Thursday 27 April 2017

The Plain Packs Farce Is Confirmed

Before heading out this morning, I read this stunning statement in a BBC article about a new review of evidence (pfft) about plain packaging.
There was no evidence that changing packaging affected the number of young people taking up smoking, [Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, co-author of the report] said.
This is hardly surprising, because it is true. In fact I have written often about how the tobacco control lie-machine has tried very hard to avoid this unfortunate (for them) outcome of possibly the daftest 'public health' policy ever to have crept past lumpen-brained wooden-tops in parliament.

Remember that campaigners for plain packaging insisted till they were blue in the face that it was exclusively designed to stop kids taking up the habit ("protect our children") and nothing at all, oh no, with making smokers quit.

There are a few quotes I collected at the time here but they all went a bit like this from Andy Lloyd of Fresh NE.
"Plain packaging is not about stopping existing smokers but everything to do with protecting children"
But according to this new review, that hasn't happened at all. So it's a 100% cast-iron failure then, as we saw in Australia.

Undeterred, the authors of this review came out with a load of fanciful nonsense to get their headline anyway.
Plain cigarette packaging could lead to 300,000 fewer smokers in the UK over the next year, a major review suggests. 
The Cochrane Review team, led by researchers from London and Oxford, estimated that the number of people who smoked in the UK could go down by 0.5% by May 2018, although they said the current evidence was limited. 
The findings were backed up by a report from the Australian government, which showed a similar drop in smoking prevalence - 0.55% - following the introduction of plain packaging there in 2012.
It's rather disappointing to see that Professor Ann McNeil was involved in this worthless garbage. McNeil was also the lead author of PHE's evidence review of e-cigs which concluded that they are 95% less risky than smoking. The lazy extrapolation of 300,000 fewer smokers ... in a year ... doesn't reflect well on the methods being employed, does it?

The Australian decline in smoking was nothing unusual, and was more likely to have been brought about by savage increases in the price of smokes than what colour the pack came in. It's quite absurd to suggest anywhere close to those kind of numbers will quit in the UK solely because of plain packs.

I expect any decline will be claimed as such though, and I reckon that is entirely the point of the rubbish produced today. If 300,000 smokers do quit in the year following plain packaging, tobacco controllers are going to boast that it was all down to their inconsequential policy. It won't be because of large increases in tobacco duty; it won't be a natural decline fitting with current trends; and it sure as shit won't be because of the enthusiasm about vaping (which ASH and their chums tend to keep very quiet about in their smoking cessation estimates). Nope, the tobacco control scam will make a grab for the lot and say it was the glitzy packs being binned wot done it.

Yet consider how stringent the criteria is that they apply to vaping. There are approximately 3 million vapers, 1.5 million of which are former smokers who now vape instead; if tobacco control had advocated e-cigs from the beginning, they would be claiming the full 1.5 million as a result of their state-funded efforts. In fact, they'd probably take credit for a percentage of the dual users too!

But they don't.

Instead, they rely on a convoluted and extremely complicated analysis of exactly how many vapers quit exclusively because of vaping who would not have otherwise quit by another method (well explained by the NNA here). That figure is around 16,000 per year.

It is called "added value" and the tobacco control industry is very assiduous about calculating that when it comes to e-cigs. This is exactly the correct thing to do and Professor Robert West, whose analysis led to the 16,000 per year figure for vaping, should be congratulated for looking at the figures in detail.

Yet here are McNeil et al sullying the reputation of Cochrane by hinting that 300,000 smokers will quit smoking in the coming year solely because of plain packaging. Why do they not attempt the same sophisticated analysis of added value to assess the value of plain packaging?

I think we know the answer. It's because if they did they would have to reluctantly come to the conclusion that the real projected added value of quitting due to plain packs is somewhere in the region of zero. So double standards it is then.

What a farce.

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