The clown circus known as tobacco control offers up the revised Stanton Glantz for the crowd’s amusement. Unfortunately his futile attempt to halt his slide into irrelevance may get him the hook.

Stanton Glantz and sidekick

Who the hell is Stanton Glantz? He is a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, a bad joke in itself considering that he is a mechanical engineer rather than a medical doctor. His teaching career, however, plays no role in the notoriety that swirls around this man. His claim to fame derives solely from his anti-tobacco activism. Glantz is infamous for being the boldest of liars in "tobacco control," that most ethically challenged gang of con artists.

Early on Glantz shrewdly foresaw that persecuting smokers and attacking "Big Tobacco" could be a lucrative career enhancer. Skillfully manipulating data to demonstrate that smoking caused ailments ranging from heart disease to hair loss, he set in motion the rigged game of using epidemiology to convince policy makers that smokers not only were killing themselves but were also killing innocent bystanders with their filthy habit. He cynically implies his research into smoking is science banking on the sad fact that politicians, let alone the media, have no idea that epidemiology is not real science and that his studies define the term junk science.

His other contribution to the tobacco control industry was to convince the political class that it was beneficial to society to tack on a special tax to cigarettes to pay for anti-smoking "education." Education, by the way, to be run by Glatnz’s cronies who would be sure to shuffle the tax dollars his way in the form of public grants. Although he was successful in conning a few states into imposing such cigarette taxes, most states wisely steered clear from tainting the tax revenue stream with non-discretionary mandates. In California, for instance, the state could suffer a devastating outbreak of the bubonic plague yet not one penny derived from the anti-smoking "education" cigarette tax would be allowed to address the real public health emergency. Such a strangle-hold, in any case, was the intent of Glantz and his fellow ideologues who wrote the tobacco "education" tax law operating in California since 1989.

That was then, however, and after nearly 20 years of public money being locked into "educating" the public about the purported dangers of smoking as well as the bogus hazard of secondhand smoke, all supporting research, of course, conducted by ideologues such as Glantz and his protogés, the political worms are finally turning. Faced with unprecedented budget deficits for the past several years Sacramento, in desperation, is finally raiding the slush fund Glantz worked so hard to keep inviolate. The legislators have always had the power to raid Glantz’ lock box but until recently he had the clout to repell their grasping fingers. His clout is now a thing of the past.

He, of course, still operates his junk science franchise and recently he issued the results of yet another of his laughable "studies." When the cigarette tax money dries up and the pharmaceutical industry that now supports his shenanigans finally grows weary of him, Glantz seems to believe he can move onto a career that he has flirted with but never fully given a shot. He can become a stand-up commedian or Hollywood gag writer.

Get a load of his latest honker. It needs work and must be tightened for a snappier delivery but all the elements of absurdity and clownishness are in place. The setup is this: California has saved billions of dollars in health care costs since the imposition of the cigarette "education" tax in 1989. How much? We’ll let the straight man, the reporter on this story, set up the premise:

The exact amount saved is tricky to pin down – the study, published online in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS Medicine, had a confidence interval of $28 billion to $151 billion, meaning the researchers determined a 95 percent probability that the actual savings lies between those two figures. The estimates are calculated in constant 2004 dollars.

The laughs flow as the frizzy-headed, anti-smoking dingbat expostulates:

The width of the confidence interval reflects cutting-edge statistical analysis and the inherently variable nature of human health research. Even if you took the lower end of it, of $28 billion, it’s still 15 times what the program cost. If you took the other end, which is just as plausible … it would have been even more spectacularly successful.

At a time when "cutting-edge" implies ever greater precision and accuracy Glantz deserves the chutzpa award for trying to pass off a $123-billion spread as plausible statistical analysis. Needless to say neither he nor any of his fellow tobacco control operatives have ever demonstrated that smoking causes any disease at all so his wild estimates of cost savings due to decreased smoking are based on absolutely nothing. He made it up in the same buffoonish spirit as he describes how his figures include diseases "not yet linked to smoking or second-hand smoke." In short, "all of the diseases smoking causes, not just the ones we know about."

What a card! He somehow manages to con the poor reporter into believing that the cigarette tax is only 5 cents per pack, worth now, so says Glantz, only 2 cents due to inflation. That’s a flat out lie since the "educational" tax is 25 cents per pack but Glantz may be now so firmly bound by the chords of his own fantasies that he believes his own nonsense. Certainly by burying his "study" in the interior depths of the paper the San Francisco Chronicle, his one-time ally, shows signs it finds Glantz’s comedy act somewhat stale. Glantz, ever the trooper, wants to take his laff-fest to other states. After bombing in California, however, he may find that the jig is finally up.



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