Wise words, but that's not how it works in tobacco control. Spot the difference between these two BBC news stories taken three months apart.
25 March 2011
Scotland's smoking ban hailed as anniversary approachesSally 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."
Ms Haw cited a study by Glasgow University which showed a 15% reduction in the number of children with asthma being admitted to hospital in the three years after the ban came into force.
27 June 2011
Scottish health boards 'complacent' over asthma careResearch into the care of young people with asthma has exposed "shocking" complacency by some Scottish health boards, according to charity Asthma UK.
Asthma UK said the number of emergency admissions had remained unchanged for a decade - suggesting the asthma of many young people was still being badly managed.
Asthma UK Scotland's national director Gordon Brown said: "This report makes shocking reading - especially when you consider Scotland has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the world.
"Some health boards are doing some things very well - and this is down to the excellent staff within managed clinical networks.
"However, it seems that at a strategic level some complacency has crept in - that asthma has somehow been 'fixed' and priorities have now changed.
"This is borne out by the fact there has been no noticeable change in the unacceptably high emergency hospital admissions for children and young people with asthma in the last decade."
It is impossible for both these statements to be true. Either emergency hospital admissions for children with asthma fell by 15% after the smoking ban or they have remained unchanged for a decade. Someone's not telling the truth. Is is the "study by Glasgow University" or Asthma UK?
You can probably guess the answer. If I told you that the Glasgow study was penned by the infamous Jill Pell, you would be in no doubt at all.
Readers with a long memory will recall that Pell's study was the sheerest junk science. There was no effect from the smoking ban on asthma admissions. In fact, the first year of the Scottish smoking ban saw the largest number of childhood asthma admissions of the decade. Asthma UK is correct. Pell is wrong. Again.
Here we have two 'facts' which are totally at odds with each other appearing on the same news website in the same year. One fact is the number of children who actually went to hospital with asthma. The other is a piece of statistical jiggery-pokery created for political ends. And yet only one of them is true. The other is a fraud which has taken the place of the truth thanks to repetition and the appeal to authority (it was published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine). The real truth, meanwhile, appears almost by accident in a different context and no one at the BBC makes the connection.
This is the parallel universe created by the charlatans of the anti-smoking industry. They are entitled to their own facts. Whether or not they are true is of no consequence. They want them to be true and that is all that matters.
It is ridiculously easy to see through this garbage. The real hospital admissions data for asthma are available online, just as the heart attack data are. It takes a matter of minutes to distinguish fact from fiction and yet there is only silence and tumbleweed. If the mainstream media do not feel inclined to expose blatant policy-based evidence when it is in its crudest form, what hope is there of more subtle scientific abuses coming to light?
[Thanks to Ivan for spotting the two stories above.]