A revealing email from a state health department worker to Dr. Stan Glantz demonstrates the way in which anti-smoking groups are unable to handle scientific truth and the difficulty they have in telling the truth when it interferes with their underlying ideology.
Apparently, a state health department tobacco control practitioner attended a webinar in which Dr. Terry Pechacek from CDC explained that electronic cigarettes are much safer than tobacco cigarettes and that therefore, moving all current cigarette smokers to exclusive use of e-cigarettes would be a good thing. Similarly, Dr. Brian King of CDC noted that it would have positive public health benefits if all smokers switched to exclusive e-cigarette use. In addition, the practitioner has heard more and more information coming out which refers to e-cigarettes as being less harmful than cigarettes.
The email to Dr. Glantz stated as follows: "Throughout the last six months my colleagues and I have been hearing professionals refer to e-cigarettes as harm reduction. A few months ago I was attending a Youth Engagement Alliance webinar where Dr. Terry Pechacek was presenting. During his presentation, he made it sound like e-cigarettes are harm reduction and mentioned moving all current cigarette smokers to exclusive use of e-cigarettes. Then a few weeks ago after meeting with an individual who works at our state health department he stated that he had heard something similar at a conference he attended a few weeks ago by Dr. Brian King. Now we are seeing more and more information come out to the public referring to e-cigarettes as less harmful than cigarettes. How should public health advocates respond to statements like this from well-known individuals when a large amount of our work has been focused on educating on the harms of e-cigarettes?"
Apparently, this was just too much for the practitioner to handle as s/he perceived this as undermining his or her work in "educating on the harms of e-cigarettes." In other words, what s/he is saying is that "we have an underlying ideology, which is that e-cigarettes are terrible, and if anyone says anything potentially positive about e-cigarettes, it is damaging to our campaign which aims to demonize e-cigarettes. These scientific statements of the truth are becoming a pain in the ass because they conflict with our all-or-nothing, abstinence-only ideology. Is there any way I can back out of this, short of having to tell the truth, something I really don't want to do?"
The Rest of The Story
The rest of the story is that apparently, anti-smoking groups can't handle the truth. If the truth gets in the way of their pre-determined ideology, then it is the truth which must be suppressed, rather than the ideology which must be revised. In this situation, the practitioner is severely troubled because the things his or her state anti-tobacco campaign has been saying about e-cigarettes do not appear to be true. Rather than changing the campaign to tell the truth, he or she is looking for a way to get around the truth. This person is actually asking Dr. Glantz how to respond to statements of the truth from credible scientists!!! Apparently, when the truth interferes with your story in tobacco control, the option of changing your story to incorporate the truth is not an option that is even considered.