Tuesday 10 September 2013

Getting The Excuses In Early

Via Taking Liberties, for some unexplained reason the BBC today decided to hold 'exclusive' interviews with Aussie plain packaging originators Nicola Roxon and Simon Chapman on Radio 5.

For a few more days, you can listen to the whole piece from around 1:39:00 onward here but - for posterity - here is Mr Chapman explaining how his revolutionary new method of deterring kids from smoking will have such a remarkable effect ... that it won't be noticeable.

I think it's known as getting your excuses in early.

Incidentally, Chapman throws up an enormous straw man by arguing that it is those of us opposed to the policy who are demanding a huge decrease in kids taking up the habit as proof of its effectiveness. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are very well aware that it will have no impact whatsoever, thereby being - for once - in total agreement with the geriatric vandal.

In fact, the only people invoking dramatic reductions in youth smoking due to bland packs with hideous images are the massed ranks of frenzied and highly-paid tobacco control execs.

For example, this has been the scaremongery of choice ever since they got twitchy about the consultation response being later than they'd hoped.
Around 207,000 children aged 11-15 start smoking in the UK every year according to new research published today (Friday). 
This means that nearly 570 children are lighting up and becoming smokers for the first time every day. 
With so many children starting to smoke each year, Cancer Research UK is urging the government to commit to plain, standardised packaging of tobacco. Research has shown that children find the plain packs less appealing and are less likely to be misled by the sophisticated marketing techniques designed to make smoking attractive to youngsters.
I don't see any caution there, just an implication that plain packs will carve big holes in that 'jumbo jet' number. The latest use of the figures was just last week in Westminster, where MPs Nick Smith, Tony Baldry, Julian Huppert and Fiona Bruce emphasised urgency - all identically quoting CRUK's 200,000 kids who will miraculously recognise harm from smoking which they'd never quite noticed before (despite it being part of the national curriculum, for chrissakes!).

Not one of them mentioned - as Chapman did today - that even if plain packs were introduced tomorrow, there would be no discernible reduction of kids taking up tobacco over and above the norm. Well, that's surely what he must be saying, or else he'd be confident that a significant reduction as a direct result of plain packs will be clearly evident. No?

Policy-based evidence used to rely on some form of, err, evidence. Nicola Roxon admitted that there can be no evidence before plain packaging is implemented, now we have Chapman admitting that there will likely be no evidence after either.

Precisely why the UK shouldn't be even considering it.


Jeepers said...

It’s always good to hear from the oracle of stupidity, Simon Crapman.

Crapman: What do these people want – large, immediate declines in smoking? That’s not the history of smoking.

Interviewer: So there was really no a priori evidence that vandalized packs with reduce smoking prevalence. You’re saying that you hope in the long term that it will make a small difference?

Crapman: So you’re taking the side of the duplicitous tobacco industry! Of course we had evidence. There was agreement by my Tobacco Control colleagues that vandalized packs might make a small difference long-term. Now if that’s not evidence, what is?

Crapman also claims that smoking prevalence has dropped to
15+% in Australia – an entirely rubbery figure. Also, Crapman, like his TC buddies, does not acknowledge the existence of a contraband market; apparently that’s just another Tobacco Industry “myth”.

Poxon was by far the most rabid antismoking Health Minister Australia has seen. Here’s a glowing tribute by the Tobacco Control parasite, Mike Draub:
[You might find the comments section of interest, too]

You’ll note that Poxon was well connected in the Tobacco Control Industry, receiving awards (ego massage) from all the big players – the WHO, RWJF. Draub’s approving piece isn’t surprising. Poxon gave the Tobacco
Control leeches unprecedented access to funding and policy formulation. Poxon created the National Preventative Health Taskforce for which Draub was the Deputy Chair.

When the tobacco companies threatened legal action over proposed
vandalized packs, Poxon flew in her buddy, Matt Myers, of the Campaign for
Tobacco Free Kids. Just some show to intimidate the “evil” tobacco execs:

CTFC was instrumental in suing the tobacco companies in America
resulting in the Master Settlement Agreement. It also played a leading role in formulating the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to which most countries are signed up and have ratified. Not much known is that CTFK, although a nice-sounding title, is a creation of Pharma-“philanthropy” – the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. RWJF’s major income is from a large stockholding in Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of nicotine replacement products. RWJF has pumped
billions into anti-tobacco over the last few decades, cultivating the market
for J&J NRT:

Jeepers said...

Poxon has found a career post-government on the Tobacco
Control Industry “speaking circuit”:

It’s not clear who is now financing Poxon’s anti-tobacco efforts. But I would venture a guess that there’s some “Pharma connection”.

Just a word on Mike Draub. He’s been with the current antismoking crusade since its beginnings in the 1970s (His name comes up a number of times in the Godber Blueprint).

George Godber – 1975: “I imagine that most of us here know
full well that our target must be, in the long-term, the elimination of cigarette smoking…… We may not have eliminated cigarette smoking completely by the end of this century, but we ought to have reached a position where a relatively few addicts still use cigarettes, but only in private at most in the company of consenting adults.”
[Remember, this statement was made 6 years before the very first, forced study on secondhand smoke by the antismoker Hirayama and 18 years
before the flawed EPA(1993) Report that declared secondhand smoke as a “hazard” to nonsmokers]

Here’s an article by Daube of only a year ago that reiterates the Godber Blueprint:
“Extending restrictions on smoking in any environment so that it essentially becomes a practice only for consenting adults in private.”

Jeepers said...

Note, too, that Godber was referring to smokers as “addicts” in 1975. Yet smoking was not considered an addiction at the time. It is a
throwback to the 1800s. Smoking was erroneously re-defined as an addiction in 1988 by the then US Surgeon-General, C. Everett Kook. The Office of the Surgeon-General had long been hijacked by the same antismoking fanatics that were regular attendees of the [antismoking] World Conferences on Smoking & Health.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Actually, it just occurred to me, after being sparked of course by your blog here Dick, that Chapman, being one of the world's foremost authorities on all this, should certainly be able to come up with at least some reasonable, ballpark, confidenced delimited figures for what each of the many and varied tobacco control measures has had on reducing that youth uptake between 11 and 15.

I.E. if someone like Stanton Glantz can say that the movie Avatar will cause 43,214 (or whatever) kids to start smoking, then certainly Chapman can say how much measures like enforcement of age laws, increases in taxes, bans in bars and bowling alleys, bans in high school teachers' break rooms, removal of smoking or bad casting of smoking on television, printed pack warnings, graphic pack warnings, hiding of packs behind shutters, prohibition of sales within 1,000 meters/whatever of schools, TV/Radio antismoking ads, insertion of antismoking plot lines in TV shows, removals of Holmes's pipe and Churchill's cigars, etc etc etc.... have affected that 207,000/year number.

E.G. I believe the common claim is that for each 10% price increase over base there will be 4% (or was it 7%?) fewer children smoking. Taxes have increased the base price in the UK by what? 400% or so? So conversely, without them, there'd be 300% more kids smoking, right? So that 207,000 11-15 year olds would become.. hmm... 842,000?

And the Antismoking ads must be pretty significant or they wouldn't spend all that money on them. Say 50% impact? That would add another 100,000 or so, maybe 150,000 if we include all the print/billboard type stuff, so that's an even million who WOULD have smoked except for the Antis' efforts. Throw in the cigarette warnings (Very important, right? Kind of "Anti-Glitzy") and gory pics (Icchk! Must be VERY important if they're worth subjecting the rest of population to the grossness) and that million would grow to perhaps 1.5 million. Churchill/Holmes/TV figures etc, not so big a thing... maybe make that 1.5 grow to 1.75 if they were all smoking as normal. Bans in fast food places etc where kids hang out would be significant though... maybe another half mil? That takes us to 2.25mil/year.

Bans in bars? Hmmm... hard to say how that affects the children, but I'm sure it must... parents do occasionally bring their children to pubs with them to eat, right? Say another .25 million for that (total 2.5 at this point). Another .25 for hiding the packs and removing cigarette machines from kid-friendly places --- 2.75M now. Enforcement of age laws must be a biggie. Probably worth at least .75Million, for a total of 3.5 million.

Without all those things, Chapman ought to be able to do that sort of estimation more precisely -- after all, he IS the expert, right?

Say everything altogether has turned 4,000,000 would-be 11 to 15 year old smokers into nonsmokers.

Out of how many? How many 11 to 15 year olds are there in the UK? I guess if we look back before all this tobacco control stuff, perhaps a quarter, at the VERY most, of 11 to 15 year olds smoked, so without all that effort we'd expect to see something like 16,000,000 kids in that age range if my wild figurings above were correct.

Do you have that many over there? Seems like sort of a lot.

In any event, Chapman's case could be greatly strengthened if he loaned us his expert opinion on just how much he thinks each of those factors has impacted the total. I'm sure his statistical structure would be much more sophisticated than mine in any event.


Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ha! Quite.

In fact, if you put it like that, the vast sums of money could have been better spent paying people to stop smoking - not £50 here or there, but a full regular salary

Chris Price said...

The answer is that none of these measures have any discernible effect at all. Smoking prevalence is about the same as it was 5 years ago, apart from the numbers removed by the switch to e-cigarettes. Actually I lied, there is a measurable effect: lots of people earn fat salaries in the tobacco control industry, for producing zero effect on the number of smokers.

Sure wish I could get away with doing nothing for £60,000 a year. Must be nice.