In an op/ed entitled "Smokeless Tobacco as a Nicotine Delivery Device: Harm or Harm Reduction?"
FDA TPSAC member Neal Benowitz (after writing 8 objective paragraphs) grossly misrepresented the scientific and empirical evidence about tobacco harm reduction and smokeless tobacco in the 9th paragraph by writing:
Then in the next two paragraphs, Benowitz touted the benefits of verenicline before acknowledging that he has received funding from drug companies that market smoking cessation products.Although ST use increases the risk of some cancers, oral disease, disorders of pregnancy, and possibly cardiovascular disease, the major argument against its use for harm reduction is that it may result in dual use of ST and cigarettes, with fewer people quitting smoking. For example, ST may be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms when smokers are unable to smoke because of workplace or other restrictions, reducing the discomfort that would otherwise have prompted them to quit smoking. Another argument is that ST users who are able to reduce their cigarette consumption by this practice may believe that they are significantly reducing their smoking-related disease risk, when in fact that is not the case. Furthermore, there is evidence that ST use among US adolescents is a strong risk factor for becoming an adult smoker. A recent analysis modeling the benefit versus harm for the US population suggests that adoption of ST would not in the long term reduce harm for the population.2 Although anecdotally ST helps smokers quit, one controlled clinical trial found no long-term benefit for quitting.3 Therefore, at present there appears to be—at least at the population level in the United States—more risk than benefit in the use of ST for harm reduction or to aid in smoking cessation.
Unfortunately for objectivity and public health, Benowitz failed to mention and failed cite any of the many scientific articles that have found that:
- smokeless tobacco products are exponentially less hazardous than cigarettes,
- switching to smokeless reduces a smokers health risks nearly as much as quitting all tobacco,
- millions of smokers have already quit smoking by switching to smokeless tobacco,
- reducing cigarette consumption reduces health risks for smokers (and for those around them),
- dual usage of smokeless tobacco by smokers is a necessary prerequisite to switching,
- there are far more smokers who switch to smokeless than smokeless users who switch to cigarettes,
- smokeless tobacco is only a risk factor for smoking for those who believe the misleading warnings on smokeless tobacco products, and
- the most effective way to reduce the number of smokeless users who switch to cigarettes is by truthfully informing the public that cigarettes are far more hazardous than smokeless tobacco.