Updated: Jun 29, 2022
by Pippa Starr
In the 1920’s to the 1970’s smoking tobacco was promoted to treat throat irritation.
I have little doubts that back then, there were people not being given a fair hearing on how combustible tobacco was a potential threat and that it was destined to bring billions of lives devastatingly short.
Fast forward 50 odd years or so to “opposite world”, where the solution to help finally end smoking for good is demonised, ridiculed and big combustible tobacco are given a break while nicotine vaping gets demonised.
As mass media and some governments smear vaping as the next biggest issue to the most devastating pandemic the world has ever seen, between all that, one should wonder why 8 million people are still having their life cut short from tobacco each year and no one in 19 years with 100 million people across the world have had their lives cut short by vaping nicotine.
Not one death ever from vaping nicotine.
Not one shred of evidence exists of a popcorn lung happening in vaping.
Not one shred of credible evidence exists for a myriad of detrimental conditions claimed to be caused from vaping. Not one deadly heart or lung disease,
Many helped by being able to quit smoking with a clean delivery of low dosage nicotine though.
Many with anxiety, depression and stress report feeling better when they get nicotine, hence that group is overrepresented by the smoking population.
However rather than today’s modern media taking a thorough investigative approach, we are in the era of slam bam, cancel them and bash them on twitter and block them!
This is the cruel non empathetic world we live in, or so it appears.
There are some glimmers of hope that are the exception to this, but sadly to few and too far between.
The latest slam piece sample was put together by a young eager to impress journalist Grace Tobin for 4Corners on the ABC.
Out of the blue, on or around May 12, 2021 she added me on twitter.
As someone who enjoys doing some writing I jumped to DM her.
I was surprised by her interest in me enough to want to add me. Sure, I have written quite a lot via my website, but haven’t had a piece published by mainstream media.
Here’s how the DM’s went:
Thank you for the follow Grace. An honour for a journalist at your level to be following little old me. If you are ever looking for a great story or two to write/produce I'm happy to provide/help with a couple of them though. Eg. Being transgender and finding a way to be the real me while staying alive via quitting smoking via Vaping is just one of them. Due to HRT, if I smoke, I most likely would of died via stroke too soon. Intrigued? Let's chat
Hi Pippa, thanks for your message - would be great to hear more about your experience with vaping.
Sure, around 8 years I agreed with my doctor for the necessary medical regime to occur for gender reassignment I had to quit smoking immediately or risk a highly likely stroke or death by blood clot. I smoked since I was 12 up until this point. I tried quitting cold turkey on many occasions, all were inevitably unsuccessful. I even went cold turkey for a few months to keep my promise with my doctor. Some months later I broke that promise and run the gauntlet until a work colleague introduced to me a way that worked for him to quit smoking, that was vaping. The previous week I had a near fatal car potential accident situation as I took a puff on a nicotine spray product I got from a chemist. It reacted with my airway badly and found my self pulled up on the other side of the road gasping for air lucky to be alive after just missing an oncoming vehicle. So I was cautious and stationery when I tried my first puff on a vape device. No reaction other than satisfaction. It worked. It mimicked the sensation of smoking beautifully and delivered clean nicotine without harms from combustion that potentially could very easily have killed me as I was cheating my HRT doctor & myself at that time. I found a device and a flavour of jam Donut e-Liquid so I didn't have to taste burning bushfire anymore to get my fix in a relatively harmless way. Prior to this I had literally tried everything, even acupuncture & hypnosis. I had read books, choked on gums & lozenges, but finally this worked. A week later I was cigarette free. I have been since. No longer did I have to lie to my HRT doctor. In fact I told her the truth. She condoned it so much that she encouraged her partner to quit with vaping and asked me to help her get started. She has been smoke free for 5 years and runs half marathons. I have since learnt a lot more about all the devices, the flavours and done lots of deep investigation into the background of the ideological vs science landscape that this issue confronts. I have helped thousands across Australia and the world learn how to create their own eLiquid as well as generally helped thousands to become & remain smoke free. Not for a dime or to impress, rather to make a difference to help thousands of people experience one more day to be authentic in life with a loved one.
Thanks Pippa, really appreciate you sharing your experience with me. Sounds like it’s been really beneficial. Can you tell me more about making your own eLiquid? Perhaps we can have a chat on the phone this morning about it?
Good morning, Grace. Sure, how does 10.30am AEST work for you? Are you approving of me sound recording that conversation and ok with that being available in full or part thereof publicly at a reasonable point in the future if/as appropriate. This is a policy I have with regards to all journalistic/public information I offer up as it ensures transparency when a topic is presented. :)
Hi Pippa, I’d prefer not to be recorded thanks - it’s only a background chat with the purpose of hearing your perspective and insights.
Not for a story?
Are you looking to get a story?
Grace: Hi Pippa, I’m researching a number of topics at the moment.
Grace went cold after that, no more messages although I did offer her some links to a couple of key informative articles I had written on my website.
I smelt a rat. As I sat there with the palm of my hand in face, I knew I had offered up- too much information and my intuition told me that she was fishing for a story already.
As soon as I had learned that she was fishing rather than gathering, my trusty intuition was proved correct again.
I learned that she was looking to create the next big slam piece on vaping for the ABC’s 4Corners programme.
As I hadn’t heard anything further from Grace about the story, her disingenuous response of
“Hi Pippa, I’m researching a number of topics at the moment.”
echoed clear in my mind as I learnt via peers that she had already hooked a few of them onto her story/slam piece with another jumping off the hook before being used for bait.
I felt relief but uncertainty and a lack of trust for what was about to come.
I have produced and written a full 2 and a half hour movie on the subject of vaping in Australia, and full well understand what it takes to put an accurate piece of audio visual media together.
I know it takes longer than 6 weeks, even with a team of editors and a helpful team behind you, this subject literally takes around 3-6 months to do a thorough job.
The 4corners team either produce miracles or had a preconceived agenda/angle written up for them to roll this slam piece together in 6 weeks or less.
How did their slam piece go?
Let’s break it down and I will be as factual and non-bias as I can about this controversial topic.
Prior to release on 26 June 2022, Grace & the 4Corners team released some short teasers on social media yet blocked commenting on their posts.
Wait what? In a free speech democratic society where the ABC is funded by us, the taxpayers of Australia, they literally withdrew the right to comment on their teasers!
From the first few frames as young people on the street are interviewed about vaping you can already see where this is going, after all, the ABC across the platform have been used mostly as a vehicle for misinformation around the use of vaping products it seems.
From the outset you can see a lot of teens. It’s easy to picture many teens watching this and thinking, hmmm maybe I should get on board and try this, as teens do.
With every question being asked to these young people, who appear of legal age, not one person was asked if they previously smoked cigarettes.
Insert Becky Freeman, a self-admitting recipient of funds by Bloomberg Philanthropy who are known for helping drive a narrative that “vaping is bad” without compromise or consideration of the full evidence.
Becky was an uncompromising academic in New Zealand who ruffled people up in the wrong way until she broke down in tears as she felt she was not being included enough nor given the ability to make enough money.
She was known as an over ambitious academic in NZ who was seen to have a very non-personable attitude with many, my reliable sources tell me.
A then vulnerable Becky, moved to Australia after being handed a lifeline to work under Simon Chapman is the story I’ve also been told by a confidential source.
Becky Freeman fast became a Simon Chapman protegee and another mouthpiece for him, I have been told by someone who is known to them.
Simon Chapman is a well-known anti-smoking campaigner that believes the only way to quit successfully is by cold turkey. While I personally congratulate all smokers who have found a pathway out of smoking, it’s often not as clear as it is in Simon’s ideologically perfect world.
At the outset of this slam piece, it’s appears to be all about building the narrative that vaping was created to only appeal to kids.
Featuring Juul, who is a company that is as relevant to Australia as the price of rice in China, but it’s a slam piece to indoctrinate the naïve, so they feature Juul.
Juul’s marketing approach in the beginning was as over ambitious as it was naïve but none the less has helped introduce a pathway off cigarettes for many hundreds of thousands of Americans who were undoubtedly on a path to a premature death caused by smoking.
Interesting to note, not one person has ever died from using vaping nicotine on a Juul or any other of the thousands of brands or devices that existed well before and after Juul emerged.
Juul is NOT a company that has any significant market presence in Australia.
Roll the hospital pics of the kids due to vaping! Not one of these cases has had undisputable evidence that nicotine vaping was a detrimental contributor to their health downfall, NOT ONE!
Plenty claiming that was the case, because there are parts of the world where health insurance may not help you if you were vaping nicotine.
There is however, a heap of evidence that indicates the use of black market supplied tainted THC vaping cartridges cut with Vitamin E acetate being consistent with most or all of their symptoms.
But it’s best to not let the truth get in way of a good story, right?
Roll Chapman talking about chemicals in flavours and vaping stating:
we have no idea what potential long-term harms they will cause.
I have spent a lot of time investigating the studies around this issue and it seems Simon has missed some things?
The worst-case scenario that I see, is that vaping contains up to 3% of the harm of cigarettes, which is consistent with the same authority that called out the harms of cigarettes in the first place.
That authority is Royal College of Physicians in England who suggest that at this stage it is most likely vaping doesn’t exceed more than 5% of the harms that smoking does.
What would they know compared to Australian pork barrelled tax grant recipients who get their fists filled with cash every year via grants with little to no apparent accountability other than ensure it meets the narrative that vaping is bad.
Is it any wonder the rate of reduction of Australian smoking has fallen well behind the UK & New Zealand?
Vapes are encouraged to help smokers quit by the NHS and other intelligent medical bodies in the UK, there is even vape shops in hospitals there!
However, the result of restricting vaping access for adults in Australia, is by making them find one of the few doctors available to prescribe clean low dosage safer nicotine.
The result for the many who once quit with vaping (in Simon Chapman’s words)
“some will almost certainly return to smoking”.
The uptake of the prescription nicotine model since its inception has been poor, with an estimated 10% or so grabbing a prescription, it’s simply much easier to head to your local shop and grab a pack of deadly ciggies or buy from your local black market distro (there are plenty of those).
The government were warned that by defacto banning adult access to nicotine in a non-risk proportionate way, it would result in a flood of black market products.
It’s not rocket science!
We know through history that banning just about anything that has demand will have black market criminals rubbing their hands together with excitement as they salivate over the bags of cash they can make.
Yet this is the route of wisdom (or lack thereof) that our Australian Health Department chose because apparently, they had the best health advice, but did they really?
Or were they spoon fed with the results they wanted because of that wonderful rainbow of cash that was handed out via grants.
It’s inconvenient to about face and admit that the science paid for is wrong, so just roll with it, right?
Or get further information outside of the usual stale but well paid for think-tankers? There’s an idea? Get broader input!
So here we are with Grace Tobin investigating the inevitable black market.
The same black market that doesn’t care about the end user rather about how they can buy 1000 vapes at a $1 each and flip them for $20 bucks each to kids &
Grace Tobin who adds to their profits on camera in this episode.
The black market vape demand seems to be spurred on by a nice bit of education to kids,
sponsored by “do gooders”/ tax benefactors at Lung Foundation and Cancer Council.
A campaign to tell the kids how to use vapes and where to buy them were rolled out throughout the school system via the School.tv platform.
Then add a sprinkling of more of media and controversy to spread the word that most teens/youth are trying them to incite excitement and whamo, the use of vapes in Australia by youth 18-24 have doubled in the last year apparently to about 10%.
Good marketing value there that the black market couldn't ever buy, but by letting people know that little Doris is enjoying lemonade at Timbuctoo primary school certainly sparks some curiosity.
Telling the youth that vaping is causing lots of detrimental health issues is undermining their intelligence. Teens/youth of course will rebel, but when you undermine their intelligence, they will rebel with vigour.
The anti-vaping tax benefactors probably know this, because it’s straight out of the American playbook, it’s been done! They even sent ice cream vans around to educate kids not to vape hence “grow the curiosity!”.
Thankfully they stopped short of that here in Australia, but there’s time.
You can almost hear that dinging of "Green Sleeves" playing in the background now.
The Tacking Indigenous Smoking initiative has been a significant benefactor of huge totals of money, leaping into millions at a time to help curb smoking.
It would be great if that’s what they did better for sure, because it is an Australian national disgrace and shame that our indigenous population are nearly 4 times more likely to smoke than the rest of the Australian population.
Where does all that money go?
I’ve seen it used on creating colourful anti-vaping propaganda which is clearly unhelpful and not very inciteful to help this marginalised population.
I did see how they have used the money to educate primary school level kids on a snake and ladders game that only included pictures of Nicorette products which seems weird and inappropriate.
Are they trying to indoctrinate kids to try berry flavoured Nicorette sprays?
It’s legal for Australians to buy such nicotine containing products from the age of 12 in Chemists and supermarkets.
Ok that went sideways, but this is the real story.
Back to the 4 corners episode where it appears the Big Tobacco conspiracy theories are flying high as the cigarette prices are here in Australia.
How big is Big Tobacco in the Vaping Industry?
Becky says "they are in the thick of it!"
Oh no, so does that mean they are killing people with vapes rather than cigarettes? NO!
Vaping was created because no one else could or would.
Big tobacco companies had the opportunity to deliver a vape product or two well before they got involved with some vaping companies, such as Juul.
Big tobacco makes their biggest and best profit margins selling cigarettes, not vapes!
If people demand vapes over combustible deadly tobacco products, then those big tobacco companies must diversify before becoming extinct.
It’s basic business, meet the demand, create the supply and do it better where possible.
If one wants to support Big Tobacco companies being the most profitable and death causing operations, don’t support the use of people switching from cigarettes to vaping.
Vaping helps to reduce the profit margins of big tobacco companies. Vaping hit the market around 2003 and was NOT a big tobacco interest then.
It was only once vaping had hit the market share of Big Tobacco between their eyes that they got on board. Around 80% of vape products in Australia are supplied from companies not associated with big tobacco companies.
The ongoing hatred for the dog awful tactics Big Tobacco companies have played over the years and the way it caused my grandmother to have triple bypass surgery, then inevitably die as she kept smoking after that operation, is drenched in their filthy cancer causing tar.
We all hate what big tobacco did and in some parts of the world seemingly still get away with. The only way to beat big tobacco is with supply and demand!
Increase demand for good quality regulated products such as vaping, heat not burn and Snus (less profitable for BT) that don’t kill people and then they are forced to supply that as a result.
Nothing else has worked this effectively at diverting Big tobacco from the deadly combustible cigarette market in nearly 100 years of their deplorable existence!
Enter Hollie Hughes who says “if they (big tobacco) are trying to move away from cigarettes into a product that is better for people and gets people off cigarettes, I don’t have a problem with it”.
Yet the armchair experts on twitter are losing their minds spewing hatred and accusing her of being in bed with big tobacco. Incredible!
Colin Mendelsohn is the only qualified tobacco treatment doctor that appears on the fore mentioned episode of 4Corners that brings some reason and compatibility to this topic. He well understands the dire situation of black market vapes and like myself, fears that kids will get harmed with tainted THC products that saw deaths in the USA, but without sensible risk proportionate regulation, what else could Australia expect to see in the crystal ball moving forward?
Grace Tobin delivers a narrative of how illicit vapes are pouring into Australia like it’s news, everyone who walks a block in the last 6 months or so would have already seen this, especially in the capital cities. Is it really any wonder? Really?
You ban something that doesn’t kill, a government treats kids like imbeciles, locks them out of toilets to prevent a minority of typical teen experimentation and of course the market booms, especially while it’s effectively prohibited but not effectively policed or regulated.
The Western Australian Government are now stepping into vape businesses that strictly comply with only serving adults who wish to quit smoking, yet delivering them orders to shut them down within 7 days.
Black market set to boom in WA, you think?
That’s like splashing water in anger after learning your mate who couldn’t swim drowns.
If you know how to swim safely there is little to no chance of death.
The same can be said for nicotine.
Nicotine is the stuff that kills ya isn’t it?
NO it doesn’t unless you drown in it!
When nicotine is used safely at low dosage and when not combusted along with smoke and tar, not one person has died vaping it, NOT ONE, EVER!
It acts as a mild stimulant.
That’s why 12 year olds can legally buy it in patches, gum & fruity sprays!
It doesn’t keep you up at night, or hook you in the same way cigarettes do, especially when it’s vaped (for most people).
It’s no longer an addiction as such, like for example, where a crack addiction may see you kill someone to get more or smoking where it has been seen before that people will kill to get a smoke literally.
It is a dependence, like coffee and red bulls are often consumed.
Why is it so effective in teens/youth?
Youth today have more to stress about than any other generation in the last 50 years, especially with climate change hanging over their heads. Many are stressed, anxious and many may have other situations in their life as we can only empathise with as we were all teens once.
Despite some of the misinformation being spewed out via some questionable papers who make declarations about human results off the back of studying rats,
it’s hard to believe, but human brains process nicotine differently to rats forced into compressed chambers and tortured.
Most quality studies regard nicotine as a mood calming substance, maybe because they haven’t forced rats into a chamber and forced it to suck on burning metal every 15-30 seconds, but you can decide on that fun fact.
Nicotine has showed some very positive indicators to help people with other cognitive issues such as Parkinson’s and Tourette’s syndrome. It’s naturally occurring and doesn’t cause climate change or a myriad of other ailments that some media will have us believe with their word smithed “could be, probably, possibly” articles we see about nicotine.
If you really are worried about consuming nicotine, stop eating potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and bunch of other veges because there is nicotine in them.
Hang on, maybe this is a way we can get more teens to eat more veges? Hmm
One thing is almost certain, one hardly wakes up in the middle of the night to hit the vape. Plenty wake up due to other issues such as anxiety etc, but for a vape?
Yet this is the story of a young girl Grace Tobin found somewhere named Ruby.
The way she explained what vaping feels like with a “head rush and super lightheaded with a wave that comes over you”, seems interesting because I have had that experience with prescribed pain killers but never as a nicotine user for the last 35 years, the last six years vaping it.
Emily Banks was asked at a senate inquiry into tobacco harm reduction the basic question of how many chemicals are in a cigarette, she was unable to answer. So how is this woman worth a pinch, let alone anything to head up a study that cost Australian taxpayers nearly a million dollars?
The whole 4Corners production seems like they got caught in a haze of their own as they struggled with key statistics such as how many people in Australia vape.
Incredibly it was 520000 according to the Australian Govt a couple of years ago yet now 400000?
Does that mean a lot of vapers have now turned to smoking?
Or is that the on ramp to smoking that Emily Banks speaks of?
Is this their method of calculus?
Once a smoker, then quit with vaping, then make too difficult to get, so then vapers begin smoking again? Hmmm, that must be how they calculate that on ramp to smoking effect, along with dual use as well? It seems hazy indeed.
Seriously, consider the flavour of the most delicious desert you have ever tasted that keeps you calm and then think hmm, I prefer inhaling the scent of a burning cats arse in the midst of a burning bush fire, oh yes this is much better,
said no one with a pulse ever!
Emily Banks says “nicotine has effects on the developing brain, memory, concentration and learning” so true, but not in the context of this clever word smithed section of innuendo by this scientician.
Real nicotine studies have shown there are in fact positive effects including improving concentration which makes it easier to learn and remember information, unless you are a rat stuffed into a chamber having your nose burned of course.
Young Ruby seems very twitchy and anxious, especially as her mother asks her if she has been vaping, no wonder she enjoys nicotine and doesn’t want to stop.
Otherwise, she appears healthy enough.
Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t recommend anyone of any age to start vaping unless they are subject to a harmful cigarette addiction and there is no other way to quit.
It’s not an ideal situation sure, but let’s be realists here.
I am also not going to start telling adults of age what they can or can’t do either, because frankly as long as they aren’t harming anyone, it absolutely none of my business.
What I will say is, if I switched to vaping when I was caught by my parents smoking when I was 14, I would have been a lot better off for it. Vaping wasn’t a thing then.
A controversial view sure, but I was hooked on those dam smokes and vaping is at least 95% less harmful!
Ruby speaks of withdrawals that include getting anxious and grumpy, dam who has ever lived with a teen vaping or not that hasn’t experienced that behaviour.
No never? Best go & buy a lotto ticket!
I highly suspect, that Ruby explains what she would normally feel without nicotine, whether she vaped or not. Sure, she is noticing the difference because she hasn’t had a dose in a while that takes care of those feelings.
I’m not suggesting every teen/youth should take up vaping to kerb those traits, but if a nicotine patch helps, why not?
It’s perfectly legal and you don’t have to head to a bathroom & hide or worse, have your basic human rights deprived by an overzealous school that locks their toilets to prevent vaping!
Yes, this happens!
As for Ruby explaining she gets headaches, dry mouth, and anger, oh my, that is not good, probably due to the overall poor quality illicit vapes.
Those symptoms are not common via vaping materials sold through most good specialist vape shops. But they can’t sell you the nicotine.
They can only sell vape devices and liquids if you are an adult.
If vape shops could sell reputable devices along with e-liquids that contain reasonable dosages of nicotine to only adults then, OMG, wait for it, mind explosion,
there wouldn’t be as much of a black market nor many “Ruby’s” so “hooked” on illicit poor quality vapes!
Mind blowing right?
But that was the chance Australia had and now there is a challenge to reel this back in sensibly with risk proportionate regulations.
No more distraught mothers claiming their child has an addiction and worried sick in the night over where their next street vape is coming from, that could only be a good thing right?
As far as appealing to kids goes, I agree that there should be better measures around labelling of nicotine eLiquid containing bottles, rather than the cereal box style designs that are often seen now, but hells bells, you have to be consistent with this, which includes the bottling of alcohol based products too.
Flavours are necessary, all the flavours of the rainbow make vaping more attractive than that taste of burning bushfire and takes away the reminder that they were a smoker, it’s that simple.
As an adult I prefer flavour, what’s next?
Are you going to remove the strawberries out of my Jam?
But Simon says, Simon says a lot of things. The chemicals contained in eLiquid are still way less than 5% of comparative harms of smoking.
Not to mention, as a vaper you feel better in weeks compared to smoking.
It seems most vapers got caught in the Haze and left out in the cold, in the inappropriate smokers shed, when it came to Grace Tobin & 4Corners creating this slam piece!
They didn’t ask any middle-aged vapers their side of the story.
(Mine wasn’t published).
It’s like the narrative was literally centred around the Simpsons theme of
“Won’t Someone Think Of The Children” rather than get the full story.
Youth are important though. When their parents die from smoking because media outlets like the ABC turned them off the most effective way to quit on the planet,
they will be coming for you!
The children are the future, they will lead the way to you and those who don’t help smokers quit honestly, will have to deal with that.
As for Becky Freeman stating vapes were advertised on kids cartoon websites that wasn’t true, that was loaded.
That was a google algorithm of auto ads for things you previously searched,
and they found a kids site that had heaps of google auto play ads,
but that’s what these spin doctors do, never let the truth get in the way of the next grant that delivers them fat pay checks!
I get that teen vaping in schools is causing a flap, but dam, so was deadly smoking! That was the issue just 20-30 years ago but watchout there’s a non-deadly new issue that has been conflated as if it is a deadly one.
Just in case you weren’t paying attention,
if there’s no black market due to better risk proportionate regulations,
less telling every kid who goes to school where to buy vapes via facebook,
and some more intelligence used here, this problem will dissipate.
Less attack on the credibility of people who are treating doctors, more listening and paying attention to those who have much more experience and success in the harm reduction space like Alex Wodak, is the only way to move forward in this space with some rationale. It will be cheaper for the taxpayer too!
A non-smoking Australia is an Australia that doesn’t have it’s productivity stifled by around $140 billion dollars per year due to burdens to the economy of smoking.
Losing over 20000 lives to smoking every year in Australia in 2022 is a national disgrace.
Indigenous, marginalised and those who suffer life and economic challenges are the highest percentage of smokers, we need to support them, to do otherwise and continue the current failings would be a continuation of this current national disgrace.
When Australia is already facing challenges like massive debt, inflation, costs of living, a mental health crisis, and worst of all climate change, the least our Australian Government can do is begin to get real about vaping as countries who’s smoking rates that plummet faster than Australia are already doing!
Australia doesn’t progress by searching for conspiracy theories and character assassinating people, we are smarter than that aren’t we?