An open letter to Ruth Malone

Dear Ruth,

In a recent series of statements & exchanges with the vaping community on twitter, you appeared to acknowledge the important role that ecigs are playing, and yet you still want to crowbar a smoke-free non-tobacco product into your smoke-free air act. No. No. And once more, so I know you have heard me, No.

When will you people understand? The smoke-free air act itself is a travesty; a victory for zealous puritan ideology over science & freedom of choice. We will not let you and your colleagues gouge away even more of our freedoms on the basis of an even more spurious cod-scientific pack of lies.

Feel free to open, encourage & support a chain of vape-free coffee shops, bars & restaurants in your state. But don’t for one minute think that your ideology trumps the freedom of others to choose to frequent other cafes, bars & eateries that simply aren’t interested in your petty personal likes & dislikes. You are free to choose, we are free to despise the kind of people who seek to use legislation as a personal battering ram to force others to bend to their quirky, illiberal & frankly inhuman obsessions.

As for garnering support from vapers for your sinister “endgame” concept, you may well find some who are more than receptive. Like non-vaping ex-smokers, some are indifferent towards smoking, others are as rabid as you or Chapman. But I’ll wager that the vast majority, myself included, are still livid at your industry’s relentless campaigns to dehumanise, denigrate, demonise and “denormalise” us.

Many of us still hold a deep resentment towards the tobacco control industry. We believe that our lifestyle choices are our business, and we got tired of being used as worthless cattle, to be herded and poked for the sake of your hatred of the tobacco industry.

We are further enraged by the ever-increasing evidence of the use of junk science & propaganda, and by the industrial-level promotion of ineffective (and in some cases dangerous) substances in your efforts to “persuade” us to quit.

If that’s not enough, for the best part of a decade (for e-cigarettes, and in the case of snus & other smokeless tobacco several decades), your industry has spread misinformation & lies, it has hoodwinked media & politicians with soundbite scaremongering, and it has persuaded many thousands, probably many millions to start or continue smoking lit tobacco rather than one of the many vastly safer alternatives.

You might garner a little support for your endgame. Like I said, all subsets of former smokers include a gang of rabid anti-smokers. But it would take one of two things to get a significant number of vaping activists to even consider approving of your mission. The first is if hell freezes over.

The second is if Glanz, Chapman, Mckee, the FDA, the EU, the WHO (and many more) take a long, hard look at what they’ve already done, and what they continue to do, before spending a great deal of time apologising, grovelling, eating humble pie, and dedicating the next decade to correcting, via research, journals and the mainstream media, the significant damage that they have already done in holding back tobacco harm reduction.

I think I know which of the two is more likely to happen, but you never know.

As you and your colleagues well know, vaping is not only the most effective method of becoming smoke-free, even among large swathes of populations who had no intention of stopping smoking. It is also – as snus did and still does in Sweden – likely to become a product that many start and continue to use without ever smoking lit tobacco.

Since vaping technology will only ever improve (unless regulations to satisfy both tobacco control and, ironically, cigarette manufacturers are introduced), it will only ever become safer. I believe that this is what the tobacco control industry is scared of.

I also believe that the overt and often hysterical campaigning against vaping & e-cigarettes is a refection of an industry position so blinded by a “tobacco (now nicotine) endgame” of their own making, that it is prepared to see a significant proportion of children & young adults start smoking over the coming years, rather than being educated & encouraged to consider the relative safety of e-cigarettes & smokeless tobacco products.

Kids do daft things, they always have, they always will. But they’re not stupid. Given the option between a product that will likely kill them and a range of products that likely won’t (yet deliver the same effects), they’re far more capable than the tobacco control industry gives them credit for to make an informed decision.

Snus works in Sweden on a population level – I know because I’ve seen it in action. That means you have to accept and embrace the fact that it is what young people will choose & use as well. The alternative, as we both know, is that a significant proportion simply start smoking instead.

That the tobacco control industry is prepared to put these people’s health & lives at risk, in order to achieve some far-fetched nicotine-free pipe-dream, is a sad reflection on how ideology, not health, drives many of your leading advocates.

This endgame of which you speak is an unrealistic ideal. Like all prohibition the utopia in the minds of its creators inevitable leads to a dystopia in the real world. The reality is that for the majority of first-time smokers the product they are using is already illicit, it is already illegal. Driving the trade underground via legislation will have the same disastrous (and predicted) effects as the prohibition of alcohol or recreational drugs. If there is a demand there will be a supply, no matter what the risks.

E-cigarettes & snus have already had a massive effect on demand for cigarettes. If only the tobacco control industry could open their eyes to this fact, and let events follow their natural and inevitable course, then vapers and snus users will inadvertantly deliver your endgame on a plate for you.

What we won’t do is join your crusade against smokers.

(Despite your occasional lapses into a seemingly pro-vaping stance, all too often the mask slips):

 

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Oh Ruth, that’s just…

 

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Oh dear…

 

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I rest my case.

 

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10 thoughts on “An open letter to Ruth Malone

  1. When those who claim to be fighting a ‘holy war on tobacco’ start attacking the best weapon so far developed to help them achieve their objective, one has to ask what is their TRUE objective. Is it, perhaps, simply preservation of their funding from pharma, tobacco and government (ie taxpayers)? E-cigarettes are NOT cigarettes, they are NOT smoking; they should NOT be considered the enemy! And false claims used as a weapon have a nasty habit of turning out to be boomerangs!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. As an ex-smoker who now chooses to use an e-cigarette, I agree with the majority of this piece and firmly believe that both smokers and vapers should have the freedom to choose to continue if they wish.

    However, I think it’s incredibly unlikely that anyone who has never smoked would take up vaping. I haven’t come across any cases of this personally and I believe that the majority of studies undertaken to date reflect the rarity of such cases. I’ll defend the rights of smokers to the end, but don’t welcome the use of false assertions such as this in retaliation against the anti smoking lobby. It’s not credible and will hamper efforts to defend against these zealots rather than strengthen our argument.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Really? I work with one. And not only that, I’d welcome it – every child diverted onto e-cigs rather than tobacco is one child that much safer. I’d be tempted to call it a desirable end, so long as smoking rates went down commensurately, and a sign that the technology is working on a population level.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Graham, there is a large subset of the nom smoking population we should be actively encouraging to use snus or ecigs. That’s those who don’t smoke now but would in the future. As tobacco control is, in the main, a zealous religion there is little point truing to appease it. We cannot hide from the argument that e cigs should be attractive and available to young people, specifically to young people who would otherwise smoke. If not what are we saying? It is Ok for young people to smoke until they reach a predetermined age when harm reduction is appropriate? Also ro worry about the politics and impacts of non smokers young or old taking up vaping is a distraction and deliberate attempt to conflate smoking and vaping to present an exaggerated risk. Again, if tobacco controllers are saying we dont want non smokers doing this, I don’t think the appropriate response is to compromise with them in the vain hope they will leave us alone. The response is to ask why. If we as vapers really believe that the risk profile of ecigs is similar to caffeine, why are we concerned about people using them, unless of course we are just engaging in the politics if the situation as dictated by people we know to be proven liars.

      Liked by 5 people

      • I had planned a longer reply to you Graham, but pretty much everything has been covered by entropy72 & Mark’s comments already.

        We can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that there won’t be uptake in the future amongst never smokers – after all, that’s how snus has delivered such low smoking rates (particularly among men) and a healthier population in Sweden, and to some extent Norway. But there is one critical difference that could (and probably already is) cause harm – if Public Health professionals, the medical profession and the media continue to exaggerate the risks of vaping, then a significant number of young people who may have become never-smoking vapers could end up as smokers, through lack of knowledge/education about the actual risks of both activities.

        If TC/PH etc did their job properly (and by that I mean talk honestly about the risks) then a 16-17 year-old who has had a few beers at a party, when presented with both options, might try an ecig knowing it to be the far safer option, and become a vaper. That is a public health win – since their behaviour would have led them to becoming a smoker had ecigs not been an option.

        We’ll never know for sure, but it’s also arguable that TC/PH etc have had the biggest impact on ecig uptake among young people. As every ad executive knows, if regulations prevent you from using a Unique Selling Point, or from talking about the key product benefits (in this case both a safer alternative to smoking and a quit aid), you’re basically limited to a style/lifestyle/abstract approach to marketing your products. The “appeal” of ecigs in marketing & advertising (both to adults & youths) is a direct result of advertising regulations as demanded by the Public Health industry.

        I think what bugs the tobacco control fanatics the most is that ecigs & snus are so much safer than smoking lit tobacco that the entire population of the planet could start using these products, and as a sufficient number of current (and future) smokers would reduce, cease or never start smoking, we’d have a massive global public health gain. We shouldn’t be afraid of this fact – we should be shouting it from the rooftops!

        Liked by 3 people

    • Trouble is, Entropy. There will always be smokers – including lifelong smokers like myself from small childhood to grannyhood without harm caused. We’re not quitting so both vapers and the tobacco control bullies had better learn to live with us. It looks like a good proportion of vapers can. We smokers thank the writer of this piece for standing by our freedom to choose as much as that of vapers and non smokers.

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Pingback: An open letter to Ruth Malone | artbylisabelle

  4. This is the same woman that said the worst thing IS have done is relaxed the tobacco ban.
    She’s an attention seeking loon.
    There is no reasoning with insanity of that magnitude.

    Like

  5. This is one strong and fair viewpoint. I personally find it tricky though as I DO view tobacco as the enemy and I would like to see the end of tobacco smoking because I’d like to see everyone live longer healthier lives whilst enjoying their nicotine addiction if they so desire. But equally I accept freedom and civil liberties should not be hindered in the way they are seeking. I would like people to ‘make the right choice’ through education and guidance but if they want to continue to play cancer roulette then I think it’s been made difficult enough under current prohibitions.

    Like

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