The latest issue of the British-based medical journal The Lancet has an editorial entitled, E-cigarettes aid to smoking cessation or smokescreen? Readers of this mindless repetition of anti-harm-reduction dogma will soon conclude that the ? at the end is not to be taken seriously: the editorialist has drawn his own conclusions based on his own pre-ordained beliefs.
I am pretty sure that the author is the journal s long-time editor-in-chief, Richard Horton. Long before he decided to take an axe to the concept of saving smokers from lingering disease and death by ranting against e-cigarettes, his main claim to fame was his decision, in 1998, to publish the fraudulent, destructive article by ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield, which purported to show a link between MMR vaccine and neurological damage related to autism. Even though it took a few years to document the massive deception and financial duplicity of Wakefield s phony study, the article itself was ludicrous on its face, and drew widespread contempt and ridicule from science-based researchers globally.
The damage done by Horton s decision is even today ongoing, and the totality of it is immeasurable: anti-vaccine fanaticism dug in since then, and has cost countless lives from preventable childhood contagions. Yet, Horton himself, although finally withdrawing the article only a few years ago after all of Wakefield s co-authors renounced it, has never accepted any responsibility for his bizarre decision to publish it in The Lancet.
Now he continues to contribute to perversions of public health: his editorial initially goes through the now-expected litany of all of the damage done by cigarettes, smoking, and tobacco, and expresses grave concern over the future of smoking-related illness and premature death. He fails, however, to take note of the fact that vaping using e-cigarettes and vapor products that deliver nicotine via inhalation is NOT smoking, since there is no smoke, no tobacco, no combustion. His arguments, or rather fears, are all based on the dangers of smoking, and to an objective reader, they all sound like reasons to favor, indeed promote, reduced-harm products such as e-cigarettes. He offers not a clue as to other effective ways to combat the stranglehold of cigarettes on addicted smokers although he does note ...the low rates of success documented in many studies ¦. for the currently-approved cessation methods.
He seems confused by some simple facts, first pointing out that ...[c]ommon elements of the devices are provision of nicotine in an inhalable vapour and an absence of second-hand emissions that have not been inhaled by the user ¦., but later apparently alarmed by the simple fact that ...exposure to second-hand e-cigarette smoke [sic] is known to elevate serum cotinine, and vaping to expose users to particulate and organic compounds... So what s the deal, Richard? Isn t vaping, whatever traces of substances can be detected in the vapor, much much less harmful than second-hand smoke? And, by the way, your reference to second-hand e-cigarette smoke is an oxymoron indeed, we d call if fully moronic, since e-cigs emit no smoke.
In my opinion, his two most ridiculous and unscientific allegations are these: accidental or deliberate ingestion of e-cigarette liquids can lead to acute nicotine toxicity, and deaths of children have been reported... (False!), and this bizarre laugher: ...e-cigarettes can be seen as a coercive entry point to a world of smoking with very high health and financial costs. Say what, Richard e-cigarettes can coerce a vaper into smoking? Or is some evil force coercing teens into vaping, and then...heaven knows? Don t you have any assistants who can read this stuff back to you out loud, so you can detect such idiocy before it becomes fodder for critics such as myself, and ACSH?