Sunday 8 July 2012

Full Fact Joins Us In Rubbishing The Heart Attack Miracle Lie

Via Belinda (who is in top form of late, do go read her excellent commentary today as well), it would seem that we have a reason to thank serial bullshit-writer, Laurie Penny.

True to form, her Independent article on the fifth anniversary of the smoking ban was merely her usual exercise in anti big business parroting of whatever line she believes will keep her on the lefty payroll at any particular time. Sadly for Laurie, pulling numbers out of her ideological arse has backfired this time as widely-read statisticians, Full Fact, decided to call her bluff.
But has the smoking ban achieved what it set out to and improved the health of the nation? Particularly, have heart attack rates in the UK fallen by as much as 26 per cent as Laurie Penny claims in her comment piece for the Independent?

At first glance it is not obvious where the statistic quoted by Ms Penny comes from.
Is it ever?

I won't go into detail, except to urge you to go read their full analysis and enjoy how politely they illustrate how she just made it up as she went along.

Despite this, though, we should be thankful that she was so blasé with her 'evidence'. Because, you see, it's something that tobacco controllers have been accustomed to getting away with for years. It's only once someone high profile like Penny utters the same patently unbelievable crap that the likes of Full Fact are attracted to it.

We should also thank Laurie for this graph that Full Fact have provided to their many thousands of followers.

And the 'Emperor's New Clothes' commentary which accompanied it.
The most noticeable thing from the chart is not only the steady decline in the heart attack rate, but that this decline has been happening at roughly the same rate since 2002. The smoking ban in England, introduced in 2007, doesn't appear to have affected the previous trend a great deal.
Or, indeed, at all.

We jewel robbers are past masters at seeing through public health snake oil salesmanship of course, but Laurie shouldn't be condemned too much for swallowing the tincture in one gulp seeing as her brand of unthinking gullibility is par for the course these days amongst the easily-led. We should, instead, rejoice that some long overdue focus is directed at literally impossible claims thanks to her ham-fisted attempt at defending Labour's illiberal excesses.

Just one of many examples of the same statistical sophistry can be seen in this 2008 BBC article on the marvels of the ban.
The smoking ban in England, introduced a year ago, has dramatically increased the number of people giving up the habit, it is claimed.

A survey [by anti-tobacco, competing interest professional Robert West] suggests more than 400,000 people quit smoking as a result of the smoking ban.
Which materialised as, according to the Department of Health's Tobacco Programme Manager, Andrew Black?

See that 'dramatically increased' number of people quitting? No, neither could anyone else if the true evidence was presented to them, but then true evidence is something that the public are never meant to see if the tobacco control industry has anything to do with it.

In such a way does the truth-avoidance anti-tobacco bandwagon keep rolling on, with one cleverly-placed soundbite after another fooling the dull in society that failure is actually something to be desired.

While we're on the subject of true evidence, you might be interested to know that the aforementioned Andrew Black was doubtless quite happy that the BBC's quitters claim was published, but his department has been eerily silent when it proved not to be correct. Only hand-picked 'facts' are ever allowed to see the light of day, and only if they agree with the one-sided aims of civil servants and authoritarian MPs.

He is now heavily involved in bludgeoning through the {cough} 'evidence' to prove plain packaging will be effective. Just one more reason - to add to very many others - not to believe a single syllable the absurd and venal pro plain packaging lobby utter on the subject, I'd say.


david said...

It'd be good to see ASH denying official evidence rather than providing it. It's not as though it could accuse the DOH of being a tobacco company stooge.

Ultimately the likes of Milton and Lansley are incompetent or liars. I'd suggest both. These people are elected and paid to serve the public, not by their corporate masters fronted by corrupt 'charities'.

Fuming Paladin said...

The media cover up is beyond belief
BBC North West did an item on pubs business after the ban
They commented on the general approval by the publicans they visited
I wrote asking how many pubs...............Reply...5
I asked which 5              no reply
I asked who chose the 5 pubs    nor reply
I then wrote to BBC HQ London (Director General)
Letter passed on to "Relations" dept
........"This matter is now closed,please do not write again"

Better still,my local Labour Pro Ban MP (Main interest,Social Exclusion ????)
his reasons given for the ban,the "runaway success in Ireland and
he and his wife's comfort in their once a months visit to a local pub"

Some ask why the Newspapers dont profile the ban issue
Tobacco Companies cant big bucks
Drug COs and Health Athorities can      massive bucks

Fair fight.......dont think so
Time for gloves off

The Second Restoration 

nisakiman said...

 "Some ask why the Newspapers dont profile the ban issue
Tobacco Companies cant big bucks
Drug COs and Health Athorities can      massive bucks"

Right on the nail.

As usual. 'follow the money...'