April 30th, 2016

Anti-vaping zealots write flat-earth letter to The Times

MckeeTimesA remarkably self-regarding letter is published in The Times (London) today.  The writers are reacting with hostility to the outstanding Royal College of Physicians report, Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction, and the very positive editorial in The Times (Vaping Vindicated) that followed its launch.

In my view, their letter is truly dreadful, but it is also very revealing. In this post, I take a look at the arguments they make.

Update 2 May: my reply published in The Times.

Here is the letter… I have added cross-references in square brackets to the original [..] to help readers navigate to my comments.

Letter – Vaping regulation
Sir, Once again, England seems out of step with medical and public health organisations in the rest of the world [1], and even the rest of the UK, in its calls to encourage use of e-cigarettes (“Vaping Vindicated”, leader, Apr 28). In particular, it contrasts with the call, a few days earlier, by 31 leading US health groups for the Food and Drug Administration to strengthen regulation of these products [2].

An earlier report from Public Health England [3] was heavily criticised [4] for, among other things, its selective use of evidence, for example by failing to cite a major review noting concerns about the safety of these products [5]. Inexplicably, the Royal College of Physicians report ignores a recent review of 38 studies, published by The Lancet [6], finding that e-cigarettes are associated with a lower probability of quitting. Similarly, it suggests that “snus” (oral tobacco) has been effective in reducing smoking in Sweden, a view not supported by scientific evidence [7]. While remaining open to the possibility that e-cigarettes may be effective as part of individually tailored smoking cessation interventions, it is premature to encourage their widespread use [8][9].

Professor Martin McKee, President, European Public Health Association;
Professor Walter Ricciardi, Past President, European Public Health Association;
Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, President Elect, European Public Health Association;
Professor Mike Daube, Curtin University, Perth, Australia;
Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman, University of Sydney, Australia;
Dr Martina Poetschke-Langer, German Cancer Research Center;
Professor Esteve Fernandez Munoz, University of Barcelona;
Professor Pekka Puska, former Director, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland

Examination of this letter

[1] What distinguishes the Royal College of Physicians report from the work of other “medical and public health organisations” is that the RCP has meticulously argued its case over a 200-page assessment put together by a team of experts that are from the top tier of tobacco and nicotine research.  Where is the equivalent from the European Public Health Association Come on, show your working! You can find all manner of mad, bad and dangerous statements from opinionated and over-confident doctors, health and medical organisations. What you will never find is a credible case to back what they are saying. So yes, in that sense, the RCP is “out of step”.

[2] This refers to an evidence-free lobbying letter signed by crypto-prohibitionist American anti-vaping groups. It does not contain a scientific assessment or even a single credible policy argument.  These groups want to force a massively onerous FDA authorisation process on vaping products that was waived for thousands of cigarette products, which now have unfettered access to the market. Most informed commentators think this will just wipe out the vast majority of the vaping industry, and I suspect that is why these 31 groups want it.  Quite why they want to protect the cigarette trade in this way remains a mystery. Quite why they want to regulate the e-cigarette market in a way that suits the tobacco companies e-cigarette business model is another unsolved puzzle.

[3] This must refer to PHE’s excellent E-cigarettes: an evidence update commissioned from genuine experts in the field, Professors Ann McNeill and Peter Hajek. No equivalent has been put together by their critics and it stands as a fine piece of work that should embarrass its equivalents in other countries.

[4] PHE was mainly criticised by a small cabal of anti-scientific academic activists centred around Martin McKee, who appears to me to know nothing at all about these issues and refuses to debate with those who do. You can see the complete destruction of McKee’s vacuous arguments by the brilliant Zvi Herzig here > Response to McKee and Capewell. As for other criticism, the BMJ and Lancet editors just embarrassed themselves as you can see in my ten point take-down of the BMJ’s infantile ‘investigative journalism’ here: Smears or science? The BMJ attack on Public Health England and its e-cigarettes evidence review.

[5] This ‘major review’ probably refers to Pisinger C, Døssing M. A systematic review of health effects of electronic cigarettes. Prev Med (Baltim) 2014;69C:248–60. This review was comprehensively flawed and any reasonable assessment would have ignored it because it didn’t really say anything. The basics of toxicology were overlooked throughout, namely that the “dose makes the poison” and that you can’t say anything meaningful about risk without quantifying exposure. After much whining because they couldn’t really find a ‘smoking gun’, the authors of this study boldly concluded: no firm conclusions can be drawn on the safety of ECs. However, they can hardly be considered harmless.

In contrast, the Royal College of Physicians has made evidence-based judgements about relative risk based on studies of toxic exposure compared to smoking, and made a carefully-expressed, cautious and proportionate statement about risk that does not claim complete safety and acknowledges uncertainty:

Although it is not possible to precisely quantify the long-term health risks associated with e-cigarettes, the available data suggest that they are unlikely to exceed 5% of those associated with smoked tobacco products, and may well be substantially lower than this figure.

The importance of this type of clarity cannot be overstated – smokers and vapers need a clear steer to help them gauge the difference in risk between smoking and vaping, and so to make informed choices. In this, they have been badly let down by public health histrionics all the way through funders, agencies, universities, journals, press offices and the media.  Commendably, the RCP follows PHE in trying to help the public anchor their perceptions of risk closer to reality, and to cut through the blizzard of bullshit that comes from the anti-vaping faction in public health.

[6] This reference draws on one of the worst pieces of work ever published in the history of science: Kalkhoran S, Glantz SA. E-cigarettes and smoking cessation in real-world and clinical settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Respir Med 2016.  This “meta-analysis” was subject to heavy criticism from the moment of its publication, see Expert reaction to meta-analysis looking at e-cigarette use and smoking cessation. For example, Professor Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology at University College London, commented:

Publication of this study represents a major failure of the peer review system in this journal.

A pre-publication version of this meta-analysis was severely criticised in evidence to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by experts at the Truth Initiative, which describes itself as “America’s largest non-profit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past“. In the Truth Initiative submission to FDA, the examination of the methodological issues begins on page 8 and the following comment appears on page 12, referring to this meta-analysis subsequently published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

While the majority of the studies we reviewed are marred by poor measurement of exposures and unmeasured confounders, many of them have been included in a meta-analysis that claims to show that smokers who use e-cigarettes are less likely to quit smoking compared to those who do not. [73] This meta-analysis simply lumps together the errors of inference from these correlations. As described in detail above, quantitatively synthesizing heterogeneous studies is scientifically inappropriate and the findings of such meta-analyses are therefore invalid.” (emphasis added)

This criticism is both apt and fatal, and cannot be addressed with bluster or a ‘sensitivity analysis’.

[7] The authors indulge in an extraordinary and utterly inexplicable denial about the snus experience in Sweden. That would be the same Sweden where the adult smoking prevalence is an outlying 11% compared to EU average of 26% as measured in the one survey that covers all the European Union. That’s the same Sweden where the only marked difference between it and other countries is snus use (see chart below and explanation here).

Smoking prevalence vs tobacco control policy score

Sweden is a dramatic outlier in European smoking prevalence but has nothing unusual in tobacco control policy (see ‘tobacco control score’ x-axis)

And as for saying this is ‘a view not supported by scientific evidence‘. Really? Again, where is their case? For real science, see for example (a small subset of the literature):

  • Foulds J, Ramstrom L, Burke M, et al. Effect of smokeless tobacco (snus) on smoking and public health in Sweden — Foulds et al. 12 (4): 349 — Tob Control.: 2003  [link]
  • Ramström L, Wikmans T. Mortality attributable to tobacco among men in Sweden and other European countries: an analysis of data in a WHO report. Tob Induc Dis 2014;12:14. [link]
  • Ramström LM, Foulds J. Role of snus in initiation and cessation of tobacco smoking in Sweden. Tob Control 2006;15:210–4. [link]
  • Stegmayr B, Eliasson M, Rodu B. The decline of smoking in northern Sweden. Scand J Public Health 2005;33:321–4; discussion 243. [link]
  • Rodu B, Cole P. The burden of mortality from smoking: comparing Sweden with other countries in the European Union. Eur J Epidemiol 2004;19:129–31. [link]

The final citation in this list estimates “Almost 500,000 smoking-attributable deaths occur annually among men in the EU; about 200,000 would be avoided at Swedish smoking rates“.

And here’s something for the Finnish letter-writing anti-snus extremist Pekka Puska to reflect on next time he declares snus has no public health value. When the ban on snus in the EU started in 1992, it applied to Finland but not to Sweden or to Norway – creating a natural experiment. Look what happened… (see full posting by Brad Rodu: The Swedish Snus Experience Isn’t Finnished)

finland

Oh dear, an absolutely foreseeable slowing in the rate of decline in smoking emerged in Finland compared to Sweden and Norway.  That does not prove the snus ban caused the slow-down, of course. But it should be enough for Professor Puska to spend the rest of his days haunted by these trends and the possibility that his clumsy evidence-free opposition to snus has ended the lives of many of his Finnish compatriots prematurely.

This denial of the snus experience in Sweden is at an anti-vaxxer level of delusional scientific obfuscation. No one should take these letter-writers seriously on vaping or tobacco harm reduction (or perhaps anything else?) following this. Their comments on snus show they either simply don’t understand anything about it or they are unwilling to grasp what is both obvious and scientifically established beyond reasonable doubt. But why? Another mystery – perhaps because it destroys the foundations of their anti-nicotine and tobacco zealotry. A tobacco product marketed by a tobacco company does more for health in Sweden than tobacco control? That can’t be right… can it?

[8] The writers generously concede they are:

…open to the possibility that e-cigarettes may be effective as part of individually tailored smoking cessation interventions

Oh, thank you. No doubt, millions of vapers worldwide are breathing a sigh of relief. But alas…

…it is premature to encourage their widespread use.

I guess vapers will have to bear that with equanimity and just “vape on”…!

To control freaks everywhere: sorry, that’s not how vaping or tobacco harm reduction works.  One of the best aspects of the RCP report is that it recognises this, I guess to the dismay of these writers.

For the benefit of those who are stuck in this Patient > Illness > Treatment > Cure mindset, Gerry Stimson explains it very well here: Public health should step aside. Vapers are now leading the fight against smoking.

For the benefit of any joyless and confused elders of public health, Sarah Jakes explains the importance of ‘pleasure’ in tobacco harm reduction: Vapers just wanna have fun. Enjoy!

As these writers don’t even understand how snus has worked in Sweden, it’s no surprise they are confused about vaping, which is nothing to do with them and their ‘smoking cessation interventions’.   In Britain, there are 8.8m smokers and 2.2m vapers of which 850,000 are ex-smokers – another 720,000 are both ex-smokers and ex-vapers (data).  This has happened without any official smoking cessation interventions, without taxpayers’ money and without any state coercion. It happened in the teeth of public health opposition (now happily reversed in the UK) and against a backdrop of misleading anti-vaping propaganda, of which this letter is just the latest miserable instalment.

[9] Even this apparent, if grudging, concession by the writers has its resonance in the approach of the tobacco industry 30-40 years ago. Here’s what they said in their Times letter:

While remaining open to the possibility that e-cigarettes may be effective as part of individually tailored smoking cessation interventions, it is premature to encourage their widespread use.

That has a familiar ring to it… the idea that giving a little protects your credibility. Here’s British American Tobacco discussing it confidentially in 1978 (emphasis added in red)

“we can move our position on causation to one which acknowledges the probability that smoking is harmful to a small percentage of heavy smokers . . . On balance, it is the opinion of this department that . . . we should now move to position B, namely, that we acknowledge ‘the probability that smoking is harmful to a small percentage of heavy smokers’ . . . The ideas suggested above are in some cases a radical departure from our current practice although nearly all of them have echoes in our overall policy and attitudes. The problem to date has been the severe constraint of the American legal position. This problem has made us seem to lack credibility in the eyes of the ordinary man in the street. Somehow we must regain this credibility. By giving a little we may gain a lot. By giving nothing we stand to lose everything.

BAT Notes on group research and development conference, Sydney, 1978: Mar. (Restricted.)

I know this must be right because the source is: Francey N, Chapman S. ‘Operation Berkshire’: the international tobacco companies’ conspiracy. BMJ 2000;321:371–4. [link]

Update: The Times publishes my reply

Online here text here.

Times-TI-Lookalikes

I’m not the only one noticing these similarities it seems:

In the Poisonous Vaping Debate, Are Anti-Smoking Groups the New Big Tobacco? | TheInfluence

I will return to this question with an analysis of their credibility shredding position on snus.  But in the meantime, here’s a clue: snus is banned in every country except one on this chart (data).

Eurobarmeter 429

The worst letter of 2016? It’s definitely a contender

Three of writers of this letter to The Times (McKee, Chapman and Daube) won my “Worst Letter of 2014” award for a deranged letter they wrote to The Lancet, trying to mock a vaper, Lorien Jollye for having the impertinence to disagree with them based on her actual lived experience. That was a clear winner in 2014. But new one is very strong: a real contender for  the 2016 award.

Has anyone else got any useful insights?

Of course, the court jester of public health thinks it’s all great and the writers are “global gurus”. Nurse!

42 comments to Anti-vaping zealots write flat-earth letter to The Times

  • robert harvey

    I am proud of my country and the RCP for leading the way in tobacco harm reduction, their actions (bar TPD that will hopefully soon be repealed and replaced when we leave the EU) are outstanding, rather then believe negative hype in the form of ill performed study’s and supposition they have took notice of extensive data compiled from well performed study’s that show the use of e-cigarettes to be far safer then smoking and more study’s that enforce their conclusion are appearing all of the time.
    if other countries governments want to base their legislation on bad science, imagined pitfalls and ignorance then poor show for them, I just hope their citizens have the good fortune to have these bad laws repealed.
    I am 3.5 years smoke free after 40 years a heavy smoker thanks to vaping.

  • Lollylulubes

    Ages, I saw a write up of Glantz’s early years. The author said that his modus operandi was to generate headlines. He banks on the fact that barely anyone actually reads the science and just believes whatever they read in the media scare stories (of course this was before the internet and the fight back by vapers). I think this is what his “public harm” colleagues are also doing – desperately trying to get people to doubt any good pro-vaping stories.

    It all boils down to the fact that the tobacco and pharma companies shared the nicotine market (in a highly lucrative 30 year scam for pharma) and the status quo is how they all want it to remain. If the ANTZ don’t care enough about the health of millions to support vaping, then they don’t care about the health of smokers either. In whatever direction the $$$ come doesn’t matter – it’s not about health; it’s about protecting the money making gravy train for all.

  • tittyhead

    Aren’t a lot of pensions tied up with Tobacco companies?

    • Lollylulubes

      I believe many UK councils are heavily invested in tobacco shares. As amongst the consistently best performing shares you can buy, it would make perfect sense for many, many organisations to be invested. Simon Chapman’s Sydney University was recently outed as invested. I would think many are also invested in pharma, too.

  • […] and Health and e-cigarette advocate Clive Bates didn’t hesitate to respond to letter with some sharp words of his own – published in the same newspaper April […]

  • John walker

    Clive congrats on your letter to the Times!

  • […] Health and e-cigarette advocate Clive Bates didn’t hesitate to respond to letter with some sharp words of his own – published in the same newspaper April […]

  • Clive Bates

    I agree with you completely. This reflects the deep prohibitionist substrate in ‘tobacco control’ – we don’t see them trying to ban cigarettes, just because they know they’d never get away with it. So they want a ban whenever they do think they can get away with it… hence the stance on snus and e-liquids, and the stuff about reduced nicotine cigarettes. The prohibitionist urge is far stronger than the harm reduction urge (which barely exists in the mainstream).

    In the comments in this 2012 Death by regulation posting on snus – one of my first on THR – I identified and challenged into the individuals involved. They couldn’t mount even the most feeble defence – truly a professional disgrace.

    • Guy Eaton

      Prohibitionists – what a bunch of unpleasant, unhelpful, wasteful, narcissistic & self-gratulatory people . I don’t have time for people like this in any walk of life – waste of money and space! Oh, how terrible some dirty evil smokers could survive their State condoned habit and quit easily with the ‘devils electronic stick’! Sorry I have to joke to decrease my stress levels and irritation.

    • Jude

      Clive I keep hearing from prohibitionists the excuse, “we can’t ban tobacco cigarettes because of ‘historical’ reasons”, I’ve never been able to work this out as it hasn’t stopped the banning of any number of “historical” products. I believe that its more a case of “government interests” than anything historical, as in the government, particularly in Australia, stand to lose a great deal of money if tobacco was banned from sale, far more than even the tobacco companies themselves. As most of these prohibitionist ANTZ groups and individuals, are funded by the taxpayer, this makes sense. The “historical reasons” is just another lie, to cover the greed and hypocrisy inherent in the government and public “health”.

  • Guy Eaton

    Is the snus cover up as an effective control on cigarette smoking simply borne out of zealotry? It could not be a BT conspiracy as snus is a tobacco product unlike EC?

    • Lollylulubes

      Around 3 years ago, I read a TC document which stated Snus must be banned because it was made by the tobacco industry and it referred to smokers, not being allowed it, as collateral damage.

      Tobacco Control have a great deal to answer for over the damage they’ve done.

  • Andrew Thompson

    ..suggests that “snus” (oral tobacco) has been effective in reducing smoking in Sweden, a view not supported by scientific evidence

    Here is a tweet questioning Simon Chapman regarding evidence re snus, given he published “Public Health Advocacy and Tobacco Control: Making Smoking History” in 2007 – which included a graph that clearly showed the drop in smoking rates in Sweden.

    Of course, the Twitter account asking – is blocked by Simon..

  • Roger Hall

    Clive, you state “Quite why they would want to protect the cigarette trade in this way?” so maybe perhaps it isn’t the cigarette trade that concerns them, but the “harm” the cigarette trade causes? I shudder to think just how profitable the harm from smoking is for the Pharmaceutical industry? Their industry above all others will be reluctant to see a safer replacement to the tobacco cigarette. So in a way they are also part of the cigarette trade and their involvement in protecting the cigarette trade shouldn’t be underestimated.

  • G. Karl Snae

    Good article from you like always and I found that was a true gem, thanks Clive “…perhaps because it destroys the foundations of their anti-nicotine and tobacco zealotry. A tobacco product marketed by a tobacco company does more for health in Sweden than tobacco control?” It explains it all.
    First the most likely reason for their actions and the shame they experience as an irrelevant TC because they know they have lost “their” own game, control.

  • Andy Bilham

    Thank you Clive for your usual analytical and precise dissection of a ridiculous letter written by so-called professionals who really should know better.
    I really am at a loss to be able to explain how these high-ranking medical ‘experts’ (my quote marks!) can trumpet so loudly on a subject that they clearly know so little about.
    It is such a shame that there is no body of peer-reviewed evidence that, oh, sorry, say that again, oh, there IS such a body of evidence, well, blow me down with a (good smoke-free lungful of air) feather, what a shame they can’t take the time to read it and reflect on its content.
    I hope that the authors of this letter can sleep soundly at night in the knowledge that they might be influencing hundreds, if not thousands, of smokers away from e-cigarettes and back to the evil tobacco weed.
    As someone above mentioned, how interesting it would be to be able to investigate their income. Playing with a straight BAT? (see what I did there!) – I think not!

  • Guy Eaton

    Great Job Clive!

    The first sentence of the flat-earth letter says it all! The UK is the only country that has analysed all the evidence to date both with the PHE Review and that by the RCP.The truth tends to come out in the end in this country and that why I am proud to be British.

    In the last part of the first sentence when they implicitly criticise encouragement of EC use it is as if they are implying EC are not used as an alternative to smoking! The only two assumptions that follow from this logic is either non smokers are using them on mass or that they are worse for you than smoking (i.e. by making the assumption encouraging use is bad). It has to be said this is truly a sign of having a low IQ and or having a personality disorder / mental health problem. The letter is possibly the most pathetic, idiotic letter of its kind I have every read. THR is not hard to understand and believe the average 6 year old could grasp it quite easily.

    How do these incredibly harmful morons have positions of authority? I would put them on a par of playground bullies. What kind of organisation to they think the RCP is? What an insult to them and the brilliant honest and intelligent work they have done.

  • Terry Mitchell

    Nothing much to say. But antivapist are self invovled egotistical maniacs. Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by these products. The medical field as well as governments stand to loose a lot of money. This is their top objective. Cancer keeps them rich their GOLDEN GOOSE.

  • […] Interesting article that popped up on my google news today. Clive Bates breakdowns reaction letter published in The Times. Anti-vaping zealots write flat-earth letter to The Times. […]

  • Chris

    If one were to be able to examine the personal finances of these people, I believe the answer would become crystal clear.

  • John Walker

    ” policy based, evidence making” is what these guys specialise in, and have done for years.
    The attraction for them is that they can have great political power: for example severely restricting the rights of individuals (and influencing the flow of subsidies to preferred sectors) while all the while masquerading as ‘technocrats- advisors’ , merely dispensing impartial ‘evidence based ‘ advise to governments re ‘administration and regulatory details’

    In contrast Medical doctors ( for all their flaws) are above all driven by ‘does it work ,in practice’ – what’s the best option in a real imperfect, individual world.

  • Lass, they suffer from an unfortunately common mental illness, ASDS (AntiSmokers’ Dysfunction Syndrome). It’s a cruel disease and affects the family and friends of the victim and sometimes even total strangers that the victim just casually interacts with. You can read more about it at Stephanie Stahl’s execellent “Wisp o’ Smoke” site at: http://bit.ly/ASDShelp

    If you encounter such a person, it’s best not to get to close: they have been known to be irrational and dangerous and there are recorded instances of them shooting, stabbing,strangling, and otherwise physically abusing others because of their disease.

    – MJM

  • Irish Lass

    Sigh. More bilge from supposed experts, at least some of whom really should know better than this by now.

    I mean, I expect nothing else from Glantz. But its v sad that a fellow countryman of mine (McKee) can so repeatedly, determinedly and deliberately turn a blind eye to all the evidence that contradicts his anti-e-cig stance. It cannot be that he really believes this rubbish any more!

    And how can anyone with even half a brain (which, looking at the evidence, McKee would.appear to possess) co-sign anything with someone like Glantz?

    What on earth is going on? Corruption? Medical arrogance? An inability to admit to having been wrong? What?!?

    It just boggles my mind.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that the universities that these ignorant ideologues hail from, aren’t worried about their reputations. I have heard comments from other academics, (not related to tobacco control), that are indeed getting very nervous about these morons trashing the reputation of their universities, and for what? To keep protecting the tobacco industry from competition, and preventing people from quitting in a way that is both effective and enjoyable, as well as increasingly popular.

    Its only recently that the U of Sydney (Chapman’s work place),were exposed for having invested in tobacco companies which Chapman tried to pretend was some sort of unintended mistake, but with Chapman doing his level best to protect tobacco company profits in Australia, I don’t believe this for a second.

    I’m all for educational institutions getting funding, but when they support the views of clearing unhinged and scientifically illiterate “academics” such as Chapman, Glantz, Daube et al, then I think they need to have all government funding removed. Taxpayers should not have to support this level of incompetence, or in the case of Chapman, Glantz, Daube et al, this high level of outright dishonesty.

    • Roberto Sussman

      Indeed, I fully agree that charlatans like Chapman, Glantz, McKee, etc should not receive public funds. However, what is the point in 2016 of bringing the old tobacco control scarecrow of big bad horrible “Big Tobacco”? In talking about vested corporate interests for opposing e-cigs you are really avoiding the big big “elephant in the room”, namely the Pharmaceutical industry: Glantz, Chapman and the ideological nutjobs of Tobacco Control church have received tons and tons of money (grants, donations, etc) from Big Pharma, which (by the way) wields much more global political and financial clout than Big Tobacco. You hint that the tobacco industry opposes vaping and tobacco harm reduction to remove competition. This may be partially true and is quite debatable. If e-cigs become massively popular the tobacco industry is perfectly capable to engage in lare manufacturing them as consumer products. Big Pharma would also like to get a hold on this market, but can only produce and sell them as medication, which involves a very different (and much harder) set of regulations. It is not rocket science to understand why they keep lobbying to prevent their regulation as consumer products. Part of this lobbying is to fund the scare mongering junk science and advocacy of the likes of Glantz & Chapman.

      • Anonymous

        I agree the pharmaceutical industry certainly have a vested interest in killing off the independent vaping market, and medicalising what is currently a consumer product. However I don’t discount the tobacco companies involvement as you seem to, both stand to benefit if vaping is killed off. The tobacco companies, at least in my country, will gain little by pursuing vapour product production, as they have been thoroughly pushed, by the brainwashing of the public, into pariah status, and no products produced by them will be popular, even among many vapers. Tobacco companies are not interested in taking over the market, they are interested in removing competition for their core product, and this is what Chapman, Daube and others, are helping them with.

        The pharmaceutical corporations don’t like the competition for their NRT products, but these products are a small part of their overall market share, not their core products. I know that the tobacco control industry receives funding from these corporations, but in my country, Australia, this is nowhere near as significant as the taxpayer funding the ANTZ receive.

        In Australia, the loss of income from people switching to vaping, is from government coffers. The government stands to lose billions in tobacco taxes, much much more than even the tobacco companies stand to lose. This is why we are seeing the push by government, and various “charities” and ANTZ organisations pushing for bans and restrictions, because they rely on government funding.

  • Sarah

    There are times when I read the utter bilge that comes from these people and I’m so tired of trying to counter it that the only response I can muster is ‘f*ck the f*ck off and then f*ck off some more’. So I am always grateful to you Clive, for your ability to fillet them with such precision and poise. Thank you.

  • […] A remarkably self-regarding letter is published in The Times (London) today. The writers are reacting with hostility to the outstanding Royal College of Physicians report, Nicotine without smoke: …  […]

  • Christine May

    Thank you for this honest and down to earth article. How the likes of certain public health zealots are going to dig themselves out of this hole will be very entertaining.
    Finally we have expert and scientific opinion from the most highly respected body possible.
    These ridiculous doomsayers days are numbered, thank goodness.
    Thank you for this article.
    P.S. I have quit smoking over 2 years now after 47 years of smoking and I feel so healthy.
    Nothing else worked for me…..vape on and enjoy :)
    Perhaps The Cancer Council in Australia would care to revise their “official position” in line with Cancer UK?

  • Clive, it sounds like the London Times may be suffering from the same sort of disease as the NY Times. In the early 1980s(?) I wrote one letter to the NYT, a letter criticizing the B-1 bomber. They published it.

    In the 1990s through mid-2000s I wrote over FIFTY letters to them on smoking bans and secondary smoke studies.

    They published NONE of them.

    Seems like a very similar editorial slant.

    – MJM, whose general track record in published letters to various other papers in that period was about 1 out of every 3 getting published — roughly a hundred publications — so it’s not as though I was simply babbling incoherently in my Times submissions.

    • Clive Bates

      I don’t think that’s what’s going on… The Times did a very positive leader on this – to which this letter is a reaction. They would always publish something like this, no matter how ludicrous its actual content.

      • Interesting! Could well be that your Times and our Times have different slants on the issue. It can also be the case that the Letters Editor is (as would be proper) fairly autonomous in their decision making even if the rest of the editorial board is less than happy with some of their choices.

        If the lead article was on the other side of the issue though, it’s also possible that this was simply the best “opposition” letter they’d gotten and thus felt a responsibility to publish it… and I”m sure the impressive bannerhead of organizations helped out as well and added to that feeling of responsibility.

        – MJM

    • John Magill

      The Times.
      No such newspaper called The London Times, exists!

  • Doug Neaves

    Simon Capewell ‎is an anagram of:

    Clowns Mail Pee

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