From the Nicorette website:
A lot of people believe that taking smokeless tobacco is safer than smoking cigarettes. This is not true.
This is an outright lie. Smokeless tobacco is far safer than smoking cigarettes. Perhaps Glaxo's justification for this statement is that there are still health risks associated with smokeless tobacco. And so there are, just as there is a risk involved with most things in life, but they are tiny compared to the risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Glaxo might just as well say:
A lot of people believe that eating chocolate is safer than smoking cigarettes. This is not true.
A lot of people believe that using Nicorette is safer than smoking cigarettes. This is not true.
We have seen this kind of fabrication before from the US Surgeon General (amongst others). Under the Data Quality Act, his office finally had to retract the lie that smokeless is not safer. I covered this in an article entitled The Untouchables back in 2008.
In 2004, the National Legal and Policy Center complained about a statement in a booklet produced by the National Institute on Aging which read: "Some people think smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safer than cigarettes. They are not." This was, of course, false. Smokeless tobacco is known to be around 98% safer than cigarettes. The complaint was upheld and as a result, the US Government is no longer allowed to pretend that the health risks associated with smokeless tobacco are as great as those associated with cigarettes*.
The upshot is that the National Institute on Aging now says: "Some people think smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safe. They are not." And former Surgeon General Richard Carmona - whose 2006 report into passive smoking is one big DQA complaint waiting to happen - had to subtly change his tune from "smokeless tobacco is not a safer substitute for cigarette smoking" to "smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for cigarette smoking" (my italics).
A slender difference indeed, but an important one, because at least now these statements are not outright lies. What has replaced them may still be misleading - they do not hint at how much safer smokeless tobacco is - but, as Jacob Sullum asked sardonically in Reason magazine, "Why lie about smokeless tobacco when a misleading half-truth will do?" Demanding half-truths rather than outright lies from the anti-smoking lobby might be the most that can be hoped for in this day and age. The Data Quality Act may be the only way to get them.
* Anti-smoking groups, websites and charities who are not publicly owned remain be free to lie about smokeless tobacco and frequently do. For example: "The fact is, chewing tobacco is every bit as dangerous as smoking it." or "There's a widely held myth that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to cigarettes, when actually it's just as dangerous as smoking."
Thanks to Bill Godshall for the tip.