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Industry spin vs science 
 
A news release by Eaze, California’s largest marijuana delivery service, announces its 2019 State of Cannabis Report, which saw a 74 percent increase in first-time deliveries over 2018. Women seeking marijuana increased 81 percent in one year, while people over age 50 jumped 105 percent. Celebrating the increase in marijuana use its numbers depict, Eaze says it’s on a mission to “educate people about cannabis as a tool for wellness.”
 
Cannabis as a tool for wellness? That got us thinking about how easy it is to dismiss the voluminous scientific record of marijuana harms with just six words.
 
Another industry – tobacco – has done/is doing the same thing. Two important publications out this month show how. A journal article by one of the nation’s leading tobacco industry scholars, Allan Brandt, recounts industry tactics. A new organization, Expose Tobacco, not only uncovers more tactics but reveals the already consummated marriage of tobacco and marijuana.
 
Our story from CDC scientists on vaping-related lung injury and the adolescent e-cigarette epidemic makes clear how critical it is to sort out scientific data from commercial anecdote. And another Expose Tobacco brief digs deep to shine light on Juul’s relationship with both the marijuana and tobacco industries.
 
Finally, NIDA’s deputy director, Wilson Compton, MD, explains how the ABCD Study is providing knowledge about the impact of marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs on the brains of children and adolescents.

 
The EVALI and youth vaping epidemics – implications for public health
 
In a Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors point out that the US is facing two distinct but related vaping epidemics – the outbreak of lung injuries and the continued surge in use by adolescents. Those developing ways to reduce both epidemics must consider what is driving each one.
 
EVALI is an acronym for “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury.” Wisconsin reported the first EVALI cases to CDC August 1, 2019. As of January 7, 2020, 2,602 cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two US territories as well as 57 deaths had been confirmed.
 
On the other hand, the adolescent vaping epidemic began earlier. Current (past month) use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products increased by 900 percent among middle school and high school students between 2011 and 2015, declined in 2016, and increased between 2017 and 2018. In 2019, more than 5.2 million young people reported current use, including 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students.
 
The drivers of the adolescent vaping epidemic differ from the drivers of the EVALI epidemic. They must be taken into account for effective prevention and intervention strategies to be developed and implemented.
 
Read what they are here.

 
Inventing conflicts of interest:
A history of tobacco industry tactics
 
We quote the beginning of the abstract of this full-text article:
 
"Confronted by compelling peer-reviewed scientific evidence of the harms of smoking, the tobacco industry, beginning in the 1950s, used sophisticated public relations approaches to undermine and distort the emerging science.
 
"The industry campaign worked to create a scientific controversy through a program that depended on the creation of industry–academic conflicts of interest. This strategy of producing scientific uncertainty undercut public health efforts and regulatory interventions designed to reduce the harms of smoking.
 
"A number of industries have subsequently followed this approach to disrupting normative science. Claims of scientific uncertainty and lack of proof also lead to the assertion of individual responsibility for industrially produced health risks."
 
Try substituting the word “marijuana” for the word “tobacco” as you read the full text of Dr. Brandt’s article in the American Journal of Public Health here.

 
Concealing Decades of Smokescreens
 
This article analyzes Philip Morris International’s (PMI) “Unsmoke campaign” to show how it is designed to get smokers to keep buying the company’s products. PMI created IQOS, a heated tobacco product that supposedly helps smokers quit, and has marketed it widely internationally. Recently, it introduced IQOS in Atlanta and plans to distribute the product throughout the US.
 
But as this brief illustrates, the Unsmoke campaign, introduced April 8, 2019, “is targeted to the public, not just to stockholders, and complements the aggressive marketing of the tobacco company’s new (but still harmful) products.”
 
Here are a few excerpts from this article:
 
“'The Year of Unsmoke,' is a duplicitous marketing campaign. Its key message to consumers: “If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t quit, change.” Meanwhile, the company continues to make billions of dollars from cigarettes.
 
"The message of PMI’s Unsmoke campaign, “If you cannot quit, change,” creates an impression that “changing” is as safe as quitting. It’s not.
 
"The option of “switching” also distracts the public from the tobacco industry’s real intent, which is to make profits at the expense of people’s health and lives.
 
"PMI’s own scientists recently pointed out that describing IQOS as a “less harm” product is inaccurate because PMI’s studies concluded that HTPs [heated tobacco products] such as IQOS produced less toxins, but that does not prove that they are less harmful to health.
 
"On the one hand PMI claims that it wants to stop selling cigarettes and aims for a “smoke-free world,” but on the other, it continues to fight proven tobacco control policies to continue to sell cigarettes."
 
The article displays a chart titled “Tobacco Companies’ Timeline of Deception” from the 1950s to the present and lists a series of evidence-based recommendations found in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
 
Read Expose Tobacco brief here.

 
JUUL labs – An industry brief
 
All parents whose teenagers are vaping using a Juul should read this brief, should ask their teenagers to read it, and if they cannot stop vaping, should get them treated for a nicotine-use- or marijuana-use disorder.
 
This brief demonstrates how Juul followed the tobacco industry’s playbook, marketing its sleek device to kids, and enticing them with sweet, fruity flavor pods of nicotine, which can be switched out for THC pods.
 
Worse, the brief documents how Juul lobbies Congress, state legislatures, and city councils to dissuade them from passing laws to protect kids from Juul’s avarice. Worse still is documentation of how Juul hires former regulators to help it deflect scientific scrutiny of its business practices.
 
Prepare yourself to be infuriated. Read Expose Tobacco’s Juul labs -- An industry brief here.

 
This week’s podcast:
Wilson Compton, MD -- More on executive function; What is the ABCD Study?
 
Key Points
  • ABCD Study = children ages 9 & 10
  • Healthy BCD Study = Infants & toddlers
  • What can we learn from alcohol, tobacco marketing to kids?
  • Can we learn anything from Canada?
  • What about edibles? 
Listen here.
 
Up Next? Marilyn Huestis, PhD, on Israel’s experience & advice for researchers
Your donation to National Families in Action supports the production of The Marijuana Report. Thank you for all you do to educate the public about the harmful effects of marijuana and the beneficial effects of some of its FDA-approved components.
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Did you know that in addition to The Marijuana Report e-newsletter, National Families in Action also publishes The Marijuana Report website? There you can find summaries of (and access to) scientific marijuana studies, the growth of the commercial marijuana industry, and what families and communities are doing to restrain it. Begin at our Welcome Page to access all the resources The Marijuana Report website offers.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

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The Marijuana Report Staff
Executive Editor, Sue Rusche. Editor, Nicole Carter. Proofreading, Harry Rusche, Professor Emeritus. IT Consultant, Lee Clontz. Social Media Coordinators, Margarita Eberline, Shannon Murphy, MD, FAAP, and Nicole Carter.
National Families in Action Board of Directors
William F. Carter, Chairman of the Board, Coldwell Banker Atlanta. Sue Rusche, President and CEO, Atlanta. Richard L. Brown, Secretary, Attorney (Ret.), Founder & Chairman, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Jeannine F. Adams, Director, President and CEO, J. Addams & Partners, Atlanta. Jack L. Arbiser, MD, PhD, Director, Thomas J. Lawley Professor of Dermatology, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta. William H. Avery, Director. Partner (Ret.), Alston & Bird, LLP, Atlanta. Debbie Berndt, Director, Parent Movement 2.0, Walnut Creek, California. Margarita Eberline, Director, Strategy Director, Ultim Marketing, Atlanta. Robert Margolis, PhD, Director, Founder, Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia. Shannon Murphy, MD, FAAP, Director, Birmingham, Alabama.
Senior Adviser
Kent “Oz” Nelson, Chairman and CEO (Ret.), United Parcel Service, Atlanta.
 

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