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Big Tobacco v Global Health: Time for New Strategies

Big Tobacco v Global Health: Time for New Strategies

Nicholas Freudenberg

If present trends continue, experts predict, the tobacco toll in the 21st century will reach one billion premature deaths, ten times the 100 million people who died from tobacco use in the 20th century. To avert that future will require changing the focus of current tobacco control strategies from a primary focus on changing the behavior of present and future smokers to one that seeks to change the practices of the tobacco industry itself.

More failed tobacco strategies from the progressives. Something many on the left do not understand is that people like tobacco, and will continue to use tobacco. It is the utopian fantasy of a tobacco free world that is in fact killing people.

It was the progressives that pushed the idea of harm reduction when it comes to safe sex, clean needles for illegal drug users, etc. And yet it is the progressives who are fanatically opposed to the idea of harm reduction when it comes to tobacco. There are ways of using tobacco that are vastly less harmful then inhaling smoke. A good example of successful tobacco harm reduction is the country of Sweden. Sweden has a daily smoking rate of 5% and still falling, the lowest in the world. There was no big government intervention that triggered the low smoking rates. The Swedish people simply switched to a low risk form of tobacco use with snus. Snus is not associated with cancer or heart disease, and is estimated (from numerous studies) to be about 99% less harmful then cigarettes. The people of Sweden continue to use tobacco at a rate at least equal to the rest of Europe, yet there harm outcomes are dramatically different.

Despite the evidence that harm reduction is an extremely effective way of improving smokers health, it is the democrats in the US that are opposed to it. Contrary to common myth, US style smokeless tobacco is also significantly less harmful then cigarettes, along with electronic cigarettes, and yet you wouldn’t know that without a lot of digging. It has been the democrats who continue to oppose truthfully informing the public about the relative risk of different tobacco products.

The way to stop the death from tobacco is to stop lying. Simply tell people the truth that there are ways of using tobacco and nicotine that are dramatically less harmful then cigarettes and people make the rational choice. It has happened in Sweden with snus, and is happening in the UK with electronic cigarettes. It is a proven way of reducing harm without draconian laws and restrictions.

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