Sunday, 23 July 2017

World Class Straw-Clutching

Last week's publication of the Australian government's inquiry into e-cigs was, as I wrote last Saturday, remarkable for the bravery of Aussie vapers in submitting their stories of use in a country where possession of nicotine without a prescription is a crime.

However, as evidence mounts up worldwide as to the benefits of e-cigs, renowned fossilised Sydney moonhowler Simon Chapman continues, Canute-like, to spread as much doubt as he can possibly muster while all around him others slowly back away from his lunacy. His own submission [PDF] to the Aussie inquiry - co-authored by three of the vanishingly tiny number of people he can still find in the world who think on the same kind of anti-vaxxer conspiracy level as him, including some low-grade physiotherapist from Lincoln - is a masterclass in desperate cherry-picking, exemplified by this page.

Click to enlarge
Six citations, carefully selected to endorse his view that e-cigs should remain banned in Australia if they are used with liquid containing nicotine. Can you just imagine the level of irrational hatred of vaping the guy must have to seize on any mild expression of doubt and keep the links for future reference ... sometimes for years.

Take, for example his reference to the British Heart Foundation. It was from their advice dating back to 2014. Now, I know that life comes at you fast in your senior years but their view has softened quite considerably since.
We recognise that e-cigarettes are increasingly being used as a cessation aid. It is therefore important they should be regulated (and responsibly marketed) for this purpose. 
So, therefore, legal as opposed to Chapman's recommendation to the Australian government.

Likewise, Public Health Wales updated their guidance in January, but Chapman omitted this part.
“We recognise that there are a lot of confusing and contradictory messages around e-cigarettes. This is because there isn’t one simple answer – it is different for different groups of the population.  
“In simple terms, if you don’t smoke, don’t vape. But if you are a committed smoker who is unwilling or unable to quit, switching completely to e-cigarettes will be beneficial to your health.”
ASH Scotland also disagree with Chapman's Luddite binary thinking.
We believe that ‘vaping’ will prove to be much less harmful than smoking – but not harmless, as some have suggested. So for a smoker to switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes will bring significant health benefits, and we recommend any smoker to try the various options which might help them to quit tobacco, including e-cigarettes.
Meanwhile, his reference to a bizarre headline-grabbing quote about e-cigs being banned in public from the incoming head of the Royal Society of Public Health ignores the fact that, not only did the RSPH sign in support of PHE's declaration of "a developing public health consensus" surrounding e-cigs, they have also said that "exclusion zones must exempt e-cigarettes" in their 2017 General Election 'manifesto.

Similarly, his cherry-picked quote from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society disregards their overall view that e-cigs are beneficial and, therefore, would probably not agree with Chapman's dinosaur view that they should remain illegal.
"We have expressed concern over possible safety issues of using e-cigarettes, as well as a lack of evidence of their efficacy when used for smoking cessation. Despite this, the organisation recognises they have a potential role to play in helping smokers reduce and stop smoking in the short term, or as a pathway to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)."
All that's left is the BMA, which is a union, and is completely at odds with the Royal College of Physicians, which is not, and states that "e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking" and that "e-cigarettes can act as a gateway from smoking".

This last one is quite important considering Chapman's hilarious hint that the Aussie government should leave him and his oddball clique to carry on making shit decisions about vaping.
With respect, parliamentary committees are not in a position to assess the scientific quality of specialised toxicological research such as that we have highlighted in this submission and in Appendices 1 and 2 . In Australia, that is very obviously and properly the role of expert bodies like the TGA and the NHMRC which can convene and commission independent scientific expertise to advise governments. 
Who do you trust about evidence of there being a gateway into or out of smoking? A world-respected UK college or a bunch of politically-driven unionised doctors? I would suggest that the BMA are "not in a position to assess the scientific quality of specialised toxicological research" as much as the RCP are, and I suspect that the Aussie parliamentary committe might be of the same view once they have stopped laughing at Chapman's contempt towards their work.

Each one of these references is chosen specifically to raise doubt and muddy the waters. His entire 93 page submission is along the same lines, just slinging shit like a baboon and hoping some sticks. For someone who condemns the tobacco industry's "merchants of doubt" tactics back in the 1960s when he still had hair, Chapman does a bloody good impression of the same methodology.

Still, Chappers has a lot to defend; and that is to keep tobacco controllers in work for the future. His chosen policy of keeping e-cigs illegal has only one purpose while other - more-enlightened - juridictions are seeing stunning results from legal vaping. Clive Bates's recent graphic illustrates this starkly.

Since 2013, UK smoking prevalence fell at three times the rate of Australia despite Australia’s plain packs and sharp tax increases. Why might that be?

Chapman's submission is full of such crap doubt-fostering, and offers nothing new to the debate. It's just some old guy who has realised he is in danger of being on the wrong side of history and is desperately clutching at whatever meagre straws he can find, along with his customary piss poor grasp of mathematics.


Fortunately, his desperate last gasp flailing was overwhelmed by the considered responses from hundreds of others (from the 332 in total) who submitted scientific and anecdotal evidence that isolate Chapman as a sadsack outlier who should be told to put down the spade, stop digging, and go sit in the bathchair in the corner to be ignored. You can read many of them by clicking on this tweet and seeing the thread beneath it.


It is quite apt that the Sydney pensioner's career in 'public health' began via his vandalising Marlboro adverts at bus stops, and is now culminating with his daubing inane shit all over his country's policy-making process.



1 comment:

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