McKee and Bareham’s ‘evidence’ relied on the old fear slogans of renormalising smoking, gateway to smoking, targeting teens, and conjecture about future costs to the NHS (1 and 2). It was no surprise that MPs chose to side-line the hysterical nonsense and focus on real facts being offered up by the likes of ASH UK, the New Nicotine Alliance and a plethora of experts in tobacco harm reduction.
McKee complained on social media about a one-sided approach to the committee’s report and how Britain was now the “outlier” in global terms. It was a word that would be used against him on Channel 4 News by Deborah Arnott of ASH UK.
Then came the anonymously penned editorial in The Lancet:
“The public health implications of e-cigarettes are a highly polarised debate, with mixed, largely low-quality, evidence and fervent advocates on all sides. It is therefore surprising that the UK's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on e-cigarettes contains chiefly positive testimonies from experts and organisations. If there are two approaches to the debate on e-cigarettes—precautionary and harm reduction—then the report promotes the latter.”
The sentiment mirrors the position McKee adopted on social media and to journalists in the days following the release of the committee report. The editorial takes issue with the findings, the recommendations and, “most worryingly, the Committee suggests reviewing the regulatory pathway for novel tobacco products post-Brexit to make it easier for products like heat-not-burn and snus oral tobacco to get to market as part of a more ‘risk-proportionate regulatory environment’.”
Because: “gateway for adolescents”.
This unknown scribe calls the evidence supporting vaping as “weak”, and that “e-cigarettes are big business, with tobacco companies having a large stake in many of the products.”
Clive Bates summed up The Lancet when referring to its role in promoting the fraudulent Wakefield et al study, leading to a global panic over baseless links between vaccines and autism: “Wakefield/Lancet is the most visible manifestation of the scandal of recklessly negligent, ideologically-loaded or click-bait academic publishing, especially in health. The problem is the near-complete lack of accountability for anyone involved for the harmful consequences.”
In this editorial, we see The Lancet is still driven by the same recklessly negligent, ideologically loaded, click-bait approach to publishing.
Can we be certain that McKee wrote it? Clearly not, but he does has form for doing this in the past, as evidenced on the Dick Puddlecoat blog.
Maybe it’s time for McKee to accept Clive Bates’ offer of a public debate. At this moment in time, McKee is on the Wakefield side of the debate over vaping and harm reduction – lives are on the line.