Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Whatever You Do, Don't Think Of The Children!

It seems that Simon Chapman is a trifle irritated by my pointing out that, despite plain packaging, a long term decline in smoking amongst 12 to 17 year olds in Australia has been replaced by a massive increase of 36%.

As I mentioned the other day, this would equate to the addition of around (corr) 15,000 teen smokers since the previous survey in 2010. Not a great result for a policy designed to stop kids from smoking, I think you'll agree.

So irritated is he that he has taken the unusual step of linking to my little site and trying to pretend this kind of information is irrelevant.
However, a tiny ray of hope remained. A tobacco-loving English blogger noticed that in the 12-17 year age group (the principal target of plain packaging legislation) the percentage of daily smokers actually rose from 2.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent. 
The jubilant blogger took the trouble to construct a bold graph that emphasised this massive uplift. But he failed to tell his readers that for five of 10 data cells that made up the figures, the standard error was more than 50 per cent ("too unreliable for general use") and another two cells with lower standard errors "should be used with caution").
Well, it wasn't me who produced the 'bold graph', but we'll set that aside and put it down to his usual senile frailties in not understanding the concept of blogging very well, shall we? But let's look at his main point, that the increase should be ignored.

It is true that the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) express reservations about many of the figures they have presented, as they explain in the preamble.
Estimates that have relative standard errors (RSE) greater than 50% are marked with ** and those with RSEs of between 25% and 50% are marked with *. Results subject to RSEs of between 25% and 50% should be considered with caution and those with RSE greater than 50% should be considered as unreliable for most practical purposes. Only estimates with RSEs of less than 25% are considered sufficiently reliable for most purposes.
There are a couple of examples of this in the screen grab I took last week.

You'll notice that the 2013 entries for occasional and ex-smokers are qualified with an asterisk, which refers to a note about the dubious RSEs. It is also true that many of the data sets in the background were considered to be less than perfect, but the AIHW’s data tables showed no asterisk next to its data point on daily smoking prevalence for youths between 12 and 17. The institute’s table saying it was at 3.4% with no qualifiers - along with everywhere else in the excel tables where it was similarly cited absent of any asterisk - indicates they were comfortable that the percentage was reliable and, as such, statistically valid.

Or, in the AIHW's own words, "considered sufficiently reliable for most purposes".

It is understandable that the tobacco control industry is finding this so unsettling, because every campaign in every country has focussed solely on glitzy packs and how they apparently attract children. Yet last week's dramatic claims of heroic achievement were conspicuously absent of any discussion of this pretty vital piece of information. Do you think they may have been hoping that no-one would notice?

In reality, this is the only statistic which is relevant in the plain packs debate when it comes to prevalence. Has plain packaging been successful in stopping kids from smoking, or not? It's that simple.

Sadly for Chapman and his fellow tax-spongers, the AIHW survey shows that there has most certainly not been a reduction, and that it's more than arguable that plain packaging has actually made things worse.

For once, it seems that tobacco controllers everywhere are desperately hoping you'll not think of the children. Fancy that!

Nothing to see here, look away ... look anywhere but at the statistics on youth smoking prevalence. Got that? Good.


Zillatron said...

Funny, chippy chap relying on
"Citi [...] saying it provided "the best data" [...] to legislate plain packs"
As if they wouldn't glantz their summary/conclusion to show what the customer wants to hear. Just imagine they write in their paper: "The data shows conclusively, that all your theories are bollocks".
They sure want to get paid for their work. And they know exactly what the "results" have to be to get their filthy lucre.

Just like people citing glantzed conclusions as foundation for their claims and completely ignoring the real data.

Wake up, scare mongers!
Your ivory tower isn't holy anymore. It's rather holey!
Real information is flowing faster and wider than you can pick your cherries.

Your aren't fighting another small group of scientific elite able to access the sacred knowledge. This is the age of distributed dynamic intelligence. Information is distributed and shared. People who don't have the necessary expertise will funnel it to those that do.

Look out! Your holey ivory tower is crumbling at its foundation.

Edgar said...

Plain packaging kills children. It's that simple.

What the.... said...

Good job, DP.

When it comes to the antismoking feral, Crapman, there’s always a particular expectation from his offerings – haughtiness galore. His latest crap-fest doesn’t disappoint.

You, DP, are dismissed as a “tobacco lover”, an essentially stupid, “addicted” person doing the bidding of the “evil” tobacco empire. And
in your addicted stupor you (according to him) even managed to slap together a simple graph; how commendable for someone so “disabled” by their “addiction” (maybe you’re even able to tie up your shoe-laces). It’s the standard put-down trash that flows naturally from the lips of this pathologically-lying, super-narcissist bully. DP, you need to understand that you are squaring up to the “big leaguers”; you're dealing with a "world saviour". Only important people like Crapman have anything useful to say.

Only more disturbing than Crapman’s blathering – and that’s saying something – is the amount of brainwashed antismoking ferals in the
comment section playing the same tired “Us” vs “Them” game.

Moralizing zealots always view themselves as “superior”, way above the
riff-raff of usual folk. But our Australian antismoking feral, Simon Crapman,
made it clear how the antismoking movement should proceed in the war against the tobacco empire and tobacco users. It was part of his presentation at the 1983 [antismoking] World Conference on Smoking & Health taken from his manual on how to do propaganda, “The Lung Goodbye”:

“Such a list could be added to considerably, but most entries would be characterized by being somehow cast in a mythological good versus evil battle in an arena observed by mass numbers of people. The good (health/clean air/children) versus evil (cancer/uncaring, callous industry) dimension is the ineluctable bottom line in the whole issue and a rich reservoir for spawning a great deal of useful social drama, metaphor, and symbolic politics that is the stuff of ‘news value’ and which is almost always to the detriment of the industry.” p.11 (see Godber Blueprint)

Having cast themselves in the role of the “mythological good” [natch], the
zealots are always right. Anyone who dares disagree with them is always wrong and part of some “evil” tobacco industry “conspiracy”. It’s all for
manipulative, “theatrical” effect – although there are some in the antismoking movement that believe they are “god-like” - and has been quite successfully used for the last three decades on an essentially superficial/gullible political class, media, and public. Extremists force this dichotomy: There are only two choices – Us, the “mythological good”, and Them, the “mythological evil”. If you’re not in agreement with Us, then you must be one of Them.

The zealots/ferals and their financial partners (government through
extortionate taxes and Big Pharma peddling its next-to-useless “nicotine
replacement therapy”) must have regular belly laughs at how all too easy the brainwashing has been….. to be able to shove this “framing of the issue” on everyone without question.

As Crapman would say....... "priceless".

Dick_Puddlecote said...

If their agenda was geared towards that conclusion, that's exactly what tobacco control would be saying right now. There would have not been any mention of RSEs.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Very interesting lift from the Godber Blueprint. Speaks volumes, that.

Threthny said...

Nice work. Things are starting to appear like its a battle between the right (The Australian newspaper) and the left (Sydney Uni/ABC). Its a shame they aren't more interested in policies that work than manipulating statistics and weekly anti-harm-reduction propaganda tweets.

JonathanBagley said...

I'm amazed he advertised your blog. Schoolboy error and plenty of new daily Australian readers.

truckerlyn said...

Then again, it never was about HEALTH or the CHILDREN!

What the.... said...

DP, there’s even more from that marvelous piece of activist trash, The Lung Goodbye:

“It is vital to reflect on the vastness of information, social issues and news to which people are exposed and over which they are often urged to take up a position. The smoking debate is just one issue pressing for attention - amongst thousands, and like almost any other issue, tends to attract media attention when its issues can be subsumed under some more fundamental mythological context.

Following, are some examples, by no means exhaustive, of angles and themes on smoking that seem to have news value:

* the mouse that roared, or David and Goliath - when little public interest groups or individuals go into battle with the tobacco industry. (When MOP UP in Sydney challenged the largest cigarette advertising campaign in Australia – and won – one newspaper captured the spirit of the challenge with the headline "MOP UP'S SLINGSHOT CUTS DOWN THE ADVERTISING OGRE")” p.13
Direct link to PDF;jsessionid=32A42DE3836FEBD65B9FE6696FCE11BA.tobacco03

What the.... said...

You’ll also notice that on p.15 of the same “manual” is what
some refer to as the Chapman Trick – for background, see comments by magnetic01

bertl said...

Dick_Puddlecote , It seems that maths is not your strength because 0.9 percent from 1,524 million is 15,000 and not 150,000