Wednesday 26 November 2014

The myriad lies of 'public health'

As the years go by, I am increasingly of the opinion that Britain's single greatest public institution is the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It is an oasis for empiricists in a world of myths and lies.

In the fraudulent field of 'public health' lies are told so many times in echo-chamber conferences and comedy journals that many of the graduates who pour out of Britain's public health faculties probably think them to be truths. These people are - perhaps - merely naive, but it is harder to believe that those who devise and propagate these falsehoods are acting in good faith. More likely, as with prohibitionists throughout the ages, they are charlatans who know exactly what they are doing.

Via Dick Puddlecote, I see that the latest ONS data on smoking prevalence exposes a few of the myriad lies of the public health racket. A few simple graphs effectively dismantle arguments that the likes of Martin McKee, Anna Gilmore and Simon Chapman have relied on for years.

With regards to the supposed 'gateway effect' of e-cigarette users taking up combustible cigarettes, the graph below shows the conspicuous lack of interest that nonsmokers have in e-cigarettes.

The ONS notes that:

E-cigarettes were almost exclusively used by smokers and ex-smokers. More than 1 in 10 (12%) of cigarette smokers also used e-cigarettes, compared with 1 in 20 (5%) ex-smokers and almost none of those who had never smoked.

After several years of rapidly increasing e-cigarette use at the population level, non-smokers remain almost entirely uninterested in the product. There is no evidence that the tiny fraction of never-smokers who use e-cigarettes have the slightest interest in moving on to the more hazardous and (currently) much more expensive tobacco version.

 With regards to the claim that cigarettes are "more affordable than they were in the 1960s" (Deborah Arnott, ASH), the ONS has a graph that nicely exposes that pitiful and obvious lie.

As anyone who has made contact with planet Earth in the last forty years knows, the price of tobacco in Britain has risen at an eye-watering rate. See here for more evidence that the price of cigarettes has risen at a far faster rate than inflation and average wages. It is hard to view people who make the claim that cigarettes have become relatively cheaper as anything other than miserable liars. Confirming that cigarettes have become, by any measure, less affordable, the ONS notes that:

Smoking has become more expensive over this period, with tobacco prices increasing well above the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Consequently there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of a smoker’s income that has been needed to fund their habit.

The inflation-busting tobacco duty rises that have taken place since 1980 have naturally hit the poorest hardest. The ONS report also contains figures which show that the poor are more than twice as likely to smoke that the rich. This undermines yet another public health lie - that the poor are more likely to give up smoking when taxes go up. In fact, they are least likely to give up.

The affordability claim about cigarettes and the gateway claim about e-cigarettes are just two of the countless lies that pour from the lips of public health shysters. They have been rebutted before and will be again. Empirical evidence will not deter them. Prohibitionists lie. It is what they do. If they had to tell the truth, even for a few hours, their careers would be over.


Christopher Snowdon said...

Suggesting that e-cigs are a gateway to smoking real cigarettes seems to me to be like suggesting that non-alcoholic beer is a gateway to drinking vodka. It makes absolutely no sense, as they are 2 completely different products.

Christopher Snowdon said...

I wouldn't be too sure about the impartiality of the ONS - their numbers may still be untainted but their graph showing %age smokers,ex-smokers and never-smokers is a masterpiece of deceit,employing the "dodgy y-axes" technique.

Here,they are trying to disguise the fact that population %age of ex-smokers has remained the same as 2000 - not a glowing endorsement for our cessation policies.Effectively,the fall in prevalence is due to more never-smokers becoming 16 (and not starting) than smokers dying.They're concentrating on the kids because they've failed with the smokers.

Christopher Snowdon said...

In 1970 I worked for a year as a shop assistant before starting college. I earned £11 a week and smoked Players no.6 which were 3/6 (17.5p) for 20. I smoked about 10 packs a week, so that was £1.75 out of my £11.
If I did a similar job today at the age of 20 I would earn about £200 a week (being generous with myself). If I smoked 10 packs of Richmond a week, a good comparison, mid-priced cigarette, they would cost at least £73.
So, £1.75 out of £11, £73 out of £200.