Deception – the unacceptable face of Public Health
Professor Dame Sally Davies is the Chief Medical Officer for England, the most senior medical advisor to the Government in the UK, equivalent to the Surgeon General in the USA. Under the auspices of this role, she is a member of the Board of the NHS, a civil servant in the Department of Health, and head of the medical civil service.
As the country’s most senior doctor, her role includes preparing and reviewing policy in addition to advising Ministers, and specifically in areas where there is public concern or controversy, which most certainly includes e-cigarettes. The CMO role is explicitly a public health role. When it comes to political influence on matters of health in the UK, there is no higher authority than the Professor.
For these reasons, knowingly giving deceptive information is a direct breach of ethics, duty and care – a fact that Public Health England includes in its Code of Conduct, and even the WHO recognises, saying “Do not knowingly mislead, or allow others to be misled, about scientific matters”.
In an recent interview with BBC News regarding the announcement of a ban on smoking cars containing children (viewable here), Dame Sally was asked whether the ban included vaping, to which she uttered the incredible statement:
“We dont yet know about vaping. I mean clearly they put in flavourings, we don’t know the impact of those. Butterscotch has had to be withdrawn because people got chronic lung disease.”
Sorry, what?? People got chronic lung disease? Well that sounds serious… perhaps I’d better not switch to vaping after all, they dont sound as safe as my nice tobacco cigarettes.
This statement is, quite simply, a lie. Nobody has EVER “got chronic lung disease” from vaping butterscotch or any other flavour. In fact nobody has “got chronic lung disease” from vaping, period. Butterscotch has NOT been withdrawn. In fact you can buy it practically anywhere.
She appears to be conflating two media scare stories here.
The first seems to be a story first broadcast on BBC Inside Out, where a bottle of VIP Butterscotch ejuice was found to have traces of diacetyl, which in sufficient quantities and exposure can lead to bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung), although NO case of this has ever been reported from either vaping or smoking, and cigarette smoke contains magnitudes more diacetyl than that found in the bottle from VIP (0.05 to 0.1%). The full story can be found here from ECITA, so I wont go into detail. Go read that for more info.
I can only think that the second conflated story is a 2011 media scare surrounding a man who died of lipoid pneumonia, and whose GP blamed it on vaping, despite that fact that glycols simply cannot cause it. This has been comprehensively debunked, notably by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos here.
She’s lying, and considering her access to relevant scientific knowledge and expertise, I would have to say she is deliberately doing so. There is some evidence to support this. Lets take a look at the clip itself.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia, reported in the Telegraph, state:
“Facial cues are an important, but often ignored, aspect of credibility assessments where an emotional issue is in question. Cues to emotional deception are likely to occur when the underlying emotion a liar is attempting to mask, is relatively strong.”
The report continues “Liars also had increased activity of the “zygomatic major muscles”, located around the mouth, which caused them to inadvertently lift their lips into a smile.”
Such deceptive statements are utterly unacceptable for someone in her position of authority. Its outrageous that she should make such false statements publicly, and she MUST be held accountable for them. If two smokers who watched that interview were scared off switching to vaping, one of them will die from it, and the responsibility for that death will lie with Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer.