Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Incompetence Of Mainstream eCig Reporting

It's safe to say that the Christmas / New Year period did not pass without incidence in the eCig world. Just before the New Year broke, we saw a slew of scaremongering stories appear in The Daily Mail, The Independent, and even in my local rag The South Wales Evening Post. The interesting part about this so-called 'story' is that the study upon which it was based was published in November, but it was only over the Christmas / New Year period that it was released to the newspapers. The cynic in me can't help but wonder how deliberate that was, especially since many of the usual ANTZ all seemed to be available for comment.

Within hours we had the first rebuttal of this from the Stats Guy's excellent blog here. The following day Prof Linda Bauld issued a similarly blistering rebuttal of the study in The Guardian here. The finally, we had the excellent Professor Marcus Munafo produce a similarly damning response in The New Scientist (free subscription required).

Now, on the third day into the New Year, we had BBC Breakfast putting their oar into the debate when they decided to do an article on the forthcoming TPD. Trying to be different, the Beeb decided to base their story entirely in Belgium where (apparently) vaping in public is banned. The whole point of the Beeb article was (I think) to try and put a positive spin on the dreadful and pointless TPD by pointing out that it will actually make vaping easier to do in Belgium. However, typically of the Beeb, the article was both lightweight and lacking in any investigation. They chose not to delve in to the details of the TPD and discover how it will make almost every useful eCig device illegal overnight, thus handing the entire market into the hands of Big Tobacco. No, instead they chose to do their usual by digging out some previously unheard of Belgian Health Official who proceeded to spout the usual "we just don't know" spiel on eCigarettes. The Beeb being the Beeb, it didn't even try to explore a modicum of balance by getting an eCig advocating scientist on the report to give the opposing view.

You can watch the complete (and brief) BBC report here.

I don't know about you, but I am getting very tired of these so-called 'experts' being repeatedly rolled out on our screens with the usual (evidence-less) "We don't know" arguments. It's getting extremely old and tedious now. It also can only bring us to one of two conclusions:

1.     We don't know what's in them: Why don't you know ? They have been around for more than 10 years now. You SHOULD know. Isn't it your job to know ?  If you don't know then you are obviously incompetent in your job and not fit to hold the office you do. So do the world a favour and quit your (very well) remunerated role and let someone who DOES know to do your job instead.


2.     You just don't want to know: Yep, this means you know the truth, but you would prefer not to know and will continue to pretend not to know as long as it keeps you in your (well remunerated) role. It means you will keep appearing in the media, peddling your lies and endangering the health of the very public you are supposed to be protecting.

Whether your reason is (1) or (2) above, you are a DISGRACE to the Public Health profession and you will one day be held responsible for your actions. Think on that Public Health officials.