The website Tobacco Tactics calls itself “the essential source for rigorous research on the tobacco industry.” Operating under the aegis of the University of Bath in the UK, Tobacco Tactics is funded by, among others, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the philanthropic vehicle of billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg leads a global campaign against the tobacco industry and all its products, including safer nicotine products.
Last month, Tobacco Tactics went after a Norwegian researcher named Karl Erik Lund, alleging that he has “ties” and “connections” to the tobacco industry. This was shameful. Lund has testified against the industry in five lawsuits, and has never taken any money from tobacco companies. His sin, such as it is, is that he has researched the effects of a safer non-combustable nicotine product known as snus, which are popular in Norway and Sweden. Snus, which are oral pouches, create health risks but they are safer than combustible cigarettes; they have helped reduce the prevalence of smoking and smoking-related diseases in both countries. As a result of this unfair attack–and yes, it was an attack– Lund was informed by a French government agency that he could no longer attend a conference on e-cigarettes in Paris that he had helped to organize.
I wrote about this at some length for Medium, here, for a couple of reasons. First, the ban on Lund was outrageous and unjust. Second, because it reflects the utter refusal of Bloomberg Philanthropies and its allies to consider ideas that diverge from its absolutist stance against all things tobacco.
To my delight, the story got a lot of attention, including a tweet that directed me to the small print on the Tobacco Tactic website. Tobacco Tactics says:
Although we work to rigorous standards and adhere to a strict guide to writing, there is no undertaking by either TobaccoTactics.org or the University of Bath that any part of this site is accurate, complete or up to date. You use this site at your own risk, and for guidance only.
None of the authors, contributors, sponsors, administrators, sysops, or anyone else connected with TobaccoTactics.org or the University of Bath will be responsible for the appearance of any material considered defamatory, offensive, inaccurate, unlawful or misleading, nor will they be responsible for your use of the information contained in these web pages, or the pages TobaccoTactics links to.
Crazy, no? A university-run website calls itself an “essential source” but adds a disclaimer saying, essentially, that the site cannot be trusted to be accurate. There’s a lot more to this story, which can be found here.