On the 12th of October, the UK’s newspaper, The Times, released an article containing untruthful and defamatory aggressive accusations-
By Diane Caruana | November 7th, 2016
against some well known pro-vaping scientists and advocates, claiming that their research is funded by Big Tobacco. These hollow allegations naturally caused a great uproar and a demand for justice, which led to the The Times publishing a letter of apology.
In the infamous article, part of which was titled, Experts making a packet, misinformed author Katie Gibbons, mentioned by name a handful of respected scientists who attended the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, GTNF, last September in Belgium. She blatantly accused these pro-health experts of receiving funds from tobacco companies to carry out research in favor of e-cigarettes, an argument unsound on so many levels.
Dr. Kostantinos Farsalinos, a renowned research scientist himself, who was NOT included in Gibbons’ list, spoke about this outrage, pointing out that not only do none of the mentioned scientists have any affiliation with any tobacco companies, but that the accusing statement which according to the journalist was released by “Britain’s biggest cancer charity”, has never in fact existed. Moreover, other arguments that Gibbons presented about the vaping studies carried out were inaccurate, and directly accusing health organizations such as Public Health England of releasing false data, without at any point presenting examples of evidence to prove her argument.
Naturally the above caused an outrage within a community who has public health at heart. The accused scientists and organizations are known to have been single-handedly working hard to research the products, which are proven to be a healthier alternative to their combustible counterparts and an effective smoking cessation tool, whilst sharing scientific-based information about them. This lead to the times reiterating the defaming article and posting a letter of apology, last Friday, on the 4th of November. The apology clearly states that the article did not convey the truth and that none of the scientists mentioned have in reality received any funds from Big Tobacco Companies.
Is a published apology really enough?
As Dr. Farsalinos rightly pointed out, an apology note will not generate the same amount of publicity as the original damaging article. Besides this, another newspaper had shared the original one published by The Times, while of course most of the people who would have across the first article by chance, will not necessarily come across the apology. The biggest tragedy here? Besides the fact that well-meaning scientists could have their reputation ruined or tainted for good, is the fact that the original article which would have reached many, could possibly dissuade many smokers to try and make the healthy switch to the non-combustible alternatives. A switch that could potentially save their lives and that of their loved ones.