Saturday 18 April 2015

The Irish Cancer Society's hard sell

I see the Irish Cancer Society has just made its contribution to the global campaign of e-cigarette misinformation. From the Sunday World...

A study conducted by the Irish Cancer Society has cast doubt on how useful e-cigarettes are in helping smokers quit.

The survey, conducted in March, found that using e-cigarettes may in fact increase smokers dependence on nicotine as the lack of regulation is creating the potential for long-term use.

Why shouldn't people use them long term? What's it got to do with the Irish Cancer Society? But note, straight away, that it's regulation they want.

They studied 1,150 people and they found that e-cigarettes are now used by 210,000 people in Ireland but 2/3s of those using them also used other tobacco products at the same time.

So a third of them are not smoking and, since we know that the vast majority of e-cigarette users are smokers when they first try them, this fact is clearly good news for 'public health'. If e-cigarettes help 33 per cent of those who try them to achieve abstinence from tobacco then they are an order of magnitude more useful in smoking cessation than any nicotine products produced by Big Pharma. Why don't the pharmaceutical industry's products get this kind of sustained abuse from cancer charities?

"This survey clearly shows that right now e-cigarettes are not a quitting aid as some people are led to believe,” says Kathleen O’Meara, Head of Advocacy and Communications for the Irish Cancer Society (ICS).

The survey quite clearly does that e-cigarettes are a quitting aid for very many people. You'd have to be an innumerate moron not to be able to see that.

“E-cigarettes are becoming an increasingly popular choice for smokers looking for a healthier lifestyle and to save money. But there are better, more proven ways to quit smoking than choosing devices that still have no regulations in Ireland.”

 Is this a sales pitch?

Currently, e-cigarettes are not regulated as a medicinal product by the Department of Health, and the ICS have called on the Department to do so to bring it in line with other Nicotine Replacement Therapies.

That's the pharmaceutical industry's line because they want to stifle the competition with expensive and unnecessary regulation. It's not the line of many people who are involved in smoking cessation and know what they're talking about. Are you sure this isn't a sales pitch?

“Nicotine is addictive and giving up is tough. There are more effective treatments that have been proven to increase your chances of quitting up to four times. E-cigarettes are not one of them.”

Wait, this is a sales pitch. Why would the Irish Cancer Society be lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry? If there's one thing these guys hate it's a perceived conflict of interest, so surely they wouldn't ... they couldn't... Oh yes, they are...


As I said when Alcohol Concern started hawking drugs last year, the mentality is "it's not a conflict of interest when we do it". But the Irish Cancer Society's pitch is so transparent, so unsubtle, and so obviously taken not only from the pharmaceutical industry's playbook but literally from their advertisements, that no sentient reader can fail to see what's going on here.

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