Thursday 29 December 2011

BHF Calls For A Law To Stop People Believing The Truth

Isn't it good when large charities do exactly what the public expect them to? Well, you won't see any of that from the British Heart Foundation today ... they're lobbying government instead.

In a press release which was surprisingly shunned by most news outlets (Mirror and Independent excepted), the BHF advance one of the many paper thin justifications that anti-smoking organisations are dreaming up to hide the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that plain packaging will have any effect on smoking rates - in children or anyone else.

Among the 2,700 16 to 25-year-olds polled, just over a quarter of regular smokers judged one cigarette brand to be less harmful than another purely on the basis of packaging.
You see, the tobacco control cult are unanimous that dose does not make the poison when it comes to tobacco. It is, apparently, a unique product which manages to circumvent the globally accepted rules of chemistry and biology (and even physics in some instances). This point is explained further in the BHF's tobacco marketing policy statement (via Belinda, emphasis mine).

The outcomes of a study commissioned by ASH show that the branding of cigarette packs profoundly affects consumer perceptions of the attractiveness and relative safety of the products. The same research found that adults and young people were significantly more likely to rate packages with the term “smooth”, “gold” and “silver” as lower tar, lower health risk, and easier to quit compared to “regular” varieties of the same brands.
What a silly idea. I wonder where they got that from, eh?

Well, perhaps from the EU.

Directive 2001/37/EC

Article 3

Cigarettes: maximum tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields

1. From 1 January 2004, the yield of cigarettes released for free circulation, marketed or manufactured in the Member States shall not be greater than:

- 10 mg per cigarette for tar,

- 1 mg per cigarette for nicotine,

- 10 mg per cigarette for carbon monoxide.
One must wonder why the EU would be passing directives on the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields, if it weren't to 'lower health risk' and - considering everything the EU does with regards smoking is designed to reduce prevalence - make it 'easier to quit'.

Not convinced? OK, how about this from the Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health (SCOTH)(again, emphases mine)?

Health effects of smoking lower tar cigarettes

Only prolonged smoking of low tar cigarettes can determine the extent to which health risks are reduced. UK figures show that male lung cancer diagnoses have been falling since the early 1980’s which reflects the trend in smoking which has decreased for the last twenty years. This may in part also be due to the lower tar cigarette.


Another possible explanation for the observed reduction in male lung cancer deaths may be the altered ratio between tar and nicotine in the lower tar cigarettes: the ratio between tar and nicotine has reduced as tar levels have come down and this means reduced exposure to tar and other harmful constituents of smoke measured on a per unit nicotine basis.
That would seem pretty unequivocal. Lower tar cigarettes are considered to be marginally less harmful than higher tar ones, and SCOTH even believe there is evidence to prove it.

Every producer reacts to customer preferences, with brands in all areas introducing lines which are lower in fat, sugar, salt, alcohol content, or whatever else they have been hectored into being scared of. Tobacco is no different. Seeing that smokers were concerned about levels of tar and nicotine, tobacco manufacturers developed a range of products with differing strengths to cater for each individual's choice and risk tolerance. And, yes, "packages with the term “smooth”, “gold” and “silver”" really are lower in the ingredients mentioned, as is helpfully documented by SCOTH here.

The EU set a maximum level on tar, nicotine and CO many years ago because they fully believed that health of smokers would be improved by doing so. If not, they were just spending money for no reason whatsoever. It must be one of the two (or, most likely, both).

So, the BHF's argument here is that young people believe something - which is true according to both the EU and SCOTH - to be true, and that therefore anything indicating this truth must be eradicated.

Hmmm, unless you're a chipboard-brained politician, it's not very convincing is it? Expect much more 'evidence' of the same feeble calibre on this subject in the coming months, though.

'Cos that's the problem when you're a tobacco control junkie scratching round the bottom of the barrel for ever-diminishing fixes to satisfy your prohibitionist cravings - once the easy pickings dry up, all you're left with is the unappealing crud.


Ian R Thorpe said...

Ciggies are not quite unique Dick, just as looking at a cigarette or even thinking about looking at a cigarette can result in instant death, so looking at a salt cellar can instantly turn an adult human's ateries into bone china instantly.
How can we know these things are true? Well a scientist said so and that should be enough proof for anyone.

Ivan D said...

That’s a bit harsh on scientists Ian. Real scientists discover particles that seem to be travelling faster than light and don’t believe themselves. They are sceptics who destruction test their theories in the hope of producing something of value in the long term.

Public health on the other hand is mostly practiced by failed medics and humanities graduates who develop theories based on their own prejudices / whatever brings in grant money/ what will make them famous /what big industry they really hate etc. and then torture the data to fit their pet theories.

The “scientific claims” made by Public Health are an insult to scientists everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I've always considered "Truth" to be related to belief and dogma as opposed to "Fact" which comes from verifiable proofs (although there will always be doubters / skeptics). Here the "Truth" appears to be drawn from interpreting a couple of reports which use the words "possible" and "may" pretty liberally.

The thing I don't understand in this whole argument is why people even care about packaging. I like beer and as long as I knew what product the container I was holding contained I'd not care an iota about the labelling.

Why do smokers care? Or is the revolt against this actually evidence that the argument is valid and packaging really does influence what smokers consume?

Lyn said...

Reduce the taste and increase the amount smoked!

That's what happens when we smoke 'light' cigs, such as Silk Cut! The effect is not there so we smoke more - therefore the so called 'benefits' the do gooders are aiming at are nullified.

They should leave well alone any subject they do not understand and the pleasures of smoking is most definitely one of them!

Anonymous said...

@anon 17.48 Well, I care because

a. if my usual variant isn't in stock, I can judge from the packaging which variant of another brand will suit (this is a quite different assertion from that of packaging influencing non-smokers)

b. I believe that to treat tobacco differently from other consumer goods is to further demonise its users

c. tobacco is a legal product and its manufacturers should continue to have the right, as manufacturers of other legal products have, to use branding to differentiate their brand from that of a competitor

d. the logical conclusion of tobacco control's assertion that packaging tempts young minds is the utter absurdity of selling whatever product is the hobby-horse of a powerful lobby in plain packaging and

e. much of my life is influenced by politicians and I would prefer if they at least had the decency and integrity to meddle only when absolutely necessary and then only on the basis of compelling evidence and not in the face of drivel presented by the unscrupulous charlatans that comprise tobacco control


Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon: You make a good point, politely too. :)

I don't claim to speak for anyone else, but this is more an attack on smokers than any serious attempt at reducing prevalence (simply because they know very well that it won't work).

Firstly, it's just the next move in denormalising smokers, which is the motive behind everything the tobacco control industry have done for the past 6 or 7 years at least. Having reached the Pareto problem (the last 20% is uneconomic to crack), they are thinking up anything they can to demonise not only the product, but the purchasers themselves in order to shame them into quitting.

Also, even ASH have admitted that it's not about anything else but taking choice and self-determination away from smokers. Here's how they put it.

"Smokers display the branding every time they take out their pack to smoke. In doing so they are making a statement about how they want to be seen by others as they display and endorse the brand they have chosen"

It's the equivalent of banning someone from wearing clothing with a logo because you don't like the company that makes it.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to a woman from the British Heart Foundation being interviewed this morning on LBC regarding this.
Her answer to every single question was on the lines of 'protecting the young people'.
In fact, it was her only answer.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Lyn: You make the choice not to smoke 'light' cigs. That, presently, is your choice. Others may disagree, in fact they surely must otherwise the cigarettes wouldn't exist.

The marvellous thing about plain packaging is that - with differing strengths not being allowed to be advertised as is the anti-smoking plan - the only competitive feature left is price.

So, whereas now smokers can choose low tar cigarettes to reduce harm (as the EU intended), the future will see all variants being marketed as cheap as possible.

We'll all be smoking the ones with the biggest hit, irrespective of tar content, and we won't be able to instantly recognise which are low tar and which are not. Because tobacco control don't want us to, as illustrated by the BHF today.

It's not, and never has been, about health. ;)

Lyn said...

Hi Dick, I know it has nothing to do with health but I guess it hasn't really sunk in yet what this under the counter business and plain packaging will involve. However, not having bought cigs in the UK for more years than I can now remember and not having smoked 'British' brands either, I am not sure what I would ask for, if I needed to prop up this spineless coalition government! That is, assuming what I thought I heard was correct, that brand names would still be on the packaging, albeit in small, plain print.

I didn't hear the interview with the BHF this morning but I did hear the one (it may have been last night) with the CRUK over the success of their recent cancer campaign. How can people be so gullible as to believe that the money they are donating is actually going towards research? If it were, instead of the anti smoking campaign, then more cancers would be being beaten by now, I am sure.

I am not being unsympathetic to those who have suffered losses through cancer; I lost my first husband to lung cancer so know what it is to go through and come out the other side. I just cannot stand their self righteious, holier than thou attitudes, never mind the preaching and brainwashing!

Anonymous said...

What I don’t understand is why the tobacco companies don’t change their packaging – now, whilst they still can – and start selling as many packets of cigarettes as possible in some kind of re-usable plastic boxes rather than the all-too-easily squashed (and impossible-to-refill-completely) cardboard packets they currently use. It may be a bit pricey, but if it effectively renders the upcoming plain packaging rules pretty much ineffective by ensuring that their branding continues to be seen regularly, then surely it would be worth the extra expense. I’m pretty sure that the advertising rules don’t allow them to issue specific “smoking paraphernalia” with their logos on, like lighters or cigarette cases, but at least for the moment they are allowed to use them on the basic packaging, so why not, with an eye to the future, make that just a bit longer-lasting?

mark s. said...

Has everybody taken leave of their
senses over christmas?

Hide that.
Price that higher.
and more quack science than you could
shake a stick at!

Oh and well said Ivan D.