The Battle Between Ecig Facts and Lies

Posted 25th March 2021 by Dave Cross
Lies and half-truths are corrupting the reputation of tobacco harm reduction products. In South Africa, zealots are claiming vaping doesn’t help smokers quit – a clear distortion of the truth. Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) is a Bloomberg funded organisation has published a document full of smears and falsehoods. Is there anything that can be done to improve vaping’s reputation?

A recently published Eurobarometer survey reveals widespread ignorance about e-cigarettes,” writes Christopher Snowdon in an article on New Europe(1). “The evidence shows that vaping helps people quit smoking. This has been shown in a series of randomised controlled trials, the gold standard of scientific evidence.”

Why, then, does a growing majority of EU citizens believe the opposite? Partly it is because the Americans’ moral panic about e-cigarettes has drifted across the Atlantic. Junk science from California regularly makes its way into European newspapers. Chemical experiments on mice, zebrafish and other small animals have been inappropriately extrapolated to humans to produce scary headlines and undermine the public’s confidence in e-cigarettes.”

Calling for new electronic cigarette regulation, researchers are telling South Africa that vaping doesn’t work as a quit tool(2). “Majority of e-cigarette users continued to smoke and few of them manage to stop smoking for more than six months,” writes Business Live.

The ideologues added further fiction: “While the tobacco and e-cigarette industry likes to position e-cigarettes as cessation aids, the limited effectiveness of these products for long-term quitting, the health harms associated with usage and the industry’s clear and targeted marketing to youth are facts which are conveniently omitted from their narrative.”

What the article fails to mention is the absolute disaster that the recent ban on sales of cigarettes and vape products was in the country. Chris Martin, co-chair of OECD’s Countering Illicit Trade Taskforce, recently presented data on how the black market boomed during the ban in South Africa in a Foundation for a Smoke-Free World webinar(3).

Pure Eliquids

As vapers, we are all too used to seeing this kind of perspective being given ample column inches at the expense of genuine independent evidence to the contrary.

Coordinating this onslaught of stupid is a network of organisations funded by Michael Bloomberg. One, STOP, published a report smearing advocates last week(4). Nothing can be clearer that they are running out of arguments against vaping when they rely on smearing dissenting opinion.

In it, STOP lumps groups directly receiving tobacco industry funding with “influential vaping groups that are financially independent, but whose messaging is consistent with the industry.”

So, groups like the New Nicotine Alliance(5), who don’t receive any funding from any industry source, are besmirched simply because arguing for an evidenced-based approach happens to align it with messages coming from industry sources? In one simple statement, it becomes obvious that STOP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and all the other anti-vape activists aren’t remotely interested in findings from independent studies, just the pseudoscience the billionaire funds.

STOP’s document amounts to nothing more than a self-entitled whine for its echo chamber to be the only voice – but it is a very loud voice that has the ear of weak-minded politicians and amoral media outlets. The end result is a perversion of perceived benefits of ecigs and harm reduction.

The Electronic Cigarette Company

What can be done? As Chris Snowdon says: “Vaping has developed an image problem. Governments, charities and companies need to do more to get the facts out there… Something has gone badly wrong.”

References:

  1. Vaping’s image problem in the EU - https://www.neweurope.eu/article/vapings-image-problem-in-the-eu/
  2. Researchers renew call for e-cigarette regulation - https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2021-03-01-researchers-renew-call-for-e-cigarette-regulation/
  3. Tackling Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products - https://youtu.be/w2dtt3agu0A
  4. Lobbying the European Commission: What’s at Stake If the Tobacco Industry Gets Its Way? - https://exposetobacco.org/wp-content/uploads/STOP-Brief-Lobbying-the-EC.pdf
  5. The New Nicotine Alliance - https://nnalliance.org/


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