Regulation Kills Innovation

Posted 15th April 2017 by Mawsley
Dr. Brad Rodu of the University of Louisville and Pamela Gorman of SFATA (Smoke-free Alternatives Trade Association) discuss vaping from a scientific and industry perspective. Rodu was one of the first adopters of a harm reduction approach to smoking cessation. He argued that the “quit or die” philosophy of the 1970s was out-dated and, although it had worked in a fashion, alienated many smokers. Harm reduction has seen smoking rates plummet since its adoption. Gorman previously worked as a state senator for Arizona.

The Heartland Institute is a national think-tank with the mission to promote the free market and offer free market solutions to economic problems. They believe in individual liberty, such as the right to be able to vape in public and not submit to restrictive and unnecessary legislation.

Rodu has recently co-published a policy advisory booklet through the Heartland Institute; it was covered in a previous article on Planet of the Vapes.

Rodu has spent decades seeing people coming into hospitals with smoking-related diseases of the mouth and throat, which is what drove him to become a staunch advocate for harm reduction. He isn’t paid to speak up for electronic cigarettes; he has witnessed the dramatic impact they have had on health first hand. But it’s the war being waged against this leading harm reduction tool that has dragged him into the current debate surrounding vaping.

“The only message the anti-smoking campaign has is ‘quit or die’. The only thing they offer is behavioural tips, behavioural tricks to help people quit – or nicotine medicines,” Rodu states, as he lays the ground for those unfamiliar with the topic. “We can not solve one of the biggest problems in the United States with coping tips!”

Rodu points out that at its most optimistic, traditional nicotine replacement products only achieve a 7% success rate. To which he asks the obvious question: “Can you name me another drug the FDA regulates that has a 7% success rate and they call it a success? There aren’t any, we don’t tolerate that kind of success rate…and yet this is the only option the government recommends.”

He highlights how the anti-THR (tobacco harm reduction) campaigners rely on exaggeration. Rodu is being kind, like Michael Siegel labelled them last week: they are liars telling lies. They claim ecigs are:

  • Loaded with toxins
  • Poisoning children
  • A teen gateway to smoking
  • Renormalising smoking
  • Failing to help smokers quit
  • Pose unacceptable risks indoors

Rodu’s lecture is compelling, entertaining and informative in equal measures. One by one, he takes on the objections to vaping and debunks them. The hysteria over formaldehyde gets kicked swiftly to the kerb while a bucket of common sense is poured over the claims children are being poisoned.

Gorman takes on the subject of law making and fighting for free-market principles. She sounds in awe of the vape community when she describes seeing it for the first time: “It was probably the only example I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, of the free market actually being allowed to work.”

Gorman continues to explain that this was allowed to happen because governments didn’t realise it was there. Consumers had the information to make good choices, the price was right and products were accessible, “without government subsidy or nanny state laws…solving a public health problem that Public Health was never able to solve.”

The two presentations are followed by a question and answer section, which all add up to compelling watching.