Peer review – are they really even trying anymore?

by Carl V Phillips

As part of our research on journal peer review in public health — the practice and interpretation of which is a dire threat to THR and other policies based on good science — my colleagues and I found ourselves contemplating this report at Retraction Watch from March, about BioMed Central (BMC) retracting 43 published articles for improprieties in the peer review process. We were bitterly reminded of BMC’s lack of retraction for the travesty of an article by Lucy Popova and Pamela M Ling in BMC Public Health. Those authors claimed that they had demonstrated that harsher warning labels about smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes were warranted, when actually their results — such as they were — supported the opposite conclusion. You may recall from my previous posts that the Popova-Ling paper was excoriated as unethical, utterly useless, and misleading by me, Brian Carter, Clive Bates, and others. The journal considered retracting it after our complaints, but ultimately decided that was all fine by them. Continue reading

U.S. government declares that vaping is not addictive (nor is smoking)

by Carl V Phillips

Sorry for the blog silence. I have been immersed in working on papers, with some interruptions to give testimony and interviews. I happened to stumble across this page from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that addresses the question, “Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?” As my readers know, I have pointed out that the use of the word “addiction” in scientific analysis is completely inappropriate, given that the word has no accepted scientific definition and, indeed, it appears that no one can even propose a viable candidate for such a definition. Similarly, no policy debate — at least about tobacco products — should ever be allowed to depend on claims about “addiction” since those making such claims are usually implying they have scientific meaning, and even if not, there is not a shared interpretation of the term even in clinical or common language. Continue reading

Simple talking points on RCTs not being a very useful way to study tobacco harm reduction

by Carl V Phillips

I have composed this at the request of Gregory Conley, who recently had the nightmarish experience of trying to explain science to a bunch of health reporters. It is just a summary, as streamlined as I am capable of, of material that I have previously explained in detail. To better understand the points, see this post in particular, as well as anything at this tag. For a bit more still, search “RCT” (the search window is the right or at the top, depending on how you are viewing this). Continue reading

CASAA / CVP testimony re Massachusetts ecig regulation

by Carl V Phillips

As those of you familiar with U.S. THR advocacy know, for years CASAA provided written — and whenever possible, in-person — testimony for many of the major proposals for anti-THR regulation (and the unicorn-rare bits of pro-THR regulation). However, due to the absolute deluge of such proposals now, and the growing body of politically activated e-cigarette enthusiasts (not so much popular support for other paths to THR, sadly), we have chosen to concentrate on leverage, educating and empowering our members to give effective testimony at the state and local level (which we also always did).

We are able to provide our own testimony for some major proposals occasionally, however, as we did for Massachusetts this week. Continue reading

New York Times makes clear that they object to Joe Nocera’s honesty

by Carl V Phillips

Today, the New York Times Editorial Board, in an apparent backlash against their excellent columnist (one of the two), Joe Nocera, exercising his autonomy to write something honest about e-cigarettes, published both an anti-ecig screed by two leading liars and a general anti-THR screed of their own (mostly about e-cigarettes, though the headline was about smokeless tobacco). Needless to say, both are thick with lies. Honestly, they are pretty boring, but for the record, I thought I should call out a few points. Continue reading

California ecig “regulation” hearing: a catalog of lies (part 2)

by Carl V Phillips

Continuing from the previous post, you will recall that we established that California Senator Mark Leno is absolutely hilarious when he tries to talk about science — assuming you can maintain a sense of humor about someone who is spouting lies in support of a bill that would inflict a great deal of harm with no apparent benefits. He continues by suggesting he also does not understand how lawmaking works, or even his own bill. Sadly, it is not nearly as funny as his attempts to talk science. Continue reading

California ecig “regulation” hearing: a catalog of lies (part 1)

by Carl V Phillips

On April 8, the California Senate Health Committee held a hearing on an anti-ecig bill. This was an amazing job of cataloging the many anti-THR lies about e-cigarettes. The main immediate impact of the bill would be to ban vaping in all the private and public (mostly private) places where smoking is banned, but the preamble of the bill makes clear that the plans are much worse than that, including licensing and laying the groundwork for punitive taxes on vapers. (That would be to punish them for denying California the buck-and-a-half per pack (approximately) that they were paying the state when they smoked.) Continue reading

TPSAC meeting on Swedish Match MRTP application: is there a scientist in the house?

by Carl V Phillips

The FDA just concluded the meeting of their Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) to review the MRTP application by Swedish Match to change the incorrect warning labels on their smokeless tobacco products. They applied for removal of the warnings that say that the products cause diseases that they do not actually seem to cause (meaning: to a measurable degree, of course) and to replace them with a warning statement that says while no tobacco product is safe, these are substantially lower risk than smoking. (Background on that here, here, and here.) In other words, they were asking to be able to state something that is beyond doubt and not be forced to make claims that are not supported by the science.

So how do you think this extremely reasonable and clearly valid supplication to the FDA went? Continue reading