Random Thoughts With A Sunday Vape


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I love lazy Sunday afternoons. Kicking back with a good vape and letting my mind wonder.

I follow a number of vapors from the UK on Twitter and read their blogs with some regularity. Over the past week or so there has been a lot of activity among them concerning the recent policy statement issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). Much of what WHO used to back up their recommendations for banning vaping in public places and indoors and calling for strong (read that draconian) regulations was based on misinterpretation of spurious research, misleading statements, opinion masquerading as fact, alarmist language and assorted lies.

And vapers weren’t the only ones challenging the findings of WHO. Numerous (credible) scientists, health experts and government officials have gone on record saying that WHO is being alarmist, citing poor and incomplete research and potentially causing smokers, who might otherwise make the switch to vaping, to continue using tobacco cigarettes. When some vapers took to using a satirical version of the WHO logo on social media, the organization began threatening legal action. They did not respond to any of the legitimate criticism of their statement.

The WHO report seems to have made a bigger splash in the UK than here in the US. It led to some controversy surrounding Professor John Ashton, president of Britain’s Faculty of Public Health (FPH). The mission of the FPH is:

  • Promoting the education of public health doctors and other public health practioners
  • Examining public health doctors and other public health practioners
  • Promoting the profession of public health
  • Developing and advocating policies for improving public health
Prof John Ashton, Twitter Troll
Prof John Ashton, Twitter Troll

It’s that last point that apparently drove Ashton to appear on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 last week. The FPH has come out in favor of more research on and regulations of vaping. Also appearing on the radio program was Clive Bates, a policy maker and strategist who specializes in, among other things, public health. Bates is a former Director General with the Welsh government and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. He is currently in the private sector.

The discussion began to deteriorate almost as soon as Vine introduced Ashton, who tried to monopolize the air time, barely pausing long enough to allow Vine to introduce Bates. Ashton continually talked over both Vine and Bates, made statements without any supporting facts or documentation and when questioned about those statements refused to give an answer. Among the more questionable statements Ashton made was that adults don’t like sweet flavors (or buttered popcorn) and that nicotine contributed to macular degeneration. When asked why then more smokers weren’t going blind, Ashton changed the subject.

One of Prof Ashton's tamer tweets.
One of Prof Ashton’s tamer tweets.

The next day Ashton was on Twitter, trolling unsuspecting vapers who dared to question the statements he’d made. He compared them to sexual deviants, made obnoxious comments, engaged in juvenile name-calling and referred to one by a derogatory term for a part of the female anatomy. He has since deleted many of the tweets, but some quick-thinking vapers had taken screen shots of many of them and posted them on Twitter and their blogs.

The controversy and misinformation wasn’t limited to the UK. Back in the states, a print version of lecture given by a husband and wife team of researchers at Columbia University made its way into the New England Journal of Medicine. The paper, seeking to fortify a position the two had advanced some years earlier that never really gained any traction,  suggested that vaping was a gateway to cocaine. The “rationale” for this argument; mice who were given nicotine and then cocaine seemed to be more active than mice who were given only cocaine. And, according to the pair, many cocaine addicts smoke cigarettes. They then made the leap that since vaping involves nicotine, it too could serve as a gateway to harder, illicit drugs. My guess is that many cocaine addicts also wear blue jeans–does that make Lee a gateway to hard drugs?

Here’s the video version of this post.

Thankfully, there are still those in the scientific, research, health and governmental communities who see the value of vaping as a method of harm reduction and the most effective means that I’m aware of of helping people quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. Let me take a moment to suggest a few of the blogs I referred to earlier. There’s Vape Me Stoopid, Redhead Full of Steam and The Random Vaper. They’re all worth a read.

Oh, and if you’d like to weigh in on Professor Ashton’s rants, you can contact him by mail at:

Faculty of Public Health
4 St Andrews Place
London
NW1 4LAB

Or email at:
president@fph.org.uk

On Twitter:
@johnashton47

Or by phone:
01539 797 859

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium and the festivities are being televised shortly. Embrace The Vape!

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