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Meet Rebecca Williams, the FDA’s favorite pay-for-play junk scientist

Posted by Matt Rowland on

What happens if you are a federal government agency with unlimited financial resources trying to convince the American people that vaping is bad for public health?  You might consider hiring pay-for-pay “scientists” like the notorious Rebecca Williams of the University of North Carolina.  Williams is the reigning queen of e-cig junk science whose articles appear all over the Internet spreading outrageous claims and falsified statistics that demonize the vaping entire industry.

Williams loves to post her articles on medical journal websites like The JAMA Pediatrics Network, The National Center for Biotechnology Information, and the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.  While these sites might sound reputable and trustworthy at first glance, anyone with a keyboard can essentially publish an article on them without anyone even fact checking the information.  This is an area of junk science in which Rebecca Williams is the undisputed champion.

Rebecca Williams:  It’s all about the headline.

Williams is notorious for publishing bogus “scientific research” that somehow links vaping to teen smoking.  This is an old marketing trick that has worked for decades.  If you can scare the average person into thinking that their children are at risk, then it’s almost impossible to convince them otherwise no matter how much evidence to the contrary comes to light in the future.  How do you attract these average Americans to read your sham articles?  It’s all about the headline.


One such example is Rebecca William’s “Electronic Cigarette Sales to Minors via the Internet” in which the pay-for-play junk scientist attempts to prove that minors are stealing their parents’ credit cards, running to the computer, and buying massive amounts of e-cigs and vaping products.  Of course, this is complete rubbish, but most people don’t bother to read the entire article.  All that most people remember is the carefully chosen headline.

A second example is the William’s classic, “Revisiting the Rise of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Using Search Query Surveillance.”  This headline sounds so technical and scholarly that it must be true, right?  Not so fast.  For those who happen to read the article, Williams attempts to debunk the piles of more reputable scientific research claiming that vaping and e-cigs are the most effective way to quit smoking.


How does she do it?  By posting silly statistics claiming that more people search for online vaping products using keywords like “sale” and “shopping” as opposed to “smoking cessation” or “health concerns.”   Of course they do!  You don’t need a PhD to understand that the typical consumer has no idea what “smoking cessation” means, let alone why they need to type that stupid keyword into their web browser to buy an e-cig.

Junk science at its best (or worst)

While a great many of Rebecca Williams’ articles focus on e-cigs, vaping, and teen smoking, she doesn’t stop there.  In one particularly deceitful rant entitled, “VapeCons: E-cigarette user conventions,” Williams attempts to slander the entire vaping community by painting a very devious picture of people who typically attend vaping conventions and expos.

“Vaping conventions promote e-cigarette use and social norms without public health having a voice to educate attendees about negative consequences of use. Future research should focus on the effects of attending these conventions on attendees and on indoor air quality in vapor-filled convention rooms.”

“For these ritual gatherings, they adorn their bodies with ink and metallic object and don the ceremonial black garb. Those vying for alpha male status can be identified by their lack of sleeves. Custom garments commemorating the particular gathering or displaying various tribal affiliations are available for barter among the participants.”

This article was met with such controversy that Williams was soon discovered to have not attended a single vaping convention in the recent past prior to writing the article.  She had simply Googled much of the information and rewritten it.  Carl Phillips from the website Anti-THR Lies published an incredibly harsh review of Rebecca Williams just days after the article was first published.  And still, the FDA keeps hiring its favorite pay-for-play junk scientist over and over to intentionally misinform the American public on the non-existent dangers of vaping.  This begs the question:  Who is worse - Rebecca Williams or the FDA?


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  • Blame who you will, but the simple fact is this: nicotine is derived primarily from tobacco. Nicotine and tobacco were married for a long time and – together – they made lots and lots of money. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that FDA regulation actually work in favor of large company interests whose only real interest is to reestablish a market lost to long term public education and eventually publicly accepted restrictions on sales and marketing.

    Vaping is an electronic delivery system for nicotine. If nicotine weren’t derived primarily from tobacco, perhaps if it were synthesized, for example like some brands of vegetable glycerin, vaping wouldn’t be regulated today because nobody would have a long-standing monopoly on nicotine, or B6, which is naturally occurring in many of the foods we eat. The FDA couldn’t care less about the nicotine in a tomato or an egg plant.

    Not a well known fact now days: in WWII, the major tobacco companies gave the military cigarettes for free, which in turn were given to soldiers as a part of their rations. This was done, with the auspices of the government, because the big tobacco companies knew when the soldiers came home, they’d be customers for life.

    We already see elements of this ugly head trying to raise itself from ashes of public awareness on television in the form of capsulized e-pens which can be massed produced, marketed and sold by large interests. It’s pretty obvious they emulate the mother of all nicotine delivery systems — the cigarette.

    There are those who are bound by whatever motive to raise a banner for and — against — vaping. Fighting the government [big money] tends to be a loosing cause, unless you have big money backing you.

    Vaping products are an electronic nicotine delivery system that break the long-standing monopoly tobacco companies had and lost to a forty-or-so year long campaign to educate the public about the danger of smoking cigarettes. The FDA key this is nicotine. No matter how much or little effect it has on the human body, so long has electronic delivery systems are atomizing nicotine derived from tobacco, there will be a conflict of interest.

    Everyone should do his/her own thing free of unwanted outside influence. Personally, I avoid the ready made products, including ejuice. Learn ohms law if you use a mechanical mod (regulated mods are generally pretty safe). Mix your own ejuice. It’s really not that difficult. Build your own coils.

    We may prefer the convenience of buying ready made products, and they should be available, in a perfect world. But in a truly perfect world, the main source of the nicotine delivered by vaping devices wouldn’t come solely from tobacco.

    And even if nicotine were synthesized completely apart from tobacco, the old tobacco interests will still want to regain what they perceive as lost market share, with the advantage of government backing and lots of $$$.

    I like to sub-ohm, and I also like to sub-nic, that is — I vape under 1% (usually .5%) of nicotine. How much nicotine I inhale isn’t determined by a label on a bottle (ie: 12%, 6%, 3% or zero). Remember that cigarettes contain on average between 7-to-9 mg of nicotine but only deliver between two to three milligrams each. The difference is, the consumer has no control over the amount of nicotine.

    One would think this makes it more advantageous to vape, which it is. But, there again, as long as nicotine is primarily derived from tobacco, we’ll find ourselves in what programmers call an infinite loop, an intended process that can’t help but run away with itself.

    Are you really serious about quitting ?

    Shouldn’t that really be up to you ?

    How much or how little nicotine you take in can and should be up to you, too. How many hamburgers with slices of tomato do you want to eat to cop a nicotine buzz already is.

    More objectively, the average American’s sense of entitlement vs big money’s sense of entitlement makes this issue a classic case of wrestling with a pig … and only too naturally, the pig loves it.

    John on
  • Well, if she was a real scientist then she’d know how nicotine isn’t actually a poison if it’s used correctly in medical applications. Nicotine releases serotonin and dopamine, and also helps expand the blood vessels allowing for better circulation. She’s condemning millions of people who smoke to relieve their stress symptoms, and preventing people with circulation problems from seeking alternative therapy that vaping offers. All about the BIG PHARMA kickbacks. Smh…this is why people have failing health nowadays. Less people were sick when tobacco was all the rage. A lady who turned 100 a few years ago, lit up a cigarette to celebrate. She started smoking at the age of 9 or 10, lived to be 100, and from what I understand she’s still alive. Yep, junk science is what kills people.

    Christiane on

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