Friday, 6 December 2013

Sir Cyril Chantler's Review - What's In And What's Out

It's been very busy here in Puddlecoteville so I've just got round to commenting further (blog mascot intervention aside) on last Thursday's 'urgent question' debate invoked on plain packaging by Labour's Luciana Berger ... who, by the way, is a duplicitous self-shaming smoker herself.

Quisling Luciana says the evidence for plain packaging is "clear for all to see" despite it being drawn up by plain packaging advocates referencing their own junk science and assessed by more plain packaging advocates who were allowed to abandon impartiality by discarding globally recognised protocols, as admitted in the consultation impact assessment [pdf].
The latter two requirements suggested by Hora and van Winterfeldt (impartiality and lack of an economic or personal stake in potential findings) are considered impractical in this area, and so instead we will include a description of the participants’ employment and expertise for transparency.
As for the new review, we can look to the Lords to see how impartial it is likely to be.
Lord Patel (Crossbench)
My Lords, I declare an interest as a fellow of several medical royal colleges, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which have all previously backed, and continue to back, the argument that legislation should be brought forward to make cigarette packaging plain. I have spoken on many occasions in relevant debates under both this Government and the previous one and have tabled amendments to bring in legislation for the plain packaging of cigarettes. I have done so on the basis that the evidence is conclusive, as shown by both the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, that glamorised packaging is used by the industry to recruit young, new smokers. Now we have to wait until the evidence is produced by Sir Cyril Chantler. Disappointed though I am that we cannot legislate now, I can afford to wait a few months because I know that Sir Cyril Chantler, who is a friend, is a man of principle and will look at the evidence as it is.
Which, if we flick channels back the commons, is kinda confirmed by Jane Ellison herself.
"At present, we are strongly minded to introduce regulations under the affirmative procedure." 
"One of the reasons we asked a distinguished paediatrician to conduct the review, rather than someone from a public health background, was that he would be able to bring a fresh mind to it. Sir Cyril will set his own terms, which he will announce in the next few weeks."
This is Sir Cyril, friend of Lord Patel, one of the biggest advocates of plain packaging in either house? Hmm, puts a bit of pressure on the 'terms' to be encompassed, eh?

I know it's a long shot, but maybe he'll take economic, business, consumer and border control issues into account. Not according to Ellison, as apparently they're off limits.
Robert Halfon (Harlow, Conservative) 
I confess that I enjoyed a Henri Wintermans Café Crème after breakfast this morning on the way to work. Does my hon. Friend agree that there are many lawful smokers who want to be sure what they are buying? Has she made any assessment of the effect that plain packaging could have on the black market by making it easier to smuggle counterfeit cigarettes? 
Jane Ellison (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Battersea, Conservative) 
That point came up during the consultation. To be clear, the review that we have asked Sir Cyril to undertake will cover the public health aspects of the policy.
So you're aware of the consultation then, Jane. That's good, because there were half a million people who submitted responses opposing the policy in what was the largest public consultation reaction this country has ever seen. Sir Cyril will surely be taking that into account, yes?
"The review is not a public consultation. The Government ran a full public consultation in 2012 and the responses will be available in full for the review. To maximise transparency, the Department will also publish the substantive responses received as soon as possible."
Well, at least it looks like he will be given the full picture from the consultation, which is encouraging to hear. Interesting, also, that the formal responses will be published too.

The detailed responses were mostly from state-funded departments; fake charities; single interest pressure groups; and other professional 'stakeholders', although we did have a good go at it ourselves, with many of you sharing by e-mail. Once these responses are all out in the open, we can have a good look at how this "evidence" rigging was treated by the tobacco control industry.

It would be nice if Sir Cyril was also told how plain packs advocates encouraged the submission of multiple responses; told bare-faced lies to politicians; and attempted to secretly exclude any public objections to the policy, but I can guess that he will be oblivious to all that.

So, is this a stitch-up, clever politicking or - the rank outsider - a genuine attempt to discover the truth? I'm still none the wiser, whaddya reckon?

Incidentally, fellow jewel robber Tony W helpfully answered my plea for a recording of Ellison misrepresenting the consultation outcome on Radio 5 Live. Here it is.


smiffy01 said...

Perhaps this might help to clarify how crooked this is going to be DP.

A Distant Drum said...

It is patently obvious to those of above intelligence(sadly too few),that
debate,discussion and reason is beyond the remit of the anti tobacco
cartel.Their continous crusade can only be maintained by reward, fiscal
or by other means(promotion,elevation or adulation.)
The few who cry freedom dont have the backing or airplay to cause the least concern to the ever paraded "experts"
Time to view the history books,there we will find many cures for the self
elevating ,small time ,pontificating ,pompous attention seekers.
Sadly the cures are often uncivilised but effective.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Dick, you wrote, "Once these responses are all out in the open, we can have a good look at how this "evidence" rigging was treated by the tobacco control industry."

I'm afraid you may be too optimistic. Note the wording that you bolded: "To maximise transparency, the Department will also publish the substantive responses received as soon as possible."

Something tells me that the best responses AGAINST gory packs will be unlikely to meet the standards for " substantive responses."


EKeller said...

Michael: Link did not work. What was the title of the piece?

Michael J. McFadden said...

Thanks EKeller! :) For some reason they changed their ID system over to a more date-oriented one. Here you go:


EKeller said...

Thanks Michael. That worked. Did you ever get the study published?

Michael J. McFadden said...

No, by the time we waited out the process and rejections from Circulation and Tobacco Control, it seemed fairly pointless in terms of the effort involved for the potential impact achieved. What was *needed* was for the BMJ itself, the journal responsible for publishing the Helena abomination, to publish a fully corrective piece in a timely manner. They refused, and they did so with the most flimsy of excuses, and by the time we'd made the circuit of the other two journals there had already been three or four Helena copycats published using the same acceptably shoddy standards. Publishing in a minor journal would have simply resulted in there being "an outlier contrary 'study' by two non-accredited researchers" -- worthless.

HOWEVER... in the last several years, as I outlined in detail in the Helena section of TobakkoNacht, there have been several quite large, very well-accredited studies (Shelley's RAND/Stanford study, Mathews' 73 city study, Rodu's 7 State study, and another I'm forgetting at the moment) that covered population sizes similar to ours and arrived at conclusions quite similar to ours.

Unfortunately they came five years too late to do much good: the fairy tale had been established and featured in literally thousands of news stories around the world and established in the public consciousness. The BMJ did a tremendous disservice to science, to research, and to the public in its treatment of our work -- and they should be ashamed of themselves.


Karyyl said...

Glantz is doing an excellent job of leading the Democratic Party into an electoral apocolypse in 2016 from the extreme prohibitionism, which has stepped outside nannyism into straight lying. With friends like that, who needs enemies?