here), published by the Army Public Health Command (APHC) to “raise awareness of the dangers associated with smokeless tobacco.” The site was inaccurate and unprofessional with regard to smokeless tobacco use among army personnel.
After the ironic introductory statement, “Unfortunately, the myths concerning smokeless tobacco are still in existence,” the webpage contained this egregious claim: “Smokeless tobacco is as harmful as smoking tobacco.”
I contacted two APHC staffers and explained that this statement was factually incorrect and indefensible. A 2004 National Cancer Institute study concluded: … “[smokeless] products pose a substantially lower risk to the user than do conventional cigarettes. This finding raises ethical questions concerning whether it is inappropriate and misleading for government officials or public health experts to characterize smokeless tobacco products as comparably dangerous with cigarette smoking.” (abstract here).
To its credit, the APHC responded quickly. Less than 24 hours later, on February 29, the just-as-dangerous myth was removed from the website (here).
I also explained to the APHC that the word “spit” is demeaning, disrespectful and deplorable, as I pointed out in a previous post (here). Two years ago, I wrote to federal officials, strongly objecting to use of this term (here). The Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research responded by removing the offensive term from websites and other publicly available materials (here).
It’s time for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Medical Command to abandon this offensive language, treat smokeless tobacco users with respect, and provide accurate medical information, particularly on the subject of tobacco harm reduction.