Thursday, 21 September 2017

Scream Test Update

It's been just over a week since it was announced that PMI were unconditionally throwing $1bn at a former WHO cabinet director to conduct research into reduced risk nicotine products, and the squealing from 'public health' has been a joy to behold.

Let's just revisit what that world-renowned tobacco control expert, Simon Chapman, says about this phenomenon.
When it comes to tobacco control, you can determine the most effective policies by using the litmus test of how the tobacco industry reacts. This has long been called the “scream test”. 
So when they cry blue murder about the civilisation-ending potential of a policy, it’s not rocket science that they appreciate its threat to their bottom-line.
One can only assume, then, that by Simon's own logic, tobacco control must be absolutely shitting themselves about the project and - by extension - the threat to the cosy cartel they have built up from decades of junk science and lying.

At time of writing, there are 116 'health groups' who have signed a letter to PMI demanding that their initiative can only be taken seriously by the company "immediately ceasing the production, marketing and sale of cigarettes". It's the kind of maturity and considered understanding of the world you'd expect out of an eight year old, but then you have to take into account that they are all very scared, bless 'em.

These people are supposedly 'experts' in the field of public health, and so will have studied the industry intensely over the years. They know very well that instantly cutting off supply of cigarettes would cause carnage. Organised crime would burgeon overnight, pension funds would be decimated, supply chains of wholesalers, packagers, retailers, and even entire national economies would be destroyed. Enforcement costs would skyrocket, perfectly law-abiding people would be criminalised and imprisoned, and people would - undoubtedly - die, in their thousands.

They know this, but suggest something absolutely inconceivable and irresponsibly damaging anyway. Complete prohibition of tobacco is an extreme position that not one of those 116 groups would ever advocate openly, but they are pretending to suggest that PMI do it. Yes, that's how very scared they are.

They are scared because - despite their lame protestations that the tobacco industry is only interested in alternative products because they want to drag people back to smoking - they know that industry is only doing what any other sector would do when faced with a "Kodak moment": following the consumer. What's more, they know very well that innovative products are more profitable and that any business would be foolish not to pursue the opportunities, as these graphics from Bloomberg show.

Cigarette profit margins v E-cig profit margins
Cigarette profit margins v Heat not burn profit margins
I don't remember 'public health' complaining too much when food companies took salt out of their products, in fact the salt loonies actually took credit for forcing them into it. But when the tobacco industry invests heavily and produces new products which take harm out of consuming nicotine, the tobacco control lot scream. You have to ask why. It's because they are scared.

They are scared because they know that they have fucked up. 'Public health' science ceased to be real science a very long time ago. They have simply spewed out all manner of partial bullshit for decades. They discovered that persuading politicians to do their bidding didn't rely on actually producing academically admirable work, it just relied on sounding plausible and getting politicos to believe the lies.

So we entered the era of research that generally went like this, if they were honest:
"Taking funding from a source which was seeking a biased conclusion, we took a pre-conceived policy idea and decided to carefully design a study which promoted it. We threw out any data that didn't fit, and scoured what was left to find something - anything - that remotely hinted at an association with what we wanted to do. We did send it for peer review on this occasion - though sometimes can't be arsed - but only after we released it to the press to grab a cheap headline. We don't even care if what we told the press is true, because if the study says something completely different - which it very often does - no-one will read it anyway, especially since we keep most of it behind a prohibitively expensive paywall so the public can't see the shit we send MPs for free. And even if they do, by the time our scam is debunked the headlines would have already flown around the world and millions will believe it.
We then concluded from our bollocks study that this is incontestible proof that the public need to be battered by more illiberal laws; that we want more cash more research is needed; and that if politicians don't listen to us we will tell everyone they want to kill little children."
It is into this stultifying and perverse environment of professional liars that e-cigs just happened to stumble.

Here was an alternative that was attractive to smokers and was threatening to make the tobacco control industry look a bit foolish. Their tired 'quit or die' gravy train was stalling, public sector cash was being squeezed, and along comes a product which, for many, was just as much enjoyment but without the harm. It even prompted forums, vape meets, festivals, and competitions, something never seen with patches and gums for some weird reason.

Faced with this clear threat to the livelihoods of many a comfortable, ruddy-faced 'public health' careerist, there was only one option. Attack it.

So they did. They believed that the same approach they used with smoking would work with vaping. Why not, it did before, didn't it? So they lied, and lied, and released junk science, and press released scary stories, and, and, and ... showed themselves up to be liars to a far bigger cohort of the public. Because, for the most part, the public don't care about e-cigs like they did about smoking, so they saw that they were being lied to.

The lies were so gobsmackingly ridiculous that some of their own even splintered off, perhaps wisely noting that history would judge who was being at least superficially sincere and who was just protecting their income to the detriment of the public's well-being.

In the case of reduced risk products, though, tobacco companies were employing proper scientists and doing proper science. The kind of stuff that may as well be written in Sanskrit as far as the assorted sociologists, psychologists, public policy advisors, aircraft engineers and self-declared 'experts' in tobacco control are concerned. Big Tobacco employed true global experts in their field, tobacco control just relied on their tried-and-tested ploy of pretending tobacco controllers were experts despite being woefully underqualified {waves at Martin McKee}.

But despite producing real science, the tobacco industry was ignored and sidelined because Big Tobacco, innit. The charlatans were gaining headlines for their biased crap, while the real deal was being ignored. If the tobacco control industry hadn't been so arrogant as to think that they could lie their way to banning e-cigs and other less harmful products, the PMI deal would probably not have happened.

It's said that Aristotle was the first to note that "nature abhors a vacuum", so considering that tobacco control were so cavalier about how they imagined, conceived, tabled and presented reseacrh in this area - while imploring everyone to ignore far better quality stuff from industry - is it any wonder that PMI said "Fuck it! Let's shovel a load of cash at people who will do it impartially".

'Public health' had their chances to do impartial science; proper science. But instead decided to just lie and cheat their way through it. Well, now there are a billion reasons why they should have acted more honestly in the past instead of deciding that with risk-reduced nicotine their policy should be "doubt is our product".

We know that they will scream - as the 116 stuck pigs mentioned earlier are doing - but this just shows that the research is something they are terribly afraid of. Why else try to obfuscate with something as facile and pathetic as a demand for a new worldwide Prohibition which would cause chaos? It's a last flailing of a cabal which is fearing its sepulchral end.

If those 116 'public health' organisations want to blame anyone for why it has come to this; that a tobacco company is firing a billion crispy oncers towards real unbiased research with no conditions, they only have to look at the garbage they have been foisting on the public for the past 30 years, then look in the mirror. 


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