Thursday 22 September 2016

The truth continues to emerge about smoking ban miracles

Via Michael Siegel, I see that another large study has concluded that smoking bans do not have an effect on the rate of heart attacks. I have written so much about the junk claims about smoking ban miracles that I won't go through the whole story here.

The claim is that you get a notable drop in heart attack admissions to hospital as soon as a smoking ban is introduced.

Check the archive for the extensive background but the basic facts are these: heart attack miracles are mathematically impossible and the claims of smoking ban advocates are based on blatant cherry-picking and bent modelling that bears no relation to the data recorded by hospitals - with a bit of publication bias thrown in for good measure.

The new study is different from those conjured up by 'public health' charlatans in that it applies proper statistical methods, such as using controls. It also doesn't cherry-pick. Its authors have a subtle dig at those who produced previous efforts in the text...

Our study possesses three important strengths. Unlike most previous studies of smoking bans, we measure the association between the implementation of smoking bans and hospitalization rates for hundreds of U.S. counties, rather than one or two areas, or a handful of regions. We employ an extensive set of covariates including cigarette tax rates, along with time and county fixed effects to control for factors that could confound the observed relationship between smoking bans and hospitalizations. This is the only study in the smoking bans literature that includes county-specific time trends, even though this approach has become the standard of practice for health economics studies over the past 15 years.

And by looking at a large number of communities rather than retrospectively selecting one which had an unusually sharp decline in heart attacks, the authors found that...

Contrary to most previous studies, we found no evidence that comprehensive public place smoking bans lowered hospitalization rates in the short-term for AMI or heart failure.

This is in line with a previous study that looked across the whole of the USA and included two million heart attacks. Like this new study and others that have come to the same conclusion, that research made absolutely no impression on the media whereas the ridiculous miracle of Helena, Montana (population: 29,000) was broadcast around the world. The lie has won the day.

I have been beating this drum for years, as has Michael Blastland (the creator of the BBC's excellent More or Less series). For his trouble, Blastland was described as a 'denialist' by Martin McKee and Martin Dockrell.

Spare a thought also for Michael Siegel who, despite being an anti-smoking activist and a supporter of smoking bans, found the heart miracle scam to be one lie too many. He has been going on about this issue longer than anybody and his blog post is worth reading if you want to see what happens when you expose fraud in the tobacco control cult...

It is interesting to note that it was my expression of the above opinions about these studies back in the mid-2000's that led to my "expulsion" from the tobacco control movement, including being thrown off several list-serves, ostracized by many of my colleagues, accused of being a "tobacco mole," being characterized by my hero and mentor - Stan Glantz - as being "a tragic figure," [to be fair, if Glantz is your hero, you are kind of a tragic figure - CJS] having copyright to one of my articles violated by an anti-smoking organization, no longer being invited to speak at tobacco conferences, not being able to present at tobacco control conferences anymore, not being able to obtain further research grants, and having colleagues refuse to appear with me at conferences to discuss these or any other scientific issues. In fact, it was this censorship that led to the creation of the Rest of the Story in the first place.

Nearly three million page views later, perhaps these groups knew what they were doing because it appears that I may have been right all along. By silencing me, these groups were able to disseminate their pre-determined conclusions widely to the public through the media long enough for the conclusions to be generally accepted. Now, it is too late to undo the damage. The media and the public have already made up their minds, and one article noting the results of this new study is not going to correct or undo 10 years of dissemination of unsupported and errant scientific conclusions.

For me, the appearance of smoking ban miracles was the point at which it became obvious that the modern anti-smoking movement was incorrigibly dishonest. Nothing I have seen in the years since has given me the slightest reason to change my mind about that.

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