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« Primary school children recruited to fight war on smoking | Main | Director of A Billion Lives replies »

A new era

Aaron Biebert has posted a couple of comments on my last post.

You can read them here.

At risk of annoying the director of A Billion Lives even further, here’s my response to his response to my response to his tweet that declared ‘A new era of the anti-smoking movement begins today in the US. We're a small (but very proud) part of it. Check this out!‘:

Aaron, let me get this right. There is a new anti-smoking movement. It still involves smoking bans, punitive taxation and denormalisation, but this is a gentler, kinder form of anti-smoking because smokers will be offered alternatives to smoking that will make giving up much easier.

I’m sorry, but however you dress it up, anti-smoking is anti-smoking and when you declare you are “very proud” to be part of the “anti-smoking movement” (which is where I came in) don’t blame us if we take you at face value.

Leaving aside the wisdom of embracing the same name (if you are genuinely different from the ‘old’ anti-smoking nutjobs and prohibitionists you would surely want to distance yourself from them), I’m not convinced there’s a great deal of difference between the old and new era you describe.

For example, the article your original tweet urged us to read (Finding a balance between protecting our youth and saving 40 million smokers’ lives) concludes:

Public health officials ought to welcome the manufacture and marketing of regulated, safer nicotine containing products and encourage innovation and competition to eliminate smoked products. Products and regulation that will make smoking obsolete will also make most concerns about youth moot once smoking disappears and safer products are available. This will take time but if we keep our eye on the prize and if cooler heads prevail, America can lead the way to get rid of burning tobacco products.

‘Eliminate smoked products’, ‘make smoking obsolete’, ‘get rid of burning tobacco products’ ... It’s pretty clear that the goal of the ‘new’ anti-smoking movement you are “very proud” to be part of is not dissimilar to that of the ‘old’ anti-smoking movement - the elimination of combustible tobacco.

Both movements are driven by zealots who seem to know what’s best for other people. The difference is, the ‘new’ anti-smoking movement now has technology (and Philip Morris) on its side.

I think you’re nice guy, Aaron, and you mean well, but you’re flailing around a bit here. We called you out on your boast that you’re “very proud” to be part of the “anti-smoking movement” and you’ve tried to justify that by talking about a ‘new era’.

Words matter so why mention ‘anti-smoking’ at all? If you can’t throw yourself enthusiastically behind the ‘pro-choice’ movement, why not say you’re “proud” to be part of the “tobacco harm reduction movement”? Instead you chose to nail your colours to the ‘anti-smoking’ mast and no amount of semantics about a ‘new era’ can change that.

Btw, a word of advice: it’s always better to be ‘pro’ than ‘anti’ because it lends itself to a far more positive message. Also, declaring that you are proud to be ‘anti-smoking’ is a red rag to many smokers, even those who may be thinking about quitting for health or other reasons.

Like it or not, it makes you the enemy to many smokers who have put up with decades of harassment and abuse from the international stop smoking brigade. It may even make some smokers who are thinking of giving up less likely to quit or switch to new nicotine products because that’s human nature.

Finally, I totally accept that some smokers want to quit and (possibly) need help. We’ve never denied that or the serious health risks associated with smoking, although I do think they’re exaggerated.

Forest embraces and supports ‘safer’ nicotine products and opposes vaping bans and other unnecessary restrictions on e-cigarettes because we believe in choice. The difference between us and most vaping advocates is that we will NEVER abandon those who enjoy smoking and don’t want to stop.

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Reader Comments (10)

Again, you seem reluctant to acknowledge there are currently two "anti smoking" movements at play in the world today. One is spearheaded by groups like "the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids", "Americans for Non Smokers Rights". This group is traditional tobacco control, and they are 100% agenda driven. These are the groups that routinely lie to consumers about nicotine (and even admit it). They push ridiculous "Tobacco 21" legislation blocking access to adults to legal products. They also (strangely) push to ban or wildly restrict new low harm technology products like vaping and HNB off the market. The newer "anti smoking" movement could better be described as a consumer choice movement. This movement seeks to ensure universal adult access to alternative products lower harm products. I acknowledge that 75% of smokers would like to quit smoking for various reasons, despite the fact they find smoking very pleasurable. I ALWAYS oppose increases on outrageous cigarette taxes. I oppose all efforts to make 21 the legal age to smoke. I 100% believe in consumer choice, and possibly more importantly consumer access to HONEST information about smoking and nicotine. I also oppose expansion of smoking bans. I will admit that I'd be happy about more smokers switching to low harm smoking alternatives, but only because they are lower harm than smoking. I don't demonize cigarette companies, and think tobacco control's demonization of these companies is both outrageous, and harmful. Yet I still consider myself more or less "anti smoking". The difference of course is that I would like to see smoking collapse by free choice, and affordable free market access to less harmful products, and honest information about tobacco, smoking, smokeless tobacco, and nicotine. I think Aaron would more or less agree with all that.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 11:51 | Unregistered CommenterChris

He is yet another arrogant smokehobic knob who refuses to accept that not all smokers want to quit. Very few are helpless addicts looking for sanctimonious bigheads like him to save them.

There is so much help for that type of smoker, they don't need him but the only way to push his toy on smokers is by claiming they are all victims using the trash, made up figures from the anti smoker nutjobss.

Why can't these people leave us alone? As Biebert know, because there is money to be made from harassing us.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 12:13 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I 100% believe in consumer choice, and possibly more importantly consumer access to HONEST information about smoking and nicotine.

I acknowledge that 75% of smokers would like to quit smoking for various reasons...

HONK!! Bad start, Chris.

Yet I still consider myself more or less "anti smoking".

Enough said.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 15:32 | Unregistered CommenterHowsey

Yep. That's all we need.

United Kingdom: e-cig ads on cigarette packs

Chris, is this idea coming from the "old" or "new" anti-smoking?

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 15:37 | Unregistered CommenterHowsey

I feel like I’ve been pretty clear.

I don’t believe you’re representing my position accurately.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 16:13 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Biebert

To Aaron Biebert,
I don't believe you are representing your position accurately. I do, however believe you are rather annoyed at having been caught out at swinging back and forth in order to find yourself on what you perceive to be the winning side.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 16:21 | Unregistered CommenterM. Cooper

I’ve done my best, Aaron. Unfortunately the source material lacked clarity.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 16:55 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Chris, love to hear more of what you consider "HONEST information about smoking and nicotine". Should be a real hoot.

OK, so you're antismokers. Your primary market is smokers and the main source of income is converting smokers to "alternative products". Next you'll be telling us that there is no vested financial interest in putting/maintaining pressure (of various kinds) on smokers to convert?

I would like to see smoking collapse by free choice, and affordable free market access to less harmful products

OK, so economics is not your strong point either. The "new" antismoking is actually benefiting from the "old" antismoking. The increase in e-cig sales has occurred following a vile, despicable, decades-long, State-sponsored/funded denormalization/stigmatization/leperization/ostracization campaign, baseless smoking bans galore, and ever-increasing tobacco taxes into the stratosphere. What do you think would happen if all coercive measures on smokers to quit were removed?

Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 17:41 | Unregistered CommenterHowsey

Aw, c’mon Aaron. You can’t “re-claim” or “re-shape” anti-smoking – the original anti-smokers won’t let you! They’ve worked very hard to claim that particular space for themselves and they ain’t going to give it up easily. Very early on in the anti-smoking movement – long before e-cigs were even a twinkle in anyone’s eye – they thoroughly expunged anyone from their movement who gave even the slightest hint of tolerance or consideration of any kind towards smokers. And they attacked from every quarter and in every way they could anyone who had the temerity to disagree with their worldview of smoking in even the slightest detail. As a result the whole anti-smoking movement is now populated with the kind of swivel-eyed, obsessive zealots who have, ironically, given the very term “anti-smoking” such a bad name that many, many “ordinary” people (i.e. non-activists in the anti-smoking movement) who, despite displaying all and every symptom of the paranoia which is anti-smokerism, now completely deny actually being anti-smoking (and they say we’re addicts in denial – ha!) – to the point even, in many of the people I know, of being somewhat affronted when any mention of their being “anti-smoking” is made. “Oh, I’m not anti-smoking – I just ......” is their usual retort to such a suggestion. Honestly, you’d do better to find yourselves a new, more positive and less toxic label than trying to pinch one which even its own followers these days don’t like admitting to! Even your own claim to be trying to “re-invent” anti-smoking is an indication that, deep down inside, you know this, too.

Of course, the fact is that you are, as you say, anti-smoking, but it’s naïve to think that it’s possible to be some kind of “different” anti-smoker. That’s like being “a little bit pregnant” - it’s just not possible. The moment you start to be a different kind of anti-smoker by giving a bit of ground to smokers (which, when you analyse it, is the only thing which would mark you out as different from the current crop) then – err – you’re not an anti-smoker any more, are you? It doesn’t compute. And, as I say, you won’t find the likes of Arnott and Glantz and Reilly et al permitting you into their party any time soon with those kinds of attitudes, even if you had them. Still less will they permit you to re-form their own territory in any way. Their stranglehold on what does and doesn’t pass muster in all things anti-smoking related is total and unrelenting. This is their patch! Conform and obey – or be deemed to be pro-smoking, even if you’re not! I wish you luck in dethroning these goliaths but, to be candid, I won’t be putting any money on it!

But let’s be honest here. In essence all you are really doing is offering another method of NRT. And that’s it. That’s the only difference. Maybe it’s a better method. Certainly for some smokers it’s been more successful than the existing ones, but that no more makes you a “different” type of anti-smoker than it makes the doctor who “allows” a smoker to use nicotine spray instead of nicotine patches a “different” type of anti-smoker. At heart anti-smokers – whether the “old” or your envisioned “new” variety – just want to force every smoker to stop smoking, as do you. You simply want them to use your devices instead of someone else’s, in exactly the same way as one pharma company might want smokers to use their nicotine patches instead of another company’s nicotine tablets. Sorry, but from the perspective of someone on the painful receiving end of the anti-smoking movement’s tactics right now, I’m really finding it hard to see how your “re-formed” style of anti-smoking would affect me any differently from the way that the ghastly one that we’ve already got affects me now. Other, of course, than offering me yet another gadget that I don’t like (yes, I’ve tried several – all horrible) in order to do something that I don’t want to do. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, as they say ....

Monday, May 14, 2018 at 2:24 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I'd rather die of COPD in old age than be blown to bits by an ecig in my prime. Aaron Biebert and his anti smoker vaper friends should realise that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Ecigs save lives my arse 😂😂😂😂

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 14:11 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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