Not sure if this riff goes anywhere, but with the Amazon on fire, huge storms battering the Caribbean, a memorial service in Switzerland for melting glaciers, animal species lost forever as habitats vanish and thousands out on the streets protesting about climate destruction (forget ‘change’), there are some synergies around the refusal of world health leaders, governments, health practitioners and academics of every stripe, to accept the reality that right now we have a world smoking pandemic that could be massively helped by encouraging the uptake of safer nicotine products. Not only are they sitting on their hands, they are actively lying to the general public and colleagues with all their Big Tobacco (BT) conspiracy theories, fake science, scare-mongering and ad hominin attacks. And anybody who fights back with what used to be called ‘evidence’ is simply dismissed as a BT stooge.
Like the planet, the war against nicotine is hotting up; predictably, the outbreak of vaping related deaths presented a golden opportunity for some reefer-madness type publicity from allegedly reputable sources. What was actually causing these deaths was not known, but it did become clear quite early on, that they were not caused by vaping ordinary commercial e-liquid of the sort which has been in circulation for years. The focus is now on some kind of illicitly manufactured THC product: I saw an article concerning a Walter White-style character knocking out bath-tub THC in Wisconsin. But that didn’t stop agencies like the FDA and CDC taking cynical advantage of the tragedies to warn against vaping in general. Somebody posted an analogy concerning chickens. If there had been a very localised outbreak of fatal salmonella poisoning caused by chicken, would the US health agencies tell the whole country to stop eating chicken? And would that warning have gone global?
Just like the drug war, you cannot launch a war against an inanimate object like a bottle of e-liquid. What you launch is a civil war against your own citizens, not as criminally damaging as the drug war, but potentially with many more casualties down the line. By way of example, in a survey of 85,000 retailers by Wells Fargo, over 70% thought that if the FDA-proposed flavour ban (including menthol) was enacted, vapers would return to buying cigarettes.
Watch David Abrams in this clip
So what about those young people that governments seem so desperate to protect? The original trope was that vaping would lead to smoking. Now that that theory hasn’t played out, we move to the scourge of addiction to a substance with few if any of the physical or psychological risks associated with the word ‘addiction’. With cannabis, the claim was that it would send users into paroxysms of violence. No? OK then, it’s a gateway to heroin. (No it isn’t by the way). And all young people? Certainly not the 16 million children living in poverty in the USA or the 100,000,000 million poor children in India whose government is pushing on a total e-cig ban. Maybe just those nice kids whose parents form campaigning groups, vote in elections and have the wherewithal for law-suits.
But here is some good news. Dr Marewa Glover has been attacked more than most for her support of tobacco harm reduction. The gutless and the spineless tried to get her nomination for New Zealander of the Year withdrawn while she has recently been forced out of a conference in Melbourne.
Well, The Public Health Association (PHA) of New Zealand has issued a public apology over statements made by its CEO Prudence Stone about Marewa. In a recent PHA newsletter, Stone stated that Glover was influenced by Philip Morris International and that Glover had made false statements to the select committee considering amendments to the Smoke-free Environments (prohibiting smoking in motor vehicles carrying children) Amendment Bill. “Dr. Stone and the PHA retract these comments and unreservedly apologize to Dr. Glover for the comments made”, the apology stated.
Possibly the best testimony on the benefits of vaping for adult smokers you are likely to hear. A smoker for 30 years, tried absolutely every possible way of quitting, walks into a newly opened vape shop, tries a flavour – end of smoking history. Then buys the store and starts saving lives and the State of Michigan money.
This just in. It has been announced that the best way to swerve around e-cigarettes bans in America is to disguise them as guns where no control exists. These new e-cigs include a range of exciting new flavours, such as Gunpowder Bubblegum, Custard Cartridges, Strawberry Scope, and Maple Bar M-16. They taste like delicious fruits and candies and also have that gunmetal taste that gun nuts go crazy for.
And lastly, if you want some respite from the climate of unreason that currently dominates, duck and cover into your laptop with these:
Andrea Villanti, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Vermont giving a lecture on Vaping, Juuling and E-Cigarettes: Public Health Implications - really good intro to the science and controversy.
John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham interviewed by Science Focus on The truth about e-cigarettes
Ray Niaura, College of Global Public Health and New York University, interviewed by RegWatch on the Youth vaping epidemic .