Thursday, 26 August 2010

Evening Times runs poll on funding smoking cessation

Just for the record, I don't take newspaper polls seriously. They are notoriously easy to rig by repeat voting, and the sample voting rarely includes more than a fraction of 1 per cent of the population. That said it's a pleasant surprise to see Evening Times readers voting decisively against dedicating further funding to smoking cessation. The poll was running at 60 per cent against further funding when I voted four hours ago and now runs at 76 against.

Still, official enthusiasm for government-funded smoking cessation runs high. See confirmation of this conference that will run at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, in November. Free of charge, of course.

Yes in general I believe in public health free at the point of need. But clearly there is a danger with any guaranteed free service that somebody will abuse it. The government feels bound to give people free drugs, but big pharmaceuticals have now decided that the wealthy and well are better customers than the sick and impoverished. This perspective is enlightening. Or as Sheila Duffy points out, even though malaria kills people (generally at a much younger age than tobacco), 'mosquitos don't have PR agencies and expensive promotions budgets'. D'oh!

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