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Dockrell Defends Vaping

Martin Dockrell defended vaping on Radio 4’s Today show and responded to a number of tired, old objections to its use

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Martin Dockrell defended vaping on Radio 4’s Today show and responded to a number of tired, old objections to its use. Despite questions relating to renormalisation of smoking and a gateway effect, straight out of the prohibitionist’s playbook, The Public Health England (PHE) tobacco lead stuck to giving solid examples of vaping working and being far safer than cigarettes.

The interview began with the presenter claiming that “certain types of vaping are beginning to attract the attention of legislators.” She then played New York’s Governor Cuomo making (possibly) one of the stupidest ever comments about vaping: “Vaping is better than smoking. Technically yes – but so what? Smoking is terrible.”

Martin Dockrell was asked if New York and Michigan were ahead of the curve, and should the UK follow suit?

Dockrell responded: “It’s important to note that the lung problems in the States being associated with vaping have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, as being linked to vaping illicit cannabidiol/cannabis oils. It’s been cut with something called Vitamin E Acetate Oil.”

“Now, inhaling oils is definitely dangerous – you shouldn’t do it. But that’s very different from the kind of nicotine e-cigarettes that we have in the United Kingdom. In the UK, e-cigarettes are regulated by a medicines authority, the MHRA, they operate a Yellow Card notification system, there have been no, zero, notifications of US-style reports of poisoning.”

“There’s been no increase in youth vaping over the last three years and rates of smoking in adults and children are falling faster in the UK than ever before. So, I think it’s very important that when anybody screams ‘crisis’, to stay calm and look at the evidence.”

The BBC journalist then did what BBC journalists do: “Not saying crisis, but we don’t know the long-term effects, and Dame Sally Davies, England’s ex-chief medical officer, has suggested vaping might be a ticking timebomb.” Then she suggested that Martin Dockrell and PHE’s stance on vaping “might be a little bit complacent”.

Sally Davies has been staunchly anti-vaping for the duration of her tenure. At one point she was discovered hatching plans with her friend Martin McKee to attack it as a form of tobacco harm reduction. She is one of the last people whose opinion should ever be sought on the subject.

“The US National Academy of Sciences reported last year that, on all the available evidence, e-cigarettes are likely to be ‘far less harmful’ than smoking, but we need more research,” responded the genuine expert, unlike Dame Sally.

Martin Dockrell believes such a position is “absolutely right”. He restated that vaping is far less harmful than smoking and emphasised that we welcome more research into it.

“We know that smoking kills half of lifelong smokers. Now I don’t think there’s any plausible likelihood, any scientist with any credibility, would say that’s likely with e-cigarettes. And indeed, we have extremely good studies, both in the UK and US.”

He recalled studies from, “The University College London, and also from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, that compare what are called biomarkers, the signs in the body of harms from smoking, and if you smoke they are really high.”

“If you vape as well as smoke, they’re really high – but if you switch to vaping only, then they’re about as low in most cases as if you didn’t smoke at all. A good study from St Andrews University found the burden of carcinogens, cancer causing agents, was reduced by 99.5%. So that’s a really good sign.”

Ever the dog with a bone, and an agenda to support, the journalist quizzed Martin Dockrell on the possibility of vaping renormalising smoking and it being a gateway into cigarette use – despite him having previously pointed out the three-year drop in smoking rates in adults and teens just a few minutes previously.

“We can see clearly in the UK that as vaping has increase, smoking has decreased very quickly. But also, to contest this ‘normalisation’ thing: we already have data that we can look at and if you look at the percentage of kids who reported that ‘It’s OK to smoke’, that fell dramatically at precisely the same time as young people’s vaping was on the increase 3 or 4 years ago. All the measure show that smoking has become denormalised at precisely the same time that vaping has increased. That’s a really good thing.”

“If you don’t smoke, don’t start to vape. It’s for smokers to quit and stay quit.”


  • David Newell uploaded the interview to YouTube – [link]
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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