The word "doubt" carried special resonance. It conjured an infamous 1968 internal memo from the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company. "Doubt is our product," a B and W executive instructed his colleagues… "[It] is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the public… of establishing a controversy."
The tobacco companies are no longer blowing smoke about the hazards of combusted-tobacco cigarettes. But the critics of electronic cigarettes — an important new technology that has the potential to replace smoking worldwide – have begun mass-producing doubt about the product.
Only 8 percent of all former smokers have converted to vaping. That percentage needs to grow. But agencies such as the CDC and state of California are doing their best to halt the progression….
The CDC and the California Department of Health have ripped a page from the Big Tobacco playbook. "Strongly call out the point – Controversy! Contradiction! Other Factors! Unknowns!" as Hill and Knowlton, the PR firm that advised the tobacco industry, urged it to do in the 1950s and 60s.
By warping the perception of risk, these agencies will surely create enough doubt about the very real benefits of e-cigarettes that smokers will simply say to themselves, "Why switch?" And keep inhaling dangerous smoke. If there were such a thing as public health negligence, the nation's flagship public health agency and California's health department could rightly stand accused.'