Monday 4 August 2014

Execrable Esquire

There are column acres of misinformation about e-cigs published by ignorant and/or lazy hacks in any one week, but Esquire magazine - the favoured publication for male clothes horses with a superiority complex worldwide - has eclipsed them all with an article which treads on every man-trap laid by tobacco control dinosaurs.

People pay to read this garbage, apparently.
E: Cigarettes: Cure Or Cash-Cow? 
On the 11 June, Japan Tobacco International – who own numerous iconic brands, including Camel —–bought the UK’s biggest electronic cigarette imprint, E-Lites. Fifteen days later, Philip Morris International – makers of Marlboro – followed suit, when it added the UK’s second largest distributor, Nicocigs, to its growing portfolio of brands. If you combine E-Lites’ reported market share in 2013, with Nicocigs’ current stake (as estimated by Philip Morris) the significance of both deals becomes clear. Two tobacco companies secured approximately 67 per cent of the British e-cigarette market, in the space of fifteen days.
Well, no. Actually they didn't. They may have secured 67 per cent of the market for cig-alikes - the ones which look like real cigs and are sold in petrol stations etc - but that part of the e-cig market is not the whole. They certainly serve a purpose to many people but the majority of e-cig users don't regularly buy £8 disposables. You only need to look around you to know this, as the vast majority of people you see out and about - I guarantee - will now be using 2nd or 3rd generation tank systems. And why not when a starter kit costs about £20 with deals aplenty, strongly suggesting intense competition in a crowded market?

I could be wrong but, as far as I know, no UK tobacco company currently markets a tank system.
Philip Morris and Japanese Tobacco’s competitors will be Imperial Tobacco (whose subsidiary, Fontem, supplies its brand Puritane, exclusively, to Lloyd’s Pharmacies). Meanwhile, British American Tobacco – who own Lucky Strike – sell their vaporizer brand Vype, via Boots. With the exception of the China National Tobacco Cooperation (a state-owned cigarette manufacturing monopoly) each of Big Tobacco’s “big four” now owns a substantial stake in the British market for electronic nicotine.
Their 'substantial stake' is in a niche part of the e-cig market and declining rapidly according to industry analysts Wells Fargo, but this piece intends to set its stall out early. The premise is that e-cigs are bad because, err, Big Tobacco. I think we are dealing with the 'lazy' of the journalistic genre here.
But while the devices have been lauded in some quarters, they've also caused a rift between public health professionals. One group views electronic cigarettes as an innovation with significantly fewer risks than tobacco. They argue that if smokers can replace their current addiction with electronic nicotine, the product could save millions of lives.
As we shall see, this is not the side of the argument favoured by our fearless impartial investigative journo.
An opposing camp takes a very different line. They agree that e-cigarettes are likely to benefit “established” smokers; but they also believe that the tobacco industry’s primary purpose is to recruit new consumers at the same time. 
Just like some people believe man never landed on the moon.

Anyone with a proper knowledge of business and economics - unlike tobacco control - can see that e-cigs present a perfectly natural progression for the tobacco industry in the current environment. It would be more of a surprise if they didn't grasp the opportunity to get into the harm reduction business. The only people who don't see that as common sense are the irresponsible lunatics in tobacco control, who we must presume furnished our Esquire author with much of his manipulative guff.
Additionally, they argue that the health risks of electronic cigarettes remain unknown, while the possibility that they help us to give up smoking is unproven.
Ah, the old 'unproven' as a cessation aid chestnut. This is as disingenuous as any anti-ecig argument gets but, sadly, rife in tobacco control industry circles.

There are millions of real life success stories all over the world but - because anti-smoking control freaks have been happily ignoring them - there are very few figures on a peer-reviewed Excel spreadsheet to confirm this. It is a pathetic excuse recently described brilliantly by Dr Michael Siegel as:
"although many ex-smokers have used e-cigarettes successfully as a cessation aid, there is no evidence that any ex-smokers have used e-cigarettes successfully as a cessation aid"
Only in tobacco control, eh?

Esquire continues ...
Tensions are running particularly high, because electronic cigarette manufacturers are coming to terms with one of their biggest challenges, arguably, since the first e-cigarette was invented in 2003. The EU’s Tobacco Products Directive – which is the cornerstone of smoking legislation in Europe – didn't mention the vaping phenomenon;
Perhaps because it is a Tobacco Products Directive and e-cigs don't contain tobacco?
so the revised directive, which was published in April 2014, gave e-tobacco tobacco manufacturers across Europe significant cause for alarm.
Yes, they were alarmed that Big Pharma lobbyists had managed to crowbar a non-tobacco product into the EU's corporate advert for the pharmaceutical industry's alternative nicotine delivery systems.
Under the new directive (which member states must enforce by 2016) weaker electronic cigarettes can still be sold as normal, provided they disclose their ingredients, and carry warnings (such as ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance’) that cover at least 30 per cent of the packet.  
Meanwhile, “stronger” products (or those which contain more than 20mg/ml nicotine, and make up the bulk of the electronic cigarettes currently on sale in Britain) must obtain medical licenses, like those which pharmacies need, in order to continue selling their wares.
By weaker products, they mean ones made by tobacco companies such as Imperial's Puritane at 16mg/ml and BAT's Vype at about the same. Meanwhile, the "bulk" of products (i.e. mostly the ones not made by Big Tobacco and its fabled 67% market share) would be effectively banned. Way to go, tobacco industry haters.
As electronic cigarettes are currently unregulated and growth is propelled by high-revenue advertising campaigns, news of regulation was met with industry animosity. However, it was the revelation, through leaked minutes of a meeting held on 6 December 2013 by the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which suggested that the WHO was considering regulating electronic cigarettes in the same manner as tobacco, that prompted industry outcry. 
Again, because e-cigs are not a tobacco product unless you apply a quite ridiculous definition of nicotine.
The World Health Organisation advises governments on how to respond to health trends. Therefore, an anti-e-cigarette recommendation could literally destroy the e-cigarette industry’s credibility overnight;
No, it would destroy the WHO's credibility overnight, vapers would just move to the black market.
but the biggest visible challenge to this suggestion came from a UK based group of 53 “specialists in nicotine science and public health policy,” who wrote directly to the WHO.
I reckon the quote marks are designed to ridicule the credentials of the 53 concerned, don't you?
Staunch opponents of electronic cigarettes immediately chased the WHO with a powerful letter (which received substantially more signatures but substantially less publicity). Using 43 citations, 123 international experts comprehensively explained how the tobacco industry has cynically manipulated an industry that showed no interest in helping smokers but prioritised share-price, instead.
Considering Mad Stan Glantz was one of these co-signatories of the 'powerful' letter, and the 43 citations were mostly from his fellow quacks, charlatans, cranks and shills, it's hardly surprising that it was widely ignored. But then, our Esquire journo has a fairy story to sell.
Since 1974, the prevailing attitude amongst British smokers has been the belief that nicotine itself does not kill — and that ballooning mortality rates are caused by carbon monoxide and tar.
No, that has been the prevailing attitude amongst the tobacco control industry, not smokers. It's been a central tenet of tobacco control since the work of Michael Russell in the 1970s. It's only now that they've decided to move the goal posts as they see their future income being threatened by e-cigs.
So when presented with a popular solution to the world’s tobacco problem, why are some doctors dismissing electronic cigarettes as a heist? Have groups so accustomed to battling cynical conglomerates begun to oppose anything that resembles a cigarette?
Simon Capewell, a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, explains that his position on electronic cigarettes, one that is shared by the Faculty for Public Health, is anything but a knee-jerk response from what he jokingly refers to as “a bunch of public health conservatives, who simply want to regulate everything and stop everyone from having a good time.”
No, it's exactly that. Well, that and the fear of a drying up of government and research grants and pharma cash, obviously.
Their fear is that the e-tobacco industry is an “accelerating juggernaut”; one that is motivated exclusively by profit.
Because tobacco control's pharma friends are only motivated by hearts, flowers, unicorns and cuddly puppies, of course.
Electronic tobacco was worth $1 billion globally in 2013. In 2014, a worldwide turnover of $3 billion is projected. Sales for several conventional cigarette brands in the UK fell by as much as 20 per cent in 2012, while old tobacco continued its languorous 6.4 per cent year-on-year decline. By contrast, the new industry grew by 950 per cent.
How this can possibly be cast as a bad thing is anyone's guess, but Esquire readers will probably see jumbo jet numbers, be convinced, then buy a £135 sweater after reading the next piece containing pics of good-looking guys staring into the distance.
“What tobacco companies are really prioritising is the recruitment of new smokers,” Capewell adds. “They are looking to get new people hooked and addicted…the whole point of the tobacco companies buying up the e-cigarette companies is that they can then control the price of both products. Having reached that point, they can then titrate their prices, to maximise profit from place to place, and year to year.”
Then he went our for a cup of tea and an apple danish with David Icke.

It's bunkum, of course. Capewell seems to be confusing (deliberately?) the tobacco industry with a monopoly instead of a collection of companies who fight like cats with each other for market share. Only in a natural monopoly is this kind of price control (or one where the state has established one as in Soviet times ... minimum alcohol pricing, anyone?) possible, never in a contestable one. Once one actor tries to maximise profit in this way, one of its competitors will happily try to kick the stool out from under them. And if they do all act as a cabal? Well, that just prices them out and invites new entrants to the market.

This isn't me saying this, but every economic study for the past few centuries. Only in the minds of the economically-illiterate does this imaginary galloping monopoly exist; never actually in real life.

Ironically, if Capewell wants to minimise the chances of this "titration" conspiracy theory occurring, he should, you know, oppose every attempt at installing crippling regulation which will inevitably restrict these new entrants and hand a contested monopoly to the tobacco industry and its economies of scale and established profitability. Just sayin'.
Professor Capewell is a leading figure in the public health community and not a conspiracy theorist.
No, he's a weapons grade screamer of a conspiracy theorist with the economic skills of a Sunday Sport reader.
His argument is not only corroborated by the Faculty for Public Health’s new Policy Statement on Electronic Cigarettes, but reiterated in the letter to the World Health Organisation signed by experts from around the world. They have recently been joined by the British Medical Association and several others, all of which state clear examples of e-tobacco’s agenda.
Oh dear.

And "e-tobacco's agenda"? Do you think the real agenda here is to just gemmy the word tobacco as many times as possible into an article about something which isn't about tobacco?
If its priority is really to provide smokers with a less harmful alternative to tobacco, why are 200 brands selling 200 different flavours, with images and strap-lines which are startling similar to tobacco adverts?
Last time I looked, the e-cigs sold by Big Tobacco in the UK consist of just two flavours; tobacco flavour and menthol flavour. I thought they had captured 67% of consumers! Who is selling these other 198 flavours then? Maybe the bulk of the market?
One, a senior British lecturer who has been drawn into interactions with the industry and does not wish to be named, neatly sums up the debate: “When journalists were put onto me, I would talk to them about the measures which were needed in order to study, let’s say, the effects of electronic cigarettes… That’s not a quick discussion. If they phone a publicist, he will say, ‘Regulation? Yes, we've got a couple of early studies. I’ll send them… Now, these studies may be of no value to anybody, but to that journalist they look fine. He’s going to quote them, and I don’t blame him.” 
Brilliant! You will struggle to find a more accurate representation of the tobacco control modus operandi than that. Irony central.
But the decline of tobacco is being matched by the rise of electronic cigarettes. The same conglomerates that own these products are enjoying unprecedented freedom in the way they promote them. 
Yes. Just as they'd enjoy freedom if they bought out Waterstones and sold books or anything else which hasn't been proven to be dangerous, and probably never will be. Good grief.
By October 2014, when the World Health Organisation decides whether to control e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco, they won’t just be fighting smokers, but the new forces of nicotine.
So the WHO fights against smokers, does it? Nice to see someone acknowledging that.
Trusting them, at this very early stage, is not only premature but crushingly naïve.
Coming from someone so staggeringly stupid as to not understand the difference between a tobacco company and the huge majority of e-cig suppliers who are independent and not tobacco companies, the accusation of naïveté is quite hilarious.
“There were 30 flavours; now there are 50. Strawberry, honey? Bubble-gum? Just for adults? Who are we kidding here?” Professor Capewell wonders.
Presumably because when he sees an adult eating honey for breakfast, chewing gum at a bus stop, or enjoying strawberries at Wimbledon, he instantly calls his mate Icke and reports having seen a shape-shifting alien.

Adults appreciating nice flavours? How ridiculous!
“This is when we get into the real safety issue. Imagine if even 10 per cent of those children become addicted to nicotine, of which half then become lifelong smokers. That equates to tens of millions across the globe. Isn't that a public health disaster in itself?”
He obviously means the 10 per cent of children who are not becoming addicted to nicotine in every jurisdiction so far studied, and the half of these non-existent addicts who are not becoming lifelong smokers because the gateway theory has been comprehensively discredited. Surely an 'expert' should know this by now?

The only public health disaster is this dangerous and irresponsible Capewell clown. But Esquire bought his crap. Shame on the incompetent bloody lot of them.


Ivan D said...

"Would destroy the WHO's credibility" rather assumes that that corrupt unelected and unaccountable political entity still has any credibility outside of the political bubble. We have massive party political arguments and rifts over surrendering powers to the EU but the Westminster clique meekly accepts our elected politicians being subject to a framework put together at the behest of hate filled activists by a supra national QUANGO. The WHO is even less democratic than the EU commission, which of course dreamed up a tobacco products directive that incorporates non-tobacco products and omits tobacco products that are demonstrably safer than cigarettes. The world would be a better place and we would all be better off without either of those organisations as they currently operate.

Junican said...

I cannot be sure whether or not the politicians know the nature of treaties. The fact is that these treaties are just temporary agreements between nations. 'Legality' does not enter into it. There is no such thing as 'international law' - there are only treaties.
But there is such a thing as 'natural law', which depends upon the reasonable right of human beings to live peacefully and be self-sufficient as far as possible (provided that you do not seriously inconvenience your neighbours).

Stugo said...

David Icke says the moon is filled with aliens controlling us with mind rays and that everything is a hologram. He is, in my opinion, a double-agent, which is the reason he is on the mainstream media so often.

Gorilla 119 on YouTube has made many videos exposing this Pagan New Ager who keeps contradicting himself.

His job, like Alex Jones, is to make genuine conspiracies appear to the masses to be nuts, so they carry on toeing the Establishment line that the UN is good and the EU has brought peace and the Government loves us.

He is part of what is coined the 'controlled opposition". That's my opinion, of course...