by Carl V Phillips
I was going to end the series on Glantz with the three previous posts, but too many new observations keep popping up. So, let’s make this a full-fledged Shark Week, or maybe that should be Sea Slug Week.
Glantz is clearly a terrible excuse for a researcher, unclear on basic bits of reality, and possibly also an aggressive intentional serial liar, but why? Unlike a lot of anti-THR liars, he is apparently not getting rich from doing what he does. At least one of his primary motivations — in common with a large portion of temperance activists, nanny statists, food police, and others who would discriminate in the name of some religion — seems to be seething hatred that is looking for a target and excuse. In a follow-up post, Elaine Keller will discuss his apparent hatred of smokers. Today is his hatred for what America stands for.
I realize that making the statement “that San Francisco radical hates America” does not put me in very good company. Most of the people who utter such accusations are not patriots and do not really love America; they are crypto-fascist nationalists who are bothered that people are acting American — which is to say, are speaking freely and acting as citizens who understand they have a right and duty to question how things are currently done. But that is quite the opposite of what I am doing. Indeed, despite being a 1970s hippie throwback, I would argue that Glantz is actually an example of that same crypto-fascist mold.
Exhibit A is his war on Hollywood, demanding that free speech and artistic integrity be prohibited (in effect) in pursuit of his pet peeve, images of smoking. Anyone who actually cared about America and what it stands for, and who thought about it a bit (or listened to others talking about it) would realize that this is a terrible policy. Even if there were evidence that banning smoking imagery in movies would reduce smoking uptake (there is not) and even if he were truly devoted to going to great lengths to reduce smoking (which he is apparently really not, given that he would rather have people smoke than switch to e-cigarettes), if he actually cared about the American way of life, he would not propose this. Actually banning smoking is far less un-American than restricting free speech/artistry/entertainment. We ban heroin and slavery, but would never restrict their depiction. The harm to our basic values, and the inevitable resulting spillover into other restrictions of free expression far exceed any possible benefit.
Exhibit B is his blog post that I mentioned yesterday, pointing out how he is so clueless that he claims that Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association is an industry group. He makes that claim in the context of demanding that the government censor the free speech of “the industry”.
Comments on our post have pointed out that his main substantive claim, that medical claims are being made by e-cigarette vendors and advocates, is absurd. He is confusing expressions of consumer product appreciation with commercial claims about a medical drug/device. “I would not have quit smoking without e-cigarettes” is only a medical claim if smoking were a disease. Smoking causes disease, of course, but it is obviously a consumer behavior, not a disease. Moreover, people — as opposed to corporations engaging in marketing — are free to make whatever claims they want.
By Glantz’s logic, a maker of whole grain bread would not be able to post a customer testimonial that said “my kids like it just as much as white bread and now it is all we buy.” We know that e-cigarettes and whole grain bread are a lot healthier than cigarettes or white bread, but that is based on other common knowledge. The mere fact of claiming that one product was an effective substitute for the other is not even a health claim, much less a medical claim.
This abuse of language is a standard ANTZ tactic, and can obviously cause a lot of trouble if it slips through without someone pointing out how stupid the claim is.
But what I personally find equally disturbing is that he is basically demanding that FDA act to censor the publication of people’s e-cigarette success stories. Of course, that is never going to happen. FDA obviously does not have that authority; the Constitution makes certain that no one in government has that authority, and certainly not a product regulatory agency. But the fact that he demanded it makes clear that he would prefer to damage citizens’ rights to free speech, something that is arguably the most important tenet of the American way, in pursuit of his latest pet peeve. This is the behavior of someone who hates America.
In addition, Glantz makes clear that he hates participatory democracy — government By The People. Reading that post, you can just feel him seething about the fact that so many people presumed to submit comments to FDA, which he considers to be the private fiefdom of himself and his fellow extremists. He wants stakeholder statements to be ignored and censored. Indeed, he absolutely does not want the real stakeholders participating in government decisions. In the case of THR product policy, the primary stakeholders are people who use or might someday use the products in question. The secondary stakeholders are those who would make and sell such products. Anyone else is a distant third. People like Glantz would exclude the real stakeholders despite themselves arguably having no standing in this matter at all. He is, of course, free to shoot off his mouth (thanks to the rights that he would like to deny to others), but he is in no way a stakeholder. Moreover, he is clearly not offering expert advice; you need only read this week’s posts to see that he is obviously not an expert.
Glantz’s tries to trick the reader into believing that his personal demands are something other than obvious violations of human rights and our laws. To this end, he lies and claims that every effort to collect, to encourage the reporting of, or to publicize people’s stories of successful THR is not free citizen communication, but is commercial speech which can be regulated (to a limited extent). That is, he is trying to claim (without actually saying so) that every consumer comment and every collection of testimonials is an act of marketing.
I have been a bit glib about his characterization of CASAA and the entire consumer testimonial process, but to get serious a minute: It is impossible to believe that he is honestly mistaken about CASAA being an industry group. He did not mention CASAA in his actual FDA filing, but only in this blog post. It seems reasonably likely that he was motivated by a combination of being afraid to lie in federal testimony but wanting to lash out over the analyses of him that has appeared in the last few posts here. (Of course he did not dare to actually respond to the content of the posts — he knew that he is on such weak ground and is so outmatched that trying to argue would make him look even worse.) We intend to take some kind of action against him for this lie.
Obviously he is not going to succeed at mobilizing the government to inappropriately use its police powers based on his lies. The government is not going to betray our fundamental way of life due to the demands of one self-centered, hateful, un-American little man. Unfortunately, there is a risk that his cronies at the FDA Center for Tobacco Products might actually make moves in that direction before they are stopped by the courts. We cannot ignore that possibility. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance against those who would be tyrants.
Interesting analysis Carl. Always difficult to analyze someone else’s psychology and motivations of course, even if you’re a full-fledged psych with the perp sitting in your office supposedly pouring out their heart three times a week.
I’ve always seen Glantz more in two lights:
1) Just a generalized victim of ASDS (http://wispofsmoke.net/recovery.html with much appreciation to Stephanie Stahl!)
2) An idealist (possibly motivated by bereavement or neuroticism) who moved over into the “Greed For Prestige” camp while falling into the trap of over-simplifying his “enemies” — hence the near=monomaniacal focus on
“Big Tobacco” even when BigT might be miles away from his current target.
In any event, after dancing around in those daisy fields for 30 or 40 years his vision of reality has become so distorted and tunneled that there’s really very little hope of any rational communication or possibility for change of view left. As I’ve noted, when I emailed him asking about data on Helena’s longer term heart attack rate (i.e. into 2004/05 etc) his response was “It’s all in the study!” — with “the study” having been done in 2003/04, thereby making his response an obvious impossibility.
It is a common tactic among the ANTZ to frame the issue is such a way as to make it appear as if the battle is between the big tobacco companies (who are nothing less then boundless evil) and the forces of purity and goodness. Tobacco users, if mentioned at all, are nothing more then victims.
Saying consumers are mere victims is actually putting it mildly, but how tobacco/nicotine users are painted by the ANTZ is a discussion for another day. The end result is that consumers have never had a place at the table in any tobacco discussion. The ANTZ were perhaps caught off guard recently by the flood of consumers speaking up for THR. A new tactic I have noticed is to paint THR advocates as ether paid off by the tobacco companies or mere victims and pawns of the omnipresent evil tobacco companies. Whatever it may be, we certainly should not be given a voice.
I noticed a few years ago the inordinate amount to time and energy the ANTZ use fighting THR products. The idea of THR is by far the greatest threat to tobacco control groups. For people like Glantz, who is one of the true believers, the goal is a tobacco/nicotine free world. Anything that interferes with that goal is considered bad. If it isn’t the harm caused by smoking, then it is the mere idea of addiction. It is all equally bad with no real distinction as to the harm caused by the actually product. For the true believers, improving public health isn’t the only goal, it is also reaching for that utopian fantasy of a tobacco free world. THR is a far a greater threat then smoking to that goal because the logical outcome of THR, at least in there eyes, is the re-normalization of tobacco/nicotine. If that would happen or not I don’t know, but as far as public health goes it’s really irrelevant for obvious reasons.
Glantz is simply a fanatic. The unfortunate thing is that fanaticism has become the norm in tobacco control. For the most part pragmatism is not tolerated.
Thanks for the comment. Some of those points in your penultimate paragraph, and extensions of them, appeared in the first post in this blog and a version of that appears at the “About” page tab.
It is indeed true that many former anti-smoking activists — some of which even still call themselves that — devote far more effort to anti-THR than to smoking now. When I was at University of Alberta, we started to educate the community about THR shortly after we started our shop, and the local antis basically shifted *all* of their resources to being anti-THR (which meant anti-smokeless tobacco; no e-cigarettes yet) rather than anti-smoking. That seems to have continued to this day, from what I hear (hey, they are not too bright — they may not have figured out that I left).
I should refer you to this very long article. You are mentioned quite a lot.
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