Monthly Archives: March 2014

BSCiTS are off

We all love the idea of biscuits but, much like BSCiTS, the reality is not plain sailing. The cost of a biscuit has risen over the last decade in both financial and health terms. BSCiTS too came burdened by both considerations as well.

For a start BSCiTS was vague (at best) in its proposal for funding: “The precise study design, methods and sample size will depend on the total amount of donations received.â€

And, on the topic of funding, Siegel was seeking an incredible amount: “Our total fundraising goal ($4.5 million) is based on the minimum amount of funds necessary…†Yes, he was hunting for at least £2,800,000 through crowd funding.

Now clearly, based on his list of qualifications and previous contributions to the on-going vaping debate, Siegel is not a stupid man – but it takes some level of naivety to propose “the research team reserves the right to alter the scope of the proposed research project to keep it in line with the funds raised. This may entail reducing the time frame or sample size of the study. Alternatively, the researchers may choose to conduct a survey-based study instead of a behaviora (sic)l study if the funds received are not sufficient.â€

Having ruled out tobacco and tobacco-controlled electronic cigarette involvement in fund-raising he was expecting the vaping community to fully fund an incoherent study that would cost more than the collected money spent on every other piece of research carried out to date. Unsurprisingly, the BSCiTS team was bombarded with questions searching for clarification and assurances.

Everyone who is a seasoned user of social media appreciates that there are those who will always fail to grasp the point, some who wilfully ignore fact and then those who troll for their own internal reasons. Children are taught in school that the best response is to ignore online comments you find objectionable.

What we witnessed with the recent case of Professor John Ashton is that academics have the potential to be removed from real life, having an inability to deal with people they’d otherwise not come into contact with despite making decisions that effect their lives.

The lack of funding forthcoming is the most probable reason for the team calling it a day but where Siegel has let himself down in the eyes of many is that he made vapers on social media the #1 issue causing them to pull the plug.

Along with blaming vapers, Siegel also suggested that people were only willing to donate if they could dictate the methodology and, thereby, the outcomes. Indeed, he went so far as to say that vapers are being “hypocritical given the e-cigarette community’s rejection of biased research studies produced by tobacco companies and public health professionals alike.â€

It is a shame that he is unable to grasp what the key issues are here – issues neatly summed up by Julie Woessner, President of the highly active American vaping consumer group CASAA:

Has Siegel taken the points on board? Unfortunately not; on Thursday he continued to whinge on his blog about the “venom†and “battering†he has received:

Albeit a bit-player to date (compared to the far more self-directed and cost-effective Doctor Farsalinos), Siegel’s contributions have been welcome. Ideally he will be able to see his way past his Facebook growing pains – as someone who has attended faculty meetings in the past he ought to have the tools to deal with attacks on his ideas. It would be nice to see a small group of vocal vapers realise that alienating a supporter is hardly in our collective interests either.

Now let’s all have a nice cup of tea and a Hobnob.

On things that are worse than vaping

One of my pastimes is to live in a fantasy world planning for the moment when a drab reality is changed forever by a statistically improbable lottery event. I will happily paw over the Rightmove app looking at multi-million pound properties. I can justify this as if I don’t win a jackpot I will have an excellent working knowledge of the floor plans of the rich if I turn to a life of crime. Now, winning the lottery is virtually impossible – I am not sure of the actual statistic but I’m sure that I am more likely to be struck by truck loaded with White Lightening than win. Especially considering I never buy a ticket.

Some of the properties in the Lake District go for £1.8-£5million. One would imagine that if you are rich enough to afford such residences that you ought to be able pay for good health. Odd then that someone should choose to live next to the Sellafield nuclear plant. Physicists might be able to explain the reliable and safe nature of such places but I know one thing from life – if the guide on the tour bus is telling you to look at a rare duck out of the left window you just know there’s a terrorist using a piece of fissile material to fight with a jet-pack enabled shark out of the right one.

But, the damage I am doing to my psyche by frittering away unrecoverable moments through window-shopping pales into insignificance compared to the threat posed by comedy. Statistics from a survey I just made up demonstrates that 83% of people attending a Jimmy Carr event never recover from the brain damage he inflicts upon them. Poor comedy isn’t the only risk, doing good comedy is pretty lethal too (Eric Morecambe/Sid James/Tommy Cooper) – which is why I consciously guard against the dangers by trotting out rehashed routines from Michael McIntire in order to prevent anyone finding me remotely funny. You want more proof? Frankie Howard, Ronnie Barker and Russell Howard: all dead, albeit one just in a persistent vegetative state.

Most accidents in the home do not result from a battery being incorrectly charged or children drinking pints of nicotine base. No, two other sources rank much higher: cooking and DIY. To reduce your risk profile it is strongly advised you avoid both of these by becoming comfortable living in squalor and avail yourself of the many fast food delivery services. The added benefit to this is the creation of additional time to coil, wick and shop online for more vaping ephemera.

Stress is a killer, they say. They don’t say that about vaping…well, some might but they’ll presently cease due to online bullying. Moving and divorce are claimed to be two of the most stressful things you can do. Clearly the people responsible for assessing this have never tried to speak to 3’s customer services, cancel a SKY subscription or enter a CAPTCHA code.

All told, there are many things in life worthy of avoiding in order to live more healthily but vaping (instead of smoking) isn’t one of them.

Protect me from myself

Like the actions of some politicians in Northern Ireland, it’s all based around vested interests, fear and banning things they don’t fully understand rather than educating themselves. It doesn’t matter what the subject is – it all gets cloaked in the robes of being done for our own good.

It appears that E-cigarettes are more frightening to politicians, and in need of more immediate attention, than the on going conflict in the West Bank. But then, come to that, so too are these vacuum cleaners I’ve not come across. Apparently they have the power of Nico Rosberg’s F1 car, kill pets in the home and are threatening to club baby seals in the Arctic.

If these steps to ban things are really for our own good then why do I always find myself missing them? I remember that once upon a time I could enter a room or climb the stairs without stubbing my toes on a dog bone or treading on Lego. These days I take my life in my hands moving around the house at night due to the light bulbs having all the luminescence of a glow-worm’s fart.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for curbing the excesses of the pointless cleaning culture. A certain relation who shall remain nameless spends his or her life removing every last bacterium from work surfaces – a waste of time, I believe, that could be better utilised supporting the flagging brewing industry and keeping football players in Bentleys.

But banning?

Continuing with our hoovers: our relation isn’t going to spend the same amount of time removing dead skin cells from the carpet. Less power equals less vacuum equals less detritus in the collection area. No, my in-law will simply put in extra hours with the result that the electricity bill will be the same.

I’ve never been a fan of banning anything. Banning alcohol in depression hit America resulted in an almighty fail, the war on drugs continues to be won by drugs and Mary Whitehouse’s campaign to rid the UK of video nasties just raised their profile into cult movies.

I’d also contend that if the real goal was to reduce environmental impact then maybe, just maybe, some serious investment into green energy sources might be a way to save the world, save the country from being held over an oil barrel and prevent the volume of greenhouse gas produced by people talking about it all. But that would be a mad solution; who needs a workable route when kneejerk responses are so much more fun?

“Ahh, Dave†everyone says to me, “what you are forgetting is that politicians are the cleverest and most responsible people in society, elected to office to make decisions on behalf of dim-witted folks like you.†Well, everyone, what I say to you is this: Phillip Hollobone.

Vaping has forced me into contact with my local Baptist euro-septic. It was a coupling as successful as Michael Bolton and Michael Bolton’s hairstyle leaving me with the lasting impression that not only must it be very easy to get into Oxford University but that degrees are now given away with three Weetabix vouchers…making them worth 3/5s of an Alton Towers ticket.

If politicians like Hollobone really want to save me from my idiotic actions then they’d abolish the lottery (well, someone has to win, don’t they?), all forms of DIY tools and place an alcohol-related block on accessing social media.

But no, campaigners and politicians don’t want to save me from myself – they just want me to make the mistakes they think I should be making in order to support companies such as JapanTobacco International.

At least writing this piece has given me time to contemplate my position regarding bans. Despite having a pronounced libertarian view to personal choice I’m pretty sure that if someone asked me to support banning people from running for Parliament I’d support it. But it would fail.

Did banning the “misuse†of the WHO logo work? Did it flip. Within minutes of Clive Bates replacing the image it began cropping up as avatars on Facebook and Twitter. Inside of an hour clever wags were dreaming up a variety of novel twists to their corporate identy – conveying the suspected pharma-driven motives for their e-cig position.

Will attempts to curb the rise of vaping work? It may well impact on those smokers who have yet to try vaping as a quit method but for the rest of us the genie is totally out of the bottle. And speaking of bottle, I can hear my Dark Puros-filled Pandora calling…funny that never happens with the hoover.

“Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!”

“When as a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.â€

Yep, if you’d asked me back then who was my favourite character it would have been the robot but I’m not a kid anymore. Now if I look at the robot I can fully appreciate Zachary Smith’s take on him – he was an annoying, interfering, meddlesome idiot. Constantly harping with warnings of impending danger he was nothing more than a jumped up Health & Safety officer in a silver suit.

As for Will, if he were in my school class I’d bully him mercilessly for being the squeaky clean git he is. And I say this as a teacher.

Warnings about dangers are all fair and well if they are delivered in context and measured. In response to the letter to the World Health Organisation the vaping world’s Zachary Smith (played by Professor Glantz) took up a pen to respond.

Unfortunately for us all Glantz is neither camp, entertaining, worth watching or constantly up to mischief. Oh, hang on a second, I take that last bit back because if there’s one thing Prof Glantz is always up to it’s mischief – just the incredibly dull and stupid kind. Dull and stupid like the kid in our village who waits for half an hour for a car to appear before walking across the road i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.y.s.l.o.w.l.y.

In his letter (where he managed to find over a hundred people who should be educated enough to know better to co-sign) he made a succession of unsubstantiated claims.

E-cigs are dangerous because they rope young people into smoking and vaping. Unfortunately what Stan was unaware of (or chose to ignore) were that the research he cited proves exactly the opposite. It demonstrates the number of teen smokers in the US has fallen alongside a minimal increase in vaping…that suggests either kids gave up without vaping or used vaping to quit. Stupid Stan.

Electronic cigarettes are dangerous because they contain heavy metals. I think the big mistake he makes here is to confuse the term heavy metals with Heavy Metal. Obviously no sane parent would want their child doing cocaine with Lemmy or having lessons in how to kill bats in the land of Oz.

He was trying to say that they contain heavy metals that are dangerous to health but, erm, so is the air we breathe and the water we drink. He wants us to think they are as injurious to our wellbeing as becoming a drummer with Spinal Tap.

Unfortunately for Zachary Glantz he forgot to check up on what the actual readings are and how they compare to the legislation on safe levels. Tested levels have shown the presence of nickel and lead in vape is in the order of 6x less while chromium is over 70 times less the agreed daily safe dosage limit. I could go on but that would get as dull as reading one of his press releases.

While working with a chemical company we did a project with NASA to create a micrometeorite detector. I’m pretty au fait with the concept of micro particles as a result so when he warns the World Health Organisation that vape contains them I come over all face palms. It’s not the size of the meteorite that kills you in space; it’s the speed it hits you at. It’s not the cloud of microparticles that kills you; it’s what the cloud is made up from. In the case of vape we know it’s not got the 2,000+ carcinogens and toxins that smoke has.

I really wish Professor Glantz could get lost in space instead of trying to use the space between his ears.