Basking in the afterglow of the 50th anniversary of the truly landmark first Surgeon General s report on smoking and health, the current bunch has selected this month to release what they seem to believe is an update on that Dr. Luther Terry opus: The Health Consequences of Smoking 50 Years of Progress. Ostensibly the work of Acting USSG Boris D. Lushniak, the actual text is still a work in progress, as anyone who attempts to download or view the document will find: not ready until next month (they hope). But the thrust of the work can be elucidated from the Executive Summary, which is long enough anyway.
Let us first address the self-congratulatory introductory comments by several experts affiliated with the public health authorities at the federal level whose fingerprints are all over this work. First, HHS Secretary Sebelius went over the tragic statistics about the extent of the continuing smoking-related catastrophe in this country, and then said (with what I assume was a straight face), I believe we can make the next generation tobacco-free. And she s extremely proud of the Obama administration s tobacco-control record (also not even a hint of irony). Her main pillars of support for these outlandish assertions: the increased taxation of cigarettes, and of course the wonderful 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which supposedly granted authority to the FDA over tobacco. Too bad they haven't actually done anything productive in the past 5 years to reduce the toll of smoking, other than talk about it.
Next we hear from her assistant, Howard Koh, who probably does more than fetch her coffee, but not much more. He is concerned that the range of emerging tobacco products complicates the current public health landscape. Apparently, Howard would be happier if we just kept to the status quo and didn t try to change what all agree is a losing game. Oh wait: he does not agree! He wonders why this addiction persists when proven interventions can eliminate it. Which interventions, Howard? The approved methods have indeed been proven: proven not to work. But Howard fears emerging products might complicate his tranquil landscape, while 440,000 Americans die from smoking each year. Wake up, Howard.
Best of all, as expected, the CDC s manipulator-in-chief, Tom Frieden, weighs in with his usual phony blather, still referring to his distorted teen survey about the use of e-cigarettes having more than doubled between 2011 and 2012. He has apparently not listened to those who point out that his ability to deceive through statistics should not be confused with actually helping improve public health, his supposed mission. (He d better hope that his boss, Secretary Sebelius, doesn t read this though; ...that burden of smoking-attributable mortality is expected to remain at high and unacceptable levels for decades to come unless urgent action is taken. But she said that, just maybe, we can make the next generation...well, see above. Frieden also refers to proven interventions...to reduce tobacco initiation among youth and adults. Oh? Please share those with us, Tom.
As for the details of new links between cigarettes and adverse health outcomes, there is just about nothing new in this book that was not dealt with much more concisely and clearly in ACSH s truly ground-breaking work, first appearing in 1996 and the latest edition, 2001: Cigarettes: What the Warning Label Doesn t Tell You. It s all in there, why didn t the feds just ask us for it?