Letter to the editor: E-cigs and smokeless tobacco aren't solutions
The North Dakota House of Representatives supported HCR 3033 by only one vote, and it now awaits action in the North Dakota Senate. HCR 3033 is a resolution to study the feasibility of promoting the use of smokeless tobacco (snus and chew) as well as newer products like electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) as safe alternatives to cigarette smoking under the title of a "harm reduction strategy."
After providing written testimony in the House Human Services Committee hearing, I want to provide the public with some background as well. "Harm reduction strategy (HRS)" encourages the use of smokeless tobacco and e-cigs, both of which are non-Food and Drug Administration-approved products, as substitutes for traditional cigarettes. Support for this bill was provided by a Kentucky dentist, Dr. Brad Rodu, who works with the Heartland Institute, a group that works directly with the tobacco industry to promote this kind of activity. Yes, the tobacco industry is in favor of HRS because it encourages the use of its nicotine products in place of proven, effective cessation products. The FDA and U.S. Public Health Task Force recommendations include a number of proven strategies and medications used by reputable smoking cessation programs, including ND Quits. ND Quits and other state tobacco cessation programs follow leaders such as Mayo Clinic, Healthways, National Jewish Hospital and the University of California-San Francisco to stay up to date on tobacco cessation that works.
If e-cigs or smokeless tobacco actually worked for such purposes, that's what ND Quits and other cessation programs would do. The end result of this discussion is that the FDA doesn't approve of HRS. And until the FDA issues approval, we encourage our legislators to ignore these insincere efforts and toss HCR 3033 into the garbage where it belongs.