Monday, 29 June 2015

Mad Stan Speaks, The World Laughs

"There there Stan, time for your pills?"
On Thursday we had a chuckle about Mad Stan's latest piece of hilarious garbage. To cut a long story short, he managed to write a study which proved itself wrong, simply because he's a pathetic obese gnome who hates e-cigs.

Others have had fun with it too because it really is a work of simpleton art, but now anti-smoking Dr Michael Siegel - a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health - has put the boot in too (do read the whole thing - DP).
The authors of this article set up a straw man by arguing that the reason for the promotion of electronic cigarettes is that the smoking population is hardening. Then, if they can show that the smoking population is actually softening, they can argue that e-cigarettes are not needed. However, this is a straw man argument because the reason why advocates like myself are promoting electronic cigarettes has nothing to do with whether the smoking population is hardening or softening.

Mad Stan's hypothesis was that e-cigs should not be promoted because his wealthy fellow tobacco control narcissists have a plan all laid out for making people quit smoking and they don't need any help, thank you very much. Well, not any help they aren't paid out of your taxes to provide, that is.

But as Siegel notes, it doesn't matter how much more difficult or easy it is to 'encourage' smokers to quit, there are still real smokers around, so anything - according to Siegel - that can persuade those smokers to quit is a good thing, right? Well, not according to lifelong tobacco control advocate Mad Stan, no. He's quite content with what's happening right now, so he is - if people continue to smoke because e-cigs are not on the table, he's happy as Larry.

I argued on Thursday that Mad Stan's study proved the opposite of what he claimed - quite a feat for the dickhead - and Siegel tends to agree.
Although the potential value of electronic cigarettes is not conditioned on whether the smoking population is hardening or softening, this article misinterprets its own data to incorrectly conclude that the smoking population is softening. 
This article confirms that the proportion of smokers making quit attempts in the United States has increased over time. However, trends in smoking prevalence during the same time period confirm that the decline in prevalence has declined over the past decade and a half. And since the number of quit attempts has gone way up, this means that the proportion of quit attempts that are successful has dropped. In other words, smokers are finding it more difficult, not easier, to quit. This actually suggests that the smoking population is hardening.
Indeed. As I said on Thursday, it's laugh out loud funny that the bespectacled berk has managed to construct a study which manages to ridicule both itself and the idiot charlatans who wrote it. 

It's a sloppy and laughable dog's breakfast of a study, as Siegel also concludes.
The rest of the story is that in this new article, the study sets up an irrelevant straw man argument, misconstrues the reasons why e-cigarettes are being promoted, misinterprets the data analysis, and draws an invalid conclusion about the "irrelevant" research question which it set out to answer.
I'll let you in on a secret, I took around 30 minutes to write Thursday's article - including finding links, adding images and choosing tags - because it just about wrote itself.  The study is such transparently incoherent junk science cockwaffle that Twitter was collectively laughing almost before it was published. When they next update the online Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of 'ineptitude' will simply have a link to Mad Stan's self-defeating study, with a note to also see the entry for "shooting oneself in the foot".

No-one, but no-one, could believe it to be an important piece of research because they would have to be functionally illiterate or certifiably insane to do so.

Oh well, there's always one idiot in every town I suppose.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Stanton Glantz Produces A Study Which Proves Himself Wrong

We've always known that Stanton Glantz is a horse's arse, but he's galloped an extra few furlongs this week.

In order to rubbish e-cigs and the concept of harm reduction, the bonkers aircraft engineer has just had a study published in the science-averse rag Tobacco Control Journal where he claims that - between 1992 and 2012 - the fewer smokers there have been, the quicker they have quit. Here's how he explains it on his blog.
Smokeless tobacco and, more recently, e-cigarettes have been promoted as a harm reduction strategy for smokers who are “unable or unwilling to quit.” The strategy, embraced by both industry and some public health advocates, is based on the assumption that as smoking declines overall, only those who cannot quit will remain.  A new study by researchers at UC San Francisco has found just the opposite. 
The concept of harm reduction, first proposed in the 1970s, was based on the theory that as smoking prevalence declines, the remaining “hard core” smokers will be less likely or able to quit smoking, a process called hardening. The study found that the population is actually softening.
By 'hardening', he means the well-established and entirely logical theory that as the smokers most likely to quit do quit - the low-hanging fruit for tobacco control, if you like - then the rate of decline in prevalence will decrease; that making them quit becomes harder. But Glantz says that not only is this not happening, but the opposite is true; that 'softening' is happening instead and the rate of decline in smoking prevalence is speeding up.

OK, let's imagine for a moment that he's correct - yes, I know it's difficult, but stopped clocks and all that - and that as smoking prevalence falls the rate of quitting goes up, not down. In such a scenario, we could plot the data on a graph and the curve would show a steepening decline in smokers. Something like this.

However, this certainly isn't happening because other studies by less desperately delirious tobacco controllers have said so. Here's one studying England ...
The proportion of smokers in England with both low motivation to quit and high dependence appears to have increased between 2000 and 2010, independently of risk factors, suggesting that ‘hardening’ may be occurring in this smoker population.
.. and here's one looking at data from 187 countries from 1980 to 2012.
Global modeled prevalence declined at a faster rate from 1996 to 2006 (mean annualized rate of decline, 1.7%; 95% UI, 1.5%-1.9%) compared with the subsequent period (mean annualized rate of decline, 0.9%; 95% UI, 0.5%-1.3%; P = .003). 
It is the same predictable story everywhere in the world. In fact, considering Glantz is from California, he must be well aware of real life prevalence trends in his own state. It looks like this.

As you can see, what is actually happening bears no similarity whatsoever to the curve we would produce in Glantz's fantasy scenario. The prevalence curve has flattened over time, not steepened, and this is replicated all over the globe.

The reason is that Glantz has based his study on quit attempts, and not people who have actually quit. He doesn't bother to take into account whether or not the attempts are successful, almost as if it's irrelevant. It is, however, relevant because the number of quit attempts doesn’t matter, only the number of smokers does.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that Glantz is either lying or showing himself up as a gormless wankwassock, but it gets better.

You see, his theory is based on a sheep effect, that as prevalence drops more people want to move away from the demonised smoking habit, so therefore more people attempt to quit.  Think about that logically, though, and Glantz has only proven that more people are embarking on quit attempts. However, since there is no steepening decline in prevalence from real life data - in fact it is the opposite - this can only mean one thing; that a smaller percentage of smokers are successful with their quit attempts than in the past and making people quit is therefore getting harder. Exactly in keeping with all previous studies and the polar opposite of what the nutter set out to 'prove'.

Add in the fact that with UK and US data over the last few years showing a downturn in smoking prevalence in direct proportion to the increase in vaping, without e-cigs Glantz's insistence that tobacco control is wildly successful without harm reduction would have looked even more absurd. The only reason the prevalence curve hasn't flattened out more is because e-cigs have come along, so it’s self evident that harm reduction does work very well, especially as we know that a large proportion of the rise in quit attempts Glantz mentioned would have been by way of using e-cigs instead.

He must be the first tobacco controller ever to have produced a study which comprehensively proves itself wrong. Remarkable!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

How Dare You Challenge A Doctor!

Some readers may remember Dr George Rae, a spokesman for the BMA who told the BBC that - in his 'expert' opinion - e-cigs are more dangerous than smoking. You can hear a recording of his truth-free nonsense in this post, or read the transcript here.

This is quite obviously utter garbage, and especially disturbing because it comes from a doctor who - for some unfathomable reason - is a member of a profession people tend to trust above others. It disturbed Clive Bates enough that he wrote to the General Medical Council to complain, which he has recounted in this article which I highly recommend you read.

The purpose of the complaint, it seemed to me, was that it might mean that someone would speak to Rae and tell him to stop being so ignorant before spouting cockwaffle in future. You know, try to know the facts before pretending on the radio that he's an 'expert'. None of that happened, in fact the GMC didn't even query Rae as to what evidence he had read to come up with such weapons grade crackpottery. No investigation even took place!

Instead, the GMC repeatedly replied that Dr Rae is allowed to say whatever he wants - no matter how false, misleading and dangerous to those who want to quit smoking it may be - because, well, it's not an important matter.

Yes. Really!
In this instance, we did not open an investigation into your concerns because we do not believe they are serious enough to suggest we may need to restrict or remove Dr Rae’s registration or ability to work.
Not serious enough? So what has the past decade of incessant, wall-to-wall panic-mongering around smoking been all about if the GMC think a doctor putting people off quitting is no big deal? As Bates surmises.
One argument was that the concerns were too trivial to warrant further investigation.  Many doctors would recognise smoking as the single most important source of preventable disease (they never stop parroting it, FFS! - DP), and GPs are collectively paid over £80 million through their contracts to reduce smoking around £10,000 for the average sized practice  It seems to us to be the height of irresponsibility to give the public demonstrably false information and so exaggerate the risks of alternatives to smoking.
So next time any doctor tells you how you must quit smoking, or tells you - in the media or anywhere else - that tobacco harm is a major health problem - tell them that it's no biggie and they should just chillax ... because the GMC says so. Politicians might want to stop spunking our taxes on such inconsequential and unimportant overheads as tobacco control industry lobbyists too.

Meanwhile, the BMA have today been holding their annual conference under the hashtag #ARMlive, so a few enthusiastic vapers sent Bates's blog their way to see what they thought of such a whitewash. In amongst the tumbleweed there was this piece of absurd wagon-circling.
Yes, apparently, asking the doctors' regulator to regulate doctors and call fraudulent claims to account is deemed as 'persecution'. How very dare they challenge a cardinal of the Church of Public Health with mere facts, eh?

Do go read Bates's blog in its entirety and be amazed at the dismissive arrogance of these people.

Monday, 22 June 2015

E-Cigs, ASH And London Hospital Bans

Last week some brain donors at Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in London were enthusiastically tweeting their shiny new piece of totalitarian scumbaggery.
Those welfare-scrounging shitgoblins at ASH were very pleased to publicise this, of course.

Yes, that's the 'vaper's friend', ASH, gleefully telling the world about how vapers are to be told to get orff the land they have paid taxes to build, maintain and run, by people whose salaries they fund. Along with the smokers who have already been deemed sub-human by repulsive ASH-driven policies.

Now, I'm sure someone will point out that ASH were being paged by Guy's and St Thomas' and just retweeted when they saw "smokefree" - because they're customarily gleeful when it is smokers being kicked off the premises - and that it doesn't reflect their true thoughts on the matter.

Well, firstly, why is the government giving them our cash if they are so fucking shit at doing basic research? You may think that churlish, but considering most bans these days also tend to include e-cigs did it not cross their nasty vindictive minds that vaping might be included? Didn't they think to check, or could they just not care less?

Y'see, if they had looked into it further, they would have read the new policy at Guy's and St Thomas' which has this to say as justification for e-cigs being included.
11.1 E-cigarettes are included in the Smoke-Free Policy and their use is not permitted in Trust premises or grounds. While there is some evidence that they may support smoking cessation, they are currently not regulated as a tobacco product or as a medicine in the UK. 
Translation: E-cigs are all around us here in London, and we see people not smoking every day because of them, but we are so crassly ignorant that we will ban them until some overpaid public sector desk-monkey can grind their way through the snail-like morass of self-serving, intransigent, civil service psychobabble and actually do something useful. Spending public money is our game and we will discard sense and reason in favour of supporting anyone else who is employed in the same economy-draining scam. Screw health, who really cares anyway?

What's more ...
11.2 Staff must ensure that any patient bringing an e-cigarette into the hospital is offered approved nicotine replacement therapy as per Trust NRT withdrawal protocols. 
Brilliant! I see you're using something that works. I'm afraid you're not allowed that though, I insist you have some of this expensive state-funded Pharma tat that is completely useless instead.

It's even more astonishing when you factor in that the St Guy's and St Thomas' policy authors have purposely ignored advice which doesn't agree with their all-out ban. For example, they cite this Royal College of Physicians (RCP) statement which is ambiguous about vaping, while ignoring this more forthright RCP opinion.
Health professionals should embrace this potential by encouraging smokers, particularly those disinclined to use licensed nicotine replacement therapies, to try them, and, when possible, to do so in conjunction with existing NHS smoking cessation and harm reduction support. E-cigarettes will save lives, and we should support their use.
I think that's pretty clear. It tends to suggest that the RCP do not advocate banning e-cigs and offering anyone using one a fucking patch instead!

Still, I'm sure the 'vaper's friend' will be behind the scenes working hard to get this ban lifted. Won't they? Well actually, no. We know this because Guy's and St Thomas' also cite ASH as support for their policy, specifically this document, which states.
"ASH has worked with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Trading Standards Institute to produce guidance for organisations considering whether or not to ban the use of electronic cigarettes on their premises. This provides a structure for thinking through the issues but leaves it to organisations to develop their own approach informed by the evidence."
They could have said something like "there is no justification whatsoever for banning e-cigs unless you're an authoritarian cockmuppet" but instead ASH - as usual - merely issue a few limp, fence-sitting platitudes when talking about e-cigs, which effectively tell Guy's and St Thomas' to carry on Doctor, ban 'em if you like, we really couldn't give a toss.

For the avoidance of doubt, it's worth remembering that every vaping ban - and I do mean every one - is directly as a result of 'passive smoking' hysteria and junk science promoted by ASH for the pure purpose of increasing their own bank balances. They and their fellow tobacco control industry grifters often talk about 'evidence-based policy' but there has never been even any junk evidence that smoking outdoors is dangerous, yet ASH support outdoor bans. As for e-cigs, there is not even evidence of harm to the user themselves, but the foundations were laid for anyone to complain about just about anyone else thanks to ASH's hideous and fundamentally anti-social smoking ban. In an ideal world, ASH wouldn't be schmoozing vapers and pretending they are on the side of the angels, they would instead be on their knees whenever they meet a vaper, apologising profusely for their stupidity and kissing anything that remotely looks like an arse.

Sadly, the upshot of the St Guy's and St Thomas' health-irrelevant policy is that we are left with yet another pointless, illiberal, and ludicrous ban based on not even a scintilla of harm to anyone. The culture of 'public health' fascism writ large.

They make my skin crawl, all of them.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Demented Down Under

Australia gets more deranged by the day.
GOLD Coast clubs and pubs may soon be counting patrons’ drinks to keep them sober, rather than risk fines of up to $56,000.
Drinkers are expected to be sober in pubs now?
A radical new State Government plan will see breathalyser-wielding police testing drinkers at the bar to see just how drunk they are, with the results used to build a case against venues.
That's right, pubs can be shut down if they don't correctly guess the amount of alcohol their customers have drunk.
And it appears the blood-alcohol limits for drivers might be the standard on which club drunks are assessed ... 
“Allowing police to breathalyse drunken patrons will help them to build cases for prosecution for court,” said Ms D’Ath. 
“For example, police consider a (blood-alcohol) reading of 0.15 to be highly intoxicated.”
When driving, perhaps, but that's around 4 pints or less. Otherwise known as a light lunch in the Puddlecoteville Arms!
The plan to allow police to breathalyse patrons has been slammed by bar owners who say staff will have no way of knowing a person’s blood-alcohol level before they are served.
Unless they also breathalyse customers before they serve them, of course. What fun evenings that will make, eh?
James Tweddell, owner of Broadbeach restaurant and nightclub East, said allowing police to randomly breath-test patrons was draconian and ridiculous. 
“If someone is arrested and has committed a crime and police want to breathalyse him, I support that. 
“But if someone wants to enjoy a night out, like a 40th, and the cops are going to walk in and breathalyse people at a venue, then that is ludicrous.”
You'd think so wouldn't you? But incredibly, in the comments under the article, many Australians actually think this is a great idea! Good grief.

H/T Tim Andrews who I truly pity for having to live down there.