EXCLUSIVE: Twitter Censors Critic Of FDA’s E-Cigarette Crackdown

By Guy Bentley

Twitter suspended a spoof account of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products Wednesday after the account mocked the FDA’s e-cigarette policy.

Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) and one the nation’s leading critics of the FDA’s e-cigarette crackdown, set up the account to mock the agency’s monotonous Twitter feed.

“I set up a spoof twitter account- clearly identified as such- called FDATobaccoBot to parody the FDA’s absurd bot-like twitter account,” Stier told The Daily Caller News Foundation via email.

“To avoid any confusion, I explained in the account’s bio:  This is the #FDA Tobacco Bot Spoof Account. Send me questions about your tobacco #Ecig products,” Stier added.

“The account is obviously a spoof,” said NCPPR. “But it is also incisive political parody. For instance, when someone asked the spoof account about the Royal College of Physicians report that recommends doctors widely publicize e-cigarettes to their smoking patients, the spoof account responded:


RCP #Ecig report irrelevant rubbish to U.S. policy-making: English English differs from U.S. English significantly. https://twitter.com/abbasian/status/732642485831356416 …

And when the parody account was asked: ‘Does using an ecig cause neck-beards?’ the account parodied the real FDA Tobacco’s twitter feed by responding:

.@FreeTobaccoCA Ecig tobacco products have only been regulated for about a week, so we don’t know yet. More research is needed.

Canadian scientist and Ph.D. candidate Amelia Howard astutely observed:

The spoof account remains suspended.

Fascinating that @twitter suspended real person @JeffaStier‘s creative @FDATobaccoBot while actual bot, @FDATobaccoallowed to spam freely

The FDA’s attitude toward e-cigarettes has left many in the public health community baffled. The agency appeared incapable of conceding e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes Monday.

In a Twitter exchange with Stier, the FDA refused to accept e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible cigarettes. (RELATED: FDA Lives In ‘Alternate Universe’ When It Comes To E-Cigarettes)

“The FDA, perhaps bound by previous statements from CTP director Mitch Zeller, concedes that some tobacco products (e-cigarettes) ‘have the potential’ to be less harmful than others (combustible cigarettes), but more research is needed,” Stier told TheDCNF.

“In other words, FDA won’t tell smokers the undisputed truth that smoking is more dangerous than vaping. That approach works fine in FDA’s alternate universe, but in reality, the advice is having deadly consequences.”

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