2019 for vaping opened up pretty much how it finished, with Stanton Glantz making absurd claims and monstrous statements. Glantz said: “Using e-cigs increases exposure to toxic chemicals for most users; they would be better off just smoking.” [link]
Advocates and industry experts lined up to predict a year of crisis for vaping in many parts of the world, not least the opposition tobacco harm reduction faced in the United States because of the influence of pharmaceutical billions. Nick “Grimm” Green released a series of videos detailing the anti-vape influence the pharmaceutical industry has over the USA. From flavour bans to the constant attacks on Juul, all is tied to the millions of dollars Pharma has ploughed into campaign groups and political bank accounts. [link]
At home, warnings were being issued about cuts to council public health budgets. Quit services and the Fire service called them “short sighted” as regions of the United Kingdom reported record lows in spending on public health campaigns. [link]
Come the end of January, Manabush had been robbed [link], Sainsbury’s began stocking ecigs [link], and the largest randomised control trial ever (the “Hajek study”) demonstrated that vaping was twice as effective at getting smokers off tobacco – and keeping them off [link].
In February, tobacco controllers circulated an email slamming the Foundation for a Smoke-free World and demanding the World Health Organisation didn’t have anything to do with the “Philip Morris International-funded entity” [link].
The Smoking Toolkit Study warned that the numbers of UK smokers believing vaping to be safer was falling [link]. This arrived at the same time there was a flood of flawed studies citing concerns over vaping’s impact on the heart [link], respiratory issues [link], and the tired favourite – popcorn [link].
The Food and Drug Administration pushed for schools to use posters in children’s toilets to warn them about “vape worms” and other nonsense. New Nicotine Alliance’s Sarah Jakes commented: “This is so dumb it’s hard to shake the notion that FDA wants kids to vape so they can use them as an excuse to ban the entire category” [link].
Stanton Glantz made the news again, but for his sexual harassment cases and not his shoddy science [link]: “A UCSF investigation last year found evidence that he had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy, notably by repeatedly staring at the breasts of the ex-researcher, Eunice Neeley, and four other women employees. As a proposed punishment, the university would temporarily put a letter of reprimand in Glantz’s personnel file.” The UCSF investigation found Glantz created “a work environment that was intimidating and offensive”.
Twitter took to shadow-banning anybody who commented on or retweeted a comment by Brad Rodu, a Professor of Medicine and Endowed Chair of Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville. Rodu had replied to the Quit Tobacco/UCanQuit2 account, a U.S. Department of Defence program. POTV created an account and it was immediately locked after we retweeted his post [link].
Public Health England released a new report [link] and British researchers demonstrated that we lead the world in harm reduction pragmatism and common sense [link]. Moving into March, we wrote about how proactive Trafford Council was giving vape kits away for free to help the hard up access a safer option [link].
In March, while Parliament reaffirmed its commitment to supporting vaping [link], the New Nicotine Alliance called on NHS Trusts to do more to address the points contained in the government’s Tobacco Control Plan [link]: “We also find it very concerning that there is not a dedicated person within NHS England responsible for implementing the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan,” the charity said.
Anti-vape activists gave up any pretence of rational debate as they began insulting harm reduction advocates [link], this was partnered by yet more obscene “research” that contained nothing but lies [link]. Then, shockingly, San Francisco announced it was going to try to ban vaping [link].
Gearbest customers had their personal data stolen [link], Stanton Glantz published another “crappy” heart study [link] that was plugged by The Daily Telegraph’s limited Sarah Knapton, and the University of Leeds was making special provision for vapers [link].
April is now Vapril as Doctor Christian helped UKVIA encourage smokers to switch. John Dunne, a director of the UKVIA, said: “There are still almost 7 million smokers in the UK that are putting their own and the health of those around them at risk. That needs to change. But to do that we need education on a significant scale, not just to smokers, but to the wider public too, to provide vapers with the support to make the switch. It’s sad that despite the clear benefits to their health and the health of those around them, nearly 80% of vapers reported feeling judged for vaping” [link].
“Using e-cigarettes is considerably less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes,” wrote ASH UK in its latest report [link], and Professor Lynn Kozlowski said that access to reduced harm products was a “human right” [link].
Research on 248,324 British children demonstrated there was no gateway effect [link], and other research showed: “…that free radicals levels are substantially reduced in e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products compared to conventional cigarettes. This supports the view that e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products are a potentially less harmful alternative to cigarette smoking” [link].
Stanton Glantz waved a flag for misleading the public with lies, saying: “Increased perceived risks of e-cigarettes is also an important element for curbing their use … from this perspective, the declining public perception that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes is a good thing” [link]. This appeared to trigger Martin McKee into making repeated nonsense public [link] and [link] and [link]. It was almost like someone was paying him to do this…
May rolled around and people headed off to the NEC. Unfortunately, Steve Allwood didn’t realise this is a heavily monitored venue and everyone has cameras on their phones – so when he stole from Evolution Vaping, while wearing his name on his hoodie, he was swiftly the subject of ridicule on the Internet [link].
Anticipating that Brexit would almost be a done thing, experts discussed its impact on vaping at the UKVIA Forum [link]. Not even a topic as heavy as Brexit would dampen POTV’s enthusiasm to link bands and music titles to stories with “Shereef Don’t Like It” [link] and “Spice World” [link].
As Indian Doctor S.K. Arora made an attempt to emulate Glantz and McKee’s imbecility [link], and the Royal College of Midwives came out in support of vaping [link], POTV went off to Poland to witness the Global Forum for Nicotine [link] – where Dr Farsalinos spoke about a daft cinnamon-flavour study [link].
Dame Sally Davies launched into a bit of “Look at me” behaviour as she approached the end of her tenure [link]. Her outburst was at odds with research that showed vape advertising doesn’t glamorise smoking [link] and that switching offered financial as well as health benefits [link].
July saw yet more ridiculous studies, YouTubers hating vaping for money and further criticism of Stanton Glantz. There was consternation in Facebook groups as the social media platform banned vape sales [link]. But, against this backdrop, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust did a world first: vape shops in hospitals [link].
The UK produced a number of positive studies and statements across August. Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust experts have produced a document for mental health practitioners to help them understand vaping better [link], University of Nottingham researchers suggested vaping could help postpartum mothers be free from tobacco [link], while a study led by UCL’s Dr Emma Beard showed that smoking rates in Britain are declining as fast as ever thanks to ecigs [link].
Elsewhere, Konstantinos Farsalinos and George Lagoumintzis destroyed a toxicity study [link] and work by Doctor Ricardo Polosa concluded that as long as ecigs are used ‘normally’ they are unlikely to raise significant health concerns [link].
September, Glantz was laughed at again for promoting a mouse study [link]. Meanwhile, Secretary Alex Azar, the 24th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, announced measures signalling the end of vaping in the United States [link]. The measure relied on self-reported data from children and conflating THC-related lung disease with vaping – and was described as “insane”. The world responded [link] and [link].
Black market THC/vitamin E Acetate lung disease coloured most vape coverage for the rest of the year. The New Nicotine Alliance assured vapers to carry on vaping, “there’s nothing to see here” [link].
Rolling into October and, oh look, Stanton Glantz is being shown up for being a lying fraud again [link]. Don’t worry Stan, it’s not like your disciplinary letter was about to be leaked to round off you abysmal year [link].
The Seventh Report of the Science and Technology Committee on E-cigarettes was released as we rolled into November [link], something that Apple ignored as it removed all vape apps from the App Store [link].
The year has been awful for many vapers around the world; banned in parts of America and across India and threatened with death by Philippine President Duarte. Liars fed nonsense to an unquestioning media like never before and ignorance was on open display, such as when WHO representative Dr Ranti Fayokun showed a doctored image of Dora the Explorer to an aghast audience. But it finished as it started, with experts lining up to give Stanton Glantz a metaphorical kicking [link].
The U.K. waits to see how the new government will treat vaping, how it will fund research as European grants are withdrawn and how much TPD3 is imposed on us without our input. Globally, the future has never been as bleak and the meeting of the WHO FCTC COP will (no doubt) be banned to spectators again and decide to become more extreme on tobacco harm reduction products.
POTV will be here whatever 2020 brings, delivering the news twice a day five days a week to 60,000 newsletter readers and generating 2.5 million page hits per month. We will be speaking to those who matter, attending more events to find out about the research and covering the social events.