"The result is thousands of smokers cycling between competing forms of nicotine, "turning to a patch, gum or pill for a month" as a result of a New Year's resolution, "then relapsing to a cigarette product," said Gregory N. Connolly of the Massachusetts tobacco control program. "You get this sort of strange, symbiotic relationship between the tobacco industry and the drug companies where everybody makes money."
Anyone "poo-pooing" the claims that Big Pharma would use it's financial influence over public health organizations to quietly lobby for policies, which ensure future profits, as "silly conspiracy theories" may change their mind after reading this must-read article. Apparently, the drug companies learned from the best.
Consider, too, the implications that the public health groups knew back in 1999 that the products they shill today as "safe and effective" already had studies which showed that "on any single attempt people who try quitting cold turkey succeed about 3% of the time, whereas success with gum or patches rises to 7% or 8%." This translates to a 92% - 93% failure rate and a relapse back to smoking. It's interesting that this fact has only recently been widely reported in the media (based upon "new" studies) and as Big Pharma lobbies the FDA to market it's NRT products for long-term use to complete with the innovative smoke-free products now gaining a market share of former smokers.
(Note: Once clicking the link below, the full article is 3 pages long.)
Big Tobacco Keeps Thumb on Makers of Stop-Smoking Aids
Memos show cigarette firms pressured manufacturers of nicotine gums and patches to mute their message.
February 14, 1999|MYRON LEVIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER
Cigarette makers and the drug firms that market nicotine gum and patches would seem to be natural enemies, at war in a multibillion-dollar market of people hooked on nicotine.
Yet a peaceful coexistence has reigned between them since nicotine replacement products were introduced in the 1980s to help smokers kick the habit.
The quit-smoking aids are widely advertised, and in recent years have joined such remedies as Advil, Tums and Robitussin on a list of the country's top-selling over-the-counter medicines. Yet they are promoted in a manner certain to minimize conflict with cigarette manufacturers.
Veterans of the smoking wars think they know why.
For at least a decade, Philip Morris sought to intimidate drug firms marketing the stop-smoking products, using the threat of economic reprisals to make them tone down their ads and refrain from supporting the anti-smoking cause, according to once-secret documents from the world's biggest cigarette maker. Philip Morris officials declined interview requests.
R.J. Reynolds, the second biggest U.S. tobacco company, also was engaged in some of the efforts, documents and interviews show.
Pressure tactics were exerted against at least two major drug firms between 1982 and 1992, although they may have continued beyond that date. A non-confrontational marketing approach for the nicotine products remains in use today.
Moreover, within the last three years, a major worldwide supplier of cigarette filters to the tobacco industry [GlaxoSmithKline] has become a power in the gum and patch business, thus playing in both arenas of the nicotine market.
Drug firms say their ads are not intended to appease the tobacco industry, but rather aim for the best approach to boosting sales. Even so, their marketing message is the same one that cigarette makers sought to dictate in the past by threatening to cancel supply contracts with the drug firms' corporate parents, internal memos show.
Rather than attack cigarettes directly or implore all smokers to quit, their ads target the narrow band of smokers who are currently trying to quit--offering a product that can help ease their nicotine cravings.
Companies Muffle Anti-Smoking Message
The involvement of drug firms in anti-smoking politics has been limited as well. Since gaining federal approval in 1996 for over-the-counter sales, patch and gum marketers have financially supported the American Cancer Society and American Lung Assn. in exchange for using their logos in ads. But to the disappointment of tobacco foes, they have chosen not to involve themselves directly in political fights--such as by lobbying for higher tobacco taxes that would help their business by making quitting more attractive.
Considering the history of tobacco industry pressure, "I think there's no question that there's still a residual influence," said Gregory N. Connolly, director of tobacco control for Massachusetts.