Sunday 26 January 2014

Mission Creep Spotted On The BBC

Hot on the heels of a very balanced ITV Tonight programme on e-cigs comes a smorgasbord of ill-informed cockwaffle from the BBC. I guess we know which broadcaster boasts the more diligent investigative journalists now then, don't we?

Vaguely reporting on the government's plan to ban e-cig sales to under 18s - something of an industry standard amongst retailers anyway so a bit of a non-story - Nanny Beeb instead chooses to take the opportunity to regurgitate every piece of fabricated tobacco industry propaganda from the past year or two of fright-induced activism against vaping.

Continuing its usual shoddy modus operandi, the BBC calls on one of its staff (today in the form of some credulous non-entity called Richard Warry) to offer 'expert' analysis which is anything but, and quotes Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies in such a manner that we can only assume she is a dribbling idiot who should have nothing to do with regulating e-cigs, so little does she know about them.

You will also notice that Deborah Arnott is asked for her opinion. Very odd, really, considering she is head of Action on Smoking and Health, whereas e-cigs are not smoking - just like they are included in the Tobacco Products Directive despite their containing no tobacco.

In case you're curious, it's because ASH altered their "objectives for the public benefit" a few years ago. You see, in 2009 it said this:
1) To preserve and protect the health of the community both physical and mental and in the furtherance of this purpose to provide other charitable relief for those practising or likely to practise cigarette and other forms of smoking. 
2) To advance the education of the public concerning the effects of cigarette and other forms of smoking and their effects on the health of the community and the individual. 
3) To assist, carry out, promote and encourage research into cigarette and other forms of smoking and to collect and study information relating thereto with a view to publication of the same and the communication of information in connection therewith to the general public and others having legitimate interest in receiving such information for the benefit of the health of the community at large.
Nothing in there about e-cigs or any other device which doesn't contain tobacco.

In 2010 - probably when e-cigs started to register on their radar - it was quietly changed to what it remains today (emphasis mine):
1. to preserve and protect the health of the public against the harmful effects of cigarette or other tobacco products; and 
2. to advance the education of the public about the effects of cigarette and other tobacco and nicotine products.
Subtle, huh?

This is what Arnott believes renders her entitled to not only comment on e-cigs, but also be part of the steering committee trying their damnedest to place obstacles in front of all forms of harm reduction (latest accounts page 6).
Deborah Arnott was on the Commission for Human Medicines working group on harm reduction and is on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) PDG developing guidance on tobacco harm reduction.
As we know, Arnott wants all e-cigs regulated as medicines, a process which costs millions of pounds 'per product' which - if public objections are placated enough for the MHRA to implement it in 2016 as they hope - means they must be replicated for each individual product to be marketed. This is important. It's not planned as an industry standard for a pretty simple interaction between three simple components to deliver nicotine from three benign ingredients.

Oh no. What is planned is a regulatory regime which would render every single product on the market today illegal unless each product is granted permission individually. The cost is stratospheric and would make e-cigs so expensive that no-one could afford to buy them, but to be accepted by a public largely unconcerned by e-cigs, this absurd over-reaction all relies on the scare-o-meter being cranked up to 11.

Arnott knows this, and also knows about affordability affecting sales considering her organisation regularly calls for massive tax rises on tobacco to deter smoking - it's been their prime tactic for over 40 years. Her approach towards deterring e-cig use differs only by the method employed to make sure the higher prices are installed.

She also knows - as her state-funded quango studied it recently - the 'gateway effect' of e-cigs is pure fantasy, but she was strangely silent on that salient fact today despite the BBC reporting it as if smoking is about to skyrocket because of kids scrambling for the Marlboros after a brief encounter with vaping.
While smoking rates have fallen to their lowest ever level, experts fear the electronic substitutes could be encouraging teenagers to take up the habit.
But then, why let facts important to public health interfere with an agenda Arnott gets paid increasingly handsomely for, eh? (more on that tomorrow)


moonrakin said...

Probably repeating it - but just saw this:

DOH : "This measure is designed to help protect children"

Can't stop themselves going too long without banning something it seems....

ChrisPrice4 said...

Hi Dick. I assume your first sentence is sarcasm because Choi's ecig prog was a shite concoction of knocking copy worthy of Glantz or some other paid liar. It featured paid liars whose lies were emphasised repeatedly.

What it should have looked like is this, from France:

This is 'balanced', because the truth is given by almost all the officials quoted with just one or two examples of ignorance/corruption. And don't those French shops look nice.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

No, it wasn't sarcasm. I thought it the best we've seen from a mainstream broadcaster yet, and that's been proven with the BBC's shite today.

Thanks for posting that link, it's great but France has an e-cig ban, we don't. Lord knows why when there is so much support there, but I suspect it could be that France has its share of paid liars too but they just weren't shown.

And yes, there were paid liars in the ITV show, but that's the state of play we are at. Gerard Hastings' contribution was immediately rubbished by an ASA statement, and it's clear that the lipoid pneumonia case was overplayed, but at least ITV pointed out that it was not replicated anywhere else so was an absurd outlier.

I didn't watch the ITV show on the night as I was expecting it to be a hatchet job after seeing Choi on VTTV. I was surprised when our office anti-smoker asked me if I'd watched it and told me how the prog had rubbished all the silly claims by those wanting them banned. From being ambivalent, she was converted to being in support of e-cigs. That said to me that the paid liars didn't achieve their aim. ;)

Dragonmum said...

I think we vapers tend to get a bit of tunnel vision and expect rather more than we're ever going to get on mainstream TV - I was expecting a total hatchet job and it didn't happen. I loved the guy with terminal cancer enjoying himself, I was saddened by the inclusion of the poor lady trying to apportion blame for her husband's death - but having lost my own husband I know that this is what we do. I could have smacked the silly woman on the school run, but am concerned that they keep dragging in a list of countries that have banned e-cigs; they do not ban cigarettes and if you examine them it seems that most have a thriving tobacco industry - good luck to them, but please explain that it is protectionism. Vendors are reporting an upswing in sales since the prog, so it couldn't have been that bad.

Tony said...

You are spot-on with regards to Richard Warry.

Actually his statement has been edited if I'm not mistaken, it had a bit in there at the end after where he is talking about "sketchy evidence that they work." It also said something about it leading children to take up smoking after having tried ecigs, or words to that effect.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

The first edition of the story I read this morning didn't have a quote from Katherine Devlin either, suggesting she was an afterthought while health groups were consulted beforehand for a quote by way of embargoed press releases. Forest have complained about that type of exclusion by the BBC for years, so it's interesting that the same tactics are being used against e-cigs.

Tony said...

One other thing that bugs me Dick is why are the BBC so rabidly anti-ecig? We know why Big T, Big P, and many of the special interest groups are (money of course) but I am wondering just why the BBC have such a negative stance.

Jan Dehaene said...

Hi Dick, thank you for your good work and this great article but there is no e-cig ban in France, au contraire! 1800 shops have opened in the last 3 years. In the Greater Paris Area alone there are currently 369 vape shops . I am not French but I visit often and am amazed by how big the scene is there. Furtermore the French government is the only entity that seems to be willing to listen to the vaping industry's advocates, (scroll down for English version). Therefore I think the French are instrumental to us, they also have a history of not bowing to the financial interests of foreign companies.

V Hale said...

Possibly the fact they recruit in The Guardian, and it's a public sector institution so very trusting of "health professionals" and third sector awfulness.

Junican said...

What seems to me to be the saddest thing of all is the silence of MPs. Has any MP actually written an article in a newspaper praising ecigs? There may be one or two, but the vast majority of MPs remain stubbornly silent.
Is that not another reason to believe that our democracy is 'not fit for purpose'? Our MPs dare not speak their minds, nor are they encouraged to do so, nor are they encouraged to swat up on relevant matters. MEPs are a little more independent, but not much. Even they are being corralled into groups.
I have no doubt that the criminally fascist 'Tobacco Control Directive' will be voted through very shortly. What should happen, after the May EU elections, is that the criminally fascist 'Tobacco Control Directive' should be immediately retracted in its entirety. It will not happen, but it would be good to know that our democracy is still alive. It seems that King Kong Jing Jang has murdered all his uncle's relatives and friends in North Korea - "LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION!" What we need, in this country and the EU, is a similar clearing out of the 'old order' (without the machine guns, perhaps). Perhaps the interchangeable frauds, Cameron, Milliband and the boy Clegg, could be 'exiled to the outdoors'.
Perhaps Cameron should be replaced by Blackman, and Milliband replaced by Dianne Abbott, and the boy Clegg replaced by Stephen Williams. If that were so, ...... NOTHING WOULD CHANGE either for good or bad! It is a simple and obvious fact that the modern world is just to complex for any individual to have control of. Or rather, only restrictive control is possible.
I like the idea of the EU as a 'best practice' organisation. I hate it as a fascist, totalitarian regime.

nisakiman said...

Here's a little snippet I just came across that might interest you, DP:

Coincidentally, I flew to Bangkok with Qatar two weeks ago, and will be flying back with them in about two weeks time. How they can justify their stance on e-cigs, I have no idea. I posted a link (on FD's blog perhaps? I can't remember now) a few months ago about a girl who spent a week or so in a Qatari jail, got a big fine and was deported back to her point of origin for vaping on a Qatar flight. A horrifying tale. I still have the link, I think, but not on the laptop which I have with me - it will be on my desktop at home.

It really beggars belief that such draconian punishments are being meted out for such a minor contravention of what is essentially a company policy rather than a law. One wonders where this world is heading...

Barry Freeman said...

You thought the ITV program was balanced? Or was that sarcasm?

truckerlyn said...

Rather then exile them to the outdoors, I would rather see them exiled to a little terrace abode and forced to live solely on state benefits for at least 3 years!
You never know, after that, they might come close to being fit for purpose!

ChrisPrice4 said...

Can't disagree.

However this new form of totalitarianism is Stalinist, so it is neo-Stalinist not neo-fascist.

The effect is the same though :)