Monday 1 September 2014

Another Desperate Throw Of The Plain Packs Dice

In the same week that the WHO came out in the open and admitted that their FCTC is nothing whatsoever to do with health by advocating e-cig bans, it's important to remember that this is not a new phenomenon. The tobacco control industry has done nothing but mislead and connive for decades and is still doing so with the utterly pointless but potentially damaging plain packaging folly.

The campaign in the UK was a master class of obfuscation, corrupt practice and astonishing lies, while the global prohibitionist pursuit of non-existent evidence in favour of the policy consisted of sleights of hand such as deliberately-designed junk science, ignoring the children who are supposed to be 'protected' by plain packs, and declaring triumph because a few people thought about quitting, but was thwarted by even the NHS and the Australian Medical Association admitting that there really isn't any credible evidence to speak of.

And when the most salient statistic of all was produced by the the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - a 36% increase in daily smoking amongst Australian kids - professional tobacco control advocates simply pretended it didn't exist!

So desperate are these charlatans that efforts have now sunk to what publicists would call "playing in the opposition playground"; in other words, discarding positive campaigning and instead trying to discredit the valid arguments of the opposition. This, in PR terms, is as near as dammit to admitting defeat and a tactic which saw the pro-AV campaign in 2011 descend into shambles.

First up was Anna "rent-a-study" Gilmore with a study so weak that even the BBC and Guardian refused to pick it up, so this week has seen them try again with an article in the integrity-free BMJ. You can probably guess what the study (link here) was supposed to report by the declaration of its funding.
This study was supported by Quit Victoria with funding from VicHealth and the Department of Health for the Victorian Smoking and Health annual survey.
But it might surprise you how hilariously pathetic these things can be, even for a blatant piece of policy-led propaganda. You see, it was a telephone poll of (average) 650 people in just one Australian state which attempted to disprove claims that plain packaging will encourage criminal counterfeiters. A very difficult thing to do considering the Sun newspaper collected video evidence in June of an ecstatic Indonesian fake cig manufacturer describing how his business will benefit from plain packaging legislation.

So how did our tobacco control industry professionals manage to create headlines such as this from the perennially gullible BBC?
'Plain' packaging not a boost to illegal tobacco use, study suggests
Well, it's quite simple really, as the NHS Choices website - to its immense credit - pointed out today.
But this study did not investigate whether there had been an increase in the use of counterfeit branded tobacco products. The researchers noted that smokers may be unaware they are smoking counterfeit products.
That's right. They avoided the inconvenient massive increase in counterfeit tobacco detailed in a substantial KPMG report last year by not studying counterfeit tobacco at all! Instead, they only focussed on legal low-cost Asian brands and completely ignored the smuggling of illegal brands.

Branded contraband and counterfeit cigarettes, as well as brands that are produced purely for smuggling, are widely reported to be the largest portion of the black market in tobacco in Australia, which is what the police and HMRC are afraid of being replicated in the UK. So these tobacco control movers and shakers 'disproved' the fears by, err, avoiding addressing them entirely.

This, according to tax-funded anti-smoking (or is it anti-nicotine now) cranks, is what passes for compelling evidence these days.

Still, they got their headline so the truth can go hang as long as the gravy train rolls on a little longer, eh?


Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

" the NHS Choices website - to its immense credit - pointed out today."

DP, I've been impressed by the increasing integrity of this important site and the people running it. But then they are mainly knowledge-driven real researchers and medics and scientists and statisticians, not belief-driven public health people and their hangers-on.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Indeed, this is the second time that site has rubbished the so-called 'evidence' in favour of plain packs. Uncommonly scrupulous.

moonrakin said...

I'd hazard a guess that the Public Elfs are increasingly being seen as "the enemy" by evidence driven objectivist medics and others who have to deal in verifiable stuff to keep their posts....

The Public Elfs allied themselves with NHS admin crew and aggressively competed with the clinicians for funding - this was a strategic mistake :-) (well, here's hoping)

I suspect the moving of "the 'Elfs" to local council / municipal offices is a part of the picture.