By Dave Cross
The bedroom was dark, and I should have been sleeping. I should have been but every night my parents would come into the room with a team of scientists and a machine on wheels. I wasn’t sure why, but they would remove my eyes, take a series of measurements and then return everything to normal. It scared the heck out of me. Over breakfast they denied everything (of course) and attempted to convince me it had all been a bad dream. There were ramifications; my cheese consumption was cut back and my access to coffee strictly curtailed.
It is entirely possible that my mother and father were part of a top-secret research program measuring the ocular cavities of sleeping children. Possible in the same way that all the claims being made by the Californian Department of Health about vaping may have substance. But then, even though my father managed to burn down our house twice in a three-year period using a deep-fat fryer, not even he would have been stupid enough to claim puffing e-liquid was the equivalent to heroin addiction.
On this side of the Atlantic, the “Still Blowing Smoke” campaign raised a level of bemusement that usually accompanies pre-election political promises. Imagine if you will the faces on the fire service personnel as they arrived at the second kitchen fire to discover it was the same man using a similar method to make fries at home— that was our response to the lies being perpetrated on the West Coast. You know the kind of expression, the one adopted by a dog that was expecting a tasty snack or a walk, but you’re talking to it in a soft and caring voice about debt restructuring in sub Saharan Africa.
But we’re angry too. It’s a totally British wrath, the kind that spawns from half a biscuit falling into a cup of tea. We’re annoyed because we don’t want our politicians and public health officials seeing what’s taking place and feeling inspired to reach even greater heights of nonsense. “When America sneezes the U.K. catches a cold,” goes the saying, and Dr. Ron Chapman’s charges at TobaccoFreeCA appear to be displaying all the signs of a weaponized truth flu.
Dr. George Rae is a genial general practitioner who also happens to appear on a television show diagnosing ailments on golf courses and in bus queues. He’s a mild mannered medical man befitting a quaint idealized view of our nation consisting of corner shops and biscuit tin villages—except he is displaying signs of having contracted a severe dose of the Chapman’s. While on a radio talk show, the good doctor bemoaned the fact that e-cigs contained chemicals, made a fatuous link to the possible gateway effect for children and said the chemicals in electronic cigarettes “can be even more cancer forming than what you’re getting within cigarettes themselves.”
“They are being marketed as something that is safe and something that is a safe substitute, and that’s not the reality,” added the doctor; his understanding of reality clearly indicating that this interview was conducted not in Newcastle but somewhere in the Twilight Zone.
No nation loves the shows Fringe or The X Files more than us, but we’re finding the Glantz-driven agenda of replacing science fact with pseudoscience rather hard to swallow. Chapman’s disease now has infected an entire British university.
Liverpool John Moores University (LJM) contributed to the canon of e-cig knowledge by dry burning a bottomcoil atomizer. The discovery of the formaldehyde produced shocked at least three people, caused several newspapers to predict the approach of four apocalyptic figures on horse back and drove the LJM on to conduct a piece of research described as “blithering stupidity” by the Adam Smith Institute.
LJM found that teenagers who regularly drink heavily, two or more times per week, were more likely to access e-cigs and declared “there is an urgent need for controls on the promotion and sale of e-cigarettes.”
Just with their previously flawed study, this child focussed farce has far more to do with usurping science for political ends than it does with concern over public health. It was striking how little comment they made concerning the alarming level of illicit access to and misuse of alcohol plus the link to alcohol-related violence.
Clive Bates notes that the LMJ’s research term “accessed e-cigarettes” is nothing but emotive. He writes: “This can mean as little as tried or bought once. It captures large numbers of kids messing about, experimenting or trying it just once but not really doing anything that consolidates into ‘current use’ or a pattern of behavior that may potentially cause harm. It’s a measure that generates the highest possible number and provides a basis for a moral panic, but gives no real insight into the scale of anything that might be harmful.”
It’s a Californication of our science process and approach to public health. One that leaves the likes of Linda Bauld, a professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, sounding like voices in the wilderness: “Other surveys have so far found that progressing from ever trying an e-cigarette to regular use amongst nonsmoking (British) children is very rare or entirely absent, suggesting that, to date, e-cigarettes are not responsible for creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.”
Much has been written about the Special Relationship that exists between America and Britain, and British vapers will support you in every way we can—but this California kind of thing needs to stop. We can’t risk any more of our dim-witted academics and doctors succumbing; if you can’t put an end to it we’re going to have to get tough … I have the Spice Girls, Ricky Gervais and The Guide To English Dentistry all packed up and ready to airmail.
Dave Cross is a writer, biker, vaper, ever-more rotund punk and perpetual disappointment to his parents. According to his wife he is frequently wrong about most things.
Follow Dave Cross on Twitter @MawsleyX.