Harm Reduction: The Voice of Reason

Despite all the naysayers, safer tobacco products are a reality convenience  store owners should embrace.

Great strides have been made within the last year to introduce new tobacco products that would, from my perspective, reduce harm when compared with traditional cigarettes. I must say, though, that I would have never thought the quest for harm reduction would be besieged with so much controversy and ignorance.

A year ago I wrote an article about the possibility of tobacco actually being safer one day. In response, I have had the opportunity to experience many exciting new products. The first would be a smokeless cigarette called Aeros. I must admit that when I received this package from its inventor Richard Horian, I was absolutely amazed at its ability to deliver satisfaction. In my mind, the absence of smoke and all the “nasties” logically implies a reduction in harm.

In my quest during the last year to help retailers reach consumers looking for options when they either can’t light up or desire a smoking alternative, I also found a product called Smoke Scents. I have had many late night conversations with a now good friend, Maurice Goulet, about the marvels of aroma therapy. Another new friend is Stuart Garrett who interestingly enough has reintroduced Nicotine Water. From all of my research, smokers tell me it tastes just like water and satisfies.

Focus on New Products
I’m sure you’ve all been called on by David Dean or one of his team from Star Tobacco regarding its new dissolvable tobacco brands Arriva and Stonewall that make the evil nitrosamines disappear. Last year at the NACS show, RJ Reynolds introduced its competitive Camel dissolvable tobacco line. And, in case you haven’t noticed, a little pouch called snus is quickly becoming a household name through the efforts of many, but most notably Reynolds. I have even seen a snus made out of apple rinds, and I’m told it tastes good.

There are many like Brad Rodu, Carl Phillips and Bill Godshall who champion moist smokeless tobacco as a leading product in the relative harm reduction offer. There are those in the industry that advocate that moist smokeless tobacco is 99% safer than lighting up. But yet, we are led to believe by the labeling on the can that there is no difference.

From my perspective, the debate about electronic cigarettes is an interesting one. The debate centers on old school versus new school thinking, as the anti-tobacco folks just don’t have the ability to think rationally. If this product, or any other product, shows promise in the quest to reduce harm, wouldn’t it be in the best interest of those who use tobacco to push for advancement? Or, must we live in a world where folks are not rational and act like the child who decides to go home with the football because things aren’t going his way?

Unfortunately, the voice of reason is being muffled by folks who are being misled by a group with an agenda. Whether that agenda is driven by politics or by irrational zero tolerance zealots, people deserve to know the truth. Many entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes are either developing or supporting these new innovations. They are the voice of reason. Can you imagine, our elected officials through their support of the Waxman FDA tobacco regulation have doomed smokers by not listening to those who actually want to make things better? Pretty disturbing wouldn’t you say?

Lou Maiellano spent more than 20 years in several operational positions with Sunoco, Mobil and Wawa and currently operates TobaccoToday (www.tobaccotoday.info), an interactive tobacco industry blog. He can be reached at (267) 229-3856 or via email at tazmktgconsultgr@aol.com.


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