Friday, October 5, 2012

Senate committee examines tobacco harm reduction strategies

 “It’s time for us to examine how we can improve these figures and whether there are effective policy options we can use,” said Johnson, R-Kingfisher. “If tobacco harm reduction strategies can produce positive results without unnecessary intrusion and regulation on personal behavior, then they deserve careful consideration. We all understand that tobacco can be harmful, but if less risky forms are available, the public has a right to know the facts.”

This signifies a positive turn in the right (no pun intended) direction. If we can preserve freedom whilst simultaneously improving upon the health of the public at large (in this case, the health of smokers) shouldn't that be the path that we progress upon? There is no other sensible path, in my humble opinion; Senator Johnson seems to get that. Good for him. I hope that more of our representatives follow in his footsteps.

Oklahoma State Senate - News


  1. Well, it is certainly a start, J. What troubles me is that the Senator's words could easily be twisted to mean that Tobacco Companies should be forced to produce only 'approved' products. But it is good to see that someone is actually thinking about "intrusion and regulation on personal behavior" and "the public has a right to know the facts.” I also note that the Senator used the phrase "..that tobacco CAN be harmful". I do not know if you get to look at the Bolton Smokers Club site very often. You may have noticed that I have been doing some work on Doll's Doctors Study. In particular, I created a graph (derived from a Doll graph) which shows that smokers start to die off (in late middle age) about 10 years earlier than non-smokers. But the graph also shows that, once non-smokers start to die off, they die at much the same rate as smokers. Do you see the significance of that J? It is this:
    Smoking has no effect until about 45, at which point more smokers start to die (as percentages, of course) than non-smokers, but the numbers are still small. At about the age 55, lots more smokers start to die than non-smokers. Once this process starts, however, the rate of deaths becomes steady. Non-smokers start to die in the same sort of numbers at the later age of 65, but once THEY start to die, they die at the same rate as smokers. In other words, the effect of smoking is confined to the late middle age period of people's lives.
    (I hope that makes sense)

    Let me see if I can illustrate:

    Smoker deaths:

    Low age.............
    \\\\\\\\Late mid age...
    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Old age...............

    Non-smoker deaths:

    Low age................
    \\\\\\\\\\\Late mid age...
    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Old age............

    (I like that!)

    Non-smokers start to die later than smokers in late mid age, but then die as often as smokers thereafter. Note very well that both lines end at the same place which is at about the age 100 years.

    Getting back to the Senator, it would be good to hear similar statements from National Senators!


  2. " What troubles me is that the Senator's words could easily be twisted to mean that Tobacco Companies should be forced to produce only 'approved' products."

    I don't believe that that was/is the Senator's was implying.

    ".. smokers start to die off (in late middle age) about 10 years earlier than non-smokers."

    That seems like a rather general statement to me. Are you referring to "all" smokers, or just "some" smokers? There are so many variables to consider:

    For example, how much does an individual smoke over the course of a lifetime? Do smokers of 5 cigarettes a day die at the same rate as smokers of say 2 packs a day? ...and what of the (unfiltered) cigarette smokers that made up the majority of smokers in Doll's day? What of high nitrosamine tobacco of the 70s-90s vs low nitrosamine tobacco in the U.S. today? What of the smokers who eat a diet that is high in anti-oxidants? What of the smokers whose diet consists of bad (trans) fats as compared to those who consume a diet high in essential fatty acids? What of the role of genes?

    There is no doubt that smoking is risky, but there are so many variables and so many possibilities when it comes to the issue of harm reduction. Things have changed so much since the Doll study. I do wonder though...Did Doll make the distinction between intermittent smoking and heavy smoking, or did he just lump everyone into the same pile?

  3. I took a graph from Doll's report on the Doctors Study and expanded it. It shows the death rates for heavy smokers, moderate smokers, light smokers and non-smokers. Here is the URL:

    Doll took very little notice of the 'counfounders' that you mention. It is interesting to note that he (and Tobacco Control in general) did NOT produce any actual evidence in the McTear Case that smoking causes lung cancer.

    Take a look at the graph.