Doc’s Dodgy Feelings

Posted 3rd July 2020 by Dave Cross
Dr Roger Henderson is one of those practitioners who has devoted a lot of time to his media career, appearing regularly on television and radio to promote his books. Despite previously being supportive of vaping and tobacco harm reduction, he is now stating “I am not recommending vaping during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Planet of the Vapes covered the marvellous coverage of vaping that has taken place in the magazine Nursing Times last week. The series of pieces covered a wide range of topics and conveyed excellent facts and advice to the nursing community.

Many nurses reading the latest issue of Nursing In Practice must be wondering what to believe as Henderson ignores that latest findings on nicotine and COVID-19 to state he is against people vaping during the pandemic.

It all used to be so easy. Smoking is bad for you, the best smoker is a quit smoker, but if you can’t quit then vaping appears to be a safer option than smoking,” he writes. But the current situation has forced a change of heart for the doctor.

The doctor speaks about histories of smoking and the cardiovascular and respiratory conditions caused by tobacco use, and poses the question: “Are e-cigarettes a risk factor for Covid-19?”

According to him, the answer is ‘yes’.

88 Vape

They are likely to be a risk, for two main reasons. The first is one of touch. Smokers and users of e-cigarettes are often touching their lips with their fingers and this increases the likelihood of the virus being passed into the body. Sharing an e-cigarette is also risky, and with access to e-cigarettes being limited in some countries under lockdown, sharing vaping devices may be more common at the moment.”

How many vapers share devices? How do vapers touch their mouths more frequently? Has the doctor ever seen someone vape?

One would usually expect to see the evidence to support this position, but Henderson focusses on an irrelevant fact that “tobacco smoke destroys the lung cilia” – something unrelated to vaping.

Then he mentions (but doesn’t cite) a couple of inapt American studies, one focussing on the laughable concept of “particulates” and the other that killed some mice.

The Electronic Cigarette Company

Oh, for the days when Henderson told the Conservative conference debate on public health policy and e-cigarette legislation: “Ignoring the rise in e-cigarette use among smokers is not an option in my view, and I would have no qualms whatsoever about being able to prescribe regulated e-cigarettes on prescription. It may be nicotine that makes it hard for smokers to quit, but it is smoke and tar that puts them in the ground.”

Vaping is safer than smoking, between 95 and 99.9% safer according to experts, and this fact remains as true now as it did prior to the COVID pandemic. Doctor Henderson does a disservice to nurses and smoking patients everywhere by ignoring facts and evidence and reverting to his own feelings.


  • Why I am not recommending vaping during the Covid-19 pandemic”, Nursing In Practice – [link]
  • Doctor Roger Henderson – [link]
  • E-cigarettes work: I’d prescribe them if I could”, The Spectator – [link]

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
Legion of Vapers