Except, of course, yet more examples of the almost frenzied neuroticism of the anti-smoking movement in general. Transparency was again a secondary concern as vapers who attempted to follow the junket's Twitter feed found when they were promptly blocked.
However, unlike COP6 last year where the press were banned in case they reported negatively, a group of lucky scribes were enthusiastically welcomed to WCTOH ... for training in what they should be writing about!
Eighteen distinguished journalists from 13 countries received fellowships to attend the National Press Foundation’s first training focused on global tobacco control. Held this week at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, the programme offers 2-1/2 days of intensive sessions prepping the journalists to attend the 5-day conference -- and cover the issue in their home countries.So was this training impartial and evidence-based? I'll give you one guess.
Topics to be covered range from the impact of the first 10 years of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; emerging threats, such as the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and sheesha; the ongoing challenge of tobacco industry interference in public health policy; and the conference theme – tobacco and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).I was interested in how these lunatics (well, those that managed to get there, anyway) could possibly present e-cigs as a 'threat' when talking to journalists who - I presume - are fairly intelligent. The answer is that they tasked people like Dr. Dean Schraufnagel, professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Illinois, to make the presentations.
He is quoted as believing “there’s a lot of evidence [e-cigs] could be harmful", and is adamant that they should be banned, so exactly the kind of fruitcake the WCTOH organisers feel is qualified to brief journalists. Here is a clip from his Q&A where he tells assembled hacks that e-cigs are bad because, well, tobacco industry. Oh yeah, and that if you use e-cigs, you'll be hooked on cocaine before you can say "junk science".
I also enjoyed how the long-practiced mantra of "people smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar” advocated in the 1970s by Michael Russell - and the basis for pharma products being fanatically promoted by tobacco controllers worldwide ever since - has been replaced with the message that "nicotine itself is responsible for many of these diseases" now e-cigs have turned up.
It's pretty clear that there is more chance of a leopard opting for stripes over spots than there is the tobacco control movement embracing openness, objective impartiality and evidence-based integrity. Now that's a story that should be reported, perhaps one day there'll be a journalist brave enough to run it.