December 8th, 2016

Bad science, poor insights and likely to do harm - rapid reaction to the Surgeon General's terrible e-cigarette report

Warning: The Surgeon General has crossed the boundary between science and propaganda

The Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarettes is out. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. It is truly terrible – a heady mix of emotive propaganda and a completely warped and one-sided account of the science built on a lack of insight into youth behaviors and no knowledge of the tobacco and nicotine market or its consumers.

Previous posts: see Five questions for the Surgeon General about e-cigarette science and The critic’s guide to bad vaping science (both 7 Dec 2016)

I’ve extracted the overall conclusions and main chapter conclusions from the report and provided a rapid reaction to each of these.

>> read the full post

December 7th, 2016

Five questions to put to the US Surgeon General on e-cigarette science


Will he get the thumbs up for his e-cigarette report?

Update 8 December – my reaction: Bad science, poor insights and likely to do harm – rapid reaction to the Surgeon General’s terrible e-cigarette report (these questions remain unanswered).

On 8 December 2016 the U.S. Surgeon General will release a new report on e-cigarettes.  I don’t yet know what’s in it, but these are the five questions I would like to see honestly and candidly addressed (with supplementaries and some supporting data)

  1. How much has vaping played a role in the recent accelerated decline in U.S. adult smoking and how beneficial for health will this be?
  2. How much of the decline in youth smoking is attributable to vaping and how beneficial for health will this be?
  3. Compared to smoking cigarettes, how harmful are e-cigarettes?
  4. If nicotine is harmful to the developing brain, where are the smokers with brain damage?
  5. On what basis is it possible to claim any material risk to bystanders for second-hand vapor exposure?

This is part two of a twin posting. Part 1. is The critic’s guide to bad vaping science – this is the informed critic’s plain language guide to questioning the science of sensationalist and alarmist e-cigarette studies.  >> read the full post

December 7th, 2016

The critic's guide to bad vaping science


“Full of sound and fury but signifying nothing” – Shakespeare

This is part one of a twin post. Part 2 is Five questions to put to the US Surgeon General on e-cigarette science (next posting).

To respond to the forthcoming publication of a new US Surgeon General publication on e-cigarettes, I have have expedited my long-planned guide to bad science in the field of e-cigarettes and vaping in the hope that commentators, opinion formers and members of the public will give this review proper critical scrutiny.

So here it is: Version 1.0 of a critic’s guide to bad e-cigarette and and vaping science. This is the informed critic’s plain language guide to questioning the science of sensationalist and alarmist e-cigarette studies.

Here it is: The critic’s guide to bad vaping science (PDF – 15 pages)

This is the table of contents, which I hope is in itself a handy guide to interrogating bad science.  >> read the full post

December 6th, 2016

Bad science, accountability and courage - speech by AG Tom Miller

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

Tom Miller: “public policy through facts and science rather than ideology”

On 17 November 2016, the Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, gave a speech at the E-cigarette Summit 2016 (with biography) on e-cigarettes examining the claims of anti-vaping activists, and their scientific, ethical and legal basis. The full text of the speech is here: America Needs England (PDF). I reported an earlier speech here.

The speech should be widely read, especially in the United States. To facilitate an informed reading, I have reproduced the speech here, with some thematic subheadings, source links and illustrations [these are my additions].

>> read the full post

December 1st, 2016

To tax or not to tax? Response to EU on taxing vaping and other reduced risk products



European Commission consultation: the Commission is consulting on applying excise duties (i.e. tax) to vape products and other reduced risk alternatives to smoking – see here for consultation page with online form for interested parties to complete – please do add your response.

New Nicotine Alliance response: I have been working as an Associate Member of the New Nicotine Alliance to put together a briefing for this consultation. The NNA summarises the main points: EU Tax policy – harmful to health – our briefing.

There is no case on principled or practical grounds to apply excise duties to vaping products and other products that offer a much safer alternative to smoking. The value to health and wellbeing associated with switching from smoking to vaping will exceed any benefits arising from revenue collection.

Main briefing: The full briefing: Revision of the Tobacco Excise Directive: Implications for low-risk nicotine products (24 pages – PDF)

Summaries: the Executive summary and Conclusion of the briefing are reproduced below.

Idealised excise regime

Summary: idealised excise regime

>> read the full post

November 23rd, 2016

How does Big Tobacco see its future? Guest blog by Jonathan Fell

City of London

What is the tobacco industry up to?  Let’s ask someone from the City who knows about it…

Note from Counterfactual. There’s much speculation and theorising from public health academics about what the tobacco industry is doing and what motivates it. But this often based on a simplistic understanding of business, markets and how the industry (indeed any industry) works, and seasoned with selective reading of now-dated industry documents. I thought we might gain more by asking an analyst and investor for his views. So here is a guest post from Jonathan Fell, a former City of London investment bank equity analyst with over 20 years’ experience following the tobacco industry and other consumer packaged good companies. He now manages a fund, in which he himself invests, that owns shares in a number of consumer companies, including tobacco stocks.

These are Jonathan’s own views. This piece is not intended as investment advice, nor should it be taken as such.

________ Jonathan Fell’s guest blog starts here ________

>> read the full post

November 9th, 2016

WHO's anti-vaping scientific castle of cards toppled (updated)



Updated 9 November with UKCTAS report translations

The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) has produced a devastating critique of the WHO paper on ‘Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems’ (e-cigarettes or vaping products to everyone else).  The paper by WHO is for the 7th Conference of the Parties to WHO’s tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (FCTC COP-7) which will be held in Delhi 7-12 November, 2016.

A tremendous effort by the authors John Britton, Ann McNeill, Linda Bauld and Ilze Bogdanovica, and the reviewers (disclosure: I was a reviewer).

The report speaks for itself, so here are the relevant links to the report, some unofficial translations and the executive summary.


>> read the full post

November 6th, 2016

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller gives outstanding speech on smoking, vaping and public health - listen

Quite simply the best speech I have ever heard on tobacco and nicotine policy, science and ethics. From Tom Miller one of the architects or the United States Master Settlement Agreement and Chair of the Truth Initiative.  A model of decency, humility and rigorous scientific reflection, in my opinion.

The speech was given over lunch at the Food and Drug Law Institute Tobacco Conference, 27 October 2016 in Washington DC.

General Miller’s speaking notes are available here (check against delivery).

November 2nd, 2016

WHO tobacco meeting - could the FCTC do something useful on vaping?


But can WHO help?

I’m sometimes accused of being a WHO-sceptic, or worse. No more! In the run up to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  COP-7  meeting in Delhi, 7-12 November, I have been challenged to say something positive about how the FCTC could do useful and constructive things on vaping and tobacco harm reduction from a public health point of view, other than the default answer “absolutely nothing at all”.

I sometimes refer to ENDS – Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems – to mean vaping equipment and liquids, e-cigarettes etc. Apologies.

Here we go… >> read the full post

October 14th, 2016

Louise Ross: E-cigarette samples - a legitimate way of helping people to switch?


Guest post from Louise Ross,  Manager of the Leicester e-cig friendly Stop Smoking Service. (@grannylouisa)

Faced with a patient who has had a cancer diagnosis, who smokes but rejects any attempt to discuss stopping smoking, what should a stop smoking advisor do? >> read the full post