Prue Talbot, junk science and electronic cigarettes

Prue Talbot, a researcher at the University of California, has launched a new attack on the electronic cigarette.

In her paper, due to be released today, she thunders that electronic cigarettes are not regulated and should be banned until such a time as they are.

Prue Talbot is a researcher at the University of California whose department has received $850,000 to:

fund research on topics ranging from third-hand smoke to the effect of cigarette smoke on reproduction.

Source: Medical News Today

Hang on. Third Hand Smoke?

The third-hand-smoke myth.
Science or fear-mongering?

Image Source: White Male Oppressor

Third Hand Smoke & Junk Science

Brad Rodu
Professor Brad Rodu

So what is third hand smoke? In a previous interview, we asked Professor Brad Rodu to explain third hand smoke to us. He told us:

Third hand smoke is an invention by Harvard University anti-tobacco extremists; it consists of “breathing air today in a room or car where people smoked yesterday.”

The evidence for third hand smoke is as follows:

1. Survey responses from 1,500 non-scientists from the U.S.
2. Tobacco residue from a truck driver’s cab, which, when sprayed with hydrochloric acid, produced carcinogens.

(In contrast, the link between lung cancer and smoking was found by following 40,000 smoking and non-smoking subjects for over 40 years.)

So, not very scientific (you can see a full expose on The Examiner’s The Third Hand Smoke Hoax) – but third hand smoke is actively being used to enforce discrimination against smokers outside and inside work.

Let’s repeat that – once again, ‘science’ is being used to enforce discrimination against a section of our society. Lying for a good cause may not seem that serious but current discrimination against smokers includes:

  • employees being monitored for smoking – even when they are not at work
  • smokers being banned from some waiting rooms – even when they are not smoking
  • smokers being barred from adopting children
  • some smokers losing their children in custody battles
  • smokers being barred from jobs
  • smokers being denied life-saving medical care – even after they have quit

(If I have missed any please feel free to add to the list in the comments!)

And let’s not forget that twisting science to justify discrimination has had a bad history…

German man has his nose measured.
A member of a scientifically-proven “pure” race – but was he a non-smoker?

Am I being extreme comparing the anti-tobacco movement to Nazism?

Maybe, but consider that one smoking group, Action on Smoking and Health, has suggested that smokers should receive the death penalty for murder by second hand smoke.

John Banzhaf of ASH US.
John Banzhaf from ASH – suggested smokers could face the death penalty.


Given Prue Talbot’s connection with the junk science of third hand smoke, what solid scientific evidence has she found which should lead to electronic cigarettes being withdrawn? In one interview she claimed they were being used to hook children.

“Someone in my lab just showed me a bright pink one. And they’re selling them with flavors like chocolate and bubble gum,” she says. “These things have nicotine, and you can tell who they’re trying to hook.”

Source: Laboratory Equipment

Hmm, someone showing her a pink e-cigarette. Is Prue giving us definitive proof that children are now buying e-cigarettes en-masse or using a hook to drum up emotional opposition to the electronic cigarette in the absence of any scientific evidence?

No Regulation

Now she is arguing that e-cigarettes, a device which scientists estimates carries between one percent and one tent of one percent of the risk of regular cigarettes (sorry, regular readers, to keep repeating this but it needs to be said for new visitors!), should be banned because they are not regulated.

Despite what she says, e-cigarettes are regulated in the UK. Trading Standards currently monitors e-cigarettes sold from the UK, and a senior trading standards officer has told ECITA they are perfectly capable of doing so and continuing to do so.

In the USA the FDA are responsible for regulating all nicotine products. However, The Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) tell me:

“while the FDA has regulatory power over nicotine products, they have yet to implement any official policies regarding the approval or sale of e-cigarettes…”

The real reason?

What is the real reason for tobacco fanatics’ studies and claims? Here are some possibilities:

  • Government funding is being cut and they need to justify their existence.
  • With past aims being achieved (smoking bans) they need new targets. (Also relates to previous point.)
  • Millions has been set aside for tobacco research and it needs to be spent somehow – third hand smoke and e-cigarettes represent a new way to spend it.
  • Anti-smoking zealots now hate smoking so much that even vastly safer alternatives such as smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes are being targeted.
  • Billions of dollars in tobacco revenue, government taxes, pharmaceutical sales of nicotine cessation aids and grants (funded by tobacco and NRT revenue) are being threatened by e-cigs – who will fund third hand smoking studies when these funds disappear???

Once again, if I am missing out on any here please enlighten me in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Prue Talbot, junk science and electronic cigarettes”

  1. Pingback: Spilling nicotine: safety concern or clumsy researchers? « Tobacco Harm Reduction: News & Opinions

  2. Pingback: Do e-cigarette constrict airway passages?

  3. Pingback: Is 2.4 million dollars the reason for the anti-ecigarette campaign?

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