Tuesday 15 December 2015

Conversation Stopper

Regular readers here may remember an article in September reporting that vape-hating Martin McKee and Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies share monumental levels of correspondence between each other on the subject of e-cigs. So much so that the fellow jewel robber who used the FOI Act to request information over a relatively short period was told it would cost far too much to dig it all out!

As I observed at the time, this is an astounding amount of correspondence, and would explain why Davies is so irrationally opposed to e-cigs on spurious - and sometimes fraudulent - grounds.

Undeterred, our assiduous jewel-robbing ally narrowed the terms of his enquiry and has unearthed an extraordinary exchange between the two in November last year. This was at the time Public Health England was inviting tobacco controllers "to contribute to an online ‘conversation’ based around five draft principles to guide policies and practice. The feedback received will inform PHE’s position and our framework advice to employers and other authorities" on the subject of "vaping in enclosed public places and workplaces." [Word download].

It resulted in this document which included video contributions from people such as Debs Arnott, Gerard Hastings and Robert West.

Hardly controversial, one would think, and precisely what a 'public health' body like PHE should be doing when faced with a new technology on which they are tasked to provide guidance. However, emails between McKee and Davies reveal that the CMO was "appalled" at PHE for even embarking on the project!

Stating to McKee that she had contacted the organisation and "was clear that [PHE] should not go ahead", she then - incredibly - asked if McKee could enlist the help of the Faculty of Public Health to deter PHE from continuing with the idea. McKee, of course, was quite happy to do so and called on now-President of the FPH, John Middleton, to assist.

Further emails show that McKee and the FPH planned to cite Framework Convention on Tobacco Control declarations from COP6 in Moscow to one PHE official in an attempt to stop the project going ahead. In effect, this is using tobacco control industry pronouncements - designed to silence tobacco companies and other supporters - against their own side! The emails also show McKee referring to an account of the E-Cig Summit held the same week and subtlely smearing another PHE official due to his being described as positive towards e-cigs.

Now, this brings up quite a few questions about the CMO. Firstly, why is she taking advice solely from someone so ideologically committed to destroying e-cigs, and not - as you'd expect a CMO to do - based on objective inspection of the available evidence?

Secondly, why is McKee considered such an authority in her eyes that she is willing to attempt to silence members of her own 'public health' profession for holding a differing view? Indeed, she seems to have been hell-bent to suppress anything positive on the matter at all costs.

And lastly, it would seem that she believes that employing rival organisations to undermine the activities of another - as she appears to have done before - is a valid tactic to stop potentially useful information being revealed to the 'public health' community and, indeed, the public.

Is that really what a Chief Medical Officer should be doing? You decide.

H/T AT via email

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