June 22nd, 2015
But who holds you to account for what you say?
What stops a doctor going on to the radio, appearing as a trusted voice of the medical profession and representative of the BMA, but making false and misleading statements about an important public health issue? What if the factual errors and misleading advice cause people to smoke who would otherwise have quit? We know that in Britain doctors are held to account by the General Medical Council and sometimes the courts for professional negligence in their surgeries and hospitals, but who holds them to account for negligent statements to the public?
No-one it seems. In Britain, the following case shows that doctors can say just about anything, no matter how wrong, irresponsible and harmful, and escape any professional accountability. The GMC simply washes its hands and lets them off.
(Note: just looking for the complaint? It’s here) >> read the full post
June 18th, 2015
Bad for health – banning much safer alternatives to smoking
Outside the field of tobacco control (and illicit drugs), are there any precedents for banning products that are at least 20 times safer than the dominant product in the market while leaving that high risk product widely available? I cannot think of one, or why a nation would wish to have such a ban. Yet this is what they want to do in Singapore for tobacco: pretty well all low risk nicotine products will be banned, while cigarettes will be protected from competition. Why do this? What about the unintended consequences?
It’s time to start challenging the instinctive belief that bans are a good policy, and to start putting science, ethics and public health first. So Professor Gerry Stimson and I have written an open letter to the Government of Singapore urging them to pause and reconsider – and to show leadership by being better than the European Union and United States FDA at regulating these products. >> read the full post
June 9th, 2015
A war on vaping is a war on the poor
There’s an interesting development in the UK today: the Welsh Government has announced that it will ban vaping in public places and work places where smoking is banned (for reference population of Wales is 3m, UK is 64m). But that’s not the interesting development. >> read the full post
May 27th, 2015
Asking the right questions…
On Thursday 28 May, the second of two workshops on e-cigarette research priorities will be held with a focus on the outcomes arising from e-cigarette use, including e-cigarette attitudes and behaviours, and longer-term health outcomes. The meeting is organised by Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Department of Health, Economic and Social Research Council and Medical Research Council. It is predominantly a scientific gathering, but I will be going and several vapers have been invited to contribute views. It’s a very positive initiative in my view. I’d welcome your views: >> read the full post
May 22nd, 2015
Provisions for vapour products were designed in a political process in haste, in secret, without consultation, with no impact assessment and in the face of opposing scientific advice – and it shows
The European Union directive governing e-cigarette regulation is a catalogue of poorly designed, disproportionate and discriminatory measures that will achieve nothing useful but do a great deal of harm. Let’s review the main issues: >> read the full post