This blog examines an extraordinary claim by Professor Stanton Glantz that the US public is right to believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking and that science is now catching up with public opinion. This claim is profoundly and dangerously false, and it demands a challenge. This is a 13,000-word review looking in detail at Professor Glantz’s 700-word commentary and its supporting citations, examining thirteen claims that form the basis of the overall claim relating to cancer, heart attacks, stroke and respiratory illness, impact on smoking cessation and population smoking.
In this blog, I examine an extraordinary claim by Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California at San Francisco. Professor Glantz claims that the US public is right to believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking and that science is now catching up with public opinion.
This claim is profoundly and dangerously false, and it demands a challenge. Professor Glantz makes his claim in a commentary in response to a substantive paper on perceptions of the relative risk of smoking and vaping. Both articles appeared in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open. This is an in-depth blog looking in detail at Professor Glantz’s short commentary and its supporting citations, examining thirteen claims that form the basis of his overall claim. I am hoping the critique provided here will be a useful primer to some of the arguments in this controversial field.
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.
I am particularly concerned about a sweeping statement made by one of the most vocal activists in tobacco control, Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California at San Francisco. He asserts completely incorrectly and irresponsibly that a new study shows long-term vaping risk could equate to half the risk of smoking. This is a grotesque exaggeration.
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.
What sort of ‘warnings’ should go on tins of snus? Modern snus use is probably around 98% less risky than smoking – but do the regulatory ‘risk communications’ in the form of these warnings really reflect that? Do they give the consumer useful information that helps them make decisions about which risks they are willing to bear and the options they have to reduce risks associated with tobacco or nicotine use? It’s an interesting time for these questions: the United States is in the middle of a process that might lead changes to these warnings on some snus packaging.
All three drain the energy and time of real scientists, consumers and legitimate public health advocates. They distort regulatory and legislative decisions and create false perceptions of risk in the media and general public. All are evident in the following study: