The details mentioned relate to an article on the bullying taking place within the debate over GMOs – but it could so easily be applied to the vaping arena. Two weeks ago, we covered Doctor Farsalinos calling time out on the smearing of vape advocates.
The story began when the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention sent an unsigned letter to a number of academics and public health experts, demanding they withdraw from The Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum.
Doctor Farsalinos entered the fray after The Times released 3 articles, “which contained some very aggressive comments and personal attacks against scientists and anti-smoking advocates for being funded or supported by tobacco industry to support e-cigarettes.”
He slammed the journalists responsible for the articles, two of which are by Katie Gibbons: “the authors of these articles are literally lying about the studies funded by the tobacco industry and are lying about the involvement of the named experts in tobacco-funded research.”
Farsalinos was unambiguous: “I think this is time for legal action. The unsubstantiated, misleading, inappropriate and insulting accusations are totally unacceptable. This is journalism at its worst … I think the response should be straightforward and aggressive.”
The response was swift and direct. Without justification, The Times had repeated the sham statements made by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention. Clive Bates has already achieved a small victory in the form of an apology, it’s reported: “The [Times] correction stated that he had funded his own travel and accommodation costs at an industry-sponsored tobacco forum in Brussels and had not received any funding from tobacco or nicotine companies.”
Five scientists have not been given an apology so they have appointed Lewis Silkin, a leading libel specialist firm. Karl Fagerström, one of those The Times accused of accepting tens of thousands of pounds from Big Tobacco, said: “My life’s work has been built on helping reduce the death toll from tobacco smoking. Yet The Times has portrayed me and my colleagues as hirelings of big tobacco. The Times has chosen to traduce our reputations. Now it is time for the paper to profusely apologise or face a battle it will not win.”
David Sweanor added: “My reputation has been trashed by The Times. Despite ample evidence of my independence, it claimed that I am beholden to big tobacco companies. It is like saying that Robin Hood was in the pay of the Sheriff of Nottingham. I have to fight this.”