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David Hockney is not a scientist. He is one of the most important British painters of the twentieth century, best known for his contributions to the 1960s pop art movement. As an artist, his contrarian views on Vermeer’s possible use of a camera obscura should be taken seriously. As a contrarian on the subject of smoking, his views on smoking and COVID-19 should be taken with a grain of salt.
COVID-19 myths are potentially contagious and liable to ‘go viral’ worldwide. The last thing we need now is a ‘misinfodemic’ in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. What the world needs is more research, more evidence. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World supports such research, and welcomes discussion with potential new research partners in this field.
In a blog on April 14, I noted that “the relationship between smoking and COVID-19 is complex, possibly counterintuitive, and rarely reported accurately in the press.” I also highlighted the need for more research to address current knowledge gaps surrounding the virus, smoking, and alternatives to combustible cigarettes (e.g., e-cigarettes or snus).
On the same day my blog was posted, researchers at the University of Southern California published “Public health concerns and unsubstantiated claims at the intersection of vaping and COVID-19.” Their key findings were that the public is deeply confused, and that more research is needed.
But will our research priorities be the right ones? In an April 9 blog, I pointed out that current tobacco control research priorities seem heavily focused on tobacco-related risks, and give little attention to potential benefits from tobacco harm reduction innovation.
On April 21, The Tobacco Atlas — a partnership between the American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies — noted, “there is currently no evidence supporting a direct connection between e-cigarette use and contracting COVID-19” and there is “little direct evidence that e-cigarette use affects COVID-19 outcomes.” So nicotine vaping could increase, decrease, or have no effect on COVID-19 risk.
More research is needed. And lives are at stake. Vulnerable populations are at greatest risk from both COVID-19 and smoking (even without coronavirus), including people with limited economic resources, members of minority ethnic groups, and individuals who live with mental health conditions.
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is keenly interested in opportunities to collaborate on research to address relevant knowledge gaps. For example:
Researchers can contact us here to explore potential collaborations.
In my opinion, we would all be better off if the press ignored public health advice from artists and movie stars who lack the credibility to accurately relay or interpret current evidence. That said, to paraphrase my favorite character (a painter) from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, everyone is self-taught in the end.
Educated consumers are often better informed about the products they use than self-professed ‘experts’ who have fixed views about those products. Ultimately, we all benefit when public health guidance is based firmly on evidence. Evidence can be a powerful vaccine against misinfodemics.
Mission is to eliminate smoking worldwide by supporting cessation & harm reduction #research, and transitioning tobacco #farmers to alternative livelihoods.
#WorldNoTobaccoDay has been observed on May 31 since 1988. This year, as the world is grappling with a new and terrifying virus. #WNTD reminds us that smoking is a pandemic too. Read Derek Yach's blog piece here: https://bit.ly/2ZN5Wmt
Will #SouthAfrica’s ban on all #tobacco products as a response to #COVID19 backfire? As Derek Yach points out in a @Filtermag_org article by @Alex_Norcia, “the 1920s script of what happened in the US during Prohibition is happening now in South Africa.” https://bit.ly/2zIcUP9
In an article published by http://pubmed.gov Derek Yach explores how the #COVID19 State of Smoking Poll helps us understand tobacco use in 5 countries during the lockdown. This poll is one of many studies needed to evaluate long term consequences. https://bit.ly/3ddBoOF
In the first of our new Watching Brief series, Ayda Yurekli examines #ecigarette excise taxes and looks towards a smoke-free future in #Hungary. Take a look at her two-part piece here: https://bit.ly/36K7kYI
Tobacco Free Portfolios conducted a special webinar for #WorldNoTobaccoDay. We agree that the financial community can and should hold #tobacco companies accountable. The Tobacco Transformation Index may be a tool that can help bring us closer to that goal. https://bit.ly/2B2IVBD
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