Harm Reduction

Published August 9, 2006

Dear Editor:

Jane Levere’s report on new smokeless tobacco products [“No Smoke, No Foul? Critics Disagree,” August 9] did a fine job describing the new products coming on the market, but gave a horribly one-sided description of their implications for public health.

Smokeless tobacco products pose zero risk of lung cancer, the number one health threat of smoking. A lifetime user of smokeless tobacco products lowers his life expectancy by 15 days. A lifetime smoker reduces his life expectancy by six to eight years.

If only 10 percent of the 45 million smokers in the U.S. today were to switch to smokeless tobacco, an estimated 26.8 million life-years would be saved.

It is incredibly wrong that Matthew Myers and other professional anti-tobacco activists quoted by Levere are putting their ideology and financial self-interest ahead of the health of smokers. I want to know, how do they even sleep at night?

Joseph L. Bast

Joseph L. Bast ([email protected]) is president of The Heartland Institute.

Editor: FYI, I’ve been writing on tobacco issues for about 15 years and regularly use a smokeless tobacco product (Revel). My organization, The Heartland Institute, is 22 years old and gets a tiny fraction of its budget, less than 3 percent, from tobacco companies. We address a wide range of topics, and only infrequently comment on tobacco. For confirmation of the statistics cited in my letter, go to http://www.heartland.org/pdf/13053.pdf.