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The jihad against e-cigarettes

Rod Liddle | 23rd Sep 2013

London: What strategy should Bri­tain adopt to cope with the British Medical Asso­ciation (BMA)? Its members kill more people each year than Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — 72,000 is the latest estimate, from the House of Commons health select committee.

Perhaps it is at last time to sit down and negotiate with them, much though this will stick in the craw, like a misplaced scalpel. We say that organisations like the Irish Republican Army and the BMA will “never win” and that the British will “ne­ver negotiate” — but this is empty rhetoric, because the British always end up doing so.

If we could just reduce by 10 per cent the number of people killed every year through medical errors it would at least bring the figure below the combined annual deaths attributed to smoking and drinking and obesity.

That’s something to aim for, isn’t it? Attempt to find some common ground with the more moderate elements and then persuade them to put down their weapons. It could work, it could work.

The BMA’s latest act of lunacy is to oppose, with all its might, what we have come to call e-cigarettes. These are those electronic devices, usually styled to look like a B&H, often with a glowing tip, which release nicotine when inhaled and emit a colourless, odourless water vapour. Steam, in other words.

They are used by people who wish to give up smoking in preference to nicotine replacement gum, which can have a nasty bilious effect on the gut, and patches, which seem to deliver no nicotine buzz at all.

Certainly e-cigarettes are totally harmless to anyone in the vicinity of a user, and nobody has argued otherwise. They are also much, much less harmful to the user — everyone is agreed on that — than actual, proper smoking, and may be of no harm at all.

But the co-chair of the BMA’s public health medicine committee, Richard Jarvis — certainly not one of the aforesaid “moderate elements” within this organisation — has said that e-cigarettes “directly undermine the effects and intentions of existing legislation” which bans smoking in public places.

He did not explain how, possibly because his statement is a palpable idiocy. The intention behind banning smoking in public places was to remove the risk to the so-called passive smokers, which was also the effect, as he put it.

E-cigarettes are of no risk to people other than the users, and probably not to the users either. The BMA, though, is worried that electronic fags will act as a “gateway” to smoking for people who hitherto had not smoked — but as usual they have refused to allow the facts to get in the way of their reflexive fascism.

The latest study on this very matter suggested that one per cent of non-smokers had tried an e-cigarette once and that zero per cent had progressed from there to either smoking or using the electronic devices regularly — zero per cent.

That survey comes not from the tobacco industry, or from the libertarian campaigning organisation Forest, but from the gobby and usually extremist anti-tobacco lobby group Ash, which thinks the BMA’s stance on e-cigarettes is ludicrous.

Ash holds that e-cigarettes are a valuable means of weaning people off the real thing, while suggesting more research needs to be done into the possible harm they cause users.

But despite the BMA’s idiotic track record, it has influence, and the sale of e-cigarettes is to be tightly regulated. Various companies are queuing up to ban them completely — largely because of the BMA’s recommendations.

Most of Britain’s train companies — C2C, Greater Anglia and First Capital Connect among them — have already banned the devices.

The horrible pub chain JD We­therspoons has also banned them. The airline companies have begun to ban them too, claiming that us­e­rs “unsettle” other passengers. The British have become terribly fractious and chippy of late, gravely intolerant of other people’s behaviour, anxious to stop other folk doing stuff: it is one of the consequences, I suppose, of a grossly over-regulated society.

The Eastern Daily Press, meanwhile, has been carrying out a survey to see if the public believes e-ciga­rettes should be banned from all public places in Norfolk, in accordance with the BMA’s wishes.

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry is reportedly preparing an advertising campaign designed to im­pr­ove the image of these contrapti­o­ns, or “glamorise” them, as has be­en alleged. They will have a job on their hands.

E-cigarettes are possibly the least glamorous thing in the history of the world. Smoking may well be a filthy and dangerous habit, but at least smokers of proper fags could claim a certain devil-may-care insouciance attended to them, an agreeable recklessness.

E-cigarettes, by contrast, are immediately redolent of a craven and cowardly addiction which cannot be shaken, in other words they are redolent of weakness. Also they look stupid. There is nothing glamorous about e-cigarettes and yet 1.5 million British people use them, knowing this. They use them in order to kick the habit: the BMA is trying to stop them doing so.

- By arrangement with the Spectator


Average: 4.3 (6 votes)

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Gil Ross, M.D./'s picture
by Gil Ross, M.D./... (not verified) on
Unsuccessfully masking his completely on-target and pro-public health essay in the rawest satire--I mean, while truly seeking to kill more smokers with their obnoxious, wrong-headed policy on e-cigs, the BMA has never detonated an explosive device near civilians (have they? I'm an American so may be unaware...). Thanks, Mr. Liddle, for your cogent and humerous attempt to bring some illumination to those willfully blind bureaucrats and power-mad regulators (which is to say, "regulators") seeking for no valid reason (or are they being paid off by, say, Big Pharma/GSK? Just asking) to promulgate nonsensical hypothetical dangers while ignoring the 800-stone guerilla in the room: addiction to toxic deadly addictive cigarettes! G. Ross M.D. NYC,USA.
Kim Veil's picture
by Kim Veil (not verified) on
i smoked for almost 40 years and had no intention of ever quitting, I enjoyed my habit, I tried ecigs as a lark but was very surprised that I didn't want to smoke after 2 days of 'vaping'. Going on 4 years now without smoking but loving my cinnamon swirl vape. Only people that smoke should be able to have the right to choose, not pols that probably get kick backs from big tobacco or big pharma.


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