Advertising Ignorance

Posted 20th January 2015 by Dave Cross
Alaska, the state that voted for the intellectually gifted Sarah Palin, delivers a message about vaping. And it’s not a very nice one, strewn with half-truths and outright lies.

Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line has released a fact sheet and video warning smokers about the dangers of electronic cigarettes in a style redolent of the hysterical Reefer Madness. The irony being that the purchase and consumption of cannabis is legal in Alaska.

The campaign has been met with praise from popular anti-vaping advocate Stanton Glantz, who said: “Kudos to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for mounting the first media campaign (that I know of) designed to educate the public about the fact that e-cigarettes are not just “harmless water vapour.

But then he would say that seeing as the video is hosted on the server and has his fingerprints all over it.

"What's in an e-cig cloud? Nicotine, just like the other cigarettes. Ultrafine particles that can lead to asthma. Embalming fluid. Ugh. Lead. Doesn't that cause brain damage? Nail polish remover. Don't let Big Tobacco cloud your judgment."

Michael Siegel believes that the advert: “undoubtedly promotes smoking by strongly discouraging smokers who might otherwise quit from using electronic cigarettes.”


Journalist Christopher Snowdon, who also writes the Velvet Glove Iron Fist blog, described the advert as “appalling.”

The justification for the campaign is based on a single study where vapour was analysed for its in-vitro rather than in-vitro effects – meaning they studied how cells in a petri dish reacted. A methodology slammed by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos when carried out recently in Japan.

The Tobacco Quit Line claim: “Studies have found that the aerosol or “cloud” contains at least 9 chemicals that are known carcinogens and toxins, including nicotine, formaldehyde, lead and acetone,” but fail to mention the crucial point that levels of the chemicals present.

Nutmeg contains the psychoactive compound myristicin, almonds and peaches contain hydrocyanic acid – while tomatoes and potatoes contain solanine. The levels are low enough that they are considered safe for eating because it is the volume of the toxin present, not that it is there, that is of utmost importance.

Michael Siegel continues: “There is no doubt that this commercial is extremely misleading and that it contains false information. It is designed to scare people so much about the health effects of vaping that they essentially view these products as no different from tobacco cigarettes in terms of health risk.”


He points out that there is absolutely no evidence to support the advert’s claim that e-cigs cause asthma or brain damage. “This is an outright lie,” he says.

In fact in the study Effect of Smoking Abstinence and Reduction in Asthmatic Smokers Switching to Electronic Cigarettes: Evidence for Harm Reversal, Doctor Riccardo Polosa and his team demonstrated that moving from smoking to vaping improves asthmatic conditions.

Top Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via photopin cc

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
Liberty Flights