Times & Democrat (South Carolina): Another shot in war on vaping

This article was published by the Times and Democrat, a newspaper based in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

This was a republication of my earlier article for Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancerstressgum diseasedry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.

AIER: The Politicization of Vaping Studies

This article was published by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

This was a republication of my earlier article for Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancerstressgum diseasedry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.

Inside Sources: Anti-Vaping Study With Bloomberg’s Name on It

This article was first published by Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancer,stress, gum disease, dry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.

International Policy Digest: Scientists Should Continue to Collaborate with Big Tobacco

This article was first published in the International Policy Digest.

The scientific community is unrepentantly shutting tobacco industry experts out of its inner circle, consigning smokers to the scrapheap in the process.

The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT), arguably the top organization for scientists interested in smoking, has taken the absurd decision to ban representatives of Big Tobacco from attending its annual conference.

It is actively ignoring valuable research in the sector just because it was carried out or sponsored by people who dare to associate with the tobacco industry. That has a direct effect on the general public.

Society is organically moving away from tobacco. Around the world, millions of smokers want to quit. But escaping an addiction is not easy. They need access to information and resources. For instance, electronic cigarettes – vaping – are the most effective tool for quitting smoking ever discovered. But because some tobacco companies have begun to contribute to the research around vaping – and indeed started selling vapes themselves – the SRNT doesn’t want to hear it.

E-cigarettes are an indispensable part of our palette of resources to help people quit smoking. They have a success rate of around 74 percent, much higher than nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method ever tested. Making the switch from smoking to vaping is worthwhile, too – the science is clear that it is much healthier. A lifelong vaper is approximately 200 times less likely to get cancer than a long-time smoker.

We can be in no doubt that vaping is healthier than smoking, and the science is clear that it is a great way to help smokers quit. We can surely all agree that smokers who want to quit should be given every opportunity to do so. It is a good thing, then, that tobacco companies are turning their attention to vaping en masse. But because the SRNT is determined never to be seen breathing the same air as anyone who works for Big Tobacco, collaboration between industry and academia is near-impossible.

That means there is less innovation, less funding for research, and fewer strides forward in vaping and nicotine technology than there otherwise could be. Inevitably, that means some smokers are unable to quit using vaping. They are left in the lurch by the SRNT’s prejudices. When scientists stick their fingers in their ears and slam their eyes shut, their ignorance and isolationism probably cost lives.

Around the world, millions of smokers want to quit but are unable to access the resources they need to do so. Because of prejudices about the tobacco industry, technologies with a proven track record of helping people quit cigarettes – especially vaping – remain out of sight and out of reach for many.

This kind of mentality is sadly widespread. Interpol, for instance, is easily the preeminent international organization aiming to bring the illicit trade of tobacco products to a halt. And yet, the World Health Organization – which objects to all forms of smoking, so surely agrees that the tobacco black market must be addressed – it refuses to collaborate with Interpol or allow its representatives to attend conferences related to tobacco policy.

Why? Because Interpol sometimes dares to work with Big Tobacco in order to track illegal shipments.

That’s right. The World Health Organization (WHO) which exists to keep us safe and healthy and has made eliminating smoking one of its key missions in the twenty-first century, is happy to allow illicit tobacco smugglers to go about their business in peace because it would rather virtue-signal about its righteousness than work with Interpol to bring those operating outside the law to justice and shrink the size of the tobacco black market.

Time and again, we see organizations like the WHO and the SRNT neglect the rights and concerns of consumers in order to uphold their own prejudices about the industry. If they really care about our health, as they say they do, they must put their virtue-signaling aside and instead prioritize innovation and progress in the field of tobacco and nicotine – even when that means working with Big Tobacco.

Contrepoints: Freedom as a solution to the cost of living crisis

This article was published in French on Contrepoints. Below is an English translation of the piece.

Against the increase in the cost of living, the French must rediscover a taste for freedom.

President Macron’s eyes are fixed firmly on this year’s election. Every decision he makes is aimed at keeping his place in the Elysée Palace. But he forgets that if he is successful in winning a second term, he will have to deal with the consequences of the choices he makes now.

In the cost-of-living crisis, he is kicking the can down the road. On the face of it, France seems to be doing much better than many other European countries thanks to Macron’s price caps. According to Insée, inflation will be slowed by around 1 per cent. Consumer prices will still rise, but the blow will be cushioned. The situation over the next few months will be less dire for many households than it would have been without Macron’s state intervention.

But before long, the government – and therefore the French taxpayer – will have to foot the bill. And it is a substantial bill. A whopping 15.5 billion euros has been set aside to limit the impact of inflation, mainly aimed at rising gas prices. Electricité de France SA, which is state-controlled, has been compelled to sell more power at a discount.

Unless President Macron has discovered the mythical ‘magic money tree’ which British prime minister Theresa May talked about, he is only making the situation for the French economy even worse. Many countries around the world are suffering with an inflation and cost-of-living crisis at the moment, but difficulties in France will continue for much, much longer than elsewhere, because France will remain under the cloud of debt, deficit and state interference for much longer than other countries.

Most disappointingly of all, this is entirely avoidable – it is blatant electioneering from President Macron. He is using the full weight of the state apparatus to maximise his chances of winning the election in a few months’ time and it is the French people who will suffer.

Today it is gas prices and electricity bills, but tomorrow it could be anything else. If we continue allowing precedents to be set wherein the government can intervene at will to make citizens’ lives more expensive and further under the control of centralised policy, it will only become harder and harder to undo those changes, roll back the frontiers of the state and reclaim our most basic freedoms.

The only substance taxed more harshly than petrol and diesel in France is tobacco, which is the perfect archetypal example of the way the state looks down on ordinary people and insists on nannying them. France has some of the highest tobacco taxes in the world because it is at the beck and call of the World Health Organisation, a shameless echo chamber of global nanny statists issuing diktats to governments around the world about new ways to tax and regulate their populations into submission.

How long will France continue putting up with this? If French people want to quit smoking, they are capable of doing so on the free market through solutions like vaping. When it comes to the cost-of-living crisis, the French people need a government which stands up for their interests on the international stage and implements a properly thought-out energy programme, including nuclear energy, in order to keep costs down and save the environment at the same time.

Most fundamentally of all, French people know much better how to spend their money than their government does. The last thing struggling French households need is more and more of their euros going to the state through taxes to pay for the latest expensive government initiative. France does not need a nanny state – it needs its politicians to entrust its citizens with personal responsibility and allow them to live their lives and spend their money as they see fit.

That’s why we are setting up our new project in France, Les Jeunes Voix. Young Voices, an international non-profit organisation for liberty, has seen huge success in the US and UK in recent years in promoting ideas of liberty in the media and popular discourse. Now, we want to provide new voices for liberty in France too.

There is a crying need for fresh ideas in the French public square, and we want to help provide that by lifting up French voices and empowering people in France who believe in values of liberty. Our freedoms can slip away quickly if we don’t fight for them, and there has never been a more important time to fight than now! If you believe in liberty, join our fight.

RealClear Policy: Why is the World Health Organization Taking Advice from Iran?


This article was first published on RealClear Policy.

Last month, media cycles were dominated by COP26, the UN’s global climate summit held in Glasgow. But behind the scenes, another wing of the United Nations was also meeting to decide the future of a crucial area of public policy: the World Health Organization (WHO).

COP9, hosted by the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), took place virtually. Attendees discussed public health policy, with a particular focus on smoking and vaping. But where COP26 was broadcast around the world, featured eye-catching speeches from world leaders and generated countless headlines, COP9 was hidden away behind closed doors. It passed without a whisper.

As a result, its outcomes faced little to no scrutiny. That’s a cause for concern, not least because at COP9, the WHO adopted a framework for tobacco control proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the same country with whom the US government is currently locked in talks over possible weapons of mass destruction. The FCTC states proudly that the Iranian declaration, signed off at COP9, “stresses the need to protect public health policy from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.”

This fits a well-established pattern in the WHO’s approach to this type of issue. It likes to over-simplify complex policy issues by casting itself in the lead role in a damsel-in-distress fairy tale where it swoops in to save consumers like you and I from the malevolent intentions of the villain — usually private companies but sometimes a sovereign, democratically elected national government.

In the case of tobacco policy, the WHO insists that its approach, as proposed by Iran at COP9, is vital and constructive. The declaration goes on to state that “tobacco control measures, particularly increases in tobacco taxes, should be an integral part in [sic] pandemic recovery efforts.”

The question of how exactly increased tobacco taxes will help us recover from Covid-19 remains unaddressed, but the problem runs much deeper. The WHO is a fully signed-up supporter of the outdated, disproven twentieth-century playbook which says any social or political ill can be eliminated through taxes and bans. It’s nanny statism gone global.

The reality is very different. The FCTC likes to quote alarming figures about how deadly smoking is, but it never explains how its proposed policy solutions — which are always wildly intrusive on our civil liberties and our wallets — will save any lives. Prohibition simply doesn’t work. Just like liquor prohibition in the 1920s and 30s, the WHO’s war on nicotine provides an object lesson in the law of unintended consequences

Research from Pepperdine University found that prohibition leads to a loss of consumer protection and a rise in illicit trade and other criminal activity. If you ban smoking — which, according to the FCTC, is ultimately the only logical conclusion — tobacco addicts will be forced to switch to the black market.

That means the products they buy are unregulated, putting them in grave danger. Criminal and drug gangs enjoy a new income stream. Plus, governments around the world miss out on an estimated $40-50 billion in lost tax revenue each year. That money could be invested in essential services — or given back to the public through tax cuts.

Even policies less radical than outright bans have adverse consequences. Price increases driven by taxation result in less affordable cigarettes, which has a notable effect on the size of the illicit market. If cigarettes become 10% more expensive relative to incomes, illegal trade grows by 7% on average as consumers seek cheaper options.

Perhaps most damagingly of all, the Iranian framework adopted by the FCTC also advocates new taxes and restrictions on vaping. Electronic cigarettes are unequivocally much safer than smoking, and they are a vital quitting aid. They work in 74% of cases — a much higher success rate than every other smoking cessation method. The WHO’s rigid stance on reduced risk products like vaping means poorer smokers are more likely to struggle with quitting or to turn to smoking for relief from stress or depression.

In its COP9 echo chamber, free of anyone contradicting the nanny-state orthodoxy, the FCTC adopted a destructive and dangerous framework on tobacco policy. In future, it should refrain from taking public health directives from Iran.

National Post (Canada): The WHO’s tobacco policy echo chamber

This article was first published in the National Post (via Financial Post) one of Canada’s biggest newspapers.

This month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) held two virtual meetings relating to its mission to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products, called Conference of the Parties (COP9) —yes, another COP! — and Meeting of the Parties (MOP2). But those titles are misleading: key stakeholders were shut out of the conversation.

As is now typical of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), key parties were excluded from these vital conversations. The media was shut out, as was law enforcement. Countless organizations and individuals with potential insight into the issue, such as scientists, were excluded because of alleged distant connections to tobacco interests. Perhaps most importantly of all, consumers had no voice at either COP9 or MOP2.

Instead, those conferences saw public health bureaucrats and governments officials meet for talks behind closed doors to concoct plans for the continuing growth of the nanny state in the form of endless new restrictions on tobacco products. A cabal of statists gathered in a room to agree with each other about the need to impose their will on the non-consenting public. It was an autocratic echo chamber.

This is clearly dangerous. By allowing elites to set the rules free of scrutiny, officials can produce oppressive, harmful international laws which might otherwise have been impossible. When a group of tobacco farmers peacefully protested against COP7, held in Delhi in 2016, they were rounded up onto buses and carted away out of sight and earshot of the conference. The FCTC is wilfully blind to the real-world consequences of its diktats.

The result is an elite consensus behind actively destructive public health policies. By cracking down on tobacco through new taxes, sales restrictions and advertising regulations, the WHO risks fuelling the illicit market. According to US research , the illegal tobacco trade funds organized crime gangs and terrorism and contributes to underage smoking, all the while costing governments billions in lost global tax revenue.

The FCTC’s myopic and outdated tax-and-ban approach to tobacco policy poses a direct threat to law and order. Combatting illicit trade is an area in which governments’ and the tobacco industry’s shared interests make cooperation necessary and sensible. Tobacco product packaging and associated tracking mechanisms play a key role in preventing illicit trade. Some aspects of law enforcement to combat illicit trade require implementation by tobacco interests.

Yet the WHO refuses to consult the likes of Interpol, the world’s foremost anti-crime organization, on the grounds that it sometimes works with the tobacco industry to track shipments. The WHO has twice denied Interpol credentials to participate in FCTC discussions.

The FCTC, then, leaves smokers with a stark choice: quit, or resort to organized crime, the dark underbelly of the western world. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the WHO also goes out of its way to cut off smokers’ best hope of an escape route by cracking down on reduced-risk products such as electronic cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, or vapes, are the best tools ever discovered for helping smokers quit cigarettes. They succeed in nearly three quarters of cases, a much higher success rate than nicotine pouches, going cold turkey or any other method of smoking cessation. But the FCTC plays into misinformation and scaremongering by urging equally harsh new nanny-statist measures against vaping.

The WHO’s approach to tobacco policy suffers from multiple fatal flaws because it is the product of the closed-door, unscrutinised conversations between public health bureaucrats with no expertise in the economics of the tobacco industry, no interest in the livelihood of tobacco farmers and no concern whatsoever for the freedom of choice of tobacco consumers.

Echo chambers breed harmful policies and the FCTC is a case in point. Its next meeting — COP10 — is due to be held in late 2023. Between now and then, the WHO would do well to allow differing perspectives and external insight into the fold. The alternative path is a bleak one.