North Dakota: CASAA Encourages Support for Bill to Study Tobacco Harm Reduction Policies -- HCR 3033
UPDATE (4/4/2013): Unfortunately, HCR 3033 failed in the North Dakota Senate by a vote of 33 opposed, 7 in support, and 2 absent. Action is in support of HCR 3033 is no longer needed.
On the bright side, HCR 3033 had previously passed out of the House by a 48-46 vote, and was given a "Do Pass" recommendation by the Senate Human Services Committee by a 3-2 vote. This means that within the North Dakota Legislature, there are 55 members who at least somewhat recognize that tobacco harm reduction is one possible way to bring down the United States' smoking rate.
House Concurrent Resolution 3033 would require North Dakota’s Legislative Management office to write and present a study on tobacco harm reduction (THR) policies. Specifically, HCR 3033 would direct Legislative Management to study opportunities to reduce the risk of death and disease among smokers who will not quit smoking by considering THR strategies.
The resolution notes that THR policies encourage smokers to switch from cigarettes to less-risky tobacco products. The resolution also notes that health authorities should accurately inform the public of the health risks posed by vapor products (e-cigarettes), smokeless tobacco products, and dissolvable tobacco
Because smokers deserve truthful and accurate information about far less hazardous smoke-free products like e-cigarettes, CASAA supports HCR 3033!
Do you think more smokers would quit if those in public health told the truth about THR?
If so, please e-mail the members of the North Dakota Senate and say that you SUPPORT HCR 3033. Make sure to tell your story about how switching to a smoke-free product has changed your life.
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CASAA’s Testimony on House Concurrent Resolution 3033
North Dakota tobacco users deserve truthful and accurate information about the comparative risks of tobacco products, and smokers in particular are entitled to know that there are less harmful alternatives to smoking that do not require nicotine abstinence. Accordingly, on behalf of its North Dakota members, The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA)  urges the House of Representatives' Human Services Committee to recommend the adoption of House Concurrent Resolution No. 3033.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. In fact, the CDC estimates that 443,000 deaths in the United States each year are attributable to smoking, representing 1 out of 5 deaths in the United States.  Smoking rates declined steadily from 1965 (42.4% of adults) to 2004 (20.9 % of adults), but over the last several years, smoking rates have remained basically stagnant. The CDC estimated a smoking rate of 18.9% in 2011, representing a decline of only 2 percentage points over the entire 7-year period from 2004 to 2011.2
Most notably, this stagnant period represents a time during which the tobacco control and public health communities successfully lobbied for, among other things, higher cigarette taxes and increased smoke-free legislation. Yet despite this, the smoking rate has barely budged, and millions of Americans continue to smoke.
While nicotine is arguably what keeps many smokers smoking, it is not what causes the whole host of health problems associated with smoking. What is so dangerous about smoking is not the nicotine; rather, it is the process of inhaling smoke that causes so much harm.  Despite this, public health care professionals and the tobacco control community insist that in order to quit smoking, one must ultimately give up nicotine, and they are resistant to the very common-sense observation that long-term, successful smoking abstinence can be achieved without demanding nicotine abstinence.
Given (i) the significant risk of disease and death associated with smoking,(ii) the dismal long-term success rate of 7% for FDA-approved smoking cessation products (or, perhaps more appropriately, a stunning failure rate of 93%), and (iii) the stagnant smoking rates, it is clear that policy makers must consider alternatives in order to reduce smoking rates. CASAA respectfully submits that tobacco harm reduction is the most promising alternative.
Tobacco harm reduction describes actions taken to lower the health risks associated with using tobacco or nicotine. While cigarettes and smoke-free tobacco products are both addictive (i.e., creating daily dependence), the risks associated with cigarette smoking far, far exceed those associated with smoke-free products. In fact, on a continuum of tobacco mortality risk from 1 to 100 where nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) products such as the patch and gum are a 1 and cigarettes are a 100, smoke-free tobacco products fall below a 2. 
The public health and tobacco control communities claim that smoke-free tobacco- and nicotine-containing products are not a "safe" alternative to smoking, leaving the general public with the mistaken impression that these smoke-free products carry risks similar in magnitude to smoking. However, the truth is that the risk from using any of the smoke-free products available in the United States is estimated to be about 1/100th of that from smoking. In real-world terms, this is quite literally the difference between life and death for someone who is unable or willing to quit smoking but who might, if given accurate information, consider switching to a low-risk, smoke-free product.
Tobacco harm reduction represents a practical approach to reducing smoking rates and the attendant smoking-related health problems. But, just as importantly, tobacco harm reduction is a compassionate strategy, offering smokers a low-risk, effective alternative to smoking rather than the “quit or die” approach that results in more than 443,000 deaths each year.
For the foregoing reasons, CASAA respectfully requests that this Committee recommend the adoption of House Concurrent Resolution No. 3033.
 CASAA is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization with a grassroots’ membership of approximately 3,000 individuals from all walks of life. CASAA is dedicated to ensuring the availability of reduced harm alternatives to smoking and to providing smokers and non-smokers alike with honest information about those alternatives. Since its founding in 2009, CASAA has educated the public and increased awareness about the benefits of reduced harm alternatives to smoking. CASAA also encourages responsible legislative policy designed to improve public health by recognizing that smoke-free tobacco- and nicotine-containing products are inherently far less dangerous than smoking.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥ 18 Years—United States, 2005–2010.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2011;60(33):1207–12 [accessed 2012 Jan 24]. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6035a5.htm?s_cid=%20mm6035a5.htm_w>
 Phillips C.V. (2009). Debunking the claim that abstinence is usually healthier for smokers than switching to a low- risk alternative, and other observations about anti-tobacco-harm-reduction arguments. 2009 Harm Reduction Journal 6:29.
 Sweanor D, et. al. (2007). Tobacco harm reduction: how rational public policy could transform a pandemic. Int J Drug Policy. 2007 Mar; 18(2).