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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

As I’m writing this, more news is emerging about the terrorist attack in London Bridge, an area I know well having worked round there for many years, often shopped in Borough Market and frequented the cafes and restaurants in the area. So my mood is not what you would call bright, but even so I thought I’d start this week’s missive with an amusing slot about the vagaries (or should that be vaparies?) of Australia’s e-cig laws.

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s2smodern

Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

My attention was caught this week by a series of exchanges focussing on whether nicotine was less addictive when delivered via an e-cigarette than a cigarette or whether you were simply swapping one equally harmful addiction for another. The conversation was sparked by Professor Linda Baud seeking materials to use in addressing barriers among smokers to switching away from cigarettes.

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s2smodern

Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

Now that he has been confirmed as the new FDA Commissioner, the heat is on Scott Gottlieb to torch the FDA deeming regulations that themselves threaten to set a match to America's vaping industry. (OK enough of the inflammatory metaphors). As a consequence of the new appointment, the industry has won a significant reprieve in the administration's decision to delay implementing the new FDA regime.

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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

Some weighty issues to consider this week. Top of the list. ' Is it ethical to invest in Big Tobacco?'

Writing for Vice magazine, Martin Robbins told the tale of how he entrusted some inheritance money to a company whose business it is to invest in stocks and shares on your behalf. Having got tired of sitting around waiting to get rich, he decided to check out exactly where his money had gone. “The results were a bit of a shock. In my top ten were BP, Shell Oil, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. That's Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. All I needed to round out my evil capitalist portfolio were a couple of arms companies and a stake in News International”. His biggest surprise was Big Tobacco, “Tobacco is more of a surprise: it's not just a good investment, it's one of the best. Ten years after Britain's public smoking ban, The Motley Fool recently declared 2017 "the year to invest in Tobacco stocks".

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/01/04/why-2017-is-the-year-to-invest-in-tobacco-stocks.aspx

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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

This cry from the heart from Dr Joel Nitzkin:

“After all this time, we are still dealing with the same mentality within the tobacco control community. To them "tobacco" is the problem, not smoking. To them, the industry is evil and anyone or any paper disagreeing with that perception is dismissed as a tobacco industry spokesperson or someone who has been snookered (taken for a fool and now plays the role of a useful idiot for the industry). To them, the only reason anyone in any tobacco-related industry would ever produce or promote any relatively low risk product would be to addict another generation of teens, who would then, predictably, transition to cigarettes for a bigger and better nicotine hit.

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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

Clive Bates received an invitation from China to buy 99% strength USP nicotine. This is what was bound to happen when as Clive points out “the super-caution of regulators over hypothetical and negligible risks can turn out to be reckless abandon in real life”. Excessive regulation of the law-abiding market [will most likely] prompt people to buy their e-liquid over the internet in illegally high-strength concentrations and at very low cost and then to mix their own - or to establish a cottage industry and do it for others”.

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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

Top read of the week is Fidela Cook writing in the Scottish Sunday Herald about how e-cigarettes pretty much saved her life by turning her away from a 40 a day cigarette habit. She rightly says that the demonisation of e-cigarettes could backfire dramatically by driving her back to cigarettes. But almost as an aside, she points the finger at Big Tobacco as participants in the campaign against e-cigarettes. It could be that she doesn't realise that the likes of BAT and Philip Morris are major players in the field of HNB technologies, but I doubt that.

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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

As a student, Professor Ibrahim Al-Marashi wrote a thesis entitled Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation. As revealed by the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war, the thesis found its way into the UK Foreign Office where it was not only plagiarised but also altered, as the British government and intelligence establishment sought to strengthen the uncertain evidence about Saddam Hussein's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

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s2smodern

Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

So obviously the big news of the week comes from New Zealand where  a government proposal will be put to parliament  next year which would legalise the sale and supply of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquids as consumer products.

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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

There has been some debate on the wires that the FDA Mission statement only seems to be concerned about reducing tobacco use by minors but not adults. The exact wording is “ FDA also has responsibility for regulating the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products to protect the public health and to reduce tobacco use by minors”.

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Harry Shapiro Director DrugWise

In a departure from the normal round-up, I want this week to focus on the idea of how increasingly propaganda and lies are trumping facts – and the pun is intended. I am prompted in this by a very interesting and frankly scary and depressing article by Tim Harford writing in the Financial Times about the 'problem with facts'.