Surely it comes as no surprise at all to discover yet another troughing organisation suckling on the over-abundant cash-cow that is tobacco control, yet this one takes it to a whole new level of incredulousness.
You could of course be forgiven for thinking that this strapline is totally benign aimed to bring information to the people to enable them to make informed choices. Of course, when you see the very first page of their website, that little benign statement of “We are here to empower, not judge” goes straight out the window.
Phrases such as “Big tobacco be like” and “don’t get played while they get paid” undermine their “empowering” message. Of course, it did make me wonder who these guys actually were, so I went on a little search. The Truth, is part of The Truth Initiative Foundation, which until recently was known as the American Legacy Foundation. The very same foundation that appears to have misplaced a lot of money.
Now that in itself is stupendously stupid for a charitable organisation, but it just makes matters a little more suspect when the organisation decides to “rebrand” itself. In their own words:
By changing its name to Truth Initiative, the organization is making clear that truth is part of a robust public health organization that speaks, seeks and spreads the truth about tobacco through education for youth and young adults, tobacco control research and policy study, and community activism and engagement.
“Our organization will always be the legacy of the states and territories that waged a bold and contentious legal battle with Big Tobacco,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of the public health organization since 2013.
“We chose Truth Initiative because it connects us to our proven-effective social change campaign while telling a broader story about our work inspiring tobacco-free lives.”
Sounds like a whole load of wrangling to keep their snout in the tobacco control coffers to me.
So what has caused this inept blogger to put fingers on keys about these folks? Well this:
What the fuck indeed. So I went and had a peek at what the fuck was going on. The page in question is entitled “Erase and Replace” showing a picture of a smoker, with some daft graphics being added and encouraging others to do the same with a big orange “Pull From Facebook” button. The strapline on this piece of endorsed cyber-bullying?
Grab those smoking selfies and slap some silly on them.
That kind of thing falls cleanly under “libel” as there isn’t much in the way of control of the picture being used, after all how hard is it to download someone’s picture and use it elsewhere? It is none other than state-sanctioned bullying. If any of us took a picture of one of them and slapped “some silly” on them, you can bet your ass we’d be held accountable for it.
Remember the “LeftSwipeDat” shenanigans on Tinder? Guess who instigated that? Yep. So far, I’ve not been impressed with these folks. Even more so when I saw their “about” page.
- We Don’t Hate. We instigate
“We’re not here to criticize your choices, or tell you not to smoke. We’re here to arm everyone – smokers and non-smokers – with the tools to make change.”
Uh, OK folks do you see the irony here? The only thing you’re really instigating is hatred towards people who make different choices. With taxpayer dollars too! I bet you’re real popular at parties.
- Gaming not shaming
“This isn’t about throwing stones at smokers. It’s about finding and turbo-charging new fun ways to do what no generation has ever done before – end smoking.”
Uh, folks you are doing exactly that with your “Erase and Replace” shenanigans. It doesn’t take anything physical to bully someone, simply allowing people to radically mess up one of their photos can do it. You are, without doubt encouraging smoker shaming which is thoroughly unjustifiable and inhumane. Let’s face it, change the word “smoker” for a religion or race. Would you conduct these kinds of campaigns for those? I seriously doubt it. Nothing short of sanctimonious bullying.
- We speak in facts
“We’re about getting the real facts in front of as many people as we can. What, you thought we call ourselves truth because we just like the way it sounds?”
I’ve seen some of your supposed facts. Some are pure speculation and spin, others downright false. There are one or two that are true, after all the best lies contain a kernel of truth somewhere right?
I guess the old saying “a lie can run around the world before the truth has got its boots on” applies to the shenanigans being propagated by the “Truth Initiative”. Totally disgraceful, utterly without shame, pure hubris and thoroughly sanctimonious codswallop.
Update 8th October
One of my loyal readers – Shannon, thoughtfully sent Truth a cheeky e-mail pointing them to this post (absolute genius):
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any kind of response. At all. After all, it’s a charitable organisation that seems to delight in bullying smokers into quitting like all the other anti-smoking organisations. So you can imagine my surprise when Shannon told me that they had in fact, not only taken the time to respond, but also taken the time to read this post.
So, let me respond to this first section.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your incredibly busy day to read my little blog. I mentioned taxpayers mainly because you are part of the Truth Initiative Foundation, which as I pointed out earlier in this very post, lost a large sum of cash when it was called the American Legacy Foundation, and not long after that the entire foundation was re-branded as “The Truth Initiative”. Funnily enough, I’ve had a peek at the 501(c) report for 2014 and grants received equate to over $3M. Grants are of course, paid by none other than the taxpayer via a very circuitous route.
Not much Truth there is there?
As for the facts aspect, I mentioned that some may be accurate whilst others are exaggerated. Obviously these folks don’t know the terms irony or sarcasm to notice. Now I’ve spent a lot of time reading a lot of tobacco, smoking and vaping research. Most of it is pretty dull stuff, but I’m probably in a better position to quote “facts” than Truth are. I do get things wrong from time to time, and I freely admit that. However, the “facts” mentioned on their site for vapour products are based in ideological junk science where the researchers had absolutely no idea what they were actually investigating.
You’re right! This is a vaping website. Well a blog actually, but hey. Semantics! If they actually take the time to read my other posts like this one for example, they’ll see that I too have “concerns” about youth uptake, but there should be exceptions. What does concern me is their stance on the “evils of Nick O’Teen” which is found naturally in a fair number of root vegetables which are consumed on a daily basis by many folks across the globe while they grow up and it doesn’t seem to have a particularly adverse effect on them. Perhaps it’s the method of delivery they take an exception to? Who knows?
But the industry already addressing the “concerns” is totally true. If left alone with a light touch regulatory framework, and organisations like The Truth and all the others intent on being smoker-shaming bullying scudmonkeys go away, then it can take care of itself. Instead these organisations spend a great deal of taxpayer money on doing everything they can to demean smokers and by extension us vapers that choose a substantially less harmful alternative.
I think the final words should still be….