The Murder Game


There is a Premier League of teams in the Murder Game. In this top division we have, at the start of the season: Big Tobacco; Big Pharmaceutical; The World Health Organisation; Team FDA and The British Medical Association. There is one more team who look as if they might finish the season in the top tier, and this is Team Media. Below this group we have the smaller teams all jostling for a higher place. Amongst this group are: Cancer Research (Nicknamed, The Spongers); Team NICE; Team University; Team MHRA; Team ASH (Who sometimes seem to be relegation candidates) and Team Tobacco Control. The supporters of the teams in the Murder Game are known as ANTZ. (Anti Nicotine & Tobacco Nazis who are so blinded by their fanaticism, they fail to see how they are as much victims in the game as the cigarette smokers)


The object of the game is simple – To get as many people as possible to smoke cigarettes, in order to generate profit. There is however a subtle twist. Bonus points are awarded to those teams who succeed in giving the impression that they are against getting people to smoke cigarettes. Other points are awarded for the degree of excitement which they can create amongst the ANTZ.  The bonus points can then be converted into large cash pay-outs, to the teams, or to individuals within the team. The whole game is controlled by National Governments who charge a massive levy in order to secure the continuance of the game. Oh! There is one more team who have popped up, seemingly from nowhere, who are bumping along at the bottom of the division, and this is Team E Cigarette. They do not however play the game the way it should be played, seemingly having a different agenda which is alien to the rules. The National Governments are taking steps to exclude them from the Murder Game. In the meantime they must be tolerated.


A second twist is necessary for the success of the game. Bonus points (and the cash they generate) may only be awarded by teams Tobacco and Pharmaceutical.


There is one more oddity which needs explanation and that is in every individual match it is always Team Big Tobacco versus one of the others, whereas Team Big Pharmaceutical very rarely takes a direct part in the game, but, still remains one of the two main contestants.


Teams Big Tobacco & Big Pharmaceutical.



No analysis of either of these two teams is possible without looking at them together. They are, and always have been, the two top teams in the league. The National Governments who control the game and profit from it, have set the rules in such a way as no one can beat them. It is however in the game’s interest that continuous excitement is generated. In order to achieve this, the two teams have been made to appear to be ferocious competitors – diametrically opposed: Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole game is based on this deception.


The culture of cigarette smoking and the tobacco industry go back a great deal longer than the Murder Game itself. The Murder Game has its beginnings with the realisation of the harm smoking creates and the entry of the Pharmaceutical Industry into NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) products. But also keep in mind, as the game is explained, that the object of the game is profit by generating, hurting and killing as many smokers as possible. The longer and more lingering the death, the more profit is in it for both teams – and for the controlling body.


I am not sure if the game was created deliberately or if just evolved, however, the ‘modern’ game is such that, as mentioned, the two main players have set out to be seen as opposed to each other as possible. In actual fact they both simply play different sides of the whole game, and to each other’s mutual benefit. It works like this, Team Tobacco make a product that ‘hooks’ the smoker and Team Pharmaceutical makes products that are supposed to ‘unhook’ the smoker, but rarely do. The result is that Team Tobacco profit when they entice a new customer. The desire to quit is then encouraged by Team Pharmaceutical and the supporting minor teams. By producing an ineffective product, a fortune is spent in this attempt which is then aborted and the smoker is whisked back to cigarettes. But Team Pharmaceutical, again supported by nearly all of the other teams, is able to maintain pressure on the smoker to quit, so he tries again. All of this time, the ANTZ who fill the stadium roar their encouragement. But the poor smoker is doomed to fail and is pulled back into the habit where he stands, shame faced, accompanied, this time, by howls of derision from the ANTZ. But the pressure is still there and the crowd wait in anticipation for the smoker’s inevitable return. More often than not, even as the smoker’s resolve hardens, his physical condition deteriorates. He is dying and at this point team Pharmaceutical make a final massive profit for the medical treatment for the dying smoker. Team Tobacco, on the other hand, are not too worried about the loss of this individual as there seems to be a continuous supply. So, Team Big Tobacco produces the cigarettes which hurt and kill the smoker, Team Big Pharmaceutical produce the ‘cure’ which, of course, must not work.


The Rest of the Story (Sorry Michael)


The other teams all play a similar game. They work on the principle that if enough excitement can be generated through hatred of Team Big Tobacco, then Team Big Pharmaceutical will reward them handsomely. It is a difficult road to follow. If they make too good a job of it, then Team Big Tobacco will lose new smokers. The job is therefore to excite the crowd. To encourage the smokers to try NRT in a failed attempt to quit without discouraging the creation of new smokers. There is another sport which works in a similar fashion and that is World Wrestling. In this game the contestants pose and swagger, they grapple and throw each other around in a most violent fashion while the audience scream their approval or sit glued to the events taking place on the television screen. But these are all carefully rehearsed moves, designed to avoid the ‘contestants’ from being hurt. So how does this work with the Murder Games? How about I describe to you a few of the basic moves?

The most used move in the game is the ‘Terror Tornado.’ This move does not require any great skill to execute but the results can be dramatic. It is used by nearly all of the teams at regular intervals and is the staple manoeuvre in any match.  The ANTZ love this move and, when used, will rise in their seats, roaring their approval and yelling their encouragement at the poor smokers down in the arena. When properly executed, some of the smokers, in fear, will nearly always gravitate away from Team Big Tobacco. More often than not the smokers will reach out to the other team and accept the NRT being offered. The noise in the stadium reaches fever pitch at this point with the ANTZ, screaming and shouting; jumping up and down; setting off flares and waving their banners. They know what is coming!


At this point I should explain that down in the arena, the smokers are attached to Team Big Tobacco by large rubber bands – these have been fashioned out of tobacco leaf and a myriad of chemicals bonded by burning. They are so light the smoker is hardly aware of them but as he moves away from Team Big Tobacco they grow stronger and stronger. The other team offer NRT which they claim has the power to break this bond, and driven by fear the smokers, desperate to rid themselves of this fatal attachment, one by one, attempt to reach the other team and get their NRT – to gain their freedom.


Back to the game… the smoker has reached the other team. They give him his NRT. This counts as a win, and the other team, at this point, is given its reward. But the play is not finished


The ANTZ hush and a deathly silence settles down over the arena. Everyone waits! Silence! The smoker struggles against the pull of the band, waiting for the magical effect of the NRT to take place.

Everyone waits – silence. The smoker waits struggling against the pull of the band, growing weaker and weaker. The NRT still does not take effect. The smoker reaches out to the other team begging for help, pleading, demanding to know why the band is still pulling him – he does not want to die. The other team offer him advice and counselling and this has a temporary effect of strengthening his resolve, but still, he grows weaker – then, whoosh! He is pulled backwards, flying through the air straight into the Arms of Team Big Tobacco, who at this point, collect their reward, and the ANTZ groan and cry crocodile tears in the full knowledge that the act will soon be played out, and played out over and over again.


In an attempt to increase public participation and interest in the Murder Game, the Governing Body created a set of new rules. In actual fact these were instigated by the teams themselves. These new rules were the bans on smoking in public and enclosed spaces. The driving force behind the bans was a variation on the theme of the Terror Tornado. The effect of the ban was to increase awareness of the ‘dangers’ of passive smoking; to increase public participation in the Murder Game. Now everyone would be involved not just the teams, the smokers and the ANTZ – everyone, even children. It would serve to swell the number of ANTZ and the coffers of the Governing Body and the teams. Everyone, everyone loved the idea. Most of the smokers who had been so driven into feelings of guilt and shame, they felt it either wrong or futile to resist: And so the ban.


The net results of the imposition of these new rules were quite remarkable.


It justified the bullying of the ANTZ. They were doing ‘good.’ They were helping in the battle to roll back the scourge of the smoker. But instead of the air being blue with cigarette smoke, in reality, it became noxious, thick with the poisons of bitter indignation. Initially, there were outrageous claims of the number of lives the ban had saved. These have since died away as it became more and more obvious that something was wrong. But the most remarkable thing about the rule changes was the degree to which they worked. You see, they were not designed to save the lives of the poor passive smoker, the innocent children or the defenceless waiter in the foggy bar. They were never meant to be a health measure. These were the justifications not the reason.


The reason was to make money for Team Big Pharmaceutical. The reason was to promote the Murder Game and raise the stakes, taking the whole thing to a completely new level where even those ‘normal’ people outside the game would feel that they were stakeholders. And this is exactly what happened. Oh! A small detail. This was revenge.


Now keep in mind that the cardinal rule of the game is deception. We were told that this would not just save non-smokers from the effects of passive smoking but that it would save lives; that it would drive people away from smoking. But that would be counterproductive to the objectives of the game which requires a continuum of smokers. The reality was that the numbers of active smokers maintained much the same drift downwards as it had for a generation or two – nothing substantial, but against this, the numbers of smokers trying to quit showed a massive increase. There was a frenzy of anti-smoking activity and sales of NRT products literally hit the ceiling. Just before the ban, and at the same time as the publicity about the ban, sales for NRT shot up – but the number of active smokers simply continued in an insignificant, gentle decline, and in fact, recently, even this has ground to a halt.


Another remarkable outcome of the smoking ban, I think, was the discovery that it actually encouraged new, young smokers. It makes sense when you consider that one of the main reasons for young people taking up cigarette smoking is the ‘excitement’ factor: the mystery. This is, perhaps, the reason behind this manoeuvre being known as, ‘The Dummy & Swerve.’  


The secret of The Dummy & Swerve is the fact that it nearly always goes unnoticed – even ANTZ are unaware of when it is being practiced. The Dummy & Swerve is now incorporated into other moves. When completed, it remains unidentified. It is an important factor in the duplicitous nature of the Murder Game. So, with the smoking ban came the realisation that one thing could be made to look like its opposite.


The Dummy & Swerve is a large part of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) being ‘negotiated’ at the EU and is also identifiable in the deliberations of the FDA in the US. Team Big Pharmaceutical and the others have placed a complex series of conditions before the Governing Body. These are ostensibly to cripple Team Big Tobacco. Nothing could be further from the truth – it is the Dummy & Swerve. These teams already know that the measures will be ineffective, and so does team Big Tobacco. It is all Part of the Murder Game. Now, all team Big Tobacco has to do is wail and moan about the ‘hardships’ being place on it. The ANTZ cheer and shout, joyous at the thought of the misery team Big Tobacco is suffering. Team Big Pharmaceutical and the others parade their strategy as the final step to defeat team Big Tobacco. Team Big Tobacco waits until just the right moment before orchestrating, before crying out in a loud voice, “Do anything, please, but for God’s sake, do not throw me into the briar patch.” This, of course, is exactly what team Big Tobacco wants… but the real story now Dummies & Swerves away from the folk tale in that Brer Fox  is fully aware that Brer Rabbit will escape if he throws him into the briar patch, and Brer fox wants this just as much as Brer Rabbit.  


A New Player in the Game


Enter team Vape: Team Vape is made up of two types of player, E- Cigarette, and, Personal Vaporiser. It is important at this stage of the description to distinguish between the two. (If you are ANTZ, and by some remote chance you have read this far, you can skip the next part, because if you have not learned it by now, you never will.) The E-cigarette is a first generation vaporiser. They are commonly sold in supermarkets and are used by first time buyers. The Personal Vaporisers are second and third generation devices. They are more sophisticated and come in a wider variety of designs with third generation devices having the ability to allow the user to set the voltage and / or wattage of the device. Some will even measure resistance and may include a puff counter. There is really nothing complicated about them, particularly the e-cigarette which has two parts, the battery and the cartomiser. Just as an aside, Independent Television broadcast an appalling programme about e cigarettes. They set themselves up as judge and jury but could not even identify the two sections of the e cigarette correctly. This though typifies the general state of knowledge with regard to electronic vaporisers.


This new team has taken the game by storm.


They do not play to the rules, or rather, they do… well…. Yes? … No? I will try to explain.


The stated objective of the Murder Game is to prevent people from smoking cigarettes. The actual objective of the Murder Game is, in the case of the big two, to make profit, and in the case of the other teams, to profit and to maintain the status quo with regard to their material positions and with regard to their reputations and high standing in society.  Being upstanding, respectable and influential members of our society requires a great deal of skill in lying, cheating and backstabbing.


Team Vape is playing to achieve the stated objective.


The first round.


The ANTZ fill the arena. They are still. They are puzzled. There are three teams on the field. Team Big Tobacco look quizzically across to Team BMA who are their opponents for the day but only receive a shrug in response. The referee blows his whistle. The game is on.


Team BMA launch straight into an all-out attack using the Terror Tornado. Large screens facing the smokers are filled with horrible, flashing images of disease and death, of ill and dying smokers – grey and withered. The loudspeakers blast out the cries of fatherless children and the wailing of widows. Team BMA stand at the far end of the arena calling out above the noise, encouraging the smokers to try to come over and get their NRT. Some of the smokers set off, struggling against the pull of the bands connecting them to Team Big Tobacco. Team Big Tobacco stands, absolutely confident about the outcome of the game. Most of the smokers continue to struggle towards Team BMA, but one or two pause. Just to the side, Team Vape has moved much closer than Team BMA to the struggling would be quitters, and what is that they are holding out? The smokers reach Team Vape and accept their first electronic cigarette and puff. They smile. The band holding them to Team Tobacco dissolves in an instant and they are free. The other smokers who make it to Team BMA accept their NRT, struggle against the band holding them to Team Big Tobacco, weaken and are whisked upwards and backwards, back to where they started.


But this time there are no howls of derision, just a stunned silence from the ANTZ. They have been watching the efforts of team VAPE and understand the significance of what they have just witnessed. Slowly the silence becomes a murmur; the murmur swells and grows into an angry roaring of outrage and indignation. They have been cheated and already they can see that this means the end of the Murder Game.


Round Two


Team Big Tobacco have the entered the arena with their cohort of smokers. The team are jaunty and confident looking. At the other end, Team Big Pharmaceutical has decided to play personally. Not only that, every other team in the games is there: teams, CRUK, BMA, WHO, FDA, MHRA Team Media, Team NICE: All of them. Before them, stands a huge pile of NRT products – some of which have never been seen before.


Team Vape enter the arena, and, as before, stand closer to Team big Tobacco than the others.


The referee blows his whistle. Team Big Tobacco does not just stand motionless as they usually do. Instead, some of them whip off their strips and change into the same colours as Team Vape. They move over and mingle with Team Vape so it is difficult to see which team is which, and in their hands, they hold… electronic cigarettes.


The other teams, the ANTZ and even the Governing Body up in the Directors boxes stand and scream with rage. They call “foul.” It is too late, the game has started.


The game is still in progress, even as I write this and what the outcome will be, no one really knows. There are two possibilities. (1) The Governing Body will regulate all e cigarettes out of existence except the first generation devices being distributed by tobacco. Tobacco will eventually control the market. When they have achieved this, depending on the profitability of the e cigarette, they will continue to make them or, reduce their effectiveness and drive the e cigarette user back to tobacco cigarettes. In this instance the Murder Game is played out as before. No one loses except the smoker. (2)   E cigarettes will continue to thrive. Smoking will become a thing of the past and the Murder games will be over.

Haggis & the E Cigarette



I have just enjoyed Clapshot, an Orcadian dish, this time it was served with vegetarian Haggis. We Scots have known about vegetarian Haggis for many years, but the secret has been well kept, until now. I suppose it is inevitable. We cannot be sure, but we think the leak originated with the EU. Although it might have been the FDA, as American tourists were recently seen in an area where they might have identified Haggis morphing into their vegetable state.  It was claimed by Tobacco Control, who are ever watchful, that Haggis might be smoking (their word not mine) e cigarettes when no one is looking. There is no actual evidence for this, but Tobacco Control have reminded us that when you have the financial backing of the pharmaceutical industry, that does not matter. MEP’s have now added measures to the Tobacco Directives Protocol to have Haggis regulated. It is expected that the FDA will follow suite with similar measures in the US. The E U Commission has consulted widely amongst itself, and has agreed that regulation is necessary to stamp out this evil. Again the FDA is expected to follow suite.


What has not been publicised is that Haggis, after a lifetime of e cigarette smoking save and store the nicotine, then, in the vegetable state, also produce large quantities of different flavoured liquids, most, but not all of which, contain the nicotine. The extraction of this liquid is a very straightforward process. You simply place the Haggis in a liquidiser, add some propylene glycol and switch it on. Linda Mac McAvan expressed her horror at this process. The following was reported in last week’s Daily Mail, where she said, “This is disgusting. These poor little animals! What cruelty!” It was pointed out to her that, at the time, the Haggis were in their vegetable state, but she simply rebuffed this and told reporters not to split hairs. 


There are however real problems and this is the reason behind the efforts of the EU Commission to control, even exterminate this threat. They claim that e cigarette smoking Haggises are a bad example – just recently, two haggises (Or haggie), in Edinburgh Zoo, were seen smoking an e cigarette. This was, according to zoo officials, likely to cause disruption. “It is not in the public interest for Haggis to be seen to be doing this,” they said. “Just last week we had to send in zookeepers with electric prods and lollypops to break up mobs of rioting three and four year olds demanding to be given cigarettes just like the Haggises had. “The Haggises we have here are the only two in captivity and are celebrities, and should really know better” – One is expecting a baby soon. Which one is pregnant we do not know, but there again, that is the nature of the Haggis.


It is this nature which is causing such problems in the EU. You see, they do not know how to classify them. First, they tried to say they were nicotine containing plants which were being harvested and processed for their nicotine containing juices.  This was dismissed by the European Parliament who pointed out that Haggis only create these juices when they were in their animal state. Now, an attempt is being made to push through very similar legislation under the animal cruelty regulations.


The hunting and killing of Haggis is not cruel. It is well known, even in the US, that animal Haggis have the left legs longer than the right. They can often be spotted at dawn, grazing in the pastures below the mountains. (A group of Haggises are traditionally called ‘a parliament of haggises.) When disturbed, the parliament takes off at great speed running, clockwise, round and up the mountain. The different lengths of their legs give them a great advantage. They are almost impossible to catch once they are on the mountain side. However, the Scottish Haggis hunters, who have been commissioned to do this task, and unsurprisingly collectively known a Commission, are ‘canny’ individuals. Long before dawn they climb to the top of the mountain and wait. Meanwhile, just as the sun is rising, the wives at the bottom of the mountain, jump up, and orchestrated by the local minister, start banging saucepan lids, and playing the bagpipes, while rushing towards them. The Haggises, startled, take off for the mountain at incredible speed. Now, because they have no necks they cannot look backwards, and obviously, because the legs on one side are shorter than the other, they cannot turn around. It has been known for them to attempt this, but all that happens is that they lose balance and topple down the mountainside. But this is rare. Almost always, they run and keep on running. The Commission meanwhile makes its way down the mountain in an anti-clockwise direction. Now, you have maybe wondered why Scotsmen wear kilts and what on earth they wear underneath them – I really cannot tell you, although, if they could speak, I am sure the Haggises could. You see the Haggises running clockwise up the mountain meet the Commission running anti-clockwise down the mountain. The Commission is always above the Haggises, who are very small anyway. When they meet, the Haggises stop running and stare straight up this Commission of Haggis Hunter’s kilts. Why, I cannot say, but they stop dead in their tracks and swoon and collapse – they are out cold. It is said, with a beatific smile on their little faces, but this cannot be proven as the hunters cut off their heads before returning home. And so, is the killing of Haggis cruel? We do not know as yet. More research is needed, but the EU are clinging to their claim that it is cruel and if they say it is cruel, then it must be cruel – They have reached this decision after, once again, wide consultations with themselves. We should note at this point, the sheer irony of the similarity in the titles of the clans’ people and haggis hunting tradition, and the major bodies of the EU. This, of course is purely coincidental and, let’s face it, the haggis hunt bears no resemblance whatsoever to the functioning of European Government.

And so, confusion reigns. The EU and The FDA continue to regulate something before they have worked out what it actually is. Now there is a further complication – artificial haggis. I know it sounds ridiculous but it seems that fear of regulation has driven some into creating a mix of herbs and spices, onions and oatmeal, placing it in an edible membrane resembling the body shape of a haggis and selling it as such.

I just do not know – Where will it all end? Continue reading

Public Health Doctors and e-cigarettes – why this matters and what you can do

Save e-cigs


Guest post by Professor Gerry Stimson and Paddy Costal, Directors of Knowledge* Action* Change*

We struggle to understand why so many public health colleagues are anti-pathetic to electronic cigarettes.

The uptake of e-cigarettes has been a consumer-led public health revolution. At no cost to the NHS, and without government or public health support and promotion, thousands of people have found that e-cigarettes help them switch from smoking. Using e-cigarettes is a classic harm reduction approach – a safer product and delivery device for those who do not want to give up nicotine. It fits two public health principles – the first is to reduce harms to populations and the second is to engage and work with populations in their endeavour to lead healthier lives.

Many public health experts have in the past been strong supporters of harm reduction for illicit drugs. Indeed it was brave public health experts in…

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E-cigarettes & Danger from Tuberculosis.

After reading the following in The Cape Breton Post, I decided to write to the author of the article. The following is, first, the article, then my letter to him, and then the response.

Government must better regulate newfangled e-cigarettes
Jim Guy. Published on January 01, 2014

‘E-cigarettes may not be as helpful as their makers claim them to be’

‘Tis the season to quit cold turkey, as well as the season to quit cigarettes cold turkey.

For those committed to quitting cigarettes, there are many products out there to help them — such as the patch and nicotine gum — and lots of counselling and support options.

Some products are helpful and effective, but others need to be looked at more carefully as to what their real purpose is, how they are being marketed and what age groups they are targeting. One of the products that should concern us, as well as our governments, is electronic cigarettes, better known as e-cigarettes. They are currently flooding the markets here in North America and in Europe.

E-cigarettes look and feel like their nicotine counterparts. They are advertised as nicotine-free or containing nicotine in amounts deemed non-addictive.

The growing presence of e-cigarettes in the marketplace may require more government regulation, knowing what we know about the consequences of addiction, both to tobacco and to the behaviours associated with smoking. Governments place no warnings on e-cigarette packages and very little is regulated with respect to advertising the product.

While they are advertised as aids to help people quit smoking, e-cigarettes may in fact be a gateway risk to tobacco. They provide a positive social experience for mimicking the act of smoking.

Holding an e-cigarette, “vaping” it (inhaling its vapours) and being seen with it by friends is portrayed as a cool alternative to smoking — especially attractive to teenagers and young adults. But e-cigarettes can introduce young people to smoking and keep smokers close to their habit.

They have appealing brand names: Blu, NJOY, eRoll and Dune, Vapor Couture and Vapor Vamps.

Elegant pink and purple packaging with curlicue fonts appeal to young women. Some provide the taste of candy or fruit, which can also target teenagers. Young smokers exposed to nicotine in e-cigarettes can develop an addiction that could entice them to take up conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes that are nicotine-free are sold over the counter and in Canada are exempt from age restrictions.

They are also promoted by celebs who act as spokespeople for these products. Jenny McCarthy, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Leonardo DiCaprio are seen holding e-cigarettes.

It is noteworthy that more and more tobacco companies are getting into the e-cigarette market. They certainly don’t seem offended by the idea that e-cigarettes are supposedly a tool to help people quit.

E-cigarettes are also a vehicle to enable smokers to continue smoking in places where cigarettes are banned.

Almost all print advertising of tobacco products is banned in Canada, except in publications that target an adult readership of more than 85 per cent.

Now most of the e-cigarettes sold here are made in China, where there is very weak government regulation with respect to how they are made. The Canadian government does not know if Chinese workers making cigarettes wear masks. If they aren’t wearing masks, there are increased risks associated with tuberculosis.

Some brands imported here contain small amounts of nicotine, even though they are portrayed as nicotine-free. It is illegal to buy e-cigarettes containing nicotine, but even minors can buy them online without proof of age.

Canadians have been quite successful in quitting cigarettes since the 1960s, when governments began to alert smokers to the related health hazards.

Now, only about 17 per cent of Canadians smoke, with most smokers having quit without the use of e-cigarettes. These products have not contributed to the large numbers of people who have already successfully quit.

And there is convincing evidence that e-cigarettes may not be as helpful as their makers claim them to be. Governments need to be more regulative on these imitation products. What the public does not need is an entertaining substitute for tobacco that may actually encourage people to take up or continue smoking.

Jim Guy, PhD, is professor emeritus of political science and international law at Cape Breton University.

My response and following correspondence.

Jim Guy

I read with interest your article; ‘Government must better regulate new-fangled e cigarettes,’ in The Cape Breton Post. I am sure you will agree that a product which has the potential to save millions of lives worldwide requires close attention and that any comments made regarding this product should be as accurate as possible. For this purpose, I wish to consider a number of issues that you raise through your writing.

You say; “For those committed to quitting cigarettes, there are many products out there to help them — such as the patch and nicotine gum — and lots of counselling and support options.” On the face of it, this appears to be entirely reasonable. However it contains a connotation that quitting smoking, although not easy, can be achieved and assisted through help which is readily available. There is nothing untruthful in what you say – in fact, it is what you did NOT say that I find a matter for concern. What you expressly failed to point out was the ineffectiveness of the above mentioned products. Yes, there are certainly a great many of them, and they are easy to obtain, and yes, counselling and support can be given, lots of it – and lots of it is needed. You see, you did not point out the failure rate of these products. There are a number of estimates given by different researchers and these vary widely. A great deal of the research has been funded by the pharmaceutical industry[i] and, no surprise; the figures tend to be rather inflated. In those instances, exaggerated claims of 10% / 12% (after 12 months abstinence) success are presented. This, you must agree, is a pathetic figure, but I am afraid the true number is much worse than simply pathetic. For goodness sake! 25% would still be awful. Would you go out and purchase anything which promised, let us invert the figure, a 75% chance of not working? You would have to be nuts! NRT increases the chance of success in smoking cessation by approximately 7%, and this is in people who want to quit.[ii] As for e cigarettes, these are used by people who wish to stop smoking AND by many others who wish to continue the habit, but without the dangers inherent with cigarettes. There are statistics available which demonstrate their effectiveness. Here we are not talking about a miserable 7% success rate. Here we are looking at 38% of those who wished to stop and a remarkable 29% of those who did NOT wish to stop.[iii]

However, for yourself, for any audience, the presentation of these figures is not necessary – You see, your article is far better testimony to the effectiveness of the e cigarette. Why would you, and so many others, repeat over and over again, that e cigarettes are this, are that, are the other? Why is so much effort being spent denigrating the e cigarette? The answer is a simple one, they work. And, as further proof, e cigarettes are overtaking the sale of NRT products; in fact in many places they have already done so. Never mind NRT, e cigarette sales are predicted to overtake tobacco cigarette sales very soon. So much for your comment where you say,“…and there is convincing evidence that e-cigarettes may not be as helpful as their makers claim them to be.” One question here, if the evidence is so convincing, why did you not present it? There is no evidence to that effect, and you know it!

You say: “Now, only about 17 per cent of Canadians smoke, with most smokers having quit without the use of e-cigarettes. These products have not contributed to the large numbers of people who have already successfully quit…….. The growing presence of e-cigarettes in the marketplace may require more government regulation, knowing what we know about the consequences of addiction, both to tobacco and to the behaviors associated with smoking.” Aspects of these two comments appear to cancel each other out. You state that the number of smokers in Canada is 17%. Fine!  You say that e cigarettes had little part to play in achieving this success. THEN, you argue that e cigarettes are a ‘growing presence.’ So, who is actually using this ‘growing’ number of e cigarettes? According to you, it is not those who have quit. Non-smokers do not use e cigarettes, and smokers (obviously) do not use e cigarettes, so tell me exactly, who does?

You say, “Governments place no warnings on e-cigarette packages.” I would be interested to know exactly what this warning would be. Considering that e cigarettes are more than 99% safer than tobacco cigarettes. Ah! I know! How about: “WARNING! The daily intake of nitrosamines by using an e-cigarette is 76 to 142-fold lower compared to one tobacco cigarette”[iv] I am afraid the danger in e cigarette use is negligible – you are in as much danger as you would be if……. HOLD IT…HOLD IT… STOP THE BUS… I KNOW! “WARNING! You may get TUBERCULOSIS from this product.”

Oh dear! Your comment, “Now most of the e-cigarettes sold here are made in China, where there is very weak government regulation with respect to how they are made. The Canadian government does not know if Chinese workers making cigarettes wear masks. If they aren’t wearing masks, there are increased risks associated with tuberculosis.” Is just about one of the most ridiculous I have ever come across. Pure, unsubstantiated scaremongering and an indication of the lack of care you have taken with your research.

There is a beautiful irony here. Some ‘idiot’ has reasoned that if there is tuberculosis in China, there must be a risk involved. You have decided to parrot this. And here is the irony! You see, the main ingredient in e juice is propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a disinfectant. And, do you know what? It is used extensively in the war against… yes… come on now… Think! That’s it… Tuberculosis! And, if you do not believe me, go to the links provided in the footnotes[v]. And there is a double irony here, and I have only just come across it. (Thanks to you.) It is, “The engineering challenge associated with creating a sufficient concentration of the glycol vapours in the air have not to date been sufficiently addressed.[vi]” Maybe not, but perhaps this problem is not as problematic as it once was. I say this tongue in cheek.

How could anyone, even a professor emeritus of political science and international law, get it so very badly wrong?

You spend a great deal of time in your article arguing that e cigarettes are a ‘gateway’ to cigarette smoking. This, at least, sounds reasonable, but, it neither passes the common sense test, nor is it supported by any evidence anywhere. First of all, may I point you in the direction of ASHUK who have long argued that e cigarettes need regulating? According to ASH e cigarettes are NOT acting to encourage either young people (who do not smoke) or adults, (who do not smoke). “Among children regular use of e-cigarettes is extremely rare. Children who had heard of e-cigarettes were asked about their use and knowledge of them. What little use that is reported is confined almost entirely to children who currently smoke or used to smoke … Among adults electronic cigarette current use … remains at 0% among those who have never smoked. [vii]“ And there is more, much, much more. The ASH findings are not the only ones. One of the most widely quoted (and misrepresented) studies on the subject is the CDC study. That it is misrepresented can be seen where the CDC director announced on state-wide US television that, (Taken from a transcript) “…if you start with e-cigarettes, there’s a real likelihood that you’ll become nicotine addicted, we found in CDC studies that 20 percent of middle school kids who used some — who used e-cigarettes only used e-cigarettes, what that suggests to me, it’s not proof, but what it suggests to me is that some kids are starting with e-cigarettes, getting hooked on nicotine and going on regular cigarettes and that’s a real problem because those kids may well be getting condemned to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.[viii]” This statement was questioned by Michael Siegel[ix] and he elicited a response from the CDC which indicated that this was of no import, but that is the whole point. It is of vital importance. The CDC is putting out disinformation in much the same way as you have: Bald statements that e cigarettes are a gateway to smoking then failing to provide any evidence whatsoever. To add to the ASH survey, read, “First Study to Examine E-Cigarette Gateway Hypothesis Can Find Only One Non-smoker Who Initiated with E-Cigs and Went on to Smoke.[x]”

I mentioned earlier that the gateway effect does not pass the common sense test. If people, young or old, see others using an e cigarette, and they know what an e cigarette is, the very first thing to cross anyone’s mind is, ‘that is an e cigarette: Why not a real one?’ And, if they are normal, they answer the question for themselves. ‘It is because they do not want to smoke ‘real’ cigarettes. They are ‘hooked’ and wish to avoid the dangers of smoking.’ So much for the gateway effect!

Finally, I wish to address, “It is noteworthy that more and more tobacco companies are getting into the e-cigarette market. They certainly don’t seem offended by the idea that e-cigarettes are supposedly a tool to help people quit.” This, to me, is the most important aspect of the debate. “They do not seem offended…” You bet your bottom dollar they are not offended. The tobacco companies are in a no lose situation here. The worst case scenario for the tobacco companies is that there is no regulation. In this instance they will enter (have already done so) the e cigarette market and cut their losses by selling e cigarettes. Ultimately they will gain a significant proportion of the market, but not the largest share – this will be retained by the makers of 2nd and 3rd generation personal vaporisers. However Governments will lose out on revenues and the pharmaceutical industry will be hit for six…. So that will not do. The second option is heavy regulation, perhaps the kind envisaged by the European Union. This will see the small e cigarette producers go out of business. All 2nd and 3rd generation vaporisers will be banned with only the ‘cigalike’ type of e cigarette being produced. It is the cigalike that the tobacco manufacturers are concentrating on and if regulations demand, it is only the tobacco companies who will be able to meet the costs of regulation…. What happens next?

The first case would be that e cigarettes continue to be used. This would not suit the pharmaceutical industry in the slightest. Now pharma are big players as well as tobacco. They are and will continue to press for regulations which diminish the effectiveness of the e cigarette to the same miserable levels as present NRT products. Having succeeded there, the future is fine. People will continue to start smoking. (Despite your earlier claims, smoking cessation rates have tailed off in recent years, in Canada and elsewhere. This is particularly true if you take e cigarettes out of the equation.) With a resumption of old habits and no effective e cigarette, people will smoke, use NRT / ineffective e cigarette, go back to smoking, try to quit again using NRT / ineffective e cigarette, go back to smoking, on and on and on, until they fall ill from smoking, in which instance the pharmaceutical industry make a last ‘killing’ with drugs designed to relieve the patient in his final days.

Added to this: the Governments collect their revenues; the charities continue to pay themselves quite well, and ‘do good;’ researchers research; analysts analyse; doctors doctor, and universities, not yours I hope, God forbid, will receive huge grants to look into the problem and pay people to write silly, misleading articles in magazines and newspapers.

So yes! Advocate stringent restrictions. Demonise the e cigarette, but for goodness sake do not say it is for the good of my health.

[i]        No Tobacco Day/CD000146.pdf Page 159. [ii] [iii] [iv] [v] [vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] Dr. Siegel is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health. He has 25 years of experience in the field of tobacco control. He previously spent two years working at the Office on Smoking and Health at CDC, where he conducted research on secondhand smoke and cigarette advertising. He has published nearly 70 papers related to tobacco. He testified in the landmark Engle lawsuit against the tobacco companies, which resulted in an unprecedented $145 billion verdict against the industry. He teaches social and behavioral sciences, mass communication and public health, and public health advocacy in the Masters of Public Health program. [x]

The Reply

He replied…… Robert. I want to thank you sincerely for this well thought-out response. It deserves my attention as soon as possible. Hopefully later today I can spend some time replying to you. Thank you.Jim And later……..


Robert.. I very much appreciate the time you took to challenge some of the statements and premises in my recent column. I came to the topic quite biased, (A good reason is given but I have deleted it because it is of a private nature.). So I am personally and ideologically opposed to any untested product that portrays itself as a solution to smoking by mimicking both the physical and psychological addictions to tobacco. But also doing it to vulnerable populations.The topic is complex and challenges any opinion that must be presented in 650 words. Our columns must be written within that space limitation. The points you make are persuasive and worth every consideration by me as contrary opinion. The position I take is that we need to look closer at any new solutions that may be colonized by the tobacco industry. As a political scientist I have learned to respect the very controversial nature of journalism and personal opinion. Thanks,Jim