Monday 28 November 2011

Malta gets mugged by reality

And so it comes full circle. Junk study after junk study claims a dramatic decline in the heart attack rate following a smoking ban. Each and every one of them is fatally, often comically, flawed. Whenever routine hospital data is available, it is obvious that smoking bans have no discernible effect on the number of people having heart attacks.

And yet the myth persists thanks to well-publicised, cherry-picked scam studies. So persistent is the myth than when a country makes an honest endeavour to replicate these fantastic results, they are genuinely baffled when the data show no change.

Malta bought the snake-oil in good faith and—guess what?—it didn't work. Alas, the Maltese health establishment is so far down the rabbit hole that this entirely predictable non-event is considered bizarre and mysterious.

Malta smoking ban fails to stub out heart disease
We are shocked over smoking ban results

The smoking ban may have led to a decrease in the heart disease death rate and hospital admissions in every country where it was introduced, but it has had absolutely no impact in Malta, a medical study has revealed [actually, the rate increased - CJS].

From Italy, where heart attacks dropped by 11 per cent after it banned smoking in public places, to Montana where the decline was a whopping 40 per cent, every country registered an improvement.

OK, one more time for the world...

'Italy' was in fact one region of Italy (Piedmont) and it didn't see an 11% decline in heart attacks. It saw a 2% increase.

'Montana' was one small town in Montana called Helena, hence the 'Helena miracle', and what more is there to be said about this piece of effluent?

“We were shocked and disappointed with Malta’s results, especially since the island was the second country in Europe to introduce the smoking ban,”cardiologist Robert Xuereb told The Sunday Times.

“Seeing that international studies all showed a reduction in heart attacks and smoking-related deaths, we assumed we’d find a drop in Malta too – to our surprise there was absolutely no change in the figures,” he added.

You don't say! I guess the Maltese forgot to employ a tobacco control charlatan to massage the figures, ignore inconvenient data and invent a phony computer model. How very remiss of them.

The findings were recently presented to the European Society of Cardiology Congress, which was held in Paris and attended by a record 32,946 participants from across the globe.

The paper, titled ‘The Smoking Ban: The Malta Paradox’...

Oh, for God's sake.

...looked at figures for cardiovascular deaths and hospital admissions due to a heart attack five years before Malta introduced the ban in April 2004, and compared these with five years later – there was no change in either the admission or mortality rates.

The inevitable excuses about the ban not being enforced properly follow. And then, in keeping with the conclusion of yesterday's post, there is the usual cry of "that didn't work, let's do more of it!"

“Maltese authorities were among the first to introduce the ban in Europe and they deserve a pat on the back for this, but unfortunately, we didn’t get the results,” Dr Xuereb said.

He is urging authorities to take bolder decisions that restrict smoking in places such as cars, in stadiums, public gardens and on beaches.

Of course he is. What else can a bone-headed prohibitionist do but call for more prohibitions?

People of Malta, please don't blame yourselves. You sound like the cripple who visits the faith healer and blames himself for his lack of belief when other people get cured but not him. Those other people didn't get cured, Malta, they were stooges. It was fixed.

If you insist on believing in miracles, you'd better brace yourself for disappointment. You were never going to see a dramatic fall in heart attacks. England didn't. Australia didn't. Denmark didn't. The USA didn't. Scotland didn't. Wales didn't. New Zealand didn't. Because they are impossible. Trust your own data, not the con artists of tobacco control.

Nothing to see here (part 94)
Heart attacks in Malta before and after the smoking ban


Anonymous said...

Another Well Done Chris!

Dick Puddlecote said...

One of the funniest stories of the year. :)

Anonymous said...

Funny thing about bans and AMI reductions, cigarette smoking is not a risk factor for heart disease.

Results from the “Framingham Study”, this done by doctors at Northwestern Univ.’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

This was published n “Circulation” the journal of the American Heart Association.,2933,184016,00.html

First Lifetime Heart Disease Risk Assessment Developed
Monday , February 06, 2006

The researchers reviewed the medical records of 3,564 men and 4,362 women who did not have any record of cardiovascular disease at age 50.

The men and women were followed for several decades and all cases of heart attack, coronary heart disease, angina, stroke, claudication (pain in the legs caused by circulation problems), and death from cardiovascular disease were recorded.

When the researchers calculated the impact of modifiable risk factors such as body weight, smoking history, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, they found that:

--Smokers and nonsmokers had similar lifetime risks for cardiovascular disease.

Gary K.

Christopher Snowdon said...

The full quote reads:

Smokers and nonsmokers had similar lifetime risks for cardiovascular disease, but smokers developed cardiovascular problems earlier in life and died an average of five years sooner. The researchers note that this might be due to other smoking-related causes such as lung disease and cancer.,2933,184016,00.html#ixzz1f2DeFcTm

Anonymous said...

" The researchers note that this might be due to other smoking-related causes such as lung disease and cancer."

The researchers did not adjust for socio-economic status(SES).

About 60% of smokers are in the lower SES's and these people tend to die at a younger age for a number of reasons.
Gary K.

Anonymous said...

It's always reassuring to see the press running to a medical "expert" who is "shocked and disappointed" because of the "unfortunate" results.

Isn't it wonderful to know that the press and (eh-hem!) "objective" experts are hard at work protecting the interests of the public?


Mark Wadsworth said...

Excellent work, nothing else to add.