Thursday, 16 April 2015

Another Incompetent Chief Medical Officer

It would appear that the Welsh Chief Medical Officer, Ruth Hussey, is as incompetent as England's version when it comes to e-cigs.

From the BBC (complete with video):
E-cigarettes could normalise smoking among a generation which has grown up in a largely smoke-free society, according to the Welsh government's chief medical officer. 
Dr Ruth Hussey was responding to a Cardiff University study which found 6% of pupils aged under 11 said they had used e-cigarettes, compared to 2% who had tried tobacco. 
"This research demonstrates that e-cigarettes are being used by young people who have never smoked," she said.  
"We should be doing everything we can to prevent a new generation becoming addicted to nicotine," Dr Hussey added.
Really, Ruth? This is the information you are happy to spew out to our national broadcaster? Because I've read the study - it's here for anyone else interested - and it 'demonstrates' that Hussey is being economic with the truth.

It sampled 1,601 primary school kids and 9,055 secondary school students in Wales and found that a tiny 2.1% of the former had used an e-cig more than once ever, while only 1.5% of the latter used e-cigs more than once a month (125 of them). Of those, only a vanishing third of one per cent had never previously smoked. So, wouldn't her sentence have been more accurate if she had said.
"This research demonstrates that e-cigarettes are being used by 0.3% of young people who have never smoked"
At which point, we would all breathe a big sigh of relief and think, you know what, if they weren't using e-cigs they'd probably be experimenting with tobacco or cannabis anyway, so nothing to see here. It's hardly of epidemic proportion, is it?

Alternatively, perhaps Hussey could have called the study authors for guidance, because they make it quite clear that Hussey's message is definitely not the one they want to convey.
However, it is important to note the low prevalence of regular e-cigarette use, which suggests that e-cigarettes are unlikely to make a major direct contribution to adolescent nicotine addiction at present.
So wind your neck in, Hussey, you disingenuous troll. You're creating a scare story for purposes we can only guess at. Been talking to your pharma chums recently, have you?

We'll leave the last word to lead researcher Graham Moore, shall we, seeing as Wales's CMO doesn't seem capable of reading an academic paper with any degree of competence.
"There are some concerns at the moment that the growth of e-cigarettes may be helping to get a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine. At the moment, that doesn't seem to be the case. There doesn't seem to be too much reason to worry that that's actually happening."
Tell it to the Welsh CMO who thinks there is reason to be filmed by the BBC promoting exactly that non-existent worry.

I'm surprised that, during these times of austerity, we have such a duplication of highly-paid people spreading demonstrable nonsense. I mean, how many barking Chief Medical Officers does this country really need?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

4,442 Reasons Why Plain Packaging Won't Work

As Snowdon has reported today - do go read his analysis here - a new study has shown that smokers don't take up the habit because of the packaging. Yes, any fule kno that except the tobacco control industry who get paid handsomely to say otherwise, but the study in question is very interesting nonetheless.

It was authored by researchers from Imperial College London, Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Crete, with one of them also affiliated to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health, and was published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association (EPHA). A who's who of global authorities, right there, which is perhaps why we've seen not a whisper from the tobacco control industry about it - their one trick of throwing smears and ad hominems about the authors or assumed funding sources simply doesn't work in this instance, so they instead stay silent and pretend it doesn't exist.

Snowdon has highlighted the main fact-finding question in the study which was asked in personal interviews with a total of 4,442 current and former smokers aged 15-39 from all 27 EU member states as at 2012.
Respondents were allowed to select up to three among the following response options: ‘your friends smoked’; ‘your parents smoked’; ‘you liked the packaging of the cigarettes (or other tobacco products)’; ‘you liked the taste or smell of tobacco’; ‘you liked menthol cigarettes’; ‘you liked cigarettes with a specific sweet, fruity or spicy flavour’; and ‘cigarettes were affordable’. Respondents who indicated that they started smoking because their friends smoked were classified as having initiated smoking under the domain of ‘peer influence’ and those who mentioned that they started smoking because their parents smoked were classified as under the domain of ‘parental influence’. All other responses were grouped together as ‘tobacco product features’, as the numbers of respondents who indicated each one as an influence were small.
You'll note that of the seven options from which to choose, the five which referred to "design and marketing features" of tobacco had to be lumped together because so very few smokers said they were a factor in why they began smoking. The option "you saw someone smoking in a park and instantly wanted to go out and buy 20 Marlboro" didn't even make their drawing board during study design, it seems.

The conclusion proves that tobacco control has purposely been barking up the wrong tree for the best part of the past decade!
No significant association between design and marketing features of tobacco products and an early initiation of regular smoking was observed (OR = 1.04; 95%CI 0.83–1.31).
By "early initiation", they mean starting smoking before the age of 18. Yet in recent years we have seen tobacco display bans, for the children; a proposed ban on menthol in the EU TPD for the children; bans on flavourings in the US for the children; and plain packaging in the UK, erm, for the children. Despite children not being seduced by any of these features.

Hmm, perhaps packaging is indeed designed to protect and grow market share - just as in any other industry - amongst adult smokers who choose to smoke, as the tobacco industry has always insisted. Fancy that!

It's almost like the vast and lucrative anti-smoking industry is not really about the children - or health - but instead about the salaries of tobacco controllers who are running out of valid campaigns to keep the grant money rolling in, isn't it?

Now, just cast your minds back to the arguments being made in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenge to plain packaging.
Unnecessary obstacles to trade can result when (i) a regulation is more restrictive than necessary to achieve a given policy objective, or (ii) when it does not fulfil a legitimate objective. A regulation is more restrictive than necessary when the objective pursued can be achieved through alternative measures which have less trade-restricting effects, taking account of the risks non-fulfilment of the objective would create.
Well, considering the entire point of plain packaging is to stop "early initiation" of smoking amongst children, I'd say a study - conducted by Imperial College, Harvard, the CDC and EPHA - concluding that packaging, even bundled up with other options, had no measurable effect in initiating smoking amongst 4,000+ young people from 27 EU member states, will be welcomed by countries who claim, quite rightly, that it is an unnecessary obstacle to trade and that there are "alternative measures which have less trade-restricting effects".

Let's just hope their lawyers have picked up on it.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Gabriel Scally's Big Fat Fail

In the run up to the election, the far left public health community is working hard to get their favoured Labour puppets elected.

One of these is proud socialist Gabriel Scally, a very rich guy who revels in being described as an NHS 'whistleblower' but who protests loudly when others use valid channels to expose lies surrounding tobacco control. He is also a monumental hypocrite on Twitter too.

However, over the weekend his one-eyed election zealotry showed him to be an even bigger twit than we previously realised. On Saturday he threw out this partisan tweet which was shared by such lefty luminaries as Dr √Čoin "sorry I was wrong" Clarke, and Luciana "I haven't a clue" Berger.

Spitting on the coalition for its public health record on smoking is quite astonishing when you consider it banned vending machines, introduced the tobacco display ban - despite being in opposition in 2010 - and passed utterly pointless plain packaging in its final act before dissolution, but it should prove to politicians that appeasing nanny statists is a counterproductive exercise. Something it's long overdue them learning.

Anyway, I digress. Because Scally's point is just plain stupid. So he's trying to portray a reduction in people visiting Stop Smoking Services as a failure? Shouldn't he be looking at official prevalence figures instead? You know, like a proper, well-paid, objective health advocate should?

Here they are, and - not that Scally will ever admit it - the figures on decreased smoking prevalence since the "Tory/LibDem Gov" came to power make interesting viewing.

By the end of the last Labour government, it had almost stalled to zero, yet has picked up under the coalition, with a massive uptick at the start of 2014/15.

What's more, if we analyse those percentages we find that the change in prevalence has been increasing year on year under Cameron's government.

2010/11: 3.2%
2011/12: 3.3%
2012/13: 3.5%
2013/14: 4.1%
2014/15: 9.2%

If you're wondering how this is worked out, it is by using Simon Chapman's method of calculating incremental change which was enthusiastically tweeted by Gabriel Scally at the time.

So, to be consistent, Scally should surely be celebrating the ever-increasing decrease in smoking prevalence under the Tories, yes? And maybe even the biggest recorded decrease ever if the 2015 trend continues.

Now, I know what you're thinking, this isn't down to coalition policies and why is there no mention of e-cigs. And you're correct, the effect above is mostly because e-cigs are encouraging smokers to quit more than any hectoring from Scally and his hideous chums. This is borne out by the methods reported as being used by quitters, taken again from the Smoking Toolkit Study.

How 'bout that? More people are using e-cigs they pay for out of their own pocket, and far fewer are using pharmaceutical patches and gum which are provided at the expense of the NHS, at the same time that quit attempts are becoming increasingly successful.

What's not to like? Stop Smoking Services (SSS) are expending fewer resources yet the amount of people quitting smoking is going up. How can that possibly be called a failure unless one believes that more people using the SSS would bring even greater results? One way of doing that would surely be to go hell for leather and get SSS to advocate e-cigs wholesale.

However, that's not the Labour party's policy at all. Indeed, Scally's Labour party shepherded the disastrous EU TPD through Brussels - which will demolish the potential of e-cigs for millions of people - while coalition partners the Tories and LibDems were at least willing to listen to vapers and were overall supportive. It's arguable, in fact, that if the Labour party had been in power over the last five years, the e-cig industry would have all but been destroyed already in the UK.

But, y'see, Scally doesn't like e-cigs and has said that he wants to see them regulated out of existence and their use banned just about everywhere. It is exactly people like Scally who are preventing e-cigs being advocated at smoking cessation clinics up and down the country. If he wants to see an effective public health policy from the next government, and more use of Stop Smoking Services, perhaps the best way would be to make it relevant to the way people are freely choosing to quit smoking, instead of sticking to outdated ideology, political loyalty and irrational dogma.

The only 'public health' failure here is Scally's sixth form political views, his appalling judgement, and the incoherent policies of his fellow mouth-breathers on the left.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Baseless Californian E-Cig Propaganda

Via my long-standing NorCal fellow jewel robber, David G, I thought you might like to see an example of the absurd propaganda Tobacco Free California is pumping out about e-cigs.

In his words, these ads are being aired "nightly/hourly on nearly all networks/channels daily, produced by taxpayer funds of $75 million", mostly as a result of some 'public health' lunatic - aptly called Chapman - equating harm reduction to an 'outbreak or epidemic'!

There is, of course, no scientific or epidemiological basis for this scaremongery whatsoever.

Fortunately, this was spotted early by a grass roots vaper who supplied an equal and opposite campaign site which messed up their social media efforts, and was therefore then promptly described as being industry-backed by a vacant journalist. Such is life when dealing with anti-smoking cretins and their useful idiots.

Always remember that we're on the side of the angels here, won't you? It's Chapman and his ilk who will be toasting on a pitchfork someday if there is any justice in this world.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

NHS Scotland's Sick Policy

Jesus H Christ! How can so much odious and intolerant spite be included in a single article?
EXTRA support staff will be deployed to advise smokers against lighting up in hospital grounds after staff and patients were spotted puffing away just days after new rules were introduced.
Alert! Smokers have been spotted in the vicinity, release the hounds!

And, erm, extra staff? Don't people working in the NHS keep telling us they've got no money and the whole institution is falling apart at the seams?
Professor Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lothian, said: “We are grateful to the Evening News for highlighting this, enabling us to bring in additional support such as increasing the number of smoking cessation advisers and deploying in these areas over the coming days and weeks."
Oh I see. So they were totally skint until the Evening News told them that smokers were in the car park, at which point the magic money tree began pumping out £20 notes. Or, as is more likely, are funds being diverted from healthcare for the purposes of a pointless witch hunt?
Alison Johnstone, Lothian Green MSP, said: “The ban on smoking at NHS hospitals hardly needs explain[ing], it’s there for a reason ...
No, Alison, it does need explaining because it is not illegal (yet) to smoke outdoors, simply for the reason that there is no conceivable health threat. You do remember, don't you, that smoking was banned indoors because of the danger of mythical passive smoking from a series of {cough}thorough peer-reviewed studies? You're a politician, you surely must remember when bar staff were all of a sudden the most precious people in the nation ... for at least a few months until they were completely forgotten again.

So what reason, exactly, is there for banning smoking in the open air?
“Anyone visiting a hospital, be it staff, patient or visitor, shouldn’t have to pass through a haze of cigarette smoke on their way inside.”
Simple. Place smoking shelters away from entrances and smokers will use them. Problem solved. You're a clever girl, you can work that out for yourself, can't you?
The move – which has been introduced as part of plan to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034 – also bans patients and staff from smoking in their cars on hospital ­property.
For the education of any bemused alien life forms who might be scanning our internet, these are cars which are allowed on NHS property.

And this is a cigarette - which is banned for polluting the lungs of hospital visitors - being smoked ... in a car. I've highlighted it in red in case you can't see it.

Turn the spaceships round, fellas, we're not worth conquering, believe me.

But it's fitting to leave the last word to the architect of this bonanza of astonishingly mean-spirited and malicious pecksniffery north of the border.
[Sheila Duffy, chief executive of health charity ASH Scotland] said: “We want people to understand why the policy is there in the first place. At the moment, seeing smokers is a part of life but that is changing."
Got that smokers? The policy is to make sure no-one ever has to see you. So go home, place a bell outside your door, and let's hope society can forget your sorry existence.

Or, as one commenter to the article put it ...
Clearly a polite request approach isn't working and if the health board isn't prepared to enforce it then they may as well say that all smokers are welcome.
Heaven forbid that smokers - who have paid taxes to pay for the NHS just like everyone else, plus £12bn per year in duty over and above that - should ever be welcome at a hospital, eh?

Truly these people disgust me, may God rot every last one of them.