectively with initiation or escalation of smoking. “Ever use of e-cigarettes was robustly associated with initiation but more modestly related to escalation of cigarette use,” the authors concluded. The authors, however, cautioned that the study does not show a causal link between e-cigarette use and smoking initiation.

“This paper, like the report by Miech et al also published in Tobacco Control earlier this year, demonstrates that young people experiment with things,” said Professor John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham. “What matters is not whether use of e-cigarettes is associated with use of tobacco, which is to be expected, but whether the availability of e-cigarettes results in more children becoming smokers than would otherwise have been the case.” Data from both the UK and the US suggests this is not the case.


Responding to a Vox article suggesting the U.S. replicate plain packaging for tobacco products introduced in Australia, France, and the U.K. Reason Foundation’s Guy Bentley argued in the Daily Vaper, a new publication from Daily Caller, that the policy is misconceived and has no record of success.

A new R Street Institute policy study concludes that governments around the world are banning vapor products in ways that may violate World Trade Organization rules against discriminatory treatment.

“Although e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes do not carry ‘like’ risk, these products are in competition with one another in the marketplace, writes R Street Associate Fellow Maria Foltea.

“There is, therefore, good reason to believe that, as long as traditional cigarettes are freely traded, a ban on e-cigarettes will be found discriminatory under WTO rules. Accordingly, regulators must consider such issues of legality before enacting any such prohibitive laws.”


A state lawmaker in Michigan introduced a 27-page House bill to slap a 32 percent tax on the wholesale price vapor products. Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell argued the tax was necessary “to ensure these products do not look attractive to minors.’’

The tax would come into effect Oct. 1, 2018, and 75 percent of proceeds would be credited to the Michigan Medicaid Benefits Trust Fund, with the remainder going into the state’s general fund. “Essentially, the purpose of my bill is to treat e-cigarette products as tobacco products,’’ said Albert.

What’s Coming Up?

Registration should open soon 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

“I am sure there are people so committed to a quit-or-die approach that no amount or quality of research will make a difference,” – David Sweanor, adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa.

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