I've been home for just a couple of hours after a particularly revealing week in India for the COP7 conference, and I have to say I'm feeling quite smug.
Long-term readers here will remember that I've been writing for nearly six years now about how e-cigs have the capacity to show up the tobacco control industry for the corrupt, self-perpetuating, anti-social, health-be-damned gravy train that it has been since the early 1970s. This week has proved that hypothesis 100% correct.
Trading only on prejudice and the pursuit of power and tax-funding, this gargantuan enterprise has been perverted to such an extent that it is now incapable - due to a tangled web of prior deceit and funding arrangements - to cope adequately with a nimble breakthrough technology such as vaping. The FCTC has spent so much time setting itself up to be untouchable on tobacco, parroting junk science at every opportunity and routinely exploiting children, that it is now so heavily bureaucratic and conflicted that it finds itself totally stuffed and flailing now they have decided (wrongly) that they should deal with e-cigs.
So what we have seen this week is their usual disingenuous tactics fail miserably, so much so that when the light of publicity is shone in their direction, they scuttle like cockroaches muttering the same old canards they have managed to get away with before, but which simply won't wash anymore.
Let's list the main ones, eh?
1) Everyone who objects is a shill.
Perfectly exhibited by this clown, although he is only one of many to have tried this utterly pathetic defence in the past few days.
Delegates attending #COP7FCTC : #Vape "advocates" are the same as #BigTobacco mercenaries. Do not get distracted! Protect your people!— Jaime Arcila Sierra (@arcilasierra) November 10, 2016
I don't know why such idiots seem to think that accusing perfectly normal, everyday people of being shills is going to help them? It won't make vapers go away, instead it just reinforces the injustice that he and his colleagues are inflicting on them and makes it more likely that they will be active in the future. He is in a political arena but seems incapable of understanding this.
This dismissal of opposing opinions has been a central tactic of anti-tobacco frauds for decades, but it used to be just one of their tools for misleading the public; with e-cigs is has become almost the only one, simply because they don't know how to handle the public they claim to understand because they've never had to before. Therefore it doesn't work, because the storm of social media outrage was overwhelmingly from members of the public who are appalled at the disgusting behaviour of the FCTC in New Delhi.
The FCTC has installed article 5.3 to purposely silence debate; it is its only purpose. But this goes out the window when private citizens get involved. Clinging to such a stupid policy when real people are trying to send messages their way just shows what charlatans tobacco control execs are.
2) Junk science
Debate at the venue in Noida this week has been based entirely on a fabricated fantasy in the form of the laughable COP7 report on e-cigs. It includes every pile of shit that its pharma-conflicted buddies have concocted to try to quell this inconvenient fly in their ointment, and refuses to consider any science - however rigorous and weighty - that might derail their pre-conceived judgement.
I read the documents that were put to the COP7 meeting this week on the subject, and nowhere was it mentioned that the COP7 report had been ripped to shreds by more honest colleagues in their profession. The science on e-cigs only points one way, but the delegates at COP7 think that - just as they did with tobacco - if they just keep lying for long enough, it will all go away and they don't have to change course. They will have to in the end or continue to be mortally embarrassed as they have been this week. But here we are, over a decade since e-cigs arrived on the scene, with their still being incapable of recognising how their reputation is being trashed by their own incompetence.
And talking of incompetence ...
3) Manipulation of the media
The tobacco control industry has relied for many years on the "science by press release" approach whereby a pliant media just parrots what they're told without asking any questions. This just doesn't work when the world can see what tobacco controllers refuse to; that e-cigs are quite obviously a remarkable invention.
The huge uptake of vaping around the world is something the press are now very interested in, and they are asking questions themselves. Apart from a few very lazy hacks, the ears of journalists have been pricked by the visibly accelerating prevalence of vaping and they are curious, especially since vapers tend to be engaged and hunger for news stories about the subject. The upsurge in vaping is a rich seam of visitor clicks for the new online media
In the past the FCTC hasn't needed to be bothered about such things so just trundle out bland - and almost invariably inaccurate - messages to the media before retiring to their state-funded hotels to get pissed and plan their next jamboree.
It doesn't work with vaping and leads to crashingly embarrassing occasions such as this where their spokesperson not only has no clue about the subject matter, but also seems not to understand how their own processes work.
Do watch this, because it highlights how extremely incompetent the organisers of COP7 really are.
5) David fighting Goliath
This deliberately constructed fallacy is one which has served the tobacco control industry well for many years. They tap into the public's mistrust of big businesses - the ones who make cigarettes in particular - and portray themselves as poor, marginalised, under-funded philanthropists fighting against an incomparably-funded enemy.
But the vast majority of e-cig manufacturers are small independent businesses, which the Goliath of tobacco control is putting to the sword at every opportunity worldwide. There were around a thousand activists at COP7, almost exclusively funded by global governments and with the added bonus of patronage from multi-national pharmaceutical companies.
When you have government representatives on all your delegations; are funded generously by one of the most lucrative transnational sectors of big business; spend a week calling unpaid citizen vapers shills and encouraging governments to put small independent start-ups out of business with impossible regulations and state-sanctioned bans; and have the power to ban the press from reporting on what you are doing, you are no longer the fucking David you like to pretend to be!
The tobacco control industry has never been the poor underfunded underdog, and the FCTC's approach to e-cigs proves this fact categorically.
So what now?
Now, I might be wrong but I believe I was the only vaping consumer to be afforded one of the restricted 30 public places to attend COP7 in India (see report of the day here). I was, of course, then banned from observing further detailed proceedings about vaping along with the press and any other interested parties.
However, I'm already hearing that vapers are so consumed with anger at the way COP7 has treated the subject that the next conference in Geneva in 2018 will be attended by many hundreds more. The FCTC now has a two year period of warning to stop being so lazy and to develop some understanding of the products and the people who make and consume them. Personally I hope they don't, because just following the same idle and mendacious lines as they've done for decades with tobacco is working very well for someone like me who just wants to see their total destruction.
I don't believe I'll be disappointed, either, simply for the fact that the FCTC is not fit for purpose. I will write up the quite ridiculous procedure tomorrow on how COP7 debated vaping for 5 days but ended up with exactly the same ill-researched crap that they had produced in Moscow in 2014. The only teaser I'll give is that it's hardly surprising when you allow third world nations the ability to display their ignorant opinons with the full backing of a UN-backed and unelected global quango Goliath.
Those organising COP8 now have two years to start learning about vaping while the science has another two years to further show up their stupidity. If the FCTC thought this year was a trifle uncomfortable, that will be nothing compared with when hundreds of the vapers they have insulted this past week - and hopefully unnecessarily-impoverished manfacturers and vendors too - turn up on their doorstep in 2018.
New Delhi will look like a maiden aunt's garden party by comparison.