Green Watch

The E-Cigarette Ban: A Win for Liars and Big Tobacco

This article is part of the Green Watch series.

SummaryBureaucrats and politicians often cite “science” as justification for their efforts to exercise control over Americans’ lives. It’s a fake, politicized “science,” of course. When science suggests that government policy is ineffective or counterproductive, Washington elites ignore the science they claim to venerate. Case in point: the regulation of e-cigarettes, benefitting the big tobacco companies that the Left claims to hate. This reminds us of the “Joe Camel” controversy, which was fabricated and promoted so that the Left could get its hands on a fortune in tobacco money.

The Food and Drug Administration has joined with Big Tobacco in an effort to crush the small businesses that make up most of the e-cigarette industry. In doing so, the FDA is putting at risk the lives of millions of Americans.

Once again, bureaucrats and politicians are distorting scientific studies in order to support a political agenda.  The ostensible mission of the FDA is to make sure food and medicine are safe, but FDA bureaucrats and the politicians who enable them have long sought to make the agency into a national nanny, a haven for prohibitionism and for meddling in people’s lives.

Now, bureaucrats have issued a set of rules that would effectively ban 99 percent of e-cigarettes, scuttle innovation in the e-cig industry, and enrich the companies that misled the public about the health consequences of real smoking.

$2 million or more an item

The FDA announced in May that it was assuming regulatory power over e-cigarettes on the theory that e-cigs, which contain no tobacco, are “tobacco products.” Most of the FDA measures took effect in August.

The agency issued new rules banning sales to anyone under 18 (a ban that most states had already enacted) and requiring warning labels. Most importantly, the rules on product approval, phased in over two years, will make virtually all e-cig products, even those currently on the market, subject to government approval. (The “Pre-Market Tobacco Application” rules apply to products released on the market after February 2007, but that’s almost all products created by the fledgling industry.)

The cost of approval is estimated by the FDA at $285,000 to $2.6 million, taking 1,713 hours per application. Others, more realistically, put the cost at between $2 million and $10 million. That’s per item—an impossible burden for an industry with a myriad of products, dominated by small manufacturers and small shops.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The FDA could move to regulate advertising or flavors such as cotton candy and watermelon that might appeal to youth.” (That’s based on the myth, popular among e-cig prohibitionists, that when a product tastes good, that means it’s targeted to young people.)

The Journal continued: “The approval process is expected to be less damaging for major tobacco companies such as Altria [formerly Philip Morris], Reynolds American Inc., and Imperial Brands PLC that have launched their own versions of the battery-powered devices that heat nicotine-laced liquid into a vapor. Those companies have financial resources to cover the costs that many vape shops and liquid nicotine manufacturers lack.”

Effectively, the FDA’s actions constitute a ban on e-cigarettes except for products from large corporations that can afford to deal with the FDA bureaucracy. That dramatically favors Big Tobacco over small manufacturers. Even more favorable to Big Tobacco is the removal from the market of countless e-cigarette products that would have served as alternatives to real smoking. Thus, as Jacob Sullum wrote in Reason magazine, the FDA’s regulatory scheme “privileges the most dangerous nicotine delivery devices (conventional cigarettes) while threatening to eliminate much safer alternatives and blocking the introduction of even better products. All in the name of public health.”

Tony Abboud of the Vapor Technology Association, an industry group, noted that

The FDA’s actions will not improve our nation’s public health objectives. To the contrary, they will yank responsibly manufactured vapor products from the hands of adult smokers and replace them with the cigarettes they had been trying to give up. The FDA will kill nearly a decade of innovation in the vapor technology industry and the many thousands of small and mid-size businesses in communities across this country who have invested in establishing retail stores and developing new technologies that sit outside of the influence of Big Tobacco. If enforced as drafted, the unreasonable and excessive regulations proposed by the FDA will only serve to put these innovators out of business, their employees out of work, and will hand deliver Big Tobacco a monopoly on vapor products.

At this writing, U.S. Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) seek congressional approval for a measure to limit the most damaging part of the new FDA rules. The former Democratic National Chairman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, has worked to block their efforts.

Safer than the alternative

An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a handheld electronic device that vaporizes a liquid, which is usually composed of flavorings, the common food additives propylene glycol and glycerin, and a small amount of the stimulant nicotine. The user inhales the vapor. E-cigarette use is often called “vaping.”

E-cigarettes are considered a relatively safe alternative to old-fashioned, combustible cigarettes. After an independent study and an extensive review of toxicological research, Public Health England, a government agency in the United Kingdom that conducts anti-smoking campaigns, concluded that e-cigs are 95 percent safer than cigarettes. The Royal Academy of Physicians, in a 200-page report, reached the same conclusion.

A study published recently in Preventative Medicine found an 11.7 percent increase in teen cigarette use after states introduced new age restrictions for e-cigarettes between 2007 and 2013. Smoking rates among 12 to 17-year-olds actually rose in states that banned e-cigarette sales to minors, according to one of the report’s authors, Abigail Friedman of the Yale School of Public Health. The lead author, Dr. Michael F. Pesko of Cornell, said that, “While there’s some risk [to e-cigarettes], it would be a mistake to regulate them the same way we regulate cigarettes.” (Politicians in California did just that in May, regulating e-cigarettes in the same manner as real cigarettes, raising the vaping age from 18 to 21, and banning vaping in public places.)

Users of e-cigs are exposed to none of the roughly 7,000 chemicals associated with real cigarettes, with the exception of nicotine. They contain none of the chemicals associated with emphysema, and none of the 60 chemicals classified as carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

Walter Olson of the website Overlawyered noted in April 2015:

Actual cigarette smoking among teens, the kind that requires inhaling carcinogenic products of combustion, is down a startling 25 percent in one year and nearly 42 percent since 2011. The reason is the rapid substitution of vaping or e-cigarettes, which hold singular promise as a harm-reduction measure for those drawn to the nicotine habit. Great news, right? Not if you listen to Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control, who’s doing his best to disguise good tidings as bad so as to stoke the officially encouraged panic about vaping.

Again, recall that the CDC’s mission is public health, which is the prevention of disease from communicable disease (bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens) and from common environmental sources. The agency is located in metropolitan Atlanta because, when the CDC’s precursor was founded in 1942, the South was where the malaria was. Other agencies handle environmental threats, so the proper role of the CDC (formerly the Communicable Disease Center) is to prevent communicable diseases. When the CDC involves itself in attempts to alter people’s behavior—matters of private health such as smoking, consumption of alcohol, and overeating, even such behaviors as how people drive and whether they keep guns at home—it is acting unethically and outside its proper scope, and ignoring its legitimate function.

Frieden served infamously as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Under his leadership, city officials took over the writing of restaurant menus and expanded their role in dictating the foods that restaurants could serve. Now, as CDC director, Frieden is obsessed with e-cigs. Joe Nocera wrote in the New York Times:

In a conference call with reporters, Tom Frieden . . . couldn’t stop talking about how awful this was. “It’s important that everyone, parents and kids, understand that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or a cigar,” he said. In addition to being addictive, nicotine was thought to affect the still-maturing adolescent brain—although Frieden also acknowledged that this had mainly been shown in animal studies, rather than studies of adolescents. What’s more, he feared that there was a “significant likelihood that a proportion of those who are using e-cigarettes will go on to use combustible cigarettes.”

Actually, e-cigs appear to be a strong deterrent to cigarette use, given the substitution effect. Vaping appears to be quickly replacing smoking among young people. By 2015, real smoking—the kind, as Nocera noted, “that kills one out of every two long-term smokers” —dropped to 9.2 percent among teens by 2015. That, Nocera wrote, was “the first time that teen smoking in America has ever hit single digits,” and

it seems pretty obvious that the decline in cigarette smoking has largely been caused by the rising popularity of e-cigarettes. This, too, was denied by Frieden. But as David Sweanor, a tobacco policy expert at the University of Ottawa, put it to me: “What other huge interventions have there been? It’s not like there has been a big new cigarette tax, or tough new package warnings. The only thing that is new is the introduction of e-cigarettes.”

(Nocera is no right-winger, by the way. A former New York Times op-ed columnist, he once likened “Tea Party Republicans” to terrorists.)

In National Review Online, Andrew Stuttaford noted that “the experience of snus, a form of moist tobacco popular in Sweden that is almost infinitely safer than cigarettes, would suggest that a safer substitute is more likely to be a gateway away from cigarettes than an introduction to them.”

Some suggest that Frieden is in denial about e-cigs, that he is blinded to the benefits of e-cigs. “That’s not the case,” wrote Walter Olson.

Frieden is many things, but he is not a fool. What he is, however, is an absolutist, a moral crusader, pur et dur [pure and hard], who enjoys wielding the power that the nanny state has given him, and, of course, the opportunity to show his own (as he sees it) superior virtue. There can be no compromise with tobacco or even (in isolation, far safer) with nicotine, at least if the latter is associated with pleasure rather than the weaning process represented by patches or gum.

CDC bureaucrats and CDC-connected politicians are especially bothered that e-cigarette advertising supposedly targets young people by focusing on themes of “independence, rebellion, and sex.” Sex is, of course, the most common theme in advertising, but it’s the “independence” and “rebellion” part that is most bothersome. Nothing offends Progressives like an appeal to the human need for freedom.

Frieden has asserted repeatedly that e-cigarettes are addictive. In 2014, he claimed that “Many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes.” He said earlier this year that e-cigs “may well result in changes in the adolescent brain and increase the chances that a kid will smoke regular cigarettes and have to deal with the suffering and disability and cost that that causes for a lifetime.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation reporter Guy Bentley asked the CDC for the evidence behind Frieden’s assertions, and the CDC cited two studies.

The first is a study on school students in LA showing those who use e-cigarettes are 2.7 times more likely to report using conventional tobacco over the next year. On the face of it, this seems pretty damning evidence.

The only problem, or rather one of the several problems, is the study’s own authors say “we cannot conclude that e-cigarette use directly leads to smoking.” This is because the study had several major drawbacks that make it null and void when trying to draw a cause and effect relationship between vaping and smoking.

“The study did not measure ‘e-cigarette use.’ It merely asked kids whether they had ‘ever’ tried an e-cigarette. Kids who had ever tried an e-cigarette, even a puff, were compared with all kids who had never even puffed on an e-cigarette,” Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, points out. “Kids who would not even try an e-cigarette, despite their popularity, represent a different population than kids who would try a puff on an e-cig,” according to Siegel.

The research team doesn’t even record whether any of the subjects were regular vapers or had a nicotine addiction before they experimented with cigarettes. . . . Smoking is defined in the study as any use of a cigarette—even a single solitary puff. Critically, the research also fails to tell us how many people used a tobacco cigarette and then became regular smokers.

The editorial that accompanied the study . . . [declared that] the current study cannot determine whether e-cigarette exposure was associated with [progressing to becoming regular smokers].” Clive Bates, a leading anti-smoking campaigner and former director of the United Kingdom’s Action on Smoking and Health, writing in August last year, agrees: “It is not possible to conclude that smoking is caused by prior e-cigarette use from this data (and the authors are clear about that) so no-one should be stating that this establishes a gateway or even hints at it.”

Likewise, the second study failed to show what the CDC claimed it did. Bentley:

Using two questionnaires a year apart sent to 728 young people, . . . [the study found that] just 16 subjects tried an e-cigarette at the beginning of the process. One year on, six of the sixteen reported trying a cigarette. The study claims they progressed to “traditional cigarette smoking.” Nowhere in the study is it known whether these six are regular smokers or whether they have even had more than one puff of a cigarette. Nor did the study say whether the 16 who tried e-cigarettes were regular vapers or addicted to nicotine. But the researchers did deem it appropriate to classify people who had ever tried an e-cigarette as regular users.

Another CDC fake-out involved the agency’s claim that overall tobacco use by middle and high school students has not changed since 2011. The CDC got to that result by classifying e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco, as part of overall tobacco use.


Bentley again:

Vaping has surged among middle and high school students in recent years despite age restrictions and cigarette use has fallen markedly. “From 2011 through 2015, significant decreases in current cigarette smoking occurred among youth,” says the CDC. Between 2011-2015, cigarette use among high school students plummeted by more than a third from 15.8 percent to 9.3 percent.

Instead of welcoming the fall in teen smoking, CDC’s director Tom Frieden focused on climbing e-cigarette use and falsely equated it with tobacco. “E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and use continues to climb,” said Frieden.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, characterized the CDC claim as “staggeringly dishonest.”


Part 2:

E-cigs and Joe Camel: To the Washington elite, we’re all children

What do Sports Illustrated magazine, vampire movies, NASCAR, The X-Files, piña colada flavoring, and puns based on the expression “Let it go” have in common? Why, they’re all aimed at children, of course—which you would “know” if you were a member of the braindead Washington political elite.

In its attack on e-cigarettes, the CDC has claimed that “the same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes.”

That was the point of a hearing held two years ago by the Senate Commerce Committee, then chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.). Rockefeller dragged before his committee Jason Healy, president of blu Cigs, and Craig Weiss, president of NJOY, and committee members grilled them for more than two hours.

People use e-cigarettes as a substitute for real cigarettes, and the average age of users is over 50. The industry has conducted campaigns to block access to e-cigs for children, and limited its advertising to media and events with audiences that are at least 85 percent adult. But that didn’t stop Senators from accusing the e-cig manufacturers of targeting children.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) accused the industry of targeting children because it distributed a photograph showing the 28-year-old actor Robert Pattinson smoking an e-cig. When an industry representative at the hearing pointed out that Pattinson “is an adult smoker,” Klobuchar responded (“snapped back,” in the words of Reuters) that “He is an adult in movies that appeal to kids!”

No, she didn’t mean when he played Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, or his roles in Allen Coulter’s Remember Me, David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, or Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert. No, she was referring to Pattinson’s role in the Twilight movies—that series about vampires—and, possibly, his role in a couple of the Harry Potter films. By Klobuchar’s reasoning, Marlon Brando was a children’s movie actor for his role in Superman: The Movie, if not, I suppose, for his role in the X-rated Last Tango in Paris.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the advertisements then being shown have “a very eerie and haunting feel. We’ve seen this movie before. You are using the same tactics and ads used by Big Tobacco that proved so effective.”  (As Connecticut attorney general, Blumenthal sued the tobacco industry and helped shape a multi-billion dollar settlement based in part on fake accusations of child-targeting.)

At the hearing, one witness against the e-cig industry cited an ad in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, one showing a “blu” logo on a woman’s bikini bottom, as evidence of the industry’s targeting of children. That claim appeared earlier in an ad by the anti-free speech/anti-consumer/anti-taxpayer organization known as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, when the group declared:

Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes have repeatedly claimed they don’t market to kids. But their actions tell a different story.

In the latest example, Lorillard Inc. has placed an ad for its best-selling blu eCigs in the just-published swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated, no doubt one of the favorite magazines of teenage boys.  The ad features the blu logo front and center on the skimpy bikini bottom of a shapely model.  You can even zoom in on it on the online version of the ad.

It’s one of the most offensive ads by a tobacco company we’ve seen in a long time.  The ad is certain to catch the eye of teens browsing the magazine, and the message to them is clear: E-cigarettes are sexy and fun.  Puff on them while you leer.

Ads like this show that Lorillard can’t be taken seriously when they say their intended customers are “smokers of legal age” and that “responsible e-cigarette manufacturers, including blu eCigs, do not market to youth,” as a Lorillard executive wrote in a recent letter to the Food and Drug Administration.

(Perhaps Lorillard bought the ad in that children’s magazine, Sports Illustrated—the swimsuit issue, no less!—because ad space in another children’s magazine like Playboy wasn’t available.)

At the hearing, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) accused the industry of targeting kids by putting flavors in their e-cigs, apparently basing her theory on the idea that adults want their e-cigs to be flavorless. One of those flavors targeting kids: piña colada.

Boxer also claimed that the manufacturers were targeting children with an ad that used the tagline “Let it glow.” How is that targeting children? Easy: The term “Let it glow,” you see, is a takeoff on the term “Let it go,” which, Senator Boxer seems to believe, ties in with the song of that name that is featured in the movie Frozen, and Frozen is a cartoon and lots of kids sing that song. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Senators at the Rockefeller hearing attacked the e-cig industry for targeting kids by placing an ad on… the Super Bowl.

As reported in Broadcasting & Cable:

Rockefeller, toward the end of the hearing, appeared fed up, and lit into the industry witnesses with a harshness he said himself was unprecedented. “I think this whole thing is about the money,” he said. “It’s uncreative, nasty and like pornography, or maybe what you do is worse. I am ashamed of you and I don’t know how you get to sleep at night, and what gets you to work in the morning except the color green. You’re what’s wrong with this country.”

Yes, Jay Rockefeller—who was born into unimaginable wealth and spent a career in public office waging war on working class and small-business people, and who suggested that opposition to President Obama and his healthcare rationing scheme was based on the President’s being “the wrong color” —declared that e-cigarette makers are “what’s wrong with this country.”

Smooth Characters

Indeed, as Senator Blumenthal suggested, we have seen this movie before. In the early ’90s, Progressives were waging war on the tobacco industry. For decades, they had subsidized it, but as political winds shifted, Big Tobacco ceased being a reliable source of funds for the Democratic Party, so Progressives went after the industry. Eventually, they filed a series of phony lawsuits that led to a settlement that, in essence, made Big Tobacco a regulated utility, shielded from competition in return for loads of cash that would go to the government and to left-wing interest groups.

The campaign against Big Tobacco had many elements. In part because the tobacco industry had lied for so long about the health effects of smoking, opponents of smoking felt justified in perpetrating their own lies. In this, they carried on the tradition of earlier Prohibitionists, who lied about alcohol by claiming that drinking it would cause a person to erupt spontaneously in blue flame; who lied about the threat of “Negro cocaine fiends,” as the New York Times once put it; and who lied about the murderous “reefer madness” that, they said, would result from using marijuana.

In the anti-smoking campaign, second-hand smoke, even “third-hand smoke” (such as the smell of smoke on a person’s clothes), was portrayed falsely as a significant health risk. And most hilariously, we were told that an advertising character, Camel cigarettes’ “Smooth Character,” was part of an advertising campaign aimed at children.

“Joe Camel,” as the anti-smoking crusaders named him, was actually an anthropomorphic penis. In magazine ads (cigarette ads had long been banned from TV), Joe was seen involved in such child-targeted activities as picking up chicks in his fancy car and playing saxophone with a jazz band. His face appeared in advertising in such child-oriented venues as NASCAR races and bikini contests. These ads appeared in such children’s magazines as Playboy and Sports Illustrated. (The crusaders never claimed that Playboy was oriented toward children, but they did make sure a claim about Sports Illustrated, just as they would do, years later, regarding e-cigarettes. By the way, anti-“violence” crusaders such as Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] likewise claimed that SI was aimed at children, as were TV shows such as the horror conspiracy program “The X-Files” and the beach-and-bikinis show “Baywatch.”)

The First Amendment protects advertising, subject only to prosecution for fraud when ads are deceptive. Yet for decades, judges, bureaucrats, and politicians—ignoring the Constitution—have restricted advertising in all manner of ways. Often they do so in the name of protecting children. It’s a time-tested technique. Proponents of a Welfare State in the 1970s and 1980s successfully rebranded their work as efforts for children (see, for example, the Children’s Defense Fund, once chaired by Hillary Clinton). Whether the cause is taking away Second Amendment rights, or having bureaucrats tell people what they can eat, or putting expensive restrictions on emissions of harmless carbon dioxide, Progressives often brand their campaigns as children’s campaigns.  “If it helps just one child, we should [adopt this Progressive policy or that one.]” It’s always for the children.

That unreplicated study

In the 1990s, Joe Camel was depicted by the crusaders as a character aimed at children. Their logic:

First, he was a cartoon character. And everyone “knows” that all cartoon characters in advertising are aimed at children, like the Michelin Man, who, one supposes, sells tires to children, and Erin Esurance, the animated cartoon/spy who sells insurance to children, and Speedy Alka-Seltzer, and the Standard Oil dinosaur, and Otto the Orkin Man, and Reddy Kilowatt the humanoid electric current, and the Budweiser Frogs—all aimed at children, right?

Second, there was a study. (There’s always a study, isn’t there?)

This study, conducted by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia and the Department of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina, purported to indicate the number of children who linked the Joe Camel character to cigarettes. The purported study compared Joe’s linkage rate to that for other advertising logos such as the Mickey Mouse silhouette used in advertising for The Disney Channel. (The Mickey Mouse/Disney symbol was a simple design made up of three conjoined arcs, signifying Mickey Mouse’s head and ears.) Among the linkages examined in the study were that of McDonald’s logo to hamburgers, that of Coca Cola’s logo to a glass of Coke, and that of Chevrolet’s logo to automobiles. Children were asked to match cards showing the logos with other cards showing the products.

According to the authors of the study, 229 students were recruited from ten pre-schools in Augusta and Atlanta, Georgia. Importantly, as the authors acknowledged, the students were a “convenience sample”—a group that was chosen for the researchers’ convenience, and not a properly scientific random sample chosen to represent a larger group. Each child was given the matching test. The authors wrote that, among all the children, the Disney Channel logo was identified with the Mickey Mouse symbol 91.7 percent of the time, that the McDonald’s logo was identified with hamburgers 81.7 percent of the time, Coca Cola’s logo scored 76 percent, Chevrolet’s scored 54.1 percent, and so forth. “Old Joe,” or Joe Camel, scored 51.1 percent.

The study’s authors also focused on just the 23 six-year-olds out of the total of 229 children and claimed that the Joe Camel logo was successfully linked to tobacco by 21 of the 23 six-year-olds. The linkage rate for the Mickey Mouse symbol was the same. And so this 91.3 percent level of linkage for Joe—the same as for the Disney Channel logo—became the takeaway from the study, the one part that was most often reported (inaccurately) as “More six-year-olds recognize Joe Camel than Mickey Mouse.” Not only was that (garbled, untrue) result widely reported by the news media, it became the basis for action by the Federal Trade Commission to regulate cigarette advertising supposedly aimed at children.

Of course, the 21-out-of-23 was literally unbelievable. If it were to be believed, it would mean that the Joe Camel character, which did not appear in any advertising actually aimed at children, was more familiar to the children in the study than logos that did appear in ads aimed at children, such as those for McDonald’s.  Plus: Why would the linkage rate, 46.6 percent for the younger kids, suddenly jump to an almost perfect 91.1 percent for the six-year-olds?

Since this study was supposedly scientific, and wasn’t difficult to conduct, you would expect other researchers would duplicate it. That’s how science works: You do an experiment, search through old records, whatever; then, other people replicate your experiment or research, and either verify your results or challenge them. But, as is the case with many questionable studies that have formed the basis for public policy, no one followed up on the Joe Camel study. The anti-smoking crusaders had the result they wanted—end of story.

I’m not insisting that the researchers involved in the study were being deceptive (although, as in any purported scientific study, that’s always a possibility). Perhaps it was just chance that provided the researchers the 21-of-23 result. More likely, the children were exposed, at some point prior to the test, to the Joe Camel/cigarette connection. (Such pre-exposure is a big problem in eyewitness identification in criminal cases.) Perhaps, at some point, teachers had shown the kids pictures of Joe and warned them not to be tricked into smoking cigarettes. We can’t know for sure. Given the apparent lack of video showing the actual tests and the fact that the test results were never replicated, we can never know for sure what happened back in 1991.

The authors noted that “the high recognition rate of cigarette logos may be counterintuitive. After all, cigarette advertising no longer appears on television and very young children cannot read. Yet by the age of 6 years, Old Joe is as well recognized as Mickey Mouse.” Well, a Mickey Mouse silhouette, anyway. Still, in science, results that are “counterintuitive” demand that the experiment be done over, just to be sure that the first result was correct.

Real science

One last thing: Today, Progressives are obsessed with the Gelbspan Principle, named after a left-wing journalist named Ross Gelbspan. He popularized the great Global Warming conspiracy theory: that people who are skeptical about Global Warming theory are largely the tools of evil corporate executives in Big Oil and its allies.

In real science, bias is of no concern. It doesn’t matter whether a scientist works for Big Oil, or works for the Sierra Club, or is a communist, or beats her husband, or steals money from the church poorbox. That’s because real science is based on replicable research and experimentation. If research and experimentation, when replicated, shows the same results, it is verified; if not, it is challenged, and the two sides duel until one side is proven correct by the evidence (or until both are proven wrong). In real science, we don’t ever take someone’s word for it, whatever “it” is. As they say in journalism, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

The Gelbspan Principle is never invoked when research seems to favor the Left. Case in point: the Joe Camel study, which was, according to its authors, “supported in part by a grant from Doctors Ought to Care, Houston, Tex., and grant PBR-55 from the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Ga.”

Doctors Ought to Care, according to its profile on the left-wing website Sourcewatch, is “a group of physicians, health care workers, teachers and others who work on diseases caused by advertising, particularly tobacco.” And the American Cancer Society, by the time of the 1991 Joe Camel study, had become a powerful advocate for Prohibitionist policies in the name of protecting people from cancer, including a wide range of restrictions on advertising.

Would the study have been funded by Doctors Ought to Care and the American Cancer Society if there was any chance of a different result? What do you think?

Was the study ever replicated to see if researchers reached the same results? What do you think?

Today, politicians and bureaucrats and their media allies are attempting to do to e-cigs what they did to tobacco. In the case of tobacco, their targets largely deserved what happened to them. But as we’ve learned before, violators of the Constitution never stop at violating the rights of bad guys. Eventually, using the same techniques of deception, they come for the rest of us.


Dr. Steven J. Allen (J.D., Ph.D.) is vice president & chief investigative officer of the Capital Research Center and editor of Green Watch.

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
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