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Neil McKeganey - Nicotine Science and Policy

Scary Monsters

Neil McKeganey | 27 August 2014

Have health professionals started a new moral panic over e-cigarettes? Neil McKeganey thinks they have.

There are few things more powerful than the narrative of fear. The concern that something may be harming us in ways that we might have been unaware, and that action should be taken to limit its occurrence, is a foundational tablet of interventionist public policy. The narrative of fear can be equally strong when it comes to new items that emerge in our social world and about which we know relatively little.

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The Enjoyment of Smoking

Neil McKeganey | 6 September 2016

When it comes to policies aimed at reducing the harm of smoking there is a truth that daren’t be spoken, namely that many smokers actually enjoy smoking. In the current climate of tobacco control policies aiming for a tobacco free world, the realization that many people want to continue to engage in a behaviour that they know to be harmful is hard to acknowledge.

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The Pleasure of E-cigarettes

Neil McKeganey, Christopher Russell | 28 April 2016

The publication by the Royal College of Physicians of a report “Nicotine without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction” approbating the use of e-cigarettes as a route out of smoking conventional cigarettes affirms a finding that has been highlighted by researchers for a number of years now. This report is welcome nevertheless as an objective contribution to a debate that has become increasingly personalised and divisive with tobacco control advocates repeatedly advising that e-cigarettes should be regulated as least as tightly as conventional cigarettes.

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Tobacco Control Research: A Tale of Two Delphi Groups

Neil McKeganey | 9 September 2015

Tobacco control researchers are nothing if not inconsistent. Take, for example, the recent case of Professor David Nutt who convened a group of experts to assess the relative harm of different nicotine delivery products (Nutt et al 2015). The paper Nutt and colleagues published on the basis of their assessment formed part of Public Health England’s recent conclusion that electronic cigarettes were 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco.

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Tobacco Industry Funded E-Cigarette Research and the Rise of Academic McCarthyism

Neil McKeganey, Christopher Russell | 27 February 2016

In a commentary piece published in the journal Addiction, Professor Jim McCambridge from the University of York sets out why, in his view, academic journals should not publish any e-cigarette research funded by the tobacco industry. The basis for McCambridge’s view is, not as it turns out, evidence of current misconduct on the part of the tobacco industry with regard to the research which it funds on e-cigarette, but evidence of decades old misconduct revealed in analysis of internal tobacco industry documents analysed as part of the Legacy Foundation (now Truth Initiative).

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When Public Health Harm Reduction Becomes Public Health Harm Promotion

Neil McKeganey | 22 June 2015

The recent announcement from health officials in Wales that the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces will be banned has been received with a mix of enthusiasm from some, puzzlement from others, and downright dismay by many -including within the "vaping" community itself.

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Why Academics Should Resist Pressure to Disengage with the Tobacco Industry

Neil McKeganey, Christopher Russell | 27 September 2016

In the past few days, several pro-tobacco harm reduction academics and scientists who are registered to attend the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) in Brussels, Belgium this week (27-29 September), received a letter signed by two major anti-smoking organisations – the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP) and the U.S.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK). This letter expressed to the recipients, including one of the authors of this blog (CR), the signatories’ ‘strong concern over the participation of renowned academics’ at a conference that is largely funded by the tobacco industry.

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Why do we love tobacco plain packaging and hate e cigs?

Neil McKeganey | 13 May 2014

IF YOU WANTED TO SUM UP THE CURRENT ADVICE ON TOBACCO CONTROL it would go something along the lines of tobacco plain packaging is good, so let's move ahead with it as soon as possible, e-cigarettes are bad so let's surround their use with increasingly restrictive controls. The Welsh Government is currently considering banning the use of e- cigarettes in enclosed public spaces, echoing the similar ban on smoking instituted in the UK in 2007.
While the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces made sense given the evidence of the health harms associated with second hand smoke, the proposed ban on e-cigarettes is based on little more than the largely undocumented fear that e- cigarettes might 're-normalise smoking', particularly among young people.

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