An interview with the Globe and Mail

Yesterday morning I received this tweet:

Seemed very strange. I then got this tweet:

I replied:

It does seem seem a bit strange that someone would approach me for an interview via twitter as opposed to emailing me. But there you have it. Anyway I then received an email with the questions the journalist wanted to ask.

For your reading pleasure I’m posting the entire exchange below:

–*–

J: I have reached out because I’m doing a story on the plain packaging debate and the relationship between tobacco companies and think tanks.

SD: I can’t provide much input here – my involvement with think tanks is some-what limited. I am a full-time employee at an Australian University. In 2008 I participated in a work-experience program where I was seconded to a think tank (the Institute of Public Affairs) to observe how industry operates and bring back that knowledge to the university to better prepare students for a world of work. My role at the IPA consists of me providing a mentoring role for their in-house researchers – some of whom are undertaking Ph.D studies under my supervision. I derive no income from this role. In fact, I pay a membership fee to the IPA. To be clear, I am not an employee of the IPA and derive no income from them.

J: Part of the research I’ve done led me to some of the work you’ve done in this area.

SD: To be clear – a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Agenda and a working paper on the Social Science Research Network.

J: I understand that you were in Canada for a few events earlier this year on plain packaging.

SD: Yes.

J: I’ve also spoken to a few experts who have been critical of your work showing that contraband tobacco rose after Australia’s plain packaging law was introduced.

SD: Might be a case of mistaken identity. I have done no research into contraband tobacco. I have cited work done by KPMG in the area (this report is also quoted by Australian government agencies), newspaper reports, and submissions made to an Australian Parliamentary inquiry into contraband tobacco. They all suggest contraband has increased since 2012.

J: So I was hoping to speak to you or at least get a few comments for my piece in response.

I’m wondering if you can provide me some of the details of your recent visit to Canada.

SD: I was invited to Canada by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association to talk about my university research into plain packaging. My aunt married a Canadian and lives in Kelowna (with my grandmother) and so this was an opportunity to visit relatives. I sent four days in Kelowna and then gave a series of lunch time talks relating to my research (joint with Ashton de Silva) into plain packaging. The downside of being the lunchtime entertainment was that I got to eat a cold meal each lunch time. I did not receive any payment for the talks I gave. I was happy enough to visit my aunt and grandmother whom I had not seen in over 20 years and 10 years respectively.

J: Was the tobacco industry involved in the visit in any way?

SD: Not to my knowledge.

J: The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies said that their event was held in partnership with Crestview Strategy, a lobbying firm that represents one of Canada’s biggest tobacco companies, so I would like to have some clarity around the involvement of the tobacco industry.

SD: I can’t help you there – I hadn’t heard of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies before I spoke there, nor have I heard of them since. I also spoke at the Economic Club of Canada meeting in Toronto and Convenience Store meetings in Montreal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. I have no knowledge as to how the meetings were organised. Beyond ensuring that each venue had a powerpoint projector I had no interest in the organisation of the meetings.

J: I’m also wondering if you can provide me with some detail about your relationship with the tobacco industry.

SD: For several years my relationship with the industry was as a consumer of their product. I smoked as a student but stopped cold-turkey many years ago. Both my parents smoked until my mother contracted a very aggressive smokers’ lung cancer.

I have had contact with people in Canada (obviously – at the talks I gave), the UK, and parts of Europe opposed to plain packaging. These people work in media, think tanks, and consumer rights organisations.

J: Do you receive direct funds from the tobacco industry or research funding?

SD: No. As a condition of my employment I cannot receive any funding from the tobacco industry. This is a University wide policy and I think all Australian universities have this policy as part of the WHO convention on tobacco control.

J: I understand that the Institute of Public Affairs has and/or does receive tobacco industry funding.

SD: I have no knowledge of the IPA funding beyond what is in the annual reports – my understanding is that the bulk of funding comes from personal donations.

J: Can you confirm whether the institute currently receives any funding?

SD: I don’t know if the IPA currently receives funding from the tobacco industry – I have never been told that it does.

J: In addition, I’ve spoken to some experts and read several reports that are critical of the results of your research, saying the findings are flawed and misleading.

SD: Could you please send through those reports? I have only seen the Victorian Cancer Council press release and an op-ed in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. As soon as the end of academic year rush is over I will be contacting the CMAJ ombudsman regarding the false and misleading statements in that op-ed.

Perhaps these are the same experts who claimed I did research into contraband – if so they might be referring to someone else’s work?

The fact of the matter is this – there is an academic dispute as to the impact of the policy. Some academics have written articles saying the policy has worked and I have written articles (joint with an RMIT colleague) that the policy has not worked. This is what academics do and how academia operates.

Now you have probably read the Victorian Cancer Council press release responding to the Social Science Research Network paper. There are many things wrong with it – but indulge me by doing just one quick check. In that press release they say:

Contrary to the statement by Davidson and de Silva (page 15), this analysis [the Post-Implementation Review] did control for several major tax increases that occurred in Australia prior to the implementation of the tobacco plain packaging policy and during one and two years afterwards …

Go and have a look at our page 15. See what it is.

If you’re game do a search though our entire paper for the PIR or Chipty analysis. See what comes up.

Then form your own opinion as to the rest of the press release.

J: The Australian government’s figures do show that smoking has decreased since the plain packaging law was introduced, for instance. It would be great if you could provide a response to those criticisms so I can include it in the piece.

SD: I don’t know which figures precisely you are referring to. But if it is the Chipty study then I’m afraid her analysis shows no such thing. She found that plain packaging had reduced smoking prevalence by 0.55% over three years over and above the pre-existing downward trend. I have found out that the sample error in the underlying data is 0.6%. That is bigger than the effect that she found. In other words the 0.55% difference is not statistically significantly different from zero.

In her modelling she also uses a rather unusual base case: an unmarried, Australian born, 14 – 17 year old, male, with a tertiary qualification, employed full time, but with an income less than $6000, and living in Victoria. I would like to test whether the choice of such an unusual base case distorts Chipty’s results. The government to-date is refusing to release the data for that study.

If you are referring to the Wakefield studies then please note their disclaimer after the Social Science Research Network paper got published:

The NTPPS was quite explicitly not designed to assess quitting success or change in smoking prevalence but rather focussed on the immediate impact of the legislation on perceptions of the pack, effects of health warnings and understanding of product harmfulness.

So not only am I arguing that the results in the Wakefield studies didn’t show a decline in smoking prevalence, the authors (via the Victorian Cancer Council) are now claiming the study wasn’t intended or designed to show that result.

If you are referring to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure data then that is the very data series that I (and Ashton de Silva) analysed in theAgenda paper. If experts think that analysis is wrong, they should write a rejoinder and publish it in the journal, not make complaints to newspaper journalists.

J: I’m working on a tight deadline at this point, so any help you can give me today would be great. I may be able to add some changes in later to the story once it has already been published, but I’m not certain that this will be possible.

SD: The point is this: There is an academic dispute about the effectiveness of a government policy. This is not unusual or even rare. Writing articles, giving presentations, talking about my research to interested parties, including the media, is actually my job. I teach a subject called Public Sector Economics – so critiquing government is what I research and what I teach.

Over the past few years I have published papers that critique government claims relating to the Fuelwatch Scheme (a government mandated price fixing scheme), the claims relating to stimulus spending efficacy, the claims made about the neutrality of the proposed mining tax, government forecasting of corporate tax revenue, claims about subsidies paid to the mining industry, government claims about base erosion and profit shifting (forthcoming), claims about the effectiveness of the new innovation policy. The list goes on … but I hope the pattern is clear.

I critique government policy – plain packaging is just another government policy.

I have learned, unfortunately, that government cannot be trusted when making claims as to the effectiveness of its own policies. You need to check the data yourself. Often when I do check the data I find the government (and its agencies etc.) are over-egging the pudding. (I hope that expression makes sense in Canada).

What is happening here is that the anti-tobacco lobby is shooting the messenger. I am not in the pay of big tobacco; I am an academic economist who tests and critiques government policy. I have a track record of publications doing just that. The Australian government’s claims relating to plain packaging – like so many other claims I have investigated – do not stack up. That is what I have found, that is what I have reported.

As it turns out I had a long discussion with Garfield Mahood in Toronto during the Q&A session of my talk at the Economic Club and also again after the session. He put to me the same questions with the same underlying premise that somehow I am corrupt, or on the take, or that my motives are base, or that I am inadvertently benefiting the tobacco industry, etc. etc. that you have put to me. Mind you, he was very quick to back away from stating that premise when I asked him if that is what he was implying. In the end he seemed happy to accept that I am an academic doing research and publishing results, and my motive to come to Canada was to visit my relatives.

I understand that the public health lobby don’t like the results of my research – but, in that, they are no different from any of the Australian government agencies (including politicians) that haven’t liked me critiquing their particular policies. I don’t resile from that – it would be dishonest and irresponsible to cover up the fact that a government policy had failed to meet its stated objectives.

–*–

This represents the moral bankruptcy of the political left – rather than engage in the issues – the boring stuff like sample error and regression diagnostics (that show some regressions demonstrating that the plain packaging policy “worked” have 100% miss rates on a hit-miss table) and the like, they want to go the smear campaign.

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79 Responses to An interview with the Globe and Mail

  1. .

    Well done Professor. You belted her screwballs out of the %^$ing dealership!

  2. I am Spartacus

    Sinc. You should not interrupt her opinions with data. If the data does not support the hypothesis, throw it away and find different data. If you can’t find different data, don’t allow anyone to talk about the data.

  3. Bela Bartok

    I can’t imagine why you’d be so polite?
    It’s clearly a stitch up.
    “Sod off Swampy” is a good response to an ill educated hack.

  4. woolfe

    She found that plain packaging had reduced smoking prevalence by 0.55% over three years over and above the pre-existing downward trend. I have found out that the sample error in the underlying data is 0.6%

    .

    Brilliant!

    I wonder how many people actually understand this?

  5. Chris

    Thanks for publishing this Sinc, it gives a lot more value than the entirely predictable article that the journalist will write.

  6. Chris

    One possible reason for tweeting her request is to minimise the likelihood you would reply by deadline time, thus allowing her to publish the activist criticism entirely unchallenged, while truthfully claiming to have attempted to get balance.

  7. You were very polite and generous with your time. And scrupulously objective. I do think you missed an opportunity when discussing the perks of visiting Canada (I know, not many) to mention sampling one or two Canadian whiskies.

  8. H B Bear

    Whack goes the clue bat.

  9. Sinclair Davidson

    the perks of visiting Canada

    Good point: I fear my aunt thinks I’m an alcoholic. We got to visit a whole bunch of very nice wineries around Kelowna. I also encountered a whiskey called Crown Royal – the blue version is also quite nice. I sat in a bar in Toronto and watched the Blue Jays play baseball.

  10. Talleyrand

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Missy! LOL.
    It is not a reasoned argument based on agreed facts that these Nanny State acolytes want, but rather a conversion through through Inquisitorial zeal to their faith

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    In her modelling she also uses a rather unusual base case: an unmarried, Australian born, 14 – 17 year old, male, with a tertiary qualification, employed full time, but with an income less than $6000, and living in Victoria.

    Hehe, statistical sample size:- n=0

    Sinc – You would have had to spell it out to her that since the illegal tobacco industry is unregulated and unmeasured it is impossible to determine if actual tobacco consumption decreased, or just shifted from legal to illegal.

    Oh and perhaps you could set up a training college to provide important occupational skills to investigative journalists like how to find the publicly available email address of an academic on their university website.

  12. hzhousewife

    Very fascinating.
    Lovely discussion piece for “The Journalism Student of Today” – or maybe not in today’s Universities.
    Nothing like asking questions you already think you know the answers to.

  13. Needlessly aggressive interview style from the journo – she obviously has an established narrative about funding by Big Tobacco that she wants to pursue.

  14. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    She found that plain packaging had reduced smoking prevalence by 0.55% over three years over and above the pre-existing downward trend. I have found out that the sample error in the underlying data is 0.6%
    .
    Brilliant!
    I wonder how many people actually understand this?

    I do. And so would anyone like me who has done some basic tertiary work in statistical theory and analysis. That would not be this journalist, clearly a product of another sort of education; a leftist one that forms judgements prior to the competent investigation of factual material not after it.

  15. Jessie

    Interesting read, thank you Sinclair. And for your research on the subject.

    Carly Woods
    Award-Winning National Health Reporter & Columnist, The Globe and Mail

    Carly Weeks has established a reputation as a fearless journalist with a passion for shining a spotlight on the health and health-care related topics that matter to Canadians. We all have a vested interest in health-care. And in a world in which we are increasingly surrounded by myths, misinformation and lies that threaten to keep us misinformed and in the dark, Weeks specializes in finding the ‘hidden’ stories that some organizations would rather not be told. She provides a healthy dose of reality in her writing and debunks myths on topics ranging from the prescription painkiller crisis to fears over vaccination to Big Food and nutrition policy to name just a few. She has also written about her personal experiences with extreme bullying as a child and has become a source of information and inspiration for families dealing with this serious issue.

  16. Jessie

    And I read you were visiting old aunts and so on in Canada, but what is our Christian Kerr doing in Canada, and writing on plain packaging in Carly’s Globe and Mail?

    9/10/2016 and updated……….

    Is plain packaging the best option to lower smoking rates?

    Youri Chassin is an economist and research director at the Montreal Economic Institute; Christian Kerr is a writer and commentator on Australian politics and public policy

  17. Empire GTHO Phase III

    Carly is a bog standard statanist who shills for Big ‘ealth.

    Well played with a very straight bat.

  18. Jessie

    Oh, it is about a BC compensation case for health costs against Philip Morris?

    13/10/2016
    B.C. government argues against giving health information to tobacco industry

  19. Rabz

    uses a rather unusual base case: an unmarried, Australian born, 14 – 17 year old, male, with a tertiary qualification, employed full time, but with an income less than $6000, and living in Victoria

    Beyond parody.

    As for the would be purveyor of quality J’ism, I think you schooled her quite nicely, Perfesser. Great stuff.

  20. herodotus

    Once again, the process appears to be the punishment.

  21. hzhousewife

    So is Carly Woods really Carly Weeks or vice versa?

    Sinc, you’re playing in the bigtime now baby !!

  22. Rabz

    The Australian government’s figures …

    … in respect of any so called observed phenomenon invariably bear no resemblance to reality unless due to pure coincidence.

  23. hzhousewife

    Carly should not be a Health/Science reporter for much longer without any knowledge of bachelor level statistics.

  24. Up The Workers!

    Facts are evil tools that conservatives always unfairly sneak into conversations with Left wingers.

    Facts ALWAYS conspire against the ‘group-thunk’ (aka peer-reviewed, work-shopped and focus-grouped) pre-cooked rhetoric and dogma of the Left.

    It is precisely because the bias of Facts is statistically so often opposed to the dogma of the Left, that Lefties rarely use them.

    And that’s a Fact!

  25. C.L.

    I’m working on a tight deadline at this point, so any help you can give me today would be great. I may be able to add some changes in later to the story once it has already been published, but I’m not certain that this will be possible.

    LOL.

    So she has already written a hit piece and is only engaged here in some fig-leaf due diligence just for the record?

    Is that about right?

  26. Stimpson J. Cat

    She looks alright.
    Next time handball her to “your esteemed and learned colleague, Professor S.J. Cat.”

  27. Roger

    It does seem seem a bit strange that someone would approach me for an interview via twitter as opposed to emailing me.

    I’ve found that 20 somethings who’ve grown up with social media have no idea of ettiquette in such matters.

    They really ought to be educated about such matters when they go through university.

  28. C.L.

    Good point, Roger.
    I recently learned that many people text condolences.
    No card.

  29. hzhousewife

    I’ve found that 20 somethings who’ve grown up with social media have no idea of ettiquette in such matters.

    They really ought to be educated about such matters when they go through university.

    Ask someone under 30 to address an envelope by hand !! Very entertaining !!!!

  30. Sinclair Davidson

    So she has already written a hit piece and is only engaged here in some fig-leaf due diligence just for the record?

    Yep. That’s about right. Can’t find an academics email on the internet, but can find his twitter address? Mind you, I’m surprised that journalists at The Globe and Mail can get away with saying “I’m working on a tight deadline at this point” because this is what their public editor has to say about that:

    If there is one thing that is the root cause of most errors in journalism, it is rushing through the details. Tied in with its corollary of not checking, these are the reasons why most mistakes happen, based on my experience writing hundreds of corrections each year.

    “Hundreds of corrections each year” – wow.

  31. entropy

    C.L.
    #2178746, posted on October 20, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I’m working on a tight deadline at this point, so any help you can give me today would be great. I may be able to add some changes in later to the story once it has already been published, but I’m not certain that this will be possible.

    LOL.

    So she has already written a hit piece and is only engaged here in some fig-leaf due diligence just for the record?

    Is that about right?

    Standard procedure. Journalists only talk to people for colour, not to find to what is really going on.

  32. Rabz

    They really ought to be educated about such matters when they go through university.

    Sod that – they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a university in the first place. Quite frankly, I’m surprised someone that stupid is capable of breathing.

  33. Empire GTHO Phase III

    Champagne belligerence, Rabz.

    More please.

  34. Rabz

    “Hundreds of corrections each year” – wow.

    I’m surprised it’s only hundreds.

  35. Michel Lasouris

    No one should be not surprised that a journalist these days would be so shallow as to approach any educated commentator by twitter. It demonstrates their utter ignorance and laziness. With modern smart phones sending a polite email is as easy as using a sloppy ‘fashionable’ tweet. I thought this brief and rude method of communicating would have died years ago. It has no appeal to me whatsoever.

  36. Another old bloke

    A small but necessary correction…

    Over the past few years I have published papers that critique government claims relating to the Fuelwatch Scheme (a government mandated price fixing scheme)…

    …because the ACCC, which runs or used to run Fuelwatch (haven’t heard anything about it for a while now, so maybe it’s dead) has no such price fixing powers. The ACCC also ran Grocery Watch for the Rudd government, against industry’s best advice. Grocery Watch was dropped when they finally accepted what they had been told before it all began – reporting grocery prices a month after they were current was useless and misleading. Ditto Fuelwatch. What is the point of knowing what fuel prices were in Perth last week if you live in Townsville? What is the point of knowing what fuel prices were in Townsville last week if you live in Townsville and need fuel today?

    Both schemes were useless and a waste of time and money.

    Apart from that, great work Sinc. You left her with no room for self defence when the poor reporting is published. Ms Weeks, of course, from her point of view, is applying SOP. Doesn’t matter to her if people complain about the inaccuracy of this week’s story when it’s already been published and she is working on next week’s misconception.

  37. Sinclair Davidson

    Another old bloke – the federal government proposed a national FuelWatch scheme in 2008 – it was still born after a brilliant economist at RMIT showed that the ACCC analysis suffered from omitted variable bias.

    I was accused then of being a shill for “big petrol” – but was actually standing up for small retailers. 🙂

  38. Sinclair Davidson

    GroceryWatch was a complete waste of time – to his credit it was killed off by Craig Emerson when he took over the competition portfolio.

  39. Gerry

    Well your no help at all Prof – what about her quest to save the world from the bad guys – you don’t fit into her world view AT ALL – you aren’t bad or good – but never mind I’m sure she and her editor will work something perverse out ….

  40. Another old bloke

    Thanks, Sinc.

    Yes, Emerson did get that right. Chris Bowen had good intentions, but just wouldn’t listen to the advice of people who told him why it wouldn’t work.

    And you’re absolutely correct about Fuelwatch. It was a price signalling system for the big supermarket service stations and, in the opinion of many, designed to destroy the independent petrol retailers. Thanks for the link to your paper; I’ll read it with great interest.

    In the interests of “competition”, the ACCC did nothing to keep independent competitors in the market. One of the questions Graeme Samuel always ignored was “how is competition enhanced by reducing the number of competitors?”

  41. mundi

    The sad part is the never ending battle to put these regulations down.

    The scary part is that most regulation we still have got through the same way and no one was around to stop it, and they will never be rolled back.

  42. Whalehunt Fun

    how is competition enhanced by reducing the number of competitors?”

    If you destroy a plethora of small competitors and at the same time grow one or more medium competitors to become large then more competition will result. Mom an Pop fuel outlets are not competitors. They are transient irritants that can be readily squashed if their nuisance value becomes significant.

  43. Oh come on

    I’m surprised there was no request to type more slowly so she could keep up!

  44. Baldrick

    We saw evidence of this type of journalism this week on 4 Corners.

    First, know the conclusion to your story, then build your argument to suit that conclusion.

  45. gabrianga

    Well done Sinclair. Perhaps a “form” response could be drawn up from your reply that could be used should similar queries arise?

  46. Nerblnob

    Well done but I doubt it affected the published outcome.

  47. duncanm

    She’s been reading the ABC playbook.

  48. gbees

    Certainly sounds like a witch hunt. Nothing surprises me any more with the regressive left. Devoid of facts only after sensationalism even if it is a complete fabrication. They are emboldened because conservatives don’t usually sue. Maybe it’s time to change that. I think I’ve made comment previously that anecdotally those friends of mine who smoke and are giving up or gave up are doing it not because of plain packaging but because it’s becoming quite expensive.

  49. gbees

    Sorry meant not because of ‘graphic packaging’

  50. Some History

    It seems that Simon Crapman’s “Tobacco Control Supersite” has disappeared. It used to be here:
    http://tobacco.health.usyd.edu.au/

    One of the offerings on that site was a course for the media. Can you imagine that? The media attending a course run by finger-wagging, pathological lying prohibitionists on how to evaluate tobacco-related information?

    In this course the media attendees would be taught that only antismokers deal in facts and truth and that the “evil” tobacco industry is always lurking in the shadows ever ready to undermine the wonderful work of the antismokers. Only antismokers conduct untainted, impartial “research”. According to the antismokers, if anyone questions this “research” the very high likelihood is that the questioner is an emissary of the “evil” tobacco industry attempting to wreak havoc and, therefore, a very strong basis for dismissing the questioning. After all, what can there be to question in the only “benevolent” and purely “scientific” conduct of prohibitionists?

    And so began the grilling of questioners of Tobacco Control dogma truth™. Have you ever been employed by a tobacco company? Have you ever received funding from a tobacco company? Have you ever been employed by a subsidiary of a tobacco company? Have you ever received perks from a tobacco company? Have you ever walked past a tobacco processing plant? Are you friends with any employees of tobacco companies? Are you friends with any users of tobacco company products? Are you a user of tobacco company products? Etc.

    If you managed to answer “no” to all of the above, this still doesn’t qualify you as a reasonable questioner. You’ll then be accused of being a liar (no evidence required).

    It’s the prohibitionist nut cases of Tobacco Control/Public Health that have created this “Us” vs “Them” framework where they have cast themselves in the [fake] role of the “righteous ones” battling the [evil] tobacco industry. They own the brain-dead media. They own brain-dead academia. They own brain-dead politicians and government bureaucrats. Only the ranting and raving, i.e., “science”, of antismoking twonks is ever permitted in the mainstream.

    Here’s some information on the latest five-star Tobacco Control event – Conference of the [all night] Parties (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control), where the prohibitionist tyrants have managed to exclude everyone from the proceeding except the cult faithful:
    http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.com.au/2016/10/prior-to-fctccop7-who-plumbs-new-depths.html

  51. Some History

    The forerunner of Article 5.3, S.11, of the FCTC comes from Simon Crapman’s propaganda manual “The Lung Goodbye” from way back in 1983.

    “Such a list could be added to considerably, but most entries would be characterized by being somehow cast in a mythological good versus evil battle in an arena observed by mass numbers of people. The good (health/clean air/children) versus evil (cancer/uncaring, callous industry) dimension is the ineluctable bottom line in the whole issue and a rich reservoir for spawning a great deal of useful social drama, metaphor, and symbolic politics that is the stuff of ‘news value’ and which is almost always to the detriment of the industry.” p.11 (see Godber Blueprint)

    Having cast themselves in the role of the “mythological good” [natch], the zealots are always right. Anyone who dares disagree with them is always wrong and part of some “evil” tobacco industry “conspiracy”. It’s all for manipulative, “theatrical” effect – although there are plenty in the antismoking movement that have a “god complex” – and has been quite successfully used for the last three decades on an essentially superficial/gullible political class, media, and public. Extremists force this dichotomy: There are only two choices – Us, the “mythological good”, and Them, the “mythological evil”. If you’re not in agreement with Us, then you must be one of Them. Disagree with the fanatics and you’ll be accused of being an emissary of the “evil” tobacco industry, a promoter of cancer, and a child corrupter/killer. The zealots and their financial partners (government through extortionate taxes and Pharma peddling its useless “nicotine replacement” wares) must have regular belly laughs at how all too easy the brainwashing has been.

    Important to note is that the zealot prohibitionists will reframe any circumstance into the “Us vs Them” dichotomy, typically with the intent of smearing any opposition to Tobacco Control, painted with the “poison brush” of the “evil” tobacco industry. It’s been the modus operandus in demonizing the Tobacco Industry and avoiding questioning. Connect anyone, however duplicitously, with the “evil” Tobacco Industry and it’s been tantamount – without necessarily having to say so directly – to having their reputation sullied and their comments dismissed as bought and corrupt. And after all this time, they’re still getting away with the con job.

  52. “Hundreds of corrections each year” – wow.

    I’m surprised it’s only hundreds.

    Yeah, well the sample error in the underlining data is 1000%.

  53. Some History

    Here’s another nasty piece of work – Filipino president, Rodrigo Duterte – enthusiastic to go the antismoking route:
    https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/rodrigo-duterte/

  54. motherhubbard'sdog

    If there is one thing that is the root cause of most errors in journalism, it is rushing through the details. Tied in with its corollary of not checking, these are the reasons why most mistakes happen, based on my experience writing hundreds of corrections each year.

    You should send a copy of your interview to the editor now, Sinc, so that s/he can get started on the latest correction before the article even appears.

  55. motherhubbard'sdog

    Grocery Watch and Fuel Watch weren’t about changing prices, they were about that favorite pastime of the left, virtue signalling.

  56. Rabz

    Simon Crapman’s “Tobacco Control Supersite” has disappeared

    LOL.

  57. Some History

    President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday reminded the public about the executive order he will soon be signing banning smoking in public places.
    During a media briefing before leaving for a state visit to Brunei, Duterte stressed that smoking will no longer be allowed even in designated indoor smoking areas.
    “Yes, [the EO on smoking ban] will be [signed] and will follow the Davao experience. If you want to smoke, find a place where it is allowed,” said Duterte, a long-time Davao City mayor before ascending to the presidency.
    Duterte said he has always been “aghast” at buildings designating indoor smoking areas just “to accommodate the smoker.”
    “That ain’t the way. It must be out. It’s not in a cubicle inside the building,” said the President, who included smoking and liquor bans as among his campaign promises during the last presidential elections.
    Duterte first spoke of a smoking ban after the May 9 elections, when he revealed that he was going to implement a no-smoking policy all over the country as well as a liquor ban.
    In Davao City, smoking is banned in both open and enclosed public areas. Establishments may have smoking areas if these areas are outdoor spaces with no permanent or temporary roof or walls.
    Because of the ban, Davao City was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a leading example in enforcing a no-smoking policy in the Philippines.
    Duterte stressed: “There is no debate that you will die of cancer if you continue using nicotine.”
    Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag earlier said under Duterte’s EO, smoking will be allowed in isolated areas and non-public places.
    “Sa tabi-tabi, sa likod ng mga building na walang public,” he said.
    Tayag said the EO may also prohibit vaping or e-cigarettes in public places.
    “Ang marketing niyan ay para mag-quit smoking subalit ang kabaligtaran ang nangyayari, nagkakaroon sila ng karanasan sa paggamit ng iba’t ibang uri ng vaping hanggang sa mauwi sa pinagbabawal o addicting substances,” Tayag said.
    He said local government units will be given authority to release ordinances to affirm the EO and arrest violators.
    Tayag said majority of Filipinos will benefit from the EO, citing the health risks of smoking and second-hand smoking including vulnerability to heart diseases, stroke, and cancer. — Mark Merueñas/BM, GMA News

    http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/585228/lifestyle/healthandwellness/duterte-reminds-public-about-smoking-ban-shuns-indoor-smoking-areas

    Duterte is allowed to get away with baseless, highly inflammatory claims such as “There is no debate that you will die of cancer if you continue using nicotine.” The antismoking tyrannical wanker, Duterte, has the approval of the World Health Organization, natch.

  58. Tim of Kilsyth

    Well done, completely leading questions trying to set you and the IPA up. My contentions are three fold on tobacco based purely on personal observations of work colleagues who smoke.
    First none have given up due to the packaging changes , absolutely zero. They laugh about the pictures.
    Second they are now after the last excise increase buying illegal cigarettes. Now who is controlling this trade. Are profits derived from this trade going where? Mafia, Islamic State, meaning what monster has the Government created by raising the price of tobacco so high it is now more profitable to import than drugs and less criminal consequence – well done. We will rue the day we let this happen.
    Third they are smoking less but purely due to cost naught to do with whats on the box. If you want a smoke , you want a smoke.

  59. Jessie

    Some History @ 8.03

    Tobacco Control in the 21st Century

    Professor Simon Chapman’s and Dr Becky Freeman’s annual course on tobacco control will run in 2013 over three days August 1,2 & 5…………….

    2. Enrolling directly through the School: if you enrol in this way, the enrolment procedure is simplified, for example you won’t need to provide evidence of your identity or previous studies.
    Further, while you may be expected to complete assessment tasks (check with the coordinator of your course whether this is the case) and you may be given a ‘mark’, the results will not be recorded on an academic transcript. You will not be able to claim credit for this unit towards one of our degrees.

    (bold added)
    Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20131203210206/http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/public-health/tobacco-control/courses/

  60. Duncan

    Sorry, you wasted your time (but we loved the story). She will certainly – if she has not already – followed the old adage: “Publish and be damned”. Please sue her.

  61. Mother Lode

    I would have thought one reason for her to use Twitter was because it was public.

    If you didn’t answer that would be her story – that you would not respond.

    If you did respond there would be a twitter pile on – an avalanche of ignorance, bile and fraudulent claims disputing what you said. And the readership can join in.

    Lefties are in a constant state of barely contained, highly-pressurised hatred (like steam in a constantly stoked but occluded boiler) always looking for the slightest crack for release.

    It makes them leap to their feet at at the most contrived offence. It keeps them tapping on keyboards till the wee small hours telling each other how much they hate the same people. It impels them to always look for ways to force other people to conform to their own prejudices. It makes them loud, violent and destructive.

    And it rushes them into twitter.

  62. .

    In her modelling she also uses a rather unusual base case: an unmarried, Australian born, 14 – 17 year old, male, with a tertiary qualification, employed full time, but with an income less than $6000, and living in Victoria.

    Absurd. Completely absurd.

    If you tried this on with a bank manager to get a loan, you’d be rightfully charged, indicted, convicted and sentenced for a long time for fraud.

  63. Sinclair Davidson

    Please sue her.

    Hopefully it won’t come to that. Last week I got a very nice apology, and take down, in another newspaper that had, inadvertently, made similar claims about me.

  64. Thomas

    Hi Sinc
    What are your views on the proposed tobacco taxing schemes in the state of Missouri in 2016:

    https://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_60_Cent_Cigarette_Tax,_Constitutional_Amendment_3_(2016)

    https://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_23_Cent_Cigarette_Tax,_Proposition_A_(2016)

    I am from Missouri (now living in Brisvegas) and found it quite odd to have two competing taxing schemes.

    Cheers
    Tom Ray

  65. Some History

    The mega-wealthy, just like early last century in America, have been a major driver of antismoking, e.g., Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates. See comments here:
    http://catallaxyfiles.com/2016/02/26/what-is-it-with-government-and-dodgy-regressions/comment-page-1/#comment-1958462

    Bloomberg is a particularly vile antismoking tyrant. He’s finally been rewarded. He’s now been given a formal title by Tyrants ? Us the World Health Organization:
    17 August 2016 | GENEVA – WHO has today named Mr Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and former three-term Mayor of the City of New York, as Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs).
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2016/bloomberg-WHO-Ambassador-Noncommunicable-Diseases/en/

  66. Some History

    (cont’d)
    Another nut case – Turkey’s Erdogan – and antismoking nitwittery:
    His encounters with Turkish citizens who are either smoking or carrying cigarette packs follow a similar pattern: Erdogan calls to the “busted” smoker, takes away the cigarettes and asks the person to pledge to quit smoking. A promise, however, does not get one off the hook. Erdogan asks the smokers to write their names and telephone numbers on the confiscated packs to make it clear the matter will be followed up on.
    The regime’s media boasts that Erdogan has cajoled dozens of people to quit smoking, and daily Sabah has even compiled a photo gallery of those moments. The pictures show Erdogan holding a confiscated pack of cigarettes and the smoker pledging to quit, often in the company of smiling witnesses.

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/turkey-erdogan-bossy-anti-smoking-drive.html#ixzz4G36qh3Rt

  67. TMG

    In her modelling she also uses a rather unusual base case: an unmarried, Australian born, 14 – 17 year old, male, with a tertiary qualification, employed full time, but with an income less than $6000, and living in Victoria.

    ‘Unusual’ is putting it kindly; ‘completely fecking bullshit’ might be more accurate.

  68. Sinclair Davidson

    What are your views on the proposed tobacco taxing schemes in the state of Missouri in 2016

    I have no problem with tobacco being taxed at all. In the first instance Ramsey taxation should apply – the demand for tobacco is relatively inelastic and so a higher tax can be levied. Then there are Pigouvian considerations – there are some externalities associated with tobacco consumption and a tax here doesn’t worry me either. BUT – there are social costs associated with taxation that should also be taken into account. So a careful analysis of the optimal taxation arrangements for tobacco should be undertaken before taxes are simply slapped on cigarettes.

    What makes this interesting is that governments (certainly in Australia) have come op rely on tobacco taxation to finance general spending. Vaping reduces tobacco consumption and also many of the externalities associated with cigarette consumption. It also appears to be a lot safer than cigarette consumption so the government faces the problem of a safer product that generates less revenue.

  69. Yohan

    Response to Sinc’s thoughtful email interview will be…

    THINK TANK ACCEPTS MONEY FROM TOBACCO INDUSTRY TO STOP PLAIN PACKAGING LAWS!!

  70. Chris

    Add in the Naomi Oreskes ‘merchants of doubt’ dishonesty throwing tobacco cloaks over those who question global warming, and Chapman’s posturing as an ‘academic researcher’ in measuring the effects of the gun laws.
    Virtue signalling is an implicit global conspiracy against the truth. the challenge is to decouple the public media from sides.
    There is a newish paper out suggesting media are helping create copycat mass shootings. I am wondering if we should start publishing individual journalists names and pictures with articles about the massacres they helped create, alongside the activists why provide them their tripe.

  71. old bloke

    I would be most interested to see this journalist’s article once it is published.

  72. DrBeauGan

    A nice example of logic, reason, facts and good manners versus journalism as currently practised. And almost certainly a complete waste of your time. That you should descend to using these obsolete right wing methods damns you for ever, Sinc.

  73. DrBeauGan

    And add ‘white cisgendered male ‘ to the list of reasons you are wrong.

  74. It’s not fair.

    I would LOVE to be a Shill for Big Tobacco.

    I’d even take up smoking again if they’d promise keep me in ciggies for the rest of my life and pay for my teeth to be professionally whitened.

    Why do I never get so much as accosted? I am clearly going to the wrong conferences.

  75. Why doesn’t this chick ring up the Prime Minister and ask him why he is accepting funding from the tobacco industry in the form of excise taxes?

  76. Does this chick also realise that a lot of the public services she takes for granted are partly funded by excise taxes raised on tobacco?

    SHE IS IN FACT ACCEPTING TOBACCO SPONSORSHIP ON A DAILY BASIS.

  77. Empire GTHO Phase III

    17 August 2016 | GENEVA – WHO has today named Mr Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and former three-term Mayor of the City of New York, as Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs).

    The commie swine can get busy on finding a cure for leftism and get his nose out of my vice.

  78. Peter S

    What a fascinating exchange Sinclair. Thanks for publishing it. Very revealing.

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