September 30th, 2014

Letter to delegates to FCTC COP-6


Looks lovely…  but is it?

Here’s my first open letter to delegates to the WHO FCTC COP-6 to be held in Moscow 13-18 October.

>> read the full post

September 28th, 2014

The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle applied

bullshit asymmety principle

The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle

There are three problems increasingly evident in ‘tobacco control’ science when it comes to tobacco harm reduction:

  1. Contrived and phoney research designed to support pre-existing policy preferences (see previous post).
  2. Spin by scientists and activists designed to create some sort of moral panic or adverse change in risk perception out of absolutely nothing.
  3. The exhaustion of rational, fair-minded and ethical actors arising from Brandolini’s law: the bullshit asymmetry principle – see his seminal tweet.

All three drain the energy and time of real scientists, consumers and legitimate public health advocates. They distort regulatory and legislative decisions and create false perceptions of risk in the media and general public. All are evident in the following study:

Goniewicz ML, Lee L.  Electronic Cigarettes Are a Source of Thirdhand Exposure to Nicotine Nicotine and Tobacco Research 2014.

>> read the full post

September 26th, 2014

Falsely exaggerating risks scares people off things – new study finds

Let’s put this on e-cigarettes! That’ll teach ‘em…

A promising contender has emerged for the coveted Worst Published Paper of All Time award…   >> read the full post

September 16th, 2014

Memo to public health grandees: vaping, vapers and you

public health

No, you keep calm

Dear Public Health Grandees (you know who you are)

I consider myself a public health advocate and, though I’m not a vaper and have never smoked, I support vaping as a tobacco harm reduction strategy, with enormous potential to reduce death and disease globally.  It’s a good approach for public health as it doesn’t require prohibitions, coercion, punitive taxes or rely on fear and it goes with the grain of behaviour and what people want. I thought it might help you if I explained what I have learned about vaping and vapers, and why your relationship with them is so poor. You can also read very articulate views from vapers about your attitude to them at the links below. >> read the full post

August 27th, 2014

Appalling spin – a letter to a WHO spokesman

Original image removed at the request of WHO Legal Counsel

Updated: To say yesterday’s announcements from WHO were disappointing would rather understate the case.  The package of paper, press comment and tweets, looked at in the round was anti-scientific, unethical and harmful.  It led directly to a dreadful article in the Telegraph: ‘I thought my e-cigarette was a miracle. Turns out, I was smoking the equivalent of 40-a-day’ as an entirely foreseeable outcome of its onslaught against e-cigarettes.   It was made all the more galling by having to listen to WHO spokesman Armando Peruga on the BBC Six O’Clock Radio news talking complete nonsense.  Today I decided to write him a letter.

>> read the full post

August 26th, 2014

WHO on e-cigarettes – protecting cigarette sales and causing more disease and death

Original image removed at the request of WHO Legal Counsel

Following publication of WHO’s paper on e-cigs for the FCTC COP-6 meeting in Moscow the statement below went out to media from Professor Gerry Stimson. I agree with all of it, but think he is far too polite.  My initial reaction was as below (Update 15 Sept 2014: a more complete analysis is now available):  >> read the full post

August 23rd, 2014

Big Pharma anti-vaping ad complaint


I found this annoying and decided to complain

It’s perhaps a good sign that Big Pharma feels compelled to apply its boneheaded, plodding, utterly uncreative advertising skills to persuading smokers to use its inferior products rather than take up vaping. For a characteristically entertaining account of the righteous petulance of Big Pharma see Redhead Full of  Steam. Even so, I found this advertisement annoying, especially as e-cig vendors can’t fight back and likely to be counterproductive for health (if enough people followed its advice).  So I decided to see how they can be held to account. As it turns out MHRA is the regulator and it applies a code called the Blue Guide, Advertising and promotion of medicines in the UK.  So here is the complaint:

>> read the full post

August 9th, 2014

A critical commentary on the Glantz and UCSF e-cigarette submissions to the FDA

Screen shot FDA deeming regs page

Click to access the FDA page


It was a dire (though mercifully short) experience: I decided to provide a brief response to each of the many submissions to FDA issuing from UCSF under the direction of Professor Stanton Glantz.  Here is my contribution to FDA deliberations in PDF form: Critical commentary on the comments on the FDA deeming rule submitted by UCSF faculty and fellows (PDF)  The text and links are set out below.  I summarised it in the comment section of the FDA web site as follows:

The UCSF submissions show multiple failures of fact and interpretation; inappropriate framing; and dramatic systematic biases – emphasising minor or implausible risks while diminishing or ignoring entirely very significant potential benefits.

I might have added that the cigarette based business model of the tobacco industry could not ask for better allies.  Almost everything coming from UCSF on e-cigarettes will, if regulators acted on it, protect cigarette sales from competition, support a diminished market for e-cigarettes best suited to tobacco industry dominance, increase avoidable smoking and lead to more death and disease. Nice work! >> read the full post

July 31st, 2014

Briefing: the case for e-cigarettes

Shorter briefingIn response to my longer briefing, sometimes people say: well could you please state the case more concisely?  So here is a shorter briefing, starting with a one paragraph summary…

>> read the full post

July 31st, 2014

Briefing on e-cigarettes for policy makers

Longer briefing
I am occasionally asked for a briefing on e-cigarettes and related policy issues – so here’s one I produced recently, that I hope some readers of this blog might find useful – for example in talking to Directors of Public Health, NHS officials etc. This is the longer one… I also did a shorter one with more recommendations.
>> read the full post