Monday, 16 February 2015

Sally Davies; Professor of 'Health' Garbage!

Anyone who saw the recent 'interview' between Gavin Esler and Professor Dame Sally Davies on BBC television will understand my increased anger. Whilst the good professor stated that the upcoming ban on smoking in cars with children will not encompass vaping, she still found it necessary to take the usual sideswipe at e-cigarettes, suggesting that some e-liquids had been withdrawn from sale because they had caused chronic lung disease. This was a blatant lie. In fact, one e-juice vendor company withdrew a butterscotch-flavoured juice because it was found to contain traces of diacetyl, which has been linked to workers in factories who, having worked for long periods with diacetyl, had developed a condition known as 'popcorn lung'. No vapers were harmed in this scenario!

To me, this claim was not the worst. There were two other claims that outraged me, as they would, I am sure, anyone else who has a scientific mind - and that should include the Chief Medical Officer of Health, given that she advises the government on medical matters. Because I am an idle typist, I shall cut and paste here my complaint to the BBC, so I don't have to write it all out again:

Full Complaint: "I refer to a recent interview with Professor Dame Sally Davies (Chief Medical Officer of Health), where she made several false, misleading or untrue statements with regard to the government's imposition of a ban on smoking in cars with children. 1) She agreed with the presenter that smoking prevalence has dramatically decreased, yet went on to say that illnesses that have been attributed to 'second-hand' or 'passive' smoking are on the increase. Anyone of a scientific mind would realise that such cannot be the case unless a) the diseases are NOT caused by environmental tobacco smoke and b) some other causative factor must be to blame. 2) She declared that butterscotch flavouring had to be withdrawn because it causes chronic lung disease. This is simply not true. 3) She made the claim that smoke in a car was up to 11 times worse than in a pub when smoking was allowed. This is utterly meaningless in terms of what size of car, what size of pub, how many smokers used the pub, over what time -scale. Then she added that, as for opening the car windows, it's an unhealthy atmosphere. Did she refer here to the ingress of traffic fumes, or to reduction of the smokiness of the car? As a scientist, and an adviser on public health, she should know better than to make such sweeping and unscientific statements. 4) I cannot understand how such inaccuracies went unchallenged by an experienced interviewer; he could not have failed to notice them. Could he?!"

Today, I received a reply, in the form of a 'round robin'sent to all who registered a complaint:

"Thank you for sharing your concerns about an interview with the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, broadcast on the BBC News Channel.

The main point of the interview was to get Dame Sally's views on the upcoming ban on smoking in cars with children. At one point presenter Gavin Esler asked if the ban also covered 'vaping'. Dame Sally explained that it would not and she went on to express her concerns about the potential health impact of e-cigarettes:

"They put in flavourings - we don't know the impact of those. Butterscotch had to be withdrawn because people got chronic lung disease."

This was seemingly in reference to a story broadcast by the BBC last year, where we found that an e-cigarette liquid manufacturer had included a potentially dangerous butterscotch flavouring in one of its products. Experts said that the flavouring, diacetyl, had been shown to cause very serious lung conditions in the past.

So Dame Sally was correct in that there had been a case of butterscotch flavouring being withdrawn over health concerns, although we appreciate that you feel this point could have been explored further. During a live interview it’s not possible to question a guest over every point they raise and, in this case, the main point of discussion was the upcoming ban on traditional cigarettes.

Once again, thank you getting in touch."

With that whitewash, my complaint was dismissed.

No wonder I get angry!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Perhaps I Was Not Angry Enough! (Part One.)

It has been quite a while since I posted anything to this blog. It's not that I had nothing to say, but I was saying it elsewhere. That's wrong of me, for I have rarely been as angry as I am at the moment. And the reason for my anger? The same old rhetoric from 'Public Health' aka the Anti Nicotine and Tobacco Zealots (ANTZ), whose crusade against smoking has morphed into a crusade against the entire tobacco industry, the nascent but burgeoning e-cigarette industry, the smoker, the vaper, the free-thinker, the brewery industry, the distillery industry, the soft-drinks industry, the fast-food industry, the slow-food industry, .... In fact, the ANTZ have become the IDLE; that's the I Don't Like Ennything brigade (yes, I know, but a good many of them cannot spell either!). The only industry (apart from their own) that they appear to like, it seems, is the pharmaceuticals industry - the fount of so-called scientific funding that grants huge munificence in research grants to provide data that can be tortured into propaganda that can be used to coerce and bully politicians into instituting policies that ensure further profits for further research ..... It is a cycle that goes around like the galaxy, and the Black Hole at its centre attracts ever more fake charities, ever more civil servants, ever more unelected bureaucrats, ever more taxes, which then disappear from the Universe, never to be seen again by most human eyes. And that makes me angry. Not that it is MY money. In fact only a very, very small part of it is MY money. But I am angry that it is the money of billions of people like me, the LITTLE people, that is squandered, and I am angry that it is all done with trickery, fraud, dishonesty and lies by the people we are told are protecting us!

For those who don't already know, I used to smoke. I was told it wasn't good for me but I did it anyway. Then I was told that my habit was bankrupting the NHS, and I must pay extra taxes to offset the costs of medical care that I needed (actually didn't need) because I smoked. So I paid my dues and carried on smoking until I realised that I, and millions like me, were paying way more than our fair share. So I did the sensible thing, and quit smoking. All well and good, but I retained a liking for nicotine, the harmless plant extract that I am told was the only reason for smoking. The nicotine did me no harm, but the tar and gases from burning tobacco, I was told, were probably going to kill me at some point. Then I discovered that an electronic cigarette would allow me to continue to enjoy my nicotine in a way that was at least 99% safer than smoking tobacco, and for that reason alone I was prepared to give it a try. And then I discovered that the tax regime on this device was orders of magnitude more affordable, for I would not be penalised for the costs of treating the smoking-related diseases that I had never developed. This was a no-brainer! I stopped smoking, and began vaping - and I loved it, felt healthier, was wealthier, and no longer attracted criticism from family and friends for an anti-social, smelly, risky habit.

This was when I started to get angry. For I began to realise that the propaganda against smoking was a smokescreen (pun accidental but serendipitous!). It turned out that it was all about money and nothing to do with health! If I was not going to be a good little smoker, pay my inflated taxes, then die without drawing my pension, my quitting was likely to cost the Exchequer a vast fortune, especially if I were to live longer, draw more pension, need care into my old age, require treatment for age-related diseases (more expensive than that for smoking-related ones!). And that cannot be allowed, can it? So I began to see that it is essential to make up the shortfall that 2 million reformed smokers will cause, and that e-cigarettes will have to be taxed like tobacco products to balance the books - except that they are NOT tobacco products, they have NO proven risks, and there is thus no justification for taxing them like cigarettes. So I have watched the growing tide of anti-vaping propaganda swell into a tidal wave, while knowing that it was designed to keep as many smokers smoking for as long as possible, while hitting them with ever-increasing tax burdens yet simultaneously making vaping seem just as injurious to health in order to justify the same swingeing 'sin' tax in order to balance the Chancellor's books. And what makes it worse is that I see the 'public health' authorities being used to manipulate the public in order to bring this about!

That makes me VERY angry! Public Health should be about promoting, well, the health of the public. Not the fiscal health of an economy that is in crisis because of that black hole in the centre of the system.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Guest posting from a former 'passive smoker'

The Joy of Vaping (by Marilyn Cliff, an ex passive smoker)

I used to sit and sulk when my husband had a smoke
for living with a smoker is definitely no joke.
I knew he was a smoker when we met that fateful night
but thought with my alluring charm I would soon put him right

How wrong I was but even so I was dazzled by his smile
and decided he could have his fags (if only for a while!)
Time moved on and he moved in and I would moan and rabbit
but all to no avail as he refused to  break his habit.

The cost of buying cigarettes rose beyond belief
such a lot of cash I thought for a dried up bit of leaf.
And although we were not rich the damage to our wealth
was nothing to compare to the damage to our health.

I was a passive smoker and would moan this wasn’t fair
that the awful smell of fag smoke stayed in my clothes and hair.
And what about my lungs filled with tars and god knows what
but he always had an answer when I put him on the spot.

His smoker’s cough would wake me as he sat up with a splutter
before lighting up a fag while I would curse and mutter.
But with the help of patches he managed to refrain
and lasted for a year or more before he smoked again.

Then as he neared the age when he would draw his pension
he discovered the E-cig a marvellous invention.
He tried it and it worked for he is now a happy vaper
I am happy too and wish to note this down on paper.

No more are our lives blighted by the dreaded smoking fog
and he spreads the word on vaping as he chunters on his ‘blog’

Monday, 2 June 2014

A non-smoker's view of vaping

I do not lay claim to the following article, nor have I had a part in its creation. It is an honest attempt by a non-smoking, non-vaping private citizen to put the commonsense point of view on smoking and not smoking. I commend it for its honesty and its lack of spin (which is more than I can do for the outpourings of the anti-tobacco zealots)!                                                                                                                                 Geoff Cliff.

Views of a non smoker

I am in my mid sixties and have never smoked. My father was a heavy smoker and my mother a ‘social smoker’. She occasionally smoked cocktail cigarettes which were in pastel shades and quite pretty and feminine looking. My grandmother occasionally smoked Woodbines. So in spite of being in regular contact with smokers, how come I have never smoked? I tried it once in my teens thinking I would try one of gran’s Woodbines and I sneaked one into the bathroom with a box of matches and lit up. It was awful and I coughed, choked and retched. That was the one and only time I ever tried smoking.

My best friend at school smoked, as did all her parents and two sisters. I used to call for her in the morning on the way to school and I recall the horrible, thick smoky atmosphere when I went into her house. Also her two elder sisters liked the perfume Revlon’s Intimate, which they sprayed liberally on themselves. That smell combined with the dense smoke from four smokers was enough to put me off smoking (and Intimate perfume) for life.

My friend and I had quite a long walk to school and she would be struggling to light a cigarette whilst gasping for breath to keep up with me. I never felt under any pressure to ‘have a fag’ as I had made up my own mind not to smoke.

In my later teens when I had started work I had quite a long bus journey into Birmingham. On the occasions when there was no room downstairs and I had to go upstairs I hated the smell of stale smoke that lingered on the seats and the thick fug of smoke that clung to my clothes and my hair. Even opening a window brought no relief from the smell.

My boyfriend at the time was a smoker and although I hated the lingering smell, at that time smoking was accepted socially, so I just put up with it. In spite of seeing him smoke and enjoy his cigarettes I still never wanted to smoke. My parents and boyfriend would smoke in the house and it was just accepted. The only time there was a problem was when my boyfriend fell asleep on the sofa and dropped his cigarette, which burned a hole in the settee.

We married and had two children and he continued to smoke in the house. My younger son was born eleven weeks prematurely and was very ill for a long time. He spent the first six months of life in hospital and was on a ventilator for ten weeks due to problems with his lungs. It was at this time that the dangers of smoking were made apparent by one of his doctors who said that under no circumstances should the baby be in a situation where he could breathe in cigarette smoke due to the breathing problems he had experienced. My husband didn’t like being told this, but for a while didn’t smoke when the baby was in the room. I hadn’t really considered the dangers of smoking or even passive smoking until then. My main objections were the smell that lingered, the yellowing of the paintwork and wallpaper in the house, and the cost.

We divorced after sixteen years of marriage, after he had met someone else. Subsequently I met and fell in love with the man who became my second husband. Unfortunately he was a smoker too, but in the heady days of new love I didn’t let it bother me too much. Once we had settled down to married life I did object to him smoking. He smoked in the house, which I didn’t like, and, as we had both been through messy divorces and were short of money, I objected to the cost of smoking and also the possible effect on his health. He had been a smoker for thirty years or so since he was a young teenager and, as I knew he was a smoker when I met him, he would counter any of my objections with this argument. He had a smoker’s cough and this, coupled with what the doctors had said when my son was a baby, made me again realise the possible dangers to health. Also my mum had died aged seventy of secondary lung cancer although she had given up smoking twenty years before she died. My dad had given up smoking when mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer some five years before she died. My dad died from a heart attack aged eighty-six and up until his early eighties had always been fit and well.

Neither of my two sons has ever smoked in spite of being subject to it in the home environment and in pubs and clubs during their teens and twenties.

My husband and I moved to Cornwall in our mid fifties to ‘live the dream’. My husband still smoked but as the cottage we moved into had low ceilings and small rooms, he would go outside to smoke. I worried about the effect smoking had on his health. If he was working outside he would frequently have a cigarette clenched in his teeth while using both hands to build a wall or mix cement. I hated to see this as it seemed to me he was doubly inhaling the noxious smoke.

Eighteen months after our move I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband gave up smoking of his own accord and supported me throughout all my treatment. I really appreciated this and knew how difficult it must have been for him. Sadly he started smoking again when he was with his brother (a smoker) on a long and tiring car journey. His brother smoked cigarettes in the car and the temptation to have one became too much. Following this, for a while he smoked less than he had before but in time it became as many as before.

When we bought a newer car he said he wouldn’t smoke in the car as it was pristine inside but before long he did start smoking in the car, which I hated. The car smelt of stale smoke, ash was dropped on the floor and a couple of cigarette burns appeared in the upholstery. On occasions when I would kiss or cuddle our dog after she had been in the car, I could smell stale smoke on her. I know my husband thought I was a nag and probably I was, but he smelt of cigarettes most of the time and even when he had been outside for a smoke when he came back in the lounge I could smell it on him and his breath.

Last year, with retirement looming and with reduced income and the constant bad press about smoking, my husband decided to give electronic cigarettes a try. He bought the necessary items, which cost probably a tenth of what he had been spending on cigarettes a month, and initially I was quite impressed. I must admit I thought it would just be a ‘flash in the pan’, a short-lived fad, but no, nine months later he is still sticking with the e-cig. He can use it in the house as there is very little ‘smoke’ or smell apart from the lovely aromas of his chosen flavour of the day.

Throughout my life I have always been anti smoking and I was really pleased that my husband had found an alternative to smoking that is socially acceptable - or so we thought. Now it seems that Wales could be the first part of the UK to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places. Ministers say they are responding to concern that the devices normalise smoking and so undermine the smoking ban. Ministers also argue that children could be tempted to try them, which may then lead them to cigarette smoking.

For years now smokers have been told about the dangers of smoking (whilst the government carry on reaping the tax benefits). Now that a successful aid to help smokers quit has been found, Welsh ministers want it banned in enclosed public places. I feel this is a real slap in the face to smokers who have quit smoking. Rather than implement this ban, ministers should applaud smokers for giving up smoking and just let them get on with their smoke free lives.

There are so many temptations that children are more likely to want to try. With alcohol, drugs, sex, and processed fast food on offer, who would want an electronic cigarette?

So leave the vapers alone and let them enjoy their new cigarette-free existence wherever they choose to use them. My husband no longer has a ‘smoker’s cough’, nor does he reek of cigarette smoke. He is much fitter since becoming a vaper and we can enjoy long walks without him becoming short of breath. He enjoys his vapes in the same way that I enjoy eating chocolate! (We have to have some pleasure in this life!) Neither of us are overweight and are within the normal BMI .

I would suggest to these faceless ministers who tell us how we should run our lives to back off and let us choose for ourselves how we live. Smokers have been the outcasts of society for many years and now that over two million of them are vapers, leave them to enjoy their smoke free existence.

Friday, 30 May 2014

“O Lorde, have mercy upon us miserable offendours”

Very little, it seems, has changed in many centuries of human history. Even in the modern world of scientific research and immense knowledge, the same old arguments are still being put forward by the self-appointed guardians of our social, moral, and spiritual welfare as they ever were. The difference now is that the guardians do not only stand in the pulpit of the village church, or the chapel, to deliver their sermons since too few are there to listen, and they need their message to ring loud and clear to all humankind. So one thing that has changed is the launching-point for their words of salvation - they now concentrate their efforts on the media; film, TV, radio, the press, the internet and the paid disciples of their cause, the holy army of health practitioners.

But the message they carry has not changed. The Book of Common Prayer, as published in 1559 contains words that were drummed into our brains as children:-

we have erred and straied from thy waies, lyke lost shepee we have folowed to much the devises and desires of our owne hartes. We have offended against thy holy lawes: We have left undone those thinges whiche we ought to have done, and we have done those thinges which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us”.

I am sure that most of us remember those words, albeit in a more modern form and with standardised spelling. Even more sure am I that you recognise the message contained within them. Read any leaflet that you will find at your doctor's or dentist's surgery, or at a hospital or clinic, and you will see the very same message. Open any newspaper or magazine, and it is there too. Pick up a packet of cigarettes, and a highly graphic version of the message will stare accusingly at you. Light a cigarette in the street (while you still can!), and there's a very good chance that a herald angel in a grubby grey suit will approach you with a wagging finger to deliver the same message. Even if you do not smoke because you have already heeded the warning, but choose to vape your nicotine instead, you still cannot avoid it.

In the new, disease-free, pollution-free, sterile world granted us by the good offices of bodies such as the World Health Organisation, science has largely taken over as the religion of the thinking man (and woman, of course), except for certain groups who still accept dogma over data, spiritualism over science and theism over thought. For them the world will always be flat, only six thousand years old, and non-evolving. For most of the world, however, scientific explanation and reason have taken over from scripture in guiding our lives. But science can be a two-edged sword (or scalpel), that, like religion, can be manipulated and interpreted in several different ways, depending on the personal beliefs, ambitions or politics of our leaders and guides. By their methodology life, the universe and everything can be analysed, categorised, documented and theorised like never before, yet apparently still devolve to the statement, “we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us”!

Every day we are assailed with further evidence of that statement. We eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much, sit too much, sleep too much, stay awake too much, consume too many resources, listen to too much music, watch too much television, play too many games, breed too much, et cetera, et cetera – and there is no health in us. The facts, of course, are that we are born at great risk to ourselves and our mothers, we face multiple hazards, contract childhood diseases, learn how to survive the world as best we can. If successful so far, we breed, then get ill or have an accident and die. For there is no health in us. Like every living creature on earth, we are mortal, we are dying, we are born to die. Sorry, folks, that's just the way life is; we cannot change it!

However, it would appear that august bodies such as the WHO have such faith in their own abilities that they believe it is we ourselves who are causing our morbidity and mortality, by doing all those things that we should not do, or by not doing all those things that we should do. That is why there is no health in us! If only we were to follow all their guidelines, and live our lives according to their rules, we could eradicate all our illnesses, avoid all accidents and solve our own problems! They have never yet claimed to give us life everlasting, but they seem to to have decided for us, on our behalf, how long our lives should be. How else can they tell me that, by smoking, I am reducing my life by ten years? I recently read that sitting is four times as dangerous as smoking, so by sitting at my keyboard typing this essay, it seems that I am reducing my life by forty years. But I am 65, so was I granted 105 years (or 115 given that I also smoked), and I should drop dead tomorrow?

I was always led to believe that I could expect three-score and ten (seventy) years of life, so did the health authorities, by their efforts, give me an extra thirty or forty years? Or have I been dead without realising it for some years now? The fact is, of course, that life is a lottery. Illness and accident can terminate a life at any stage. I remember schoolmates who died before even reaching their teens, and I had uncles and cousins I never knew because they were killed in war. I have relatives in their nineties who smoke, and I have lost much younger relatives who never did. To further confound matters, I believe that I am healthy, that is to say I have no life-threatening or disabling conditions as yet diagnosed or suspected, but I have partaken of salt, sugar, fats, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sunshine and so on freely through my life. How can I be healthy – especially since I know that I am destined to die?

These arguments naturally tend to weaken the consensus of the health police. That is why they have invoked the moral support of my peers in order to bring me to heel. They have re-written the Book of Common Prayer so that it now reads “We have done those things that we should not have done, and there is no health in our neighbours, or in our cheeldren.” By this means they can justify raising taxes and duties on anything that people like, they can ban us doing anything that might be considered 'sinful', they can ride roughshod over our civil rights, pass illogical laws and regulations, twist science, law and common sense to breaking point, protect their jobs and their sources of income, maintain their moral high ground and keep us all within their power for eternity. If all of that sounds familiar, then you probably had a similar religious upbringing to mine!