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Negative Capewell

The Daily Mail puts a negative spin on the MHRA ‘vapes on the NHS’ announcement by dredging up an old study and getting Simon Capewell to share his blinkered opinion

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The Daily Mail has put a negative spin on the MHRA ‘vapes on the NHS’ announcement by dredging up an old study and getting Simon Capewell to share his blinkered opinion. Capewell has been a long-standing opponent of tobacco harm reduction and is an expert in adding hashtags to all of his Twitter comments.

While everyone else was celebrating a positive move to combat tobacco-related disease, the Daily Mail asked: “Are worried doctors set to block e-cigarette prescriptions?”

It said, “two in five nurses and doctors would feel uncomfortable recommending e-cigs to smokers,” according to a survey.

The Cancer Research UK (CRUK) study was produced two years ago to find out the level of misunderstanding that existed within the medical community to identify pressing educational needs.

It discovered:

  • 3 in 10 clinicians say vaping is raised in the majority of conversations about smoking
  • Over 1 in 3 clinicians are unsure if vaping is safe enough to recommend as a quit tool
  • 1 in 3 are unsure whether e-cigarettes are addictive
  • 3 in 5 clinicians said “we do not know enough about them, so I don’t endorse them
  • 2 in 5 said they would feel uncomfortable recommending e-cigarettes to their patients who smoke
  • 1 in 6 clinicians said they would never recommend vaping to patients who smoke

While the Mail’s headline implies that this is a negative story, it omits to point out CRUK’s stance on vaping – which is supportive and positive.

CRUK has said: “Governments, the health service, professional bodies and non-government organisations should more effectively signpost clinicians to clinical guidance on e-cigarettes. All smoking cessation education and training programmes in the UK should incorporate evidence-based information and guidance about a range of smoking cessation interventions and tools, including e-cigarettes.”

Lead author of the study, Paul Aveyard told journalists: “E-cigarettes on prescription are a good idea, and if they are approved by the regulator and available on the NHS, it may help to change GPs' perception.”

Unfortunately, the Mail considered Simon Capewell offered ‘balance’ to Aveyard’s comment. He called the MHRA announcement “deeply worrying” and said that “the vaping lobby are ignoring the health risks of prescribing e-cigarettes”.

When vaping first took off seven years ago, I was open to the idea that it might help reduce smoking,” says Capewell. This is not true.

He says there is “mounting evidence” of the harms linked to vaping. Again, this is not true.

Getting out his crystal ball, Capewell says, “I doubt very much that e-cig manufacturers will be submitting their products any time soon for UK medical approval,” and that “it is clear that e-cigarettes should not be promoted by the NHS.”

Check out our other article today where we debunk all of Capewell’s claims.


  • “E-cigarettes and primary care: A cross-sectional survey of nurses and GPs across the UK.” Anne Ferrey, Benjamin Fletcher, Timothy Coker, Sarah Bullock, Alizee Froguel, Jake Harrison, Jyotsna Vohra, Paul Aveyard. 2019 – [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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