Tag Archives: censorship

CASAA’s FDA testimony re “3rd Party Governance”

In “response” to a report by the Institute of Medicine, the US FDA recently held hearings about whether to try to impose “third-party governance” of research.  (The scare quotes refer to the fact that the IOM report was conducted at the behest of FDA, so this is really a “response” to their own initiative.)  The concept is that certain parties cannot be trusted to do honest research, and therefore some more neutral third party should control the research.

This is not a bad idea at the simplistic level of political chatter, and there are efforts by independent parties to do genuine public-interest research (like recent initiatives by CASAA).  But the devil is in the details, and the details are indeed diabolical.  The neutral language is really a stalking horse for anti-tobacco extremists to try to control all of the research, furthering their efforts to censor consumer interests and all other voices in the discussion.  Of course, it is those ANTZ, not the modern tobacco and e-cigarettes industries, who consistently do extremely biased politicized junk science.

Thus, our comments, as presented at the FDA hearing by CASAA Legislative Director, Gregory Conley:

My name is Gregory Conley, and I am here on behalf of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, known as CASAA.  We are the leading US advocate that represents consumers of low-risk smoke-free alternatives to smoking, including electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, and other consumers who might someday switch to such products.  We are an all-volunteer organization, funded entirely by donations.  Our organization does not take positions on the regulation of cigarettes or smoking, and therefore all of my remarks should be interpreted as referring to research and regulation of smoke-free products and research about tobacco harm reduction.

Research on tobacco harm reduction and smoke-free alternatives should focus on benefiting the primary stakeholder, the consumers.  Therefore, we support the principle of encouraging research that is controlled by third-parties who are primarily interested in informing and benefiting consumers.  However, we believe that the greatest concerns about research that is not done honestly, or is done in ways that do not support the public interest, do not relate to the tobacco or e-cigarette industries.  Recent research on these products – a significant body of which was conducted or directly funded by the tobacco and e-cigarette industries – has been in close alignment with the public interest.  Specifically, it has been honest research that pursued ways to improve the health and well-being of tobacco and nicotine consumers.

By contrast, there is serious concern about research that is conducted and sponsored by another special-interest group, the tobacco control industry, the coalition of organizations and individuals who are dedicated to the elimination of all tobacco and nicotine use.  Because honest consumer-oriented research tends to support tobacco harm reduction, and because tobacco harm reduction is a threat to the tobacco control industry’s business model, they have actively promoted scientific disinformation to mislead consumers about smoke-free alternatives.  This has been documented by researchers for over a decade and our own current research and publications document that this disinformation campaign continues.

Thus, redirecting some research away from manufacturers’ control and to the control of those who are specifically concerned about consumers’ choices and welfare might theoretically offer some modest benefits for the public interest.  To facilitate this, it is important to push back against the efforts to vilify any honest independent researcher who accepts industry funding.  But redirecting research away from the control of the tobacco control industry would be enormously beneficial for consumers and the public interest.  The worst possible scenario would be to use the principle of third-party governance of research to put more research under the control of anti-tobacco researchers who support an extremist anti-tobacco-harm-reduction agenda that threatens the health and welfare of consumers.

The claims that the tobacco industry engages in dishonest research are based on ancient history.  Recent research conducted and sponsored by the several tobacco companies who are actively pursuing tobacco harm reduction, as well as e-cigarette companies that have started to support research, appears to be objective and honest science.  When someone makes claims about dishonest research from the tobacco industry, they never identify any recent example of ethical misconduct, or even bad research.  Instead, their claims are based entirely on events that occurred many years before I was born, actions taken by people who have long-since retired or died.

The industry’s interests are not perfectly aligned with those of consumers.  But the public interest can and should be served by the FSPTCA’s already extensive FDA regulatory oversight.  A large portion of industry-funded research can be carried out by independent researchers who are primarily concerned about consumers, and about doing the best possible honest science.  In addition, the few in-house industry research operations appear to be very interested in doing the best possible honest science, and in considering the health of consumers even when it does not align perfectly with maximizing profits.

Thus, we believe that the public interest could be served by the creation of some consumer-oriented third-party institutions that conducted research that was funded by the manufacturers.  However, the status quo with respect to manufacturer-sponsored research is closely aligned with the public interest, and thus no major changes are demanded.

By contrast, anti-tobacco activists have a consistent record of publishing false and misleading claims meant to discourage would-be smokers from using low-risk alternatives instead.  This extends to the scientific research they conduct or control through their vast funding network.  Unlike the allegations about manufacturers’ supposed hidden manipulation of science, which are based on speculation and innuendo, it is easy to observe misleading research coming from anti-tobacco activists.

Common tactics include:

  • suggesting that trivial risks and exposures from smoke-free products, which have no serious health consequences, are similar to the risks from smoking;
  • denying the existence the overwhelming evidence about the efficacy and effectiveness of tobacco harm reduction products;
  • starting with the premise that tobacco harm reduction is bad, and merely reporting that premise as if it were the result of a study.

Researchers have documented that these and other anti-harm-reduction lies from tobacco control were common a decade ago, and they have increased in volume since then.  Frequently they appear in journal articles and other research reports.  CASAA has a blog that is devoted to identifying this misleading research that runs contrary to the public interest.  We analyze several examples every week, and are forced to ignore many others due to the sheer volume.

The goal of third-party governance is to take control of research out of the hands of special interests who are likely to bias the science and otherwise act contrary to the public interest.  We understand that the FDA does not have any authority to redirect funds away from these misleading and harmful efforts by anti-harm-reduction activists, and we would not advocate for the violation of free-speech rights that such a government confiscation would entail.  However, the spirit of third-party governance says that FDA, and DHHS more generally, should avoid directing any additional research funding toward those activists and activist organizations.

If there is an opportunity to direct research funds, whether they come from manufacturers’ fees and contributions or some other source, to third parties who will do honest science in the interest of consumers and do not support an anti-harm-reduction or other anti-consumer prohibitionist agenda, this would probably have some benefit.  However, the current research practices of manufacturers are not actually very far from this scenario.  To reiterate, the worst possible scenario – in terms of public health, consumer well-being, and honest science – would be to transfer more research to the control of anti-tobacco activists.

Press Release: FCTC demands governments, researchers avoid talking to automotive industry


Geneva, Switzerland

1 April 2013

At the eighth meeting of the delegates to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Framework Convention on Traffic Control (FCTC), delegates adopted Article 5.3, which forbids signatory governments from consultation and engagement with Big Auto and other parts of the automotive industry.  Governments are also to act to ensure that independent researchers are also prevented from such engagement, using such mechanisms as political imprisonment, press censorship, and blacklisting.

The FCTC is devoted to ridding the world of the use of passenger cars by 2050 as part of WHO’s Social Programming to Eliminate Non-communicable Disease initiative.  Automobiles are the leading cause of death in age groups from 4 to 50 years, and the second leading preventable cause of death in the world today.  They are also the leading cause of obesity, exposure to second-hand smoke, and death and injuries among pedestrians and cyclists.  In addition to their immediate health effects, automobiles are the leading contributor to global warming.

The automobile industry has a long-standing practice of influencing governments and manipulating consumers, including encouraging youth uptake, advertising in youth-targeted media such as television and magazines, selling vehicles that can achieve speeds far in excess of any legal speed limit, shutting down government-approved alternative transport, and covering up newly-discovered health threats.  Indeed, the influence of the industry is so pervasive that one corrupted government recently provided a 13.6 billion euro ($17.4 billion) bailout of its domestic industry, rather than letting it fail as it should have done.

Article 5.3 also requires that all future automotive research on such topics and safety engineering should be entirely controlled by governments and FCTC’s approved list of public health researchers.  Industry and those willing to constructively engage with them will be forbidden from conducting such research.  Only by excluding the world’s best automotive engineers from the research process, replacing them with second-rate sociologists and medics, can public health’s goals be achieved.

The new rules are urgently needed due to the industry’s initiatives to substitute new “reduced risk” products, an attempt to attract new customers that can only be explained by our successful denormalization of driving.  Recent attempts by automobile manufacturers to encourage “harm reduction” represent a blatant effort to make driving appear more acceptable.  Industry wants consumers to continue to be addicted to these new products, rather than sticking with government-approved driving cessation methods like buses, trains, and reclusion, which are clinically proven to be successful for almost 5% of the population.

Despite the industry’s marketing claims, no randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that their new products are lower risk.  Instead, these efforts recall the industry’s infamous “seat belt” fraud from the 1960s and 1970s, where they claimed that the installation of these features would reduce risk.  In fact, subsequent research found that deaths and injuries from automobiles continued to increase worldwide, and are now skyrocketing.  In recent testimony in Washington, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona reported, “No matter what you may hear today or read in press reports later, I cannot conclude that driving a new Subaru Forester, with all-wheel drive and computerized traction control, eight airbags, and a roll-cage-like reinforced chassis, is a safer alternative to a rusted-out 1971 Pinto.”

The new rule will bring all governments into alignment with FCTC policy.  FCTC has always had a policy of forbidding involvement by the industry or automotive consumers, having recognized that perfect policy can only be made if interference by all the real stakeholders is avoided.  Delegates are encouraged to never so much as converse with to anyone who considers motorized transport to be beneficial to people’s welfare, except in the context of clinical interventions.

FCTC recognizes that the industry will probably mobilize their front-groups to protest these rules, using their usual misleading language about “free choice” and “honest science”.  The industry has a long history of creating fake grassroots support to claim that people simply prefer to drive in spite of the risks.  But secret industry documents have revealed that every single person who expresses interest in cars is secretly in the pay of the industry.

Delegate, Michael Myers, CEO of the Campaign for Travel-Forbidden Kids, responded to these claims by industry-funded critics:  “Individuals are persuaded by paid industry shills like Bruce Springsteen to consider cars to be cool or a way to look grown up.  People who start driving as children become slaves to the industry.  Almost none of them ever again go without owning a car after they become addicted.  Motorized transport is far more addictive than heroin or even smoking.  The only way to keep people from driving is to stop the industry from enticing them to start.”

This move by the FCTC follows on important anti-traffic efforts in several member states.  The proposed Traffic Products Directive in the European Union would prevent any personal vehicle (PV) from traveling at faster than 30 kph (equivalent to 18.6 mph or 4 mg/ml).  The US Department of Transportation requires that any automotive products either be “substantially equivalent” to technology that existed in 1980 and that any innovative products cannot be sold until 20 years of real-world data that proves their safety is accumulated.

The adoption of the new rule follows yesterday’s FCTC resolution to demand that governments devote all taxes collected on automobiles and gasoline, and other traffic-related taxes to anti-traffic efforts.  Only 0.000185% of such taxes are given to anti-traffic QUANGOs, which drastically reduces the potential income of FCTC delegates.  Indeed, the vast majority of the collections are devoted to maintaining roads and other actions that encourage driving, further evidence that governments are too heavily influenced by Big Auto.  A related proposal, to demand the elimination of all depictions of automobiles in movies and television, based on the claim that it causes 483,921.4 children to start driving each year, was rejected as being too wackadoodle for even the FCTC.

The FCTC is an international treaty, with 183 signatory countries (which include 22 who actively wanted to sign, in addition to those who were blackmailed into it with threats of losing WHO funding).  They are currently meeting in a 5-star resort hotel, thanks to revenue generated from a collection of extremely regressive taxes.

 Press Contact: FCTC Secretariat, fax (yes, we really still do have a fax machine): +41 22 791 5830, or for those living in this century:  fctcsecretariat@who.int

ANTZ and the mirror-image delusion

by Carl V Phillips

Last week there was a flurry of discussion about a call by UCSF’s ANTZ queen, Ruth Malone (and endorsed by that institutions chief ANTZ liar, Stanton Glantz), for a boycott of FDA proceedings that involved a dialog with tobacco companies.  The demand that actual stakeholders be excluded from policy, in favor of just leaving it to the self-appointed busybodies, is so utterly insane that I am not even going to bother to respond to it.  Others have done so.  And I certainly do not want to try to talk them out of the boycott like others have — if they want to let their megalomania and obsessions lead them to stay out of the discussion, but all means let them.

But the discussion surrounding this has starkly illustrated one particular delusion that seems endemic among the ANTZ, something that is common among non-thinking fanatics, and can be observed in various areas where people let their ideology determine their “facts”:  the belief that the one’s opponents are just like oneself, only in support of an opposing ideology, the mirror image delusion.  As a genuine delusion, this is not actually a lie, though it is the cause of numerous lies.  (Recall the position of this blog that actively affirming a false claim out of ignorance is still a lie if there is an explicit or implicit claim of expertise; even if you view inexcusable ignorance as different from a lie, there is still the lie about the expertise.  But this does not represent a claim of expertise.)

The clearest example of the mirror image delusion is that the ANTZ do not hesitate to corrupt scientific inquiry, lie about scientific results, and otherwise produce stinking pools of junk- and pseudo-science, and so they assume that their opponents have the same lack of concern about good science and ethics.  The calls by Malone and company to forbid stakeholder involvement are obviously transparent attempts to keep everyone but their fanatical minority out of the policy process.  But they attempt to justify the claim with something they seem to actually believe:  that the tobacco companies, and even the consumers (see, e.g., the previous posts about Glantz trying to censor consumers’ own testimonials about their success with THR), are liars.

The reality, of course, is that both the tobacco industry and THR consumer advocates conduct high-quality scientific research which is basically never challenged by the ANTZ.  Despite how glaringly clear this is, and despite the fact that the ANTZ surly must be aware that they never, in fact, find any evidence of lying or even aggressive spinning by the tobacco industry and other serious researchers and commentators, for many ANTZ these claims seem to be more than a mere tactic.  They seem to really believe them.  The only apparent explanation is that the ANTZ’s delusion leads them to assume that the people they are attacking must be as dishonest as they are, despite no evidence to support that claim.

One of the reasons the ANTZ never challenge the accuracy and honesty of their opponent’s research and analysis is that they would lose.  They have no ground to stand on.  As far as I am aware, no ANTZ has ever even tried to refute the arguments presented in this blog, and that is perfectly typical of their behavior.  However, I believe that another explanation is that they really do not think there is any point in disputing a claim because they do not pay any attention when someone disproves one of their claims, and they (falsely) assume their opponents act the same way.  I, and most of us in THR, would withdraw a claim (whether it be a scientific claim, an analysis that shows someone is a liar, or anything else) if it were shown to be wrong or even merely seriously disputable.

But the ANTZ basically never withdraw anything they have ever said, no matter how obviously false, and their mirror image delusion means that they are incapable of understanding that others act differently.  That is, they do not fail to debate merely because they would lose the debate (they would, but they often clearly are so clueless that they do not realize that), but because they live in an echo chamber and ignore everyone else, and so think that is true of everyone else also.

Another example relates specifically to their attempts to censor the stories of ex-smokers who have successfully used THR.  They claim that somehow all of the consumers reporting this evidence are corrupt and are only doing it on behalf of “industry”.  This seems to reflect several different bits of mirror image delusion.  Most of the ANTZ would never take the time to do anything they were not being paid for, and are themselves often doing the bidding of their paymasters.  For many, their delusions make them incapable of understanding that consumers and the rest of us who are genuinely concerned with public health do not behave that way.  Even more important, they know that most of the “public health” people who repeat the ANTZ lies are unthinking useful idiots who are acting entirely due to the manipulation by others (i.e., by the ANTZ leaders), and so they assume it must be true of the consumers too.

Perhaps most important, returning to the topic of junk science, the ANTZ do not actually care what information their “research” provides, and so they assume the same is true for their opponents.  They do not care whether or not a study shows some genuine reason to be concerned about a health effect; they just want to cook up results that seem to show a bad effect in order to support their ideology.  Their mirror image delusion prevents them from understanding that actual stakeholders — the people who have some real stake in THR, as opposed to the busybodies who have no stake and so are happy to sit on the outside and lob bombs at it — care quite a lot about the science.  Their failure to grasp this obvious non-similarity means that they assume that our scientific analysis must be like theirs — an attempt to support an ideology, rather than an attempt to understand and perhaps improve people’s health.

I suspect there are other good examples.  If any come to mind, I welcome them in the comments.

Kelvin Choi is remarkably clueless (and a liar) – part 2/2

Yesterday I started dissecting the simplistic and false anti-e-cigarette claims being made by University of Minnesota researcher, and Ellen Hahn wannabe, Kelvin Choi.  This post picks up where that one left off.  To recount, Choi recently released a paper that contains some possibly useful historical data from a survey of knowledge and attitude about e-cigarettes.  But not content to do real science, he proceeded to tack on anti-e-cigarette lies and a conclusion that does not in any way follow from the research.  He then published an interview in which he bungles even the description of e-cigarettes and presents his reasons for worrying about the health effects, none of which actually involve any claim about any health effects.

I will note that the interview I am dissecting did not appear in some free weekly local paper or a radio news report.  It was published by the American Public Health Association (which runs the “journal” where Choi’s paper appeared), and was clearly crafted as a written document by that organization and Choi.  So we cannot attribute the gaffes to trying to dumb things down for a grade-school audience or misspeaking.

Continuing with examples of the lies that Choi and APHA chose to publish:

To date, e-cigarette marketing is not regulated.

Presumably he means in the United States (his apparent failure to recognize that regulations vary across jurisdictions is so minor among his errors that I only mention it because I need to clarify before continuing), in which case he is badly wrong.  Not only is e-cigarette marketing regulated by all basic federal and state rules about truth-in-advertising and such, but it is also severely restricted in terms of health claims.  Merchants cannot offer their customers any comparative risk or smoking cessation information, such as the obvious truths that switching to e-cigarettes is a good way to quit smoking for many people, or the health risk from e-cigarettes is trivial compared to that from smoking.  If this is Choi’s view of anarchy, I would hate to see what he considers to be regulation.

Advertisements for e-cigarettes appear on TV, magazines, the Internet and even in social media. Cigarette advertising has been known to have a strong influence on the perceptions and the use of cigarettes.

Ah, that explains it.  I believe he is mixing up the words “regulated” and “banned”, a common mistake when a native ANTZ speaker tries to communicate in English.

Therefore, it is similarly possible that e-cigarette advertising is one of the sources of influence on young adults’ views about e-cigarettes.

It is worth recalling that this interview was to tout a paper that reports results from a 2010-11 survey.  There was not exactly a lot of advertising of e-cigarettes back then.  This is the standard “public health” bait-and-switch:  do one simple and minor bit of research on a topic, with no policy analysis and no apparent understanding of the big picture, and then claim to be an authority on what policies should be implemented.

It appears that his complaint is that advertising — you know, that “unregulated” advertising which is prohibited from truthfully informing people about the smoking-cessation benefits or comparatively low risk of e-cigarettes — is contributing to people’s knowledge that e-cigarettes have low risk and are good for quitting smoking.  (Note that “knowledge” is the English word; to trANTZlate that into Choi’s ANTZ-speak, I believe their word for “knowledge” is “misinformation” when used in a context that means “knowledge that the ANTZ want to prevent people from learning”.)

I am sure the marketers will be glad to know that they are successfully communicating information that they are not allowed to communicate.  I suspect that during his continuing research on this topic, Choi will eventually learn about the restrictions on the advertising and then realize, like Stanton Glantz, that he needs to crusade for broader censorship of accurate information.

He concludes this thought with:

The challenge is whether we should swiftly regulate e-cigarette advertising before the issue gets out of hand.

Even trANTZlating “regulate” into “ban”, it is difficult to make any sense of this.  What issue?  What constitutes “out of hand”?  I am not even sure this qualifies as lying hype because although it tries to be hype, it is not at all clear what is being claimed.  So, moving on…

The second challenge lies in developing a better understanding of the effective communication channels to reach specific populations and how to best use these channels. For example, we know that a lot of young adults use Facebook, but we do not know how to effectively use Facebook to communicate the correct information about e-cigarettes to young adults. I think we still have a lot to learn in that regard.

Nice discovery about that Facebook thing.  Maybe he will write a paper about it before Facebook ceases being used by a lot of young adults — though I would not recommend holding your breath for that given that his claim to fame is his new paper about survey data from two years ago (ancient history in this fast-moving area, something he apparently does not understand).  But, of course, we again need the trANTZlator here to point out that when he suggests exploring ways to “communicate the correct information”, he really means to “get people to believe his lies”.

Because, after all, if he really wanted to use Facebook to communicate correct information, all he would need to do is point people to pages like CASAA, the We Are CASAA members page, ECCA UK, Vapers Network, the Tobacco Harm Reduction page created by my research group (which I believe is about as old as Facebook, though most of the traffic has shifted to those others over the last few years), or any of several other very active pages with a plethora of truth and where incorrect information is seldom posted without being corrected by someone.  His “we” may well be as clueless as he claims, but fortunately we are way ahead of them.

I wonder if this self-appointed e-cigarette “expert” has ever even seen those Facebook pages and our websites.  Probably not, or he would not have bungled so many simple points.  Still, maybe he is one of the rare ANTZ who actually reads outside of their echo chamber, and he will read this post and follow those links.  I look forward to seeing his comments there trying to provide us with “correct information”.  If you are reading this, Dr. Choi, please consider yourself encouraged to jump into the conversation — unlike your fellow ANTZ, we do not censor contributions from people who disagree with us.  Oh, but be warned, also unlike life inside your ANTZ echo chamber, when someone is lying, we call them on it.

Stanton Glantz hates smokers

by Elaine Keller (with contributions from other CASAA board members)

Stanton Glantz tries to project the image that he is anti-smoking, but his words and actions tell a different story: He hates smokers. Why else would he go to so much trouble to prevent them from escaping from the practice of inhaling smoke?

The word “smoking” specifically refers to the practice of inhaling smoke. Thus, to quit smoking means to stop inhaling smoke, not necessarily to become abstinent from nicotine or even from tobacco. The experiences of millions of former smokers who switched to e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or some other non-smoked source of nicotine such as long-term use of NRTs serves as evidence that nicotine abstinence is not a requirement for the health improvements that come with smoking cessation.

One indication of the contempt Glantz feels toward smokers is his post about the thousands of letters that e-cigarette users submitted as comments in response to the FDA’s request “to obtain input on certain questions related to the implementation of section 918 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 387r), as amended by the Tobacco Control Act (Pub. L. 111-31).”

Lie #1: Glantz characterized the FDA’s Docket ID: FDA-2012-N-1148 as a request for comments on “treatments for nicotine dependence,” which implies that the topic is limited to products aimed at complete nicotine cessation. However, the request for comments was much broader. Specifically, the FDA was requesting comments in connection with a report Health and Human Services must submit to Congress, a report that will discuss three categories:  (A) total abstinence from tobacco use; (B) reductions in consumption of tobacco; and (C) reductions in the harm associated with continued tobacco use. “Also the report must include recommendations on how FDA should coordinate and facilitate the exchange of information on these `innovative products and treatments,” including providing a “fast track” method for approval.

Glantz either does not understand the purpose of e-cigarettes or he deviously pretends to misunderstand. E-cigarettes were not invented for the purpose of treating nicotine addiction. Their purpose is to serve as a replacement for smoking, supplying the nicotine without the damaging constituents in smoke. Eliminating the carbon monoxide and thousands of other products of combustion results in a reduction in the harm associated with continued nicotine use.

Consumers who obtain some of the nicotine they need from e-cigarettes as a result smoke fewer tobacco cigarettes, and many eventually stop inhaling smoke altogether. Smokers who completely switch to an e-cigarette have, in a literal sense, quit smoking. But Glantz chooses to misinterpret “quit smoking” to mean “quit nicotine.”

Lie #2: Next, Glantz complained that the individual testimonials submitted included claims of “therapeutic benefit.” Given the type of information the FDA specified in the Federal Register notice, the submissions were very appropriate: The consumers who commented discussed an innovative product and related how that product helped them to achieve total abstinence, reduced use, or reductions in harm. Some may have stopped all nicotine use, either by switching to an e-liquid containing zero nicotine, or by giving up the practice of vaping. But the abstinence or reduction being sought by e-cigarette consumers is from inhaling smoke, not necessarily from tobacco use or from nicotine. These reports can only be construed as health (not really therapeutic) claims because we already know that stopping smoking is healthy, but no testimonial is going to change the fact that we already knew that.

Lie #3: Glantz is either obfuscating or demonstrating that he failed to understand the basis for the ruling in the Smoking Everywhere, Inc. and Sottera, Inc. d/b/a NJOY court case: “The fact that the e-cigarette companies and their trade association have been encouraging their consumers to submit public comments to a docket about smoking cessation products can be read no other way than the e-cigarette companies and their trade association are promoting their products as having therapeutic benefit,” he declared.

We know Glantz read the emails that at least two e-cigarette companies were sending to their customers because he included copies of those emails in his comment to the FDA. Specifically, those emails asked customers to share their stories with the FDA if e-cigarettes had a made a positive difference or had a positive impact or on their lives. There is nothing in those emails that could be construed as a health claim or knowledge of the customer intending to use the product to treat a disease or condition. It is not illegal, unethical, or immoral for vendors to urge their customers to submit a comment describing how their product has changed the customer’s life. “Life” is not a disease. And there is no procedure code for “positive impact” or “positive difference.”

Moreover it is difficult to see how restrictions on claims that can be made in marketing a product could possibly be relevant to these submissions.  Is Glantz claiming that FDA experts and other government officials need to be protected from hearing consumers’ claims because it would somehow harm their delicate sensibilities or trick them into believing something?

By contrast, while it may not be illegal, it certainly is immoral and unethical to do what Glantz has done and bear false witness: to accuse a person or a company of an imaginary misdeed, and then urge the Federal authorities to punish the accused.

Lie #4: Glantz stated, “The e-cigarette companies cannot have it both ways.” He implied that vendors must choose between having their products regulated as tobacco products or as therapeutic drugs. Again, this is not what Judge Leon’s opinion indicates. The same product could be regulated in two ways. To claim that the product treats a disease or condition, the product would need to be approved by the FDA for that purpose and labeled accordingly. There is no reason why the same product could not continue to be sold, sans any health claims, as a tobacco product. Many products have multiple purposes.

Lie #5: As Carl Phillips discussed in a previous posts, Glantz falsely accused vendors of suborning claims of therapeutic benefit from their customers. As proof, he cited CASAA’s “What to Say” section in our Call to Action.
CASAA is not a vendor or a trade association. If Glantz cannot understand that, he needs to purchase a good dictionary and look up the definitions of the words in our full name. The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association represents (and is largely comprised of) people who consume smoke-free alternatives as a means of tobacco harm reduction (as well as those who might someday do so).

It is very much in keeping with CASAA’s mission to encourage consumers to advocate for their own health and well-being by letting the FDA know what types of products they tried and what types of products worked in helping them to achieve total abstinence, reductions in consumption, or reductions in harm associated with smoking. The U.S. Constitution protects their rights to express their experiences and opinions.

The sad thing is that the vendors have to carefully select their wording to avoid telling the truth—e-cigarettes do work, and work much more effectively for the purpose of refraining from smoking than approved treatments for nicotine addiction.

Even sadder is the fact that e-cigarette users, having finally found a way to stop smoking, are in danger of losing the very thing that made this possible. It seems that people like Glantz would prefer that former smokers who used e-cigarettes as their quitting method stop using them—even if that means taking up smoking again.

The problem with Glantz (and others like him) is not just that the claims are lies.  We can set aside his despicable tactics and think about his apparent despicable goals.  What purpose would be served by censoring success stories in any forum?  The publication of success stories serves to encourage smokers to try e-cigarettes, and some of those who try will quit smoking as a result.  There is no other apparent result.  People who do not use nicotine are not encouraged to start.  No one is encouraged to avoid any other method for quitting smoking.  The only possible explanation for Glantz hating this so much is that his real goal is not to reduce the number of people who smoke, but to make sure that smokers suffer.  He objects to harm reduction because it reduces the harm suffered by those who are the target of his hatred:  smokers and other nicotine users who will not obey his demands and just become abstinent.

Stanton Glantz hates America

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.

FCTC (WHO’s anti-tobacco fanatic corps) are afraid of the people

by Carl V Phillips

The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being
– Thomas Jefferson

Well, if you have read any or all of my Unhealthful News series at EP-ology, you know that the press we have, as it reports on health science, is not “best” by any stretch of the imagination.  But there is no doubt that having the press monitoring those in power, rather than not, is an absolutely crucial minimal step toward ensuring rational and moral behavior.

With that in mind, I return to the topic of the FCTC, the meeting of unelected, mandate-less anti-tobacco extremist WHO operatives in Seoul.  In addition to their belief that they should have imperialistic control over the world, dictating tax and other national policies, they ejected the press from observing their discussions.  So, not only do they have no representation from the primary stakeholders in the matter (users of tobacco/nicotine) and explicitly forbid participation or even observation by the secondary stakeholders (the manufacturers of those products), but they also are working to prohibit the press from telling the public what they are doing.  (For more details, this has been covered in the original breaking of the story by Drew Johnson, and by Dick Puddlecote (who took the best title for a post on the topic) and others.)

This is nothing unusual.  It is just a particularly obvious manifestation of the cult of secrecy and isolation practiced by the anti-tobacco extremists (who are, of course, the predominant anti-THR liars).  These people are not interested in the truth — indeed, they are afraid of it.  Conversations make religious zealots nervous.  Moreover — and most of their useful idiots probably do not realize this, but those pulling the strings (and pulling in the money) know — when most people learn the truth, they rise up against these extremists.

Of course, that is not how they spin it.  Their claim is that the Giant Evil All-Powerful Tobacco Industry will somehow derail their plans if they deal with the world honestly.  But think about what kind of idiot someone would have to be to actually believe that rhetoric.  The tobacco industry has far less power and room to act than the tobacco control industry.  Which, after all, is not demanding an international excise tax be imposed on all the people of the world, and companies have six lawyers look over anything they say because they are afraid to speak up.  As further evidence it is only necessary to consider the scientific claims made by each:

Scientific research and claims coming out of the tobacco industry are scrupulously researched and very modestly reported — far more than, say, the average health science researcher working in other areas.  Indeed, in the entire realm of health science, the industry’s research may well be the only body of health science research today that fulfills those ideals of science you are taught in grade school about conservatism and complete reporting.  Indeed, it probably exceeds that idea and is far too timid to be useful.  Those of us outside the industry doing science in support of THR and general rationality are not so over-compensating, but we do tend to fulfill that ideal.

When the tobacco control industry seeks to attack the scientific credibility of the industry (or those outside the industry who produce science that supports THR or otherwise disagrees with the extremists), the single arrow in their quiver is to talk about the behavior of the industry in the 1970s or before.  (The world would be much better if the anti-tobacco people who actually remember the 1970s and think they are still living in them leave the discussion.)  They have nothing more recent than that which might tend to suggest that their opponents do dishonest research.  They certainly never dare try to argue about the research on its merits, which they would surely lose.

By contrast, the tobacco control industry knows that it can get away with spewing obviously false drivel, anti-scientific even by the standards of “public health”.  This is not the behavior of people who are afraid of being confronted by a powerful enemy.  It is the behavior of people who think they own the whole world, and have the monopoly on words that previous generations of imperialists had on guns (or horsemen or legions or phalanxes).

But like past imperialists, they know that their monopoly is tenuous because there are a lot more of “them” (those that prefer truth and freedom — i.e., us) out there.  Once the people are armed 1/10th as well as the imperialists, the latter’s ambitions do not last long.  So they have to keep us disarmed.  They have to keep the average person so ill-informed that they do not even know what is going on (thus the anti-THR — and anti-smoking — lies), and they have to keep those of us who would inform the people excluded and beaten down.

So as was noted in the comments to me on a recent post (and as, in fairness to myself, I actually did realize), I did not need to bother archiving a copy of what I was commenting on, because there was no chance that the liars (the American Cancer Society in that case) would attempt to cover their tracks.  They cannot.  They have cornered themselves.

Less than decade ago, the tobacco control industry would have been able to reign in their imperialism and negotiate an honorable sensible victory for health that would have made the world a better place.  But instead, they redoubled their misbehavior and extremism.  They have closed their ranks, increased their use of force, and launched an Inquisition.  They are cornered now and have to keep the people disarmed by lying and avoiding scrutiny.  They have reached the point where they win or they die (metaphorically, of course: their professional reputations die, they are remembered with all the fondness of those who gave us alcohol Prohibition, and they quite possibly take down their fellow travelers like ACS).

Some supporters of THR believe that the best way to further the cause is to negotiate with the tobacco control industry, to beg for their permission to act and to concede that giving people freedom need not be a part of that deal.  They might want to review the history of what it took to bring about the retreat of empires that did not have to contend with a free press.