Professor John Ashton, formerly of the Socialist Health Association and currently the head of the UK Faculty of Public Health, had a funny old weekend. He started Friday in true public health form by putting out a statement about e-cigarettes which began with the whopping lie that there is consensus on this divisive issue:
“The average person on the street could be forgiven for being confused about what health professionals think about e-cigarettes. Fortunately, there is common ground among public health professionals."FPH doesn’t want to ban so-called ‘nicotine sticks’ [no one calls themselves nicotine sticks - CJS]. We do want to be sure that any benefits they may have don’t undo all the hard work that’s been done over decades to save lives by reducing smoking. We are particularly concerned that ‘vaping’ may lead to young people starting to smoke cigarettes. A recent report from the US backs up this concern [no, it doesn't - CJS].“We agree with the authors of this paper that we should separate opinion and evidence. At the moment, there is very little hard data about e-cigarettes: until we get some solid facts on their impact on people’s health, we need proper regulations of e-cigarettes, and to encourage anyone who wants to quit smoking to get help from the NHS. That’s proven to be the best way to quit the habit for good.”
It got rather worse for him when he turned in an embarrassing performance on the Jeremy Vine show in which he refused to shut up when asked and rambled on about nicotine causing people to go blind. He told smokers to use the (rubbish and inefficient) NHS Stop Smoking service instead (a service that gives me people free, er, nicotine).
As Clive Bates rightly said on the show, he sounded like a bloke in a bar and that it where he may well have spent the following day because when he got home he went on Twitter to abuse vapers, call women c***s and make various bizarre sexual references. Here are some of his pearls of wisdom:
There was much more of this, all of it now deleted. For me, the most troubling aspect of Ashton's Twitter binge was his urge to seek out tweets that vapers had written weeks or months earlier and insult them as pathetic addicts. This, remember, from a man who heads up a major public health organisation and who regularly appears in the media to "separate opinion from evidence".
Dick Puddlecote says, the mask has slipped. You have to wonder how many people in the public health racket have the same mentality but manage - as Ashton did until Saturday - to keep it to themselves.
Probably for the best.