Thursday, 30 August 2012

Countering e-cigarette lies

There is a dreadful woman in Kentucky called Ellen Hahn. Dick Puddlecote mentioned her earlier this year. Having no clue about science and health, she naturally gravitated towards the payroll of tobacco control and has become Director of the Kentucky for Smoke-free Policy.

If this non-job means anything, it must involve helping smokers who want to quit. Hahn, however, takes a very different view and has instead gone to war with e-cigarettes (which she mistakenly believes are "tobacco products"). This has led to her hounding people at a 'Vape Meet' round her neck of the woods and spreading deceitful information about the products.

So I was pleased to hear that Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) have decided not to take it any more...

Tobacco harm reduction advocacy organization fights back against Hahn's disinformation

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) has begun a new initiative to expose false and otherwise misleading information that is distributed by opponents of tobacco harm reduction (THR). As part of that initiative, CASAA recently filed a formal complaint with the President of the University of Kentucky (UKY) and with the Kentucky State Attorney General asking for an investigation into UKY faculty member Ellen J. Hahn's dissemination of disinformation, including a recent attempt to trick a hotel into breaking a legal contract for hosting a THR gathering.

THR is the public health strategy of encouraging smokers to switch to low-risk alternatives like smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes ("e-cigarettes"). It is the only strategy that has proven able to reduce smoking rates below about one-fifth of the population once smoking has become popular in a population, and appears to be responsible for most of the reduction in smoking in the US for the last decade. Despite this, there is a small, but vocal and lavishly funded, group of extremist activists who oppose THR and whose strategy focuses on lying about it.

"I have been studying and promoting THR for more than a decade," said Carl V. Phillips, PhD, CASAA's Scientific Director, "and during that time, the truth about THR has been buried by a well-funded and orchestrated campaign of lies. Our simple truth-telling could never break through the noise. But THR advocates are finally numerous and organized enough that we can fight back directly."

In its 26-page letter of complaint about Hahn (available at, CASAA shows how Hahn presented herself as an official representative of the University and made false claims in an attempt to intimidate a Lexington, Kentucky hotel manager into canceling a scheduled conference of e-cigarette users, supporters, and merchants. The conference was eventually allowed to proceed thanks to the efforts of the local CASAA member who organized it, though Hahn was almost successful and her efforts resulted in substantial harms.

Most important, from the perspective of public health and academic integrity, the CASAA letter details how Hahn apparently violated UKY research ethics rules by making numerous false and otherwise misleading scientific claims about the risks posed by e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes have never been definitively linked to any health risk and are generally estimated to be about 99% less harmful than smoking. Anyone reading Hahn's claims, however, would believe that they are a proven serious hazard, comparable to cigarettes.

Some of Hahn's other claims that were not addressed in the formal complaint are the focus of a series of posts at CASAA's new "Anti-THR Lie of the Day" blog ( "We launched the anti-THR lies blog to coincide with the start of our new strategy," says Phillips, "and it should evolve into a catalog of the lies and liars, and provide a starting point for future formal complaints like the one to the University of Kentucky." Information about why there is opposition to THR, a question which often baffles people who are new to the topic, can be found in the first post on the blog.

Notice the new blog, Get it bookmarked.


Unknown said...

well those certainly aren't just cannot go ahead and disapprove all the research work carried out by doctors and health professionals world wide with facts and figures..Can you?
Buy Electronic cigarettes Online

JohnB said...

Who is this nitwit, Sam?

Many e-cigarette sellers were more than happy to jump on the antismoking bigotry bandwagon, enthusiastic to use much antismoking rhetoric. I posted a comment in the last thread indicating that Sam’s e-cigarette web site, like many others, promotes the “Chapman Trick” to sell its wares. It’s e-cigarette sites that promote one of the nastier versions of the trick, e.g.,

[Note particularly the “Cyanhydric acid – was used in gas chambers”]

It’s therefore a little rich that the e-cig folk are now in a huff and puff because Hahn, a pharma shill (see Siegel’s last few threads), is using the trick to discredit e-cigarettes.

And then there was this recent “article” by an e-cig supplier. The sheer volume of baseless, inflammatory trash beggars belief.

James Burr said...

Not a vaper - don't get on with it, personally. But good on them for doing this.

I hope the tobacco companies are watching and taking notes. The antis' lies have been so outrageous and numerous in recent years, the science so bad and their ethics so poor, Big Tobacco should have been taking a similar approach years ago.

That said, anyone and anything that discredits TC and Public Health in general is A-okay in my book.

westcoast2 said...

which she mistakenly believes are "tobacco products"

Unfortunately, due to the Njoy/FDA case, in the US a judge ruled e-cigs are tobacco products. The problems associated with Njoy's case were highlighted over 3 years ago

The FDA are now in the process of regulating e-cigs as tobacco products.

Some people did see the consequences of this, though at the time many went along with it just to stop them being banned.

Carl V Phillips said...

Westcoast, We originally had a bit in there about how ecigs can only be considered a tobacco product in an arcane and legalistic way, based on a judge's ruling, and that has no bearing on how a normal person would read such a claim. It was too complicated, so we took it out. It is a good example of something that gives someone a pathetic technical excuse for a lie, but it is still a lie.

JohnB, I totally agree that some of the claims that are made by ecig vendors are lies themselves, and that others are equally unfortunate. We are going to address this some in the blog. What is the "Chapman Trick"? -- I am genuinely curious (I know his nutty behavior in general, of course, just not sure of what actually got the label).

westcoast2 said...

Carl, as someone who argued, on the ECF forum, that e-cigs were neither a medicinal product or a tobacco product, I realised that anti groups would use the decision either way because of this false either/or situation. Indeed I have in the past proposed a completely separate regulatory framework for e-cigs.

I was extremely disappointed that Njoy continued with their approach although it was supported by some, including a well known SNUS supporter.

The decision maybe 'arcane' but subsequent legislation will be based on it.

I had hoped a further case would come along that challenges this e-cig=tobacco product decision, but I am now not sure how this will come about in the US, unless perhaps a new definition and framework can be found within Europe or the FDA regulations are onerous.

In the future (in the US) anti groups will continue to call e-cigs tobacco products, not in some 'mistaken' belief but by the full force of law. A stupid situation and one that could have been avoided.

westcoast2 said...

Carl, having re-read the letter, it is apparent that 'tobacco product' is used in a way to mean that the e-cig is regulated in the same way as cigarettes. This is obviously untrue.

Even, as a 'tobacco product', e-cig regulations (afik) have not yet been formalised.

Indeed there are different categories of 'tobacco product' which have slightly differing regulations. Of course the layperson would be unaware of this and probably only think of cigarettes.

My point was that this was no 'mistaken' use of 'tobacco product'.

I support what you have written, however the problem remains that e-cigs are legally (at this time in the US) tobacco products and will remain so until this view is challenged in some way.

JohnB said...

The Chapman Trick is to associate trace levels of particular chemicals in tobacco smoke with industrial-type uses of the same chemicals that involve extraordinarily larger quantities of these chemicals and involving entirely different compounds. It is lying by omission by removing any coherent context. It violates the toxicological maxim that “the dose makes the toxicity”. As Chapman notes, and intends to exploit, most people are not familiar with chemistry and dosimetry. Concerning the trick, they don’t pay attention to the chemical names because they don’t understand them. Rather they focus on the English words that they do understand. And, as the information is presented, people conclude that there is ant poison in cigarettes, embalming fluid in cigarettes, anti-freeze in cigarettes, etc. So let’s be clear, there is no ant poison, embalming fluid, or anti-freeze, etc, in cigarettes. And there certainly is no road tar in cigarettes. The only purpose of this trick is to deceive. It is intended to promote outrage and revulsion in, particularly, gullible nonsmokers at whom it’s directed. There are nonsmokers that actually believe that through SHS they are being exposed to vaporized ant poison, embalming fluid, etc. This trick has been used, ad nauseam, since the mid-1980’s by medical organizations, antismoking groups, and governments because it is highly effective. It is highly effective because, like most antismoking propaganda, it is inflammatory: It outrages because it is misleading. Its only purpose is to mislead, i.e., inflammatory propaganda. This trick has been instrumental in manufacturing tobacco smoke into a bio-weapon-like substance akin to, say, sarin gas.

A national current affairs program a few years ago ran a story on smokers using hypnosis to quit the habit. The opening scene was 5 or 6 smokers seated in a room. The hypnotherapist enters the room carrying a tray. On the tray were a box of ant poison, a bottle of industrial detergent, and a number of other industrial-type products. He smiled at the smokers and declared, “this is what you’re smoking!” That’s not what they’re smoking. This hypnotherapist had demonstrated that he had lapped up the propaganda, hook, line, and sinker, as many people have done.

A very recent example of actually coaching the public to lapping up the Chapman Trick is:

Here, just like the hypnotherapist, coaches go through a routine of pouring containers marked “ant poison”, “embalming fluid”, etc, into a bowl and then telling smokers that this toxic brew of poisons is what they’re smoking and what they are exposing nonsmokers – particularly children – to. It’s despicable.

Here’s another very direct example:

The label “Chapman Trick” has been applied by a commenter. The label acknowledges that it is trickery manipulating the public into irrational fear and hatred, and acknowledges who set this trick in motion as a “viable tactic” in antismoking circles. Sounds reasonable to me.

JohnB said...

What is the "Chapman Trick"? -- I am genuinely curious…

Hi, Carl. I gave some references a few threads ago on the “Chapman Trick” – see comments sections of

JohnB said...

But let’s address it briefly here.

We’ve all seen some variation of this “information”:
What’s in a cigarette?
Acetone (nail varnish remover), Ammonia (cleaning agent), Arsenic (ant poison in the USA), Benzene (petrol fumes), Cadmium (car battery fluid), DDT (insecticide), Ethanol (anti-freeze), Formaldehyde (embalming fluid), Hydrogen Cyanide (industrial pollutant), Lead (batteries, petrol fumes), Methanol (rocket fuel), Tar (road surface tar).

We’ve even more recently seen this sort of information used regarding e-cigarettes. For example, Hahn –
2. In the Vapor
Acetone and Xylene. Nail polish remover and paint thinner? You're going to breathe that? Really? And what about the friends next to you?

3. In the Cartridge
Nitrosamines. Known carcinogens. That means it causes cancer.
Formaldehyde. Highly toxic to all animals, including you. Good for embalming dead bodies. Causes cancer.”

Banzhaf - "As the FDA and others have noted, electronic cigarettes pose a wide variety of potential dangers to users, and perhaps also to those around them, both of whom inhale a mixture of nicotine (a dangerous drug) and propylene glycol (which is used in antifreeze[)] and may cause respiratory tract irritation”

Carl, I’ve noticed on your blog that you try to explain away this conduct as “chemophobia”. There’s a simpler way to explain the conduct that demonstrates that it is trickery – inflammatory propaganda.

The abuse of that sort of information - this trick - was suggested by Simon Chapman (an antismoker) at the Fifth World Conference on Smoking & Health (1983). It’s from his manual of tricks and tactics, “The Lung Goodbye”.

“A glance through any copy of the Smoking and Health Bulletin of the U S Department of Health and Human Services shows an entire indexed, section on ‘Tobacco Product Additives’ . Citations are included from patent office registrations of new chemical applications to tobacco processing and from the specialist chemical literature. Both these sources are virtually unintelligible, let alone normally accessible to the average person but are rich in potential for anyone willing to translate them into news items with popular interest . Polysyllabic chemical names should be checked through a reference book that lists common usages and toxicological data for chemicals . Look for usages that will connote revulsion or concern . For example, well known chemicals found in tobacco include cadmium (as in car batteries), ammonia (as in toilet cleaners), cyanides, formaldehyde and so on ……” (p.15)

JohnB said...

The sequence of comments on the “Chapman Trick” got messed up in posting. The sequence is 1, 2, and then the comment above 1.

JohnB said...

Chapman was recently confronted on a comments board about the “Chapman Trick”. In a rarity, he “responded”, typically by attempting to weasel his way out of any responsibility for the trickery or its consequences - some excerpts:

Chapman: “……. The plainly obsessive John Anderson who astonishingly credits a small self-published book I wrote in 1983 [The lung Goodbye] with having awakened the world to the chemistry of tobacco smoke and tar, is a serial cyber stalker who mostly inhabits sordid little pro-smoking cyber echo-chambers of denial and conspiracy theories. Blair, these people have massive relevance deprivation syndrome and thirst for anyone taking them seriously. Engage them once and they get priapic with excitement and spread it all over their dozens or so co-conspirators. Their rants are amazing. It's an endless freak show of ignorance.”

JA: “…….Nice try, Simon. Quite a number of your “suggestions” in your little book have been used incessantly over the last 3 decades, and are still used. Importantly, you didn’t “awaken the world to the chemistry of tobacco smoke and tar”; rather, you helped plant baseless, highly inflammatory beliefs in the minds of many.

You really can’t help yourself, can you, Simon? Most of your comment is ad hominem nonsense. You’re making it up. It’s a standard trick of the fanatics – try to get “dissenters” booted from a comments board as “serial stalkers”.

“pro-smoking cyber echo-chambers of denial and conspiracy theories”

That’s a bit rich coming from anti-smokers who are constantly claiming tobacco industry “conspiracy”. In fact, anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a tobacco industry “conspirator”. I’m not pro-smoking; I’m anti-fanatic/zealot/extremist. So, Simon, are you suggesting that the current antismoking crusade, like most before it, is not a social-engineering, eradication-of-tobacco-use crusade, or at the very least to remove smoking from “normal” society? You ought to be able to answer it. You’ve been there since the very early days.

JohnB said...

Chapman: “…..Then he insists my 1983 book The Lung Goodbye was indeed highly influential. OK, if you say so John. Funny though, that only 4 people have cited it in Google Scholar in 29 years
Some of us have moved on a bit since 1983. Which gets me to his baiting about NRT. He’s so obsessed about the “Godber plan” whatever that is (I met the late Sir George Godber once in my life and don’t recall him having any plans – but probably I can’t help myself lying about this, John will tell you) .. that he has no idea that I am widely seen as public enemy #1 by big pharma about NRT. This piece (20,000+ views) most NRT doesn’t do much for many smokers because it is under-powered & doesn’t give smokers the same nicotine brain hit bolus that smoking does.
But he’s right about tobacco industry conspiracies: there was and is one
John – that’s it from me. You are a waste of everyone’s time, sorry.”

JA: “…..You’re far too modest, Simon. Most people using the “Chapman Trick” wouldn’t know where it originated or that it’s even a trick. It’s been handed down time and again over the last 30 years. Nowadays it’s just a cut-and-paste job, found on many anti-smoking web sites; it’s parroted. Only “old-timers” in the “movement” would know – if they can remember – that it’s trickery. Now people can know where it originated and that it is trickery. And you’re being somewhat presumptuous doing a search with Google Scholar. “The Lung Goodbye” isn’t a scholarly piece; it’s a propaganda piece. You should definitely be assigned some credit for the consequences of the manipulation.

“Or save yourself some time and read this 1988 Surgeon General’s report on nicotine addiction All a conspiracy I suppose, John?”

Simon, why are you quoting organizations that are ideologically compromised, that, as far as tobacco goes, conduct themselves as activist groups? The Office of the Surgeon-General was committed to the smokefree “utopia” since the 1960s, and publicly so since the mid-1980s. Contributions to the Reports concerning tobacco have been dominated by high-profile anti-smokers since the early-1980s, including the re-definition of “addiction” and SHS “danger”. The Office of the Surgeon-General also uses your “Chapman Trick”: Consider a recent Surgeon-General report (2010) further highlighting the “perils” of exposure to ambient tobacco smoke. There at the very beginning, on page 3, it starts with the Chapman Trick, i.e., inflammatory propaganda.

Simon, how seriously should we take the remainder of the report when it begins with inflammatory propaganda?

There is an open conspiracy at work. The anti-smokers kept insisting from the 1980s until only recently that anti-smoking legislation was not social engineering, that it was only to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke “danger”. But we can now see that it was all a protracted lie. The information in the Godber Blueprint has only come to light recently – as has the anti-smoking fanaticism early last century. The anti-smoking goal has only been social engineering from the outset, masqueraded for a time as “protecting” nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, and where propaganda has been fraudulently peddled under the pretense of “science…..”

Deadcat2 said...

Regarding "tobacco products" it is my understanding that unless and until the FDA proposes "deeming" regulations to apply Chapter IX of the FSPTCA to electronic cigarettes, they are not officially a tobacco product. The Judge Leon ruling did not make them a tobacco product, he only stated that the FDA could regulate them as a tobacco product in order to counter the FDA argument that they were unregulated.

Anonymous said...

We have a pretty good angle on Ellen Hahn. Im in Kentucky and if she has anything left to say we will be in the state legislature to debate it in open forum. One thing Hahn never does is open debate with anyone. Your right she aint got a clue in the world about much of anything. They were so broke they bought a couple of smokefree vans to basically camp on the roadsides of kentucky to get folks to take an interest in a statewide ban,Yet in Somerset Ky they had only 50 people come by and they dont say if that included their 30 people travelling with them!

Unknown said...

Electronic cigarette is very usefull to whom have a adicts to the cigarette. This cigarette is tobacco free so that not affect the healthy.