What’s Tobacco Control’s Biggest Lie?

A tweet from Simon Chapman over on Taking Liberties caught my eye:

UK HealthDept calls bluff of BIgTobacco’s claim to have got 500k signatures against #plainpacks

I don’t think  the bluff has been called, but that’s not the point I want to make. What I noticed was that Chapman framed the dispute as being between Tobacco Control and Big Tobacco.

And there’s some truth to it, because Forest is behind the Hands Off Our Pack Packs campaign, and Forest has tobacco company funding. But if 500,000 people have in fact signed up to support this campaign, that says that a lot of people object to plain packs.

Stanton Glantz was doing the same a few months back with California’s Proposition 29, which he framed as a battle between Tobacco Control and Big Tobacco, even though Californians voted against it.

And again there was some truth in it, because tobacco companies spent $20 million fighting Prop 29. Nevertheless it was the people of California that actually disposed of Prop 29, not the tobacco companies. And it’s dishonest to suggest otherwise.

But Tobacco Control want people to see things this way. Having Big Tobacco as their enemy is very handy for them. And it’s important that it’s Big, because it lets them  play David to its Goliath, and portray themselves as the underdog fighting for a noble cause (health) against greedy capitalist corporations selling their customers poison. It’s a win-win strategy for TC. And they want to keep it that way.

Because one thing Simon Chapman will probably never admit is that half a million people signed up for the UK Hands Off Our Packs campaign, nor Stanton Glantz that a majority of over 2.5 million Californians voted against Prop 29. Because when it’s expressed that way, it becomes Tobacco Control versus the People rather than Tobacco Control versus Big Tobacco. And when the dispute is framed that way, Tobacco Control becomes Goliath against the Davids of ordinary people. And that’s a lose-lose scenario for Tobacco Control. And something they want to avoid at all costs.

So they’ll always act to conceal the role of ordinary people – voters -, and keep the focus firmly on Big Tobacco. Yet this is getting harder for them to do, now that the People (in the form of voters and online commenters and bloggers and writers) are becoming increasingly vocal and active. Tobacco Control’s regular response is to dismiss such people as “shills” or “front groups” for Big Tobacco. And this is an outright lie. But it’s a lie that suits Tobacco Control because in this manner they can continue to use the playbook that has served them so well for so long. But in the process Big Tobacco becomes a Big Tent which houses not just the rich, powerful, greedy tobacco companies which everyone loves to hate, but also hundreds of millions of penniless and powerless smokers. It’s a dangerous tactic they’re using.

I think it’s important to emphasize that it’s increasingly the People who are making their voices heard, and to portray the real conflict not as Tobacco Control versus Big Tobacco like they want, but instead as Ordinary People versus Tobacco Control. And in this manner shift Tobacco Control from good to evil.

Because as far as I’m concerned Tobacco Control (which in its alliance with Big Pharma forms the Tobacco Control Industry) actually is evil. It’s not just that all its smoking bans and advertising bans and plain packaging don’t do any good, but that they do a tremendous amount of harm, demonising ordinary people, shattering communities, and bankrupting businesses (like pubs), and more.

It is the sheer evil that Tobacco Control does which needs to brought to people’s attention, and the real harm that they do to millions of ordinary people and legitimate businesses. It needs to be highlighted and emphasised over and over again.

Because for the most part, most people know nothing about it. And they know nothing about it because the mainstream media simply repeat unquestioningly what Tobacco Control tell them – that smoking bans are popular, and they have no adverse economic or social effects, and that most smokers want to give up smoking, etc, etc, etc.

What’s needed perhaps is the equivalent of Climategate to strip off the veneer of respectability from Tobacco Control, and show how corrupt and mendacious it really is. But in the absence of a Climategate, it seems to me that TC tells so many lies that it may be just as effective to pick just one of their lies and set out to comprehensively and conclusively show that, in this one case, they are lying through their back teeth.

Currently my most read blog post is the Black Lung Lie. I only posted it a little over a month ago, but it’s still getting around 100 hits per day. This is unusual. With most of my posts, the hit count drops off rapidly after a few days. But the Black Lung Lie only got about 500 hits on its first day, and has received another 3,000 since. But it’s not the only lie out there.

So my question today is: What is Tobacco Control’s biggest lie?

The black lung lie is fairly good candidate, but it’s really one of those urban legends that Tobacco Control doesn’t discourage. I don’t know whether Tobacco Control ever actively promoted it. And I don’t know whether they’d defend it.

In my view, the biggest lie of all is that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. But I’m aware that I’m in a minority on that one. It’s also something that may not be a conscious lie. It may be that researchers like Doll and Hill really believed it. Most people do.

Another big lie, of course, is the notion the Passive Smoking is dangerous. And in this case, it’s probably only a minority of people who have swallowed the lie. Quite a few antismokers don’t believe it either. And it’s probably a conscious lie. It’s the Godber Blueprint.

There are lots and lots of lies to choose from. Tobacco Control is a whole supermarket full of lies. Big ones, little ones. Plausible ones, implausible ones. I’m not at all sure that anything they say is actually true.

But which, in this blizzard of lies, is the one which is the easiest to refute, and the most dangerous to them? Which is the lie which, when revealed, shocks people into the sudden realisation that these people are just a bunch of liars?

Perhaps I should make a list, and put up a poll? I’m sure some people will have their own suggestions.

Maybe, from somewhere inside the Tobacco Control supermarket of lies, one lie will press itself forward, as being most outstanding, monumental, and easily refutable lie of all.

About Frank Davis

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to What’s Tobacco Control’s Biggest Lie?

  1. Marie says:

    “We are doing it all for you.” Seems like a good candidate, it is not just a big lie, it is a bloody monumental lie.

  2. Margo says:

    Which is the biggest lie: I think this is a very useful line to take.
    The faked gory pictures on the packets?

  3. Sheila says:

    Frank, how long is a piece of string?
    My own particularly annoying one is that ‘ we know two thirds of smokers want to quit ‘

    • Paul Austin says:

      Sheila, it is in the way they ask these stupid questions. If, for example, they asked what they’d want Big Tobacco control to do, you’d get an answer like telling those idiots & their twelve step programs to take a swift stroll off of an eleven step pier.
      Seeing that a lie is a lie, it’s hard to pick one over the other but my vote would be for the deifying of that twit Bloomberg in this Current (Al Gor-r-r-r-e) channel piece:

      The money-ed dork has said “I just spent roughly $600 million of my own money to try to stop the scourge of tobacco, and I’m looking for another cause.”
      The control freaks are beating the path to Gracie Mansion to suck up all that sweet, sweet, cash to spread their holocaust of intolerance & hate.

  4. prog says:

    NHS ‘successful’ quit rate. Based on 4 week figs with only 2 weeks (allegedly) totally smoke free. …

    So called independent public opinion polls that support their agenda….

    Smokers are a major net cost to society and taxpayers….

    Virtually all disease and ailments can be linked to smoking in some form….

    Those who oppose them are In the pay of tobacco companies….

    There is no safe level of exposure…

    The list goes on and on. Quantity rather than quality is king. Fact is, TC is one huge collective lie. Anything they spout cannot be trusted to be true.

  5. Margo says:

    The ever-changing numbers of people killed each year by smoking?

    • prog says:

      Yeah, usually upwards despite the decreased rates of smoking over the last 50 years (ironically remaining more or less stable at c.22%+ since 2007*).

      * Despite claims (as reported on the BBC) that over 400,000 people quit in the 12 months following the English ban. That’d be mostly for 2 weeks then….otherwise 400,000 new smokers would have been needed to replace them to balance the books. Anyone know what the assumed number of new smokers is pa? I bet TC have a pretty good idea but choose not to shout about it too much. Might be bad for business.

      • BrianB says:

        Prog; I carried out a bit of forensic analysis on the “400,000 quitters” claim for F2C in July 2008. You can read it here:

        Suffice to say that the claim is just a typical anti-tobacco lie.

        My own favourite lies?

        “Anti-smoking charity ASH”

        “Smoking-related diseases”

        “4,000 chemicals …” (try finding their names!)

        “… of which over 60 are carcinogenic” (In lab rodents! A dozen or fewer are carcinogenic in humans – and only then in doses massively greater than in tobacco smoke)

        “The only product that will kill you if you use it as intended”

        “Public health”

        Finally, I nominate the entirety of anti-smoking ‘research’ as the biggest lie of all!


        • prog says:

          All we need now is a Pinnocio* statuette to present to the winner.

          *Spell Check suggested an alternative lying puppet ….’Kinnock’

  6. west2 says:


    UK Quit?

    Is that £800,000 or perhaps a regional rehash of the same story?


    I wonder if stoptober will have 400,000 quitters. potential quitters or stopped for part of the month?

    This is probably not the biggest issue. The problem with numbers is that they can be rationalized and debated. What is needed is a big issue that is clearly erroneous and emotive,

  7. Twisted Root says:

    To follow the climategate model it was shown that the underlying science was at the very least shakey and manipulated. Most of the TC lies are PR lies such as most smokers want to quit or number of deaths from smoking related diseases. These are advertising lies which most people are quite happy to accept uncritically because it does not directly affect them and it is a lie in what everyone knows is a good cause.

    Science today is a kind of deity and the science shows that smoking is bad for you and those around you. Show that is a lie, show that it was constructed through deceit and it all falls down.

  8. c777 says:

    That I, and millions of others, are fit, healthy, and alive?

  9. wobbler2012 says:

    It has to be second hand smoke surely?

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I think we can safely say even the first hand smoke claims are pretty bogus after Frank and Junican along with many others have deciphered the actual claims. Everytime TC makes another claim it takes a lil digging but it always turns out they gamed the system or the study to make a claim and they whole heartedly require a dumbed down populace to swallow their swill and hope somebody doesnt dig to deep into the deception.

      What we have with TC is 6 decades of claims with no truthful proof to back up the claims. We find in the COT statement no proof and thats as late as 2004. Yet a daily dose of the medical moment anywhere in the world and we are plastered with propaganda studies aimed at an agenda. We have in fact seen Medical science reduced to an agenda driven tool of political spheres. Non-profits created by government and special interest groups RWJF.

      It has to end and when it does it will takes decades to repeair the harm done to the public trust in medical science much less a trust in anything government has to say any longer. Its we the people who are tasked with exposing this chirade and travesty on the people. Its up to us to destroy the machine of propaganda and set forth a new era of truthful fact based science,along with a new era in truthful but smaller less intrusive government. Its these and a thousand other reasons we must succeed.

      We are the new patriots!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      We have to remember the second hand smoke mythology was based upon passive smoking causing the same so called smoking related diseases as direct smoking.

      Knowing that shs was a joke it didnt take very long for the direct smoking claims to be investigated and to be found just as junky as the shs claims. Why wouldnt we figure that would be the case. TCI carried the chirade on for to long and made to many wild claims for it to stay believable. When we tell folks hey they got no proof of anything folks fall on their swords when they cant find any proof after they themselves start looking.

      I had a nazi on the phone the other day,its quite fun. Anyway they didnt even try and argue the case about smoking not being proven to cause disease. They just gave up.

      I asked why are you still psuhing shs/ets junk, because we get paid too they said!

      That was a person in the ky TCI . I dont see ky ever getting a ban even those these nazis will continue to push. They know because I told them we will be in the state legislature to argue the science next year if need be. One legislator has already made the offer to us. Sponsored testimony!

  10. Dirk says:

    In my view, almost everything that the tobacco control industry publishes, is a lie or an utter exaggeration. But I think there really is one central lie that is capable to unhinge their “house of cards” for a wider public (not just us tobacco-users). That is the lie, that their main goal is to stop people from smoking. This could be the goal for some extremists/puritans among them, but the tobacco control industry as a whole relies on the continued popularity of smoking (otherwise they would lose their jobs, they would become unneeded). So, how do they reach the goal that smoking remains pupular, despite saying that they want something totally different and despite of all the real-life problems they cause to people who enjoy tobacco?

    – They propagate nonsense-“facts” and exagerations about the dangers of tobacco-use that nobody with half a brain will believe.
    – They propagate methods for smoking-cessation that are proven to be ineffective (pharmaceutical NRT’s)
    – They demonise cessation-methods that are effective (e-cigarettes, dip, chew, snus, nasal snuff …) and as harmless (health-wise) as NRT, even more than they demonise smoking.
    – They propose policy-measures and partial bans that will not stop anyone from smoking or from taking up smoking (plain packs as an example) In fact, everything they propose will make smoking even more interesting for anyone wo hasn’t tried it yet. Yes, I have communicated with (young) people who believe that tobacco is some kind of miracle drug (harmless, a cure for everything, as good as hard drugs regarding the psychoactive power, only opposed by Big Pharma for obvious reasons – yes, young people are not dumb – but maybe a little too fascinated about something they don’t know – all thanks to the TC-Industry workers’ unbelievable bogus-propaganda).

    So, if we could get these simple facts known to a wider public, what would (in the best case) happen?

    – Politicians will stop to fund these Tobacco-Control-Industry-No-Goods (if only to have a better change to successfully propose a rise in salary for themselves).
    – Psychotic (mentally ill) tobacco-haters will realise that all the nonsense propaganda is not in their interest and also turn their back on the TC – Industry.
    – The general public / mentally sane non-tobacco-users will be even more tolerant in regards to smoking and other forms of tobacco-use (knowing that everything they heard was bogus).

    Well, that’s my proposal about which lie (of TC’s many obvious lies) to target first – and it’s also my first post here. I’ve switched from cigarettes to Swedish snus, 5 years ago (due to the smoking bans and due to pressure in my own family that made smoking no longer much fun for me). I’m not unlucky about not smoking any longer, snus is a s good as cigarettes, nicotine-wise and – believe it or not – my health and stamina really have improved.
    If any smoker here has prejudices against snus: believe me, your “knowledge” about snus certainly comes from the same TC – Industy – liars that demonises smokers and tell nothing but nonsense about smoking.
    Yes I still like the smell of cigarettes, I still think that it should be everybody’s personal decision to smoke or not to smoke, and , well, as unbelievable as it sounds, we snusers are much more targeted by the TC-Industry than the smokers. While cigarettes maybe will be sold in plain packages in the near future, but still freely available everywhere, the EU has taken very effective measures to ban the sale of snus and is even debating about further measures to reach a total prohibition (as I said above: the TC-people try hard to ban effective cessation methods to stay in business as paid anti-smoking-crusaders).


  11. kin_free says:

    There are many lies that sprout forth from the tobacco CONTROL industry but I would suggest that it is not the lie that is important but the LIAR! If we want to make any difference it is the LIAR who needs to be identified and brought to account. Who is the biggest LIAR? Who could most easily be shown to be guilty of medical/scientific malfeasance, deception etc. (be careful in naming names, unless there is sufficient evidence to defend any liable action instituted by the named person).

    We can learn from the TCI here, as this is what THEY did in order to discredit the Tobacco industry. Glantz famously stated that basically, anyone who challenged TCI should be ‘bloodied’ and there have been several who have been personally targeted and attacked. Enstrom comes to mind as one of the most recent to be subjected to TCI, mafia style, treatment, but there are others who have been made to suffer for failing to conform to the TCI agenda.

    The original I believe, and most important scientist they hunted down was Professor Dr Raglan Rylander, a senior scientist who received funds for his research from the tobacco industry. He was targeted by the TCI, hounded, smeared and kicked repeatedly when he was down. Rylander’s research findings were not challenged, nor that he received funds from big tobacco but an allegation that he SECRETLY worked for big tobacco (denied by Rylander). The ‘secret’ relationship was used to suggest that It could be deduced that his research was tainted and unreliable. He was baited into a legal challenge that he initially won but afterwards lost on appeal. I understand that the ‘Rylander affair’ is widely used to educate medical/scientific students about ethics and how not to trust tobacco companies,

    Links re Rylander Affair;
    The case against him:
    The witch hunt that followed;
    A comment by Rylander;
    (there was a more detailed document in Rylander’s defence but I can no longer find it)

    This affair has had a profound effect, gagging most opposition to the TCI and creating a pervading culture of fear within the scientific/medical community.

    Compare with Prof Richard DOLL, who received funding from almost all the industries that benefit from blaming all public ill health on individual lifestyle choices, (eg Asbestos, Chemical, Nuclear etc.) but HE has been held up as the greatest epidemiologist of our time, the anti-smoker messiah!
    ‘Injurywatch’ discovers secret payments for anti-smoking cancer-link Oxford academic Sir Richard Doll by asbestos and chemical industry; O’Neill and Murray; 2006;

    What exactly was the difference between Doll and Rylander other than 1) they were on opposite sides of the debate:2) The tobacco industry is relatively insignificant when compared with the wealth of all these other industries if combined?

    Is it time for pro-choice supporters to collate sufficient evidence against one or two TCI liars to do some Glantz style ‘bloodying’ of our own? Maybe a good use of Pat Nurse’s legal action fund suggestion?

  12. nisakiman says:

    For me it’s the “Half of all smokers will die prematurely”.

    Because they smoke? Or do half of all non-smokers die prematurely too?

    Figures and hard facts, please.

    But of course, they won’t be forthcoming. They never are. All TCI produces is cherry-picked statistics and dodgy epidemiology.

  13. Junican says:

    Not the biggest of lies, but here is one:

    LIE: ‘Kids’ (change to ‘children’, ‘young people’ depending upon the context) start smoking because tobacco companies need new blood as smoking kills off their customers which is why the need glitzy packets which appeal to children (‘kids’, ‘young people’, depending upon the context).

    FACT: Teenagers are told by their parents that smoking is for adults and they cannot smoke until they are sixteen at least. Youths sneak a quick drag occasionally to see what smoking is like, and, when they become sixteen, they ‘come of age’ by buying their first packet.

    Not a lie exactly, but illustrative of the general deceit, Tobacco Control had the perfect opportunity to produce their evidence that smoking causes lung cancer in the McTear V Imperial Tobacco case (2005). They had all the evidence they needed from the Doll and Hill 50 year Doctors Study. They failed abysmally to produce any evidence at all and were roundly castigated by the Judge in the case for that failure,

    Anyone interested in that case can access my summary of it here:

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    After all the above how does TCI even have a chance at surviving.

    I think the greatest idea above was telling the politicians to use the TCI tax money for higher salaries for themselves……..What better way to grease the palm and destroy an enemy!

  15. garyk30 says:

    TC’s biggest lie is in it’s name.
    These nannies are not about controlling tobacco, they are about controlling smokers and forcing the smokers to conform to the nanny’s wishes!!!!

    The science is not necessarily bad; but, their conclusions always are and always leave out all of the findings.

    For instance:
    1/2 of smokers will die because of their smoking.

    This was stated in Doll’s 2004 report about his doctors study.

    Actually, the report shows that 85% of current smokers died from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking.
    The report also shows that 84% of never-smokers died from those same diseases.

    Doll and the antis will never make mention of that last fact.

    TC claims that smoking causes lung cancer deaths because; in that study, smokers were 15 times as likely to die from lung cancer as neversmokers.

    However, it is never mentioned that for every one person that dies from lung cancer there are 751 that do not die from lung cancer and smokers and neversmokers have the same chances of not dying from lung cancer.

    The statement about not dying is 751 times more relevent/important/conclusive than the statement about dying.

  16. Marvin says:

    SHS is “deadly” to non-smokers.
    Without that lie, they would get absolutely nowhere.
    And it was recognised very early on in TCs history.

  17. jaxthefirst says:

    Ah! So many lies – so little time …

    It’s a tough choice, but surely the biggest lie must be the SHS myth, because it was only once they hit on the “passive smoking kills” idea and pumped that one relentlessly until pretty much everyone who couldn’t be bothered to stop and think for a second (which is the majority of the public) swallowed it, that the Tobacco Control industry really took off and were able to cause the mayhem and damage that they have done ever since. Without SHS, anti-smoking groups would still (rightly) be regarded by the majority of the public as a bunch of single-issue-preoccupied busybodies with nothing better to do with their time – not dissimilar from the way Mary Whitehouse and her Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association were viewed by most people in the 1970s. And the fact, as we now all know (courtesy of George Godber in 1975), that it was a deliberate lie, made up for deliberate, prejudicial reasons, makes it all the worse. In my view, SHS can be regarded in many ways as anti-smoking’s very own “original sin,” from which all the others have freely flowed.

    And the unkindest lie? Well, that must surely be the blaming of SIDS onto parents who smoke, when in fact cot deaths suffered their steepest increase at precisely the same time (and, suspiciously, at precisely the same rate) as smoking was experiencing its sharpest decline. Talk about kicking people when they’re down!

  18. Rick S says:

    Jax, I was going to mention the SIDS one as well, along with all the other lies about the cheeldren, which are not only unkind but also calculated to stir up animosity against smokers due to their specious emotional appeal:

    “smoking in front of children is tantamount to child abuse”;
    “children’s little lungs can’t cope with even the tiniest wisp of smoke, even in the open air”;
    “17000 children are admitted to hospital every year due to illness from SHS”.

    The only problem is that they’re not genuine, outright, barefaced lies (TC are quite clever here). They’re simply assertions that, even if they’re backed up by bugger-all in the way of facts and are complete bollocks, can’t actually be disproved. The 17000 figure was estimated by a ludicrous piece of statistical juggling, but for all we know there may be that exact same number of children admitted to hospital every single year with problems caused by SHS, even if it’s very unlikely indeed (particularly as that figure was first extrapolated back in 1991 when smoking prevalence was higher than it is now). But it’s all but impossible to say “that’s not true” unless you’re prepared to go through 20-odd years’ worth of hospital records.

    Or, to put it another way, the Tobacco Control Industry deliberately comes up with such enormous fibs that there’s no chance for part-timers like most of us to do the research to be able to refute them.

  19. Pingback: Poll: Which Lie Most Needs To Be Nailed? | Frank Davis

  20. Stafford says:

    So Big Tobacco now represents “hundreds of millions of penniless and powerless smokers”? Oh, right, and of course the industry looks after these people by (1) luring and addicting most of them as children; (2) hiding the full extent of tobacco’s harm from them; (3) fiercely fighting against policies that would help them quite – which most of them want to; and (4) throwing the book at any of them who dare to try to hold the industry accountable. With friends like Big Tobacco, hell, who needs enemies?

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.