“Because we think it dangerous to walk blindfolded down a country lane, we suggest you do it on the motorway.”

In an interesting turn of events, a complaint from The New Nicotine Alliance UK (NNA UK) and the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) against Lancashire County Council was upheld by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)… The advert itself asked, “Have you ever used an e-cig? Did you know they’re not risk free?” The advert which was presented by a local radio station, Rock Radio, continued: “Some contain nicotine and other chemicals that can cause addiction. We still don’t know enough about the health risks of e-cigs. So don’t take the risk. Get the facts …

Details of the complaint and the results are contained in the NNA UK website. However, I wish to explore an Idea which, arises out of this, and that is, if it is wrong, even illegal, to say what the advert says, would it not be equally wrong to make these kinds of comments, in any situation, and at any time?

The short answer is, of course these things can be said, even if they are wrong, they are opinions, and we are free to express our opinions: It is just wrong if you try to sell something by expressing and presenting controversial opinions as fact in order to facilitate sales.

So when the likes of the American Academy of Family Physicians, (AAFP) for example, sign up to a document presented to US Government Representatives regarding the Food & Drug Administration(FDA) thinking on e-cigarette flavours and which makes very similar claims as the above, particularly with regard to children, is that all right, or, is it that they are trying to sell something?

CjeiU2uWYAECM5oIt is my opinion that they are trying to sell themselves. As an organisation they accept huge donations from pharmaceutical companies and it beggars belief if they claim that this has absolutely no influence on the things they say: Particularly the upholding of criticisms of e-cigarettes which many have demonstrated is based on shoddy, sometimes deliberately misleading evidence – evidence which is produced by other organisations which seem to also depend on the paternal large approval of the pharmaceutical industry. (Please note that the AAFP have only been highlighted and used as an example because they appear at the very top of the list of the dozens of signatories to the letter addressed to Gov representatives.)

And talking about paternal approval, take a good look at the FDA itself, and even in the UK, the FDA equivalent, the MHRA. (which has been assigned oversight of vaping products) How much influence does the pharmaceutical industry actually have over ‘its’ regulators? (The emphasis is a trifle ambiguous so I will spell it out… The FDA and the MHRA are so controlled by the pharmaceutical industry that they should, in effect, be considered a part of that industry.

It is known as Regulatory Capture and is an almost inevitable condition…

Because regulations reduce profits to those possessing unfair advantage, corporations (whether individuals, companies, or other collective organizations) are motivated to influence regulators. Regulatory bodies created to protect the market are instead co-opted to advance the interests of the corporations they are charged to regulate. This wide-spread influence, known as “regulatory capture,” has been recognized for over 100 years, and according to expectations of rational behaviour, will exist wherever it is in the mutual self-interest of corporations and regulators.Dominic K. Albino, Anzi Hu, and Yaneer Bar-Yam - New England Complex Systems Institute

And, they are so very easy to recognise…

Agencies with poor transparency, revolving doors, few commissioners, and limited accountability invite regulatory capture, and those standing to benefit from capture have strong incentive to encourage such conditions.Dominic K. Albino, Anzi Hu, and Yaneer Bar-Yam - New England Complex Systems Institute

And I will stress that the above principles apply not only to regulators, but to any organisations who expect to profit in some way by colluding with the industries who control the regulators.

So what, you may be asking, has all of this to do with Lancashire County Council? (Local Government Area in UK)

Well, they are the end product for the corrupt practices of individuals who deliberately set out to deceive others for their own advantage. Those others consist of politicians, private citizens and careless public bodies who have been manipulated far too easily due to their own pre-existing attitudes and maybe even zealotry.

They are advising young people to “get the facts.” Those ‘facts’ are indeed not facts. They are the result of lies, manipulations, vested interests and sheer unadulterated ignorance with regard to what the facts actually are.

Here are some facts

It is a FACT that, to date, no evidence exists that any meaningful number of young people are USING (not TRYING) e-cigarettes who are / or were not already smokers. It is a FACT that it is looking increasingly likely that nicotine in e-cigarettes is not nearly as addictive as nicotine in tobacco smoke. (Note the [whether through ignorance or design] conflation in the statement given by Lancashire Council… “Some (e-cigarettes) contain nicotine and other chemicals that can cause addiction.”) Totally untrue.

But the bottom line is that Lancashire Council, in line with so many others, are telling young people – and remember, they already smoke – that they should not be thinking about using the far, far safer, and much less addictive, if at all addictive, alternative. They are telling these young people: Because we think it dangerous to walk blindfolded down a country lane, we suggest you do it on the motorway.