Raedio Interference

Posted 8th April 2015 by Mawsley
Doctor Rae is a member of the North East British Medical Association, chair of the regional council, a practising doctor in Whitely Bay and a presenter on BBC1’s Street Doctor. He appeared on Radio Newcastle and was interviewed by the presenters Gill Hope and Alfie Joey. There was no balancing viewpoint presented.

It began with Gill Hope asking him to “give us the science bit.”

Rae said: “Well I think one of the points about e-cigarettes is firstly, they’re not regulated and that’s the concern that I as a professional and most professionals have. But you’ve got to realise that there are chemicals within e-cigarettes, particularly a group of chemicals called nitrosamines, and nitrosamines actually can cause cancer.  They can be even more cancer forming than what you’re getting within cigarettes themselves.” 

Yes, you read that correctly. Rae really did state that vaping is more dangerous than smoking tobacco cigarettes. Claiming that ecigs can lead to a greater chance of causing cancer is devoid of any supporting evidence and led the Dick Puddlecote blog to write that it was: “a statement that is so comprehensively stupid that it consequently calls into question the veracity of the original 1950s research linking smoking to lung cancer.”

It should be borne in mind that Rae is a co-signatory to the No More Games letter aimed at politicians demanding they adopt “sound policies not sound bites” for the NHS. At its press launch he said: “Health is not a commodity - anything to do with healthcare should not be about making a profit.” Vapers would ask whether his moral stance ought to also apply to doctors being informed prior to commenting on health matters too.

On Radio Newcastle he continued: “There are chemicals within those e-cigarettes, they are serious chemicals, I’ve given you one example of the nitrosamines, and the fact that now almost you’re making, you know, cigarette smoking, the actual act of having something in between your fingers and up to your mouth and, smoking it and almost glamorising it, making it acceptable, making it something you can actually do, is inherently dangerous because I think, I just picked up on what Alfie said there, it’s not inconceivable that a number of younger people who are smoking e-cigarettes can then go on to actually smoking cigarettes per se and so forth.”

Again, absolutely groundless concerns being offered up to the listening public (and presumably his patients) as scientific fact.

“I don’t think you would get many if indeed any doctors coming on to the radio and saying look it’s OK, they’re an acceptable substitute, and let’s just go with it.  I think nothing could be further from the truth.”

Clearly Rae is not aware of Doctor Farsalinos or Doctor Christian Jessen – maybe he is too busy with Street Doctor to watch Embarrassing Bodies? At the very least one would have thought he would be aware of Professor John Britton, Royal College of Physicians, and his vocal and positive stance on the role ecigs have to play in harm reduction?

They are being marketed as something that is safe and something that is a safe substitute, and that’s not the reality.”

Well Rae has managed, like a broken clock, to be half right: it isn’t the reality. Vaping is marketed as a product that is safer than smoking, not safe. But this isn’t a message hitting home with Doctor Rae, nor is the concept of harm reduction. Alfie Joey asked him: “We’ve had campaigners on before, very committed to this cause, and one of their arguments is surely it’s better than the alternative?”

To which Rae replied:Well actually Alfie, I’ve just actually said that it’s not. I’ll say it again, there are potentially more cancer forming chemicals within e-cigarettes than you’ve actually got in cigarettes per se themselves.”

The sad lack of balance to the interview allowed Rae to get away with spouting this nonsense unchallenged. At least in a recent Radio Merseyside interview (about 1hour 25 minutes in) the pro-vaping advocate was able to convey their message in the face of “they are marketed at young people, I can’t see why the flavours would appeal to adults” claims.