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Stanton Glantz - A Lesson in Propaganda

Date: 26 Oct 18

Author: Jimmy Nicks

You have probably seen the propaganda somewhere. If you have a social media account, read the news, talked to your aunt, or your neighbour's cousin - at some point, you have probably heard the evils of e-cigarettes. 

E-cigarettes have become a 'mors tua, vita mea' - a tale of 'good vs evil' from many in mass media and wayward academics who have become lost in their own science. The aforementioned do not understand that e-cigarettes are a tobacco harm reduction tool - not a political weapon.

Case and point, meet Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Professor Glantz is an outspoken anti-vape and anti-tobacco activist. This is fine of course - everyone is entitled to their view right? Well no, not when you recklessly and irresponsibly make factually incorrect statements that have the potential to disrupt the decisions of smokers who want to make an informed choice based on facts.

Let me enlighten you on a few things Glantz has stated.

"Given that heart and vascular disease and non-cancer lung disease cause over half the smoking-induced deaths, e-cigarettes could be half as dangerous as conventional cigarettes even if they cause no cancer."

Clive Bates, one of the most respected voices on tobacco harm reduction, concluded (in a very detailed article I would recommend reading) responded

"Professor Glantz’s claim is a wildly irresponsible statement with potentially harmful consequences if it influences the behaviour of smokers, vapers or regulators."

To provide more perspective, Glantz has even publicly claimed that smoking may be less hazardous than using electronic cigarettes. Yes - he said that. Inhaling vapour from a tobacco-free e-cigarette is more harmful according to Glanz. And he spits this rhetoric to a large audience with no research to back up these claims. 

A quick Google search will show you other outlandish claims such as "The only way to substantially reduce the risk of a heart attack is to stop using tobacco,". I'm no doctor but I am pretty sure the bacon I didn't eat this morning had more chance of causing a cardiac arrest than the vape I had all day, and all week, and all year for the last ten years.

So who is Mr Glantz? According to VapingPost, he does not even have a medical degree 

"Glantz is a professor of medicine, so surely he’s also done a medical degree of some sort as well as his engineering qualifications? No. He hasn’t. Although you wouldn’t guess it from his UCSF faculty page, which makes no mention of his education, Glantz has no medical or scientific qualifications at all. It’s often reported that he did post-doctoral work in cardiology but this isn’t entirely true. He did do post-doctoral work on the human heart, but it was in Stanford’s Department of Applied Mechanics. This is part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering; they don’t study medicine there."

There are many Glantz's in the world who spew out propaganda for their own agenda and to hell with the consequences.

People in positions of power have loud voices - and they are the reason propaganda like your aunty or your neighbour's cousin will tell you 'Hey Jimmy - you know that shit is in radiator fluid', or 'Yo dude - that will give you popcorn lung', or 'I heard that stuff is worse than smoking'. This sort of rubbish starts with people like Stanton Glantz. So we need to collectively be louder and tell the facts. I am proud of the vaping community for doing just this. But let's be louder. 

Glantz's claims are ridiculous.  But, because of his position of power, they are used by media directly and indirectly to create a divide. The argument is not what or who is right or wrong. The agenda is tobacco harm reduction and understanding what this means. E-cigarettes are a tool, not the cause.

There are fantastic people in the world who support tobacco harm reduction, the likes of Marewa Glover and Clive Bates to name just a few. These guys do the research, spend the hours, and help save lives.

So don't ignore the clowns like Glantz, who are not self-aware, let alone harm reduction aware. Jump on them, make them validate their claims, be politer than I am to them and keep just telling the truth. Your aunty and your neighbour's cousin will come around.

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