And this just about sums up the level of knowledge and attainment on the topic achieved by most of the public, the majority of news reporters and those regiments of regulators who line up daily to snipe at vaping and vapers. They have seen people vaping. They think and they often state, “… it looks like smoking: you are all still smokers and, of course. you are still hooked on nicotine, so you, in reality. must still be considered smokers.” And every single criticism levelled at vaping seems to rely on this. Look at the studies which spew out of, which bubble up from, the stinking cesspit of Tobacco Control. Every major argument depends for its ‘success,’ more or less, but mostly more, on the principles of O’Flaherty’s Duck.

One of the major ‘successes’ stemming from on the principle of O’Flaherty’s Duck is that vaping will encourage young people to take up smoking. The carefully programmed bias held by, most of the public, the majority of news reporters and the regiments of regulators who rail against and denounce smoking and therefore vaping, has made this accusation easy to sell.

Take for example the shenanigans, over the last few years, of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention(CDC) in the USA. Let us examine some of the contortions, the blatant misrepresentations, and the semantics as they harness the power of O’Flaherty’s Duck to panic the masses.

In 2013 the CDC reported in a press release that, “… recent electronic cigarette use rose among middle school students from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 1.1 percent in 2012 and among high school students from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent.”

Note that word, “use.” Technically it is correct. However, note also the context. The word, ‘use,’ here, is being presented in the light of cigarette smoking – generally believed to be highly addictive. Now we have, ‘use’ and, because the article discusses ‘tobacco products and e-cigarettes in the same breath, we have a link with, addiction.’

“Oh my God! Oh my God. The children are using e-cigarettes. They will become addicts!”

This, of course, aided and abetted, in this same press release, with comments like… ” Emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and hookahs are quickly gaining popularity among middle- and high-school students, according to a report in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”

And I seriously wonder about the effect that the name of the source, Morbidity and Mortality, has on: the average Joe; the reporters looking no further than the dramatics of the story, and the politicians looking for the opportunity to tell the public what the public want to hear.

” Morbidity and Mortality.”

The theme has been established…

And the trickery continues.

“This report raises a red flag about newer tobacco products,”

Red flag?

And on it goes.

“Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 1,200 Americans every day. More than 8 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.  Each day, more than 2,000 youth and young adults become daily smokers.” (Note: The O’Flaherty’s Duck principle at work here. This is an article supposedly about e-cigarettes.)

“Emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes…” are the very first words of the first paragraph, but somehow the CDC are telling us about death from smoking. Yet, e cigarettes have killed no one. It is entirely possible that they have not harmed anyone, and most certainly, they are contributing to a huge reduction in the harms caused by smoking, but here was the CDC, way back in 2013. utilising the power of  O’Flaherty’s Duck to demonise vaping. This begs the question, why? But that is another matter – in the meantime I strongly suggest that you rid yourself of any bias that has been created in you by the idea that because it looks like smoking, it must be smoking.

But in the same way that the CDC are not finished with you, I am not finished with the CDC. The above exemplifies: the contortions; the conflations with smoking, and the semantics through the employment of terminology such as, ‘tobacco product,’ (though vaping products are most definitely not) and also the repetition of that tiny, but important word, ‘use,’ and the switch in context when ‘use’ is used alongside, ‘addictive.’ The young people who have had a single puff – just one puff of an e-cigarette in the past month are now classified as ‘users,’ and by virtue of the context, are addicts. Carl V. Phillips discusses the above Press Release and the report / survey in great detail and it is well worth reading. The following is a taster…

The headline of the press release manages to fit in one lie and two misleading claims, “E-cigarette use more than doubles among U.S. middle and high school students from 2011-2012”.  The biggest lie is that they report nothing about use.  All the reported statistics are about trying the products, perhaps only once, which is obviously not the same thing (and CDC knows this).  Some statistics reported are for “ever having tried” and the others are “tried at least once in the last 30 days”.  They misidentify anyone who has tried in the last month as a current user, which is a rather blatant lie.  (Of course, some of those who tried recently may well actually be users, but there is nothing in the report that lets us conclude that even one single student is actually an e-cigarette user.)

The CDC really excel at misrepresentation and where it shows best (worst) is when they discuss their own findings.

It does not take careful research to see that vaping will not lead to cigarette smoking – a little common sense is all that is required. However, if you have already been sold the lie that vaping is the same as smoking, you will be, and will remain, blind to the obvious, and unconvinced by the facts. Having said this… here are some facts…

  • Largest survey of British 11- to 16-year-olds reveals experimentation with vaping devices does not translate into regular use and smoking rates still in decline
  • Among young people who have never smoked, regular use of e-cigarettes was negligible, at between only 0.1% and 0.5%. This pattern was consistent across different surveys from around the UK and suggests that, for now, experimentation with e-cigarettes does not necessarily translate into regular use, particularly among never smokers,”

The five surveys are:

  • The Youth Tobacco Policy Survey
  • Schools Health Research Network Wales survey
  • ASH Smokefree GB Youth survey 2016
  • ASH Smokefree GB Youth survey 2017
  • Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey
[2] Bauld L et al Young People’s Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom: Findings from Five Surveys 2015-2017, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2017, 14, 29 August 2017

So, there you have it, but, because of O’Flaherty’s Duck, you may well have trouble accepting it.

It is ironic that vapers are forced to defend vaping from accusations based on non-existent threats: the threat of addiction of the young to a virtually non-addictive product is one, the threat of physical harm to vapers is another. These range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and most are rooted in harms thought to come from, or are known to come from, smoking. “Quack, quack.”

Perhaps the most publicised revolves around that word, “particle.”

Recently, on a visit to my doctor, after she had told me that vaping was not safe. (nothing is – actually that is not true – it all depends on one’s definition of the word) She proffered the comment, “They contain particles!”

I did not want to fall out with her, so did not mention the fact that children between the ages of 11 – 13 learn the following…” You can use the idea of particles to explain the properties of solids, liquids, and gases.” My doctor, it seems, had forgotten her elementary science lessons and did not know the differences.

How is it even possible for a medical professional to demonstrate such ignorance?

Easy: She has swallowed completely false conclusions drawn from poor studies and accepted what they say without giving it a second thought. She has allowed her bias against smoking to blind her and prevent her from seeing the obvious.


Well, yes, as you can see if you read, Science Lesson: Vapour Droplets are Not Particles.

Closely related to this is the formaldehyde scare. Here two nonsense studies claimed that vapour contained elevated levels of formaldehyde. These ‘studies:’ produced a storm of media headlines. Yet, despite calls for retraction,(here) financing to produce even more junk was forwarded – 3.5 million dollars. Worse, in an attempt to justify their ‘findings’, the weakest, poorest pf justifications (here) Vapers will see at a glance that the devices used were antiquated, indeed antique, top coil atomisers which were run at massively high power settings and that the author’s statements make little sense, but to non-vapers, it sound even plausible, and the damage was done. Like my doctor, the idea that vaping ‘was as dangerous as smoking’ was blindly accepted, because, let’s face it, if vaping is the same as smoking it must be just as bad.

However, it would seem that O’Flaherty’s Duck is alive and well in academia. The retraction was not forthcoming in much the same way as the 3.5 million dollars was.

Since then though, there have been further studies, and those who complained about the formaldehyde claims are completely vindicated. Earlier this month, Dr Farsalinos produced the following, Aldehyde emissions from e-cigarettes: replication studies challenging previous reports

I strongly suggest that you read this. The battle is not over. Dr Farsalinos concludes…

The field of e-cigarette research has an unusually high number of studies reporting “strange” (to say they least) results. A basic principle that should have been followed is that if the data do not make sense, don’t blame common sense but look at the data for possible mistakes. Still, many (if not most) of these studies are accompanied by press statements and widespread media campaigns. As a result, today, after so many years of research, the majority of smokers think that e-cigarettes are equally or more harmful than smoking. It would be interesting to see how the journals and editors who publish these studies will react when the findings of their publications cannot be replicated.

I would suggest everyone to stay tuned. This is NOT the end of replication studies. More is coming soon, as I promised in the past.” 

And now, as I write this, a 3.5 year observational study (and there will be more on the way) which has found…

  • no decrements in spirometric indices, development of respiratory symptoms.
  • no changes in changes in markers of lung inflammation in exhaled air.
  • no findings of early lung damage on HRCT, when compared with a carefully matched group of never-smoking non-EC users.
  • no changes were noted in blood pressure or heart rate.

It is also interesting to note that the authors very clearly mention the studies shortcomings, something sadly lacking in too many of those other studies designed to provide headlines and fodder for the masses – and also the regulators; those governments tripping over themselves to get laws in place before the truth finally comes out – Canada for example? Singapore for another?

But sadly, the tangible evidence is what happens to people when they vape, and this type of evidence takes time to find, and in the meantime, we have to contend with O’Flaherty’s Duck.

” If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck and it sounds like a duck and it looks like a duck, it is a duck,”

Well, actually Mr O’Flaherty, you are dead wrong.

Readers will have noted all the pretty pictures of little duckies spread throughout he article.

Well, I have news for you. They might walk like ducks and talk like ducks and sound like ducks and look like ducks – they might even be called ducks, (The images are all of Muscovy Ducks) but…

Muscovy Ducks are, albeit arguably… geese.

Muscovy’s, unlike other duck species, have no genetic influence by the great granddaddy of all other ducks…the mallard. They are their own species, and so too are e-cigarettes which have no generic influence by the great granddaddy of all other nicotine delivery systems – the combustible cigarette.


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Robert Innes
Robert Innes
6 years ago

No pretty little duckies I am afraid – but that IS a muscovy duck in the header. lol.

Alan Beard
Alan Beard
6 years ago

After much delay, I have just read this Robert…..excellent 🙂

Michael J. McFadden
Michael J. McFadden
6 years ago

Amazing catch on the Muscovy Duck! Well done guy!