Monday 8 September 2014

The dark soul of Prof. John Ashton

Plenty of people have already written about this, but I can't resist covering it again in case anyone missed it.

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".

As 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.



Jon Fell said...

Professor Ashton published another article - a BMJ editorial - on Friday too, to which I have now responded:

Rursus said...

Pocorn lung - The role of Diacetyl is not yet fully resolved!

This information may be helpful in the future:

Study: Popcorn lung and bronchiolitis obliterans: a critical appraisal
Date: Jun 2008
Findings: "Cases of lung disease in the food flavorings industry discussed in the literature have not been sufficiently documented to allow the conclusion that BO has been caused by diacetyl or butter flavoring. Further research is required to establish the causative agent(s)."
Conclusion: "The diagnosis of bronchiolitis obliterans should be reserved for those individuals who have diagnostic lung biopsy findings, obtained and interpreted by clinicians who are experienced with this complex disorder."


Study: "Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione exposures associated with cigarette smoking: implications for risk assessment of food and flavoring workers."
Date: May 2014
Quotation from the abstract: "This suggests that previous claims of a significant exposure-response relationship between diacetyl inhalation and respiratory disease in food/flavoring workers were confounded, because none of the investigations considered or quantified the non-occupational diacetyl exposure from cigarette smoke, yet all of the cohorts evaluated had considerable smoking histories. Further, because smoking has not been shown to be a risk factor for bronchiolitis obliterans, our findings are inconsistent with claims that diacetyl and/or 2,3-pentanedione exposure are risk factors for this disease."

All the best

Unknown said...

Oddly reminiscent of Prof Dawkins, another whose arrogance does his cause more harm than good.

Jean Granville said...

Pop corn flavoured ecigs might push children to take up pop-corn. They are a danger to society.

Anonymous said...

Should clarify that I was the non-female that Ashton referred to as a c..t.

Difficult as it is to defend most of his actions, this particular response was to a comment that I made that cast doubts as to whether it was actually his 11 year old son that he claimed to frequent bars and restaurants with (and subsequently exposed to corruption by vapers) and whether it was a paid young male companion instead.

Of course, the general consensus is that somebody in his position should rise above such comments and not respondhe way that he did but unlike the majority of anti-vapists, I thought it only right to not leave his remark out of context.

Whilst I'll admit that my initial tweet was somewhat inciteful, it did have the unintended effect of helping to further expose Ashton's unacceptable behaviour towards the vaping community in general.

Anonymous said...

Looking to get in touch with you Chris Snowdon -- please email me. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Ashton needs to look in a mirror when he ctiticises. He claims to be Dr Jekyll but in reality he is Mr Hyde.
I was invited to a meeting with Dr Nigel Calvert, Associate Director of Preventive Medicine NHS Cumbria, when our daughter had a very serious adverse reaction to the HPV vaccine. I showed him a copy of the Medicine Guide on NHS Choices, which he had never seen, which explained that this medicine is not suitable for everyone and some people should never have it. It also stated some side-effects could be serious. I also explained that there were thousands of reports in the UK and USA of girls suffering serious disabling auto-immune reactions. He appeared to be concerned and understanding.
A few weeks later our younger daughter brought home a letter from school signed by Dr Calvert and his then boss Ashton. It was addressed to all parents of Year 8 girls in Cumbria and stated that despite recent adverse remarks in the press this vaccine is safe and as far as they are aware there has never been a serious adverse reaction anywhere in the world.
The MHRA has received Yellow Card reports for over 18,000 adverse reactions for this vaccine of which 1846 have been considered serious adverse events including 4 deaths. It is a similar situation in every country around the world that uses HPV vaccine. Serious adverse events are 100 times higher than other vaccines.
The DoH and NHS continue to state that the vaccine is safe and deny it causes adverse reactions!
Ashton should never be in a position of power within our health service again. Good riddance.