Ephedra versus tobacco products

It’s All About Money

In recent e-Alerts I’ve discussed the addictive aspects of cigarette smoking and the FDA’s ban of ephedra. An e-mail from an HSI member named Donna brought the two issues together with this interesting comment:

“Even though cigarettes contain nicotine, a deadly poison, the FDA has not seen fit to remove them from the shelves. Let’s do a comparison of deaths due to cigarettes vs. anything containing ephedra. I’d be interested in seeing that report.”

That’s a good analogy, Donna. Ephedra is being banned because it CAN be banned. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (the regulatory agency that oversees tobacco) can’t ban tobacco because the tobacco lobby wouldn’t allow it.

According to a 2000 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated “10 million people have died from smoking-related diseases in the United States – heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases” since the release of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking in 1964.

Staggering, isn’t it? Ten million.

If deaths associated with ephedra products numbered well over 10 million (rather than a total of 155), and if ephedra makers had a lobby to rival the tobacco lobby, then you can be sure that no one would be talking about an ephedra ban.

It’s all about perspective. And, of course, campaign donations.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

“Warning Label Fact Sheet” Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2000, cdc.gov