Monthly Archives: December 2020

Don’t mirror your enemy too closely lest you become him

We slap industry very hard every time we find them acting in a completely unacceptable manner, just like we do to Tobacco Control. The last decade it has been a 1:10 ratio of unacceptable behaviour by TC, not industry.

With 100% credit to Dave Cross and Planet of the Vapes

Original date of publishing Nov 30 2020

The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) has criticised the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) “Tobacco Control” for publishing a study that smears consumer advocates and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) for promoting it. Last week’s research paper analysed tweets and insulted harm reduction advocates, accusing them of being part of Philip Morris International or one of its “allies”.

Planet of the Vapes covered the Bloomberg/CRUK-funded study last week [link].

Responding to the publication, the NNA said: “It is disappointing to see the BMJ publishing a research paper which smears consumer advocates for tobacco harm reduction by attempting to link consumer activity on social media with the tobacco industry. One can only conclude that the goal was to devalue the opinions of former smokers who have found safer nicotine products to have been beneficial to their lives.”

Responding on behalf of its supporters, the NNA added: “The attempt to paint consumers as part of some mythical tobacco industry plot is offensive to individuals and organisations promoting tobacco harm reduction. We and our supporters, along with many other vapers, are systematically excluded from the FCTC conferences and yet have a strong stake in the outcomes of the meeting. Social media is one of the few opportunities we have to get our views across. Consumers of safer nicotine products have been acutely aware of an increasing warfare against the products which have helped them to stop smoking.”

Britain’s leading consumer charity continued: “In reality the article shows how successful THR consumer advocates are in dominating the Twittersphere around COP, and rightly so, because it is they are who are most affected by the outcome of COP meetings. Instead of attempting to denigrate these opinions, an altruistic approach would be to welcome the fact that consumers are engaging with the process and studying how consumer experience can help enhance public health outcomes. Sadly, this has not been considered by the authors of this report.”

The NNA has also expressed its deep disappointment directly to CRUK over its tweet celebrating the paper. The CRUK Policy Unit tweeted: “During what would have been the 9th Conference of Parties, we’re excited to share new research with [Bath University’s Tobacco Control Research Group] showing the tobacco industry’s use of social media to amplify its interests during COP8.”

It began by reminding CRUK of its independence: “The NNA is a registered educational charity in the UK, which has the objective of promoting public health by means of tobacco harm reduction. The NNA was established to reflect the interests of those who have switched, or might switch in the future, from smoking tobacco to using safer alternatives. Many of our Trustees, Associates and Supporters are ex-smokers who have quit with the help of safer nicotine products, including e-cigarettes. We have collaborated on initiatives with public health organisations such as Public Health England and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, as well as giving evidence to UK government committees and All-Party Parliamentary Groups. We take no funding from any industry actors and have no conflicts of interest.”

The letter expresses “deep disappointment” over the fact “that CRUK are ‘excited’ about a report which trawled personal citizen Twitter accounts and concluded that they were part of some mythical tobacco industry plot”. The NNA called CRUK’s position “deeply offensive” and “McCarthyist in nature and application”.

In 2018, there were “clear threats” being expressed by the World Health Organization Framework Convention for Tobacco Control in advance of the eighth Conference Of Parties (COP). The NNA contends that vaping consumers “value highly” the products “for helping them to quit smoking.”

Due to the same threats being espoused in the lead up to the ninth COP, the NNA says it is quite reasonable that vapers would be concerned and keen to object to them again.

It should be accepted that consumers of these products would be extremely worried at the thought of the products being prohibited by clearly conflicted and opaque institutions like the FCTC. Instead, however, this report that CRUK has celebrated – and shamefully part-funded – seeks to further marginalise the consumer voice which is already ignored far too often.”

Vape Club

The letter continues, reminding CRUK that, “the report was primarily funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies; an organisation set up to distribute funds from an American multi-billionaire with little understanding of the THR debate and also little care for the consequences of his actions. We would also note that the lead author of the report you refer to has a proven history of manufacturing falsities against harm reduction options.”

The NNA expresses confusion over this conflict between CRUK’s stated aims and its actions. While the cancer organisation has supported vaping in the past and argues for harm reduction approaches, the consumer charity says CRUK’s response to the report exhibits “behaviour which is the exact opposite” of its aims.

The NNA goes on to add that it has been contacted by supporters who have donated to CRUK in the past but are questioning future contributions if funds are being directed to ventures besmirching nicotine users: “Consumers would not recognise smear articles like this as befitting CRUK’s criteria for funding research.”

CRUK has not responded to the New Nicotine Alliance or acknowledged the receipt of the letter.

Related:

  • New Nicotine Alliance – [link]

IMAGE OF MICHAEL BLOOMBERG EDITED FROM AFGE, CC BY 2.0 <HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY/2.0>, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS [LINK]. NOT EDITED IN ANY WAY THAT SUGGESTS THE LICENSOR ENDORSES ME/OUR USE