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UB expert takes FDA to task for smokeless tobacco campaign

Two tobacco policy experts, including one in Buffalo, say the the Food and Drug Administration may be doing more harm than good in an ad campaign against smokeless tobacco by not offering information on the relative risks of such products as e-cigarettes compared to traditional cigarettes.

“Telling the public that something is ‘not harmless,’ especially when they already know that, is at best a wasted effort. At worst, when so many smokeless users also smoke cigarettes — and do not know that cigarettes are much more harmful — it may promote their quitting smokeless and continuing smoking,” Lynn Kozlowski, professor of community health and health behavior in the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, wrote in a commentary in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Kozlowski and David Sweanor of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, noted that comparative information about the risks of the tobacco products in the FDA’s “Smokeless Doesn’t Mean Harmless” campaign is important because a large number of young adults use smokeless tobacco products and smoke cigarettes.

Their commentary points to research showing that the public already knows that smokeless tobacco is not harmless, but is woefully unaware that cigarettes are much more dangerous.

“The public — consumers and would-be consumers — are dangerously in the dark about differences in tobacco-nicotine product risks. The public needs to know these facts,” said Kozlowski.

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