Bareham’s Bananas

Posted 13th November 2018 by Dave Cross
Minions like bananas, David Bareham likes to tweet anti-vaping nonsense. He is a physiotherapist working for the Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, “working with people with chronic lung disease, mostly with C.O.P.D.” Over the last week, the anti-harm reduction campaigner has launched a ridiculous series of attacks on supporters of vaping including Dr Alex Wodak AM and Norman Lamb MP.

Bareham is a self-proclaimed expert on vaping. What is apparent from looking at ResearchGate is that he has produced very little research on the subject:

  • A couple of opinion pieces in 2016
  • A submission to the Australian Government consultation (ghosted by Simon Chapman) and an opinion piece driven by Martin McKee
  • A rehash of the Australian submission sent to (and largely ignored by) Lamb’s UK Parliamentary Enquiry into E-Cigarettes
  • A co-op opinion piece written by Stanton Glantz
  • An opinion piece, again mainly penned by Simon Chapman

He obtained a 2:1 in physiotherapy from the University of the West of England before managing a pass in a taught MSc at the University of Leicester in 2003 (a merit or distinction is available to students who excel in their studies).

While this background may strike some as being distinctly average, Bareham excels when it comes to posting on social media and blocking everybody who is has the audacity to ask him a polite question.

Normally, behaviour like his is eminently ignorable – but, for some reason, he is occasionally gifted a platform to speak to the media and politicians about his perceived ills of vaping.

Alex Wodak AM is a physician and the director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at Sydney’s St Vincent's Hospital. Wodak is highly respected and a notable advocate of drug reform laws. He is a strong campaigner for Australia to adopt vaping as a harm reduction tool in his position as a director for the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA).

In the last week, Bareham has made, according to Wodak, “many tweets in the last few days. Mostly grubby ad hominem attacks. I'm all for genuine dialogue between supporters and opponents of tobacco harm reduction but try discourage both sides to desist from personal attacks.”

Bareham’s twittering has included a number of insults, slurs and borderline actionable statements:

  • Accused the House of Commons (HoC) committee of being led by the nose by Big Tobacco
  • Belittled Norman Lamb for appearing in a “glossy tobacco-industry funded UKVIA publication”
  • Accused committee chair Norman Lamb of tobacco “industry collaboration”
  • Accused ATHRA of “quackery” and accepting tobacco funding
  • Said “The 95% safer statement is fake news”
  • Claimed dropping smoking rates are down to “proven measures, not e-cigarettes”

Building on his educational ability to read and understand research, Bareham offered up a paper to support his statement: “95% safer, eh!?” If Bareham had actually read the study he would have seen the title clearly stated it “examined the association between tobacco smoking and schizophrenia spectrum disorders”.

The study’s authors appear to think they can blame nicotine for their findings despite not having tested for it in isolation and Bareham, unable to see this, feels that vaping can be damned as guilty by association.

Writing at Wodak, Bareham said: “Do you think it enhanced or tainted the reputation of the HoC Committee when the Lead of it (Norman Lamb MP) appeared in a glossy, tobacco-industry funded UKVIA publication just a few months before the Report was published? Many suggest the latter.”

The “glossy” publication to which Bareham refers is an online e-bulletin published by UKVIA, one of the UK’s two trade bodies. Maybe Bareham has a particularly shiny computer monitor?

Lamb appeared in a photograph because he was going to be attending UKVIA’s first Vaping Industry Forum as a speaker, along with 29 others, to discuss harm reduction and the committee’s approach to evidence gathering.

Bareham continued: “Of course, then there's the issue of the reputation of the All Party Parliamentary Group, in view of their collaborations with the tobacco and vaping industries. Looks entirely busted, wouldn't you agree?”

Given that Bareham “collaborated” with the APPG, does this mean he is now linked to Big Tobacco too?

Bareham believes that as committee members Glyn Davies and Stephen Metcalfe both received a pair of tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2014/2011 (from Japan Tobacco International), that this is undue influence.

The Lincolnshire physio was getting increasingly vexed because Wodak was ignoring him, so he then wrote: “You're [SIC] predictable failure to directly answer the question regarding the collaboration of the Committee's Lead with a tobacco industry front group actually answers the question.”

And then repeated the allegation in a separate tweet: “Your claim that it was a ‘v reputable’ HoC Committee is clearly nonsense, Alex, due to the tobacco industry collaboration of it's [SIC] lead, Lamb”.

Bareham’s ability for cogent thought matches his mastery of the English language – and understanding of British law.

Norman Lamb understands the law. As well as being the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, Lamb is a qualified solicitor. He has demanded that Bareham withdraw the accusation because he “would never do that!”

Previously, Lamb has commented about the industry-driven slurs: “As Chair I reject this [pro-vaping bias] assertion. The Science and Technology Committee carefully considered evidence from more than 90 organisations including a range of academics, NHS professionals, NICE, and Government departments to inform [the] report. It is my responsibility as Chair of this committee to go out and speak to a range of organisations and individuals about our work.”

"I felt it was right that the industry should be able to contribute to our inquiry and their evidence be scrutinised. I am completely committed to ensuring that the committee I chair always bases our conclusions on sound evidence. I will not allow any vested interest to improperly influence this committee.”

"Respected organisations such as Public Health England, Cancer Research UK, and the British Lung Foundation have positively welcomed our recommendations.”

The constant accusations being thrown around by Bareham are a disgrace and a clear indication that the man doesn’t warrant the privilege of being invited to comment in the media or during consultations. Hopefully, Norman Lamb will force him to apologise and retract through a route unfortunately not open to Alex Wodak.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker