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?
. 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.
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?
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.