Only Themselves To Blame

Simon Clark has the following response by a retired doctor to Brian Monteith’s assertion that, in the light of the BMA’s retraction of the claim that secondhand smoke in cars is 23 times more toxic than in bars, people can no longer trust the medical profession.

As a former GP, I find the generalization that one cannot trust doctors is particularly worrying. It may sell papers, but it does terrible damage to the doctor-patient relationship which HAS to be based on real trust…

Whilst the BMA’s pronouncement is based on erroneous data, the sentiment behind the health prevention message is sound.

So it’s okay to lie in a “noble cause” – the noble cause, in this case, being that of getting smokers to quit smoking. Perhaps this why many people have lost trust in the medical profession: they have come to believe they are being lied to.

But actually, as a smoker, you don’t have to believe that doctors are lying to you to fear and distrust them. There is, after all,  a war being conducted on smokers these days, that has seen them evicted from their pubs and cafes and restaurants, and sometimes evicted from their homes, and fired from their jobs, and even refused medical treatment. Who have been the leaders and standard-bearers of this war? Why, the medical profession. It was Sir Charles George – a doctor -, then president of the BMA, who called on the government to ban smoking in public places in November 2004. It was Sir Liam Donaldson – a doctor – who as Chief Medical Officer demanded in 2006 that the proposed UK smoking ban have no exemptions. It was Gro Harlem Brundtland – a doctor – who pushed through the WHO’s antismoking edicts. It was Sir George Godber – a doctor – who told the UN in 1975 that they should “foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily to the smoke in the air.” There is a veritable army of doctors who have been  pushing and pushing and pushing to firstly make smoking socially unacceptable,  and then to make it illegal. But for these doctors, it is very unlikely that any government anywhere would have launched campaigns against smoking, or banned smoking.

So smokers know perfectly well that the people who have been orchestrating the mounting campaign of demonisation and exclusion against them have been… doctors.

In such circumstances, how can any smoker place trust in any doctor, knowing that they are all members of a BMA or similar organisation whose senior members wish to eradicate smoking (and therefore smokers) from society? How can smokers present themselves before doctors who will quite likely tell them that smoking is the cause of their malady, whatever it is, and if they wish to be cured they must stop smoking? How can any smoker cheerfully make an appointment with any doctor, after having been subjected for years to an incessant hail of abuse and discrimination that has been advanced and promoted all over the world by the medical profession?

Or, to put it another way, if smokers wish to see doctors who do not share the antismoking obsessions of their senior spokespersons in the BMA, how are they to know which ones to go to, and which ones to avoid? For while the mass of doctors continue to remain members of the BMA, and the RCP, and other medical associations, surely this indicates that they assent to the increasingly strident and vindictive antismoking campaigns that are being conducted in their name? But I’ve not heard of any mass resignations by doctors from any of these medical organisations. And in fact I’ve heard precious few of them voice any dissent at all.

The consultant oncologist who spoke on Radio 5 last week, denying that the BMA spoke for her (“No they do not!” she said) was a rare example of such a dissenting voice. But why was it that she had to phone up a talk radio show to express her dissent? Was that the only way she could get her voice heard? Was she the only doctor in Britain who felt that way?

I don’t think that the “23 times” fiasco is the cause of growing distrust of doctors.  It just adds to an existing distrust. It’s not the only lie they’ve told, after all. There are far greater lies: the lie that passive smoking poses a health threat being just one (110 studies show it doesn’t). Distrust of doctors among smokers began when the medical profession declared war on them, and started demanding that smoking be banned everywhere. And in the UK, that was over five years ago.

In my own case, I haven’t been to a doctor for over five years. I used to be a regular visitor (if only for prescription sleeping tablets). Once the smoking ban came in, and I began to see doctors as agents of an antismoking bully state, peddling nicotine patches and counselling, I wanted to have as little as possible to do with them. I’ll only go to any doctor now in an extreme emergency. And if I do, I won’t be too surprised if I am turned away because I am a smoker.

And I’m quite sure that there are plenty of other smokers who feel exactly the same way.

When I write about the effects of the smoking ban, I very often highlight the immense social damage that I believe it has done, in terms of shattered communities and broken friendships (never mind all the closed or empty pubs and clubs which merely represent the visible tip of the iceberg of that social disaster). But it is necessarily the case that there is another set of  relationships – those between doctors and patients – which have suffered in exactly the same way.

But in the case of doctors, they ultimately have only themselves to blame for this damage. Because it was they who called for these smoking bans, and they who set out to ‘denormalise’ smoking, and they who created our divided society.

P.S. The Crier in the Wilderness seeks a Bill of Attainder against members of the BMA Council.

About Frank Davis

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19 Responses to Only Themselves To Blame

  1. Wiel says:

    During an economical crisis in the 70’s, when I was still a student at the University, the Medicine Faculty had to cut expenses. One of the main cuts was to stop educating social and psychological parts of their program. I don’t believe that those minors were ever reintroduced since that time.

    I truly believe that this is the main reason why nowadays doctors are more acting like car mechanics then that they are trained as practitioners of human beings.

  2. ChrisB says:

    Wiel, Academia has claimed the high-ground as regards ‘targets’ for qualifications at all levels and all ages whether it be in literacy, drama, plumbing or medicine. The simple result is teaching toward easily measured examination criteria and leaving out all extraneous but important broader knowledge.
    I visited 2 specialist providers of treatments for my leg pain and both gave up without suggesting the possibility of blocked arteries. Thankfully my GP was on leave and I saw a young locum GP who’d just finished a stint with a vascular unit – no doubts about the problem—– I’m still here with an extra bit of plastic plumbing and can easily walk to the local..

  3. Jax says:

    I do think that there are some “moderate” doctors within the profession, possibly even “smoking sceptic ones” who think that anti-smoking hysteria has gone too far and that it’s now getting in the way of good medical practice rather than helping it, but I think that the trouble is that they are gutless. Just like all those non-smokers who weren’t really that bothered about the ban – or indeed those who actually didn’t like the idea all that much – sat back on their fat non-smoking backsides and did precisely nothing (yes, I know there are a few of you who did speak up, but you are, you must admit, in a tiny minority), so too do these “concerned” or even “impartial” doctors sit back and say nothing for fear of incurring the wrath of their superiors. To me these “non-contributors” to the discussion are pretty much as culpable for the damage which the whole anti-smoking “project” has garnered as are its leading lights. They are, after all, the ones who could have swayed the whole smoking versus non-smoking debate back onto at least something resembling a sensible, objective discussion. They still could, if the truth be known, but they’re too scared for their own skins even to mutter so much as a hint of objection.

    As the old saying has it: “For evil to prosper, all that is required is for good men to do nothing.”

  4. Carol says:

    How very true, I only now see one GP who is older and wiser. He is outraged about attempts to make treatment conditional on stopping smoking, agrees smoking is not good for you but has been around long enough to know most of what is said is nonsense. I said before I have had/have lung cancer, who ever knows with cancer, and that my surgeon told me that the chance of recurrence, if I continued to smoke or not, was about 5% and I am not making myself miserable for that! after all I smoked for 52 years and even then had no symptoms, just an incidental discovery. Also when I told him I couldn’t drink more than a couple of glasses of red wine now he said that’s a shame, now he is a Dr. I trust.

  5. Jax says:

    Completely off-topic, Frank, but did you by any chance hear James Whale’s programme on LBC this evening at around 6.00-6.30 pm re wind farms? There was an absolute blinder of a caller who completely – and I mean completely – demolished the whole argument for wind farms. He really, really knew his stuff. I’ve tried via the website to listen to the programme again in order to let you have an Ann-the-oncologist-style transcript of his call, because it deserves to be recorded for posterity (and future reference) but can’t find it. LBC only seem to do these wretched “podcast” thingies and I don’t have an iPod or anything like that, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to get hold of it. I’ve e-mailed them to ask, and will let you have a copy if I’m successful.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Euro on ‘Death Watch’ After Investors Spurn German Bonds

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/45418399

  7. Iro Cyr says:

    Jax writes: ”Just like all those non-smokers who weren’t really that bothered about the ban – or indeed those who actually didn’t like the idea all that much – sat back on their fat non-smoking backsides and did precisely nothing ”

    Absolutely. However we must’n forget that many smokers themselves are even bigger enemies. You know the type who have been saying for years that they want to quit and never even try yet think that they’ll quit in 1 month, 1 year, 1 decade and these legislations won’t affect them anymore? Those who thank the government because it is giving them less opportunities to smoke and cut down because they’re too damn weak willed to quit unless they’re forced? You know the ones who instead of defending themselves and telling busybodies to mind their own f’n business they just bow their heads in shame when they’re pestered and nagged by family and friends and excuse themselves with the typical ” I CAN’T quit because I am TOO addicted? The same ones that look at you with the most resiliant eyes when asked if they are doing anything to change the situation and answer ”well that’s life, we have no choice”. Well these smokers I blame much more than apathetic non-smokers who don’t care simply because their life isn’t affected.

  8. Iro Cyr says:

    Because I am a type 2 diabetic I have been automatically put on statins ever since 2001. For the last 10 years I felt I was slowly but surely losing my memory and concentration and kept blaming it on the fact that I am not getting any younger and that it must be normal. I never mentionned it to my doctor as I didn’t think he can slow down the aging process. I used to have a phenomenal memory in my younger years. To make a long story short I was visiting with friends last Summer and got talking about prescription drugs and I mentionned that I was on Crestor statins. My friend was surprised that the doctor had me on those as his own doctor took him off this medication because he had memory problems. Weeeelll….. It kind of got me wondering if that wasn’t exactly my problem. I did some extensive research on Crestor and read that in some cases it does in fact affect memory that could even lead to amnesia episodes, which I had at least one. Without even asking my GP I stopped them for a month to see if it made a difference. Well lo and behold it did. When I went to visit my doctor I looked him in the eye and told him point blank. ”Listen to me doc, today it is I who will be doing all the talking for a change”. I asked him why he never mentionned to me the side effects of Crestor even when I asked in the past. He went in his computer and looked them up and said that in VERY RARE cases it affects one’s memory. To this I replied that if everyone was like me and never suspected that it was the drug doing it, how did they expect to tally up more cases to bring it to the level of a frequent side effect? I have been off statins for the last three months and my memory and concentration is doing almost as well as when I was younger.

    It’s not so much that I don’t trust doctors themselves as I am sure most of them have good motives. But they are taught one and one way only : the pharmaceutical way since Big Pharma is paying for many of the medical chairs in universities. However I do not trust that they have the time nor the will to push their own research further. It is up to us (thank God for the internet) to look after the extensive part of the research and inform our doctors of our findings. Some get insulted but they’re slowly getting used to their patients being more knowledgeable and critical of the care they get.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Some get insulted but they’re slowly getting used to their patients being more knowledgeable and critical of the care they get.

      Many of them think of themselves as authorities, and as people who must be listened to. This seems to be particularly true of the antismoking doctors, many of whom come to occupy positions of authority within the profession, and to largely cease practising as doctors in the process (how can they, if they’re spending all their time writing and thinking about smoking). The same is true in climate science, where a lot of the climate scientists see themselves as authorities. And it’s outsiders – like Steve McIntyre – who question these authorities. And they don’t like to be questioned. Not one bit.

  9. f says:

    Iro Cyr, I believe that our humble doctors are paid for getting people on statins. I was also prescribed them although a different make and also suffered memory loss plus swollen knees and hideous bruising. I was told they were to reduce cholesterol even though I had one of the best levels he had seen.
    I also stopped them several months ago. I no longer have any trust in my doctor.
    He asks two questions and only two, do you smoke, do you drink. No interest in diet, fitness or general health.

    • Jax says:

      Am I right in thinking that I heard a vague rumour somewhere that some MP (one of the few sane one, I suspect) had mooted the idea that payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors who prescribe their drugs should be prohibited? Or is it just my imagination? I pretty sure that (again, only a vague recollection) doctors are no longer going to get bonus payments for getting people to take all those blood pressure, cholesterol level and other MOT-style checks etc (which is why, over time, we may all be badgered less about having them – it will be interesting to see). Anyone else heard about this?

  10. Walt says:

    Obamacare dictates that patients (officially now referred to as “units”) over 70 should get only palliative care. So reports a neurosurgeon phoning a radio program here:

  11. Walt says:

    Side effects from statins.

    Chest pain, face edema, fever, neck rigidity, malaise, photosensitivity reaction, generalized edema.

    Digestive System: Nausea, gastroenteritis, liver function tests abnormal, colitis, vomiting, gastritis, dry mouth, rectal hemorrhage, esophagitis. eructation, glossitis, mouth ulceration, anorexia, increased appetite, stomatitis, biliary pain, cheilitis, duodenal ulcer, dysphagia, enteritis, melena, gum hemorrhage, stomach ulcer, tenesmus, ulcerative stomatitis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, cholestatic jaundice.

    Respiratory System: Bronchitis, rhinitis, pneumonia, dyspnea, asthma, epistaxis.

    Nervous System: Insomnia, dizziness, paresthesia, somnolence, amnesia, abnormal dreams, libido decreased, emotional lability, incoordination, peripheral neuropathy, torticollis, facial paralysis, hyperkinesia, depression, hypesthesis, hypertonia.

    Musculoskeletal System: Arthritis, leg cramps, bursitis, tenosynovitis, myasthenia, tendinous contracture, myositis.

    Skin and Appendages: Pruritus, contact dermatitis, alopecia, dry skin, sweating, acne, urticaria, eczema, seborrhea, skin ulcer.

    Urogenital System: Urinary tract infection, urinary frequency, cystitis, hematuria, impotence, dysuria, kidney calculus, nocturia, epididymitis, fibrocystic breast, vaginal hemorrhage, albuminuria, breast enlargement, metrorrhagia, nephritis, urinary incontinence, urinary retention, urinary urgency, abnormal ejaculation, uterine hemorrhage.

    Special Senses: Amblyopia, tinnitus, dry eyes, refraction disorder, eye hemorrhage, deafness, glaucoma, parosmia, taste loss, taste perversion. Cardiovascular System: Palpitation, vasodilatation, syncope, migraine, postural hypotension, phlebitis, arrhythmia, angina pectoris, hypertension.

    Metabolic and Nutrtional Disorders: Peripheral edema, hyperglycemia, creatine phosphokinase increased, gout, weight gain, hypoglycemia.

    Hemic and Lymphatic System: Ecchymosis, anemia, lymphadenopathy, thrombocytopenia, petechia.

  12. smokervoter says:

    About five years ago I was contacted by a semi-famous celebrity radio doctor (he filled in at times for a real-famous radio/TV one) to remodel some office space into a botox clinic for him. He was tired of his weekend emergency room gig sewing up the flotsam and jetsam of drunken Saturday night bar room brawls.

    During my first series of outdoor smoke breaks he gave me the perfunctory smoking lectures while I characteristically ignored his advice and let him know I didn’t care one wink about quitting.

    Then on day two of the job he startled me by suddenly bumming one off of me. It turned out he’d smoked since turning 15 and adored tobacco for the stress relief.

    He eventually showed off his pro-smoking chops by informing me of the Japanese Paradox (70% smoking prevalence combined with the lowest lung cancer rates in the world) among other gems.

    In the course of the two-week duration of the project he bummed a bushel of baccy from me. When the job concluded he presented me with a carton to square up. A good guy all around.

    He was a stand-in guest on a podcast by another famous guy I caught online just the other day. In the course of the interview he made a quip regarding the absurdity of the bad science behind thirdhand smoke. He made no mention of the fact that he smokes. But I know different, as does the famous guy who interviewed him.

  13. chris sorochin says:

    My doctor occasionally mentions that it would be better if I quit, but for the most part he leaves me alone about smoking. The same with weight, diet, alcohol and drugs. My sugar is higher than it should be, but he has treated me as an intelligent person and left it to me to figure out that I should cut down on sweets. So I have and probably with greater diligence than if he’d told me I had to…
    Surely they teach human psychology at UK medical schools…

    BTW, In Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko”, he interviews British doctors and they told him they get bonuses for getting their patients to do things like quit smoking. Is that true? How could they possibly verify it?

    • Rose says:

      Labour targets created £90,000 NHS smoking fraud – 2008

      “A man defrauded nearly £90,000 from the NHS by working as a stop smoking adviser and signing up non smoking strangers to exaggerate his success rates and income.

      Harry Singer, 54, took advantage of the labour Government’s smoking cessation programme which pays doctors, pharmacists and community groups £45 for every patient they convince to give up for four weeks.

      Stop Smoking Counsellor Singer received £89,505 from the NHS for signing people up to programmes to kick the habit. But many of the ‘registrants’ details were taken from other surveys or were friends who either did not smoke at all or had no intention of giving up.

      Jailing Singer for 18-months, judge John Hillen said the antismoking scheme was “amateurish” and “cavalier” and blamed the labour Government’s target-driven culture.

      “To pay lay people, albeit briefly trained, as stop smoking counsellors for recruiting and spending a few sessions with smokers is an astonishing way to spend public money,” said the judge.”

      “The Primary Care Trust did not suspect the fraud even though Singer was 27 times better than the next best adviser. In just six months he claimed to have convinced 2,017 people to stop smoking, shattering the local target and winning a 2006 nomination for the Stop Smoking Supporter Award.

      He received payments in respect of 1,989 people.

      But he was eventually caught out when NHS bosses contacted his clients to find out the secret of his success and realised most of the people had never heard of him.”
      http://www.healthdirect.co.uk/2008/08/labour-targets-created-90000-nhs-smoking-fraud.html

      This article said –
      “pays doctors, pharmacists and community groups £45 for every patient they convince to give up for four weeks.”

      But this one says-
      “claiming cash rewards of up to £85 for each patient they help to stop smoking for at least four weeks.”
      And that was in 2006.

      NHS suspects fraud in £61m stop smoking programme
      “Counter-fraud specialists are investigating claims that pharmacists are stealing money from the NHS by fiddling figures on the number of people they have helped to give up smoking.

      The Guardian has learned of inquiries in five primary care trusts in London into allegations that chemists have fraudulently claimed thousands of pounds, claiming cash rewards of up to £85 for each patient they help to stop smoking for at least four weeks.

      The NHS counter-fraud team is considering a nationwide exercise to establish the extent of the problem. The Liberal Democrat spokesman for health, Steve Webb, said fraud was now a multi-million pound problem for the NHS.

      At one trust the fraud being investigated is estimated at more than £15,000. If the inquiries confirm fraudulent activity police will be called in to prosecute.

      Anti-smoking charities have written to the chancellor to lobby for a simple monitoring system to scan pharmacists’ claims and protect the government’s £61m programme to help people give up cigarettes.”
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/dec/28/smoking.health

      I was hoping that the payments would reach £100 so I could have a WANTED poster done.

  14. lleweton says:

    Walt: patients = ‘units’. Thanks for spotting it. Says it all. But each patient is an individual. Patients are not eggs to be passed through a sizer. Each one is unique. Those with a vocation to be GPs should take that as read. I am the wrong side of 75 ( your reference to Obamacare). I smoked roll-ups for 47 years, stopped smoking for 11 years and then took up a pipe. Seems reasonable doesn’t it? At my age? In recent summers I have thought it would be good to stroll out of an evening and enjoy a smoke and a couple of pints in a pub. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? But I can’t. It’s not allowed, as I enter my final years. Someone on this thread mentioned non-smokers who feel unaffected by the ban. Let them look at their local pubs, in places where they still exist. Destroy the pubs and you destroy part of the heart of a town, especially a small one like mine. The architecture may remain but the heart of the place will be lost. It will be a shell. Other symbols of our national life and tradition fade by attrition – country churches, post offices. This one, the English pub, has been sabotaged by zealots. I can only suspect that they see the pub as a bastion of something they fear and detest: individuality, self-determination?

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