Thursday 18 October 2012

BMA Lying Again, Say Their Friends ... Again!

Following the recent re-opening of the drive to ban smoking in all cars (yes, all cars, the children have ceased to be that relevant as predicted here 3 years ago), Wasp did some excellent digging which is worth a read in full.

On finally tracking down the research referenced by the BBC - but not linked to as the BBC had promised was going to happen back in 2010 - he found a very interesting footnote.

For background, you may remember that the last time this subject cropped up, Vivienne Nathanson of the BMA lied on BBC radio. No, really, quite comprehensively in fact.

This was demonstrably untrue, as she should have known very well if she is to describe herself as an 'expert'. It was thoroughly debunked by her own side a long time before that transmission. After a few stiff e-mails from certain, ahem, sections of the blogosphere, the BMA were forced to issue a humiliating retraction just a couple of days later.
Please note, there is an error in the BMA briefing paper: Smoking in vehicles. On page 4, in the 3rd paragraph, the following sentence is incorrect: 
“Further studies demonstrate that the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled vehicle is 23 times greater than that of a smoky bar, even under realistic ventilation conditions”. 
THIS SENTENCE HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH: "Further studies demonstrate that the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled vehicle could be up to 11 times greater than that of a smoky bar”. 
We apologise for this error.
This week, via the source of the BBC's story, it seems that they've been taken to task on that, too [opens pdf].
The recent BMA briefing paper on smoking in vehicles initially stated that “the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled vehicle is 23 times greater than that of a smoky bar, even under realistic ventilation conditions” and cited studies from controlled conditions.Our data do not support this claim nor the BMA’s retraction issued the following day changing the text to “the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled vehicle could be up to 11 times greater than that of a smoky bar.” Our study of a large number of real-life smoking journeys suggests that SHS concentrations measured over the duration of the journey are, on average, between one-half and one-third of the average levels measured in UK bars prior to smoke-free legislation.
Now, even that figure I would say is highly debatable. But it's quite clear that Nathanson was spouting utter bollocks on national radio and dishonestly insisting that a figure 15 times larger than that was "peer-reviewed" and uncontested, when it wasn't.

Et tu, Semple of Aberdeen?

This should, of course, mean that no-one can ever take Nathanson or the BMA seriously again but you know that won't happen.

Is there anyone in the tobacco control industry who isn't an agenda-driven, dishonest incompetent?

UPDATE: How prescient was this from Brendan O'Neill last year?
Nowhere can I see hard evidence that smoking in cars generates 11 times the toxicity of a smoky bar.
That's because, as we now know thanks to Dr Semple, it was quite clearly fabricated.
It's time for the BMA to admit that its report demanding a ban on smoking in cars was a career low, a true jumping-of-the-shark for this busybody outfit determined to lecture the British populace. This is what happens when you opt for moralism over medicine and become more concerned with socially re-engineering the feckless masses than with boosting medical services. The BMA needs to butt out of our private lives and choices and go back to doing proper medicine, and the media should be more critical of nanny-state demands dressed up in pseudoscientific garb.
Amen to that.


James Pickett said...

You almost wonder if she's ever been in a car. All the ones I've travelled in have effective ventilation systems, which are conspicuously absent in most bars...

DaveAtherton20 said...

This is the retraction in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"We recommend that researchers and organizations stop using the 23 times more toxic factoid because there appears to be no
evidence for it in the scientific literature."

Here is the original paper it is based on.

ivandenisovich said...

I find it disappointing that the BBC believes the BMA's opinion on this subject is in some way especially relevant or important. The BMA is a trade union for medics and outside that area of competence, its views are inexpert and should be of little consequence or concern. Sadly, the BBC seems unable to grasp this rather obvious point and frequently implies that the likes of Nathanson actually represent the collective opinion of UK medics. I find this sad because there are many really nice people in our communities who happen to be medics and it really isn't their fault that poor journalists continue to associate them with dishonest authoritarian windbags on such a regular basis.

Tony said...

Smoking in cars has also been covered here:
He includes a graphic showing how the PM2.5 levels regularly reach the 'in-car danger' level in Westminster and importantly these are 24 hour average figures rather than mere minutes in the cars.

Louis said...

It's quite silly trying to put together a theory based on experiments.
To get a reasonable baseline, all any sensible researcher needs to do is speak to a handful of taxi drivers and ask what it was like prior to the ban.
Or look at any traffic junction and see how lorry and van drivers manage it, despite having "no smoking" signs plastered on their windows.
It's rather juvenille, but that's the nature of this lot.
My suspicion is they probably picked this idea from watching an episode from "police camera action" where the lads were parked up and all four were smoking spliff's.
In these cases, they don't run the fan because the smell's the giveaway. Of course the build up of smoke does it too! And the people in blue will stop you if smoke is obviously reducing visibility.
But they won't do that because the whole point is to give a small number of politicians the "studied, peer reviewed, evidence" they need to pass legislation.
Hey, it worked with the WMD's and "democracy in Iraq & Afghanistan & The Taliban are destroyed". They don't need much, they love to govern on the basis of "suck it and see".

Devil's Kitchen said...

I'm sorry, but the BMA's all-ensuring low is the National Insurance Act 2011—nothing could possibly beat that.


fenton said...

She seems to have forgotten there aren't any smoky bars anymore thanks to the likes of her and her hectoring friends, so her data is at the very least 6 years out of date, so shut the fuck up and fuck off