The US media is losing its mind over vaping and Juul – the questions a credible journalist should ask

Losing perspective?

Update 30 April 2018 JUUL: hold the moral panic

Introducing a modern moral panic

Over the weekend in an aside in my long blog about the sophistry of anti-vaping activists,  I mentioned the unfolding moral panic about vaping and, especially, Juul e-cigarettes among teens (see the quote from the blog below for background). I want to add to this with some views on appropriate journalistic inquiry and suggest a line of sceptical questioning a credible journalist could use.   Continue reading “The US media is losing its mind over vaping and Juul – the questions a credible journalist should ask”

Ten perverse intellectual contortions: a guide to the sophistry of anti-vaping activists

This puts it nicely:

Life is short and shorter for smokers. Just legalise vaping.

That statement is a plain-speaking and hyper-concise dissenting report from Andrew Laming MP, one of two dissenting reports from Australia’s recently-completed parliamentary inquiry into vaping  (The other dissenting report provides a model of clear, concise reasoning too, and, unusually, the dissent came from the committee chairman, signalling a welcome fracture in Australia’s political support for prohibition)

Though short, it is basically right and sufficient: no-one is trying to live forever; everyone is trying to enjoy the life they have; some people like the drug nicotine or don’t want to quit enough to stop using it; smokers die earlier because of smoke; vaping avoids the smoke problem and does not appear to create new material problems; so it follows that vaping should not be illegal. In fact, it should be encouraged.  It really is that simple.

The dissenting reports prompt me to raise the issue of simplicity versus sophistry in the debate over tobacco harm reduction. This has bugged me for years. Vaping and tobacco harm reduction is basically simple. The arguments raised against it by anti-vaping opponents are laden with sophistry.

This blog looks at ten forms of sophistry used by anti-vaping activists to fabricate and fuel faux controversy. It is longer than I would like,  but the subject is far from exhausted. Please dip in.

Continue reading “Ten perverse intellectual contortions: a guide to the sophistry of anti-vaping activists”

Bad science, accountability and courage – speech by AG Tom Miller

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
Tom Miller: “public policy through facts and science rather than ideology”

On 17 November 2016, the Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, gave a speech at the E-cigarette Summit 2016 (with biography) on e-cigarettes examining the claims of anti-vaping activists, and their scientific, ethical and legal basis. The full text of the speech is here: America Needs England (PDF). I reported an earlier speech here.

The speech should be widely read, especially in the United States. To facilitate an informed reading, I have reproduced the speech here, with some thematic subheadings, source links and illustrations [these are my additions].

Continue reading “Bad science, accountability and courage – speech by AG Tom Miller”

Anatomy of a public health tweet

Capewell Tweet 30 Sept 2016
Professor Capewell is worried – but why?

Professor Simon Capewell, the Vice President of Health Policy at the Faculty of Public Health, states in a tweet on 30 September 2016.

Vaping adverts could lead children to try smoking cigarettes

But how true is that? And how much care did Professor Capewell take to ensure that it is a reasonable thing to say? Let us examine:

  1. How wrong is Professor Capewell’s tweet?
  2. How much blame is attributable to the study authors?
  3. In conclusion: what should we make of this tweet?

Continue reading “Anatomy of a public health tweet”

Professor Glantz brings his anti-vaping crusade to Europe – I review his presentation

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome… Professor Glantz visits Europe

Regrettably, the influence of Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California at San Fransisco is not confined to California or to the United States.  Last month he made a visit to Europe – to Austria in fact.  As good Europeans, we always take our American visitors seriously and listen to what they have to say. So I have done a review of the presentation he gave at the Austrian Acadamy of Sciences in Vienna.

Continue reading “Professor Glantz brings his anti-vaping crusade to Europe – I review his presentation”

Vaping bans – asking the wrong question

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 07.32.45

Following the dumping of the Wales Public Health Bill and its attempt to ban vaping in public places, the Daily Telegraph covered the story (Plans to ban e-cigarettes in public places defeated) and included an online poll – see above. But I think they ask the wrong questions. These were the questions asked: Continue reading “Vaping bans – asking the wrong question”

Smoking and vaping among young people in England – reassuring new report

Children at play

Some quick notes on the NatCen report:  Survey of Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England – see Summary and Full report PDF.

NatCen is contracted by the official statistician to conduct this survey, which provides data for 2014 for England on substance-using behaviours of 11-15-year-olds. It’s is possible that alarmist conclusions will be spun from a lazy reading of some findings on e-cigarette use. In fact, the survey provides a reassuring picture of young people’s smoking and vaping habits. Continue reading “Smoking and vaping among young people in England – reassuring new report”