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The Department of Public Health in California has launched its “Still Blowing Smoke” attack campaign on ecigs, all corners of the West Coast vaping community responded in kind. Is the answer just blowing in the wind?

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Californian Department of Public Health (CDPH) has embarked on a $75million (£50million) campaign against vaping based on lies, vitriol, half-truths and misinformation. It covers a website, posters, digital banners, petrol station pump toppers and videos for online and cinema viewing. The sheer audacity of some of the lies has led some to claim it resembles a piece of Orwellian 1984 propaganda more than a health campaign.

It’s a move lambasted in an article headed The Shame Of America. The Science 2.0 blog blasts those who claim to be acting in people’s best interests: “Our nation’s most influential, respected and powerful public health officials and academics are engaged in a vast, corrupt and fraudulent conspiracy to keep desperate smokers ignorant of the facts about how reduced-harm devices (such as e-cigarettes) are likely to help them quit smoking.”

Lies contained on the website include those relating to asthma, lung inflammation and heart disease. They reference our old friend the ultrafine particle as tiny balls of evil without so much as a blink of the eye – trying to make out that vapour possess more than cigarette smoke and that this is a bad thing...forgetting that steam from kettles is a mist of ultrafine particles. It seems bizarre to call information being given out by a public health organisation, tasked with tending to real people, as lies – but lies they are. The second video is equally as repugnant.

Science 2.0 offers a reason: “What could possibly explain the rationale of our health policy leaders, pursuing their own nefarious goals, oblivious to the plight of smokers who have tried and tried again to quit, and failed? While some may be ideologically bound to tropes of the last century, envisioning minions of “Big Tobacco” lurking behind the e-cig companies, plotting to seduce new generations to nicotine addiction and cigarettes — I fear that for many who oppose e-cigs, the motivation is simple: greed.”

Michael Siegel, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University, is stunned: “I was absolutely shocked when I viewed the new print ad campaign coming from the California Department of Public Health, which Stan Glantz had touted as being outstanding.”

“The worst part of the campaign is its dishonesty. It is lying to the public,” he continues, “the California Department of Public Health is actually spending taxpayer money to try to convince the public that smoking is no more hazardous than using non-tobacco-containing, non-combusted electronic cigarettes, which have been shown to drastically reduce exposure to the tens of thousands of toxins and more than 60 carcinogens in tobacco smoke and to immediately improve respiratory health among smokers who switch to them, even if used together with cigarettes.”

Claims the CDPH are making include the hilarious “As addictive as heroin”. Well, it would be funny were lives, businesses and hobbies not being placed at risk for corrupt reasons. The State of California borrowed heavily against future income from cigarette companies following a legal settlement. It is no wonder that Siegel states: “The campaign could not be any more advantageous for the combustible cigarette industry than if cigarette manufacturers had designed the campaign themselves.”

The vaping community has responded in kind: CASAA (a vaping organisation), the American Vaping Association (small ecig businesses) and SFATA (largest ecig trade body in the USA) set up the Not Blowing Smoke website. They even proved that the CDPH haven’t learnt any lessons from the hijacked #curbit Twitter hashtag – by setting up the spoof Twitter account @StillBlwingSmoke.

The fightback on the website is combined with an information source found at Whether this will prove to be enough to embarrass officials into an about turn appears unlikely, but the level to which they are prepared to stoop has become all-apparent.

These public health officials and politicians have spent a very long time staring at the tobacco industry and appear not to know their Nietzsche: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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