Addiction Sticks and Tobacco Control Vaccine

The March 2018 edition of the highly esteemed journal, Tobacco Control, contains interesting examples of infelicitous writing, to say nothing of wrong-headed ideas: addiction sticks and tobacco control vaccine.

As part of an attack on Philip Morris International’s cynical and false claim, ‘We’re trying to give up cigarettes’, it’s gratifying that the editor, Professor Ruth E Malone, is now catching up with what I’ve been saying for years. She calls for the phasing out of cigarette sales, though she says it in a somewhat curious fashion:

Not a single additional study is needed to demonstrate that cigarettes kill more people, more reliably, than any other product. 

If cigarettes kill people, and they do, then that is the unfortunate situation. But people who die from smoking cigarettes are just as dead whether they are killed reliably or unreliably.

Professor Malone also mentions a mysterious entity: addiction sticks. Perhaps she is trying to find the words for the well-known tragi-comic way of referring to cigarettes: cancer sticks.

Tobacco Control Vaccine

Then, in the same edition of the journal we find an article about ‘The Tobacco Control Vaccine’. The first-named author of this piece, Dr Brian A King, is a PhD-type doctor, which perhaps explains his lack of understanding of the purpose of vaccines: to prevent communicable diseases such as influenza and measles. Or perhaps he is confused by the smoking problem sometimes being referred to as an epidemic, as if it is a communicable disease, but in this context, of course, epidemic is used in the literary sense of something widespread.

The proposed ingredients of Dr King’s vaccine are the same old, same old: smoke-free policies, tobacco tax increases, cessation access (which he wordily explains as ‘Ensuring insurance coverage for evidence-based nicotine dependence treatment’), and media campaigns, but not just any old media campaigns, mind you, but hard-hitting ones!

Lack of confidence

Unfortunately, the authors evidently don’t have much confidence in their proposed new vaccine, because, as they put it, ‘Uptake of these components remains limited…and threats to current and future progress…continue to persist.’

Now really! You can say that threats continue, or that they persist, but it’s over-egging the pudding to say they continue to persist.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Picture: L0042090 A doctor with a stethoscope rejecting the offer of a cigarette. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images,

Gabriel Symonds

Dr Gabriel Symonds is a British medical doctor living in Japan who has developed a unique interactive stop smoking method. It involves no nicotine, drugs, hypnosis, or gimmicks but consists in helping smokers to demonstrate to themselves why they really smoke and why it seems so hard to stop doing it. Then most people find they can quit straightaway and without a struggle. He has used this approach successfully with hundreds of smokers; it works equally well for vapers. Dr Symonds also writes about transgenderism and other controversial medical matters. See

Leave a Comment: