Simon Clark has an article about the proposal to ban smoking in cars, featuring Vivienne Nathanson of the BMA, who wrote:
Ten days ago doctors at a British Medical Association meeting voted to ask the Government to legislate to ban smoking while driving a motor vehicle. Is this a daft conceit or is there reason behind the concern?
Burning tobacco produces toxins — micro-particulate matter and hundreds of chemicals that are hazardous to health. The evidence on passive smoking is well accepted. It was the reason behind the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces. Passive smoking is a major health hazard with the unwitting smoker’s chances of getting cancer or having a heart attack increased. And the ban has meant that non-smokers have not had to seek cleaner air, it is theirs as of right.
Sorry. But the actual evidence on passive smoking is that there’s no significant risk. I’ve got a list of 110 studies most of which say there’s no significant risk. So what evidence are you talking about?
None at all, probably. The medical establishment is in fact ignoring the evidence, and asserting that there is a risk, because it wants smoking banned everywhere. Ultimately it wants smoking made illegal. They are engaging in social engineering. And the way they’re doing it is to use their status and authority as doctors to create and maintain the perception that passive smoking poses a risk. This was the strategy set out by Chief Medical Officer George Godber in the 1970s, and which has been pursued ever since by his successors.
Nathanson prattles on:
So where next? There is clearly more to be done in getting the public firmly and fully onside, and making sure that everyone understands the evidence. This will take time, and legislation should follow a campaign to inform and engage the public, as happened with seat belts. Doubtless the tobacco industry will lobby against this. But in terms of the ladder of interventions this is a clear winner. Failure to act condemns the vulnerable to continuing risk, and action will reduce health and road traffic crash costs for all of us.
Making sure that everyone understands the evidence? You must be joking. More like making sure that nobody understands the actual evidence.
Who is Vivienne Nathanson, anyway?
Professor Vivienne Nathanson qualified at Middlesex Hospital Medical School, London, in 1978 and then spent five and a half years in various hospital medical posts before joining the British Medical Association staff in 1984. Professor Nathanson was appointed as Scottish Secretary (Chief Executive) for the BMA 1990-1995, and then as Head of Central Services and International Affairs 1995-1996. She is now Director of Professional Activities at the BMA, which encompasses all the professional areas of work of the BMA including Ethics, Science, Medical Education, Public Health, Doctors’ Health, Equal Opportunities, International Affairs and Conferencing. In 2004 Vivienne Nathanson became an Honorary Professor in the School for Health at Durham University. She was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by Strathclyde University. In 2008 Professor Nathanson was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.
So she’s another one of those doctors who seems to have spent very little time actually, y’know, treating patients. It’s been one bureaucratic job after another, by the looks of it. And what is she now?
“The BMA is not against alcohol,” Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics insisted today. *
So it looks like, somewhere along the way, she became some sort of authority on science and ethics (and International Affairs, for chrissakes), in addition to medicine. Did she study science and philosophy and politics somewhere along the line?
I dunno about anybody else, but I don’t think that doctors are moral authorities. At least no more so than anyone else. I think that their expertise lies in treating injuries and diseases of one sort or other. I think there are particular ethical problems in doing that kind of thing, which all doctors struggle with – like whether to treat all patients equally, or give their attention just to those whose lives they think they can save -. These are ethical questions which most people never face.
But here’s a doctor who thinks she can tell people how to live their lives, where they can smoke, what they can drink, and so on. Why can’t car mechanics and plumbers and butchers and bakers do the same? Why don’t we get lectured by those people about how to live our lives? Probably because most of the people in those professions simply aren’t that arrogant.
The medical profession, I’ve more or less concluded, has got way above itself. It’s laying claim to expertise outside its disciplinary scope. Doctors have become know-alls, pontificating on matters in which they have no special expertise, and no unique insight.
The profession needs to be taken down a few rungs. People like Nathanson (and I can think of a whole bunch more) should be expelled from the profession. They should be struck off the medical register. And the entire profession should be re-organised, with the BMA and the RCP and other bodies closed down, and some new professional body created which actually represents those practising doctors who are actually trying to do their original job of, y’know, healing sick people. And maybe they should stop calling themselves “doctors”, as if they’re all Doctors of Philosophy or something? How about “medical practitioners”? Or (as I have suggested before) “cunt plumbers”? Bit hard to get above yourself if that’s your job description, eh?
Perhaps that’s too draconian? But I’m convinced that something has to be done. And I think that, in time, something will be done, and that this outbreak (might I call it an “epidemic”?) of megalomania will be curbed, one way or the other. The medical profession will have to be destroyed, and rebuilt from the bottom up.
Because this renegade profession is now busily tearing apart the entire fabric of society, shattering communities, and setting people against each other, in a blinkered and narrow-minded pursuit of a “health” which no genuine health at all. It is no longer a profession that heals and cures. It has itself become a plague. And it has to be treated accordingly.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics for the British Medical Association, said: “We have to start de-normalising alcohol – it is not like other types of food and drink.”
This is another example of how antis say one thing at one point in time, and the opposite at another.