Health News Digest


March 7, 2016

Let’s Save A Billion Lives–With E-Cigs

By Michael D. Shaw

This column has covered the topic of e-cigarettes (e-cigs) on previous occasions. The first piece detailed the outrageous behavior of so-called public health agencies, which are flat-out lying, in their brazen attempts to discredit the devices.

I received a lot of positive feedback on the article, with many correspondents referring to its tagline: “So, it has come to this. A public health agency in our largest state is pursuing a course that will discourage its own citizens from using an effective means to stop smoking, while enriching itself on tobacco tax revenue, and being cheered on by mindless zealots. Why, it’s almost as if they really didn’t care about the people they have been hired to serve.”

Among the more appalling falsehoods: E-cigs do not help you to stop smoking; and e-cigs are as dangerous to your health as cigarettes.

A follow-up story got into some bizarre regulatory matters, put up solely to hurt the vaping community. In that piece, I mentioned that the superficially strange bedfellows lined up against e-cigs—Big Tobacco and conventional anti-smoking groups—are a consummate example of the Bootleggers and Baptists phenomenon, originally described by economist Bruce Yandle.

There’s no question that the vaping community, along with honest commentators on public health, have been working overtime to disseminate the truth. Yet, they do not have quite the same bully pulpit as their opponents.

Fortunately, the odds will soon be changing—in favor of the vapers. That’s because Milwaukee-based Attention Era Media will be releasing A Billion Lives, a hard-hitting documentary that promises to expose the insidious conspiracy—and that’s surely what it is—behind the anti-vaping agenda. Director Aaron Biebert got his title from a World Health Organization publication entitled “WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008: The MPOWER package.”

A prominent statistic within that report warns that there could be 1 billion tobacco-related deaths worldwide by 2100. Ironically, WHO’s own current position on e-cigs is something less than a ringing endorsement, replete with the typical “more data is needed” sorts of equivocations, and numerous regulatory proposals.

The trailer for A Billion Lives features some of the most prominent figures in the e-cig battleground. Indeed, it opens with Clive Bates—longtime activist; former director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH); and e-cig advocate.

Bates does not disappoint: “I always flinch when I hear colleagues saying things about e-cigarettes that they know or should know are completely wrong or exaggerated or scaremongering. There’s too much of that going on.”

By way of example, that segues into Thomas Frieden, CDC director, famous for banning smoking and trans-fats in New York City, and mishandling the Ebola crisis. But boy, does he have an opinion on e-cigs. Check out his great advice: “They might or might not be able to help you quit, but there are definite harms they can cause.” Uh, okay doc. Should I use them or not?

Back to Bates: “We now have much safer products (referring to e-cigs) and the public health community is lying about those.”

Of course, it’s all about the money. E-cigs help people to stop smoking, and they do it without the massive side effects of drugs—with a black-box warning—like Chantix, and more pleasantly than conventional nicotine replacement therapy.

Dr. Derek Yach, noted public health figure, who has been with WHO, the Rockefeller Foundation, Yale University, and PepsiCo weighs in: “If you are a pharmaceutical company who is starting to see your share of the market on nicotine replacement therapy slide, what are you going to do? Are you going to sit on your bum and do nothing?” The implication is clear that Big Pharma is out to stop e-cigs.

The trailer concludes with Oliver Kershaw, director of the E-Cigarette Forum: “This is a miracle. This is an absolute public health miracle in the making.”

It’s about time that the truth on e-cigs got out to the general public. May A Billion Lives have much success!