Plea To The Surgeon General

Posted 4th October 2018 by Dave Cross
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams addresses addiction to opiates in a very candid and personal manner. He has written about the impact of drugs on his family and how he supports an inclusive harm reduction approach to combatting the situation. The R Street Coalition has written to him asking that he adopt the same approach when combatting tobacco-related harm.

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams writes: “My family and I are among the millions of Americans affected by substance use disorder. My younger brother has struggled with this disease, which started with untreated depression leading to opioid pain reliever misuse.”

“I tell my family’s story because far too many are facing the same worries for their loved ones. We all ask the same question: How can I contribute to ending the opioid crisis and helping those suffering with addiction?”

“I believe that the best way to address the opioid crisis is to work towards achieving better health through better partnerships.”

“We must listen to all communities affected by the opioid crisis—speaking with them versus at them, leveraging their strengths, and addressing their priorities. Through partnerships, we can address the overall health inequities and determinants of health that exist where we live, learn, work, and play. Together we can reduce the risks of opioid misuse, opioid use disorder, and related health consequences such as overdose and infectious disease transmission.”

It’s a pragmatic, honest and sensible approach to combatting a problem that really is blighting America; his document lists out rational solutions to real problems.

Why then, the question hangs, does he support the preposterous actions being taken by the Food and Drug Administration when it comes to tobacco-harm reduction and vaping?

Carrie Wade is wondering the same thing. The Director of Harm Reduction Policy at the R Street Institute has enlisted the support of Derek Yach (Foundation for a Smoke-Free World), Clive Bates (Counterfactual), Damon Jacobs (R Street Institute), Cory Goracke-Postle (University of Minnesota), and Jeff Stier (Consumer Choice Centre).

Together, the R Street Coalition has written to Dr. Adams. The letter praises him for his “thoughtful” contribution in addressing this matter and highlight that harm reduction approaches can be used for all risky behaviours in society.

“It is with this in mind that we encourage you to apply the acceptance of opioid harm reduction programs to tobacco use and smoking,” they write. “We know that when applied to smoking, harm reduction strategies can have a positive effect on the quality of life of smokers who cannot or do not wish to quit.”


They point out: “the current trajectory of the FDA’s agenda continues to put smokers at risk,” and “the FDA is now doubling down on efforts to prevent access to the products that we consider important in the context of harm reduction.”

It remains to be seen if Dr. Jerome Adams is a man of integrity and conviction and accepts that the points made by the R Street Coalition are valid and require addressing as a matter of urgency.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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