“Expert” Attacks THR Initiative

Posted 23rd October 2019 by Dave Cross
Last week, we reported how Vape Superstore, a London based vape retailer, has partnered with the Smokefree Hackney local quit smoking service, to support those most at risk of smoking addiction in the borough. The quit smoking pilot scheme aims to supply vapes and ongoing support to those looking to quit smoking. Professor Martin McKee attacked this positive move.

Hackney has a 21% smoking rate, 6% higher than the UK average, and is also one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK. Hackney has a lower average income and qualification levels with higher unemployment and a higher rate of people claiming benefits.

Vape Superstore partnered Smokefree Hackney in an effort to address the inequalities at play and help save lives. This, according to outlier McKee, is a ‘bad’ thing.

McKee, professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is quoted as saying: “I find these things completely incredible to be perfectly honest. I just don’t know what’s going on. E-cigarettes are not a game-changer the way they’re saying. Most people who use them end up as dual users. This means they get the nicotine from both but they get the tar from cigarettes and the flavourings from e-cigarettes, so actually they’re worse off.”

“It’s not true that vaping is the quickest and most effective way for people to stop smoking. If these things were so wonderfully effective, we would have had trials showing how fantastic they were. Hackney Council may come to regret this decision.”


An explanation for McKee’s delusional stance could be offer by a recent exploration of the brain by the BBC. In “Why smart people do stupid things”, where it quotes David Robinson saying that greater education and expertise might amplify errors of judgement.

It talks about cognitive miserliness, where intelligent people don’t apply their brain power effectively – “relying too much on their gut feelings” – and motivated reasoning, where people think in a very one-sided manner due to the “emotional pull” of an argument.

The video details Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle’s conflict between intelligence and inability to see the fakery in spiritualism. McKee’s statements about vaping are deeply grounded in the fake science produced or funded by Stanton Glantz in California. No matter how many times the shortcomings of those studies are highlighted, he appears to have a mental block on accepting evidence or facts – preferring to stick to his emotive soundbites.

Conan Doyle used electromagnetic theory to try to explain the existence of fairies. McKee ignores studies like the compelling randomised control trial conducted by a team led by Peter Hajek in favour of fantastical flights of fancy of his own.

Fortunately, the BBC offers solutions to thinking traps for Martin McKee to try out, but will this smart person continue to say and do stupid things?



  • “A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy”, Hajek et al. – [link]
  • “Why smart people do stupid things”, BBC - [link]
  • “Public health expert warns Town Hall could ‘come to regret’ vape store partnership”, Hackney Citizen – [link]

Image: Hackney sign from Wiki Commons user Matt Buck [link]

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