After a night on the town (see declaration of interest below) I returned to read this piece of utter crud published in, of all places, the BMJ. It’s a longish read with some superb quotes from Deborah Arnott of ASH in particular, but is ultimately possibly the most delusional load of tripe I’ve ever had the misfortune to read (and that includes the combined efforts of the Daily Fail and the Mirror). If you can’t be bothered to read it I’ll summarise: MHRA and NICE’s tentative acceptance of safer nicotine products as a strategy to reduce the harm done by smoking tobacco is a big tobacco conspiracy perpetrated by ASH, CRUK, NNA and the British Heart Foundation, who have been infiltrated by evil mastermind Professor Gerry Stimson, who once went to a Christmas party at BAT HQ. You couldn’t make it up..well Gournall did.
First off the blocks in reply was Professor Robert West, whose delicately barbed response is a pleasure to read. It’s not long so I’ll reproduce it in full here:
“Unfortunately this is a poorly researched article which misses the point. There are four main parties involved in this debate. 1) Public health activists and bodies who are not experts in the field of tobacco control, who misunderstand what is relatively complex evidence and present their misunderstandings to the wider community. 2) Vapers, many of whom have no financial conflict of interest but feel passionately that a solution to the problem of stopping smoking that they have found should not be vilified or discouraged through mis-representation of the evidence. 3) Vested interest, including the tobacco industry, and their supporters. 4) Tobacco researchers and NGOs that have been working tirelessly in the field for decades and have achieved the considerable amount of progress made thus far but believe on the basis of a careful analysis of the evidence that a comprehensive tobacco control strategy is the way forward, including possibly appropriate regulation of e-cigarettes of the kind currently in force in England. ASH, CRUK, the British Heart Foundation, the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, and Public Health England fall into this fourth group – a group that has no truck whatsoever with the idea of engaging with the tobacco industry. Readers may judge for themselves which group the BMA, the Faculty of Public Health and other high profile commentators fall into.”
Unfortunately Robert’s criticism is so subtle that it’ll probably be wasted on its intended targets, but was delicious all the same. The beauty of this latest debacle however, is that it displays the raw desperation of the anti camp – they have nothing left bar defamatory ad hominem attacks. We’re winning troops, they just failed the scream test.
So to that declaration of interest.
Last night I joined my good friend Dick Puddlecote at the Forest ‘Smoke on the Water’ event – a boat trip along the Thames. I received 3 free Mojitos – total value approximately £18, but spent more than £20 on overpriced Peroni. I make that at least £2 the pro smoker lobby owes me.
However, that was £20 well spent. I got to while away the evening with a group of fun loving free thinkers, including a guy who makes his own wine from home grown tobacco leaves “just to piss off the puritans” and a lady who stuffs dead rats and dresses them in rat sized jumpers for a hobby. It was an exquisite joy.