Wednesday 13 November 2013

An Apology: I Was Wrong About The BMA

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes
I have an embarrassing apology to make.

In the past, I've been of the opinion that the BMA is opposed to smoking. I stupidly thought that occurrences like the BMA's Vivienne Nathanson lying on the BBC about the effects of smoking in cars; their twisting of basic rules of economics to pretend that smoking costs outweigh revenues when in actual fact it's bollocks; and their backing of evidence-free plain packaging as a tool was proof that they were big anti-smokers.

My view has been comprehensively trumped in the past week though. Boy, do I feel silly now!

Last week, another rail company - this time, Greater Anglia - were persuaded to ban an alternative to smoking by the BMA ....
A spokesperson said the ban was "in common with other train operators" and the decision haf been taken "in line with the British Medical Association's recommendation that e-cigarettes should be included in the ban on smoking in public places."
... which follows in the footsteps of Scotrail, who also heavily referenced BMA advice to explain their own ban.

But that was eclipsed by their single-handedly opposing BBC Breakfast's assertion yesterday that the public generally think e-cigs are a good thing.

Of course I should have noticed the signs. Vivienne Nathanson has lied before about e-cigs, whilst only last month BMA GP Andrew Thomson was imploring Celtic and Rangers to ensure that their fans are kept in the dark about a potential substitute for tobacco.

I should also have taken more note of their absurd scaremongery towards e-cigs and come to the proper conclusion which was staring me in the face all along. That they must actually be big fans of smoking, presumably because it helps their chums in the pharma industry if smokers quit or cut down the politically-correct (and state-funded) way.

So, to all those I may have misled, I say a big sincere sorry.

Having said that, I'd like to offer a conspiracy theory instead of the obvious reality of the BMA's approach detailed above. It might help me to salvage something out of all this if you'd consider it.

Perhaps, silly as it may seem in light of their recent public pronouncements, the BMA aren't actually shilling for big pharma. Maybe, just maybe, their way of approaching the tobacco and/or e-cig debate is something like this.

Nah! You're right, I'm just making excuses for myself. This is the world-renowned BMA we're talking about here, not some bunch of amateurs who talk nonsense without thinking of the bigger picture of global harm reduction.

So that's settled then. The BMA are not an anti-smoking organisation at all. How stupid was I to think otherwise, eh?


Ivan D said...

The BMA is a trade union. It is not an expert body and its output needs to be viewed in that context.

As with most trade unions the BMA tends to attract the more politically active members of the profession it represents and that has a tendency to influence its output. That output does not necessarily represent the views of the majority of medics, who are rarely canvassed for their opinion but lazy journalists often create the impression that it does by citing "doctors" when they mean "BMA spokespeople"

Unlike most trade unions the BMA is reported uncritically when it indulges in politics and operates outside of its areas of competence. The BMA as you point out also gets away with its head of ethics being dishonest and unethical in public without any media or political backlash whatsoever.

That is the magic of the medical establishment. It can on occasions be devious, dishonest and grossly incompetent with utter impunity. I suspect that UNITE members and activists would love to be given the same degree of latitude by press and politicians.

On the subject of e-cigs the view of the BMA is not expert opinion and should be largely irrelevant. It is being used as an excuse by train companies faced with a social rather than a health issue.

Well dressed anarchist said...

It is patently obvious that the BMA,Train Companies,Bus Companies and Pubcos can promote and implement BANS without Westminster
In simple words ,are we a democracy where policy is generated from the People via the MPs OR a vieled dictatorship by the few,for the few.
So now we await the fury of the E-Cigs Brigade just like we waited for the Tobacco Warriors We seek them here ,we seek them there ,we seek them everywhere.
Hope springs eternal.

Adam Haseman said...

One of these days TOC's will actually try to run a train service!

truckerlyn said...

The medical profession (or perhaps just the BMA) are infamous for scaremongering over all sorts of products just to rescind their concerns a few years later. Look at butter! All of a sudden it is back in favour. Many other products over the years have been deemed harmful to health, just to later be reprieved.

Of course, in this instance, I guess it is not too likely as their pals in the big pharma industry don't want any competition to their horrid, useless and addictive NRT! I am sure the BMA wouldn't want to upset them.

BenPal said...

By sheer coincidence, this week the Swiss Railway proclaimed a ban on e-cigarettes in their trains: "Travelers have to "extinct" their e-cigarettes before getting on the train". No reason given for this ban.

JonathanBagley said...

Excellent summary, Ivan.