Monday 8 October 2012

ASH: Having a go at the Chinese now

"...therefore e-cigarettes are dangerous."

Many moons ago, I went to a panel discussion about tobacco harm reduction. One of the speakers was Deborah Arnott. You can watch her presentation here. She begins by recalling her first day on the job at ASH.

My predecessor, Clive Bates, I remember very clearly one of the first things he said to me "tobacco harm reduction is the most important thing ASH should be doing". And I said "well, actually we're trying to get a ban on smoking in public places and that's going to take a lot of effort." He said "no, you've got to get onto harm reduction. It was going to take so long to do something about it." And he was absolutely right, I have to say.

Indeed he was, but what Arnott fails to mention is that from that day to this, her organisation has done absolutely nothing to advance the case for harm reduction and has done much to hinder it. They have conspicuously failed to use their substantial influence in Whitehall to push for the re-legalisation of snus and when they talk about it e-cigarettes, it is only to spread disinformation and scare stories.

No wonder Clive Bates has since described ASH Scotland's position on smokeless tobacco as "absolutely jaw-dropping in its idiocy". Deborah Arnott is very much a part of what he calls "the well paid and comfortably smug public health community". She is most certainly one of the "fussy, insular and instinctively authoritarian public health people" who are "killing by the million" by tacitly supporting the ridiculous EU ban on snus.

E-cigarettes have now been on the market for a decade and there is not a scintilla of evidence that they are hazardous in any way. Lacking evidence of harm, Arnott resorts to casual racism in her staggeringly feeble argument for guilt by association (from 17.45 mins) . E-cigarettes, you see, are made by the same sort of shifty Chinamen who once manufactured a dud batch of sofas...

"This is a marginal product. It's underdeveloped and undermarketed, and there are real concerns about the lack of safety and efficacy. And I think we're justified to be concerned. These are products made in China, a country where they manage to make leather sofas which gave people third degr... significant burns. [Shows slide] These are examples of the burns people got. And shops in this country are currently paying out £20 million over the burns caused by sofas made in China."

What?!?!? Is this the Chewbacca Defence or something?! The Chinese make everything. It's the workshop of the world. So one batch of sofas from one company were made badly. What is the connection with e-cigarettes? The two products could hardly be more different. The only connection is that they are both made by the same race of people, but surely Deborah Arnott can't be implying some sort of racial inferiority that leads to low quality products. That would be—I don't know, what's the word?—a little bit racist.

Lord knows ASH are no strangers to bigotry, but they normally confine their hate-mongering to smokers. As readers of The Art of Suppression will know, prohibitionists have always been peculiarly obsessed with the Chinese. Truly the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


handymanphil said...

Chris I am not in the slightest bit surprised at the defamation of Chinese workmanship, as you have rightly pointed out 'the bitch from Shoreditch' needs to ensure her comfortable monthly wage comes in 'ad infinitum' therefore anything and everything must be used against any possible tobacco connection!

Jonathan Bagley said...

What a shameless liar. How does she get away with it? The section on snus, just one example. Skoal Bandits are not snus. I'm guessing snus is a Swedish word.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Here's a list of Panasonic factories in China. Best take the HD Viera plasma down to the tip next weekend.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Well I'm wrong about the word snus. It is used in the USA, but Skoal Bandits are not the same as Swedish snus. Back in the 1980s it was thought that US oral tobacco was highly carcinogenic. Whether it actually was, or whether the manufacturing process has since changed, I don't know. But there is little evidence that Swedish snus is carcinogenic.

Unknown said...

Oh dear, all my electronic equipment was manufactured in China, including my iMac, iPod, Hi-fi system & camera. Better get rid of them then! Oh yes, I even have an electronic cigarette kit, so far no problems, it hasn't exploded in my face or anything like that!
Shame on you Debs for being such a racist!

Unknown said...

I think what she's getting at is that they're unregulated, and China isn't exactly revered for its stringent health practises

Evert said...

I've got some champagne flutes that are 'Made in China'. Should I turf them?