Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No e-cigs, so it's back to smoking

Earlier this month, in a post titled “Who stole my e-cig”, I mentioned that I had tracked an electronic cigarette I'd ordered to a customs office in Mississauga. It had apparently arrived there on November 4, 2009. Just before Christmas, over six weeks after the package arrived at customs, I received official notification from Health Canada (Health Protection Branch) advising me that the product contained “prescription drugs” and they were refusing entry.

“The above product(s) contain Schedule F drugs. The importation of prescription drugs is restricted to persons designated under Section C.01.045 of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. In the opinion of the undersigned, the sale of this product in Canada would constitute a violation of Section(s) C.01.045.”

Section C.01.045 of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations states quite clearly: “Importations of Schedule F drugs by Canadian residents are not permitted by mail or courier.”

The “Report of Examination for Customs Entry” identifies the product as an e-cigarette, with a quantity listed of 10 cartridges. Nowhere in the documentation I received, however, is the “prescription” drug identified, although we can safely assume it was nicotine. OK, maybe we shouldn't assume anything for fear of making an ASS out of U and ME. After all, I once assumed I could rely on Health Canada for accurate, science-based information.

What a crock of shit that turned out to be, at least as far as smoking and secondhand smoke is concerned.

But, the last time I looked, the pharmacy I deal with was selling at least some nicotine products “over-the-counter”, without the need for a prescription; nicotine gum, lozenges and the ever-popular patch, for example.

Schedule “F” of the Food and Drugs Act tells us that nicotine is on the list of prohibited drugs . . . unless it's in an acceptable form and dosage:
“Nicotine and its salts, [are prohibited] for human use, except
(a) in natural substances;
(b) in the form of a chewing gum containing 4 mg or less of nicotine per dosage unit;
(c) in the form of a transdermal patch with a delivery rate of 22 mg or less of nicotine per day;
(d) in a form to be administered orally by means of an inhalation device delivering 4 mg or less of nicotine per dosage unit; or
(e) in the form of a lozenge containing 4 mg or less of nicotine per dosage unit”

Surprise. Surprise. The acceptable forms of nicotine are those produced by the major drug companies.

The form letter explaining the refusal of entry suggests that if I have a prescription from a doctor, the drug (nicotine) is apparently acceptable, but . . . the prescription must be filled in Canada. “It is recommended that you contact your doctor to obtain a prescription for this medication which must be filled in Canada.”

But, would any doctor cut a prescription for nicotine to be administered via an electronic cigarette? Actually, I believe they would. Several prominent public health authorities have recently expressed support for the electronic cigarette as a means of harm reduction for smokers unable (or unwilling) to quit.

Professor Carl Phillips is one of a number of experts who have come out in favour of the device. Phillips, an associate professor at the University of Alberta, estimates that electronic cigarettes carry a risk that "is probably in the order of 99 percent less harmful than smoking." He adds: "I think there's absolutely no doubt that it is a safer alternative to regular cigarettes."

Other experts who have spoken out in favour of the electronic cigarette include Dr Joel Nitzkin, Chair of the Tobacco Control Task Force for the American Association of Public Health Physicians, Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health, and David Sweanor, a former advisor on tobacco control to the WHO.

And, during a visit with my cardiologist just before Christmas, I was told:. “I don't know that much about the electronic cigarette, but if it will get you off the (unprofessional expletive deleted) cigarettes, it's OK with me.”

Of course, I suspect he may have had a similar reaction if I'd told him I was going to dry and cure the bullshit spread by the anti-smoker cult and use it as a tobacco substitute.

But, it must be pointed out, that, even with a prescription, I still couldn't get my nicotine in Canada. None of the major drug companies in Canada provide medicinal nicotine in a format consistent with the particular delivery system with which I chose to experiment, an electronic cigarette. The drug companies, in fact, are in direct competition with the manufacturers of the electronic cigarette. Their nicotine replacement products (gum, lozenges, inhalors, etc) bring in billions in revenue annually.

So, it's not surprising that their industry allies in the anti-smoker brigade lobby against the new nicotine delivery system. What's good for big pharma is good for the anti-smoker zealots.

Health Canada has a legitimate role to play in protecting the public from potentially harmful products. The electronic cigarette should be regulated to resolve quality control issues and protect consumers. But the outright prohibition of electronic cigarettes deprives the consumer of choice and protects no one but the big pharmaceutical companies and their monopoly on alternative nicotine delivery systems.

And, if it's simply the nicotine cartridges to which Health Canada objects, why are they still holding my two spare batteries, the battery chargers and carrying case. Why not simply remove the objectionable material and send me the rest of the shipment?

I will be writing a few letters to various government agencies and ministers of the crown; to voice my disapproval. I won't hold my breath waiting for any kind of response.

That might prove a damn sight more hazardous to my health than the e-cig.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Anti-smoker groups target Santa Claus

Anti-smoker groups are demanding that President Barack Obama deny Santa Claus access to US airspace this Christmas unless Santa's Toyland immediately signs on to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and Santa quits smoking.

A spokesman for the Alliance to Stomp on Smokers (ASS) claims Santa is a smoker, pointing to the poem by Clement Moore, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas", which clearly states:

“The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.”

The spokesman explained that, as a smoker, Santa could become a corrupting influence on young children if he is allowed to continue his disgusting, despicable habit. “Seeing Santa as a smoker could lure millions of kids to take up the habit, turning them into hopeless, nicotine addicted perverts”, said the spokesman.
“And, need I mention the serious health hazards associated with third hand smoke posed to kids in homes where Santa decides to take a smoke break.”

The spokesman is pointing to candid pictures of Santa smoking his pipe that have recently flooded the internet on sites such as You Tube. “Kids see these things and think it's cool to smoke.” he said.

Another anti-smoking group sees it as a tobacco company ploy meant to entice kids to take up the habit. They have initiated a campaign to have parents put out a supply of nicorette gum or lozenges in place of the more traditional milk and cookies.
“We must protect the children from the evil influence of this tobacco company stooge.”

Confronted by reporters at the White House, President Obama bummed a cigarette, had the Secret Service cordon off a nearby washroom and retired “to give the matter some thought.” Said Obama, “Jeez, don't you guys smoke anything but these bloody menthols.”

A State Department spokesman said it was unlikely there would be time to take the matter before congress prior to Christmas, but promised to take the matter up in the new year.

Merry Christmas, Everybody

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Godber Blueprint: the anti-smoker manifesto

Back in 2008, I posted an entry on a comment made by Sir George Godber to a UN sponsored conference. I'd found the reference in a written copy of Godber's address on a tobacco documents web site. But, I neglected to follow up on the document.

The 3rd World Conference on Smoking and Health (“The Worldwide Campaign Against Smoking”) was held in New York from June 2 June 5, 1975.

Sir George noted that the means by which smokers could be encouraged to quit, was to : “foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily” to secondhand smoke.

In other words, the perception of harm to others would have a far greater impact on convincing smokers to give up the habit than merely harping on the long term health risks to smokers themselves. It would also make it easier to convince the public that discrimination against smokers was justified, not just for their own good, but to protect the health of those around them.

Among the recommendations coming out of the conference was: “That it be recognized that unrestricted tobacco smoking in closed areas create a health hazard for millions of persons with a wide variety of medical susceptibilities and conditions and causes physical irritation and discomfort to the majority of nonsmokers . . . “

But while Godber and associates were prepared to recognize secondhand smoke as a health hazard, there was no scientific evidence to support that contention. This was made clear by another of the recommendations suggesting that: “Research [be conducted] to find out if [secondhand] smoke harms nonsmokers.”

In fact, it would be years before Japanese epidemiologist Takeshi Hirayama released his first study in 1981 associating a higher risk of lung cancer among non-smoking women married to smoking men than non-smoking women married to non-smoking men. Hirayama is generally credited with publishing the first study linking SHS to lung cancer.

But, despite the lack of evidence, the anti-smoker zealots declared secondhand smoke a health hazard in 1975 . . . six years before the Hirayama study. And, Hirayama's study proved controversial, as do most studies on the subject.

The anti-smoker zealots were already laying the groundwork to create the perception that secondhand smoke was a health hazard. And, true to the prognostications of Sir George Godber, the perception has replaced the reality. The public, misled by the propaganda, now accept secondhand smoke as a deadly substance from which non-smokers need protection.

Author Chritopher Snowdon explored the epidemiological evidence in an appendix to his book, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.. “Of the epidemiological papers that studied the effect of secondhand smoke on nonsmoking wives, 9 found a statistically significant positive association, 3 found a statistically significant negative association and the remaining 52 found no statistically significant association either way.”

If you truly want to understand the evidence, how these studies are conducted and what they really mean, you'll find Snowdon's paper an excellent tutorial. It's available from his website in PDF format.

One of the guiding principles of science is that an experiment or study must be reproducible. In simple terms, other scientists should be able to conduct the same experiment or study and obtain the same results. In the case of secondhand smoke, this is clearly not the case. Only 9 of the 64 studies (roughly 1 in 7) suggested a positive association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer or heart disease.

Yet, the general public remains pitifully unaware of this lack of consistency in the scientific evidence.

This is not really surprising, since the public relies primarily on the press for their information. And, the press has been grossly negligent in their duty to inform the public, merely regurgitating whatever propaganda they're fed by the anti-smoker zealots. The result is a badly misinformed populace easily misled by the bullshit and bafflegab of the anti-smoker cult.

From the 3rd World Conference on Smoking and Health (and subsequent conferences) came the public declaration of principles, policies, and plans of the anti-smoker brigade; their manifesto. It has been institurionalized in the WHO (World Health Organization) treaty called "The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control".

Vincent-Riccardo (Rick) Di Pierri, PhD, author of “Rampant Antismoking Signifies Grave Danger: Materialism Out of Control” has an excellent synopsis of what he calls “The Godber Blueprint” on his website. It contains excerpts from documents related to the conference and an excellent commentary on the subject.

Note: A PDF version of the Rampant Antismoking book is available free on Rick's site.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ottawa named as defendant in BC tobacco lawsuit

In an October post, I pointed out the blatant hypocrisy of a lawsuit against Canada's tobacco companies launched by the Ontario government. I noted that the tobacco companies had been vilified for decades for putting profit before health, while government profiteering (in the form of tobacco taxation) was routinely ignored.

British Columbia was the first province to launch legal action against the tobacco companies. Their lawsuit was filed in 2001 to recover billions of dollars allegedly spent by the health-care system for treating “smoking-related disease”.

Since the BC lawsuit was filed, six other provinces, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, have jumped aboard the bandwagon and have passed, or are in the process of passing, legislation that will allow similar legal action in their respective jurisdictions.

In March 2008, the tobacco companies petitioned the British Columbia Supreme Court to add Ottawa as a third party defendant arguing that the federal government should also be held liable “as senior partners” of the tobacco industry by keeping it legal and collecting tax revenue from it.

And, it's really hard to argue with their logic.

Both senior levels of government have been aware of the alleged health hazards of smoking for decades. The federal government could have legislated against the manufacture and distribution of tobacco at any time. Instead, they chose the course of action recommended by anti-smoker zealots: extortionist levels of taxation and draconian smoking bans. They chose to protect the billions of dollars they and their provincial counterparts collect annually from the sale of tobacco products.

Initial efforts to have Ottawa named as a third party defendant in the lawsuit were dismissed in court. But early in December, the British Columbia Court of Appeal reversed that decision, at least in part. Ottawa may now be held liable when the case goes to trial.

The latest ruling by the BC Court of Appeal will likely impact lawsuits pending in other provinces, setting precedent for naming the federal government as a third party defendant in those cases.

The ruling will also affect a class action lawsuit, filed in BC against Imperial Tobacco, which alleges consumers were misled into believing that cigarettes labeled "mild" or "light" were safer to smoke than regular cigarettes. Imperial Tobacco contends that Ottawa initiated and promoted the development and sale of low tar tobacco products.

This is also a reasonable claim. Starting sometime back in the sixties, the anti-smoker crowd (including the federal government) was indeed calling for the tobacco industry to reduce the tar and nicotine content in cigarettes. The tobacco companies voluntarily accepted those proposals, reduced tar and nicotine and added labels to their packaging indicating the levels of various components.

Naming the federal government as a third party defendant will complicate the proceeding in BC and subsequent lawsuits in other jurisdictions. If tobacco is the health hazard it's made out to be, both the federal and provincial governments are duplicitous in its continued sale and distribution And, they must also be prepared to accept a significant portion of health care costs.

Tobacco control strategies (graphic warnings on cigarette packages, for example) employed by government indicate that they were aware of the potential health hazards of smoking. If the tobacco companies can be held accountable for marketing a potentially hazardous product, the federal government should be held accountable for allowing it to continue long after they became aware of the possible dangers.

In addition, during the last two decades, government has extorted tobacco taxes from smokers that, annually, far exceed the profits of all three major tobacco companies combined. They are as guilty of exploiting tobacco consumers as the tobacco companies.

The British Columbia lawsuit, claiming unspecified damages, is not likely to be settled any time soon. Trial is not expected to begin until 2011. And, it is likely to be a lengthy trial, costing many millions of dollars. And, whatever the outcome of the trial, there will be the inevitable appeal.

Hopefully, I'll live long enough to see the outcome.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Welsh smoking ban leads to more heart attacks

Those anti-smoker brigands are a fine bunch, aren't they? One lies and the others swear to it.

Over the past year or so, there have been a number of “scientific studies” concluding that smoking bans reduce heart attacks. The main stream news media are quick to pounce on such studies, publishing the exaggerated claims as fact, without verifying the integrity of the information.

Of course, the same media is reluctant to publish any correction or retraction when the studies are found to lack scientific credibility. And, whether it's an inability to admit their own incompetence, or whether they merely wish to hide their complicity in the fraud being perpetrated by the anti-smoker zealots, the result is the same. A badly misinformed public.

Take, for example, a December 7, 2009 a article in the Daily Post in Wales. The article, written by Tom Bodden declared: “Smoking ban ‘sees fall in heart attacks’ in Wales”. The opening statement claimed that: “NEW figures this week are expected to reveal how the first full year of the public smoking ban in Wales heralded a steep decline in heart attacks. The findings will be contained in the Chief Medical Officer for Wales’ annual report showing hospital admissions have fallen since the ban came into force."

But, the only thing “new” about the claim was the spin.

In June, 2008 Mr. Bodden published an article in the Daily Post proclaiming: “Fewer heart attacks in wake of smoking ban”. The June article relied on cherry-picked data to claim an immediate positive impact of smoking bans on public health; a reduction in heart attacks. The subterfuge was clearly demonstrated by Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health, in an August, 2008 blog entry.

In his latest article, Bodden sought to resurrect the questionable claims of his original story using the latest report from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.

Author Christopher Snowdon (Velvet Glove, Iron Fist) picked up on the story and commented on his blog: “I will be intrigued if the Chief Medical Officer does make such a claim, because it is completely untrue. Not only is it untrue, it has become even less true - if such a thing is possible - since I last wrote about it.” (Snowdon analyzed the original data last year and found it lacking in credibility, as did Dr. Siegel.)

It's said that all propaganda contains an element of truth. And, the article by Bodden is no exception. Apparently, the data from Wales does reflect a decline in heart attacks in the year following implementation of their smoking ban. But, the devil is in the details.

And, Bodden, by omitting several pertinent details, turns his article into a propaganda piece; bullshit and bafflegab at its finest.

For example, he fails to mention that for two years prior to the ban, the rate of heart attacks had been declining at a similar pace as the year following the ban. This would indicate that the smoking ban had nothing to do with the decline in heart attacks. It was simply a result of a trend which had been ongoing.

And, Bodden also neglected to mention that, in the second year following the ban, heart attacks went up. So, the decline in heart attacks was not sustained and could not be attributed to the smoking ban any more than the subsequent increase in heart attacks could be attributed to the smoking ban.

Even the Chief Medical Officer contributed to the deception by ignoring the increase in the second year following the smoking ban. His report states that: “there is already some evidence that the ban is having a beneficial effect on health. Hospital admissions for heart attacks were reduced in 2008 and although this decline cannot be wholly attributed to the smoking ban, some studies suggest that at least some of the reduction is due to the legislation.”

No evidence is provided in the report to substantiate that claim.

But, the propaganda effort served its purpose. The public was left with the mistaken perception that smoking bans could reduce heart attacks and that the effect was both dramatic and immediate.

And, apparently, the politicians were also taken in. On Dec 7, Health Minister Edwina Hart announced new funding of more than £650,000 (over a million dollars) for smoking prevention.

Said Ms. Hart: "The Chief Medical Officer's annual report to be published later this week will show that hospital admissions for heart attacks were reduced last year. My announcement today builds on this good news and aims to prevent children from taking up smoking in the first place.”

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) Wales also welcomed the good news. Said chief executive Tanya Buchanan: “Bans on smoking in enclosed public places have been demonstrated to effectively reduce heart attack rates so it is not surprising to see Wales following this positive trend.”

But then, ASH Wales stands to benefit handsomely from the new government funding. They'll get £143,000 a year over the next three years to enable the charity to continue raising awareness of the effects of tobacco and smoking and a further £30,000 a year to fund No Smoking Day activities and campaigns across Wales.

I guess none of them were aware that there was more recent data, publicly available, showing an increase in heart attack during the second year of the Welsh smoking ban. Or maybe they merely wanted to hide the increase in the same way climate scientists wanted to “hide the decline”.

You just can't trust anyone these days.

Additional reading:
Dr: Michael Siegels latest blog entry
The Chief Medical Officers of Wales report

Monday, December 7, 2009

Who stole my e-cig?

In an October 7 blog, I ranted about anti-smoker efforts to deprive smokers, wanting to quit or cut back, of access to the electronic cigarette. I noted that, since I had written several articles on the new device, it was time to give it a real test.

Health Canada has already banned the e-cig on the basis that the product hasn't been fully tested for safety (in Canada, at least). And, I had heard that Canada Customs was intercepting shipments of the device which originated outside the country.

But, despite the potential for losing my investment, I ordered two electronic cigarettes: one from a US supplier and the other (same model) direct from China. They were cheapie models, to be sure, but I figured they'd be good enough to conduct a decent evaluation. (You've gotta give me a break here people, I'm an old age pensioner on a fixed income.)

And, as I noted at the time, whether they were stopped at the border or not, I'd wind up with the material for a blog.

The one I ordered from the US, a supplier in upstate New York, arrived within ten days, making its way through customs with no problem. And, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

After receiving my new e-cig, I fully charged the battery, inserted a cartridge and gave it a trial run. It performed much better than my expectations. It didn't have the full tobacco flavour I've come to expect from the real thing, but the taste was something to which I could become accustomed. I honestly didn't like the taste of scotch when I first tried it many (many) years ago.

In truth, the e-cig provided the whole smoking ritual in a satisfactory manner; the hand to mouth routine, the little puff of (make believe) smoke when I took a drag, etc. All in all, a satisfactory simulation of actually smoking a cigarette. And, by the time I had exhausted my supply of cartridges (roughly a week), I had cut my cigarette consumption by half.

Part of the reason for this was my habit of lighting up while working on my computer or working on a piece of music. Usually, after a few drags, the cigarette would be placed in the ashtray where it would burn away to nothing before I could get another drag. Wasteful. The alternative was to stop what I was doing and smoke the cigarette in it's entirety, whether I really wanted to or not. Throwing away half a fag is also wasteful.

With the e-cig, after a few drags, I could simply lay it down, or drop it into my shirt pocket, thus reducing waste and cigarette consumption.

I can see why many smokers might turn to “vaping” to help them quit or at least cut back on their smoking. And, it is possible to use it to beat some smoking bans.

But, it does have its drawbacks.

To some smokers (myself included), cost will be an issue. Cartridges for the electronic cigarette may be less expensive than store bought, highly taxed cigarettes, but they are two to three times the cost of cigarettes purchased from, er . . . unapproved alternative sources.

The second drawback is availability. In Canada, the e-cig is available only from mail order sources. So, if you run out of cartridges and you're in the throes of a nicotine fit, you'll have to revert to the real thing and make a run to the local corner store. That's bad news if your intention is to quit.

The Health Canada prohibition on the electronic cigarette, as well as similar action by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration), is the result of objections from anti-smoker groups. They are opposed to the e-cig, not because it has proven to be hazardous, but because it looks like you're smoking. And, I suspect there's a desire to protect the profits of their partners in the pharmaceutical industry. If the electronic cigarette were to catch on, the drug companies lose their monopoly on nicotine replacement products, nicotine gum and lozenges.

And, government bodies have been quick to jump on the ban-it-bandwagon, mostly because no-one has been able to work out how to levy taxes.

And, if you're wondering what happened to the second e-cig and extra cartridges I ordered, I've tracked it to a Canada Customs office in Mississauga, Ontario. It's been sitting there for the past month.

It's too bad. Those things actually have potential for smokers wanting to cut back or quit.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Climategate: objective science or fraud?

There was an Interesting article (Nov 26) by Lorrie Goldstein in the Toronto Sun on Climategate. He opined that: “Big Government, Big Business and Big Green don't give a shit about "the science”, before concluding, “They never have."

Said Goldstein: “What "climategate" suggests is many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't either. Apparently they stifled their own doubts about recent global cooling not explained by their computer models, manipulated data, plotted ways to avoid releasing it under freedom of information laws and attacked fellow scientists and scientific journals for publishing even peer-reviewed literature of which they did not approve. “

Goldstein also had some criticism for the press: “Now they and their media shills -- who sneered that all who questioned their phony "consensus" were despicable "deniers," the moral equivalent of those who deny the Holocaust -- are the ones in denial about the enormity of the scandal enveloping them.”

What struck me was the similarity between Goldstein’s appraisal of global warming and the science used to promote it, and my own evaluation of the anti-smoking cartel comprised of government, the drug companies and the anti-smoker industry (also known as tobacco control and/or public health).

For example, earlier this year, anti-smoker activists published an article in the European Journal of Public Health accusing those who do not accept the causal relationship between secondhand smoke and lung cancer/heart disease of being “denialists”. It equated those guilty of such scientific heresy to those who deny the Holocaust.

Authors publishing studies which are not in complete harmony with anti-smoker consensus are often subjected to attacks designed to discredit them on a personal basis, rather than an honest evaluation of the science they produce. Disagreeing with the “consensus” makes them tobacco company “lackeys” and their science suspect.

And, like Climategate, there is evidence the science surrounding secondhand smoke has also been manipulated; the EPA study from 1992 being a blatant example.

Another Toronto Sun columnist, Michael Coren, wrote in relation to Climategate: “What is extraordinary is how few other columns and articles have appeared in the press and how little attention this story is receiving on television and radio.”

The same comment could have been made about the complacency (complicity) of the press in parroting the claims of anti-smoker extremists who insist that: “The debate is over, secondhand smoke kills.”

It's become a matter of routine for the media to refer to anti-smoker claims as fact, with no effort made to verify the integrity of those claims. Earlier this year, the press hyped claims of a new-found threat called third hand smoke. The “scientific study” turned out to be a telephone survey soliciting public opinion.

Studies claiming that smoking bans prevent heart attacks are given widespread coverage. But, in many instances, the studies have not been peer reviewed or published. In some cases, the studies haven't even been completed (some never will be). Criticism of these studies is ignored, regardless of the credentials of those proffering a contrary viewpoint.

But, the media is apparently satisfied to accept the conclusions of such studies without question. As far as secondhand smoke is concerned, investigative journalism is dead. If journalists would do a little research, they would find that the debate on SHS as a health hazard is far from over, except in the mainstream media.

Whether the issue is global warming or secondhand smoke, the public has a right to be fully informed of the facts; all the facts, not just those which support a particular or popular position.

Lorrie Goldstein closed his column with the line: “What about saving the planet, you ask? This was never about saving the planet. This is about money and power. Your money. Their power.” Uh-huh.

The parallels between Climategate and the hoax of secondhand smoke are unmistakeable.

Outside influences, politics, industry profits and the concerns of special interest groups should not be permitted to corrupt the scientific process. The public should not be manipulated into believing something which is still open to debate in the scientific community.

Unfortunately, they have. The objectivity, and credibility, of science in general is now in question.