An advocacy group recently started up to support and administer funds for research on vaping-related technical issues (ERF). It appears to be an excellent idea; but on examination, research isn't the issue right now, the propaganda war is far more important - and especially some kind of pushback against the torrent of lies being promulgated by the heavily-conflicted Public Health industry. This is the main problem facing THR at present.
A stream of lies, mistruths and spin is being published about vaping, and this needs to be countered. The climate of negative public perception that it is designed to engender will make it much easier for unjust regulations to be enforced to restrict ecig sales, and for the imposition of completely unjustified taxes.
All ecig products should be tax-free, after all, in order to encourage smokers to switch. It is never morally justifiable to force people to change their lives, especially when instead they can be encouraged to look at the options and persuaded by benefits.
The propaganda consists mostly of lies that will allow harsh laws to be implemented without any public complaint. The purpose of the laws will be to protect tobacco taxes, to protect pharmaceutical sales of drug treatments for sick smokers, to protect all the jobs and funding sources that depend on smoking, and to protect cigarette sales - since the entire system depends on this in the first place.
No one has ever suggested that the cigarette trade is behind the funding of the anti-THR assault, though of course they are an important beneficiary; however, anyone who attacks THR is in effect working for the tobacco industry.
We need research on the basic issues, and we already have it. We have enough research that virtually all of the individual attacks can be effectively rebutted now. More research is indeed required, but it falls into two specific categories:
Neither of these are of any use in refuting the groundless attacks and outright lies being used to attack vaping right now for commercial reasons. There are many hundreds of studies already available, indeed a search of just one resource such as PubMed will show hundreds listed just there. We already know that vaping is about 1,000 times safer than smoking, and new research is not going to fundamentally change that. We already have enough research for current needs.
Right now the money needs to be spent on countering the torrent of lies, before it is too late and harsh restrictions on vaping are able to be implemented facilitated by the propaganda. These restrictions will benefit major industry and tax collectors, at the expense of the public interest.
This argument is often heard. Unfortunately it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding: commercial opponents and the regulatory-captured government agencies and fake charities they own aren't interested in the science. They are interested in stopping THR before it kills the gravy train.
We already have enough research to paper the walls with. They don't care about that and are hardly likely to take account of it, after all: reading the research and acting on it means they will be unemployed soon thereafter. Does it seem likely they will do that? Of course not.
There is an alliance of commercially-funded propagandists working to protect the smoking economy. Their aim is to prevent tobacco harm reduction displacing cigarette sales, as all of these disparate groups and individuals depend in some way on cigarette sales for their jobs, salary levels or funding.
It is quite likely that some are simple ideologists who don't realise that by attacking ecigs, Snus and other THR products they are protecting cigarette sales. Since nothing except THR can significantly reduce smoking prevalence after the 20% Prevalence Rule operates, it follows that by trying to prevent THR products being sold and used, the ideologists, perhaps without realising it, are protecting smoking. Their colleagues - and most especially the senior management - are fully aware of the facts, and simply need to block THR in order to protect the status quo and their extremely well-paid jobs in the Public Health industry. Not many staff working at genuine charities earn million-dollar salaries as these people do, after all; and that money depends on protecting cigarette sales.
National level clues
In the USA, if you find a 'health' organisation that does little or no street-level health work, pays its CEO over half a million dollars a year, has a board of directors of over 20 (some have over 100 - they are paid or otherwise remunerated for work done for pharma while in government service or as current associates in the propaganda field; as 'directors' they can be paid below the radar), has declared or concealed funding from the pharmaceutical industry (i.e. greenwashed funds via foundations) and appears to mainly act as a pressure group that lobbies government and publishes propaganda - then you are looking at a pseudo-health organisation that can be legitimately called a fake charity and that is most likely a front group for the pharmaceutical industry. Their job is to protect pharma revenues, and the best way they can do that without any pushback is to protect cigarette sales. All they need to do now that 20PR operates in the US is to block THR.
In the UK, the same applies, although it is necessary to cut the numbers by a factor of between 5 and 10 to allow for the smaller size of the money pool. If the MD or equivalent is extremely well paid by UK standards, and they don't appear to do much in the way of real public health work - they are likely to be a pharma front group. Since 20PR operates in the UK, they only need to block THR in order to protect cigarette sales and therefore pharma revenues.
The key is always to measure their position on THR (ecigs and Snus). In the case of EU-based organisations, the level of sophistication is a little higher than in the US. For example, they can completely block ecigs by appearing to support them but by also backing regulation that would have the effect of removing them. This allows them to claim they support vaping replacing cigarette smoking, but in the full knowledge there will be no vaping when the regulations are implemented.
Global level clues
An international organisation that supports bans on THR products either has one or more departments funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and/or its board members are individually funded by pharma. The best example of this is the WHO, which is working hard to protect cigarette sales in the developed countries.
In the USA, the propagandists are funded by MSA funding, government grants, and pharmaceutical industry funding - often through foundations and institutions that greenwash the funds. For example: pharma funds universities >> the unis fund researchers >> the researchers produce agenda-based junk science >> the unwarranted smears are disseminated by professional propagandists, often working for pseudo-health charities that in reality are commercial front groups.
Because of the immense size of the MSA funds and the pharmaceuticals market, the pseudo public health staff are extremely well funded (the MSA funds total over $200 billion in projected value to 2023). In the EU, the MSA funds are absent and funding levels are lower, but still significant - a fake charity CEO in the UK will collect about £100,000 annually.
We can legitimately refer to some charities as fake because they don't do any actual public health work: they are lobbyists who help obtain legislation that always benefits a commercial partner. When their funding sources are revealed, it is clear who their commercial partners are. Such groups never harm their partners - no legislation is ever proposed that will reduce their partner's revenues. A 'charity' that works to benefit a commercial partner, for reward, is a front group.
The impact of THR, especially ecigs, has had a significant effect on cigarette sales in the last year. Stick sales (cigarette volume) show a consistent 5% fall, and as a result the US MSA funds are starting to slide. The cigarette firms have withheld very large sums, since the payments depend on cigarette sales. No one expected the MSA funds to be affected quite so soon, and the pain for incompetently-run US States and fake charities lobbying for pharma, all of whom depend on MSA funds, is becoming intense. You can judge their pain by how loud they scream. They absolutely must protect cigarette sales, whatever happens.
Some of the US States are run so incompetently by such bungling oafs that they actually sold their expected MSA funding for future years in the form of bonds, to get their hands on the cash up front. California is one such State, and they will face significant economic pressure as a result of their bungling when cigarette sales are displaced by vaping - the resulting shortfall in the State budget and the attendant chaos will expose their utter incompetence. To try and get out from under, and hold on to their jobs, they must do their utmost to kill off vaping and get cigarette sales back up. It is no surprise, then, to learn that the most vicious lies about THR originate from California officials.
Unfortunately the overspill from the California debacle and others like it has a global effect. The sums of money are so enormous that everyone feels the pinch when US cigarette sales fall. The same drop in stick sales is also being seen elsewhere: France and the UK report a similar effect, and the likelihood is that all of northern Europe is experiencing a fall in cigarette sales at long last, entirely due to the vaping effect. Prof West's UK smoking statistics report a sudden fall in UK smoking prevalence after many years of zero reduction (since 2008, smoking in the UK remained around 20% prevalence and in fact the number of smokers rose slightly). We can also see from West's figures that the reduction in UK smoking prevalence equals the number of smokers who quit by switching to vaping. It is therefore clear that vaping is reducing stick sales (cigarette sales volume), reducing smoking prevalence, and reducing all the revenues dependent on cigarette sales.
It doesn't matter what rubbish is spoken about reducing smoking prevalence: we see the real truth when their money supply is threatened. And it's a nasty, evil, unspeakably vile truth indeed: governments, the Public Health industry and its fake charities,and the pharmaceutical industry all need to protect cigarette sales and keep smoking prevalence high. If you simply judge them worse than the tobacco industry then you probably aren't going far enough.
It is now clear that some sort of properly-organised counter-propaganda effort is needed, before it is too late. The current level of false claims about vaping means that harsh and unjustified regulations can be implemented with full agreement from the general public and the politicians. High taxes will be levied without complaint, as vaping will be seen in the same light as smoking. No matter how ridiculous this seems, it is crucial to remember that propaganda works. The effect can already be seen: every year the number of people rises in polls when asked if they think vaping is as bad as smoking.
When half the population or more have been manipulated to think that vaping is as bad as smoking - and that day will come, at the present rate - then vaping can be regulated and taxed out of existence. Cigarette sales will be safe once again. It doesn't matter that vaping has a tiny fraction of the risk compared with smoking; what matters is what politicians think, what the media say, and how people will vote.
A collective effort in the counter-propaganda area will get plenty of support and probably enough funding to make it a success, as long as the community and trade can agree this is needed and work together. None of the current trade or community associations want to get involved with this, or know how to do it, or are capable of doing it - it needs a new and fresh approach from a group specifically acting to coordinate the promotion of truth in the media. A new organisation is needed with people from both the trade and community, perhaps like the one described below.
Name (example): Campaign for Truth in Public Health
Purpose: to publish information that counters the commercially-funded lies and propaganda that currently harm vaping.
Format: a working group that:
The working group will comprise members of the community and trade. The members' names and affiliations will be published, for complete transparency. Any connection with astroturfing must be vigorously avoided (commercially-funded lobbying that is deliberately made to look like a community effort), by full disclosure. We should not use the same tactics the pharmaceutical industry is infamous for.
There are many well-known figures who will support this as long as the initiative is respectable, honest, reasonable and transparent.
It's super-easy to set up a website on a modern CMS. Not difficult to arrange the donations process. Not too hard to run overall, although there is plenty of workload in the detail, such as seeking funding (crowdfunding, trade funding) and energising the community to assist where needed.
Right now, counter-propaganda is far more important than research. There are indeed two areas where research is still needed: long-term health studies, and research on refill standards. These are both being handled elsewhere; but no one is doing anything about the propaganda war, and unless they do, there won't be any vaping to do research for.
More science is not the key to influencing regulators - they are paid by our opponents to ignore it, and will never entertain the slightest idea of a free ride for vaping since it will kill off their clients' revenues by destroying cigarette sales, preventing disease and reducing tobacco tax revenues (a crucial funding source for many of the people lying about ecigs). A successful method, though, is to create a massive media presence that clearly points out the lies by commercial rivals, sways public opinion back in our favour, and puts intense pressure on politicians to do the right thing. It is not going to be possible to achieve that in any sort of rapid timescale, but somebody somewhere should be starting on this process before it is too late.
None of the vapers' consumer groups and advocacy orgs can either do this properly or start a new effort in this area. The trade has always been fragmented and is only just starting to wake up to the fact they won't have a business at all soon, if things carry on as they are. The established trade groups will not take any action because they are too afraid to rock the boat: many of the vendors are in talks with the FDA and MHRA, and believe they cannot afford to take alternative action at this stage.
A group of people with the energy needed, and correctly advised, can do it - and only they can do it. We can do this if the motivation is there; and the motivation is all that is needed to make a start.
Vapour products are now entering a regulated market era. This is an area where small independent vendors are unwelcome; indeed, such markets are frequently operated in a way designed to exclude small business.
There is another layer of protection to be overcome before even large-scale players can enter an entirely new market structure:
More research is never enough. The research is of course ignored anyway: evidence or any kind of science base is a red herring in any case - it doesn't matter and never mattered. The only reason more evidence is requested is to remove spare funds the applicants may have available for a legal challenge.
The design objective is that applicants bankrupt themselves chasing ever more research, and cannot mount an effective legal challenge when the subterfuge is exposed, since they are broke by then.
This method was used very effectively by the pharmaceutical industry and their partners the MHRA in the UK, when disposing of firms that wished to license an ecig product. One firm fell into the trap so comprehensively it had to be sold twice over to keep generating the funds for pointless research that was always destined to be ignored. In the end, the carrot was removed, once the firm had no funds left for a legal challenge.
This method works exceptionally well and can now be seen being used by the FDA on suckers trying to gain a tobacco products license. There is no end to the suckers and no end to the research required and no end to the requests for funding from the trade and community they will ask for.
The FDA will continue to ignore all/any research because that is what it has been ordered to do. More research is completely, utterly useless and a pointless waste of money designed to bleed small and intermediate businesses dry so they cannot mount a legal challenge when the game is revealed. It's designed to destroy the vaping community's willingness to assist in funding a legal challenge when the game is finally revealed, after having funded endless requests for research that never produced any concrete result in abating spurious regulations and taxes.
If our representatives cannot see that, then we need to dispense with beginners at this game. The naive and incompetent will destroy us and destroy any chance vaping has to go mainstream when the rules kick in.
First we need to counter the propaganda that enables harsh regulations and excessive taxes.
What exactly do the people asking for more research want to achieve?
Is it really very likely that the FDA will allow all current products to be grandfathered in; and allow all current products to be sold without an exceedingly expensive research base; and allow all current ecig companies to continue sales as normal; and allow the regular stream of new products and improvements to be sold without hindrance; and will not enable the imposition of tobacco-like taxes; and will not help to raise those taxes year on year; and will not attempt to reduce the number of players in the ecig market by around 99%; and will not in every way possible try to prevent any further impact on cigarette sales?
More research might help Big Vapor but it won't help anyone else.
The EU situation is not dissimilar to the US. Propaganda will be used to ensure that countries can restrict and tax ecigs as much as is necessary to protect cigarette sales, which is the primary concern of all the major players: the tax collectors, the pharmaceutical industry, the Public Health industry, and the cigarette industry.
No further research is needed in Europe as the regulations have already been established. The severity of implementation will depend on the climate, and this depends on successful propaganda. If the propaganda assault can be maintained and goes unchallenged, countries can restrict ecig product sales as they like and tax them at levels that will make vaping more expensive than smoking. Cigarette sales have to be protected at all costs, and cigarette sales pay for the propaganda.
The UK probably has the most pro-vaping public health climate in the world. This is due to the admirable honesty of the senior public health figures who have supported vaping. However, these figureheads do not control policy or taxes; and therefore harsh restrictions and harsher taxes can be applied notwithstanding. The propaganda climate will enable this to be enforced without any effective opposition.
When ecig regulations are finally implemented, and then tightened up year on year, and most products are banned, and most new products are banned, and most advertising is banned, and most web sales are banned, and high taxes are implemented, and most online vendors shut down, and most vape shops close up - don't worry. We'll have the biggest pile of research and the best science and the best evidence base for any consumer product anywhere.
- more background, other opinions, differing strategies
1. Fighting fire with fire - post #13
3. CVP discusses the perversion of public health into a special interest group, assorted crackpots who work for it, and the bully state.