The FDA Center for Tobacco Products on June 27 launched a new consumer web page entitled “Health Fraud” (here). The page implies that statements about comparative risks among tobacco products are inherently fraudulent:
“Claiming less harm or reduced risk of disease from using tobacco products misleads consumers to think that these products are safe to use. FDA considers these kinds of claims to be health fraud.”
Is the FDA suggesting that my 18 years of peer-reviewed work, and the findings of many other respected academicians and various U.S. and international medical societies are fraudulent?
In 1994, epidemiologist Philip Cole and I published a study in Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals (citation here), concluding that “…the average remaining life expectancy of a 35-year old smokeless tobacco user is 45.92 years, only 0.04 year less than that of a non-user. This 15-day reduction in life expectancy is in sharp contrast to the 7.8 years lost by smokers.” We noted, “…abstinence is not the only approach to reducing tobacco-related mortality: for smokers addicted to nicotine who would not otherwise stop, a permanent switch to smokeless tobacco could be an acceptable alternative to quitting.”
In the nearly two decades since, the scientific foundation for tobacco harm reduction has expanded enormously. How, then, can the FDA justify its new post:
“To date, no tobacco products have been scientifically proven to reduce risk of tobacco-related disease, improve safety or cause less harm than other tobacco products.” (emphasis in original)
FDA take note: The above statement is demonstrably false and intentionally misleads consumers. It should be removed, immediately.