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Doctor, Doctor

Two contrasting medical viewpoints illustrate how the public is being fed mixed messages.

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With vapers continuing to grow exponentially in numbers around the world, lots of new users carry out some form of research. An online sweep to see if vaping is a safe alternative to smoking will probably pull up advice from doctors. Some of them are using their profession as a cover to spread propaganda and unjustified fear. How is a person to tell what is fact from fiction?

Doctor Frank Bures is a specialist. He may well be an expert in dermatology too, given that this is his area of practise. Bures is a specialist in manipulating fact with conjecture to spread fear for a purely philosophical reason, something he completed in his article titled Think e-cigarettes are safe? They can be deadly.

In 2013 the state of Minnesota introduced a punishing new tobacco tax. Smokers were driven to cheaper brands and electronic cigarettes overnight. The vaping business boomed and public health “experts” were left fuming that their well-laid plans had apparently backfired. So they began their campaign of misinformation in the media and enforcing nonsensical bans.

Frank begins his piece with fact as this allows him to disguise his opinions as the same later on. There is no doubting that as vaping has grown so have incidents of vapers not being responsible with their liquid and children gaining access to the bottles. But by paragraph two he is twisting a link between cigarettes and the electronic alternative before likening the danger posed by ecigs to that of alligators. It’s the kind of fuzzy thinking you’d prefer your doctor didn’t have when consulting him regarding an ailment.

His piece goes on to cite how murders have been committed using nicotine and decries the usefulness of childproof bottle caps. “It is really impossible to say anything good about e-cigarettes,” writes the man who has clearly no understanding of the subject matter at hand – or is purely being mendacious.

A prospective vaper might be aghast to read his piece and decide to continue with smoking. But if they’d read Doctor Nina Radcliff’s altogether more balanced piece a different decision may be made. Radcliff pens a piece in the Washington Times titled Why e-cigs are safer, but not safe.

Nina is not a semi-retired, gormless fool. She first encountered an electronic cigarette when she was on ward. Like a professional she made it her goal to discover more about vaping and convey her findings in a balanced way so people could draw their own conclusions.

Her article is peppered with phrases such as “e-cigarettes do not contain as many toxic compounds as traditional cigarettes”, “there are ... a number of testimonies of people who have successfully used e-cigs ... to quit smoking” and “adults have the right to choose whether they want to vape or not, but it should be done with informed consent.”

It’s not perfect from a vaper’s perspective but it maintains a level of honesty absent from Bures’ piece. It raises some concerns but doesn’t instil a sense of dread in the reader. Maybe it’s time doctors took an oath of honesty while swearing their Hippocratic one?

Frank Bures finishes off his hysterical Winona News tirade by stating: “This is an opinion medically as well as philosophically. But, opinions are like belly buttons: everybody has one.” That’s fine, Frank, of course you are allowed an opinion – but when you stick it into the public domain and use your position as a doctor to lend credence to your fear-mongering your actions are borderline criminal.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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