The dirty tricks campaign to censor the vaping debate in Australia

Posted on August 29, 2023 By Colin

YET AGAIN, an anonymous Australian anti-vaping 'researcher' has attempted to censor public debate on vaping, this time by making baseless claims that I am tied to the tobacco and vape industry.

I recently published an online article for teachers on how to address the problem of vaping at school. Student vaping is causing great concern for teachers and parents and the article provided practical and evidence-based advice on how to handle it.

An anonymous ‘researcher’/activist made a vexatious complaint to the editor that I am linked to the tobacco and vape industry to discredit me. My article was ‘unpublished’, i.e., removed from the website while the editor investigated the claim.

The aim of this cowardly, anonymous attack was to silence me. No attempt was made to refute the arguments or evidence in the article.

To be absolutely clear, I have never received funding from tobacco or e-cigarette companies, nor have I received any financial benefits

The anonymous complainant raised two issues on this occasion:

I support vaping because of its huge potential to improve public health. My father and father-in-law both died from smoking-related cancers, and I have seen countless other smokers die prematurely. All my advocacy is at my own expense

My views differ from those of Australia's mainstream Tobacco Control groups. However, they are evidence-based and are in line with the positions of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the UK Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, the New Zealand Ministry of Health, Health Canada and many other leading, independent scientific organisations.

A history of vexatious complaints

Australian Tobacco Control players follow my activities very closely. There is a long record of vexatious complaints by several well known vaping opponents to disrupt my publications and speaking engagements.

The complainants rarely discuss the merits of the evidence presented. Their modus operandi is to throw mud to silence pro-vaping messages

For example, in 2022, I published a peer-reviewed article on vaping in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. After receiving an anonymous complaint about a fake conflict of interest, the journal resolved to retract the article, despite my explanation that the complaint was spurious and vexatious. It was only after I engaged a lawyer at considerable personal expense that the journal backed down and withdrew its threat to retract the article.

They also contact organisers of conferences, seminars and educational meetings where I have been invited to speak and flagrantly impugn my integrity and independence.

Here are two of many examples:

My message to the anonymous complainants

These cowardly attacks on my integrity only make me more determined. They indicate that you have lost the debate over evidence and can only resort to unethical, gutter tactics.

However, I will not be bullied or intimidated by lies and smears that are designed to silence me. Too much is at stake.

Vaping has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian smokers. We will win this battle and the victory will be even sweeter because of your shameful and cowardly behaviour

I am available any time to publicly discuss or debate the evidence on vaping and how it can save lives. I invite you to contact me to arrange this.

I am not holding my breath.

School vaping article now online

To the online magazine’s credit, my article on how to address vaping in schools is now available again on Education HQ here:

Fresh approach: A pragmatic 7-point plan to address vaping in schools

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