Thursday, 16 September 2010

Jill Pell does it again

Readers will fondly remember Dr Jill Pell's notorious heart miracle study, which claimed that Scotland's smoking ban had slashed the heart attack rate by 17%, despite the NHS's hospital records showing nothing of the sort.

Now she has returned with a study of similar quality and integrity. This time the narrative—as reported in the worldwide press release (repeated verbatim by The Scotsman)—is as follows:

Child asthma admissions drop 18% per year since Scottish smoking ban

The rate of hospitalisations for children with asthma in Scotland has dropped by more than 18 per cent year-on-year since the introduction of the ban on smoking in public places in 2006, according to scientists.

In a study led by Professor Jill Pell in the Centre for Population Health Studies at the University of Glasgow, researchers analysed data on hospital admissions for asthma in Scotland from January 2000 through October 2009 among children younger than 15 years of age. 

As with Pell's last travesty, the study has been published in the allegedly peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine. The key graph is shown below (click to enlarge). The smoking ban (March 26 2006) is marked with a grey line.




From this graph, the unwitting reader might get the impression that childhood asthma rates were rising gently before the smoking ban, peaked in the first year of the ban and then went into a steep decline. That, indeed, is how the study has been reported.

Before the smoking ban came into force, admissions for asthma were increasing at a mean rate of 5.2 per cent a year. After the ban, admissions decreased by 18.2 per cent per year, relative to the rate on March 26, 2006.

But did they? The graph above purports to show the average daily rate of hospital admissions for childhood asthma. But it also shows the number of admissions in each year, so we can easily work out what the average daily rates were (taking into account leap years and the fact that the final 'year' (2009) actually ends in October.


2000: 2391/366 = 6.53 per day

2001: 2142/365 = 5.87 per day

2002: 2034/365 = 5.57 per day

2003: 1803/365 = 4.94 per day

2004: 2621/366 = 7.16 per day

2005: 2103/365 = 5.76 per day

2006: 2633/365 = 7.21 per day

2007: 2056/365 = 5.63 per day

2008: 2235/366 = 6.11 per day

2009: 1397/304 = 4.59 per day


Plotting all this on a graph, we can see that childhood asthma rates were not rising before the ban and the only evidence for even a vague drop since the ban comes from the incomplete ten-month 'year' of 2009—several years after the ban came in. And, again, we can see that the peak year for asthma hospitalisations came in 2006—the very year that the smoking ban came into effect, which—by the logic of the study—should have seen a large drop in admissions.




I am at a loss to explain how Pell transformed the mundane, patternless hospital admissions data into the graph published in the NEJM study. The data simply do not fit the chart. She says only that she applied "smoothing" to the graph, but that alone cannot explain the discrepancies (surely?).

There is no indication in the text that these particular figures have been adjusted. Nor is there reason to think that using calendar years—rather than April to March—makes much of a difference. ISD Scotland only provides data for three financial years (using these are more appropriate since the ban took place at the end of the financial year), but, again, these data show a peak in the first year of the smoking ban and no real decline thereafter:

Hospital admissions for asthma for childhood under 15 years old

2005/06: 2,182 (2.5 per 1,000 population)

2006/07: 2,603 (3.0 per 1,000 population)

2007/08: 2,061 (2.4 per 1,000 population)


All of which raises some big questions...

How has she managed to make it look like the peak in admissions came in 2000 when it came in 2006?

How has she managed to make it look as if rates fell continuously from 2007 when the rate rose in 2008?

How can she claim that "there was a mean reduction in the rate of admissions of 18.2% per year relative to the rate on March 26 2006"? Over three years, that equates to a 45% decline, which is crazy and obviously didn't occur, so where does this figure come from?

How can she claim that rates were rising by 5.2% per year when the rate fell for four out of five years before the ban? How, indeed, can anyone look at this data and seriously claim that there was a "year-on-year" rise or decline at any stage over this period?

Accepting that the rate in 2009 was unusually low, how can this plausibly be attributed to a smoking ban which began years earlier? The first year of the ban saw the highest childhood asthma rate of the decade and the next two years were in line with the pre-ban average.


So, dear readers, it's over to you. Is this the worst piece of pro-smoking ban junk science yet, or is there a perfectly innocent explanation?

32 comments:

Leg-iron said...

The last three or four summers have been exceptionally wet in Scotland. this year, I don't think I've seen a day without rain since early June.

So the airborne allergens that can trigger an asthma attack have been washed out of the air. Pollen, exhaust fumes, all of it. That is far more likely to account for any reduction in asthma, hay-fever and any form of lung complaint than a wisp of smoke from a bit of leaf wrapped in paper.

I doubt such considerations matter in the shamanic skull-waving that passes for 'science' these days.

Next they'll be talking about turning lead into gold and controlling the weather.

Snowdon said...

But has there been a decline? Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of admissions averaged out at 5.97 per day. Between 2006 and 2009 (with that odd cut-off in October), the rate was 5.89 per day. You can't get much closer to 'same same' than that.

Frank Davis said...

There was a time, 60 or so years ago, when doctors prescribed smoking to asthma sufferers.

This latest Pell study reminds me of climate science. They take the raw data and 'adjust' the numbers. And smoothing (which can be done in all sorts of ways) is another thing they do, because the raw data is so fuzzy it doesn't produce nice smooth graphs.

And once you start 'adjusting' the raw data, you can make it say whatever the hell you like.

But at least in climate science they've got real, measured raw data (e.g. temperature records). With antismoking there's no measured data. Everything is a guesstimate. How many cigarettes people smoked, and for how long, etc, etc. All guesses. I have no idea whatsoever how many cigarettes I smoked yesterday, or last week, or last year. Any number I come up with is just a guess. It's not a true measurement.

Anonymous said...

I think Pell's really skating on thin ice with this one. The simple fact that asthma rates have increased around four-fold in the same period that smoking's decreased by more than half should have warned her off.

Inspired by a similar claim by Rollo Tomato somewhere or other, I spent some time looking at asthma stats and, sure enough, the rates are declining, particularly for little children. But the decline started long before the introduction of smoking bans - around the end of the 'eighties, if memory serves.

I suggest that the rise and fall of asthma has a lot to do with the fashion for floor coverings. A sudden, sharp rise from c.1970 when wall-to-wall carpeting became all the rage; an almost equally impressive dip with the trend for wooden laminates. About the only cause of asthma that all researchers seem to agree on is the presence of house-dust mites, pollens and pet dander, all of which settle comfortably into the soft pile of carpets.

Karen

Mark Wadsworth said...

Thin ice indeed.

We know that smoking had been forbidden in most offices and shops for years, and certainly in places where there are lots of kids, like schools or cinemas.

The places most affected by the ban were pubs (and to a lesser extent retaurants). Now, aren't pubs the last place you expect to find children? And isn't it more likely that people smoke at home? It is well documented that smoking rates have not gone down since the ban, therefore.....

... the only conclusion can be that children have been exposed to slightly more smoke since the ban.

So if she says asthma has gone down as a result of the ban, then what she is really saying is "Second hand smoke prevents asthma in children".

Robert said...

I'm an asthma sufferer myself (first diagnosed 26 years ago) and at first glance the whole premise of the report is flawed.
For the vast majority of the asthma sufferers the only reason they'll find themselves in hospital is because they've screwed up their own medication (not entirely unexpected when considering kids).
OR perhaps because the child in question hadn't previously been diagnosed with asthma (I was 14 before I was diagnosed and before medication it was BAD), or the severity had been previously underestimated.
So hospital admissions for asthma aren't even remotely connected to smoking or smoking bans. You'd be just as well trying to draw a line between this and the popularity of Andrex toilet paper.

Mr A said...

Brilliant analysis, as always Chris.

Blue 'n' Bramble said...

My thougts mirrordthose f Mark Wadsworth when I read Takng Lberties this morning. It also explains why asthma in children is more prevalent now than it was when 80% of the country smoked.

timbone said...

I attended school from 1956 to 1966. I can only remember two asthmatics. Not much traffic but lots of smoking.

Eddie Douthwaite said...

I wonder who funded this study.

Chris Oakley said...

Well done again Chris and morning Mark. I would have missed this because on a positive note, media uptake has been less than overwhelming. The Beeb haven't reported it yet which is a possibly a good sign.
I have been waging a quiet campaign in that I complain politely (mostly) to the BBC every time I see a public health story reported badly. You may mock but they are not bad people and I have had some positive responses. I note that they have stopped simply regurgitating press releases from "charities" and at least try to balance their articles these days.
I also write to my MP about rubbish like Pell and the industry she represents. He is also a good guy and I am sure that I bore him to tears but it is the only way that I can try to get the message across. I try to be thorough and not to be too strident in the hope that reason might one day prevail.
Public Health has been failing us for decades now. It is hopelessly politicised and bloated by a grant system that rewards poor quality and even downright lies provided that the recipients are “on message” and are researching tobacco, alcohol or obesity. As a consequence, the likes of Pell and Anna Gilmore become professors for essentially lying in public and real public health breakthroughs like home screening for colonic cancer using a simple test get buried by a media more interested in sensation and controversy than facts.
Imagine the lives that might have been saved had politicians had the sense to see through the simplistic argument beloved by the extremists which blames smoking harm entirely on “big tobacco” and proposes cessation as the only possible solution. Common sense and history tells us that people smoke because they like it and no amount of bans on advertising, smoking in public places or any other of the increasingly socially divisive measures proposed by the smokefree alliance will change that. Had this obvious fact been considered 3 decades ago then we might have embarked on a multi-disciplinary approach that included a harm reduction strategy and therefore saved more lives without needing to de-normalise 12 million UK citizens.
As a non-smoker, I will continue to quietly campaign against the persecution of a sizeable minority by a much smaller, shriller and I believe misguided minority. After all I do have a stake in that in answer to Eddie, I am unfortunately forced to fund mendacious charlatans like Jill Pell and Anna Gilmore.

Anonymous said...

Smoking over the last 60 years smoking has more than halved (UK 1948 66% of the population, 2009 22.5%) but asthma has risen by 300% (again in the UK). So smoking is not the primary cause of asthma and atopy, I assume the doctor’s cars and industrial pollution. The inconvenient truth is that the only studies of children of smokers suggest it is PROTECTIVE in contracting atopy in the first place. The New Zealand study says by a staggering factor of 82%.

“Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders.

The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens.
“These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.”

They conclude: Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.”

http://www.medwire-news.md/…/…gic_sensitization...

This is a Swedish study.

“Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubm…pubmed/ 11422156

In conclusion let’s have a balanced debate and not characterise smokers as race akin to the devil.


There have been 34 studies into lung cancer and exposure to cigarette smoke as a child. 3 suggest a raised risk, nearly four times as many 11 suggest PROTECTION with 20 suggesting no raised or reduced risk. The most famous is the World Health Organization 1998 study which concluded:

"Results: ETS exposure during childhood was not associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio [OR] for ever exposure = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64–0.96)."

"Conclusions: Our results indicate no association between childhood exposure to ETS and lung cancer risk."

Besides now that smoking has been banned in all public places it means children are now subject to massive amounts of smoking in the home.Which leaves us with but one conclusion and the 2 aforementioned studies make that point perfectly clear..........smoking around children is a preventative measure against asthma attacks.

DaveA said...

If one really wants to see some real publication bias please enjoy this slide show from the Royal College Of Physicians. This was the "proof" that SHS causes a whole variety of childhood diseases such as asthma and middle ear disease . The RCP must assume I and the rest of the population are fools.

The left hand axis is the factor by which the incidence is raised.For example 1.25 means a 25%raised risk. However the bottom axis is a poverty index which by inference means that the children on the right hand column (poorest) are exposed by 100% to more SHS. Poorer people are twice as likely to smoke as richer people.

Also please note none of the graph lines exceed 2.0 and therefore are epidemiologically statistially insignificant anyway.

Also if you are poor you are more likely to live in unsanitary houses and estates where greater concentrations of people live. Ergo a greater number of viral and bacterial exposure and to people with infections.

Middle ear infection: 100% increase in SHS exposure actually leads to less MEI and if anything is protective to it.

Lower Respiratory Tract Infection: At 100% SHS increase in SHS LRTI incidence increases to 50%. Hence if anything SHS gives a protection of 25%

Wheeze: At 100% raised SHS exposure the incidence of wheeze rises by 30%, and therefore approx 33% protective reduction in wheeze.

Asthma 3-4 year olds: This is a straight line and proves entirley that asthma is not caused by SHS and reduces for the higher levels of exposure to SHS.

Asthma 5 year olds. This too is a straight line and proves entirley that asthma is not caused by SHS and reduces for the higher levels of exposure to SHS.

Meningitis: The only example that reaches at some stage statistical significance at 2.25. Curious however that at the greatest levels of exposure to SHS the incidence falls.

This level of publication bias in my opinion brings the RCP and its scientists into serious disrepute.

http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/professional-Issues/Public-Health/Documents/How-much-disease-in-children-is-caused-by-passive-smoking.ppt#263,5,Socioeconomic status

Anon1 said...

New York Times article from 1971 indicating the RCP’s commitment to, and leadership in, antismoking.

Dying for a Cigarette
January 12, 1971, Tuesday
Once again the Royal College of Physicians has taken the lead in the anti-cigarette smoking campaign with a frightening new warning, plus practical alternatives for tobacco addicts. What the prestigious British medical society says should be heeded on this side of the Atlantic, too, for there is nothing nationalistic about lung cancer, heart disease and other disabling ailments.

http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F5061FF6345C107B93C0A8178AD85F458785F9&scp=61&sq=anti-cigarette&st=p

Chris Oakley said...

You are generous to epidemiology DaveA. I would want to see a RR of 3 or greater before I even entertained the possibility of a causal link. I think Doll achieved 50+ when he linked lung cancer to smoking back in the 50s but I can't recall a single really successful outcome for epidemiology since. Can anyone help as I could use some examples?

Nice work Anon1. My comment should have said 4 decades. The idea that the RCP is any way prestigious is a joke.

They were founded by Henry VIII and their immediate claim to fame was standardising medical practice by basically banning anyone who wasn't a member of the... er... Royal College of Physicians.

Their founding charter decreed thatthe the College would: “curb the audacity of those wicked men who shall profess medicine more for the sake of their avarice than from the assurance of any good conscience, whereby many inconveniences may ensue to the rude and credulous populace.”

In light of their recent doctoring of the data on the cost of alcohol to the NHS and their blind support of anything ASH say on smoking, not to mention the wild hopelessly speculative statistics that appear in their publications on passive smoking, their mission statement is a bit of a laugh:

"We will be relentless in our pursuit of improvements in healthcare and the health of the population. We will achieve this by enhancing and harnessing the skills, knowledge and leadership of physicians in setting challenging standards and encouraging positive change based on sound evidence."

Gadzooks methinks not.

Anon1 said...

Anonymous, you’ve indicated useful information. Could you please provide the complete links for:
http://www.medwire-news.md/…/…gic_sensitization...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubm…pubmed/ 11422156

Regards

Anonymous said...

I just discovered they changed,damn it! have to search it out now.

Anonymous said...

The author references papers backing up her claim that passive smoking causes asthma, but population data seems to contradict this. There tends to be less asthma in countries where smoking is more prevalent and, in any given country, as smoking declines, asthma rates generally go up.
Also, as asthma has many causes and asthma attacks many triggers, it it plausible that sufficient people took to not smoking in the house to cause such a large decrease. If you stop going to the pub because you don't want to stand outside in the cold, are you really going to stand outside the door of your house? Some might, but not many. It should then follow that the difference in the incidence between children of smokers and non smokers, of asthma hospital admissions, should be at least as great. Is this the case?

Chris Oakley said...

Hello anons. Found the Swedish reference and you can view the abstract at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11422156

It is a 2001 original article published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy and can be found here:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cea.2001.31.issue-6/issuetoc

Sadly it is a pay per view article online and I am not shelling out £23 for a 10 year old paper.

Anonymous said...

Chris O, if you went to university and that university has a medical school, you could ask, as a past graduate or bona fide scholar even, if they will allow you use of the library facilities. I work in a university and I can read the Swedish paper online.

Ben said...

see also the post at Forest.

Anonymous said...

As a child I was coated with soot
from 10,000 household chimneys,
a hundred cotton mills and 100
per day passing steam locomotives.
Nearly everyone smoked Park Drive,
Woodbines and Capstan. One boy,
poor little Victor,had one disorder
Diabetes.
Asthma became more prevelent in
children in the late 70s ,early 80s
Can someone ask the PELL person
to name ONE GP district which had
more cases in the 60s than they do now.


She is also admitting that thousands of fathers and mothers
staying in, smoking in front of
the kids,apparently REDUCES the
attacks,? ? ? ? ? ?

Anon1 said...

An article on smoking bans and asthma admissions.

"The effects of smoke-free laws are way bigger than you would expect," said Stanton Glantz, a University of California-San Francisco researcher who specializes in the health effects of smoking.
http://www.buffalonews.com/wire-feeds/24-hour-national-news/article191349.ece

Michael J. McFadden said...

It truly does seem that, if her numbers are indeed correct, all Jill Pell has done is produce a study strongly indicating that increased levels of smoke around children helps to reduce asthma incidence or attacks. It's pretty obvious that banning smoking in pubs would produce little or no decrease in their exposure while on the contrary probably has greatly increased their exposure as adults drink and smoke and party more at home.

Combine this with the clear multinational fact of asthma increasing as smoking is decreased and the increased visibility and attractiveness of smoking as it is moved outside or into home party situations (and from a kid's view, what better opportunity to swipe a few cigs than at a party of drunk adults at home?) and the picture becomes interesting indeed!

- MJM

Anonymous said...

Michael J. McFadden
Spot on mate !

They are obviously still trying to equate childhood asthma with smoking ,they have to because they have been spouting on about it for years yet the simple decline in smokers with the increase in Asthma is an embarresment.
So some massaged figures are required to keep the blame elswhere.

Junican said...

I just wonder how Pell gets away, professionally, with the smoothing operation to which she admits. If it is true that the figures are annual figures (rather than, say, monthly), then they do not lend themselves to smoothing. The only legitimate graph which correctly illustrates the situation is a 'spiky' one.

If it were not for the fact that I am away tomorrow on holiday, I think a letter to the principal of the university would be wending its way, along with one to the education dept.

No point in writing to the health dept, although I did pen one to the health sec regarding the latest propaganda advert ('take 7 steps'). Of course, one always simply hopes that these things get through.

Junican said...

Further to my previous post.

Will it be alright to use just surnames to identify people? For example, can I say ‘Snowdon’ to identify ‘Chris Snowdon’, and can I say ‘Pell’ to indentify ‘Jill Pell’? And, if necessary, can I say: ‘Snowdon (Chris)’ and ‘Pell (Jill)’ if I need to differentiate between different Snowdons and different Pells?

The impression that I had from the post on Taking Liberties (which was the first intimation that I had about Pell’s investigations) was that Pell’s investigations were puerile. That is, that they seemed to be childish in the sense that they were trying to draw conclusions that the facts did not warrant.

It would be reasonable to assume that Pell was SURE that x number of children were hospitalised. If she was not, then she is a liar, a cheat and a propagandist. Is it likely that Pell (Jill) is a liar, a cheat and a propagandist? I think not (unless she is seriously ill).

The reason that I am concerned is that I fear that we are in danger of denying the facts. It is true that the Pell’s graph is simplistic, but is it untrue?

One wonders sometimes if there is a DELIBERATE intention not to reveal the actual data. Shades of Climategate. Since I have not seen any reference to the original data, I do not know whether or not the original data is in the public domain – that is, easily accessible. Does anyone have access to the original data or is it classified, and if it is not, where is it, and why is it not available? These are seriously important questions. When a journalist publicises a press release from Pell, then that journalist (ie, the newspaper) MUST be obliged to verify the facts, or at least give directions to the source.

But we must also ask the question, “Even if Pell’s data is correct, is it reasonable for her to conclude that the reduction in asthma hospital admissions has resulted from the smoking ban?

Again, we must ask whether or not Pell is ‘a liar, a cheat and a propagandist’. We do not know.

Only if Pell is accused and evidence produced before a suitable ‘court’ (not necessarily legal), will the truth be revealed.

In conclusion, I believe that we must not accuse people of dishonesty without justification. Opinions are not important. Reality is the most important thing. Pell discovered some facts – fine – but her derivations were unutterably stupid and simplistic, weren’t they? Who can decide? Is it acceptable that her mates in the Brit Med Assn can decide? Well, no. The decision makers must be statisticians, not medics.

Junican said...

Further to my previous post.

Will it be alright to use just surnames to identify people? For example, can I say ‘Snowdon’ to identify ‘Chris Snowdon’, and can I say ‘Pell’ to indentify ‘Jill Pell’? And, if necessary, can I say: ‘Snowdon (Chris)’ and ‘Pell (Jill)’ if I need to differentiate between different Snowdons and different Pells?

The impression that I had from the post on Taking Liberties (which was the first intimation that I had about Pell’s investigations) was that Pell’s investigations were puerile. That is, that they seemed to be childish in the sense that they were trying to draw conclusions that the facts did not warrant.

It would be reasonable to assume that Pell was SURE that x number of children were hospitalised. If she was not, then she is a liar, a cheat and a propagandist. Is it likely that Pell (Jill) is a liar, a cheat and a propagandist? I think not (unless she is seriously ill).

The reason that I am concerned is that I fear that we are in danger of denying the facts. It is true that the Pell’s graph is simplistic, but is it untrue?

One wonders sometimes if there is a DELIBERATE intention not to reveal the actual data. Shades of Climategate. Since I have not seen any reference to the original data, I do not know whether or not the original data is in the public domain – that is, easily accessible. Does anyone have access to the original data or is it classified, and if it is not, where is it, and why is it not available? These are seriously important questions. When a journalist publicises a press release from Pell, then that journalist (ie, the newspaper) MUST be obliged to verify the facts, or at least give directions to the source.

But we must also ask the question, “Even if Pell’s data is correct, is it reasonable for her to conclude that the reduction in asthma hospital admissions has resulted from the smoking ban?

Again, we must ask whether or not Pell is ‘a liar, a cheat and a propagandist’. We do not know.

Only if Pell is accused and evidence produced before a suitable ‘court’ (not necessarily legal), will the truth be revealed.

In conclusion, I believe that we must not accuse people of dishonesty without justification. Opinions are not important. Reality is the most important thing. Pell discovered some facts – fine – but her derivations were unutterably stupid and simplistic, weren’t they? Who can decide? Is it acceptable that her mates in the Brit Med Assn can decide? Well, no. The decision makers must be statisticians, not medics.

Nullius in Verba said...

"How has she managed to make it look like the peak in admissions came in 2000 when it came in 2006?"

It's to do with the way you deal with end-points when smoothing.

Smoothing requires that you take a weighted average over a range of time around the data point. If you don't want a time-delay between data and output, you use a centred smooth that uses data from both past and future. But this has an obvious problem when it comes to the end-points, because some of the input is missing.

There are a range of options on how to deal with this. The most honest are to either cut the smoothed line off before the end, or to expand the error bars. Others are to set various boundary conditions that are equivalent to assuming values beyond the ends - for example, you can assume a constant value equal to the last data point, you can assume a constant value equal to the average of the data, you can use the same data in reverse order, reflected about the last point, or you can use the same data reversed and inverted about the last point.

This final option gives the "smoothest" result, and preserves the final gradient - this looks like what was done here.

So the reason that the starting point has a high value is that the gradient was negative there, and the extrapolation has assumed this trend continued prior to the data, while the peak in the middle can be seen to have low values on either side of it, and so the smoothed average is pulled down.

The Hockey Team pulled exactly the same trick with the global warming graphs, which McIntyre dissects on multiple occasions. (Search for 'end-point smoothing' there.) Briggs is even more trenchant.

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Belinda said...

Scottish MSPs on the ball as usual: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/businessBulletin/bb-10/bb-09-23f.htm (scroll down to motion from Kenneth Gibson): *S3M-7054 Kenneth Gibson: A Reduction in Smoking Means Fewer Asthma Attacks—That the Parliament welcomes the findings of recent research by the University of Glasgow concluding that the admission of children with asthma-related problems to hospital has dropped by more than 18% since the introduction of the ban on smoking in public places in 2006, a reduction equivalent to three fewer children being admitted each day; recognises that, prior to the ban, the admission of children with asthma was increasing at a rate of over 5% per year; notes that the researchers also discovered that, since the ban, there had been a 17% year-on-year drop in hospital admissions from heart attacks and a significant decline in respiratory problems among bar staff; considers that the smoking ban has resulted in a massive step being taken toward shedding Scotland’s image of being the sick man of Europe, and believes that this legislation has greatly improved the health and wellbeing of the Scottish people.

Laurie Knight said...

"Again, we must ask whether or not Pell is ‘a liar, a cheat and a propagandist’. We do not know."

You might not. I'm pretty fucking sure...

"Only if Pell is accused and evidence produced before a suitable ‘court’ (not necessarily legal), will the truth be revealed."

Will the 'court of the bleedin obvious' do?

The more blatant the anti-smoking anti-drinking puritan anti-fun brigade's propaganda gets the more obvious how much shit they are full of. I'm afraid it's now got to the point where I seriously wonder about any of the health 'hazards' of smoking. I'm not even convinced smoking causes lung cancer any more. I certainly don't believe any of the crap about second hand smoke.

I mean seriously do these people know nothing about aerodynamics? Have they never fucking sat in a car while a cigarette is burning and watched the smoke get sucked out of the window by the (effective) 40mph wind blowing sideways along the window? Oh but the sub micron particulates? Bollocks? Small things are not immune to airflow, in fact quite the opposite.