Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Now The Australian Medical Association Says "No Evidence"

The tobacco control Twitter frenzy of early last week seems such a long time ago, doesn't it?

First it was the NHS, and now - just a couple of days later - the Australian Medical Association has weighed in to pour bromide in the tea of orgasmic tobacco controllers and their wild claims about that plain packaging study.
But although the study, conducted last November and December as the plain packaging laws were being implemented, suggests smokers of cigarettes from plain packs are more likely to considering giving up, there is as yet no evidence that the change has led people to quit. 
Nor, the authors admitted, were they able to “tease apart” whether it was the plain packaging itself, or larger health warnings, that may be influencing the perceptions of smokers. 
As pointed out by the Crikey web news service last week, the study’s results also shed no light on whether plain packaging has been successful in one of its key goals, deterring children and adolescents from taking up smoking. 
And, underlining the need for caution when assessing the effectiveness of plain packaging, the study found there were “no significant differences in the proportion of plain and branded pack smokers who thought frequently about the harms of smoking or thought smoking harms had been exaggerated”.
Yes, that's THE Australian Medical Association joining a kinda global consensus. A real 'et tu, Brute' moment if ever there was one.

Incidentally, did they mention caution? The BBC health team don't know the meaning of the word.

Interestingly, the term 'encourage smokers to quit' does not appear in the study itself, nor does it feature in the Aussie government's breathless press release. Instead it refers to the BBC's own reporting of the story ... they seem to have installed themselves as some kind of expert rather than the impartial news sharers they are supposed to be.

Meanwhile, back in the real world.
“There has been no noticeable impact on legal tobacco sales in the first six months due to plain packaging, as smokers are still purchasing cigarettes just as they were before it was introduced,” BAT spokesman Scott McIntyre said in a statement.
Oh dear, Australia.

On the evidence as it stands, the UK government's 'wait-and-see' decision looks to have been an inspired one, eh?


Ivan D said...

I suspect that the BBC may have been influenced by the press office of CRUK which issued a news item with a similar headline on the same day. The BBC views CRUK as an infallible oracle despite the fact that it normally gets its information from spin doctors like Kate Alley rather than anyone who actually knows what hey are talking about. Other favored charities include the British Lung Foundation which is a group of marketing and PR executives plus some controversial medics, the British Heart Foundation which spends almost as much as CRUK on spin and The World Cancer Research Fund whose staff are the scientific equivalent of the Moonies Our health news is essentially based on press releases from favored organizations and the personal prejudices of BBC reporters. It is easy to see how public opinion is manipulated by activists with the direct help of a state broadcaster that is less than objective. The BBC dominates the news but rarely publishes the type of sober objective assessments that you have highlighted in your posts. Therefore, even though the study itself is very poor and provides no useful evidence, most people will only ever see the eye catching CRUK press release reworked by the BBC. As time goes by several equally awful studies will get the same headline treatment and before you know it, there will be a "body of evidence" and the PM will be calling for action. It really is that pathetic and we deserve better.

darcy89 said...

Remember that BBC reports are often predigested and regurgitated by the Science Media Centre. Obviously totally impartial. /sarc.

Bisley said...

Government, in general, needs to be slapped down and told to mind its own business. Why should these people micro-manage every facet of everyone's life and business? If some people want to smoke tobacco and others see an opportunity in producing and selling it, why are we all paying taxes to support government interfering with them? Each of us has a natural right to live as we please and to manage our businesses and property as we see fit, provided we don't trespass on the right of others to do the same, in their own sphere.

Government has no legitimate authority to regulate tobacco, or its use (other than possibly restricting sales to children), or to be involved in most of the other things they are doing. It is up to us, individually, to decide how we wish to live and what sort of risks we are willing to take with our lives and health, not to conform to whatever the frauds in government can get a majority vote for (and the other half of us don't necessarily agree with), supposedly for our own good. The individual is the best judge of what is, or isn't good, as governed by each person's particular wants and needs, not by what others may think is proper and wish to impose on us all. We need more freedom and less government.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Indeed. Just about what I told the CRUK telesales girl who rang me the other night, boy was that cathartic. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I think you just wrote a mission statement for this blog. Couldn't agree more!