Innovation Heats Up! And You Can Be Part of It!
Of the many promises of innovation, no promise likely rises higher than the opportunity to live longer, healthier and more active lives. While advances in entertainment and consumer electronics tend to catch our attention and seem to improve some aspects of our lives almost immediately, advances in health care can often seem remote and harder to grasp. But now and then an advance comes along that is completely obvious in its benefit.
Smoking remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in the U.S. and around the world, for that matter. For years, various products have been on the market to help those who do smoke to kick the habit, but the results have been mixed at best. The fact is approximately 40 million Americans still smoke. That is nearly one out of eight Americans. America needs better options.
As reported by the Royal College of Physicians last year, commenting on what is widely accepted, “Most of the harm caused by smoking arises not from nicotine but from other components of tobacco smoke.” This follows the Health and Human Services report that diseases from smoking are directly linked to long term exposure to the toxicants from combustible tobacco products. But it turns out that if instead of burning the tobacco it is heated to where it produces a fine vapor, then the health challenges are vastly reduced. And that is where Philip Morris International (PMI) comes in.
PMI has spent years and invested billions of dollars on “heat-not-burn” technology, working to modify the risk of tobacco products. Their patented product, the Tobacco Heating System, is a rechargeable electronic heated blade that releases the moisture in tobacco to produce an aerosol that tastes like tobacco and hence satisfies smokers. The tobacco never burns. This is innovation bettering the health of those who already choose to smoke.
Now government needs to get out of the way and let the innovation of the free market help address the major health concern of smoking. Congress created a particular means to provide an incentive for innovators to find a way to reduce the harm of cigarette smoking, or as they are called, Modified Risk Tobacco Products. Congress handed the FDA the authority to authorize such life-saving inventions but they must consider the effects of the new products not just on smokers but on the general population. During this consideration risks are weighed against all the benefits of bringing a new healthier alternative to market that holds the promise of actually reducing smoking. So, applications for such products must be approved by the FDA. But while the FDA may be famous for approving new products it is equally infamous for throttling innovation by moving at the speed of government. But when lives are at stake certainly the agency could accelerate its review while continuing to be transparent and fair, somewhat mitigating the slowness of bureaucracy and disregarding partisan politics
You can help push innovation forward, nudge government to move and provide a pathway for millions of American lives to be saved by making available more scientifically substantiated alternatives to smoking available. The public docket is open on modified risk tobacco product applications and you can file comments in support of the free market and innovation. From now until December 12 the FDA is accepting public comments, but the FDA is asking for comments to be filed earlier rather than later. Comments are easily filed here.
Those who believe that the free market is the best solution and that liberty is better than big government must be constantly vigilant in big and small ways. The FDA has provided an opportunity for those favoring innovation to make the case for the free market in improving of our nation’s health. Please make that case.