Can we please have a debate about policy issues?
Trying to talk policy with confused Le Monde activist journalists
Have you ever attempted to argue with a conspiracy theorist?
They don’t all wear tinfoil hats and argue about vaccines or government plots. Some earn paychecks from respectable media outlets. Others are funded by billionaire philanthropists to sow doubt and spin narratives.
The Consumer Choice Center recently met with some Michael Bloomberg-funded journalists — a troubling web on its own — supposedly to discuss our campaigns on tobacco harm reduction, an important issue for us and for a billion smokers worldwide. Yesterday they published their “research” after months of inquiry.
We wanted to talk to them about policy issues. But they seemingly weren’t interested in the great work we do on consumer choice and innovative, smart policies across the globe. They did not care about our fight to save the lives of millions of smokers, or our efforts to make ride-sharing available for everyone and reduce drunk driving, or combatting criminals and drug-dealers by endorsing cannabis legalization. We advocate for innovative solutions to tackle the world’s problems — from hunger to pandemics — but they had a different narrative to sell.
Cynical activist-journalists don’t seem to care about the life-saving potential of vaping but instead aim to slander people that endorse and use it. Where is the alternative solution provided by these intrepid journalists? They also don’t care about us and our volunteers being actual consumers — this makes me look forward to displaying hundreds of video testimonials of vapers in the upcoming weeks across Europe. Nearly 70 million smokers (that’s 1% of world population and about 200-times more people than Le Monde readers) have been able to quit thanks to vaping. This is likely the largest public health victory since the invention of the Polio vaccine!
Instead, the big story they wanted to target is that the CCC receives money from for-profit corporations. This is true, and it shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s clearly stated on our website, and we’ve answered these questions a hundred times. If it takes three “journalists” months to figure this out, then Michael Bloomberg and those who run his foundation, who funded their research, should probably consider the return on their investment.
Despite their ambiguous claims, CCC has ZERO ties to the Koch family, their companies, or their money, and though this was made very clear to the intrepid reporters, they devoted the vast majority of their screed to trying to force a link that doesn’t exist. This is neither honest journalism nor fact-based reporting, but it fits the illiberal and moralizing worldview of a sect of journalists, and their contrived sense of right and wrong.
They believe that fighting for consumer choice and evidence-based policies is a fringe pursuit and lonely endeavor, which no one would dare try unless funded by various incarnations of the devil. We disagree.
I devoted more than an hour to talking with these journalists in person, and provided responses to all of their follow-up questions, in good faith. The same can be said for my colleagues who provided answers to them in the months prior. Their suggestion that I was evasive just doesn’t match the facts. We are open and proud of the work that we do.
There’s a massive need to raise and amplify the voice of consumers that want access to innovative products, that want to decide for themselves, and that don’t want to be lectured to by activist-journalists with an ideological axe to grind.
The Consumer Choice Center is proud of its accomplishments in our years of existence, and that my colleagues and our volunteers work hard hours every day to bring evidence and consumer choice to the public debate. I am very thankful for all the support we have received in the past and we look forward to growing our efforts for 21st century consumer policies!
P.S.: The story that consumers and ex-smokers (like me) fight for the right to vape seemed to be such a non-story that the writers decided it was appropriate to comment on the fashion choices of myself and Michael. When they go low, we’ll go high, so we won’t respond in kind. But I would like to say that I proudly bought my Burberry trench coat in a second hand market. But this wouldn’t fit their narrative.
P.P.S.: All I want for Christmas is for Michael Bloomberg and the World Health Organization to realize that vaping can save millions of lives. Santa, can you help with this?
P.P.P.S: If you want to read through the result of the aforementioned 3-month-long research you can have some entertainment here.
Addition: This thread by Michelle Minton at the Competitive Enterprise Institute shows the undeclared conflicts of interest of some of the authors of the references ‘research’.