E cigarettes and the Washing of Hands

E cigarettes and the Washing of Hands

By Just a Vaper: “Just a Vaper” is the name chosen by the author because, like most vaping advocates, he is not funded by anyone in any industry. He is, like the name says, just a vaper.

Just a Vaper is not Brainyfurball, though Brainyfurball wishes very much he had thought of this first.


In the mid-1800’s, a physician named Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis noticed that there seemed to be a relationship between the handling bodies of people who had died of disease and mortality rates due to puerperal fever in women that had just given birth in a women’s hospital. In 1847, he suggested strongly that all doctors and nurses wash their hands after handling someone who died of any disease before tending to living patients. The doctors refused (thinking his theory was ridiculous), but the nurses couldn’t refuse. The result was that the mortality rate of women who had just given birth at this hospital decreased from 10% to 1-2%. The doctors were still not convinced (or maybe they were just not comfortable with being told they had to wash their hands) and began a campaign to discredit him, forcing him to leave the country.

He continued telling anyone who would listen (and more that would not) about his theory for 18 years. At this point, enough doctors were able to get together and agree that his obsession was a sign of mental illness and they were able to have him committed to an asylum, where he died 2 weeks later of sepsis (likely from the beatings he received from the guards as asylums were not really good when it came to patient rights at the time). But one of the people that had listened was Louis Pasteur. Starting from Semmelweis’ work, he continued his studies, eventually coming up with his Germ Theory of Disease based on his study of puerperal fever (the same one that Semmelweis noted was killing one in ten new mothers). Joseph Lister, acting on Pasteur’s theory instituted the practice of hand washing in hospitals and the practice caught on from there. I wonder how long this practice would have taken to develop if Dr. Semmelweis, who died with his contemporaries (including his wife) thinking he was insane and sending him to die in an asylum, had not pushed to get his idea out there?

The reason I was thinking of this is because I believe there is a type of consumer product that has the potential to get smokers to quit without harming others, but there is a strong movement to ban them (or restrict them to the point where they are no longer available) by the World Health Organization; public health departments; some of the pharmaceutical companies, and well intentioned (but completely misguided) organizations that want every smoker to quit (organizations that see no difference between nicotine and tobacco) – the electronic cigarette. It’s not for everyone, but for the people who use it, it helps them to cut down and quit better than anything else on the market today. Dr. Semmelweis’ work and theories ran against conventional medicine in his day and was not only suppressed, but his career was ruined by others in his field, eventually culminating in his death by their actions because they didn’t like his message. 150 years later, I really hope the medical community doesn’t do to e-cigarettes what their predecessors did with Dr. Semmelweis and his work through their campaign, a campaign that caused many new mothers to die prematurely because of bull-headedness.

PhD in The Art of being Unclear?

A recent study, entitled, Effects of in-vivo and advert observation of e cigarette vaping and smoking desire and urge in young adult smokers. purports to support the view that watching someone smoking or vaping increases their desire to do the same, whereas, seeing someone drink a glass of water, does not have the same effect.  http://www.srnt.org/SRNT_2015_Abstracts_WEB.pdf

Well I never!

The researchers claim that they directly tested the impact of observing e-cigarette use by in-vivo and advert exposure in young adult smokers.

They did nothing of the kind!

They then build on the above mistake (fabrication) to reach the following conclusion… “Results from Study 1 showed that observing water drinking did not affect participants’ smoking desire or urge ratings. However, observing both e-cigarette vaping and regular cigarette smoking significantly increased combustible smoking desire and urge (ps<0.05) with observation of e-cigarette vaping also increasing e-cigarette desire (p<.01). In Study 2, viewing the e-cigarette advert increased ratings of desire and urge to use a combustible cigarette and an e-cigarette (ps<0.05) but this was not the case for the water advert. Further, these increases in smoking urge were significant for both positive and negative reinforcement effects. In sum, this research is the first to our knowledge to examine direct observer effects of e-cigarette use which may act as a cue to increase desire for both combustible and e-cigarettes. The results may have implications for product regulation and marketing. Results expand the debate about e-cigarettes to include effects on persons exposed either in person or by advertisement to product use.”

So did the researchers directly test the impact of observing e-cigarette use by in-vivo and advert exposure in young adult smokers? I am very much afraid that they did not. 

Let me digress slightly: I am not a scientist, doctor, advocate, or anything like it. Indeed I have only a modest education by comparison to the PhD’s who litter (pun intended) the document where I found the above.  So how is it that a few minutes thought reveals to me a glaring weakness in the study which has supposedly gone unnoticed by the ‘experts?’ It, I think, has not, and if it has not, the research here is a downright lie.

First of all the researchers were: Andrea King, Lia Smith, Daniel Fridberg, Dingcai Cao, Patrick McNamara, Hannah Resnick, Norvel Brown, belonging to one of the following: University of Chicago, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience; University of Chicago; Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience and / or University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Health Systems Science – Wow! Impressive!

The reason for my admission that I am not a scientist is so that I can get away with what follows, or, if you can cheat to get the results you want, so can I. Except for the fact that I admit to cheating and explain in detail what the cheat is.

The cheat is that I will base everything on an assumption, but that assumption gives the lie to the idea that this research directly tested the impact of observing e-cigarette use. As pointed out, all of the researchers belong under the same umbrella organisations, the Universities of Chicago & Illinois and my assumption is that the research took place within the premises of these esteemed seats of learning.  If I am correct, everything they claim goes absolutely pear-shaped as a result. How can that be?

It is very, very, very simple.

Take a look at this UIC page , http://www.uic.edu/uic/about/tobacco-free/index.shtml and this one https://humanresources.uchicago.edu/fpg/policies/600/p603.shtml  (Note the last paragraph about the hospitals’ policy.)  So the poor smokers participating in the research were not allowed to smoke or vape prior to the experiment – how long I wonder?  They finally are admitted to the building and are already thinking about their next smoke / vape. The big moment arrives and they are seated, and next to them are two glasses of water. The researcher drinks from his/her glass, ‘so what! The subject wants a vape / smoke not a drink of water. You see, the desire has already been created – even before setting foot in the room.  What happens with the cigarettes and the e cigarettes is a complete irrelevance. Given the opportunity to have a cigarette or vape will be pounced upon by the poor deprived subject whether he / she observe someone else doing it or not – the whole experiment is a complete and utter farce. Equally, when shown images of someone doing something which you already desperately want will obviously demonstrate some reaction,  and the same would happen with water if you were thirsty enough.

A smoker or vaper’s desires are not dictated by the actions of others or by what he / she sees going on around them. Being deprived of something though does increase desire, and being reminded of it simply brings to the surface feeling which have been repressed.

The one and only thing this research establishes is that smoking and vaping bans increase the desire to indulge in the activity which then shows in the subject’s response.

And psychologists, you know, the ones with the qualifications, failed to realise this?  No chance!

The Physician and the Snake

A little prose/poetry story dedicated to the World Health Organisation

A quiet moment and he drummed his fingers on his desk. Another year had turned: Another year of the pain he had shared so willingly – shared so secretly. Another year had turned, and still the snake on the staff stayed his hand. The doctor failed to understand the snake’s demand, to cure the sick, to do no harm, but also keep silence: To give advice when he, the doctor, knew it wrong to hand out lies, prescribing only second best. Gums and patches, and the rest – all failed. He drummed and drummed his fingers on the desk

A year had passed since that evening when that crowd had gathered on the excited street below, and, looking down, he remembered how the jostling and the clamour grew. ‘We have something new.’ They cried. ‘Look Doctor, we have something new.’ And each and every one held up a light. ‘We no longer have to fight.’ They cried. ‘Look! We no longer have to fight.’

The snake had also heard and had slithered down from off its stick. And shocked, the doctor saw the venom drip from hidden fangs, and from the window backed away. ‘Cure the sick and do no harm,’ the creature hissed. ‘Those outside, they won’t be missed. Give out only lies and second best, and if that fails, well, prescribe some rest. But be warned, dear doctor; say nothing of what you saw tonight. Say nothing of that awful blinding light that burns me to my very soul. Say nothing.

And thus the doctor, on the snakes command, stayed silent and said nothing of what he’d seen. Yet, in bed at night, he’d dream that in his hand there was a light which cured the sick, but on awakening all he had was a snake curled round a wooden stick.

Dancing in the Dust (Poem_

And there we were

High in the house

Locked and shuttered in the disappointment room*

While from far below

The laughter and music drifted up

And we knew that crystal chandeliers hung

Casting light and warmth

Over our elders while they danced at the ball

And we could imagine the wine in sparkling glasses

And see the taste, and feel it spilling down our parched throats

So we held each other close

And danced in the dust.

*A  room, usually on the top floor of the house, where mentally disabled or mentally ill children were kept during the 1800-1900s to remain out of the public eye.

Two by Two (Poem)

Where the chameleon eats its own words
And slyly glances at the weasel and the mouse
Who look on with envy, but learn the lesson well
And an arc of lies is built, high on that hill
Then two by two it is filled.
See, here they come, weasels, mice, ferrets, lizards, moles and last of all,
Slowly, two snails sharing a single shell.

And when a scientist eats his own words
And looks towards the rest
Who see the table; filled with deceits
Who, after the feast
Can retreat to the safety of the arc of lies
They climb the hill
Two by two
See, here they come, weasels, mice, ferrets, lizards, moles and last of all,
Slowly, two snails sharing a single shell.

Light (Poem)

Matthew 5:15
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house

As night was falling the lamp was lit
While it shone
People welcomed it –
And the room laughed
But then they looked towards the wall
A shadow growing, grim and dark, a tall shadow
Who, reaching out its evil hand
Took the light, lifted it from off the stand
Lifted it from off its stand and swallowed it.

And so people now hide what light is left
They hide it under bowls
And if some brave soul
Knocks the bowl aside, reveals the light and rescues it
The room will briefly laugh again
But if you look towards the wall
You will see
A shadow growing, grim and dark, a tall shadow
Who, reaching out its evil hand
Will take the light; lift it from off the stand
Lift it from off its stand and swallow it.
And all will be, once again, dark.

A Dialogue with Pigs (Poem)

He talked to pigs
And hearing his words
Plunged their snouts back into the trough
But Merlin gained a gift through madness
And out of the wilderness he came, with power.

And though we too talk to pigs
Though they hear our words
They do not listen
And plunge their snouts deep into the trough
But we will gain a gift in madness
And out of the wilderness we will march,
with power.