Friday, 27 May 2011


Pharma inhaler ressembling a tampon
Nicotine replacement therapy has been ever increasingly marketed aggressively since the early 90’s. Over the years, the pharmaceutical industry has been attempting to make it ever more attractive to consumers by sugar coating it and enhancing its flavor with fruit and mint essences – while at the same time they mudsling the tobacco industry for marketing attractive and kiddy friendly smokeless tobacco products.  Many nicotine replacement products such as lozenges, patches and even inhalers - poorly mimicking the act of smoking with devices ressembling tampons - are continuously peddled to the public directly by the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacists and anti-tobacco advocates. They have even succeeded to convince governments in various countries (including the province of Quebec) and private insurance companies to reimburse the cost of using nicotine replacement therapy which costs pennies to manufacture but is indecently marked up when it reaches the consumer. Pr. Robert Molimard had this to say on the cost of nicotine: ’ Nicotine presently costs, if you buy it at Fluka -- that is an international chemical product company -- 440 euros per liter. An average cigarette will deliver to you about 0,8 mg of nicotine -- since there are 1 million of 1mg in one liter – it would mean 1 200 000 cigarettes. In other words with one euro -- and you can calculate it yourself -- you would buy 143 packs of cigarettes.

One can rightfully think that it’s all worth it if it really helps people stop smoking for good . Unfortunately this can’t be further from the truth. Reputable studies have shown that nicotine replacement therapy has very poor (as little as 1,6%) long term success rates. Such poor succes rates would not have only never been acceptable for any other type of medication but public or private insurance plans would have categorically refused covering its costs.

Yet nicotine replacement therapy gets a free, no questions asked, pass. Why? Part of the reason may reside in the fact that when it comes to the tobacco issue, Big Pharma tends to do its  lobbying and bidding through the sponsoring of associations that politicians, insurance companies and much of the public blindly trust, or at least pretend to. Who would dare question the authoritarian opinion and advice of long established charity organizations such as the cancer, the lung and heart associations?  It would be political and professional suicide and would be considered as a callous attitude if either politicians or other authoritarian entities dared to challenge their contentions.  Nicotine replacement therapy therefore remains a) heavily prescribed b) continuously reimbursed either through private or public medical insurance plans in various countries including the province of Quebec c) highly lucrative repetitive business for Big Pharma d) an un-attackable myth

The latest campaign to boost nicotine replacement therapy and the dangerous drug Champix (Chantix in the USA) and Zyban which carry a black box warning in the U.S.A., comes to us from the Ontario Lung Association.

In a recent press release that the Canadian press picked up (linked below), they are launching the ''Abolish Word Habit Program''  which is campaigning  for stopping to call smoking a habit and start calling it by what it is i.e. an addiction.

They explain how quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroin and cocaine and how nicotine is delivered to the brain in the addictive format.

Then they switch into their offensive mode of peddling nicotine replacement therapy and medication and especially their main agenda for this particular campaign:  getting public healthcare and private insurance plans to cover nicotine replacement therapy and Champix/Zyban :

‘’Seventy-nine per cent of smokers surveyed said they would be more likely to try at least one smoking cessation medication if they were free of charge.

(…) most smokers can't quit cold turkey and politicians need to step up.’’

He advocates counselling, nicotine replacement therapies and medications that people can afford through a drug plan.’’

How shameful for the Ontario Lung Association to lobby  for the squandering of public funds and especially that our public healthcare system is on the verge of becoming totally unsustainable!

Oh, just in case anyone still thinks that their motives are noble, reading the very last sentence of their press release should convince even the most skeptical of our readers:

‘’The association's 'abolish the word habit' program is being sponsored by the drug company Pfizer Canada Inc.’’

We will leave the last word on nicotine addiction to Pr. Robert Molimard’s expertise and wisdom.  Excerpt from: BELIEFS, MANIPULATION AND LIES IN THE TOBACCO ISSUE - Robert Molimard

The big fraud in the tobacco issue was none other than the publication of the 1988 Surgeon General Report entitled “Nicotine Addiction’’. This fraud is incomprehensible unless one sees the link with the launch of the nicotine gum. The major premise of the Report seems to be a syllogism that states: “Tobacco products cause a powerful addiction’’ The minor premise is: “Tobacco contains a neurotropic poison - nicotine’’. Hence follows the conclusion: “Therefore nicotine is responsible for the addictiveness of tobacco’’. But there is no evidence that allows us to draw such a conclusion. A host of other assumptions are possible, and there are even major arguments to oppose it, such as the fact that no cases of nicotine dependence have ever been documented when this substance was used in isolation, as was already established long before the “Medication Enterprises” began marketing nicotine as a form of medication.

(…)having arbitrarily decided that nicotine alone explains tobacco dependence and having it engrained in the minds of doctors, the authorities and the public, any research on the other possible factors of this dependency is now excluded in advance and a vast new market is made available for commercial exploitation by the pharmaceutical industry.

Kick the habit of calling smoking a habit, it's an addiction: lung association


John S (UK) said...

I note that the OLA is also attempting to ban the use of the term 'habit' for smoking and replace it with 'addiction'.

Perhaps 'Tobacco Control' should be replaced with 'Big Pharma's Marketing Division'.

Anonymous said...

One poster of a CBC forum has replaced the expression ''lighting a cigarette'' with ''setting tobacco on fire''. All this newspeak is so very Orwellian!

Anonymous said...

Just keep smoking those smoking replacement gagits have to carry a warning in the states anyway.We on the other hand will muddle through thinking that we are correcting lifestyles through chemestry an in the long run big pharma an ontario lung can just watch people's brains rott atleast their lungs will be healthy

FXR said...

A couple of major points that require a lot more attention.

First if you look at the actual definition of
"Health Fraud".

What is health fraud? Health fraud is the deceptive promotion, advertising, distribution, or sale of articles represented as being effective to diagnose, prevent, cure, treat, or mitigate an illness or condition, or provide a beneficial effect on health but has not been scientifically proven safe and effective for such purposes."

The alternatives which provide the major seed funding, for most of the anti-smoker campaign can not be described otherwise.

They advertise "doubles your chances of quitting" while neglecting to mention, that statement would qualify in the cited research, only when compared to placebos and if smoking is truly addictive, how do they qualify such a claim and deny that smokers would not understand that they were given placebos?

The second and equally important point being that the so called "medical treatments" being offered to smokers, fail in more than 90% of cases and particularly in the longer term. If they are a only short term solution to help you quit for a couple of weeks or so, they should be advertised as such. Because at the end of the day in comparison to cold turkey, Doctors and the entire medical community are decreasing a smoker's chances of quitting significantly, by declaring a futility without the "alternatives" and by shamelessly shilling products that simply maintain the number of those smoking and add to the conflicts being created, by medically divided communities.

Divided by the hateful and mean spirited acts, known as "denormalization" and aggressive "social marketing" to promote divisions,in place of acceptable long standing and inclusive solutions which respect all parties at the table. Such as a sign on the door which avoids all risks to non smokers and provides assurances in search of "protecting other people's children" which is always at the top of the lobby group's major and overly dramatized concerns.

FXR said...

BTW a lot of all too considerate terms used by smoker's rights groups should be adjusted to fight fire with fire.

I would refer to them only as the big pharma lobbies or the the shills of health fraud for profit, in place of cancer society or lung associations or even the medical associations, I am sure they would prefer to be identified with.

If it makes them mad, you are exactly where you want to be.

C.A.G.E. said...

The biggest crime about the whole thing is that after having convinced smokers that they are too addicted to quit on their own, they push these virtually useless products over and over and over on them. By the time they have attempted to quit a few times what with patches, gum, Champix or what have you, they become REALLY convinced that they are desperate addicts. Since they are now convinced that nothing can help them they never make another attempt to quit. After all, if these ''miracle'' drugs can't help them, nothing can. Yet most serious unbiased studies have shown over and over that cold turkey has the most successful quit rates!


Anonymous said...

As far as I know, the McTear vs ITL case is the only time anti-smoking claims such as those contained in the USSG and RCP have ever been tested in court on a scientific basis. The top UK anti-smokers took over ten years to prepare their case and were annihilated in court, to put it mildy!
Sources such as Wikipedia tend to simply quote from USSG and RCP reports.

Tony W

Anonymous said...

Apologies, my comment above was a little postscript to a much longer post (about Henningfield 1984) that hasn't appeared yet.

Tony W

Anonymous said...

This is a shorter re-posting of my earlier attempt:

From about 1998 onward, US Surgeon General (SG) and UK Royal College of Physicians (RCP) reports stress that nicotine is both instantly and as strongly addictive as Cocaine. The reports always cite a research paper - 'Henningfield 1984' as their source for this. Jack Henningfield was the author of the paper. He also sat on the US SG advisory committee, was an advisor to the RCP and is a consultant to Glaxo Smithkline.
'Henningfield 1984' does indeed conclude that Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or opium. However the actual data in the paper completely contradicts his conclusion. Addictiveness is illustrated in the paper by similar looking bar charts, except that the scales are completely different. It appears nicotine is nearer chocolate in addictiveness. McTear vs Imperial Tobacco Limited
An extract from the judgement - the judge's view on the addiction evidence (the whole judgement is a must read):
"[6.206] Professor Gray's evidence accordingly is consistent with the averment for the pursuer that once individuals such as Mr McTear have started smoking it is difficult for them to wean themselves off the habit. It provides no support for the proposition that tobacco is more addictive than cocaine, or more addictive than heroin for that matter. There is no evidence before me which provides support for the conclusion in USSG 1988 that the pharmacological and behavioural processes that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Indeed, insofar as this relied on Henningfield 1984, it lacked a sound scientific basis."

Tony W

C.A.G.E. said...

Hi Tony,

I was aware of the McTear vs ITL study which I believe was indeed the first time that a tobacco company defended themselves based on the science but I was unaware of the origins of the cocaine and opium addiction claim. You wouldn't have a link to that Henningfield paper, would you?

For the benefit of our readers here's the link to McTear vs ITL case


Anonymous said...

Hi Iro,

This is an extract from the McTear vs ITL judgement:
"Figure 5 showed nine histograms each showing two bars, one for placebo (P) and the other for the "drug" under investigation (D) or simulated gambling (SG). In all nine histograms the D or SG bar was higher than the P bar. Professor Gray said that the significance was said to be that nicotine increased scores on this scale to the same degree as that seen for morphine and amphetamine, for example, and from the way the figure was drawn that appeared to be the case. It has subsequently been pointed out by Warburton, however, that the scales on the vertical axes of each of the histograms were quite different from each other. This was standardly regarded as very poor scientific methodology and should have been pointed out by the referees of the paper at the outset; it was something that graduate students were taught at an early stage not to do. For morphine for example, the P value was below 4 and the D value nearly 10; the same for amphetamine. For nicotine, the P value was 5 and the D value just below 7. But the scales had been set so that the difference between P and D for nicotine appeared to be as large as that for amphetamine and morphine, though this was simply not the case."

The Henningfield paper is here:

Tony W

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