THR Advocate Destroys Juul Study

Posted 21st February 2019 by Dave Cross
Robert Jackler and Divya Ramamurthi have had a paper published in the British Medical Journal which was seized upon by many news outlets. It is essentially a hatchet job on Juul, attempting to whip up fears over nicotine levels. Harm reduction advocate Amelia Howard ripped it to pieces.

“Nicotine arms race: JUUL and the high-nicotine product market” concluded:

  • JUUL has triggered a widespread rush among aerosol purveyors to market e-liquid in unprecedentedly high nicotine concentrations
  • The rapidly rising popularity of high-nicotine e-liquids threatens to addict a generation of youth
  • When sold in large quantity bottles (eg, 30 mL) they represent a childhood poisoning risk
  • Labelling of nicotine concentration in e-liquids needs to be standardised to avoid consumer confusion
  • The addictiveness and toxicity of these products makes it imperative that regulators act swiftly to enact protective measures

Jackler told reporters: “The rush to higher and higher nicotine concentration has reduced the cost of nicotine addiction and comes with a huge poisoning risk.”

Some bottles hold “enough nicotine to kill an entire preschool class,” he added.

Michelle Minton commented: “Wow, this study sounds worse than the ‘study’ by Petticrew et al on how the alcohol industry uses big tobacco tactics to ‘mislead’ public about alcohol related cancer risk.”

Amelia Howard opened: “First of all, no one knows what they're reporting on. This isn't like journalists not reading past an abstract or press release. They literally don't have a clue what the study is about. Not even a vague idea. And apparently every newsroom's solution to this problem was to guess.”

“The study is by Robert Jackler, a Stanford doctor who, by serendipity, managed to translate a compulsion to hoard tobacco marketing memorabilia into some sort of folk hero status in the anti-smoking movement. Jackler is an expert in cutting around people's salivary glands or something. But in tobacco research land, he fancies himself a historian who conducts cutting edge data science on Wednesdays. (On full moon dates, he dabbles in cultural sociology and communications studies.)”

“This is the definition of junk scientist, but he's tolerated, even indulged by many in tobacco control. Jackler also hates vaping. Every now and then he succeeds in placing an impenetrable piece of angry nonsense on evil ecig companies in the field's flagship journal.”

She calls the research objective “stupid”, and points out that it ignores the fact that nicotine was being used in devices predating Juul’s launch.

Then Amelia takes a pop at Jackler’s methodology: “Googling stuff. All of Jackler's ecig research is him gawking at stuff he digs up online that grosses him out, or gets him off, or both. And taking screen shots for his ‘studies,’ for his Angelfire website. Which I encourage everyone to go see - but not all at once, you'll crash the server.”

Her full takedown is linked to below, Amelia ends: “Sorry I was mean, I usually try not to be mean. There are good people working in tobacco control and a lot of them do good work. Maybe Jackler means well. But he's acting bad. It bothers me.”

 

Resources:

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker