Monday 22 May 2017

"Nicotine Has Caused Millions Of Deaths"

It is now less than a month until the fourth Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) which is being held in Warsaw from 15th to 17th June, tagline "GFN is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch from smoking.".

Every GFN so far has seen representatives of ASH attend, both as panellists and delegates, and on at least one occasion included their director of policy, Hazel Cheeseman. I know this because I once found myself sitting behind her in a plenary session.

Sadly, it doesn't seem that GFN taught her very much at all if her appearance on Radio Kent to talk about e-cigs last week is a pointer, or perhaps she just wasn't listening.

She was asked about the application of ignorant, counter-productive warnings to vaping products, such as this one.

Nothing to see here, says Hazel.
"[O]n the specific point around nicotine warnings I really don't think it's unreasonable for a product to say that nicotine is addictive. I mean, the addiction to nicotine has caused millions of deaths across the planet, you know, for the last many decades"
"Nicotine" has caused millions of deaths, apparently. Not smoking, nicotine.

Has she perhaps forgotten Michael Russell? The idol of tobacco controllers everywhere who famously said "people smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar" which paved the way for Big Pharma's Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to be rolled out worldwide? Or perhaps this is an inconvenient motto in the age of the e-cig and he is being quietly airbrushed out of history. Who knows?

She also objected to Forest's Simon Clark pointing out that the ludicrous warnings on vaping products will put people off switching from tobacco to e-cigs. Not on an intellectual level, of course - because anti-smoking extremists don't dabble in anything as cerebral as honest debate - but instead by way of a bizarre, and frankly quite stupid, smear.
"It's very interesting to be lectured about public health from Simon who is being funded by tobacco manufacturers and really only got interested in this subject since those companies have entered the market"
Really Hazel? Well, as Simon replied, he has been writing about e-cigs since about 2010 when the MHRA set about trying to ban them - with the support of ASH I might add - and that was well before any tobacco company had an interest. For the record, my own first article on e-cigs was in December 2009 and my first on the repulsive moves in the UK to class them as medicines - a stance still supported by ASH to this day - was in June 2010.

Hazel joined ASH in April 2013.

Additionally, as Clark points out, it is pathetic of Cheeseyperson to imply that Forest are late to the discussion because if that's the case, as I've mentioned before, so the fuck were ASH!
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?
So, to paraphrase Hazel herself, let's apply that to ASH and why they decided to force themselves into a debate which had absolutely nothing to do with them, shall we?
"It's very interesting to be lectured about e-cigs from Hazel and ASH who are being funded by the government - which tried hard to ban vaping - and really only got interested in this subject since they sensed their grants drying up and feared becoming irrelevant"
And, seeing as Hazel took the opportunity of a radio Kent appearance exclusively on the subject of e-cigs to insist that "nicotine has caused millions of deaths across the planet", shall we also re-word Michael Russell's famous motto too, because Hazel is obviously far cleverer than he could ever have hoped to be.
"People smoke for the nicotine but die from the nicotine ... so you may as well all carry on smoking"
Well done Cheeseyperson, what a storming performance! Now, when you get a minute, can you go and explain something to your Boss Debs please? Y'see, earlier this month she was bemoaning why "the message that vaping was much less harmful than smoking had not yet got through to all smokers".
"It's very important smokers realise that vaping is much, much less harmful than smoking," she added.
Can you tell her that the reason is because there are still some really fucking stupid people around who keep broadcasting comments which convince smokers that tobacco and nicotine are, indeed, one and the same thing. Some of them even say incredibly insane shit like nicotine "has caused millions of deaths"!

Thank you. Oh, and if you're going to Warsaw again next month, enjoy dozing off during the sessions like you obviously did last time, won't you?

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