Vaping News

Stanton Glantz on Harm Reduction

Glantz demonstrates that his mind is not for changing when it comes to speaking about vaping.

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Brent Stafford’s Regulator Watch does outstanding work covering topics related to vaping. In a recent extended episode, Stafford invited Stanton Glantz to comment on electronic cigarettes and nicotine. Glantz is an outspoken critic of vaping, an opponent to harm reduction and his Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California receives generous funds from the pharmaceutical industry.

Glantz nods his head smugly as he’s introduced as “the most well known control activist in the world”. This is the first time the professor has engaged with the pro-vaping media or lobby. The interview began with the simple proposition: If every smoker switched to vaping tomorrow, wouldn’t that be better for public health?

“Yes,” comes probably the single most surprising comment ventured by Glantz on the subject. “Well, because, while e-cigarettes are still dangerous in an absolute sense, they are less dangerous than a cigarette – there’s just no question in my mind that a puff on an e-cigarette is as dangerous as a puff on a cigarette.”

This position marks a strident change in the logical landscape Glantz used to occupy, but this does not mean he has undergone a Road to Damascus experience: “Saying something isn’t as dangerous as a cigarette is not a very strong statement.”

And in the ensuing commentary he begins tempering his initial statement. “As long as there was no one being convinced to start smoking” and “as long as the children aren’t effected” pepper the conversation. It’s the initial referencing to the mythological gateway effect he loves and a ridiculous notion of second-hand vape caused by “fine particles”.

Oh, and then there’s the matter of how much better vaping is than smoking. It’s not “totally clear” according to the professor at the school of medicine (who holds an average engineering degree, not a first-class medicinal one). He produces an unsupported “50-60% better” figure, despite Public Health England [PHE] AND the Royal College of Physicians [RCP] stating vaping is at least 95% better than smoking.

But then this is irrelevant to Glantz, he doesn’t care for the figure (even though he has appeared in print attacking the position taken by both the RCP and PHE. How can this reduction in harm not be important? “Because that’s not what’s actually happening,” Glantz attempts to point out.

“What’s actually happening,” says the man with either scant regard for or knowledge of the wealth of evidence demonstrating vaping’s efficacy, “is that most smokers are using e-cigarettes to continue smoking cigarettes as dual-users.”

He doesn’t stop there, in something he may have entirely made up: “E-cigarette users are, on average, less likely to quit smoking.”

Hang on, there’s more: “And the…they…they’re [his stutter covering over who ‘they’ might be] attracting a gigantic number of kids, who probably would never pick up a cigarette but are initiating nicotine use with e-cigarettes  - and then transitioning to cigarettes later.”

It’s just three minutes into a 22-minute interview and he’s being advised that thousands of viewers probably want to reach through the screen and grab him. Dismissing the anger he is definitely causing, he rebuffs: “My job is to call it like I see it.” In this era of Trump-like post-truth politics, many would state that it’s far more probable he’s “calling it” as Big Pharma would like it seen.

While it would have been welcome to see Glantz take on board all of the latest research, it is clear that he will continue to bang his Big Pharma drum and act in a belligerent fashion. To see his denial in full of the evidence we see from the UK, the videos are posted below:

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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