Friday, 29 June 2012

Five years of junk in one place

As the fifth anniversary of the English smoking ban approaches, there was always going to be a lot of bollocks talked about it, so it's nice of The Guardian to put all the fish in one barrel ready for shooting.

This could very well be the most factually inaccurate newspaper article of the year, based as it is on the scribblings of Stanton Glantz, Anna Gilmore and Jill Pell. Our credulous scribe begins as follows...

Five years after the smoking ban drove nicotine addicts out of pubs and into huddles on the pavements, the fug-filled restaurants and bars are little more than a hazy memory. But it is not just our clothes that smell better – evidence is accumulating to show that the UK population is in better health too.

Strap yourself in.

The ban did not, as opponents warned, drive people out of pubs and into their homes to smoke.

Since the smoking rate didn't go down and 11,000 pubs went bust, it would be interesting to know where the smokers are smoking now. Have they all decided to start smoking in their gardens?

Whatever their domestic smoking arrangements, there can be no argument that smokers were driven from pubs and that pubs have been literally decimated by the ban:

Ban Damage

ASH: Hopeless liars

Pub share prices

Pete Robinson unleashed

A final word on ban damage

The big worry was that an increase in smoking at home would harm children, who were not subjected to so much secondhand smoke in restaurants and pubs. But a study carried out in Scotland, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010, suggested their health has improved. Fewer have been admitted to hospital with asthma attacks since the Scottish ban on 26 March 2006, more than a year before the English ban.

The researchers looked at more than 21,000 asthma admissions between 2000 and 2009 for children under 15 years. Before the legislation, admissions among preschoolers were rising by more than 9% a year, while for older children they were stable. After the ban, they dropped by 18.4% for preschool children and 20.8% for those aged five to 14.

Utter bilge from the pen of Jill Pell and easily debunked by looking at the actual hospital admissions data. If that isn't good enough for you, compare and contrast these two statements made three months apart in 2011:

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.

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... "there has been no noticeable change in the unacceptably high emergency hospital admissions for children and young people with asthma in the last decade."

The first statement is based on the work of Ms. Pell. The second is from an asthma charity and is based on actual hospital admissions. They both refer to the same country and the same time. Who do you believe? More details here.

The biggest health impact has been a drop in heart attack emergency admissions – the "Montana effect", which has since been identified in many other places that have brought in smoking bans. Helena, in Montana, brought in a smoking ban in June 2002, but it was scrapped that December. During those six months, however, researchers publishing in the British Medical Journal found a drop in heart attack admissions to hospital.

The Helena miracle? Is that zombie study still walking?! The BMJ's decision to publish Stanton Glantz's innumerate masterpiece of cherry-picking shames the journal forever more. Details here. There is also the small matter that, no matter how you juggle the figures, a reduction in heart attacks of 40%, or even 4%, is mathematically impossible.

Anna Gilmore and her colleagues, at Bath's school for health, analysed heart attack hospital admissions for England between July 2002 and September 2008 and found a small but significant drop of 2.4% after the July 2007 ban. It was the equivalent of 1,200 fewer heart attack patients, they said in their paper in the BMJ.

Anna Gilmore is a quack and that study was pure junk science.

But overall, it is pretty clear that smoking bans have made a difference to heart health. A Cochrane review, which scrutinised the data from 10 studies from North America, Italy and Scotland, found a drop in hospital heart attack admissions in all of them and a drop in the numbers of deaths in two.

Garbage in, garbage out. The Scotland study ignored the actual hospital admissions and was debunked by the BBC five years ago in addition to being included in The Times' Top 10 Junk Stats of 2007 (now behind a paywall). The Italian study was beyond a joke. And the biggest study conducted in America found no association whatsoever between smoking bans and heart attack reductions.

I hope you enjoyed that walk down memory lane. Here's to the next five years!

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the police are still raiding pubs and arresting landladies to enforce that "popular" smoking ban of ours.



25 comments:

Mr A said...

They can't even keep their own junk science straight. Even ignoring the actual, real life, hospital admissions, doesn't their claim that children are suffering fewer asthma attacks actually lend credibility to that study that found that passive smoke had a protective effect in children? After all, as you rightly say, with 11000 pubs gone and pub business massively down (as is easily demonstrated by the big chains' share prices since the ban), the smokers are now smoking at home (er, where else could they be?) with their kids! And I would wager even Pell would be hard pushed to claim that most children spend more time in pubs and restaurants than they do with their smoking parents at home.

As you say - all easily debunked through access to the actual NHS figures. But even ignoring those, their claims don't add up. Absolute junk! Is there no-one to complain to when such shoddy journalism is undertaken. Or is a "right to reply", the best that could ever be hoped for?

Anonymous said...

Ahh Chris you took all the fun outta busting their chops in one Blog entry!

Good on ya Bro!

Harley

Nick Smale said...

You've got to admit, though, it's nice to be able to go to a pub or a gig and not come away stinking of cigarette smoke...

handymanphil said...

How strange that the Guardian should come out with this bilge the very day that Prof John Ashton utters similar H/A garbage on Richard Corrie show this morning (Radio Cumbria!
http://handymanphil.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/and-beat-goes-onthe-beat-goes-on.html

bomboleo said...

Individual bits of agenda-driven trash – for which university Public Health departments are now notorious – are disturbing enough. Only more disturbing is where a “journalist” (probably under the supervision of a rabid antismoker making sure that the “important” trash is covered) brings a multiplicity of trash together, the concoction of “connections” between incoherent bits of information……. a “trash-fest”.

Regarding the article, I suppose we could play spot the fact.

bomboleo said...

One-time relatively free societies are now populated by dumbed-down, clueless folk. The bulk of these folk are to be found in the wealthy, “educated” classes, universities have been reduced to centres of propaganda and brainwashing. It is on these elitist oafs’ watch that their relatively free societies are being progressively assaulted, replaced with ventures to statism with Public Health once again used as the primary instrument of oppression. But what the heck. As one State-brainwashed drone suffering hypersensitive nostrilitis indicates above, the undermining of relatively free societies is such a tiny cost to bear when ”….it's nice to be able to go to a pub or a gig and not come away stinking of cigarette smoke...”

As some notable person – whose name escapes me at the moment – once said:

Those who trade their freedom for safety deserve neither. To which could be added……. and they will get neither.

bomba said...

Concerning agenda-driven trash:
This is one of the reasons why there are smokers that have very little time for e-cigs, their manufacturers and users. To peddle their wares, e-cig manufacturers/suppliers are even more rabidly antismoking than antismokers (if that’s possible). Here’s an “article” by an e-cig supplier. The sheer volume of baseless inflammatory trash – and concerning a celebrity smoking OUTDOORS - beggars belief.
http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/6/prweb9633409.htm

Also, concerning the Chapman Trick, it is e-cig suppliers that promote one of the most inflammatory versions of the trick, e.g.,
http://ecigarettesbuy.com/category/tobacco-cigarettes-vs-electronic-cigarettes/
http://vapor-smoking.net/vapor-smoking-vs-real-cigarettes/
http://thesmartsmokers.com/articles.html
[Note particularly the “Cyanhydric acid – was used in gas chambers”]

Nick Smale said...

I think we'd all like to live in a world where people behaved more decently to one another. A world where no one would drop litter in the street, where your neighbours would never play loud music at 3am, and where smokers would voluntarily forego lighting up in public.

But human nature isn't like that, and so we have laws to control those "anti-social" behaviours.

Is this an "undermining of relatively free societies" as our friend Bomboleo pretends? I like to think it's actually an increase in freedom: freedom from fouled streets, freedom from sleepless nights, freedom from noxious smelling clothes.

Oh, and Bomboleo? You don't need to be rude. In my experience, if you have to resort to personal attacks, it's generally a sign that your argument isn't strong enough to stand up without them.

Curmudgeon said...

"You've got to admit, though, it's nice to be able to go to a pub or a gig and not come away stinking of cigarette smoke... "

And this wasn't permitted before 2007?

On the other hand, it used to be nice to go to the pub full stop, which is difficult now it and 10,000 others have closed.

Nick Smale said...

Curmudgeon (love these pseudonyms) said...

And this wasn't permitted before 2007?

It never actually happened, though, did it? People smoked, and your clothes stank.

On the other hand, it used to be nice to go to the pub full stop, which is difficult now it and 10,000 others have closed.

I thought the number of UK licensed premises was at an all time high? There's clearly no shortage of places to visit if you fancy a drink. If traditional pubs are closing, it's more likely caused by the cultural shift to drinking in bars and clubs than the smoking ban.

bomboleo said...

Nick, good to hear from you. Does Stepford ring a bell?

Nick, you’re missing many points. So let’s take them one at a time.

1
From Bayer & Stuber
“…..In the last half century the cigarette has been transformed. The fragrant has become foul. . . . An emblem of attraction has become repulsive. A mark of sociability has become deviant. A public behavior is now virtually private. Not only has the meaning of the cigarette been transformed but even more the meaning of the smoker [who] has become a pariah . . . the object of scorn and hostility.”
http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2005.071886

This change from fragrant to foul has not come from the smoke which has remained a constant. The shift is an entirely psychological one. Unfortunately, the way the shift is manufactured is through negative conditioning. The constant play on fear and hatred through inflammatory propaganda warps perception. Ambient tobacco smoke was essentially a background phenomenon. Now exposure to tobacco smoke (SHS) has been fraudulently manufactured into something on a par with a bio-weapon like, say, sarin gas. There are now quite a few who screech that they “can’t stand” the “stench” of smoke, or the smoke is “overwhelming”; there are now those, hand cupped over mouth, that attempt to avoid even a whiff of dilute smoke. There are those that claim that, arriving from a night out, they had to put all of their clothes in the washing machine and scrape the “smoke” of their skin in the shower. And it didn’t stop with just the smoke. Cigarette butts – heretofore unheard of – suddenly became a “monumental problem” too. These are all recent phenomena born of toxic propaganda. It says nothing about the physical properties of tobacco smoke. These people are demonstrating that they have been successfully conditioned (brainwashed) into aversion. They are now suffering mental dysfunction such as anxiety disorder, hypochondria, or somatization. Questionable social engineering requires putting many into mental disorder to advance the ideological/financial agenda.

bomboleo said...

2
When the current antismoking crusade began in the 70s, antismokers were few and far between. Smoking was viewed as normal – that’s why it had to be “denormalized”. It is these rabid fanatics (i.e., disturbed minds) that decided that smoking was “anti-social”. With governments and the media giving them progressively more funding and unquestioned air time, it is antismokers’ poisonous rhetoric that has since shaped public opinion. Many have been “converted” to the fanaticism. Nick, you’ll note that Snowdon’s thread concerns the corruption of science in chasing ideological agenda. You’ll also notice that the article presented this bastardization in the media without question. This is not some isolated incident; it’s been going on for years and years. And it’s this inflammatory trash that’s been shaping the unquestioning public’s perception and reaction to tobacco smoke.

There are very serious failures occurring in key social institutions - e.g., the medical establishment, academia, the media, health bureaucracy - and it’s only worsening. So, Nick, in the face of these serious failures, you interject with the typical, current rhetoric of ”….it's nice to be able to go to a pub or a gig and not come away stinking of cigarette smoke...” You’ll forgive me if I conclude that you really don’t have a clue what’s occurring – as you indicate with all of your comments, even at the risk of sounding "rude": we're way past "sounding rude". You, like others, still seem to think that this has to do with smoking in pubs: You don’t get it still. The current antismoking crusade is much like previous crusades. It is a social-engineering, eradication crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization. This little, unelected group, who have a demonstrably perverse view of “health”, decided for everyone that tobacco-use should be eradicated from the world. Secondhand smoke “danger” is a concoction to advance the agenda. The bulk of what comes out of the Tobacco Control Industry is lies. For those who still think this is about pubs and just having to step outside for a cigarette, the current phase of propaganda/denormalization is to introduce bans outdoors as well. In a number of countries there are already bans on entire hospital grounds and university campuses, on beaches, and in parks that have nothing to do with protecting nonsmokers from SHS “danger”. Those who smoke are also being denied employment, housing, and medical treatment.

See the Godber Blueprint
http://www.rampant-antismoking.com

bomboleo said...

Nick: …..noxious smelling clothes.

Nick, “noxious” has pretty potent connotations. Since you’re the one using it, could you explain what you mean by “noxious”, i.e., does it coincide with a dictionary definition, and could you explain its meaning in the context of “smelling clothes”?

Ivan D said...

Where do they find "journalists" prepared to put their names to this kind of crap? It should be embarrassing to the editorial team but I get the feeling that the Guardian in now so divorced from reality and so extreme, that its editors don't care anymore.

david said...

@Nick 'I think we'd all like to live in a world where people behaved more decently to one another...............A world where smokers would voluntarily forego lighting up in public'.

One of the biggest problem with the holier than thou is that they tend pontificate on behalf of everyone. Usually without anything to substantiate their reason for doing so.

Junican said...

I'm from Bolton. I do not think that the Bolton News has published the story about the smoking publican yet - at least, I cannot find it. What the News has published is this:

""Workers benefit as pubs casualty of smoking ban""

At least the article admits the damage to pubs etc, but it also majors on 'the heart miracle at Bolton Royal Hospital'. Amanda Sandford weighs in with more piffle. Here is the URL for the article:

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/9791852.Workers_benefit_as_pubs_casualty_of_smoking_ban/

Harleyr and I have commented there.

Nick Smale said...

Bomboleo said...

Does Stepford ring a bell?

Do you mean Stretford? Blimey, that was a very long time ago. Why, did I know you then? Sorry, I don't recall the name...

...social engineering requires putting many into mental disorder... eradication crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique...

Ah, a conspiracy theory! And a good bonkers one too. So who's really behind this? The Illuminati? The Bilderberg Group? Or just space lizards?

Seriously, you need a better argument if you want anyone to take you seriously -- this stuff is even more silly than the nonsense the climate change deniers come up with.

could you explain what you mean by "noxious"

You've got me there -- it was a rhetorical flourish. No doubt you'll recall my taste for such from the good old days back in Stretford.

bomboleo said...

Do you mean Stretford? Blimey, that was a very long time ago.

No. I meant Stepford. You obviously don’t understand the connection ….. not surprisingly. And there’s no point explaining it: It would probably zing right over your head, dislodging not a small number of hair follicles.

Ah, a conspiracy theory! And a good bonkers one too. So who's really behind this? The Illuminati? The Bilderberg Group? Or just space lizards?

Nick, you really shouldn’t take drugs before commenting. And I’m assuming that it’s drugs that have interfered with your judgment rather than you being naturally dim.

So, Nick, let’s get this right. You believe that the information I’ve provided is “conspiracy theory”…. it’s the space lizards what done it. I take it you also believe that Snowdon’s thread is also “conspiracy theory” involving luminous lizardry?

Nick, at the expense of sounding “rude”, you seem to be averse to both smoke and facts, with a good bout of historiaverophobia. But don’t you mind: That’s just lizard talk. Nick, old chum, you may have to start entertaining the idea that you’ve lapped up the propaganda - hook, line, sinker, rod, aluminium boat, outboard motor, and part of the jetty. You should be proud.

You've got me there -- it was a rhetorical flourish.

Oh…. I see. A “rhetorical flourish”, you say. Puhh…leeez! You’re one given over to neurosis and histrionics.

Nick Smale said...

I meant Stepford.

So you really are making a reference to the Ira Levin novel? That was my first guess, but I discounted it as implausible. I mean...

The Stepford Wives is the story of a group of reactionary men who want to roll back decades of social progress and return society to the attitudes of the 1950s, yes?

Now I can understand why you'd see that as a model. But the thing is... When we read the book, our sympathies are not with the men, they're with the wives. We don't want to see progress rolled back, we want to see it preserved.

So I couldn't understand why you'd bring that up. Why would you want to compare yourself to the men? It doesn't exactly make you look good, does it?

dislodging not a small number of hair follicles

If only. I tell myself it's premature baldness, then I realise just how old I am...

You believe that the information I’ve provided is “conspiracy theory”

It's a theory. About a conspiracy. You do the math.

I take it you also believe that Snowdon’s thread is also “conspiracy theory” involving luminous lizardry?

Um, the lizard thing was me teasing you for being so silly. You got that, right? Or did it just "zing right over your head"?

you seem to be averse to both smoke and facts

I'm averse to self-justifying bollocks assembled by misguided fools who want to dismantle one of the few pieces of genuinely progressive legislation of the last decade.

Seriously, would you really want to go back to the bad-old-days of public smoking? Have you forgotten what it was like? Tables strewn with ash, floors strewn with cigarette butts, murky light, yellow stained walls and ceilings, red stinging eyes, that gritty feeling at the back of your throat the morning after? We've freed ourselves from that, we're living in a better world now. Why would anyone possibly want to go back?

Now, you'll probably say that I feel like that because I've been mind-wiped by the propaganda-rays broadcast by the cabal. But I remember feeling that way as a kid, years before any 1970s conspiracy could possibly have begun. Maybe mine is the default human attitude, and it's people who like the smell of smoke who've been mind-wiped by the propaganda-rays broadcast by the tobacco industry?

Puhh…leeez!

Nice bit of mockery there, I like that.

bomboleo said...

the few pieces of genuinely progressive legislation of the last decade……. We've freed ourselves from that, we're living in a better world now. Why would anyone possibly want to go back?

Sorry, Nick, but I’m going to have to introduce some more of the “lizard stuff”, i.e., facts.

“The use of tobacco, in any form, is a dirty, filthy, disgusting, degrading habit….
You have no more right to pollute with tobacco smoke the atmosphere which clean people have to breathe than you have to spit in the water which they have
to drink.
…. use of the filthy, nasty, stinking stuff [tobacco]”

Sound familiar? These are the sorts of sentiments that are common amongst contemporary antismokers. Interesting is that the quote above is from an anti-tobacco billboard (photo circa 1915) on the road leading into Zion, Illinois, USA. When considering the sentiments appearing on the billboard, it must be remembered that this was many, many decades before the concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Zion City was a “utopian” community established in the early-1900s by John Alexander Dowie representing a so-called “Christian” sect (Christian Catholic Church). Tobacco, alcohol, and gambling were banned within Zion.
http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whi/fullimage.asp?id=55422
http://yeskarthi.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/1915-anti-smoking-sign-zion-illinois/

Serious, dangerous fanaticism/extremism was rife in America right up to WWII. The Temperance (religious leanings) and Eugenics (physicians, physicalists)
Movements, both having dictatorial tendencies and a delusional emphasis on and obsession with physical health at the expense of all other dimensions, wreaked considerable damage in America.
The EM was by far the most influential in America and eventually produced catastrophe in Nazi Germany with global consequences. The Temperance and Eugenics Movements shared the anti-tobacco sentiments in the quote above. While they attempted to change society with destructive consequences, Dowie chose to create his own “protected” community.

So, Nick, you might believe that antismoking is “progressive” but we’ve actually deteriorated about a century, now seeing a similar destructive fanaticism to a 100 years ago.

bomboleo said...

But I remember feeling that way as a kid, years before any 1970s conspiracy could possibly have begun.

Well, you just may be a bit of a wooss, a sickly person. Your experience would certainly have been in the minority. How in heavens above would you have survived any other time in human history, save the last 40 years, that was replete with indoor cooking smoke, heating smoke, lighting smoke, and tobacco smoke more recently? You’re indicating that, being already on the way to neurosis, you would have had little requirement from propaganda to deteriorate into considerable mental dysfunction, i.e., you’re essentially a self-made neurotic…… congratulations.

Maybe mine is the default human attitude

You answered your own question earlier: “And this wasn't permitted before 2007?

It never actually happened, though, did it? People smoked, and your clothes stank.”


It never actually happened because there was very little demand for smokefree venues. The antismoking fanatics then conjured one of their “whoppers” – the “level playing field”. Given that there were only few that wanted to voluntarily ban smoking in their venues, the fanatics argued that the only “fair” thing to do was to ban smoking in all venues. How’s that for an argument!

it's people who like the smell of smoke who've been mind-wiped by the propaganda-rays broadcast by the tobacco industry?

Nick…. you naughty boy…. is that a conspiracy theory? For someone so averse to “conspiracy theories”, you’re not averse to launching them.

For your own edification – if you can get past your lizard demons – you might look into the history of antismoking earlier last century, e.g.,
http://www.americanheritage.com/content/thank-you-not-smoking
http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5339
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352989/pdf/bmj00571-0040.pdf

And you might even consider Snowdon’s marvelous piece – Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.

I’ll have to apologize before hand that you’ll terrifyingly encounter many…… you know….. those things……. facts.

Notwithstanding a more than significant difference in viewpoint, I’ve quite enjoyed our quasi-repartee.
XOXOX

bomboleo said...

You believe that the information I’ve provided is “conspiracy theory”

It's a theory. About a conspiracy. You do the math.


HONK! No Kewpie Doll for Nick. It’s not a theory about a conspiracy. It involves….. dare I say it….. facts. Ahhh, those facts! It’s a serious obstacle for those given over to neurosis and bigotry who would rather maintain their contorted fantasy world.

The Stigler said...

Nick Smale,

I thought the number of UK licensed premises was at an all time high? There's clearly no shortage of places to visit if you fancy a drink. If traditional pubs are closing, it's more likely caused by the cultural shift to drinking in bars and clubs than the smoking ban.

Oh, please. If you just like pubs being smoke free and don't mind the damage to the pub industry then just say so. The statistics for pub closures show that they rocketed and that it happened soon after the introduction of the smoking ban. This happened in both England and Scotland despite the bans coming in at different times.

You don't suddenly see things changing because of cultural shifts like that.

Go and find some publicans and ask them what happened. I know 2 who said that the drink trade collapsed within a month.

Curmudgeon said...

"It never actually happened, though, did it? People smoked, and your clothes stank."

There were a handful of totally non-smoking pubs. The fact that there weren't more suggests a lack of genuine demand - the vast majority of non-smokers weren't that bothered. And a lot of pubs, especially those serving food, had extensive non-smoking areas.

"I thought the number of UK licensed premises was at an all time high?"

Maybe, but that's mostly hotel and restaurant licences. The number of actual full on-licences has dramatically declined. And on-trade beer sales, surely a good barometer of the general health of the licensed trade, have fallen by 26% since the last full year before the ban. Are CAMRA talking nonsense when they go on about "30 pubs a week closing" or whatever?

And, to see some graphic evidence, take a look here. Not exactly a thriving industry, is it?

Andrew said...

To add:

It never actually happened, though, did it? People smoked, and your clothes stank.

This isn't the issue, though. Ventilation and filtration made it so I could not smell cigarettes a short distance away. I remember thinking "Oh, I'm probably siding with the tobacco companies here, but..."

Which was nonsense. We've heard a big argument for bans that is that no ventilation/filtration can help.

It's annoying to get hit from both ends--there IS a way to prevent the smell of cigarette smoke from getting on people's clothes, and the health lobby chose to dismiss it.

I still hear plenty of people complaining or laughing about the smell of cigarettes--but now there's no option to even provide ventilation/filtration.

Complaining about it all is still permitted, though.

I have no proof, but I suspect the reasons bans got ramped up was due to how well air filtration technology worked and a real fear that smoking could not be demonized as more people experienced it.