The Risk-Monger

Innovative technology is a wonderful thing. It allows us to improve on past practices, making everything from mobile phones to chemical disinfectants safer and better, so that individuals can progressively enjoy a better quality of life. Such is the case with the recent innovations in nicotine products that have made the world a much safer place for smokers and people who want to enjoy certain pleasures in life.

Two technological breakthroughs for smokers are taking our breath away (literally) and reshaping an industry practically overnight. E-cigarettes allow smokers to simulate the habit of smoking, receive the needed nicotine dose (which can be controlled and reduced) while only ingesting a relatively harmless vapour (hence called “vaping”). A second innovation involves heating the tobacco instead of burning it (a product like the Ploom), allowing smokers to receive the flavour and nicotine without the dangerous tar and other toxins released at higher temperatures. This is good news, not only for smokers who want to quit or reduce their risks, but also for others who no longer have to suffer the reported risks of second-hand smoke. A recent University of East London study that had surveyed 1400 e-cigarette users to find that 74% of smokers managed to quit smoking (86% reported not smoking tobacco over the past several weeks or months with overall significant reductions in smoking) after switching to e-cigarettes.

Surely everyone should be very happy about these new, safe technological innovations that are saving lives and restoring public health.

Of course not! Researchers give interviews with “shocking revelations“. Anti-lobbying lobbyists like Corporate Europe Observatory condemn industry for giving MEPs free samples of e-cigarettes (how dare they share information that we don’t agree with). The WHO has come out against e-cigarettes with anecdotal arguments like the fact that tobacco companies are buying e-cigarette firms. Warnings against e-cigarettes have been issued by the US FDA and the The American Lung Association. E-cigarettes are currently banned in the well-recognised nanny states of Canada, Singapore and Australia. France is in the process of banning e-cigarettes. Local governments (like the US State of New Jersey) are urgently implementing new laws to ban vaping in public (see a report on recent regulatory actions against e-cigarettes).

From past experience, the Risk-Monger knows that this type of activist legislation against benign developments doesn’t just happen. There is some serious, and seriously unethical, lobbying going on with people passionately driven by personal agendas. This cannot simply be the pharma industry worried about the loss of sales from anti-smoking products presently marketed (although bashing big pharma seems to be the flavour of the month). Although blogs and comment files are full of testimonials of grateful ex-smokers who have been able to quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes, I see a trend of health gurus (those leading the “denormalisation of smoking” drives) teaming up with ex-smokers who lead or volunteer at local anti-smoking organisations to campaign against the threat of nicotine addiction.

And these gurus have made a good choice. Ex-smokers are perhaps the most righteous and intolerant species to have ever inhabited this planet. They will think nothing of telling complete strangers enjoying a smoke break how great they are to have quit the habit (implying how weak the poor, unsuspecting stranger is for not being able to!). They view smokers as an evil scourge on society (look how Hollywood portrays villains today) that should not be allowed to enjoy their habit or be seen in public. That people should be able to enjoy the benefits of nicotine and not have to suffer horrendous consequences is not acceptable for this bitter extremist element of our population. But how much are ex-smokers being used by anti-tobacco lobbyists?

Anti-smoking health gurus are actively spinning doubt about the safety of e-cigarettes, demanding controls and expressing dismay about how these companies are trying to use this technology to get more people hooked on smoking. Anecdotes on dangerous substances from China, environmental pollution from spent batteries (I’m not kidding – apparently they are worried that people will want to stamp out their e-cigs!), threats of overdosing on nicotine and other risks that we just don’t know about. Central to the argument, and this was actually cited by the WHO, it that this will undermine the successful drive to denormalise smoking. We need to ban cigarettes, they argue, not make it safer (ALARA v Precaution again). The idea that e-cigarettes could be legislated as pharmaceutical products is just unacceptable.

Then there are the anti-technologists. Something man-made to address a health or environmental problem cannot be trusted. And as it comes from industry (worse, now it seems, Big Tobacco), all the more we must be suspicious. Facts? Evidence for their suspicions? None needed. This can’t be good and we don’t need it! End of discussion. Once again, the WHO is guilty of this sin of commonality.

“But Risk-Monger, wait, nicotine is what causes our addiction to cigarettes and we can’t permit the promotion of addictive substances.”

OK, but sugar and caffeine are also addictive (with much greater negative consequences), and I can think of a hundred good reasons to ban those substances first (except that, like many others, I like them!). No one, not even your doctor, is prepared to admit that medicinal nicotine is safe and in no way carcinogenic. This though, is a fact (but one not worth sharing since no one wants to hear it).

This is a rich issue for risk aficionados. Not everything is easy. Child-friendly e-cigarette flavourings have created unease, as have the types of marketing campaigns (although regulations treating e-cigarettes as a pharmaceutical product are finally coming into force). Will vaping make smoking cool again among young people? Regulators need to act to control these risks, but not try to ban e-cigarettes under a twisted ideal of precaution and deny people the positive benefits this technology can provide. Banning e-cigarettes would not be scientific, but rather vindictive (not to mention becoming a major public health fail).

Should we allow smokers back in from the cold, to vape in public, in bars and at their desks (surely not on airplanes, as they use electronic devices)? Should we accept that they can feed their addiction without negative consequences? Should they be allowed to enjoy themselves without the guilt of being socially ostracised? Should we let tobacco companies market these products as cool and safe? Absolutely not – we are stuck in a perception that is not going to go away anytime soon! Too much has been invested in relentless vilification by those who know better and are stronger lobbyists.

The Risk-Monger is enjoying this episode in cold-hearted vindictiveness by a population that feels they have a right to speak on behalf of others. Share the love!

Disclaimer: The Risk-Monger does not smoke, never has, and has no interest in vaping.

 

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Comments

  1. We don’t have enough sicentific proof to say that ecigarettes are not dangerous.

    50 years ago, cigarettes manufacturers were saying exactly the same thing as you do here, but on cigarettes.

    1. Point taken Robert. But we’ll never have enough information to prove that anything is not dangerous (at least, epidemiologically, for the next 20 to 30 years). 50 years ago, there were not millions of people using a product that allowed them to come off of a dangerous addiction with something evidently far less dangerous. I am not disagreeing with you, but I am delighting in the irony and wondering about the motivation of those lobbying so hard against something that should be deemed a benevolent innovation. I suspect we have lost trust in our regulators to control potential misuse and cannot bear ourselves to accept anything related to the tobacco industry.

  2. Thanks for that piece, Mr R Monger!

    @ Robert L:

    It may take a while (as The Monger has already said in response to your ‘nothing to contribute and going nowhere really fast’ comment) to garner sufficient e-cig specific ‘proof’ but there’s a ton of work already been done on nicotine inhalation ‘proving’ that it is a safe and relatively benign substance, and other components (PG/VG) that have led them to be used in licensed ‘medical’ inhalators (for example).

    There is danger all around and I can think of nothing that does not come with risk attached. Even kittens.

    The clear public health benefits of e-cigs come when compared to that other recreational nicotine delivery device, the cigarette. One devil we know only too well, the other we only assume and infer to be devilish.

    Would you advocate that millions of people are consigned to suffer while we wait 50 years to discover if the fire extinguisher is actually safe enough to use on the fire? I’d hope not. That would be a tad OTT as a risk-avoidance strategy.

  3. Who needs proof of anything from the army of well paid charlatans that comprises the public health industry. I don’t recall voting for the corrupt carbuncle that is the WHO to have any say in anything that I do. Have we become so cowed and timid that we are not prepared to countenance doing anything unless some self appointed control freaks tell us that it is safe?

    1. Thanks Ivan, Josef.
      What floors me most about this subject, and it won’t be my last blog since it is so delightfully counter-intuitive, is how openly political and quite naive the WHO is. Here is a UN agency of supposedly some of the best, well-paid scientists in the world, and they release a report that has no science and is purely political. They blatantly said that they could not support e-cigarettes because it would counteract the successful campaign to denormalise tobacco, and that they are concerned when tobacco companies now are selling these products. How is this science? How is this mature or legitimate? How many millions will suffer before they pull their heads out of their arses?

  4. To understand how we got to this terribly messed up state, we need a little background.

    America has been a “leader” in this antismoking insanity which other countries are following suit. The problem with Americans is that they are clueless to even their own recent history. They have a terrible history with this sort of “health” fanaticism/zealotry/extremism or “clean living” hysteria.

    Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid, 400+ year history, much of it predating even the semblance of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. Statistics and causal attribution galore are conjured. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, oppression, and bigotry. One of the two major antismoking (and anti-alcohol, dietary prescriptions/proscriptions, physical exercise) crusades early last century was in America. [The other crusade was in WWII Germany and the two crusades were intimately connected by physician-led eugenics]. The USA has been down this twisted, divisive path before. Consider the following. The bulk of claims made about smoking/tobacco were erroneous, baseless, but highly inflammatory. Unfortunately, the propaganda did its destructive job in the short term, producing mass hysteria or a bigotry bandwagon. When supported by the State, zealots seriously mess with people’s minds on a mass scale.
    http://www.americanheritage.com/content/thank-you-not-smoking
    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19981129&slug=2786034
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352989/pdf/bmj00571-0040.pdf

    1. To reply to your first comment Magnetic – sorry, but with three links, it automatically goes into my spam box (and I get spammed a lot!). I was very tempted to use Hitler as the poster child for Ex-Smoker vindictiveness. There is this great history at how he, a former heavy smoker, was obsessed with making Germany smoke-free and some of the measures he implemented would make the WHO proud. It is something we don’t want to talk about because we consider such anti-smoking political behaviour as positive today, and Hitler just doesn’t fit into our perceptions as a benign social crusader. Such a rich issue!

  5. The current antismoking crusade, very much in the eugenics tradition, is much like previous crusades. It is a moralizing, social-engineering, eradication/prohibition crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique of [medically-oriented] fanatics operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization and sponsored by the American Cancer Society (see the Godber Blueprint http://www.rampant-antismoking.com ). This little, unelected group, using much the same inflammatory rhetoric of its fanatical predecessors, decided for everyone that tobacco-use should be eradicated from the world. These fanatics were speaking of secondhand smoke “danger” years before the first study on SHS, together with advocating indoor and OUTDOOR smoking bans: Secondhand smoke “danger” is a concoction to advance the social-engineering agenda, i.e., inflammatory propaganda. The zealots were also speaking of extortionate taxes as a coercive measure long before estimates of “health costs”.

    The zealots’ goal this time is not to ban the sale of tobacco but to ban smoking in essentially all the places that people smoke (combined with extortionate taxes). Up until recently the social-engineering intent has been masqueraded as protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke “danger”. But even this fraud is no longer viable in that bans are now being instituted for large outdoor areas such as parks, beaches, campuses where there is no demonstrable “health” issue for nonsmokers. This dangerous mix of the medically-aligned attempting social engineering is a throwback to a century ago. We seem to have learned nothing of value from very painful lessons of only the recent past.

  6. To understand how we got to this terribly messed up state, we need a little background.

    America has been a “leader” in this antismoking insanity which other countries are following suit. The problem with Americans is that they are clueless to even their own recent history. They have a terrible history with this sort of “health” fanaticism/zealotry/extremism or “clean living” hysteria.

    Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid, 400+ year history, much of it predating even the semblance of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. Statistics and causal attribution galore are conjured. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, oppression, and bigotry. One of the two major antismoking (and anti-alcohol, dietary prescriptions/proscriptions, physical exercise) crusades early last century was in America. [The other crusade was in WWII Germany and the two crusades were intimately connected by physician-led eugenics]. The USA has been down this twisted, divisive path before. Consider the following. The bulk of claims made about smoking/tobacco were erroneous, baseless, but highly inflammatory. Unfortunately, the propaganda did its destructive job in the short term, producing mass hysteria or a bigotry bandwagon. When supported by the State, zealots seriously mess with people’s minds on a mass scale.
    http://www.americanheritage.com/content/thank-you-not-smoking
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352989/pdf/bmj00571-0040.pdf

  7. The Office of the Surgeon-General and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were hijacked early on (1970s) by antismoking zealots. These organizations have prostituted whatever credibility they had to chase deranged ideology. It is these organizations that have been responsible for most of the much-used slogans and “facts” such as “no safe level” of tobacco smoke, smoking is caused by “nicotine addiction”, 400,000+ deaths per year in the USA are attributable to smoking. This nonsense is then parroted by a plethora of activist groups (e.g., cancer societies, heart foundations, etc) promoting the idea that they are “self-evident truths”. This derangement is inflicted on society on the fallacy of “appeal to authority”.

    Then there is the additional problem of vested financial interest. Governments reap billions of dollars from extortionate taxes on tobacco based on the fraudulent idea that smokers are a financial “burden” to society. Activist groups demand that they be allocated a portion of these extortionate taxes to further “educate” the public and keep themselves in well-paying, socially-destructive employment. And pharmaceutical companies also fund activist groups to lobby for further taxes and bans on smoking: More pressure on smokers to quit means large revenues from essentially useless “nicotine replacement” products (e.g., patches, gums). Antismoking is a global racket.

  8. In addition to the fanatics/zealots/extremists pushing for their smokefree “utopia”, there are also vested financial interests. Pharmaceutical companies and “Pharma-philanthropy” (e.g., Robert Woods Johnson Foundation that has a large stockholding in Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of “nicotine replacement” products) fund a plethora of activist groups to push for smoking bans, increases in tobacco taxes, and generally “denormalize” smoke/smoking/smokers. Their interest is in peddling their next-to-useless “nicotine replacement therapy” – NRT (gum, patches). The more pressure is put on smokers to quit, more smokers will attempt to quit, and they’re usually directed to Pharma’s NRT. NRT doesn’t work but makes billions for Pharma annually. There’s an incestuous relationship between Pharma and groups such as the ACS, heart foundation, lung association. They are fronts for Pharma, expanding its market. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids sounds like a noble title. But it was created with tens of millions of start up money by RWJF. It does Pharma’s bidding:
    http://www.rwjf.org/en/research-publications/find-rwjf-research/2009/03/the-campaign-for-tobacco-free-kids.html

    Here’s some background on Pharma interests:
    http://forces.org/News_Portal/news_viewer.php?id=2303

    For more background on, and the players in, the medical/Pharma racket:
    http://tctactics.org/index.php/Main_Page

  9. So we can then ask why e-cigarettes are currently under attack. Pharma interests have spent billions of dollars over the last few decades “cultivating the market” (smoking/smoker denormalization) for its next-to-useless products. Things were going well for a while. Then e-cigs appeared on the scene. E-cig manufacturers adopted the same antismoking propaganda to sell their wares that seem to fare a little better than NRT. E-cigs were the new kid on the block attempting to muscle in on the action without having spent a cent producing the hysteria that makes such products relevant. Obviously Big Pharma was having none of it. And it’s now e-cigs that are under attack; the attempt is to “denormalize” e-cigs. If we consider the individuals/groups that lead the assault, we can be sure that they are Pharma-connected. They are protecting Pharma’s “market” and their own funding stream. It’s a pitiful racket.

    The WHO has played a leading role in the current antismoking crusade. It has been a major sponsor of the [antismoking] World Conferences on Smoking & Health since they began in 1967. WHO is a medical organization: It is also Pharma-connected:
    WHO LAUNCHES PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY TO HELP SMOKERS QUIT
    http://www.who.int/inf-pr-1999/en/pr99-04.html

    Most countries are now signed up to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which promotes a series of approaches towards a “tobacco-free” world. Antismoking is now a global insanity. And the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids played a key role in formulating the FCTC.

    For an insight into the contemporary medical establishment – the damage it does (iatrogenesis), its self-interest, and self-protection – see:
    http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/dangers-to-life-and-public-health-lobby.html

    1. These are all very good points Magnetic, thank you. The problems you cite can go around my concept of commonality. When commonly held views are aided by a manufactured consensus process and clever communications tools, you can do some pretty shocking things with public support (you mentioned eugenics, Goebbels was the first to realise this technique, though he lacked the social media tools we have today to promote the “we all agree” perception). If we all agree that smoking is bad, then we can tolerate the WHO working with big pharma. Commonality allows for contradictions – we don’t all agree that certain drugs are useful and believe that certain diseases or viruses are manipulated, thus we, from the other side of our mouths, condemn the pharma industry for lobbying on other issues.
      Second-hand smoke was a good case of really dodgy science that had popular support – when we want to believe something (eg, another good issue, plain pack cigarettes in Australia are already leading to a reduction in smoking) – we are willing to ignore proper scientific practices. When an industry is being denormalised (I am beginning to think that a whole group of industries are under this process), they really don’t have much say in the process. The European Parliament held a hearing in the spring on e-cigarettes – did they invite anyone from the tobacco industry?
      The best thing we can do when we see so many contradictions is to remind these officials that being a hypocrite is not a social virtue.

  10. Another useful book is “Cigarette Wars: The ‘Triumph’ of the Little White Slaver” (1998) by Cassandra Tate. The comments program here has a problem with the link. But you can google the following combination – “the endless war on tobacco” “seattletimes” – which should bring up a summary article of the book at the Seattle Times.

  11. @riskmonger

    The problem with the WHO is that it actually doesn’t employ any top scientists at all. Its scientific adviser to the EU is a medic. There is an important place for medicine in our society but unfortunately some medics are not content to occupy that well respected space and assume expertise in areas that are best left to people who actually know what they are talking about. The WHO is extremely political, acknowledged by many to be corrupt and has no scientific credibility whatsoever. The “scientific panel” that advised MEPs on e-cigs was an utter disgrace and I don’t believe that it contained any credible scientists. It did contain the WHO scientific adviser who talked utter garbage throughout.

    1. Thanks Ivan. I have a background in the chemical industry and was involved, about a decade ago, in the SCALE children’s health (read: anti-chemicals) campaign. The activist campaigners from the WHO made no excuses for their bias and felt no concern about reaching a balanced, measured, science-based position. It was a dark moment in credible policymaking (unless you were an NGO anti-chemicals policy campaigner).

  12. “….and cannot bear ourselves to accept anything related to the tobacco industry.”

    The tobacco industry has been successfully demonized, which is also a contrivance of the zealots.

    Antismoking has been obscenely funded by the taxpayer and Pharma interests for the last few decades. The great “skill” of activists is in propaganda – how to make headlines, how to maintain a high media profile. There has essentially been no questioning of their conduct. They are used to getting their way. The more fanatics are accommodated, the more hysterical and inflammatory become their claims, and the more deranged, draconian, and inhumane become their demands. On the rare occasion that fanatics don’t get their way, they resort to “Plan B” – it’s all a tobacco industry “conspiracy” – “there’s that “evil” tobacco industry thwarting our wonderful work”, screech the fanatics.
    This entire “Us vs them” framework was also contrived by the fanatics decades ago. This mythological good vs evil drama was suggested by the Australian antismoking activist, Chapman, at the 1983 [antismoking] World Conference on Smoking & Health. It was in the presentation of his paper, a manual on how to do propaganda, “The Lung Goodbye”:
    “Such a list could be added to considerably, but most entries would be characterized by being somehow cast in a mythological good versus evil battle in an arena observed by mass numbers of people. The good (health/clean air/children) versus evil (cancer/uncaring, callous industry) dimension is the ineluctable bottom line in the whole issue and a rich reservoir for spawning a great deal of useful social drama, metaphor, and symbolic politics that is the stuff of ‘news value’ and which is almost always to the detriment of the industry.” p.11 (see Godber Blueprint)
    Having cast themselves in the role of the “mythological good”, the zealots are always right; they are the “benevolent authority”. Anyone who dares disagree with them is always wrong and part of some “evil” tobacco industry “conspiracy”. It’s all for manipulative, “theatrical” effect – although there are some in the antismoking movement that believe they are “god-like” (i.e., “god complex”) – and has been quite successfully used for the last three decades on an essentially superficial/gullible political class, media, and public. The zealots and their financial partners must have regular belly laughs at how all too easy the brainwashing has been.

  13. “I was very tempted to use Hitler as the poster child for Ex-Smoker vindictiveness.”

    Hi, RM. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. RM, there’s a temptation to isolating the vindictiveness to Hitler. Unfortunately, the problem is far bigger than just him.

    In all the world, there were only two major anti-tobacco crusades early last century – America and Nazi Germany. This is not coincidental. The connecting thread is physician-led eugenics.

    Eugenics didn’t begin and end with Nazism. Eugenics was popularized in America decades earlier. The Germans, including Hitler, were students of American eugenics. Eugenics views humans, and therefore health, as only a biological/physical phenomenon (physicalist). Eugenics is most notorious for its racial/breeding/heredity dimension. Not well understood is that eugenics also has a behavioral dimension, i.e., anti-tobacco, anti-alcohol (these are viewed as body “poisons”), dietary prescriptions/proscriptions, physical exercise. That’s why, early last century, the only two countries in all the world that had high-profile anti-tobacco crusades were America and Germany. Hitler was simply following the eugenics “prescriptions”, although he was also a rabid antismoker:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352989/pdf/bmj00571-0040.pdf

    Some insight into the connection between American eugenics – California in particular – and Nazi eugenics.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/11/09/ING9C2QSKB1.DTL

    Eugenics was viewed as “scientific and scholarly”. It was supported/funded by the mega-wealthy (e.g., Rockefeller, Harriman, Carnegie, Ford, Kellogg) and the educated (The American mega-wealthy also had intimate connections with Nazi industry). Eugenics was eventually taught in prestigious universities. Eugenics had much political clout. It was eugenics that legitimized the Temperance movement along the anti-tobacco/alcohol lines: Eugenics harnessed the temperance movement for its own agenda. From the early-1910s, there were progressively more states that had instituted sterilization laws. With this momentum came anti-tobacco legislation. There were a number of states that had already banned the sale of cigarettes, e.g., Indiana, before WWI. The World War changed the fortune of the cigarette: Soldiers found the cigarette indispensable. Most tobacco bans were repealed before the end of the war.

    The bulk of eugenicists post-WWII were in America. The eugenics question was never resolved in America. Eugenicists still thought in their physicalist framework. They simply stopped using the “E”[ugenics] word because of its horrible implications. Given that the “E” word was no longer used, the obsession with physical health that came to the fore in America through the 1970s – as a consequence of physicalist thinkers – was termed “healthism”. Healthism is simply the behavioral dimension of eugenics by another name.

    Healthism involves the same eugenics personnel, e.g., physicians, biologists, pharmacologists, statisticians, behaviorists. It involves the same reliance on flimsy population-level statistics that were first developed by eugenicists (also the term “eugenics” was coined by the statistician Francis Galton). It involves the same dictatorial tendencies and social-engineering aspirations. It also involves the same perverse repertoire to coerce conformity, i.e., denormalization/propaganda.
    Post-WWII the emphasis has shifted entirely to the behavioral dimension.

    Rather than physical (reproductive) sterilization, the emphasis now is on social sterilization. Those engaging in “undesirable” activities are ostracized/stigmatized from “normal” society through “denormalization” campaigns.

    People don’t seem to understand that the eugenics catastrophe of last century was physician led. The two largest group memberships of the Nazi Party, for example, were doctors and lawyers. The combination of medical zealots, social engineering, and vested financial interests is demonstrably a dangerous mix. And they’re at it again.

    1. Thanks again Magnetic – In previous blogs, I have compared the research obsession with climate today to that of eugenics in the 1920s – like then, any researcher who needed funding would just put the word “climate” into their proposal, and any positive results would find an easier publication route (confirmation bias). While funding costs were less in the 1920s, there were some interesting parallels. I believe the research honeypot started to wane during the depression but I would have to look up the numbers. The idea that science is an objective route to consensus is a tool used by policymakers today. Motivation is always subjective (follow the money).

  14. VERY well written RiskMonger (Great name btw! LOL!) and good to see you respond to RobertL so quickly. Interesting that he hasn’t put in a reappearance to try to back up his posting… but not unexpected: the Antis love drive-by postings.)

    Re your point about “They view smokers as an evil scourge on society (look how Hollywood portrays villains today) ” I talked about that a fair amount in both my “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains” and in some more recent writing I’ve done. In one section of Brains I look at a great number of media examples ranging from Hollywood to comic strips, and one of the in-between areas I examine is television and how they’re allowed to “trade” required public service advertising time by inserting anti-drug-smoking-drinking etc messages subliminally into their scripts. Here’s a particularly egregious example I cite there:

    ====
    One particular episode of 7th Heaven featured an evil twin smoking after his smoking father passed away from lung cancer, while one of the regular teen characters started smoking, influencing two toddlers to emulate him by pretending to smoke with crayons as another teen regular kept loudly proclaiming all smokers’ stupidity and another younger teen quit a newly acquired habit to prove that he wasn’t stupid. To top it all off, yet another smoking character was thrown into the mix to rudely blow smoke in a nonsmoker’s face at an outdoor café while the home she was house-sitting simultaneously burned down from one of her cigarettes… after which she simply lit up another smoke and stalked off with a comment about the place being insured and nonsmokers being uptight! (No, I am not making this up.)
    ====

    These sorts of plot lines are NOT accidental: they are an explicit and deliberate part of a much larger effort at widespread behavior control and mental adjustment. They should be resented and resisted.

    Again, WONDERFULLY written piece!

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    1. Thanks Michael. I did not think that it could be considered as public service advertising – I just thought is was lame and lazy script-writing. Still campaigners try to show how Big Tobacco is continuing to use films and TV to get us “hooked”.

  15. What I have found amusing is that the Antismokers evidently complained so much about “Dexter” (the serial-killing cop hero) having a sister who sometimes sneaked a smoke behind the police station that they not only got her to quit her nasty habit in the third or fourth season, but are now treating us to seeing smokers portrayed only as sleazy motel owners and pedophiles living under bridges. Oh…. and also inserting bits of nice anti-dialogue (“Look! A cigar ash! What a great clue! It’s 2012, no one SMOKES anymore!”)

    As for Hannibal, there’s not a whiff of smoke (nor even an ashtray?) to be seen anywhere in its first thirteen episodes while the family-friendly show portrays the lead character dressing up various body parts in French cuisine and lovingly describing his recipes to his guests every episode.

    – MJM

    1. CSI people always find butts at a scene where murders are committed – shouldn’t smokers catch on to this evidence? Avatar was my favourite movie for how to stereotype humans as evil across all of our possible weaknesses.

  16. RM, you wrote, “CSI people always find butts at a scene where murders are committed – shouldn’t smokers catch on to this evidence?”

    Heh, plus, if you think about it, how many times do you run around murdering people and then sit down to have a nice relaxed smoke next to the corpse before hightailing it away? LOL!

    :>
    Michael

  17. Hello,

    @RIsk Monger Thank you for your answer. I agree with your text and I also think that ecigs can help former smokers to quit.
    But we shouldn’t forget that a lot of teenagers are now starting to smoke thanks to ecigs, we don’t know if they are 100% sure and EU doesn’t want to ban them but only make them available as medicinal products, which is completely normal and justified.

    I didn’t read all the comments because it’s way too long but seriously, the comparison with Hitler (godwin point) or pedophiles is clearly inappropriate and it shouldn’t be in this debate.

    And finally, all the comments from people close to tobacco manufacturers (as Forest) are not objective and I trust more MEPs, public health organizations or NGOs than them.

    Sincerely,

    1. Thank you Robert – the question of teenagers smoking e-cigs is one of concern. The idea of offering flavours like cherry, apple or pina colada does raise that risk. Interesting to note that the big tobacco e-cig brands are largely keeping to the tobacco flavoured taste while the SMEs are more cavalier on this (perhaps they have had more experience being under high scrutiny). This is something regulators have to watch and as a medicinal product, I assume in the EU, access can be controlled.

  18. Robert L, you’ve made a clear and categorical claim: “a lot of teenagers are now starting to smoke thanks to ecigs,”

    Please cite your documentation. I think you are either consciously lying or simply strongly misled, but am open to your proving me wrong.

    As for Magnetic’s Godwin point being inappropriate, I would disagree. After you’ve cited your documentation, please point out a few specifics of his inappropriateness and why you felt they were inappropriate.

    And finally, you say, “all the comments from people close to tobacco manufacturers (as Forest) are not objective” Would you name several of those people for us? I’m having a hard time determining which ones you were referring to.

    If I was one of them, I’d refer you to the first two sentences of my Author’s Preface in “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains.” See: http://antibrains.com

    Good to see you return once Robert. Will you return again?

    😕
    MJM

    1. The children issue is the important aspect of this debate – would e-cigarettes encourage them to pick up a habit they otherwise would not have (part of the WHO’s fear of non-de-normalising)? It is the same for the plain-packaging debate in Australia and now the UK – admitting that the research or argument for getting committed adult smokers to stop, many argue that at least it will stop children from starting (see an effective, albeit morally questionable, campaign at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=c_z-4S8iicc). In both cases, the evidence is anecdotal – kids will want to smoke, or adopt any lifestyle activity, if they see adults doing it in an appealing or attractive manner.
      While all is anecdotal, it doesn’t make discussions less interesting. What does de-risking an activity do? A celebrated study earlier this year showed that women who stopped smoking in their 30s would be able to offset most of the health risks they had accumulated. Telling a teenager that an activity is safe or won’t be a problem makes it, well, quite often less appealing.
      I believe offering child-friendly e-cigarette flavourings like apple or pina colada is a mistake and should be stopped. But we have to be careful about the idea of not saving lives today because we fear that children might be attracted to it in future.

  19. Hello Michael.

    I don’t really understand your orders/advices. Do you think I am your student or something?

    For documentation on ecigs and teenagers, you can easily find scientific studies and articles thanks to Google. I’m not saying it’s definitive and well-proven but there is a risk.

    Yes, a godwin point in a debate on cigarettes is clearly inappropriate! Talking about nazism is disgusting and counter-productive for any argumentation.

    And, I wasn’t talking specifically about these comments but more in the general debate (on Twitter for exemple). But I’m also confident that there are a lot of people close to tobacco manufacturers here.

    I will return if I want.

    1. Let’s try to keep the language focused on the points and not the person. I actually think that the involvement of big tobacco is a good thing in this debate. They have been under the microscope for a long time and know that anything they develop has to be without question. I’d rather trust a product they produce than something from an SME called Totally Wicked.
      One point people have missed is that there is a whole new category of innovations into product safety (stewardship) of less harmful products. The US FDA has labelled them: Modified Risk Tobacco Products (with a major longitudinal study with the NIH about to start, called PATH) and it has also been a driving force behind the Tobacco Products Directive in the EU. E-cigarettes fall under this category, as do the heat not burn products (most of the carcinogens, but not the nicotine, are released during tobacco combustion). There has also been a lot of research to redesign the product that goes into conventional cigarettes to make them less harmful. We have to stop stigmatising the industry as a big bad wolf – in most cases they have admitted their mistakes, acknowledged that their product is harmful, and recognise that making it safer (product stewardship) is in their long-term interest. I found this issue interesting because it captures the contrast between ALARA – as low as reasonably achievable – as a risk management tool, versus precaution – which is uncertainty management with some unfortunate consequences. Big tobacco is using ALARA in a room full of precautionary thinkers who don’t want them at the table. They were not invited to speak at the European Parliament hearing in May, and the WHO has essentially admitted they are still on the witch-hunt. Is this reasonable?

  20. True on several points RM. “Let’s try to keep the language focused on the points and not the person.” is a good guideline, although it’s acceptable to question the identity of anonymous posters like Robert L or Ivan D who make an appearance with a single strong point of view and no background history, most particularly if one of them seeks to advance their argument by raising a question about the validity of the other posters — which, clearly, Robert L. did in his initial posting — and also most particularly whenever the topic revolves around tobacco since the Ad Hominem “You’re just a Big Tobacco Shill” argument has been so strongly and widely employed by Antismokers over the years.

    Robert, no, I certainly do not in any way consider you my student or any such, but when a claim is made on the internet it’s fair game to ask the person to back that claim up with specific references. If you were in academia you’d be quite familiar with that. Simply responding by saying “Go look on Google” is inadequate and costs the initial poster the argument — since if they actually *did* have specific studies that they could defend they certainly would post them: what do they have to lose? I most certainly do NOT believe that “one can easily find scientific studies” showing that “a lot of teenagers are now starting to smoke thanks to ecigs,” or I wouldn’t have asked you for them. Why would I challenge you to back up a claim if I knew you could easily do so?

    We disagree on Godwin as you will be seeing in some of my future writings. There are very valid points to be made about the denormalization and dehumanization of Jews that occurred, step by step, in the early 1930s, and there’s certainly no denying the reality of the Nazi’s campaign against smoking and their creation of the passive smoking pressure point.

    As for your saying “I’m also confident that there are a lot of people close to tobacco manufacturers here. ” there have only been four posters here besides us and RM. I’ve known Magnetic online for at least ten years or so and am fairly confident he’s not “close to tobacco manufacturers.” His “talking points” are most certainly not in their mainstream.

    As for the single post by Joseph K, his blog link could lead one to believe he might be a secret undercover black helicopter operative of Big Vape…. but Vapers have generally, up until the last year or two, been more the enemies of “tobacco manufacturers” than their friends. Being quite familiar with the overall field of debate, I strongly doubt BigT would risk the potential negative repercussions involved by wasting their money on pro-vaping blog.

    And as for Ivan, he’s “anonymous” here, but I somehow don’t feel that two paragraphs of posting over the course of a week constitutes what I would normally perceive of as a Big Tobacco campaign.

    So overall, I remain uncomfortable with your characterization that there are ” a lot of people close to tobacco manufacturers here. ” and would ask you to explain why you felt such a claim was necessary or what evidence you might have to back it up.

    – MJM

  21. Just to clarify… I’m just a bit of a vapenut, is all… and anti those who are attempting to throttle my vapenut fun.

    I am not anti-smoking as I tend to libertarianism in most things. I represent… myself alone… and certainly not the pharmaceutical or tobacco industries.

    Smoking tobacco products is bad for your health and as an ardent vapenut I have to counter the arguments of those that seek to use e-cigs as a means of THR within a restrictive legislative framework.

    To do so, I often have to focus on the harms caused by smoking in drawing attention to the lack/absence of those harms when it comes to e-cigs.

    Do not infer by this that I would seek to ban or restrict tobacco products or indeed actively advocate their continued use.

    My original post was in reference to a comment that ‘We don’t have enough scientific proof to say that ecigarettes are not dangerous.’

    This comment is, and remains, misleading, inaccurate, unevidenced claptrap… beyond the generic claim that ‘all things have an element of risk or danger’ – like water, and oxygen… and kittens. There is plenty of scientific proof that e-cigs are significantly (by orders of magnitude) safer to use than tobacco cigarettes, and contain similar (or less) harmful compounds than licensed, medically-approved NRT products.

    I note that despite a couple of further visits, Robert has yet to back up his ludicrous claim and appears to think that ‘risk’ alone is sufficient for prohibition and legal restriction. Cotton wool can be risky under certain circumstances, so I could not even advise him to wrap himself up in it for fear of… drumroll… death.

    In order to understand that ‘evidence’ previously submitted as to the ‘dangers’ of e-cigs, I would direct Robert to have a read through this document (http://publichealth.drexel.edu/SiteData/docs/ms08/f90349264250e603/ms08.pdf).

    I would also advise Robert to question his ‘trust’ in those advocacy groups more commonly known as ‘public health bodies,’ NGOs and MEPs. When it comes to e-cigs, their views and opinions are based upon ideology, rather than science. The imposition of a particular ideology over the totality of a population even where certain demographics would oppose such a move, where evidence is lacking to support such an imposition, and where that imposition runs counter to the public good… is not a position worthy of trust.

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