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Old 03-03-2023, 05:17 PM   #1
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Goals and Tactics of the Anti-Tobacco Groups

The premium cigar and pipe tobacco industries have long been targets of organizations seeking to restrict or eliminate the use of tobacco in society. This paper will examine some of the tactics used by these groups in their efforts to marginalize industry producers, retailers, and consumers. These tactics include conflation of data, prohibition and virtue signaling. Finally, the paper will examine how these organizations fundraise on the decades-long decline in tobacco use while publicly perpetuating the notion of an ongoing crisis. By analyzing these tactics and strategies, this paper aims to shed light on the challenges facing the premium cigar and pipe tobacco industries and to offer insights into how it can successfully navigate these challenges.

“Those who smoke cigars heavily or inhale deeply also increase their risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. (…) Cigar smoking has many similar consequences as cigarette smoking”[1]

An interesting claim but let us look at the facts. The NASEM report, released March of 2022, stated “Conclusion 5-5: There is strongly suggestive evidence that health consequences of premium cigar smoking overall are likely to be less than those smoking other types of cigars because the majority of premium cigar smokers are non-daily or occasional users and because they are less likely to inhale the smoke.” [2]

This common tactic used by the anti-tobacco groups is achieved by conflating data to make it appear as if every tobacco product carries the same level of risk. This strategy allows the groups to claim wild details about specific products, like their invention of a youth access issue for premium cigars and pipe tobacco.

However, this tactic of treating all tobacco products as equal ignores the vast differences between them. For example, premium cigars and pipe tobacco are statistically enjoyed by adults over 30, in moderation, in patterns not typically associated with nicotine addiction, and without inhalation. The resulting public health impact bears little resemblance to that of cigarettes and other mass-produced tobacco products. In fact, lumping all tobacco products together can be problematic for public health, leading to ineffective policies and regulations that fail to address the nuances of each product. It can also harm the businesses of legitimate tobacco producers and retailers and deprives adults from making informed and free will choices about the products they choose to consume.

“The magnitude of premium cigar dependence appears to be less than that of cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use dependence. The extent of addiction is likely to depend on the patterns of use.”[3]

Looking at the patterns of use for premium cigars,

“In the most recent PATH data (Wave 5), daily smoking was infrequent among premium cigar users (6.4 percent) (…) Likewise, the median number of days smoked in the past 30 days in Wave 5 was lowest for premium cigars (1 day) (…) The median number of cigars smoked per day was 0.1 for premium cigars”[4]

If there is to be an honest discussion about tobacco and health it is important to recognize the distinct differences between various tobacco products, to avoid conflating data and hyperbole. Effective tobacco control policies and regulations should be based on sound science, considering the unique characteristics of each product including the typical method of use and consumption patterns of its consumers.

The goal of the anti-tobacco movement is to slowly encroach on consumer choice, through different regulations, rules, and laws. The anti-tobacco movement often uses taxes, licensure, warning labels, and smoking bans as tools to achieve their goal. They want to make it increasingly difficult for consumers and retailers to purchase and sell tobacco products, all while demonizing those who choose to use them. They want you to think that there is an end to the encroachment, but the end is not simply being ostracized and demonized, it is full-fledged prohibition. The primary goal of these organizations is not to improve public awareness or, arguably, even public health. Instead, their primary goal appears to be crusading against a legal industry until tobacco is no longer permitted in (otherwise)free society.

The anti-tobacco groups are not even hiding their prohibitionist goals anymore. Bans on tobacco products have been introduced globally. After New Zealand passed a generational smoking ban that would deny anyone born after 2009 the freedom to enjoy a tobacco product, similar legislation was quickly introduced in the California Assembly that aims to prevent anyone born after 2007, from buying tobacco products. The PCA strongly opposes this ill-conceived measure and pledges to resist it at every stage. Such prohibitions are ineffective and only encourage the proliferation of illicit markets for these products.

As it is now 2023, we must recognize that people can make informed decisions for themselves. It is not up to any one group, including anti-tobacco prohibitionists, to make decisions on behalf of individuals. Consumers have the right to choose whether to use tobacco products, just as they choose sugary sodas, salty snacks, or fried foods. These are informed choices and should not be taken away from those who choose to enjoy them by those who do not.

The goal of policy making should be to balance public health and safety with individual rights and freedoms. This can only be achieved through open and inclusive discussions that involve all stakeholders — health, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and consumers.

Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), made this claim: “Tobacco companies must be actively excluded from policymaking (…)” [5]

All stakeholders, especially tobacco companies, should have a voice in the policymaking process. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This right applies to all individuals and organizations. Excluding any group from the discussion is a violation of this fundamental right and foundation of our democracy.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has made a recent donation of $420 million aimed at reducing global tobacco use. The organization has been a major source of funding for front groups, associations, and coalitions targeting tobacco-related issues since 2005. While Bloomberg Philanthropies celebrates the decline in global smoking rates, the organizations that receive their funding continue to portray, through their actions in Washington D.C. and in the media, that an ongoing health crisis prevails. Despite claiming to be effective in combating tobacco-related issues, these organizations manipulate usage statistics year after year to maintain a sense of urgency and relevance. Bloomberg Philanthropies appears to be renewing their efforts to combat adult consumer choice and small business enterprise with this substantial pledge, which will be spread over a period of four years. This is a formidable augmentation to the estimated $2.6 billion in combined assets that anti-tobacco organizations claim in their most recent 990 tax filings.

These funds will be used to support efforts that fight against the tobacco industry, small businesses, and consumer choice. With such significant resources at their disposal, the anti-tobacco movement is financially endowed to continue its war on tobacco indefinitely. That is why they must never be allowed to operate with impunity. This is where the Premium Cigar Association comes in. We will fight the tobacco prohibition at every junction because every battle is worth fighting when your opposition will only stop when your industry dies. It is important that everyone the grows, makes, sells, or enjoys premium cigars or pipe tobacco fight against these groups as a united front. Go to CigarAction.org to join the fight! Stay informed yourself, and keep others informed; your support goes a long way to help fight these battles wherever they come up.
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