Harm Reduction

Executive Summary Active smoking has been recognized as a major cause of disease and death for at least 40 years. But in the past 20 years a growing body of evidence has shown that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in other words, second hand smoking may also be a threat to health.
To the Editor: A recent study reports that the ads created by Philip Morris to discourage teenage smoking are not only ineffective, but they may actually encourage the habit. (Marketplace, April 7, 1999). This does not come as a big surprise. A cigarette company is hardly the ideal candidate to convince teenagers not to smoke. The viability of the Industry depends on new, young recruits. But the failure of the Philip Morris campaign to discourage teenage cigarette use should not deter the development of genuine and effective antismoking commercials. These ads do play an important role in decreasing smoking rates among youth. Florida's ad campaign, which has in one year lowered teen smoking by 10%, provides a good example of such efficacy.
Executive Summary The National Health Council reports that 35 percent of American adults of both sexes rely on magazines for health news. Each month, millions of American women look to their favorite women's magazines as primary sources of health information. This is not surprising: Many consumer magazines devote whole sections of each issue to health topics, and their editors sift through mountains of medical news to bring their readers stories that are both catchy and easy to understand. But in the editorial pursuit of novelty, some important health messages¬particularly about the risks of smoking¬are often overlooked.
A public health expert and other prominent speakers deplored Philip Morris' latest move to entice young girls to smoke: the "Woman Thing" music campaign where girls get "free" CD's by buying two packs of Virginia Slims cigarettes. At a news conference held today, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, President of the American Council on Science and Health, urged "Young women of America, let Philip Morris know you are too smart to fall for their tactics! And Americans in general demand that the Congress protect the interests of public health, not those of the Industry."
A leading public health consumer group said that any deal with the cigarette industry that includes shielding it from current and future private-sector litigation would be an unparalleled setback for the cause of public health in America.
After the Liggett Group announced a settlement last month of the Medicare reimbursement suits brought by 22 states, a press release from the American Cancer Society reflected the near universal response of the public health community: This action "will significantly advance [our] goals for curtailing the death and disease caused by tobacco use." After all, the health advocates argued, not only was Liggett breaking ranks with the industry by admitting that cigarettes cause disease, are addictive, and are peddled to kids, but Liggett was also planning to pay compensatory damages to the states. Have we all died and gone to smoke-free heaven? Let's get real.
An ex-smoker, I nevertheless am curious as to the data and source thereof for the statistical cautions about smoking. Priorities (spring, 1992) contained a reprint of one of Dr. Whelan's editorials against cigarette advertising which stated that cigarette smoking kills 1,300 Americans each day, or about 475,000 people per year. It is my impression that total annual deaths in the U.S. number about one percent of the population, or 2.5 million from all causes. With only about 25 percent of the population now smoking, down from an all-time high of about 40 percent, it is hard to visualize how a habit which might have, on the average, involved 30 percent of the living population at one time or another could be responsible for 20 percent of all deaths today.
It must come as no small surprise that tobacco, whose current worldwide use as a smoking material kills some three million people every year, "may in time become one of the world's principal sources of protein for human consumption and livestock feed." So stated no less an authority than the World Health Organization's Farm and Agriculture Organization in 1981. Nevertheless, tobacco as a protein source has received so little publicity over the years that most of us are still largely unaware of it's potential to feed a hungry world. Protein From Tobacco
Historians may record that it was the confluence in time and space of two events the unprecedented success of the "Old Joe" Camel ads and the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling against tobacco companies which triggered the beginning of the end for cigarette advertising in America.