Sacrificial Lambs

I have been an e cigarette user – a vaper – for over three years. I was totally flabbergasted at the ease at which I stopped smoking. So much so, I was horrified when I discovered that so many advocates against smoking were rejecting e-cigarettes and the concept of harm reduction out of hand. The shock was soon replaced by anger, and that was the start of my efforts to get the message out that there was an escape from the deadly trap of cigarette smoking. And now, after three years, that horror, that anger has been complemented by sadness –  I am still horrified, still angry, and also feel so very, very sad.

It is simply a fact of life that some people are prepared to sacrifice others to advance their careers, or add to the power they already wield: There are some who see themselves and the ideals they hold as being so very correct, that anything which does not fit into this view of how the world should be is deemed wholly unacceptable. And, there are cases where some or all of the above holds true to some degree or other. But there is a ‘side’ which is, the case of e – cigarettes (hereafter referred to as vaporizers & vaping),  governed by truth, honesty and scientific fact, and a desire for that truth to be known for the sake of the wellbeing of other people. This is very, very different to the zealotry displayed by opponents of vaping.

Yes, very different: The difference can be demonstrated thus…

A definition given for, ‘zealot,’ is sometimes,” a ​person who has very ​strong opinions about something, and ​tries to make other ​people have them too.” You might argue here, on the basis of this definition, that there is no difference between advocacy for vaping and that advocacy against, but there is more to the meaning of the word. A word may carry more than one type of meaning: It will have its denotation; its dictionary definition and that is as far as many understand, at least at a conscious level, when they use or encounter a word. However, many words carry more than just their definitive meanings; their connotations, and the connotations of a word can actually be more important than its denotation. The connotations of a word can convey powerful emotive elements, and, ‘zealot,’ is one word which falls heavily into this category. The word itself comes from, ‘zeal,’ which is a fairly positive term, however, from about the 1630’s onward, the connotations shifted to that of, ‘a fanatical enthusiast.’ and the negativity of the word has progressed from that point. But again, this takes us no further forward in establishing that the vaping fraternity is any different to their opposite numbers. However, now, there is a new element to be considered – ‘fanatical.’

Once again there is more than one definition. You have, ‘fan’ or ‘enthusiast,’ but we also find another very different meaning; ” ​…holding ​extreme beliefs that may ​lead to ​unreasonable or violent behaviour,” and it is this second definition that I wish to examine with regard to the vaping conflict.

I believe that the behaviour of many of the opponents of vaping is totally unreasonable, and that also, by virtue of the consequences of this zealotry, violent. If one can establish this, then one can also establish that a large proportion of the opponents of the use of vaporizers are truly ‘zealots’ in the modern sense carrying the full load of its awful connotations:  That they are truly followers of an extreme dogma which is totally unreasonable and one which leads to real harm.

So what is this dogma to which the zealot adheres? I would describe it as a programme designed to demonise and criminalise the act of smoking; a programme which is so extreme that it has taken on a moral dimension which, through both truth and lies, manipulates its adherents to see the act of smoking as: not just disgusting; not just harmful; not just unnatural, but, in some ways, as an act of evil. … but vaping is not smoking. Vaping is an activity which replaces smoking… Sorry… to the zealot, vaping looks like smoking, and therefore, it is smoking…

The anti-smoking zealot belongs to, or accepts the teachings, albeit blindly, of a church whose dogma is based on an initial truth, which, as time passed, was corrupted. It was not enough when after the discovery that people were falling ill and dying prematurely as a result of cigarette smoking, to simply educate the public as to this danger. This body adopted strategies straight out of the ‘war manual’ of the very people they had set out to defeat, the tobacco companies. (Or did they copy? Was it actually the other way round? Was the Tobacco Control Dirty Tricks Brigade at it even before the Tobacco Papers revelation?) I ask this because of what I read into a document containing the oft quoted statement by tobacco company officials…

Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.

This has been presented as evidence of the base dishonesty of the, ‘wicked, lying’ tobacco companies – but hang on a minute! “…Body of Fact,” is in inverted commas, so, to ‘cast doubt’ on something you perceive to be less than factual is wrong?  The little snippets one encounters on these few pages tend to further, at least as far as I am concerned, a growing suspicion that the tobacco companies might not be as black as they were being painted, in that they were no different to any other industry where profit for the shareholder was the aim, and the only aim, and this was being done through normal industry process: Consider the ethics of the food industry; pharmaceuticals; petro-chemical industry; Scientific Research; Get the idea?  And Tobacco Control were not exactly being knights in shining armour either.

So who were ‘the congregations’ listening to? What was being issued from the pulpits of Tobacco Control?  What was this, “body of fact?”  We begin to get an insight if we look at some of the comments which have been made by leading tobacco controllers.

What about the role of science?  simon chapman

. Well, according to Simon Chapman, well known Tobacco Control person, “a solid evidence base is only one element of effective advocacy.” He would appear to think that evidence, scientific and otherwise, is subservient to economic, ideological and anecdotal arguments. Added to this, it is his opinion, that politicians are more interested in anecdote and ‘folklore.’   Oh dear! I have just copied the above – let me see – Ah! To create the zealot, nurture him, feed him a regular diet of subjective, emotive gobbledegook. But, it should have a scientific base – and if one does not exist, invent it.
Dileep Bal

Invent it?

That is correct. Dileep Bal was one of the key tobacco operatives within the California Department of Health: He was, in my words, paymaster. Bal scoffed at the idea that one should wait for ‘science’ to establish something. No, he advocated that Public Health go on a rampage, making pronouncements about, in this case, second hand smoke, and if ‘science’ could back it up, fine, if not, so what. He says, “Public policy must be propped up by science but must not be a handmaiden of the science, …Most scientists will say you need a randomized controlled trial level of proof to do a community intervention. That’s horse feathers. We tried twenty-five things—twelve worked and we renewed those. Empirical trial and error is the oldest scientific device and we used it to distinction.” Add to this his boast, “. We created the science, we did the interventions and then all the scientists came in behind us and analyzed what we did.”

And of course with the billions of dollars behind Public Health finding the right scientists and research organizations to create the facts to back up the interventions was not any problem in the slightest.

Does it not all sound so very, very familiar?

baptist

Zealots worldwide lapped up a story from the ‘prophet,’ Dr Chung Shan-shan, assistant professor of biology at the Baptist University in Hong Kong. There was no study presented before the headline, A Million Times More Harmful than Outdoor Air: Hong Kong Study Raises E – Cigarette Cancer Alarm.   

Needless to say, the study… sorry, at the time of writing there was no study… the press report was absolute garbage: Zealot fodder. Despite being totally rubbished by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, the headline and story had done what was intended and vaping was further devalued in the public (and political) eye. Dr Farsalinos ends his comment saying,

There are only two possibilities: either the scientists have no idea about what they are talking about, or they are deliberately misinforming the public and the regulators. Even worse, they are creating panic to vapers (the vast majority of whom are former smokers), with the risk of making them relapse to smoking. This is a typical case of gross misinformation and extremely poor science. Literally, a public health disgrace… The reporters of this “study” (not authors, because there is no published study) need to immediately apologize to the public for creating this story out of nothing.

Tobacco Control are continuing to use the same, dishonest, warped strategies which they developed in their war against smoking and smokers, and, what is increasingly appearing, at least to me, to be a fairy tale threat of danger from second hand smoke.

I now refer back to an earlier comment. I stated that the zealot adhered to extreme beliefs, that they are unreasonable. I think that anyone who follows people like: Chapman and Bal, Glantz, McKee, Silly Sally Davies, and who believe the content of their sermons is unreasoning; anyone who believes that vapour is more poisonous than outdoor air and repeats this nonsense and ridicules and attempts to side-line any who do not go along with this dogma  is being unthinking – but the definition requires another ingredient: violence.

Smoking does make people ill – whether it causes cancer or not, I do not know. I cannot tell because of the mess of lies and the deceit, the selfish motivations of those who promote this idea – that they are base liars is not in question.

It is mooted that a billion people will suffer and die prematurely as a result of cigarette smoking. I am sure that this is a gross exaggeration, but some will and if even one person dies from the habit and that person has had the choice or / and the ability to move away from the habit, then violence has been done to that individual by those who took that choice away – the Tobacco Controllers and the zealots who they created.

These people have to be fought and the battle will not be won until those disparate forces: the smokers and organisations who support smokers; the vapers and those organisations who support vapers; non-smoking individuals who can see through the haze; Public Health Officials who wish to distance themselves from the extreme elements of Tobacco Control – the battle will not be won until those disparate forces find  and hold common ground, and take the fight to those who oppose choice, and  do so with honesty and integrity, but in such a way that their  message is not just ‘dull science,’ but that is hard hitting and attractive and newsworthy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All is Water

So, fine, e cigarette vapour is not water – and it is not vapour either, it is an aerosol (or so I have been led to believe). But, getting straight to the point, Thales of Miletus would have had a great deal to say on the issue of vaping – but he’s dead now.

‘All is water: all is air; all is fire,’ the early philosophers tried the lot. They were the first scientists and they applied logic based on what they had observed and on what they ‘knew.’ And do you know something, although they were wrong, they were not really that far off the mark. There are basic elements from which everything is made. Pretty smart stuff considering…

And so science (and philosophy began) actually, that was not the beginning, but let’s not split hairs – scientists and philosophers never do that. Let us face it, when dealing with fact and logic, how would that be possible? Just one question, should science be in brackets and not philosophy? Ah! Forget it, which would be splitting hairs – No! Let us not forget it – Is there a difference between science and philosophy? Answer for yourself, and if you think that it is not important, ok, forget it!

There would be no problem in making a definition between science and philosophy if it were not for us. You know, our need for recognition, for power, and that has got in the way of science and philosophy somewhat: human nature; greed.

And so we enter the debate about e cigarettes…

Now, you are sitting in front of a device which has access to the internet. So, use the brain that God (perhaps) gave you – perhaps God, perhaps brain, and use the infernal device to work out what is true and what is not, and keep in mind that your collective opinion may mean the saving of millions from unnecessary suffering and premature death.

And THAT is a fairly comprehensive summing up of the philosophy and scientific debate on e cigarettes.

All is water: all is air; all is fire – and do you think that was backward?

Fire in the Madhouse

Fire in the Madhouse

Existentialists challenge you to buck conventional wisdom – I am not sure about, ‘conventional,’ but Tobacco Control certainly bucks wisdom. However, there is an area of existentialism which asserts that one is anything that an individual thinks she/he is. I think that this is the principle that this collection of organisations are following. Take for example…

Nicotine is deadly and very, very bad, unless, it is, ‘my’ nicotine.

Up until very recently, nicotine was thought to be highly addictive, a dangerous poison, and some (still) argue that it is carcinogenic: This, I suppose, is understandable given its close association and cofuscation with tobacco smoking, but, for the most part, it is accepted that nicotine does not cause cancer, is not so highly addictive as once thought, and, as far as the levels contained in e cigarette liquids are concerned, is  no more toxic than dishwashing liquid (and that is only the higher concentrations).  There are studies which do indicate a theoretical connection between nicotine and cancer, but they are far from conclusive.  For those of you who wish to read more about nicotine, smoking and harm click here.

Moving back a couple of years: when e cigarettes started to become popular; when the pharmaceutical giants began to feel threatened; when governments realised the impact these infernal newcomers would have on their revenues, the Tobacco Control machine ground into action. Using the funding from Pharma and governments and using their bought politicians – and bought / deceived doctors and scientists, the nicotine scare was promoted.  (For an indication of the power and influence of the pharmaceutical industry within the UK Government see, here,)  (For a general outline of the pharmaceutical industry and its methods and influence, see here. [My own blog I am afraid])  Add to this Tobacco Control links to the media and nicotine was further demonised.  For example, “Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes,” was the headline in the New York Times of March 23, 2014.  The paper intimates that e cigarette liquid spilt onto the skin was life-threatening.  Typical of the scare stories and dramatic headlines was, “A New Warning about E-Cigarettes and Heart Attack Risk.”   This headline was generated after Chi-Ming Hai of Brown University unveiled his findings at the American Society for Cell Biology’s annual meeting in New Orleans (2013) after publication in the journal, Vascular Pharmacology.  Headlines from single studies appear to be replicated on a huge scale, from serious medical publications all the way down the line to the tabloids. The aforementioned study generated, “ It’s Not The Smoke, It’s The Nicotine: E-Cigarettes May Damage Arteries.”  And moving into 2014, still the story persists with the headline, “E-Cigarettes: Tobacco-Free, But Your Heart May Still Be at Risk: Electronic devices still carry the dangers of nicotine.” The same study was being presented as evidence:  The repetition of headlines all over the world was not slowed by the counter arguments of some of the world’s leading experts on the topic – was not slowed by the irrefutable evidence provided over many years of snus use in Sweden, but I am afraid that the facts do not seem to matter when weighed against the power of the media and the ability of industrial giants to fund both the ‘research’ and then the subsequent, massive media campaigns. Carl V Phillips sums things up very succinctly, here.

 

But the debate over the issue of potential risk by nicotine is secondary: the objective here is to demonstrate the hypocrisy ingrained in the pharmaceutical industries’ campaign against e cigarettes, via, of course, Tobacco Control.

Who or what is Tobacco Control?

Following on from the work of Richard Doll who publicised the causal link between smoking and lung cancer in 1952, there were moves to curtail smoking but this was not wholly satisfactory.  This was followed by the creation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control or FCTC for short. This is a treaty where nations have signed up to follow certain protocols. For an overview, click here. The FCTC control and encourage most of the myriad of research, educational, publicity, medical and governmental activities to do with the ‘intended demise’ of tobacco products. This, in short, means that any organisation whose stated aims are ‘seeing an end to the use of tobacco products,’ particularly if they are influenced and / or funded by government, or, are influenced and/ or are funded by organisations who are influenced and / or funded by government.  Complicated, is it not? But it means that just about any organisation that stands in opposition to tobacco use is part of Tobacco Control. But where does this leave the pharmaceutical industry? Never forget the pharmaceutical Industry: never leave them out of the equation.

National governments provide funding, but there is a great deal more… in fact, so complex it cannot be addressed by me effectively, however, if you wish to examine the money trail, click here. Enough said that the pharmaceutical industry pumps billions upon billions into Tobacco Control. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Tobacco Control groups ARE the pharmaceutical companies: Well, maybe not, but pharma certainly appears to be the puppet master. But here is the odd one – the tobacco companies also support Tobacco Control. Here.  And, back to the pharmaceutical industry, they support cigarette smoking – that’s right…. Pfizer had the following to say about its relationship with Heartland, “Our company and its stakeholders derive significant benefits from our involvement with these organizations, which help advance our business objectives related to healthcare policy.”  You can read about heartland’s stance on smoking here. It is a right old mess, but I will leave you to work out for yourself why pharmaceutical companies support both anti-smoking and pro-smoking organisations.  Now back to nicotine.

The American cancer Society had this to say about nicotine in e cigarettes, “We do know that electronic cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine, and nicotine is addictive. This strongly suggests that e-cigarette use will lead to dependence, unless the user weans him or herself from them. Fair enough comment, I suppose, if, nicotine is ‘highly addictive.’ But look at what the same article goes on to say, “There are proven methods available to help people quit, including pure forms of inhalable nicotine as well as nasal sprays, gums, and patches.”  So, it would seem that e cigarette nicotine is addictive, BUT NRT nicotine is not. Warning! The article also contains the usual rubbish, i.e. Anti-freeze found in e cigarette:  It quotes the CDC study on youth usage – That is the one where the headline was a huge increase of young people using e cigarettes but forgot to mention a huge corresponding decrease in cigarette smoking. Well, they did mention it – a year after the headlines. Similarly we read about youth e cig usage in 2014, here. The CDC press release can be found, here.  I have added this to demonstrate how unreliable much of the criticisms about e cigarettes are.  The same applies to warnings about nicotine’s effect on the lungs and the heart. How is it possible for warnings to be issued about nicotine in e cigarettes on one hand, and claims of safety on the other when applied to their own products?  According to the opponents of e cigarettes – sorry – the pharmaceutical industry via the opponents of e cigarettes, nicotine is very, very bad, unless it is their nicotine.

Propylene glycol is harmful and very, very bad, unless it is, ‘my’ propylene glycol

This substance is used in many products and is generally considered to be safe. However regular inhalation via e cigarettes is a new phenomenon and opponents of e cigarettes, Tobacco control – sorry – the pharmaceutical industry via Tobacco Control have made it sound absolutely terrifying.  Right from the beginning the organisations and groups under the Tobacco Control umbrella have screamed (and yes, ‘screamed,’ is the operative term) that e cigarette liquid contains anti-freeze. Here they are talking about propylene glycol.  On the 22nd July, 2009 the FDA issued a warning that e cigarettes contained antifreeze. From that point, to this day, approximately six years later, the story persists. This is despite the truth of the matter having been revealed.  

One of the most outrageous examples of the demonization of propylene glycol was when Chest Journal, the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, published a report entitled, “An Unexpected Consequence of Electronic Cigarette Use.”  Here, e cigarette use was blamed for causing lipoid pneumonia. This was totally rubbished as was a second similar report from Spain.

Now, I am not a scientist or doctor, in fact I have only a modest education, yet, if you look closely at the Chest report you will see that the doctors make the ‘schoolboy’ error of thinking glycerol is a lipid (and I would not have known that) but, they fail to find the real cause of the illness.  Now (again) I think I can – I am not saying this because I wish to boast, though I am feeling rather smug. I am using it to point out that the doctors did not just make one glaring mistake, they made two. I am using it to demonstrate how prejudice can blind, even an expert mind, where something can be so very obvious, but is missed.  The Chest article states, right at the beginning….

the patient

Any scientists and doctors reading this will see in an instant the potential cause for the woman’s condition – I had to work my way through them.  I wish they had put, ‘albuterol metered dose inhaler,’ at the beginning of the list. Here, on investigation I came across one of the ingredients… oleic acid… a lipid.  So how did these doctors make a silly mistake in classifying glycerol as a lipid and on top of that, fail to see the real cause (if it was such)?

It happened because they were so blinded by their prejudice they failed to see what even a rank novice, worse, someone with no scientific training whatsoever could see. The article ends with the comment that the woman’s condition cleared after withdrawal from e cigarettes, but, would her inhaler not have been withdrawn as well?  It appears to me that the woman’s recovery was down more to good luck than anything else.

Nonetheless, the story hit the headlines

It would therefore seem that medically approved devices with propylene glycol can result in lipoid pneumonia but they are ok,however, e cigarettes which contain propylene glycol are not… unless… they are medically approved e cigarettes or similar. For example, the new Voke produced by a tobacco company and making its way, so far with success, through the MHRA maze of regulation, and, the existing NRT spray.

Using devices where one looks like smoking is setting a bad example and very, very bad unless it is, ‘my’ device one is using.

I am tempted just to write, ‘ha-ha, ha-ha, ha…,’ here but I will go one better.  It would appear that Tobacco Control, sorry, the pharmaceutical industry through Tobacco Control, have not got the intuition / common sense of primary school children. A recent, albeit, small study was conducted in New Zealand where young children were asked what they thought when they were shown e cigarettes being used. At first they confused the devices with smoking, but many did note differences such as the fact that they were not being lit up before use and that they were being placed in the users pockets in between puffs. The net result of the study was that when the youngsters understood what the devices were and why they were being used, they thought that e cigarettes were a good thing: “they should normalise quitting behaviour.”

I have mentioned the Voke which is soon to be presented as a medical device and, in all honesty it cannot be mistaken for a tobacco cigarette. This is the Voke

Voke2 As you can see, it is nothing like a real cigarette.Here, on the other hand, is an e cigarette of the kind the regulators and Tobacco Control, sorry, the pharmaceutical industry through Tobacco Control, will see an end to. You will note the similarities of the device and a tobacco cigarette.

Mod

Looks like smoking” – are they nuts?

 

 

 

Toasters are very, very bad and must be banned unless the toast is produced without first heating the bread.

One of the main selling points of the Voke is that it operates without heating. In the advertising blurb this is emphasised. It is no coincidence that some (very bad) studies and articles have been appearing lately arguing that formaldehyde and metals have been found in e cigarette vapour.

A report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine claiming that, at high temperatures, more formaldehyde was produced by e cigarettes that from conventional tobacco cigarettes. And, once again the media latched on and the news was spread around the globe.  There were, however, a number of weaknesses and these were highlighted by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos. Here.  Without going into the detail (the link is there for you) no one in their right mind would use an e cigarette at the temperatures suggested in the original study.

 Toast

This is the equivalent of what the researchers produced and vapers would no more use e cigarettes at the temperatures needed to produce the toxins discovered any more than you would eat burnt bread like this. But the results of studies like this, and I include inaccurate conclusions and fear inducing tabloid style headlines as, ‘results,’ are part of the case being made against e cigarettes and vaping.

Products of an established level of safety are not safe and very, very bad because they are not proven to be such:  The medical product is of a proven level of safety, because we say so.

Medicalised devices are approved in the UK by the MHRA. Many countries have similar organisations to control medical products. The claim is that licencing by the MHRA ensures safety – does it really. On the other hand e cigarettes have been adequately demonstrated to be 95% – 99% safer than conventional cigarettes. They are nearly always used by cigarette smokers looking for a safer alternative.

Virtually every single study conducted by world experts either establishes a relative level of safety or fails to establish any real danger. I have not come across anything which would prevent me from vaping and I have read a great deal over the last two or three years.

I would go as far as to say that the MHRA cannot be trusted any further than the FDA and CDC in the US on their commentary about e cigarettes.  The pharmaceutical industries’ hold on government is just too great: their pockets are just too deep; history demonstrates a catalogue of errors and sometimes even deliberate deception by pharma in order to sidestep the regulation supposedly supervised by regulatory bodies – indeed these organisations designed to protect us have been subjected to so much ‘creep,’ I do not consider them to be anything more than extensions of the pharmaceutical industry itself.

A 1914 UK Government Select Committee had this to say,

“After careful consideration of the evidence laid before them your Committee find: That there is a large and increasing sale in this country of patent and proprietary remedies and appliances and of medicated wines. That these remedies are of a widely differing characters, comprising genuine scientific preparations;  unobjectionable remedies for simple ailments; and many secret remedies making grossly exaggerated claims of efficacy… That this last-mentioned class of remedies contains none which spring from therapeutical or medical knowledge, but that they are put upon the market by ignorant persons, and in many cases by cunning swindlers who exploit for their own profit the apparently invincible credulity of the public.  That this constitutes a grave and widespread public evil…”

And nothing much has changed.

The 2014 UK Government Select Committee has this to say,

“These problems … reflect its (Pharma’s) influence. People have been taking ineffective and harmful medicines for centuries. However, there is reason to fear that the industry has positively nurtured anxieties about ill-health. The fundamental problem, it is alleged, is that the industry is increasingly dominated by pressure from its investors and the influence of its marketing force and advertising agencies rather than its scientists. The industry is hugely influential, affecting every aspect of the medical world, including prescribers, patients, academics, the media, and even the institutions designed to regulate it. Its influence in Parliament is extensive.”

For a humorous overview of pharma high jinks, click here.

And when a regulatory organisation claims ‘safety,’ is it really: This from the US. “The FDA buries evidence of fraud in medical trials.” Here

Or how about, “The extent of industry influence over drug regulation, at the expense of other interested parties suggests that the current system could be more robust.” ‘Suggests … could be?’    Well, it is The Lancet after all. Here

Then we have, “Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Policy.” This from Marc A. Rodwin Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School: Here.

There is so much more but I think the above is enough to establish that, ‘safe,’ from the MHRA or other regulatory organisations does not actually mean, ‘safe.’

 

A tobacco product is a medical product when something which is not a medical product has to be considered a tobacco product, (Not too sure which one, or both, or none, is very, very bad, but, in the spirit of the madhouse, who cares!) but if the product is not a medical product, OR, a tobacco product it must be very, very bad, because it is neither, OR, it is very, very good. (For much the same reason)

I am still trying to work out what I mean by this. It has to do with early attempts to maintain that e cigarettes were medical products with the subsequent legal challenges and the realisation that they could not be classified thus, then the claim that they are tobacco products which they are patently not, and now the production of a tobacco product, which it is patently not, where the MHRA are classifying it as a medical product – see what I mean?

Anyway, it is a consumer product. Simple really!

A pharmaceutical company is still a pharmaceutical company even when it is a tobacco company, or is it the other way round?

A little dig at pharmaceutical companies which have interests in tobacco companies and vice versa.

 

ANYWAY

 

Would someone call the emergency services, there is a fire in the madhouse.

Tobacco Control: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

On February 12, 2014, in my blog, An Outlandish Thought[1], I put forward the view that Tobacco Control were trying not to stop, but to encourage people to take up smoking – it would seem that the idea was not as ‘outlandish’ as I first surmised.

 It would seem that there is a large body of academic thought which supports the view that horrific images might actually encourage some smokers to keep smoking, and, some non-smokers to take up the habit, and failing that, the images might be ignored altogether.

 As far back as 1953, psychologists were looking at the effect of fear in advertising[2]. The results of their investigations were not as you or I would expect.  The model which was being presented at that time is known as “The Drive Model.” Part of this model argues that,”… when individuals are presented with threatening information they will be motivated to search for responses that reduce the threat. When a response reduces fear, it is reinforced and becomes part of one’s permanent response repertory. The drive model therefore suggests that higher fear should result in more persuasion, but only if the recommended action is perceived as effective in averting danger.” (Janis, I. L., & Feshbach, S)

 Take a close look at the end of the quote, “…but only if the recommended action is perceived as averting danger.” This is a theme which has been continued as the decades roll by.   Following the Drive Model was the Parallel Response model (1970) which suggests that fear appeals produce two separate and potentially interdependent processes: danger control processes (efforts to control the threat/danger) and fear control processes (efforts to control one’s fear about the threat/danger)[3] And once again we find that with the horrific message, the way which one turns is decided by the efficiency of the recommendations for avoiding the danger.

  As the years passed, the idea was further and further refined; the SEU models, including, Rogers’s Protection Motivation Theory (PMT)[4]. This attempted to explain the effect of fear and when it works, however the PMT model fails to explain why it does not work. PMT and SEU[5] models deal, in the main, with high threat coupled to high efficacy of the recommendations to avert the danger – but what happens if the perceived threat is low?  What happens if the perceived efficiency of suggested measures to avoid the threat is low?

 But first, a word about the difference between threat and fear, it is assumed that when faced with a threat, fear will follow. This, it is assumed, will result in an action to avoid the threat. And this is the logic SEEMINGLY being followed by advocates of warnings and graphic images on cigarette packs. They say that the fear induced by the images and warnings will encourage people to stop or never start smoking.  However, this is not the way it works. It is true that action will follow on from a threat which induces fear, but what will be the nature of the action?

 Take the graphic warnings being issued on cigarette packs. In this instance there are two distinct groups who react to these images and warnings. Young people, both smokers and never-smokers and, older established smokers.

 What happens when a young smoker, or would be smoker, sees a horrific image on a cigarette pack? The answer, as far as avoiding cigarettes, is nothing very much at all. Why? The image does not induce fear. Why?  The threat event is too far away. It is, to the mind of a young person, very remote – it can be ignored. Perhaps this explains why horrific images are being found to be so ineffective. Perhaps this is why the uptake of cigarette smoking among the young remains so high. A month is a lifetime to many youngsters, so how long is ten or twenty, how long is thirty or forty years away? How far away is, ‘if at all?’

And with established smokers the effect is different but with a similar result Take note that “…the more one is defensively resisting a recommendation the less one is making appropriate changes in line with the message’s recommendations[6].” And, “…that messages that fail to make people believe the recommended response is effective and/or that they are able to perform the recommended response produce stronger fear control/defensive response[7].” I hear an echo reaching me from 1953… listen carefully, does it say, wait for it “…but only if the recommended action is perceived as effective in averting danger.”

 The Meta analysis of Fear Appeals: Implications for Effective Public Health Campaigns, (Kim Witte, PhD Mike Allen, PhD) sums things up rather nicely:” In sum, fear appeals appear to be effective when they depict a significant and relevant threat and when they outline effective responses that appear easy to accomplish. Low threat appeals appear to produce very little, if any, persuasive effects. Thus, regardless of which theoretical model is advocated, the advice to message designers is the same: a persuader should promote high levels of threat and a high level of efficacy to promote attitude, intention and behaviour changes.”

 So look at the gruesome image on the packet. Read the warning, “Smoking Kills.” And now look at the recommended action… Sorry, I will reword that statement, look FOR the recommended action – No, I do not see one. Ok, so it is implied, ‘stop smoking.’  Will that be perceived as ‘effective’ advice?  Well, maybe effective if it was within some range of possibility, but is it? Even the best reported results for quit attempts is hardly 10% – so the messages (implied) recommended action, in practical terms is, 90% fail. Not good. Not effective, so other defence mechanisms kick in.

 What are they?

 They might, scrutinize the message to find ways to criticize and downplay the information in order to reduce the threat. They might, engage in a biased search for inconsistencies, and evaluate the evidence with a bias in the direction of their preferred conclusion.  And always, the spectre of another failed attempt to follow the recommended action: ‘stop smoking.’

 So the young see the threat as being something in the distance, something that can be dealt with later – the threat level is low. Adult smokers despair at the recommended action, and although the messages and images may create fear, the recommendations are not realistic, the efficacy is low, and so denial takes place.

 Messages and images have only a very limited impact in smoking cessation.

 The same holds true for plain packaging and for hiding cigarette products out of sight. In fact, these actions can be seen to be an attraction for young people – a reason to start smoking, not resist.

 There is a mass of information on the psychology of the attraction of the unknown. Couple this phenomenon to the advertised (low) threat value of cigarette smoking  to locking cigarettes out of sight, and a large percentage of young people will find the allure that has been created, irresistible.

 But what is worse – I believe that Tobacco Control is aware of all of the above.

 How would they know?

 The answer is a very simple one. A very large proportion of the psychology of fear appeals, and communications, and attitude change are written for the advertising industry.  This includes the health advocates who use this particular advertising to create the effect they desire. Now, we encounter a slight problem. What exactly is the effect they desire? If they are not aware of the effects of presenting warnings without effective avoidance strategies, they are negligent. If they are aware that warnings and gruesome images, that hiding cigarettes out of sight will have no effect, and indeed be an attraction – they are culpable.

 I choose to think it is deliberate. Tobacco Control is expert at marketing. It, I believe, knows the psychology involved inside and out. Whole university departments give ‘expert’ advice on a continuous level. Why, even one prominent Tobacco Control advocate has a PhD in the subject.[8] I wonder how many millions have been spent by the various Tobacco Control groups looking into this very topic.

 But the main reason I see Tobacco Control as a wolf in sheep’s clothing has nothing to do with the above. It is simply this…

 They have fought tooth and nail against the development of e cigarettes and personal vaporizers. They have consistently argued for the over-regulation of harm reduction products. Why would any group which purports to be acting in the interest of people’s health which to stymy, to destroy a product which will save many millions of lives? And to me, again, the answer is simple. It is against their interests to see this happen. For whatever reason, I think, it is important for them to keep their respective positions, be it an organisation or individual within an organisation. It is power, it is money, it is prestige and position, and all of these are up for the taking – as long as a percentage of people continue smoking: As long as it never become known how duplicitous their activities really are.  

 

[1] https://brainyfurball.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/an-outlandish-thought-2/

[2] Janis, I. L., & Feshbach, S. (1953): Effects of Fear-Arousing Communications. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 48, 78–92

[3] Leventhal H: Findings and theory in the study of fear communications, in Berkowitz L (ed.): Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 5): New York, Academic Press, 1970, pp.119-186

[4] Rogers RW: A protection motivation theory of fear appeals and attitude change. J Psych 91:93-114, 1975.

Rogers RW: Cognitive and physiological processes in fear appeals and attitude change: A revised theory of protection motivation, in Cacioppo J, Petty R (eds.): Social Psychophysiology: New York, Guilford Press, 1983, pp. 153-176

[5] Sutton SR: Fear-arousing communications: A critical examination of theory and research, in Eiser JR (ed.): Social Psychology and Behavioural Medicine. London: Wiley, 1982, pp.303-337.

[6] http://www.mnt.ee/public/Fear.pdf

[7] http://www.mnt.ee/public/Fear.pdf

[8] Simon Chapman His PhD looked into the relationship between cigarette smoke and advertising. http://boltonsmokersclub.wordpress.com/author/junican/

When the Word, “Using,” Becomes ‘“Trying.’”

Nearly 2 million middle- and high-school kids used e-cigarettes in 2012. Well I never! And in the minds a large section of our society this translates as, ‘2 million youngsters started smoking e-cigarettes in 2012.’ Oh my God! And the article where I read this goes on to say,

Since fewer young people smoke traditional cigarettes than in the past, tobacco companies desperately need to find a way to create a new generation of nicotine addicts; e-cigarettes are starting to look like the answer. [1]

So not only, according to the above, are youngsters being drawn to e cigarettes in droves, but they are to be the next generation of nicotine addicts – What a load of drivel! But it looks good, and people tend to fall for the rhetoric. Much of this dross results from the reading, and misreading, of the CDC report, “E-cigarette use more than doubles among U.S. middle and high school students from 2011-2012 More than 75 percent of youth users smoke conventional cigarettes too.”[2]

 But take a closer look at what the article says and then at what the report tells us. It is not for me to instruct my reader (I will keep that in the singular for now) and tell her / him what to do, but do it anyway… Look at the words, “used,” and “started smoking.” Is that right?

 The word, used, when, as a verb, as above, has an interesting definition. Encarta puts it this way: “Indicates habitual action – used in the past tense to say that somebody habitually did something.” Well, there it is, by definition the article is saying that nearly 2 million school kids are, or were, habitual users. See how it works? Sneaky isn’t it? No, the article said nothing about habit – it did not have to, it was implicit in the word ‘used’ itself.  So, what does the CDC study actually tell us?

 It tells us that many young people TRIED an e cigarette. Perhaps just a little puff or two – This certainly DOES NOT render them habitual e cigarette users. There we have it, the word, ‘used,’ should have been, ‘tried.’ Indeed, this misuse of, ‘used,’ has become very trying.[3] (Read footnote)

 Since this has so adequately been covered by, Carl V. Phillips. I will move on.

 The CDC Report title adds that, “75% of youth e-cigarette smokers’ smoke conventional cigarettes too.” There is nothing unremarkable about that. It is just common-sense to believe that if a youngster is curious enough to try an e cigarette, they will also be curious enough to try a conventional one. But there is more to be said about this. It is also common–sense to believe, taking into consideration that many young, conventional cigarette smokers started at a very early age, and, keeping in mind that, ‘young,’ in the context of smoking means below the legal age limit, a great many of them will wish to get away from conventional cigarettes because they are users in the true sense of the word.  This would explain the 75% figure. So there is nothing ominous or threatening whatsoever in that statistic. Indeed, there has been a noticeable drop in conventional cigarette use which corresponds to the increase in e-cigarette use – Much the same has happened with the adult population.

There are other recent studies that refute the hysteria created by the CDC report.[4]

 This brings me to a much more disturbing issue. That the hype surrounding young people smoking is not designed to prevent young people from taking up the habit, but, it is designed to attract them. This is a horrible thought, but as I observe the antics of Tobacco Control and the drive to put a stop to e-cigarettes, the more this idea keeps nagging away at the back of my mind.

 It begins with this, “Being a regular smoker was associated with other risky behaviours, such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs and truancy”[5] So risky behaviour attracts. Tobacco Control does nothing but stress that smoking is ‘risky.’ They issue warnings, show graphic images, lobby for laws which hide the products from sight. Keep in mind that ‘risk’ is an attraction – are they so stupid that they cannot see this, or are they so clever that knowing this, they can promote ‘risk’ as a prevention tool so that the opposite effect will be achieved?

 This in itself is not enough to cause me to be suspicious, but when you couple it to Tobacco Control’s attitude to e-cigarettes – the suspicion grows.

 It grows when a device is invented which stop conventional tobacco use, and Tobacco Control then attempt to trample all over it. It grows when you consider the cosy relationships between the pharmaceutical industry, the tobacco companies, Tobacco Control and Government and the huge financial gains to be had by maintaining a large cohort of tobacco smokers. It grows with each sleight of hand. It grows with each lie. It grows when laws are created in defiance of peoples’ rights. It grows and grows with each illogical pronouncement made by Tobacco Control.

 But it cannot be, can it?


[3][http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0905-ecigarette-use.html]   Huh! I have just noticed that Carl Phillips spotted this and wrote about it before me. Ah well! It’s staying. Contrary to the claims, there is basically no evidence that children are using e-cigarettes.  What evidence exists is entirely about children trying e-cigarettes.  In particular, despite the misleading rhetoric they packaged it in the CDC’s recent survey data on children and e-cigarettes was restricted to trying an e-cigarette ever (perhaps as little as one puff) or trying one within the last 30 days (again, possibly just one puff)   http://antithrlies.com/2013/12/11/casaa-draft-position-statement-on-ecigs-and-children/

 

[4] http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/:use-of-e-cigarettes-continues-to-rise-among-british-adult-smokers-but-use-among-young-people-is-negligible   The key findings of the ASH survey are that among adults current use of e-cigarettes has grown among smokers and ex-smokers since 2010 but remains at 0% among those who have never smoked. Among current smokers use of e-cigarettes has risen from 3% in 2010 to 11% in 2013. Ex-smokers report having used e-cigarettes to help a quit attempt (48%) and to prevent relapse to tobacco use (32%).

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 regular use that is reported is confined almost entirely to children who currently smoke or used to smoke.

• 1 in 10 16-18 year olds who had heard of e-cigarettes (1 in 20 among 11-15 year olds) has “tried e-cigarettes once or twice”.

• 1 in 100 16-18 year olds (0% 11-15 year olds) uses e-cigarettes more than once a week.

• Among young people who have never smoked 1% have “tried e-cigarettes once or twice”, 0% report continued e-cigarette use and 0% expect to try an e-cigarette soon.

[5] http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB11334/smok-drin-drug-youn-peop-eng-2012-summ.pdf  The estimates from this survey indicate that in England in 2012, around 120,000 pupils aged between 11 and 15 were regular smokers, around 320,000 had drunk alcohol in the past week, 200,000 had taken drugs in the last month, and 370,000 had taken drugs in the last year. Around half (52%) of pupils aged between 11 and 15 said that they had tried smoking, drunk alcohol or taken drugs at least once in their lives. 17% had done one or more of these recently. They were more likely to have drunk alcohol in the last week (10%) than to have smoked in the last week (6%) or to have taken drugs in the last month (also 6%). There was considerable overlap between behaviours. For example, 6% of pupils reported taking drugs in the last month and most of those (4% of all pupils) had smoked or drunk alcohol in the last week, or had done both.