harm reduction

One of my extended family members is a former smoker. Nagging him to stop did little good. Warning him against its health dangers produced similarly poor results. He was addicted, and he appeared to like smoking, anyway. 

Then e-cigarettes came along. After giving them a try, he quit cigarettes for good. No nagging was necessary. He received the same kick from vaping minus all the nasty smoke that makes cigarettes so dangerous. His blunted sense of smell and taste returned to normal and breathing became easier. 

His story is not unique. Many former smokers credit e-cigarettes with changing their lives for the better. A study in the journal Tobacco Control concluded that...

What goes up must come down.  There is no top without a bottom.  Two sides to every coin.  No front without a back.  A lid without a pot.  My cliche list is endless.  So, I will stop torturing you.

Just know, most arise from kernels of truth.

Alcohol is good and bad.  Makes some happy.  Others sad.  Amplifies joy.  Or, exacerbates decline.  It alienates.  It coalesces.  De-stresses and stresses.  It calms.  It kills.

You are the variable.  As is the dose.

Is ‘Moderation’ sexy? 

For those whose health benefits from moderate drinking exceed their drawbacks, it is.  Like most things, there are no absolutes or guarantees. No one size-fits-all.

According to the...

Courtesy Richard Levine/Corbis Courtesy Richard Levine/Corbis

A recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee issues a strange warning about e-cigarettes, saying that they may cause hearing loss among teenagers. The piece was authored by Dave Fabry, identified as the vice-president of audiology for Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, MN.

While the urge is to simply view this as fear-mongering by someone who does not understand nicotine modes of action (and confuses it with smoking, which...

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: Shutterstock

In the September 1906 issue of the North American Review, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) popularized the phrase, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

More recently, and relevant to the increasing use of statistics in science and health issues, statistician Stephen John Senn wrote on Twitter

Over 18 million young people, 68.9 percent of middle and high school students, see some form of e-cigarette advertising, according to a new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report based on self-reported surveys.

And that worries them.

Should it? It depends. Kids are rebellious, that is why so many marketers cater to that theme, and e-cigarettes are certainly a fad for some because they are counter-culture, but CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden is framing the issue inaccurately when he says, The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes.

What industry...

HelpingSmokersQuitThe United States Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) has reviewed the Swedish Match (SM) "pre-market tobacco application" (PMTA) for eight tobacco products (called "snus") and approved their continued sale in the U.S.

Snus are small sachets of milled moist snuff (tobacco) which supply nicotine to users. The American Council on Science and Health supports smoking cessation and harm...

stop smokingJessica L. Muilenburg, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, in Athens GA, investigated how well adolescent and youth counselors were doing at helping teens and young adults deal with addiction to tobacco. Her results were cause for serious concern.

Rather than treating youth smoking the same way counselors would alcoholism or drug addiction, it was more like the equivalent of preaching abstinence instead of making protected sex possible...

NHIS 2014 SmokingA nationally representative survey over 36,000 adults in 2014 showed that one-eighth of all Americans had tried an e-cigarette (a nicotine vapor created from heated liquid rather than tobacco) at least once in their lifetime.

Nearly 48 percent of current smokers and 55.4 percent of recent former smokers had tried an e-cigarette, while 8.9 percent of long-term former smokers and 3.2 percent of adults who claim to have never smoked cigarettes had...

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.06.58 PMIn a new study, Dr. Abigail S. Friedman from the Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, has concluded that bans of electronic cigarettes to minors results in a higher rate of smoking deadly cigarettes.

Dr. Friedman subjected data on smoking rates as related to e-cigarette access to various statistical tests...

imagesIn a recent Forbes blog post, Dr. Sally Satel, psychiatrist and addiction specialist, and professor of medicine Brad Rodu asked this question: Why do public health care advocates seem to care more about heroin addicts than smokers?

They have a point. There is a seemingly incomprehensible disconnect between "official" public...