A critique of Durkin et al

Last year Sarah Durkin, Emily Brennan, Kerri Coomber, Meghan Zacher, Michelle Scollo and
Melanie Wakefield published a paper in Tobacco Control that concluded:

These findings provide some of the strongest evidence to date that implementation of [Plain Packaging] with larger [Graphic Health Warnings] was associated with increased rates of quitting cognitions, microindicators of concern and quit attempts among adult cigarette smokers.

Sounds awesome, sounds definitive. Maybe they weren’t expecting anyone to actually read the paper – especially tables 1 and 2. Not that there is a table 3, but you get the idea.

This paper is part of a special issue of the journal that reports the results of the National Tobacco Plain Packaging Tracking survey:

In April 2012, the Department contracted the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, to conduct a national cross-sectional, monthly tracking survey of smokers and recent quitters for the purpose of assessing the short to mid-term effects of tobacco plain packaging.

Word is that this multi-million dollar contract was not put out to tender. In addition, despite the Department of Health stating:

To request access to data collected in the National Tobacco Plain Packaging Monthly Tracking Survey, please email the Tobacco Control inbox.

I have been emailing since the beginning of January and still haven’t had even an acknowledgement of my emails let alone a decision on my request, or even the data. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised – if the published results are as weak as I’m about to demonstrate, I suspect the unpublished (and until now secret) data may reveal greater weaknesses and problems.

Turning our attention to Durkin et al.

This is how they describe their sample:

Respondents were aged 18–69 years and were either smokers (n(unweighted)=8755) or recent quitters (quit in the past 12 months, n(unweighted)=1553). Those who smoked daily or weekly were classified as smokers, while those who smoked monthly or less-than-monthly were allowed to self identify as a current or ex-smoker.

For the current study, we restricted the sample to baseline current smokers of factory-made or roll-your-own cigarettes …

We further restricted the sample to those who completed their follow-up survey before the implementation of the 12.5% tax increase for tobacco products that occurred in Australia on 1 December 2013 … [this] allowed us to better isolate the effects of the packaging policy from those of the tax increase.

They also required respondents in the sample to have complete data responses – i.e. no missing data. So far, so good.

What they are looking for in the data is attempts at quitting – not actual quits. That may seem like something of an oversight, but as will become clear they had good reason to be modest in their research question.

Those who were smoking at baseline were asked at follow-up if they were still smoking and if so, whether they had made any attempts to quit smoking over the past month. We created a binary variable … this variable allowed us to predict the proportion of smokers making quit attempts, irrespective of whether these attempts were successful.

Emphasis added. Get that? They are not interested in success, only attempts at quitting.

So what they do is offer a series of before and after comparisons. They have four periods of time:

The pre-PP phase included those who completed both baseline (10 April–1 September 2012) and follow-up surveys (7 May 2012–30 September 2012) prior to implementation of the packaging changes …
The early transition phase included those surveyed at baseline in the pre-packaging changes period (20 August–28 September 2012) and followed-up during the transition to the new packaging (20 August–28 September 2012) and followed-up during the transition to the new packaging (1 October–11 November 2012 …
The late transition phase included those first surveyed during the transition to the new packaging (1 October–30 November 2012) and followed-up either during the transition or soon after the full implementation of the new packaging (29 October 2012–20 January 2013 …
The PP year 1 phase included those who completed both surveys in the first year of full implementation of the new packaging (baseline surveys: 1 December 2012 to 4 November 2013; follow-up surveys: 2 January 2013–30 November 2013 …

So they slice and dice the data and produce Table 1 showing summary statistics for each time period under consideration.

Durkin 1

We are interested in the row “Weighted, n”. Then read across the columns. “BS” stands for Baseline Smoker – someone who was smoking at the time of the initial call. “CS” stands for Continuing Smoker – someone who was still smoking at the time of the follow up call about a month later. Now while Durkin et al don’t actually say so, the percentage change between the BS figure and the CS figure is the short-term quit rate. That percentage difference captures the people who had stopped smoking sometime over the month between the two calls. Of course, the call itself may have induced smokers to quit – but let’s abstract from that and just look at the numbers. What I have done below is break out the numbers from their table 1 and then add in an additional row where I calculate the percentage change and then I also add in some columns where I add up the Early transition, Late transition, and PP year 1 data to create a new time period that I label Post-PP.

Durkin 3

Before the introduction of plain packaging the quit rate was 5.9%. The Early transition quit rate was 7.97% (looking good there), but then the rate collapses to 3.57% in the Late transition period and then is 5.66% in the first year of plain packing implementation. Now because they haven’t reported this information they haven’t tested for statistical differences – I think I know why. The thing is 5.66% is lower than 5.9%. Now there may be no statistical significant difference between those two numbers but it does make a paper somewhat redundant if you want to argue that people thought about quitting but actually didn’t. Or worse, that quit rates actually fell.

I am surprised that the referees didn’t pick up that quit rates could be calculated from the data in table 1. Perhaps they didn’t want to know.

Now look at the columns I have labelled Post-PP. Here I have summed the data over the whole period where smokers could have come into contact with a packet of plain packaged tobacco. Durkin et al have sliced the data finely, I want to have a look at a coarser cut of the data. The quit rate in the Post-PP period is 5.5% down from 5.9% in the Pre-PP period. Again I don’t know what the statistical significance of that difference might be, but it is inconsistent with the hypothesis that quit rates would have increased as a result of the introduction of plain packaging.

It gets worse. Let’s look at their actual results reported in their table 2.

Durkin 2

So what they have done is created seven indicators of the intention to quit smoking and then sliced and diced the data by time period to tease out any implications between these variables and smoking behaviour. “OR” stands for odds ratio – it is a coefficient from a logistic regression. Unfortunately they don’t report their actual regressions or the regression diagnostics so it is difficult to understand or interpret quite what they have done. in any event very few of the ORs are statistically significantly different from the Pre-PP ORs. What we are doing here is looking for asterisks; * means the number is statistically different from the Pre-PP value at the 5% level of significance and ** means the number is statistically different from the Pre-PP value at the 1% level of significance.

The first thing to notice is that there is only one instance where a result is statistically significant at the 1% level. All other significant results are only significant at the 5% level. The second thing to notice is that the results are not consistent. Some indicators, “Daily thoughts about quitting in the past week” and “Firm date to quit in next month”, have no statistically significant results at all. Other indicators have one or two but distributed across different time periods.

What is interesting though is that “Intend to quit in next month” is strongly statistically significant in the Late transition period. Yet we know from table 1 (reading between the lines) that this period exhibited the lowest actual quitting behaviour. So smokers told researchers that they intended to quit next month but then actually didn’t. Another referee oversight.

Then we get to the best and strongest and most consistent and coherent results in the paper. Smokers during the Late transition and PP year 1 periods “Concealed or covered pack several or many times in past month”. Well yes. Of course they did. The pack are deliberately designed to be ugly and unattractive. They are covered in medical porn. Small wonder that smokers concealed the packets.

The other thing to notice is that the results are highly statistically significant for “Stopped from smoking several or many times in past month” in the Early Transition period. Again, I’n not surprised. That period includes 20 August through to 30 November 2012. Cigarette prices are automatically indexed in March and August every year (then to CPI, now to AWOTE). So in that period tobacco prices had just increased and some smokers tried to quit. That’s called “responding to price signals” and it explains the 7.97% quit rate in that period. So despite Durkin et al wanting to keep their study uncontaminated from tax increases they were unable to entirely do so.

So long story short: The evidence for plain packaging having an effect on smoking quit rates is poor. The evidence for plain packaging having an effect on the intention to quit rate is poor. What evidence there is suggests that excise increases effect quit rates.

As the authors concede:

Results indicated that short-term changes in quit intentions were no different after the full implementation of the new packaging than in the pre-PP phase. The absence of these effects on next month quit intentions and having a firm date to quit, in the presence of effects on microindicators of concern and quit attempts, may indicate that plain packs with larger GHWs continue to trigger increased concern in the smoking moment—reflected in increased stubbing out before finishing a cigarette and pack concealment—but do not continue to increase deliberate plans to quit well after the shock of the transition phase.

That is a very positive spin on a very poor result.

This entry was posted in Plain Packaging, Take Nanny down, Wakefield data, Wakefield Study. Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to A critique of Durkin et al

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    I managed to get this far in their paper:

    Quitting-related cognitions at follow-up

    Substantial research has demonstrated that thoughts about quitting and quit intentions prospectively predict making quit attempts.23–25 Frequency of thoughts about quitting was assessed by asking ‘During the past week, how often have you thought about quitting?’ with response options: ‘several times a day’; ‘once a day’; ‘once every few days’; ‘once’; or ‘not at all’.

    At that point my warning bell went off in my head. That is push polling.

    As soon as you frame questions in that way you are applying sociological pressure on your respondents, who will tend to answer in a way to most please the pollster and minimise their own embarrassment. The study is confirmation biased by the framing of the question.

    Next time, kiddies, develop a methodology which does not push the respondents into a response you want.

    What this suggests to me is the lions’ share of the effect supposedly assigned to PPL is actually social pressure imposed by the media, government and peer groups. PPL is probably completely futile except to support the anathemisation drive and to enhance criminality and the black market.

    Incidentally I’m not and never have been a smoker, but I really hate biased experimental designs.

  2. Kool Aid Kid

    Sinc: wish you would drop this embarrassing obsession

  3. Sinclair Davidson

    Just wondering if the mining tax, or fuelwatch, or climategate, or the carbon tax were embarrassing obsessions too?

  4. Hydra

    Keep it up Sinc.

    Expose fraudulent economics and science (and psychology!) for what they are.

  5. MsDolittle

    Sinc: wish you would drop this embarrassing obsession

    I disagree. More people should be obsessed by big government’s useless expenditure.

  6. MsDolittle

    Expose fraudulent economics and science (and psychology!) for what they are.
    Yep and that too, of course Hydra! I despair of/and for the Kool Aid Kids in our midst.

  7. Procrustes

    Can we have a list of all of the activities that Kool Aid Kid thinks Sinc should or should not spend his time on and post on his own blog?

    That would be real handy

  8. alexnoaholdmate

    A better summing up would be:

    “So the ugly packaging makes people think twice about quitting. For the first packet only. And only because they see the ugly packaging as they take out another cigarette and smoke it.

    This effect lasts until they return to the smoko and buy a second packet.”

  9. alexnoaholdmate

    “Our results indicate that the Government would have had just as much success convincing smokers to quit if they had kept the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the plain packaging campaign and simply paid people to stop smoking.”

  10. Waz

    Good job as usual. We see this so often across the board in the sciences (physical and social). It seems to me that it’s a function of poor editorial reviews of science journals and the mindless requirement of academics to publish.
    Just on the topic itself, I was a smoker and gave up in 2001 at the tender age of 48 after many years’ of nicorette and failed attempts; it’s just so damn pleasurable. Success was at hand when I told myself it was only a temporary cessation and that I could start up again at age 70. Joy oh joy, only 7 years to go!

  11. BrettW

    I am not a smoker but what I understand of the above seems to be talking about the quit rate.

    What about the new smokers taking up the habit ? If I was a teenager looking to start smoking the current packaging would certainly make me think more seriously than the previous branded packs. If one of my friends was walking around holding a pack with those images on I would be making jokes about his stupidity. My way of thinking is that surely the plain/scary packaging would be preventing younger people starting which can only be a good thing.

    The fact the Tobacco industry is campaigning against plain packaging tells me it must be working. If it was not why would they care.

  12. H B Bear

    Data looks more tortured than a Guantanamo inmate. And still didn’t give them what they wanted. Time for the waterboarding?

  13. .

    The fact the Tobacco industry is campaigning against plain packaging tells me it must be working. If it was not why would they care.

    Because the government destroyed their branding and paid no compensation.

  14. Sinclair Davidson

    What about the new smokers taking up the habit ?

    This would be an interesting point – except that the tracking survey specifically excluded all individuals under 18. So all that talk about youth smoking was just that – talk.

    The fact the Tobacco industry is campaigning against plain packaging tells me it must be working. If it was not why would they care.

    It undermines their ability to compete. I’m busy thinking about a post on quality competition and the third law of demand.

  15. H B Bear

    The fact the Tobacco industry is campaigning against plain packaging tells me it must be working. If it was not why would they care.

    Like much modern legislation, increased tobacco control is funded by a small army of well funded academics, public servants and general nanny state public health busybodies. Every increase in State control is immediately followed by a shift of the goalposts and a demands for further restrictions.

    Unsurprisingly faced with this dynamic, the natural reaction is to oppose any and all restrictions on the sale of their legal product, irrespective of what it may be.

  16. Infidel Tiger

    Just wondering if the mining tax, or fuelwatch, or climategate, or the carbon tax were embarrassing obsessions too?

    They sure were for the left.

  17. BrettW

    Dot, my care factor is zero about them getting no compensation. The tabacco companies have made billions and they can sue if they think they have a case.

    I think the compensation issue is insignificant to their caring about whether other countries follow the Australian plain packaging. That is why they must campaign so strongly against it.

    Whenever I see these anti plain packaging threads I just think “good, it must be working”. The less kids I see smoking the better.

  18. .

    Would you care if the government did it to you? Do you like force being selectively applied? On whim?

  19. Baldrick

    Love your work Doomlord. Keep sticking it to the big government nanny-staters.

  20. Some History

    The fact the Tobacco industry is campaigning against plain packaging tells me it must be working. If it was not why would they care.

    So, that’s your idea of “scrutiny”, is it? That’s straight out of the prohibitionist play book: People agree with us because we’re right; people disagree with us because we’re right. And, of course, the evergreen – if the [evil] Tobacco industry opposes us, then we’re “super-duper” right.

    Here’s another “screech test” that can be applied. Try removing some funding from these prohibitionist miscreants and they make screeching Tasmanian devils look lethargic.

    If one of my friends was walking around holding a pack with those images on I would be making jokes about his stupidity.

    Brett, you ought to read a little on the 400-year sickly history of antismoking. Misocapny is dangerous stupidity. At the moment, Brett, you’re just spouting inflammatory prohibitionist blather. You’re enthusiastically ride the bandwagon, requiring no critical thinking whatsoever.

    Here’s a start, Brett, if you want to rise above your un/ill-informed opinion. Bear in mind while you’re reading some of this antismoking history that the vast majority of a plethora of claims made about the “deleterious effects” of tobacco were baseless and highly inflammatory. And the incessant lying was coming from well-respected folk within medical and religious circles exploiting “appeal to authority”:

    “Cigarette Wars: The ‘Triumph’ of the Little White Slaver” (1998) by Cassandra Tate. Google the following combination – “the endless war on tobacco” “seattletimes” – which should bring up a summary article of the book at the Seattle Times.

    Gordon L. Dillow (1981), “Thank You for Not Smoking” [The Hundred-Year War Against the Cigarette]

    Robert Proctor (1996), “The anti-tobacco campaign of the Nazis: a little known aspect of
    public health in Germany, 1933-45”

    “From Pope Urban VII to Bloomberg, Four Centuries of Smoking Bans”, Jennie Cohen (2011)

    ——–

    BTW Remember when the prohibitionists claimed that tobacco was a “unique” product and that any claims of a “slippery slope” to other products was just fear-mongering by the [evil] Tobacco industry? Guess what? That’s just one of many lies that spring forth ad nauseam from the deranged prohibitionist mindset:

    Plain Packaging for Food and Drink – the Vultures Circle
    http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/plain-packaging-food-and-drink-vultures.html

  21. BrettW

    Sinclair, perhaps I can complete the sentence
    “It undermines their ability to compete” to sell a product that is proven to be harmful to the user.

    OK I know, freedom to choose what you consume and all that.

    However I can not forgot visiting the home of a smoker, a Vietnam veteran, living in a chair hooked up to a machine. He had less than a year to live due to emphysema. Anything that might prevent that happening to others is fine by me. Luckily nobody in my extended family smokes and I know very few who do.

  22. H B Bear

    Whenever I see these anti plain packaging threads I just think “good, it must be working”.

    I wish I had this much faith in any government program.

  23. Sinclair Davidson

    Brett – I hear what you’re saying. But there is no information asymmetry here. In the 1970s my mother, a chain smoker, used to tell my sister and I about the risks of smoking. People make choices and live the lives they choose.

  24. Some History

    He had less than a year to live due to emphysema. Anything that might prevent that happening to others is fine by me.

    You sound exactly like Candy.

    Luckily nobody in my extended family smokes and I know very few who do.

    Got some bad news for you, Brett. The “luck” of you and your nonsmoking family is going to run out…… guaranteed. You, like everyone else, will have their encounter with mortality and that you have never smoked isn’t going to make one iota of difference. Brett, you don’t seem to have considered your position in the human predicament. You’ve convinced yourself that disease and death is something that happens to those “stupid” smokers. If only they could be “saved” from their horrible “addiction” or if no-one else becomes one of those “stupid” smokers, i.e., The Children™, then everyone would skip, hand-in-hand – tra-la-la – through the smokefree daisy-covered fields and live happily ever after. Wake up, Brett. You’re suffering from pitiful, sanctimonious shallowness.

    End of life, whether a smoker or nonsmoker, and usually in people’s 60s, 70s, 80s, is ugly. Deterioration unto mortality is usually an escalating misery. But if moralizing zealots are allowed to dictate proceedings, they will make the many living years long before we get to the dying part a misery, too.

  25. Infidel Tiger

    People make choices and live the lives they choose.

    Well we can’t have that.

  26. Some History

    With the antismoking propaganda of the last 40 years (adding to that of the previous century), it’s doubted whether nonsmokers, let alone antismokers, have any grasp of what smoking entails.

    Consider a pack-a-day smoker. Each cigarette has between 8-11 puffs (doses). Over a 50-year period such a smoker will have inhaled 20(cigarettes) x 9(doses) x 365 (days) x 50(years). That’s 3,285,000 doses [a heavy smoker would have inhaled at least twice as many doses). I can think of substances, even legal prescription drugs, where 1 dose can be lethal.

    For argument’s sake, let’s accept the prohibitionists’ claim that half of smokers will be “killed” by their smoking. It apparently takes at least a few million doses for “lethality”. What of the other half that are not “killed” by their smoking? These people have inhaled millions of doses of tobacco smoke. They must be “super human”?

    This 112 year old woman smokes 30 cigarettes a day
    http://nypost.com/2016/01/26/this-112-year-old-woman-smokes-30-cigarettes-a-day/

    She’s been smoking for 95 years (that’s longer than most nonsmokers will live). That’s 6,241,500 doses.

  27. BrettW

    Sinclair,
    I am guessing your mother must have started smoking at least in the 50’s. When she made her decision to start she had a lot less information to base her decision on. In fact the advertising at that time would have made it look cool and sophisticated. A lot more information about the effects of smoking came out after the 70’s. For years the tabacco companies tried to prevent such information coming out and in effect denied her the knowledge that might have affected her choice.

    Any kid today buying a pack with those images on, seeing the TV ads and then starts to smoke regularly has only themselves to blame. However I do believe it would be having a deterrent effect.

    Just spoke with my 22 year old son who works part time in hospitality. Of the 10 employees in his group he can only think of one who smokes.

    An interesting thread in the sense that in this day and age I would not have thought smoking and the tabacco companies would have had so much support. Perhaps some are smokers themselves, in which case I can understand why they would not like the packaging or my comments.

    Made my point and time for bed.

  28. Infidel Tiger

    An interesting thread in the sense that in this day and age I would not have thought smoking and the tabacco companies would have had so much support. Perhaps some are smokers themselves, in which case I can understand why they would not like the packaging or my comments.

    We don’t smoke. We just believe in freedom

    That makes us a smaller and more dangerous minority than smokers.

  29. Entropy

    Quite so, IT, quite so.

    Besides I always have a soft spot for the underdog and hate bullies.

  30. JohnA

    From the data selection criteria:

    “For the current study, we restricted the sample to baseline current smokers of factory-made or roll-your-own cigarettes “

    So this survey does not isolate and compensate for shifts away from factory-made products ie. into “illegal” chop-chop (non-excised and therefore cheaper). Such shifts are de facto included in the quit ratios calculated.

  31. BrettW

    Some History,
    These comments of yours are really quite hilarious.

    “Got some bad news for you, Brett. The “luck” of you and your nonsmoking family is going to run out…… guaranteed. You, like everyone else, will have their encounter with mortality and that you have never smoked isn’t going to make one iota of difference. Brett, you don’t seem to have considered your position in the human predicament. You’ve convinced yourself that disease and death is something that happens to those “stupid” smokers. If only they could be “saved” from their horrible “addiction” or if no-one else becomes one of those “stupid” smokers, i.e., The Children™, then everyone would skip, hand-in-hand – tra-la-la – through the smokefree daisy-covered fields and live happily ever after. Wake up, Brett. You’re suffering from pitiful, sanctimonious shallowness”.

    Luck has nothing to do with it. More like common sense if not smoking reduces odds of me and my non smoking family dying earlier or suffering from various smoke related ailments.

    IT,
    I am guessing that whilst you might like freedom you would also quietly appreciate it if the Government scare tactics put your kids off smoking. Then again your views on freedom vary quite considerably from mine. I recall you accusing police of murder because they were making drug arrests at a festival where somebody overdosed on bad drugs.

    Entropy
    Whilst I dont like bullies either I have never thought of tabacco companies as the underdog.

    As much as it has been interesting I must sign off now.

  32. Some History

    I am guessing your mother must have started smoking at least in the 50?s. When she made her decision to start she had a lot less information to base her decision on. In fact the advertising at that time would have made it look cool and sophisticated. A lot more information about the effects of smoking came out after the 70?s. For years the tabacco [sic] companies tried to prevent such information coming out and in effect denied her the knowledge that might have affected her choice.

    Brett, you’re still blathering. It’s impossible to scrutinize the conduct of tobacco companies (America) in the 1960s unless one understands the history of antismoking in America. In the 1960s, tobacco companies would have reacted to claims as the latest in a century-long list of antismoking claims, most of them baseless, inflammatory, and agitating. We’ve now gotten to the stage where smoking can “cause” almost every malady known to humanity (give them time), secondhand smoke isn’t too far behind, and now there’s even the conjuring of “thirdhand smoke danger”. It’s the typical deterioration into absurdity and hysteria that is fully to be expected when prohibitionists are given red-carpet access to the legislature through exploiting “appeal to [medical] authority”. Brett, you should be asking why you’ve never heard of the history of antismoking. Who is withholding this information, through the usual media channels, from the populace?

    Antismoking isn’t new. It has a long, sordid, at times very violent, 400+ year history. There were antismoking crusades long before the large tobacco companies came on the scene. There were antismoking crusades long before the mass-produced cigarette. There were antismoking crusades long before movies and mass media. There were antismoking crusades long before attempts, however bastardized, at scientific investigation of smoking. There were antismoking crusades long before the recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger” [The term “passive smoking”, without basis, was coined during the Nazi era].

    The common theme over those 400+ years is the extent to which rabid antismokers will lie and manipulate to rationalize their incoherent hatred of smoke/smokers/smoking. Hostility, violence, cruelty, bigotry, neuroses, megalomania, pathological lying, a “god complex” – antismoking has it all. There’s more than ample evidence over the last few centuries that the rabid antismoking mentality (misocapny) is a significant mental disorder. Yet here we are again.

    Brett, you’re a propagandists’ dream. You believe everything you’re told by officialdom. You must believe everything that’s been said of smoking since the 1970s. You must believe that officialdom/authority is always right. That’s sad and scary.

    Brett, are you aware that the eugenics (included anti-tobacco) catastrophe of early last century, that was first popularized in America and brought to a murderous peak in Germany, was physician-led. It was also embraced/funded by government (officialdom), the mega-wealthy, and the “educated”. There were few critics of eugenics at the time. In Germany, the two largest group memberships of the Nazi Party were doctors and lawyers.

    The medically-aligned and social engineering is a demonstrably dangerous mix. Yet they’re at it again through medically-monopolized Public Health.

    Perhaps some are smokers themselves, in which case I can understand why they would not like the packaging or my comments.

    That’s just asinine and typical of a prohibitionist tosser. You’re implying that there is no coherent argument against PP or “your comments”, that the only folk that could possibly question PP and “your comments” are [stupid] smokers [in denial].

  33. Some History

    Whilst I dont like bullies either I have never thought of tabacco [sic] companies as the underdog.

    Sorry, Brett, but you can’t even spell “tobacco” correctly – twice.

    Brett, you’re blathering the standard prohibitionist blather. It’s the refuge of the cognitively retarded: Turn all into “Us” (the “righteous”) battling the [evil] tobacco (note spelling) companies. Pitiful. Smokers have been shoved out of the indoors; they’re being shoved out of the outdoors. There are now instances where smokers are denied employment, denied housing (even the elderly), and denied medical treatment. Smokers in the UK are denied fostering/adoption. Involuntary mental patients are restrained physically or chemically (sedation) or multi-day solitary confinement rather than allow them to have a cigarette – even outside. In some countries there are also compounded extortionate taxes. Explain to us how this has to do with “tobacco companies” and not the bullying of prohibitionists? A particular author has also taken a selection of antismoking comments gathered from comments boards over the last few years that just seethe with hatred:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/hzc1cuv6wknzrjh/MasterHateFINALC45x30%20%28Custom%29.jpg
    Explain to us how this has to do with “tobacco companies” and not the constant fear and hate-mongering of prohibitionists who are themselves neurotic bigots?

    I’ve posted a fair bit of information that shows up your comments for the twaddle that they are. But you can’t absorb this information because it’s too much for your puny view and you really don’t demonstrate the honesty to lift yourself out of the bunkum factory.

    Luck has nothing to do with it. More like common sense if not smoking reduces odds of me and my non smoking family dying earlier or suffering from various smoke related ailments.

    I’d question the sensibility of anyone trying to live their lives according to the [nonsensical] sterile “statistical odds” framework of [ideologically corrupted] Public Health.

    Brett, I repeat….. you’re a propagandists’ dream. Or, maybe you are one of the propagandists?

  34. Some History

    Prohibition by “salami slices”

    Here’s a brief history of the antismoking madness (Godber Blueprint) over the last few decades.
    The first demand for a smoking ban was in the late-1980s concerning short-haul flights in the USA of less than 2 hours. At the time, the antismokers were asked if this was a “slippery slope” – where would it end? They ridiculed anyone suggesting such because this ban was ALL that they were after.
    Then they ONLY wanted smoking bans on all flights.
    Then the antismokers ONLY wanted nonsmoking sections in restaurants, bars, etc., and ensuring that this was ALL they wanted.
    Then the antismokers ONLY wanted complete bans indoors. That was all they wanted. At the time, no-one was complaining about having to “endure” wisps of smoke outdoors.

    While they pursued indoor bans, the antismokers were happy for smokers to be exiled to the outdoors. Having bulldozed their way into indoor bans, the antismokers then went to work on the outdoors, now declaring that momentary exposure to remnants of smoke in doorways or a whiff outdoors was a “hazard”, more than poor, innocent nonsmokers should have to “endure”.
    Then they ONLY wanted bans within 10 feet of entrance ways.
    Then they ONLY wanted bans within 20 feet of entrance ways.
    Then they ONLY wanted bans in entire outdoor dining areas.
    Then they ONLY wanted bans for entire university and hospital campuses and parks and beaches.
    Then they ONLY wanted bans for apartment balconies.
    Then they ONLY wanted bans for entire apartment (including individual apartments) complexes.

    On top of all of this, there are now instances where smokers are denied employment, denied housing (even the elderly), and denied medical treatment. Smokers in the UK are denied fostering/adoption. Involuntary mental patients are restrained physically or chemically (sedation) or multi-day solitary confinement rather than allow them to have a cigarette – even outside. In some countries there are also compounded extortionate taxes.

    At each point there was a crazed insistence that there was no more to come while they were actually planning the next ban and the brainwashing required to push it. The incessant claim was that they were not doing “social engineering” (prohibition) when the current antismoking crusade has been so from the outset, just like pretty well every previous antismoking crusade. There has been incessant (pathological) lying and deception. Many medically-aligned groups have been committed to antismoking – their smokefree “utopia” – since the 1960s, and are also in the pay of Pharma companies peddling their useless “nicotine replacement” products. They have prostituted their medical authority and integrity to chase ideology (this is exactly what occurred in the eugenics of early last century). All of it is working to a tobacco-extermination plan run by the WHO (dominated by the American “model”) and that most nations are now signed-up to (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control).

    With all of the antismoking insanity of the last few decades, including employment bans, housing bans, etc, remember that it all began with “All we want is a smoking ban on short-haul flights. What’s so unreasonable about that?”

  35. Some History

    Entropy: Besides I always have a soft spot for the underdog and hate bullies.

    It is also important to note that antismoking was so strongly associated with Nazism that “for the anti-Nazi youth movements – the working class Eidelweiss Pirates and the bourgeois Hamburg Swing Youth alike – the constant cigarette seems to have been almost a badge of resistance and was referred to as a sure indicator of their degeneracy in the surveillance reports produced by the Hitler Youth. Indeed, one of the reasons for the relative failure of activities to prevent smoking in Germany since the war may be that the association of authoritarian antismoking efforts with the Nazi regime remained in popular memory for a long period.” (Smith et al., 1995, p.396)

    Smith, G.D., Strobele, S., & Egger, M. (1995) Smoking and death. British
    Medical Journal, 310,
    396.

    From the early-1900s – In America, children took pledges to not smoke. In Germany:
    “Proctor (1997) continues that “throughout this period, magazines like Genussgifte (Poisons of taste or habit), Auf der Wacht (On Guard), and Reine Luft (Pure air) published a regular drumbeat against this ‘insidious poison’ [tobacco], along with articles charting the unhealthful effects of alcohol, teenage dancing, cocaine, and other vices. Dozens of books and pamphlets denounced the ‘smoking slavery’ or ‘cultural degeneration’ feared from the growth of tobacco use. Tobacco was branded ‘the enemy of world peace’, and there was even talk of ‘tobacco terror’ and ‘tobacco capitalism’ …. The Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls both published antismoking propaganda, and the Association for the Struggle against the Tobacco Danger organized counseling centers where the ‘tobacco ill’ could seek help” (p.456-457); “Hitler Youth had anti-smoking patrols all over Germany, outside movie houses and in entertainment areas, sports fields etc., and smoking was strictly forbidden to these millions of German youth growing up under Hitler.” (www.zundelsite – January 27, 1998.htm)”

    Sound familiar?

    Proctor, R.N. (1997) The Nazi war on tobacco: Ideology, evidence, and possible cancer consequences, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 71, 435-488.

    It should be noted that Proctor is a rabid antismoker. He was sent in to do the translation from the Nazi archives in the mid-1990s, attempting to contain the “fallout” given that contemporary antismoking sounds exactly like that of the Nazi era …. and America, given the strong eugenics connection.

  36. Ms Dolittle

    thinking about a post on quality competition and the third law of demand.

    S’cuse my ignorance; I hear choppy chop and vapers are taking over the world as far as nicotine police and nico addicts are concerned…and more power to them via the resulting free market. Storm in a tea cup for sure as surely it’s a free market given the UK stance re: long term health benefits

  37. Ms Dolittle

    Tobacco was branded ‘the enemy of world peace’,

    Funny really, everybody scrambles for the $2 lighter… yet it’s the smokes $30/pack that are the the real steal.

  38. Some History

    Tobacco was branded ‘the enemy of world peace’

    Don’t miss the absurdity. This claim was being made by participants in a war-mongering and mass-scale murdering regime.

  39. Ms Dolittle

    What about the new smokers taking up the habit ? If I was a teenager looking to start smoking the current packaging would certainly make me think more seriously than the previous branded packs. <
    Until some lovely asked you to hold her durrie while she gave you a headjob…. honestly WTF

    If one of my friends was walking around holding a pack with those images on I would be making jokes about his stupidity.

    Thankfully I’ll wager “he” didn’t have a say in their design.

    My way of thinking is that surely the plain/scary packaging would be preventing younger people starting which can only be a good thing.

  40. Ms Dolittle

    My way of thinking is that surely the plain/scary packaging would be preventing younger people starting which can only be a good thing.

    Yer but no. I don’t think they notice the packaging….they just don’t register.. the image that purports to look like a 53 yr old stroke victim just looks like a friend of mine on a good day. Young folk get it (non smoking) just like the get no drink driving. Most of the road toll comprises mistakes and dumb (?female) drivers.

  41. Ms Dolittle

    My way of thinking is that surely the plain/scary packaging would be preventing younger people starting which can only be a good thing.

    That came out all wrong… I don’t agre with that premise at all!

  42. Ms Dolittle

    What it Some History you’ll be labeled an obsessive. Eek!

  43. Ms Dolittle

    I’ll wager BrettW has; either a personal axe to grind; or sadly, he’s just a moron. Don’t know which is more frightening really.

  44. BorisG

    Brett, I think you are missing the point of Sinc’s post. Sinc isn’t claiming plain packaging does not help reduce smoking. He is just debunking published research, and calls for better research. True, many commenters here are ideologically opposed to such measures, even if they help reduce smoking. But this post isn’t about that. Surely if you support this measure you should be all for good research, not dodgy research that tries to quantify ‘attempts to quit’.

  45. Some History

    Philippines

    General Santos starts arresting smokers in public places
    …..
    The ban covers public outdoor spaces where a crowd of people gather or congregate regardless of ownership.

    Considered outdoor spaces are parks, playgrounds, sports grounds, or centers, gaming areas, cock fighting areas, healthcare/hospital compounds, memorial parks, memorial gardens, beaches, resorts, pools, market streets, sidewalks, parking areas, walkways, entrance ways, waiting areas, stairwells, and the like.

    Councilor Rosalita Nuñez, principal author of the ordinance, said the local legislation carries with it fines and imprisonment or both for violators.

    The new anti-smoking ordinance also makes permitting, abetting, tolerating, or knowingly allowing smoking in the restricted areas as unlawful. Violators will be penalized for it.

    It will also be unlawful to obstruct or refuse the entry of any member of the Anti-Smoking Task Force or its duly deputized enforcers into places covered by the ordinance……
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/120380-general-santos-smoking-ban

  46. Some History

    We’ve been here before.

    It was like any other Tuesday lunch hour, until the sheriff’s deputies walked in. Mr. Ernest Bamberger, general manager of the Keystone Mining Company and recent (unsuccessful) Republican candidate for United States senator, and Mr. John C. Lynch, manager of the Salt Lake Ice Company, finished their meals at the Vienna Café, an unpretentious but respectable businessmen’s restaurant on Salt Lake City’s Main Street, and prepared to savor their customary post-luncheon cigars. A few tables away, near the back of the crowded establishment, Mr. Edgar L. Newhouse, department manager for the American Smelting and Refining Company, paused briefly in his conversation with Mr. L. R. Eccles of Ogden to light a cigarette. At the same time, Mr. Ambrose Noble McKay, general manager of the Salt Lake Tribune, lighted his cigar, picked up his check, and went over to the counter to pay it.

    None of the gentlemen’s actions sparked any apparent interest among the other restaurant patrons. Certainly no one—with the possible exception of Mr. J. J. Burke, a Salt Lake contracting engineer—suspected them of any overt criminal activity. As they smoked, chatted, and pondered the upcoming afternoon’s affairs—or, in McKay’s case, waited impatiently for the counterman to tally up the bill—they remained completely unaware that they were only a few minutes away from a calamity that not only would make them the outraged subjects of a public spectacle but also would result in their good names being bandied about in newspapers across the country. Had they suspected they were in such danger they easily could have destroyed the incriminating evidence with a simple twist of thumb and forefinger. But they did not, and a few moments later, even before the ash on Bamberger’s cigar required attention, they were caught flagrante delicto by Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputies Michael Mauss and John Harris.

    The two deputies entered the Vienna Café at half-past noon and walked directly to the table occupied by Bamberger and Lynch, where they displayed their badges and promptly placed the men under arrest. While Deputy Harris stood guard over the pair, Deputy Mauss walked to the rear of the café, where he arrested Newhouse. Eccles, Newhouses luncheon companion, escaped arrest only by gesticulating with an unlighted cigarette and proving to the deputy that although he had obviously intended to commit a crime, he had not yet done so, and therefore was not subject to arrest. Deputy Mauss agreed.

    Meanwhile, McKay, who had finally succeeded in paying his lunch bill and was preparing to leave the café, was loudly denounced as a co-offender by Mr. Burke, who pointed a finger at the departing McKay and told Deputy Harris that he also should be arrested. Perhaps fearing an escape attempt by Bamberger and Lynch, Deputy Harris made no move to apprehend the fleeing newspaperman.

    The two deputies then escorted their three protesting prisoners through the highly agitated throng of customers and onlookers (the Vienna Café may have been unpretentious, but arrests on the premises were uncommon enough to generate a great deal of excitement). Since no patrol car was available, Mr. Bamberger, Mr. Lynch, and Mr. Newhouse were then marched down Main Street, in full and humiliating view of friends, business associates, and passers-by, to the county jail some blocks away, where they were charged and booked like so many common criminals.

    Which they were, since they—along with McKay, who as a result of some rather undignified snitching by his accomplices in crime was soon to become the object of a similar criminal complaint—openly had violated Section 4, Chapter 145, of the Utah state code. The four men had been smoking in an enclosed public place.

    There is considerably more to this story—more arrests, mass meetings, the eventual surrender of McKay, and so on, all of which will be discussed later. But the most interesting aspect of the incident is not that several otherwise law-abiding citizens were arrested for committing such a widespread and popular crime, nor even that they were sufficiently prominent in the community to ensure a great deal of bad publicity for the state of Utah. What is most interesting about the incident at the Vienna Café is simply the year in which it occurred—1923.

    From
    Thank You For Not Smoking
    The Hundred-Year War Against The Cigarette

    http://www.americanheritage.com/content/thank-you-not-smoking?page=show

  47. Some History

    Re: Philippines
    This is the useful idiot, Rosalita Nunez, in question, doing the bidding of the prohibitionist, unelected, unaccountable World Health Organization:
    https://chogensantos.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/grandiose-anti-smoking-campaign-launched/

    She even has a PhD [in nitwittery?]
    http://spgensantos.ph/employees/sp-officials-2/hon-rosalita-t-nunez/

  48. Entropy

    Entropy
    Whilst I dont like bullies either I have never thought of tabacco companies as the underdog.

    As much as it has been interesting I must sign off now.

    I wasntthinking of the tobaccy sellers, they are big enough to look after themselves.,

    N, I was thinking of the poor, hounded sods whose only pleasure in life is to suck on carcinogens. They might not have much, and their only pleasure is a ciggy, and the health nazis want to make them poorer for daring to sin.

  49. Obio

    The laugh in all this is that the sanctimonious bastards that want smokers banned from outdoor eating areas are quite happy to sit in the same outdoor eating areas next to a road inhaling petrol and diesel fumes.

  50. Some History

    It will also be unlawful to obstruct or refuse the entry of any member of the Anti-Smoking Task Force or its duly deputized enforcers into places covered by the ordinance……
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/120380-general-santos-smoking-ban

    Anti-Smoking Gestapo Anti-Smoking Task Force…….. with sniffer? dogs dressed up in antismoking attire (see photo in article).

    God help us.

  51. Some History

    Just remember that it all began in America back in the late-1980s with “All we want is a smoking ban on short-haul flights. What’s so unreasonable about that?”

  52. Old School Conservative

    Thanks Sinc – such extensive analysis is always missing in the MSM. Gives us a foothold of facts in discussions around the dinner table.

    PS – my late Mum, while in her 70’s and 80’s, smoked a lot but would only buy packets with the warning “smoking harms pregnancy”! Died of other causes.

  53. politichix

    Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of these things but…

    The packets are gross, but they’ve been gross since the medical porn (great term!) days. If I was a smoker, the first thing I’d do is buy a cute engraved silver cigarette case from vinnies and decant the little suckers into that. Problem solved and the added benefit of being a trend leader amongst the hipster dufus set.

    Some History – great stuff there. Thanks!
    Sinc – love a bit of statistical rigour. Thanks!
    Tony Abbott – I miss you!

  54. BrettW

    Some history,
    Thanks for your comments regarding blathering. I can see you are quite an expert on the subject yourself.

    MS Doolittle,
    No axe to grind and surely just because I am not a fan of smoking it does not qualify me as being a moron. Forgive me for expressing an opinion that might not agree with you.

    By some amazing coincidence as I was signing off last night noted a programme just starting on ABC called The Seduction of Smoking.

    Had the 1994 Senate hearing clip where the 7 top American Tabacco company CEO’s swearing under oath that nicotine was not addictive.

    Also had Scott McIntyre of BAT Australia saying he did not smoke because knew would harm his health. I note head of BAT Australia previously said same thing during interview.

    Seems will be a coming episode on how Tabacco companies looking to expand sales in poorer countries.

  55. Some History

    Brett, so you’re not capable of addressing any of the issues raised concerning the long, sordid history of antismoking? You’re just parroting the standard antismoking rhetoric. So, tobacco executives were “wrong” when they disagreed with the prohibitionists, but they were “right” when they agreed with the prohibitionists. Nice “argument”.

    “Nicotine addiction”, you say. Have a read of the comments section here:
    http://catallaxyfiles.com/2016/01/02/cross-post-terry-barnes-dont-extinguish-debate-on-e-cigs/comment-page-1/#comment-1904638

  56. Kool Aid Kid

    Not wanting to bring out the screamers but it is the case that Sinc selects examples of issues that align with campaigns by large, well funded corporations. I have not detected a campaign against compulsion in savings. He did not evidence a campaign against specific items of corporate welfare. And so on.
    The instance in question is concerned with policy that aims to suppress promotion of a harmful substance which is at least as damaging as some that are illegal.

  57. ella

    Kool Aid Kid
    #1930863, posted on January 29, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    As long as an individual’s claims are backed up by factual evidence, it does not matter what he selects or his preoccupations.

    For all we know Kool Aid Kid may have occult preoccupations. However, if the Kid arrives in the forum makes a claim, and backs the claim with evidence, then it will be considered.

    I don’t care how noble Kool Aid Kid considers the cause; what is blatantly displayed in the research is known as noble cause corruption. This kind of corruption must be exposed.

    Cheat once at this level and get away with it, and the attitude to cheating will change. Now emboldened, the corruption will occur again.

  58. .

    Not wanting to bring out the screamers but it is the case that Sinc selects examples of issues that align with campaigns by large, well funded corporations

    It would seem to me that smoking rights conflict deeply with Big Pharma for one.

  59. ella

    It’ pseudo-inquiry, anyway. These researchers are not interested in discovering the truth. The outcome has been determined in advance. All this lot are doing is wasting our money to buttress their convictions. Fake Reasoning!

  60. Kool Aid Kid

    ella: my point converges with yours to the extent that Sinc does appear rather selective. In this instance I find the need to mention this as I believe he is campaigning.
    People are of course free to smoke tobacco as much as they like. I can’t see why it should be promoted in glamorous terms since it will likely do as much harm as sucking on an exhaust fan at Maccas.
    Sinc would be on firmer ground if he applied his forensic tests somewhat more broadly, in my opinion.

  61. Sinclair Davidson

    There are only 24 hours in the day and I do like my sleep. Are there any specific issues that you think are being neglected?

  62. .

    Sinc would be on firmer ground if he applied his forensic tests somewhat more broadly, in my opinion.

    We’re waiting for an answer.

  63. Kool Aid Kid

    Dot, why is it do you think that when you say “we” I imagine something a bit Orwellian?

  64. Kool Aid Kid

    And to indulge you I have a short list Dot and one predicated on Sinc’s known economic expertise. My personal favourite is the compulsory direct of personal income to funds managers. All paye folk give up 9% and there is quite clear evidence that typical households borrow more. Then there is the many instances of gaming regulated assets. Here we might consider the gaming licences in various states and the manner in which they allocate monopoly status. Or we we might wonder why very useful hydrocarbons go undeveloped for decade after decade despite hikes in domestic prices that one might expect would bring them forward. Or we might ask how come TV companies get reduced rents on extremely valuable spectrum. An oldie but a goody are the direct cash subsidies that allow ostensibly private businesses to make large profits that often are less in cash terms than the subsidy itself. Shell’s Geelong refinery, Pechiney’s Tomago aluminium smelter and a variety of similar boondoggles spring to mind. And at this stage I’ve not even started on the tax arrangements grafted by the finance sector lobby.

Comments are closed.