Doctor and activist

Tobacco Control Lobby goes silly on vaping.

28 September 2017

People who see the world from a very narrow perspective generally get it wrong, however clever they are in their own specialty.  If the only problem in health were smoking, perhaps vaping could be justified.  But the realities of money and marketing is that a whole industry will try to get the whole nation inhaling solvents with whatever is in them.

The argument is now that it is ‘better than tobacco’, rather than ‘proven safe as a new product’, and the naive quit specialists have allowed this to happen.  Just as we had to prove that passive smoking of tobacco was unhealthy before public policy could be lobbied for to get rid of smoking, so future generations will have to prove vaping is unhealthy before it is acted on.  At a common-sense level, it is not good to inhale various solvents, and the proponents should have to prove that it is safe, which naturally they have not done.  Now some silly public health people have handed them the debate by taking their side.

It is not confined to the UK.  Radio National’s ‘Life Matters’ programme had a ‘debate’ this week about whether vaping was harmful or not.  The debate was between a Professor of Respiratory Medicine and a rather naive quit specialist. The question being discussed was whether it was (yet) proved that vaping is harmful.

The point is that if that is the question, we may be lost before we start.  It will not be proved; the civil libertarians will resist any legislation, helped by the tobacco and the vaping lobby.  It will take years for the harm from vaping to ‘proved statistically’ with these arguments going on endlessly as the stuff is sold doing more or less harm.  And as we saw with tobacco, statistical proof has definitional problems which can be exploited almost endlessly in a political context.

The question should be: As this stuff is not currently used, is it unlikely to be good for us and at best is a flavour or drug buzz, or is it absolutely proven to be safe?  Until the safety answer is yes, it should be illegal to sell as a consumer product, like any other potentially toxic substance.

The naive quit people have sold us down the river and the naive media have not picked up the anomaly.

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

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