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Australia Still Silencing Vape Advocacy

In its push to control the narrative at home, Australia remains committed to silencing dissenting voices speaking out in favour of tobacco harm reduction and vape products

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In its push to control the narrative at home, Australia remains committed to silencing dissenting voices speaking out in favour of tobacco harm reduction and vape products. Dr Colin Mendelsohn has been targeted again – censoring public debate and smearing him as a paid mouthpiece of the tobacco and vape industries.

Dr Colin Mendelsohn is a well-respected tobacco harm reduction expert who wrote an article for the Australian website Education HQ advising schools on strategies to deal with vaping among students,” writes Harry Shapiro.

The article was swiftly taken down from Education HQ’s website.

Unfortunately, my managing editor has decided we need to unpublish your article for now, I'm terribly sorry. He is working through a concern that's been raised around your relationship with the vape and tobacco industry,” Dr Mendelsohn was told by email.

No one has been told who made the unfounded allegation, but Harry Shapiro says: “In the context of Australian vaping politics, the source was probably the same group who drip poison into gullible ears whenever the chance arises.”

Harry points out Dr Mendelsohn’s piece “ticked every box of Education HQ’s own editorial guidelines”. It was:

  • evidence-based
  • clearly expressed
  • fair
  • balanced
  • no risk of harm
  • information was easily obtainable from a range of credible and published sources

Dr Mendelsohn has always been open about his potential conflicts of interest – which are none, as he says: “I have never received funding from tobacco or e-cigarette companies, nor have I received any financial benefitsAll my advocacy is at my own expense.”

The expert

Colin says: “The aim of this cowardly, anonymous attack was to silence me. No attempt was made to refute the arguments or evidence in the article.”

He goes on to explain: “My views differ from those of Australia's mainstream Tobacco Control groups. However, they are evidence-based and are in line with the positions of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the UK Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, the New Zealand Ministry of Health, Health Canada and many other leading, independent scientific organisations.”

Colin explains that this is by far from the first time he has been subjected to spurious and vexatious allegations: “Australian Tobacco Control players follow my activities very closely. There is a long record of vexatious complaints by several well-known vaping opponents to disrupt my publications and speaking engagements. The complainants rarely discuss the merits of the evidence presented. Their modus operandi is to throw mud to silence pro-vaping messages.”

In 2022 the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health retracted one of his articles following a similar complaint. It took an expensive legal threat to coerce the journal into reversing its idiotic position. The same year an event uninvited him to be a speaker – just like the time he had been invited to speak to doctors about vaping in 2020.

These cowardly attacks on my integrity only make me more determined. They indicate that you have lost the debate over evidence and can only resort to unethical, gutter tactics.

However, I will not be bullied or intimidated by lies and smears that are designed to silence me. Too much is at stake,” Dr Mendelsohn affirms.

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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