Stanton Glantz is a liar (as if that’s news)

posted by Carl V. Phillips

Recently the Stanton Glantz, of the anti-tobacco activist organization that goes by the misleading name, “University of California San Francisco”, jumped fully into anti-THR lying.  Many of you will know Glantz as one of the most unabashed anti-smoking liars[*] in the world.

[*In fairness, unlike with some of the others featured in this blog, there is some debate about whether Glantz is knowingly lying or is just so clueless that the lie the fact he is claiming to be expert in the matters he is spouting off about.  There is also the possibility that he falls into the "so incompetent that he does not even realize he is clueless" category.  It is not clear which would be better.]

Glantz is the most aggressive pusher of absurd claims that small reductions in second hand smoke exposure (e.g., merely banning smoking in bars) result in 10% or 20% or even 40% reduction in heart attacks in the population.  That should perhaps be thought of as an final exam question rather than a serious claim:  If you think the claim is even remotely plausible, then you should have your diploma revoked — your high school diploma.

Glantz’s other favorite is claiming that if there were no smoking in movies then 50,000 or 100,000 or even 200,000 fewer American youth would start smoking each year.  I suppose someone might believe that and still deserve their diploma — but only if they were monastically home schooled.  Anyone who has actually spent time around teenagers and still believes that also fails badly.

In a recent blog post, Glantz referred to the German study that measured the gasses released into the air from e-cigarette use, the study whose conclusions Elaine Keller thoroughly debunked previously on this page.  Since we have already covered the debunking of the claims made by the authors, and showed that their results did not suggest there is a hint of a risk of hazard from “second hand vapor”, I will not repeat those points.  The previous post stands as a pre-debunking of what Glantz just wrote and thus is all the more embarrassing for him.  (Chances are he never read it; people like him have no interest in the truth, and so do not read to learn.)

I refer to you back to our debunking with this quote from Glantz’s statement:

putting detectable levels of several significant carcinogens and toxins in the air

Glantz — like the study’s authors — apparently does not realize that “so utterly trivial that it cannot possibly be viewed as being worth worrying about” is a subset of “detectable”.  In this case, that is exactly what was found.

But Glantz’s lies and errors were not limited to not understanding that the study helped confirm there is nothing to worry about.

there were still elevated levels of acetic acid, acetone, isoprene, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, averaging around 20% of what the conventional cigarette put into the air

We have already covered much about this (hey! progress!) in previous posts with the tag “chemicals”.  Though, I am not sure we ever mentioned that more of that evil acetic acid he is so worried about is emitted by a salad than by an e-cigarette (most people call it vinegar).

To cover some new ground, consider that “20%” figure.  First, this is presumably intended to trick the reader into thinking that the trivial emissions from an e-cigarette are roughly 20% as bad as those from smoking.  But, these particular chemicals are not the ones that create much worry (whether well-founded or not) about environmental tobacco smoke.  It might also be that the emissions are about 20% of the exposure to those chemicals resulting from a nearby explosion of an artillery shell.  But that obviously does not make an e-cigarette 20% as bad as environmental artillery exposure.

But it is worse than that.  Let us imagine that the absurd falsehood that Glantz was (presumably intentionally) communicating were true, and that environmental vapor exposure were 20% as harmful as ETS.  Consider his conclusion (grammar muddle and incorrect reference to vapor as smoke in the original):

No one should smoke e-cigarettes indoors that are  free of other forms of tobacco smoke pollution.

This claim (the claim being the “should”) is obviously false.  If there is any rationality to no-smoking policies at all, then there are some venues where smoking clearly should be banned, but others where it is just barely on the positive side to have a ban (and, further along the spectrum are those where it is on the negative side to ban).  So if you now consider vaping, which produces virtually no aesthetic impact and only (even under this absurd hypothetical) 20% the risk from ETS, then clearly the venues that are just on the positive side for a smoking ban are not on the positive side for a vaping ban.

This is the most basic Economics 101 of honest and rational policy.  Of course, Glantz et al. are neither honest nor rational.  They are merely pushing any policy that inches toward prohibition.  But by pretending to be having an honest policy discussion, he opens himself up to honest policy analysis, and that analysis shows he is wrong (though probably merely clueless about what he is saying rather than lying in this case).

After receiving quite a few criticisms of his call for vaping bans by people with a better command of reality than his, Glantz responded to one observation, made by Elaine (and others too in other forums).  She pointed out, as in the previous post on this page, that the concentrations of the chemicals from exhaled vapor, even in a small unventilated space, were in the range of a fraction of 1% of the exposure limits that OSHA sets for workers.

Glantz, out of dishonesty or cluelessness, responded as if Elaine were saying, “these exposures sneak in under the OSHA limit and so that alone makes them ok”.  He argued that it is acceptable to expose workers to possibly mildly hazardous levels of chemicals because that is part of their job, and so exposure to bystanders should be held to a more restrictive standard.  His point is reasonable, but is not actually a response to the criticism.

Elaine was not saying “these are lower than the OSHA standards and that alone is what makes them unimportant”.  She was saying, in effect, “for those of you (basically everyone) who have no idea what these X ppb numbers mean, here is some perspective,” and saying, “this is so clearly below worrisome levels that OSHA allows more than 100 times that concentration before they require remedial action.”  So even if OSHA were allowing 10 times the harmful level (which they very much try to not do) there would still be a 10-fold margin before the measured exposure from vaping was harmful.

The absolute best part of this, though deserves its own post, but is a bit off-topic here, so I put it here.  If you found this interesting you will definitely want to read that.


No one should have to breathe these chemicals, whether they come out of a conventional or e-cigarette.

What if they come out of an air freshener, which intentionally puts some of these chemicals into the air?  What if they come from a kitchen, a reliable source of some of them?  What if they come from cosmetics?

Oh, wait, those do not matter.  Glantz only pretends to care about these chemicals, or about people.  He only cares about cigarettes, and now apparently, about e-cigarettes.

But wait.  What if those chemicals came from Stanton Glantz?  After all, we have previously observed the vaper (i.e., a human body) seems to put out more formaldehyde than the vapor.  This applies to non-vapers too, including a puritanical busybody who is not smoking or vaping.  I think this is an utterly unacceptable health risk.  Moreover, having Glantz at large undermines efforts to denormalize junk science and dishonesty in the eyes of children.  Yes, I think it is pretty clear that we need to seal him up away from other humans.

Oh, and take away his computer too.  After all, letting him blog would also represent a dangerous exposure because….  Um, because….

Damn, I am just not as good at making up fake scientific claims as he is.


[UPDATE 27 Sept: More on the lies and liars on this topic at Dick Puddlecote.]

8 responses to “Stanton Glantz is a liar (as if that’s news)

  1. Simon Chapman not far behind him.

    Peer review article coming out to disprove their claims (ironically supporting the results of the paper they falsely claim supports their cause)

  2. You are certainly right that Chapman is in the same league as Glantz. In many ways — he too brings up the question that perhaps he is not intentionally lying because he really does not understand what he is talking about, but is too cognitively limited to even realize he is not an expert.

    None of the studies of e-cigarette chemistry — about half a dozen published and counting — have shown anything to worry about. The consistency is reassuring. Even the authors that lied about the implications of their results could not bias the actual results enough to produce anything that seems problematic.

  3. Stantons pulling his hair out here: Im posting it all as I dont think it will stay up long on the net.
    e-cigarettes release toxic chemicals indoors, should be included in clean indoor air laws and policies
    Submitted by sglantz on Wed, 2012-09-19 17:59
    A study published in Indoor Air from the Fraunhofer Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut in Germany examined secondhand emissions from several e-cigarettes in a human exposure chamber. Each e-cigarette was puffed 6 times and data were collected for a conventional cigarette, also puffed 6 timed.

    While the e-cigarette produced lower levels of toxins in the air for nonsmokers to breathe than the conventional, there were still elevated levels of acetic acid, acetone, isoprene, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, averaging around 20% of what the conventional cigarette put into the air.

    Thus, while not as polluting as a conventional cigarette, the e-cigarettes are putting detectable levels of several significant carcinogens and toxins in the air.

    No one should have to breathe these chemicals, whether they come out of a conventional or e-cigarette. No one should smoke e-cigarettes indoors that are free of other forms of tobacco smoke pollution.

    .sglantz’s blogAdd new comment
    Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2012-09-21 12:00.
    comparison to occupational standards
    It should be noted that infants and children do not work in industrial plants and the occupational standards do not take into account sensitivities of early life
    exposures. The occupational standards are set in consideration of technological feasibility and cost, not just health effects. Neither USEPA nor CalEPA use
    occupational standards for setting acceptable levels of environmental chemical exposure to the general public.

    Melanie Marty, Ph.D.

    Adjunct Associate Professor

    UC Davis

    reply.Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2012-09-20 13:43.
    Not as polluting as ordinary breathing
    Diskin, et al. conducted a study of the concentrations of the common breath metabolites ammonia, acetone, isoprene, ethanol and acetaldehyde in the breath of five subjects over a period of 30 days. “Breath samples were taken and analysed in the early morning on arrival at the laboratory.”

    It is enlightening to compare their results for the three compounds that correspond to three of the six e-cigarette exhaled vapor compounds in the Indoor Air study.

    The Indoor Air study measured a concentration of 25 mcg/m3 of Acetone, which converts to 10.39 PPB. In Diskin’s study, Acetone ranged from 293-870 PPB.

    The Indoor Air study found 10 mcg/m3 of Isoprene, which converts to 3.54 PPB. Compare to 55-171 PPB in Diskin’s study.

    The Indoor Air study found 3 mcg/m3 of Acetaldehyde, which converts to 1.64 PPB, compared with 2-5 PPB in Diskin’s study.

    Therefore for these three compounds, bystanders would be in greater danger if exposed to exhaled breath of ordinary non-smoking, non-vaping citizens.

    Three additional compounds were noted in the Indoor Air study. The quantities were reported as micrograms per cubic meter by the German researchers. OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) are expressed as milligrams per cubic meter. To convert to mg/m3, divide the mcg value by 1000.

    2-Butanone (MEK) = 0.002 mg/m3 (OSHA PEL = 590 mg/m3)

    Acetic acid = 0.014 mg/m3 (OSHA PEL = 25 mg/m3)

    Formaldehyde = 0.016 mg/m3 (OSHA PEL = 0.661 mg/m3)

    When all the scientific data are considered, we must conclude that bystanders are in no danger whatsoever from exhaled vapor, as the highest concentration measured represents a mere 2.4% of the OSHA PEL, and the remaining 5 compounds represent a fraction of 1% of the OSHA PEL.

    reply.Submitted by sglantz on Fri, 2012-09-21 07:16.
    OSHA PEL is not an appropriate standard for involuntary exposure
    Several people have submitted responses to this post (and posted Twitter tweets), such as the comment above, pointing out the the levels of toxic chemicals e-cigarettes put into indoor air are lower than Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Levels (PELs).

    Without commenting on whether the specific exposure levels that are claimed in the comment, the problem with this argument is that OHSA PELs were established for occupational exposures for workers working in a hazardous environment (like a chemical plant) where some exposure to toxins is unavoidable.

    These levels are much higher than permitted ambient exposures. (Cigarette companies made similar arguments against restrictions on use of conventional cigarettes indoors years ago.) The PEL is simply not an appropriate standard.

    The important point is that the emissions of these toxic chemicals is not zero and there are no safe levels of exposure to carcinogens.

    More important, indoor exposure to toxic e-cigarette emissions is completely avoidable by simply not allowing use of e-cigarettes indoors. As with conventional cigarettes, people should not be forced to breathe toxic chemicals to support someone else’s nicotine addiction.

    reply.Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2012-09-21 14:55.
    By this logic, many many things should be banned
    If it is “the right thing” to ban something because it creates a situation where carcinogens that could potentially result in tiny amounts of exposure to humans, then pretty much everything would be banned.

    reply.Submitted by sglantz on Fri, 2012-09-21 16:19.
    You micharacterize my comment
    Because e-cigarettes put measurable levels of toxins into the air I am recommending that their use not be permitted indoors where use of other pollutingnicotine delivery devices (conventional cigarettes) is not allowed.

    They should also not be marketed or sold to children, since they are delivering an addictive drug.

    They should also not be allowed to be marketed with claims that they assist in smoking cessation until there is actual good independent evidence that such claims are true.

    reply.Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2012-09-21 10:52.
    Tobacco industry excuses versus reality
    We have every right to ban the unregulated use of any delivery method for a toxic recreational drug that has any potential to harm others whatsoever.

    Until it is conclusively proven that exposure to e-cig vapour in the concentration, duration, and frequency generated if vaping is permitted everywhere is as safe as or safer than not being exposed to it–the only acceptable standard for a non-essential such as nicotine–e-cigs must and should be banned from use in public.

    There is also the risk of normalizing addiction, so e-cigs should also be banned in any public place, including outdoors, where people under the legal age for consent may be present.

    We have spent enough time fighting to protect people from addiction and secondhand smoke. We do not owe it to anyone to become lab rats or sacrificial lambs in yet another scheme by a corrupt industry to enrich its coffers by hooking vulnerable people on a toxic non-essential for life through manipulative and mendacious marketing.

    And while e-cigs may reduce harm for already addicted smokers, they are still considerably more harmful than not using them at all. Makers owe it to us to carefully and rigorously test their product and agree to regulation before, not after, e-cigs are unleashed on the public.

    At this point, e-cigs look like just another another tobacco industry lie designed to placate people into accepting unnecessary risks that they owe no one simply so that the addicts from which it makes its money are not inconvenienced in accessing their next fix.

    reply.Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2012-09-20 11:19.
    Since 2009, e-cigs are banned in Brazil. In addition E-cigs in Brazil are considered tobacco products, it means e-cigs are not allowed in closed spaces. This paper is one more support to the Brazilian measure, specially because the carcinogenic compounds sometimes don´t obey the classic relation dose X response.

    harleyrider1978 says:
    September 22, 2012 at 3:24 pm
    My response to stan which Im sure wont be posted:

    The important point is that the emissions of these toxic chemicals is not zero and there are no safe levels of exposure to carcinogens

    My dear Stanton the man just proved humans exhale higher levels of the same chemical components than an e-cig. By your own definition you require even humans be outlawed from public places. If you cant see the absurd yet. The air is a combination of all these things not just e-cig or tobacco smoke,car exhaust,restaraunt grill smoke ,human breath and even your breath and emissions.

    You have backed yourself and your movement into a hole it cannot survive.

    Absurd claims and magical mystical harm claims are what witch trials and the Inquisition were all about.

    Perhaps its time you simply say Im sorry and please forgive me to the smokers and quietly retire from public persecution and let public health get back to looking and preventing real health crisis like food borne illnesses and pathogens. This latest catastrophe in tobacco prohibition is a miserable failure and put science back to the time of the SALEM WITCH TRIALS.

    Time to stop bleeding the patient Stan.

  4. Pingback: Should | Anti-THR Lie of the Day

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  6. Pingback: Thirdhand E-Cig Vapour: Yes, It’s Apparently A Concern | The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG

  7. Pingback: Another study confirms lack of concern about vapor toxicity – too bad about that press release and some of the details | Anti-THR Lie of the Day

  8. Carl, you spoke of Glantz, saying “I think it is pretty clear that we need to seal him up away from other humans.” because of his harmful emissions. The scariest thing is that he spends time in classrooms with CHILDREN and THEY are exposed to his emissions on a regular basis!

    Regarding Chapman, I’m sure you’ve seen his recommendation many years ago that researchers run for a thesaurus to find better ways to describe their secondhand smoke results before they got laughed out of the newspapers. Guess what? He’s repeated a VERY similar piece of advice just recently to the Global Warming folks. Don’t have the reference at hand at the moment, but I’ll keep my eyes open for it again.

    - MJM

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