FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 11/30/15, 9:00 AM Eastern.
E-Cig Advocates Respond to Misleading Stanford Research
Paper published in British Medical Journal contains significant factual errors.
Oakley, CA – A new research paper from Stanford Research Into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising, published in the British Medical Journal, raises serious questions about the university’s use of research funds. The paper, authored by Stanford professor Dr. Robert Jackler, makes accusations of “brandalism” – manipulating an existing work to convey a different message, a tactic often used in anti-tobacco advertisements over the past two decades.
Dr. Jackler asserts in the paper that Not Blowing Smoke, a California-based e-cigarette advocacy group, engaged in a deliberate effort to modify advertisements created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of their Tips From Former Smokers campaign. In addition, Jackler accuses Not Blowing Smoke of having “close ties to the e-cigarette industry” and being founded by “four creators, including an e-cigarette company marketing manager (Apollo) and vape store employees.”
“I was completely confused by this research. Two of our three board members have no affiliation with the vaping industry and none of our team members work in a vape store,” said Stefan Didak, founder and president of Not Blowing Smoke. “Stanford’s research team clearly missed a few things in their review, most importantly that we didn’t create any sort of counter-campaign to CDC.”
In fact, the originator of the edited images is a graphic designer named Shawn Rego, who created the modification based on a poorly-worded CDC advertisement he felt was misleading the public. The ad, featuring a woman with a scar from surgery, implies that e-cigarettes were somehow responsible for a collapsed lung despite the clear statement that ‘Kristy’ continued use of combustible tobacco products. Ironically, Stanford’s paper makes note of the fact that identifying the author of a knock off advertisement may be challenging.
“Jackler alleges that the modified work infringes on CDC copyright, but as part of the federal government, it’s unlikely that copyright protection applies,” adds Didak. “We certainly shared images via social media. The backlash against CDC’s misleading campaign was completely a consumer-driven effort that we were happy to support.”
Of particular note is Stanford’s bizarre accusation of industry ties. Not Blowing Smoke’s board is comprised of three people, two of whom have never been employed by the e-cigarette industry in any capacity. “At any given time, a majority vote is controlled by consumer advocates,” says Jason Downing, the organization’s treasurer and communications director. “We operate with complete independence from any e-cigarette manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer. We believe this paper falls far short of Stanford’s long history of producing and publishing fine research both in the tobacco control field and many other areas of medicine.”
Not Blowing Smoke has sent formal letters in response to the research to Dr. Jackler as well as leadership at both Stanford and the British Medical Journal calling for a retraction.
About Not Blowing Smoke:
Not Blowing Smoke is a nonprofit corporation formed in response to the California Department of Health’s misleading anti-vaping campaign, which to date, has spent upwards of $15 million dollars of taxpayer money. The organization was founded in March 2015 by Stefan Didak, a nationally recognized consumer advocate for vapor products with assistance from Jason Downing. Shortly after founding, Danielle Bloss, a brand manager at Apollo, joined the team and the three now form the board of directors.
We are dedicated to providing the public and government officials with the truth about vaping. Not Blowing Smoke operates completely independent of industry influence, although we do receive limited funding from strategic partnerships.
Jason Downing, Director