Wednesday 22 February 2023

Rage-Driven Tobacco Control Industry Stupidity Explained In One Tweet

It was once explained to me that there are thousands of students who start off aspiring to be doctors. Those not clever enough to become doctors drift into other public health roles, but those who are not clever enough for that often go into the tobacco control industry. 

This was in answer to my querying why I regularly read stuff from tobacco controllers which are too stupid for words. Either they lack basic comprehension of concepts such as behaviour and economics, or advance ideas so puerile that most 14 year olds should be able to see through them. Often I have imagined that some would not even have had the required intellect to be a driver in my transport company. 

And today, we have seen a diamond-encrusted example of exactly this type of utter tobacco control stupidity. 

In the early hours UK time came this tweet from anti-vaping organisation Quit Victoria, whose Twitter timeline is chock full of ignorant statements and assertions which they must surely know are untrue at the best of times. But on this occasion they have truly excelled themselves.

In answer to Australian academic, Alex Wodak, asking why they rejected the Cochrane Library - the gold standard of evidence reviewers - stating that there is "high level certainty" that vaping is more effective for smoking cessation than NRT, Quit Victoria came up with this absolute stonker of a lie. 

Earth-shattering, if true, but of course it wasn't. What's more, they elaborated on their claim by saying that it was "backed up by investigative journalism", no less. 

The link they provided to 'prove' this was an article in The Australian at the end of January designed to smear pro-vaping academics of being manipulated by Philip Morris International. BAT was not mentioned in the article and the only reference to Cochrane merely confirmed that what Wodak was referring to was correct. 

A review by the widely respected British policy institute Cochrane found rates of quitting smoking were higher when people used vapes and e-cigarettes than when they used nicotine replacement therapies such as patches.

So, we are already in the realms of stunning idiocy, but imagine what kind of thought process went into this tweet. Well, basically none. 

Firstly, where did the thought originate? Had the author read something somewhere to make them think this was the case? Perhaps they were confused with something else. Which leads us to ask did the author of the tweet do some basic fact-checking before going public around the world with it? Patently not, because it has no shred of truth about it.

How can someone be employed in such a role when they are unable to perform basic functions like that in a public-facing organisation? I'm afraid it is just the nature of the industry. When you have a never-ending flood of funding at your disposal, any old idiot gets hired so the corpulent budgets can be spent. 

I can imagine some in the industry think a professional is someone who play sports for money, accountability is being able to add up, and rigour is someone who works pumping oil. 

The motivation for such a moronic action, in case you were wondering, is the irrepressible rage that anti-vapers get when they read convincing and evidence-based arguments about the huge potential benefits of vaping products. For them, this is pure heresy! It must be discredited by any means. If they can't do so by challenging the science (as if tobacco control is bothered by such things) then they will have to lie and lie about it until people disbelieve the claim. Standard tobacco control behaviour. 

A Sydney pensioner has already had a pop at Cochrane by saying it assesses the wrong kind of studies, but even his Koi carp don't listen to the old duffer anymore, so a dullard at QuitVic thought they'd have a go in their own vacant style. We saw the same desperate wriggling, by the same people, funnily enough, to try to discredit PHE's claim (repeated annually since 2015) that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. Thousands of lies later, they have consistently failed with that too, hence the palpable frustration you see with people who know that, as evidence mounts up in favour of vaping, they are losing the war and just cannot stomach it.    

Word eventually reached Cochrane about the palaver, and they confirmed what everyone except the dumbasses at QuitVic already knew with an admirably low-key tweet. Considering the disgusting slur they had been subjected to, it exhibited class that the likes of QuitVic will never be able to achieve. 

Of course, if QuitVic employed people who possessed even a modicum of intelligence, they could have discovered this themselves as it was announced on Twitter that Cochrane had received a new round of Cancer Research funding on February 10th

And to add the cherry on top of this monumental tobacco control industry self-own, at time of writing it is approaching 6am in Melbourne. It seems they posted a load of demonstrably defamatory cobblers, allowed themselves a smug grin, turned the computer off and fucked off to watch telly. It is often noted that the tobacco control industry has no regulator. No-one to complain to when they make inaccurate or mendacious statements. No accountability, no-one to censure them when they regularly mislead the public. Now, we see that QuitVic doesn't even have internal oversight of its own. 

Soon the author of the tweet and the rest of QuitVic will wake up to a whole host of mentions calling them out as liars and their reputation in tatters. 

With any luck the lawyers' letters will soon follow.