Follow-up on the worst anti-THR liars of 2013: WHO and ALA’s Harold Wimmer are truly champion liars

by Carl V Phillips

The posts for the top liar countdown were all quite abbreviated, not attempting to lay out the full details of each indictment.  This tended to let the offenders off the hook a bit, particularly the WHO, which was guilty of far more lying than appeared in that post or has appeared in this blog overall.  Junican offered a comment (attaching it to the wrong post, but I will forgive that :-) that furthers the indictment of the WHO if you are interested.  It points to the WHO’s position statement on e-cigarettes, which consists of the usual tired lies.

But the American Lung Association continues to earn their first-place finish (pulling further ahead of the ACS, interestingly) with their proactive anti-THR lying, like this op-ed at CNN by their president, Harold Wimmer.  If you want to get really cynical about it, the ALA basically depends on smoking to get their funding.  THR is a huge threat to their business model.

The op-ed comes remarkably close to lying in every single sentence, and indeed there are more lies than there are sentences, which is quite a trick:

For the makers of electronic cigarettes, today we are living in the Wild West — a lawless frontier where they can say or do whatever they want, no matter what the consequences. They are free to make unsubstantiated therapeutic claims and include myriad chemicals and additives in e-cigarettes.

Um, except they are very explicitly not free to make therapeutic claims, as anyone with a passing familiarity with the topic knows, and the products are governed by any number of consumer protection regulations.

Big Tobacco desperately needs new nicotine addicts and is up to its old tricks to make sure it gets them. E-cigarettes are being aggressively marketed to children with flavors like Bazooka Bubble Gum, Cap’n Crunch and Cotton Candy. Joe Camel was killed in the 1990s, but cartoon characters are back promoting e-cigarettes.

Except that e-cigarettes were not invented or established by “Big Tobacco”, and no large company sells any of those flavors.  It is difficult to understand how some small player having them in their catalog makes them “aggressively marketed”.  I would have to assume that a few of the zillion companies selling e-cigarettes use cartoon characters, but I cannot recall ever noticing one; they are obviously inconsequential.

Many e-cigarettes look like Marlboro or Camel cigarettes.

While most look quite different.  And they only look like cigarettes until they are being used, at which point anyone with more brains than Wimmer can see the difference.

Like their old-Hollywood counterparts, glamorous and attractive celebrities are appearing on TV promoting specific e-cigarette brands.

With all due respect to the celebrity spokesman choices of the big e-cigarette companies, “glamorous and attractive”???  Hahahahaha.

Free samples are even being handed out on street corners.

Again, it is a big world out there with a lot of players at the retail level, so no doubt that has happened once.  But an occurrence is different from a practice, and he is clearly claiming it is a practice.  It seems safe to say that no major respectable company has done this.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the promotion of e-cigarettes is reaching our children with alarming success.

No, that report says absolutely nothing about promotion.

In just one year, e-cigarette use doubled among high school and middle school students, and 1 in 10 high school students have used an e-cigarette. Altogether, 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide use e-cigarettes.

Wrong again. Those numbers are not users but rather the cumulative count of how many tried even one puff in their lives.  And, of course it increased because that is the only direction it can go, as we pointed out previously.

The three largest cigarette companies are all selling e-cigarettes.

Maybe almost sort of true.  But to give credit you have to pretend that he said “largest U.S. cigarette companies” (because two of the three largest in the world do not sell e-cigarettes).  And even then you have to charitably count Altria’s very slow test-market introduction of their product, even though it (like Blu) is a subsidiary and does not use the cigarette brand.

Because tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people each year and thousands more successfully quit, the industry needs to attract and addict thousands of children each day, as well as keep adults dependent to maintain its huge profits.

So therefore they want to sell a product that discourages use of their product? Huh?  And, of course, tobacco does not kill, smoking does.  Most of all, this is an idiotic trope about how business works that gets repeated by people who presumably never did a day of work in their life actually producing goods. Companies sell something because they can increase their profit by doing so; it matters not at all whether they are losing business or gaining it in their other markets.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, whether delivered in a conventional cigarette or their electronic counterparts.

False.  There has been much written about this lately.  Look for our complete analysis soon.

The potential harm from exposure to secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes is unknown.

TrANTZlation: “there is no reason to believe there is any such harm at all, so if there is a harm it is unknown.”

Two initial studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a well-known carcinogen) coming from those secondhand emissions.

Found in completely harmless trace quantities.  Not in second-hand exposure, but only in measurements of what the vaper himself is exposed to.  Etc etc etc.  I assume I don’t have to explain further to anyone who actually understands this topic.

We commend New York City recently for banning the use of e-cigarettes indoors.

Awww, I thought Wimmer was going to manage to lie in every single sentence. Wait… on further thought:  The NYC city council are idiots who the ALA and company successfully manipulated into doing something stupid by lying to them. When someone commends their useful idiots for following the script, it is not honest respect, it is more manipulation.  So I think this one still scores as a lie.

No e-cigarette has been approved by the FDA as a safe and effective product to help people quit smoking.

This happens to be literally true, but it is still a lie.  The intended message is not the literal statement (which is obviously true since the FDA does not even regulate e-cigarettes) but that they are not a good way to quit smoking, which is clearly false.  The FDA has also not approved quitting cold turkey.

Yet many companies are making claims that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.

Oh really?  If this is so common, why are you not just telling the FDA about this (because they do regulate what claims can be made, and those are not allowed) to force them to stop.

When smokers are ready to quit, they should call 1-800-QUIT NOW or talk with their doctors about using one of the seven FDA-approved medications proven to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.

They certainly can call that useless phone number or talk to their doctors, though neither one of those is how most people quit.  And there are no proven safe and effective medicines — they are quite clearly proven to be rather unsafe and/or ineffective.

According to one study, there are 250 different e-cigarette brands for sale in the U.S. today. With so many brands, there is likely to be wide variation in the chemicals — intended and unintended — that each contain.

Finally he breaks his streak.  This is literally true and the message — that in a perfect world we would know more about the variations in chemistry (and other design details) of the available products — is legitimate.  Of course moving to a much worse world (the de facto ban that ALA clearly wants) would be a breathtakingly stupid response to observing that the current world is not perfect.

In 2009, lab tests conducted by the FDA found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals — including an ingredient used in anti-freeze — in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 various e-cigarette cartridges.

Literally true.  Utterly misleading.  I trust I do not have to explain why.

There is no safe form of tobacco.

We certainly could never know that to be true.  As far as we know, several smoke-free forms of tobacco cause no risk.  (They might cause some risk, of course, but as far as we can detect they do not.)

Right now, the public health and medical community or consumers have no way of knowing what chemicals are contained in an e-cigarette or what the short and long term health implications might be.

No way of knowing.  Other than by measuring the chemicals (as has been done), assessing that in terms of whether those quantities of those chemicals pose a long-term risk (as has been done), and doing short-term tests of their effects (as has been done).

Commonsense regulation of e-cigarettes by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urgently needed. In the absence of meaningful oversight, the tobacco industry has free rein to promote their products as “safe” without any proof.

No, neither the tobacco industry nor any other merchant is free to do that.  And this guy clearly is not qualified to use the word “commonsense”.

A proposal to regulate e-cigarettes and other tobacco products has been under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget since October 1, 2013. The Obama administration must move forward with these rules to protect the health of everyone, especially our children.

These morons cannot even get the simple facts straight.  FDA did not send the regulation for review until late October.  But you do have to like the desperate tone that suggests that ALA knows that they can manipulate local governments and perhaps even the FDA, but OMB/OIRA might still do the right thing.

Congratulations to the American Lung Association for taking a commanding early lead in being the worst liar of 2014.

3 responses to “Follow-up on the worst anti-THR liars of 2013: WHO and ALA’s Harold Wimmer are truly champion liars

  1. Pingback: Follow-up On The Worse Anti-THR Liars of 2013: WHO and ALA’s Harold Wimmer Are Truly Champion Liars • The Spinfuel News Blog

  2. “..but OMB/OIRA might still do the right thing.”

    Wowza! Congrats on your nomination Carl. I sure hope that you get the position on the TPSAC advisory board. What a great opportunity for bringing about real change. …crossing my fingers…

  3. You should post this as a comment to that article, Carl. Maybe some of the bozos who are commenting using wikipedia and MSDS sheets would shut up.

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