Mendelsohn Delivers Chapman a 1-2

Posted 11th July 2017 by Mawsley
Clive Bates’ takedown of Australian anti-vape activist Simon Chapman, last week, was savage. It must have been painful for him to wake up afterwards to discover that Doctor Colin Mendelsohn had a pro-vape piece in the same Sydney Morning Herald. Unlike Chapman, Mendelsohn actually works in a university and specialises in tobacco harm reduction. He is a tobacco treatment specialist and a conjoint associate professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales.

While Bates’ polemic focussed on taking apart Chapman’s weak arguments, Mendelsohn has spoken out in favour of vaping. Electronic cigarettes, he argues, are a vital part of the mix to combat smoking addiction and the resulting related diseases.

He begins his piece: “Some tobacco control activists [who on earth can he mean?] are so blinded by a commitment to destroy the tobacco industry that they can't see the potential of a life-saving, harm reduction alternative, e-cigarettes.”

Bates previously commented that Chapman’s work was “usually just too error-laden and irritating to bother with and, on the ‘bullshit asymmetry principle‘, one could spend a whole life correcting his endless misunderstandings and mistakes.” But, due to the nature of the situation, with smokers’ lives hanging in the balance, harm reduction supporters are not holding back in getting the message across to the Australian government.

Or, as Mendelsohn puts it: “The absurdity of allowing the widespread availability of the most dangerous consumer product ever invented while effectively banning a much safer substitute defies logic and will only protect the incumbent cigarette trade. Yet this is what some activists are advocating.”

Simon Chapman called Mendelsohn’s arguments “utter nonsense.” Once again, he laid out his demand that there should be a totally prohibitionist approach to ecigs while the nation still has the opportunity: “The historical circumstances that led to tobacco not being required to demonstrate safety and then being sold freely has been a disaster. That genie has never been put back in the bottle. Why learn nothing from that?”

The answer is simple, although Chapman must have missed it when trying to read the article: &ldquoE-cigarettes have only a tiny fraction of the risk of smoking. It is well known that almost all the harm from smoking is caused by the products of combustion, which are absent from vaping.”

It’s a simple point that Chapman continues to be blind to. Maybe he should give it a second go? If he does, Colin Mendelsohn’s excellent considered piece titled E-cigarettes needed to get more adults to quit smoking can be read here.