On his tobacco blog, Dr. Stan Glantz links to a quite inappropriate advertisement for blu electronic cigarettes, attacking Lorillard for using this approach to promote e-cigarette use. He claims that this is part of Lorillard's ongoing strategy, accusing Lorillard of stooping to this low tactic to recruit youth to vaping. The ad depicts a robot having sex with a woman and then afterwards shunning a cigarette and offering an e-cigarette instead.
On his Twitter feed, Dr. Simon Chapman also attacked Big Tobacco for running this ad, accusing Lorillard of "viraling" this ad "to teens."
Of course, I agree with both Dr. Glantz and Dr. Chapman that the ad is quite inappropriate.
The Rest of the Story
The problem is that Lorillard did not create this ad, had no part in its development, and is not running the ad now. In fact, Lorillard has absolutely nothing to do with the ad.
The truth is that the ad was created independently as part of a viral video contest. Apparently, blu did not do anything to dissociate itself from the ad. However, the ad was produced in 2010, two years before it was purchased by Lorillard. Thus, Lorillard had nothing to do with the ad.
The rest of the story, then, is that Glantz and Chapman are making a false accusation.
How, then, do they get away with this?
The answer is that in the anti-smoking movement, you don't need to be honest and truthful. As long as your intentions are good, you can get away with lying and with making false and defamatory accusations. The ends are all that matter, and if you use defamatory means to reach those ends, it's perfectly acceptable.
I, too, was disturbed by this ad and was going to write a blog post attacking it. However, it was quite apparent to me that this is not something that Lorillard would run. So before jumping to attack Lorillard, I did a little research and confirmed that it was not a Lorillard ad. In fact, it wasn't even really a blu company ad, since the company did not produce it (although they still had some association with the ad and did not disavow any relationship with it). My colleagues - Glantz and Chapman - were so excited about the opportunity to attack Lorillard for promoting e-cigarettes to youth that they failed to exercise even a minimum of due diligence in checking the facts first. (The complete story is here).
In law, there is a term used to refer to what Glantz and Chapman are doing here. It is called defamation.
As much as I condemn this advertisement, I also condemn the defamatory tactics that Glantz and Chapman are using to falsely accuse Lorillard of producing the ad.