Friday 25 March 2011

New And Improved Mendacity

On the fifth anniversary of the smoking ban in Scotland, I see one of the "worst junk stats of 2007" is being rolled out yet again.

Sally Haw, senior scientific adviser for the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health and Policy, said: "The ban really has been one of Scotland's big public health success stories.

"This bold step has really paid off, with a 17% reduction in heart attacks among bar workers."
Err, I think she is referring to Jill Pell's heart attack miracle which wasn't true when she wrote it, and still isn't true now.

The study which produced the 17% fantasy figure was conducted over nine Scottish hospitals which - unless things are run differently north of the border - treat people from all walks of life, not just bar workers. However, since there is continued criticism of the ban from the hospitality sector, Sally obviously thought it in order to apply a bit of artistic licence for the greater good.

It would appear that not even good old-fashioned lies can satisfy the perpetually swivel-eyed anymore, it's now acceptable to take a legendary whopper and lay another embellishment straight on top of it.

At time of writing, only the BBC seem to be reporting this poppycock. You know, the organisation which provides "internationally respected news services".


Unknown said...

Are the smoking public in Scotland really taking in by this shite?

They just spew out the same garbage everytime.

JuliaM said...

Keep repeating a lie. Soon, everyone will regard it as the truth.

BrianB said...

She did refer to "heart attacks", didn't she?

She won't do her bezzie mate Pell any favours by not using the official weasel words "Acute Coronory Sysmptom". Since ACS has about as many definitions as there are Cadiologists in Scotland, it is so much easier to obfuscate by appealing to one's own white-coated authority and suggest that critics "are using the wrong definition".

Anyway, 'Heart Attacks' she said, so here are the most up to date statistics from the official national NHS source:

Year 2005/06:
8,310 Emergency admissions

The ban came in at this point.

Year 2006/07:
7,767 Emergency admissions - a decrease of 6.5% (NB not 17% Ms Pell!

Year 2007/08:
7,339 Emergency admissions - a decrease of 5.5%

Year 2008/09:
8,239 Emergency admissions - a whopping increase of 12.3% that all but wiped out all of the reductions since before the smoking ban! What caused this then, Ms Haw? Pell? Duffy? Anyone?

Year 2009/10:
8,147 Emergency admissions - a slight fall of 1.1%. However, as the latest figures are provisional, this number is almost guaranteed to be bigger after revisions.

So, not only did the smoking ban not lead to any noteworthy decrease
in heart attacks, it actually seems to have led to a stable upward trend in heart attacks!

So that was all worth it, then!

DP, I have an updated version of the AMI chart in your post (an extra year's data). If you want it I can send it as an image. Just say the word.

BrianB said...

That would be "Acute Coronary Syndrome" then. Plank!

Must get some new fingers!

BrianB said...


I had submitted a big post prior to my little one above. Any idea where it went?

The above post looks silly in isolation.

Unknown said...

Your original post came through to me via email Brian but don't have a clue where it went here in the comments section.

BrianB said...

Thanks John.

At least I know I'm not going completely bonkers!

Bucko said...

The same article has been reported in Greece.
I wonder why they would...oh, wait.

Anonymous said...

I heard Sally say something at the end of her propaganda piece about her friend and colleague Jill Pell's latest miracle. Hospital child admissions from asthma attacks are down 15% due to the smoking ban in pubs. Coming to a press release near you soon.

Dick Puddlecote said...

BrianB: That'll be Google's spam detector which detects anything except spam.

Yes, if you can update the graph it would be very welcome. :)

Sam Duncan said...

Are you sure she didn't say “17% reduction in bar workers”? Because that's infinitely more credible.

Anonymous said...

The original BBC article did indeed say a "17% reduction in bar workers" Sam. It has been changed probably because nobody ever performed a study specifically on bar workers.

Anonymous said...

"Hospital child admissions from asthma attacks are down 15% due to the smoking ban in pubs."

Errrrr, how old does a "child" have to be now before they can sit in a smoke-free (AND PROUD - copyright CRUK) pub?

I can already invisage the CRUK ads all over the fucking buses celebrating the 5th anniversary of their pogrom.