In what seems to be the first of a series The New Smoke Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise interviewed selected experts in tobacco issues, deeming them optimists or pessimists on the potential benefits of e-cigarettes for reducing smoking s toll. Yesterday s introductory piece was sub-titled Public Health Effects.
Her primary spokesman for the optimists was Dr. Mike Siegel of Boston University, a respected authority we here at ACSH have often cited. On the other side we find Dr. Stanton Glantz, trained in mechanical engineering decades ago but by dint of experience, one of the spearheads of the anti-tobacco movement beginning in the tobacco wars of the last century. His special contribution has been to collect the documents of those fraught days in the UCSF library for easy access and reference, especially in litigation. Unfortunately, over the past several years, he has become a virulent antagonist to the science-based evidence demonstrating both the real and potential benefits, and absence of harm, of e-cigarettes.
On his own blog, Mike has often taken to attacking...or better, responding to baseless, spurious and ad hominem attacks on himself by Glantz. In the current article, however, he has completely distanced himself from any such by-play, either preferring to stay above the fray or, perhaps, his more barbed commentary was edited out by the author.
As Dr. Siegel himself said on his blog only this morning: If I had to characterize the two camps, I wouldn't characterize them as optimists vs. pessimists. I would characterize them as scientists who are actually talking to vapers [users of e-cigarettes] and considering their experiences versus those who are stuck in ivory towers. I would characterize them as scientists who are pure idealists versus those who live in the real world. And finally, I would characterize them as scientists who are paying attention to the actual scientific evidence versus those who are ignoring the evidence and basing their opinions on ideology.
ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross, who has been deeply involved in the e-cigarette/harm reduction arena for some years, had this comment: Mike Siegel is being way too kind to Glantz and his conflicted, ignorant and/or corrupt ilk here. I d call them something other than idealists, although I suppose there are some such in that camp who long for a world free of all nicotine and all other addictive drugs and behaviors. Mostly, I strongly believe those opposed to e-cigarettes are acting out of ulterior motives revolving around money and power, certainly not public health. And Glantz is among the forefront of that crowd. Someday he and his co-conspirators (e.g., see below) will be held accountable."
Here's an absolutely astounding quote from the Head of our nation's CDC: I think the precautionary principle better safe than sorry rules here, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the C.D.C. More from Dr. Ross: What? Did the CDC just adopt the precautionary principle for the U.S.? But Frieden's description is ridiculously simplistic; and if he believes himself, he is saying, The current smoking scene here is safe, while the truthful communication of e-cigarettes is likely to be sorry. This is beyond irresponsible, it borders on criminal.
ON A RELATED NOTE: In an attempt to slow down the anti-e-cigarette ban-wagon now rolling down the hill towards Los Angeles, ACSH submitted our position statement to their City Council special committee, which meets today. Hopefully, enough members will actually do some research and vote down that ban, unlike the tragic outcomes in New York and Chicago.