This morning Luke Clancy turned up on the breakfast show on Newstalk radio. Luke is someone I have mentioned before, he’s head of the Tobacco Free Research Institute of Ireland. I didn’t expect him to come on to announce a Road to Damascus conversion to harm reduction but neither did I expect him to embarrass himself by promoting the virtues of the PLoS One study. After all, TFRII has Dr. Shasha Li, an experienced teaching assistant on Mathematics and Statistics in Trinity College Dublin for 4 years as one of their personnel. She holds an MSc in Finance and double B.A. degrees in Economics and Mathematics. She must have pointed out the serious flaws in the study and warned Luke not to get involved in this shitshow. He did and it was awful.
Luke is not a natural public speaker, he’s clumsy, ponderous and boring to listen too. He seems aware his argument is weak and almost sounds apologetic for making it. Still, you have to put bread on the table and honest work is hard to find. Luke will not balk at propaganda to butter that bread.
The playback is here and Lukes bit is about 10 minutes from the end, no time stamps so apologies for not giving a start time.
“not as good as some of the agents we already have that people aren’t using”
When presented with the findings of the study “E-cigarettes will do more harm than good” Luke dithered and claimed it was “another bit of evidence for someone like him with an interest in tobacco control.” “I’m interested in whether e-cigarettes will do more harm than good overall,” he says. He admits e-cigs are probably helpful for quitting but they are
“no better and not as good as some of the agents we already have that people aren’t using”
If people aren’t using these agents then are no bloody good at all. Other than in a theoretical sense. This is the thing about smoking cessation, it works best when it’s attractive to the consumer. It’s about as much use as a knitted condom otherwise.
The presenter then offers some dead air filler and waffles about “we don’t know” and how it helps people quit but we don’t know how and, gathering his train of thought, gets back to the point, “Now we hear it’s a push factor for people starting smoking”
Do we really want our children addicted to nicotine?
Luke agrees this is a worry, e-cigarettes are likely to be less harmful, but that is not to say they are harmless, and worryingly nonsmoking young people are using them. They are still nonsmokers Luke so you shouldn’t worry at all, you should be delighted. Oh and the use of likely and not harmless is pure FUD, their’s no likely about it, they ARE less harmful, over 95% less harmful. The point of using these weasel words is to sow doubt and uncertainty. Time for fear to be added. He asserts there are several American studies which suggest they are a gateway to smoking. He then asks do we really want our children addicted to nicotine? I dunno Luke, do we? Because there is zero evidence that nicotine sans tobacco is addicting. Smoking otoh is addictive perhaps you would prefer they went with that option?
Luke then claims it’s not certain e-cigs help people to quit and worryingly e-cig use had increased. I’m not sure what the worry is. Luke is supposed to be fighting smoking which causes the harm and unless that’s increasing then e-cigs are not a worry. Luke knows well smoking is declining and declining fast. His worry is nicotine use which is addictive and therefore a bad thing. I just wish he would offer some evidence that nicotine is addictive but as there is none, well if wishes were horses…
Anyhow, enough of me ranting at Lukes idiotic non-argument, he won’t listen or change his mind until his paycheck depends on it.
The interesting thing is, this study Quantifying population-level health benefits and harms of e-cigarette use in the United States has been criticised widely and is so bad that outside of the circle-jerk of tobacco control publications and clickbait websites, oh and the Sun, it had been largely ignored. Its flaws are that obvious. As to why the TFRIoI would decide to push its agenda is anyone’s guess. It could be that Newstalk decided to examine the issue and called Luke for a comment but as both Luke and TFRIoI tweeted to flag this interview they seem very eager to get the message out.
I suspect this flurry of activity is a reaction to this announcement;
They even have a celebrity helping to promote the campaign. Dr Christian Jessen
Yes, him off the telly. All tobacco control have is Luke Clancy.
Get your retaliation in first. Even if you have nothing more than some bad modeling and false assumptions to go on, at least get a preemptive strike. Or as it’s also known Poisoning the Well.