Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Consequences Of Crying Wolf?

Two recent articles, one from the US:

The number of Americans who view smoking cigarettes as being bad for your health has gone down, according to a new report.

The perception by teenagers and young adults that heavy cigarette smoking is a high-risk activity has declined in many states, the study on substance abuse and mental health released today found.

The perceived risks of smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day dropped between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 in 14 states among youths aged 12 to 17, and in 31 states among those aged 18 to 25.
And another from Australia:

A new survey has found nearly one-third of smokers believe the health effects of smoking are exaggerated.
This is quite incredible.

At a time when anti-smoking rhetoric has never been more all-pervading - in countries with the most shrill methodology - the message is being ignored more!

Now, far be it from me to suggest failings in the tobacco control community's approach, but perhaps the policy of attempting to scare the living daylights out of smokers with increasingly dubious claims might be reaching an end of its useful life.

Persuasion - not bullying - is perhaps the key to future success. Not that the Aussie spokesperson is capable of identifying the changing nuances, of course.

Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said on Sunday smokers are kidding themselves if they think they can get away with smoking because the health effects have been exaggerated.

"Almost all smokers will get emphysema, while a quarter of all deaths from smoking are from emphysema," she said.
Err, in just a few words, you've conveyed condescending irritation and hyperbole in equal measure.

You're not helping, love.


Angry Exile said...

The Aussie story made me think that perhaps people are starting to react to the increasingly implausible scare tactics in the opposite way to what the antis want. Make the claims ridiculous enough and of course people are going to raise an eyebrow and call bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Almost all smokers will get emphysema, while a quarter of all deaths from smoking are from emphysema,"

Can someone explain that statement ?

Does it mean that three quarters of smokers who have emphysema do not die of it ?

Anonymous said...

The lessons that will be learned from this by the authoritarian Health fascists are:

1. That they aren't trying hard enough.

2. That they need more legislation to change behaviour by force.

3. That much higher taxes are required to compel compliance with their desires.

Dick Puddlecote said...

AE: Precisely. The scaremongery has reached ridiculous proportion when thirdhand smoke is being touted by people who are supposed to have received an education. It's an Emperor's clothes moment.

John East: Agreed. Precisely the opposite of what they should be doing. But then, they're not really people people are they? ;)

Anonymous said...

As Al Pacino once said : "Free will, it is a bitch..."

Anonymous said...

"""""Fiona Sharkie????????
What can be said about totty baguettes like this twisted sowette.Obviously she has had some
sad relationships in a disjointed
upbringing,puberty in the normal sense of the word has only added to her maladjustment in a forlorn youth.Lacking attention from normal
humans ,she now occupies her life
of pathos spewing out well funded
doom and gloom.I think we all know what this silly tart really needs,
a soon as possible

Anonymous said...

It’s the Catch-22 for any campaign group which seeks to achieve its aims by making false promises, scaremongering and telling sheer lies, though, isn’t it? Because they can only get away with it up to the point that they actually achieve their aims – be that prohibition, smoking bans, religious conversion, selling health insurance, flogging second-hand cars, winning an election, or whatever. Whether they like it or not, as far as the general public are concerned, from that moment on reality kicks in, and it is – for the campaigners – a sorry fact that it takes a much, much shorter time for people to realise, in the light of cold, hard experience, that they’ve been sold a pup than it takes to brainwash them in the first place.

Which may go a long way towards explaining why the drop-off in support for the anti-smoking movement has been so steep since the smoking ban was implemented, with the result that new smoking-related health stories have a ring of the “any port in a storm” about them, are generally relegated to the middle pages of the newspapers, and why increasing numbers of non-smoking reporters are now starting to express reservations about the ban and about the whole anti-smoking movement, and why commenters and protesters against the movement now include increasing numbers of non-smokers amongst them. The recent moves by erstwhile big-time supporters of anti-smoking, such as RWJF to shift funds elsewhere, as indicated by Chris Snowdon on his blog (kindly linked for me in a previous comment by the good DP himself) are a sign that, despite the rather whining protestations of anti-smoking lobbies everywhere as to how vital their work still remains, their funders have clearly realised that money spent here is no longer going to achieve the results that it used to.

The trouble is, anti-smoking has used this tactic so successfully for so long now that it simply doesn’t know any other way to go about achieving its aims, and in any case the only alternative to telling lies is – er – to tell the truth. And the truth, as we all know, totally contradicts everything that anti-smoking has ever said about tobacco.

Catch-22 indeed. I always said that the worst possible thing to happen to the anti-smoking movement would be the smoking ban. How ironic to think that if they’d only listened to me – a humble, filthy smoker – all that lovely lucre, power and influence could still be there for the taking for them instead of slipping, inexorably, from their grasp!

Reinhard said...

Dick would you please explain the last paragraph to me? 'Mafraid I didn't understand your point.

I suppose this is a bit of good news, but still depressing that despite the alarms various people have been ringing for years, no one was interested until the proverbial frog had already boiled to death.

Anonymous said...

According to the ever so precise figures of the U. S. government

annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality (SAM) 1995-1999 was, in total, 442,398 deaths (264,087 male plus 17,696 female). Of these, 17,696 (9,944 male, 7,752 female) were from emphysema and bronchitis combined. For anyone foolish enough to accept these numbers as valid, this is about 4%.

The idea that "Almost all smokers will get emphysema, while a quarter of all deaths from smoking are from emphysema," is weird.

Mike F.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, total female deaths was 178,311 not 17,696.

Mike F.