A day at the races beats a Day at the Capitol

Just for once, I would dearly love to see a non-profit organisation that actually has some kind of moral standard.  The simple fact is, I seriously doubt that any non-profit in the field of anti-tobacco has any kind of morals. At all.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m all for a non-profit organisation to actually raise awareness of issues, conduct research, educate the masses and so forth, but there has to be some moral and ethical standard.

It seems that certain non-profits can do whatever they please. I’ve already had a run down of Sacramento STAND where they blatantly use aggressive bullying tactics, or encourage others to do the same.  This time, I’m casting a close eye on ClearWay Minnesota as it seems they have taken a different, but no less diabolical route in pressing home their “message”.

As is the norm with most ‘tobacco harm reduction’ or ‘smokefree’ organisations, they receive grants from various folks, and in the case of Clear Way Minnesota, it is of course the Department of Public Health. I would suspect, that some of that PH funding originates from the pharmaceutical companies.  Having looked at the annual report that they have to file along with the 990 form, ClearWay Minnesota spent over $16 million.


Over 70% is spent on their cessation program(s), with a “mere” $1.2 Million on “General and administrative”.  Everything else is on “Research and other tobacco control purposes”.  The vague nature of that statement made me put my tin foil hat on (may as well have the thing stuck on).  The “cessation” program(s) are pretty detailed in their annual report, but this particular image looked vaguely familiar:



Hmmm, is it just me or do all non-profits and similar “anti” orgs follow a similar format?

Never the less, it would appear that the majority of their ‘hard earned cash’ is spent in the cessation area, which is fine and dandy. Up to a point. See, the thing is they aren’t actually encouraging folk to quit, not really.  They make a big show of putting out “educational” materials and so forth, but it would seem that a lot of the time they are in fact lobbying. The thing is, I have no issues with lobbying as such but in this case I need to make an exception. The reason for that will become clear.


Today (29th April 2015), ClearWay Minnesota along with various other “anti-tobacco” non profit organisations went on a little trip to the MN Capitol.  The issue I have with this particular field trip is the inclusion of students.  Never mind the fact that these particular students are in an open area next to a car park (sorry parking lot for my US brethren) and the tweet rambles on about “clean air breathing”. Uh, OK then.


Of course, they would like menthol cigarettes and other flavoured tobacco products to be restricted. That does of course include vapor products as they like to lump those in with tobacco products, even though there isn’t any, you know actual tobacco in them.


So expect a whole host of new House or State Bills to come forth from this little gathering about restricting “flavoured tobacco products”. There may even be some kind of taxation on them too, as ClearWay Minnesota is big on the tax rises. They love those, allows the DPH to get more cash, which means they do too.


Give. Me. Strength. When I was a student all those many years ago, I couldn’t give a flying rats ass about taxes for anything so I doubt very much that these students actually care either, they’ve been carefully indoctrinated to spout the ClearWay Minnesota tale along with encouragement to speak about any personal experiences. Wonder how much of the $16 Million they spent on scripting?


Oh here we freaking go again. In the UK at least, tobacco and e-cigarette marketing is strongly regulated, so much so that there isn’t much out there. There is zero tobacco on TV, Radio or in print, not to mention any vaping ads that seem to adhere to ASA standards are complained about and banned anyway. Not being in the US, I can’t really comment on the whole advertising thing, but I suspect that it has very much changed since the “hey days” of the Winston / Marlboro Man.


Uh, the whole “youth targeting” thing is, in a word, bullshit. No other way to put it. Flavours in particular appeal to everyone, why do you think there is flavoured alcoholic drinks? True, some of the names that vendors use could do with a little work to make them seem a little less ‘youth appealing’, but in general there is little direct marketing to the youth of today (remember folks, one day one of the youth of today could very well end up running your country!).


It is stuff like this that really gets on my nerves. At a guess, the lass in the post can’t be more than 15 (tops), yet she is being used as a tool to “promote” anti-tobacco policies. Out of curiosity though, how many “tobacco products” look like candy? I’ve never seen any physical product, with the exception of the NRT lozenges that look like actual candy.

Here’s the tweet that kicked off the idea of this post. From a certain perspective, you could say that ClearWay Minnesota are in fact encouraging youth to try and identify flavours, either from a vapor or tobacco product. Who is ‘marketing’ to the youth now hey?


When it comes to the whole vapor product versus tobacco product marketing, the vaping industry doesn’t need to market to kids as the very organisations that are trying to heavily regulate vaping are doing it for them! How many actual adverts have you seen for vapor products that include under 18s? How many public health related campaigns (including all the tobacco control, smoke free and non-profit orgs) have you seen that include under 18s that directly refer to vapor products or tobacco?


Oh really? As far as I know, 95-99% of brick and mortar stores across the United States will not sell to under 18s ever. If it is “easier” for the youth to buy ‘e-cigarettes’ it is likely this youth is purchasing the tobacco industry rubbish cig-a-like shit, most of which is sold in gas stations and convenience stores with little or no regard for product placement. Heck most gas stations in the UK will sell cigarettes to U18s as they are generally pretty damn busy and often rely on the “looks old enough” theory, I know as I got away with it for five freaking years. Local convenience stores (newsagents) were generally a bit tougher as they couldn’t afford to be investigated for underage sale.


Which ‘science’ would that be? Glantzian no doubt, not worth the paper or digital 1s and 0s it is presented on. Having read a lot of studies on this subject, I’m confident that vapor products are indeed substantially less harmful, present zero issues to bystanders, and have near zero long-term effects. If I, not a scientist, can figure that out….

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices used to inhale nicotine and other chemicals. Several Minnesota cities have restricted their sale and use, and state lawmakers have proposed adding them to the Freedom to Breathe Act.

At ClearWay MinnesotaSM, we support efforts to include these products in public policies that apply to cigarettes. There is not yet a body of evidence on the effects of using or being around e-cigarettes, and allowing an unknown substance to be used in indoor public places would be a step backwards for clean air. We also know that e-cigarettes are sold in candy and fruit flavors that are proven to have appeal for youth.

A poll funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota in February found that Minnesotans strongly support including e-cigarettes in policies that restrict smoking in public places. Seventy-nine percent said they support prohibiting e-cigarette use in places where smoking is already banned. The poll also found that 98 percent of Minnesotans support prohibiting e-cigarette sales to minors, and 87 percent feel e-cigarettes should be kept behind the counter in stores.

Oh dear. This is the ‘official’ information taken straight off the ClearWay Minnesota website, alongside the lovely and less than informative PDF that they call the “fact sheet”. Both of which indicate where their funding originates from as they propose the use of ‘recommended’ cessation methods. It is clear then, that residents of Minnesota are in for a tough time, especially when you get folk like this:


“Harm reduction is bullshit! That is Tobacco Industry propaganda”

No, harm reduction is very real and has absolutely nothing to do with the tobacco industry, although at least one of the large manufacturers tried to promote “harm reduction” with their ‘Light’ cigarettes.  Real harm reduction is in the hands of folk like ClearWay MinnesotaSacramento STAND, and other non-profit “anti-tobacco” organisations. That’s a very scary thought isn’t it?

No wonder they don’t like vapor products or smokeless tobacco products when the majority of their cash comes (directly or indirectly) from the pharmaceuticals. Conflict of Interest? Doesn’t exist naturally.

One thought on “A day at the races beats a Day at the Capitol”

  1. Do you understand now why we call Jill, “Mama Doberman?”

    She’s a bitch, that’s why.

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