Friday, 24 September 2010

Lodging motions on Pell in the Scottish Parliament

Actually some of them really believe what she came out with: 
*S3M-7054 Kenneth Gibson: A Reduction in Smoking Means Fewer Asthma AttacksThat the Parliament welcomes the findings of recent research by the University of Glasgow concluding that the admission of children with asthma-related problems to hospital has dropped by more than 18% since the introduction of the ban on smoking in public places in 2006, a reduction equivalent to three fewer children being admitted each day; recognises that, prior to the ban, the admission of children with asthma was increasing at a rate of over 5% per year; notes that the researchers also discovered that, since the ban, there had been a 17% year-on-year drop in hospital admissions from heart attacks and a significant decline in respiratory problems among bar staff; considers that the smoking ban has resulted in a massive step being taken toward shedding Scotland’s image of being the sick man of Europe, and believes that this legislation has greatly improved the health and wellbeing of the Scottish people.
Chris Snowdon crunches the numbers on this by helpfully breaking down the figures supplied on Pell's graph for each year under study and breaking them down into daily averages: 

2000: 2391/366 = 6.53 per day

2001: 2142/365 = 5.87 per day (drop)

2002: 2034/365 = 5.57 per day (another drop)

2003: 1803/365 = 4.94 per day (another drop!)

2004: 2621/366 = 7.16 per day (rise)

2005: 2103/365 = 5.76 per day (drop)

2006: 2633/365 = 7.21 per day (rise)

2007: 2056/365 = 5.63 per day (drop)

2008: 2235/366 = 6.11 per day (rise)

2009: 1397/304 = 4.59 per day (drop) (ten months only of this year counted)

(I added the 'rise' and 'drop' indicators for additional clarity!) Kenneth Gibson also applauds the 17 per cent figure that Pell came out with in 2007 with respect to heart attacks. I didn't know anyone took that figure seriously any more, especially since the drop in England was 'found' to be only 2.4 per cent: a figure that was also not corroborated by routine statistics.

Isn't it reassuring that Scottish leaders believe what they want to believe, rather than looking squarely at the evidence in front of them? 


Eddie Douthwaite said...

Lodged by Kenneth Gibson, a member of the Cross Party Group on Tobacco Control.

I wonder if he has signed up to the Brussels Declaration on Scientific Integrity?, or maybe he actually believes these studies.

Belinda said...

Just written to BBC's More or Less

'Would you be able to look at the recent claims made by Professor Jill Pell on the alleged 18 per cent drop in children's asthma hospitalisations in Scotland since the smoking ban was introduced?

See, and for one critique:

It looks to me as if there is no basis for the claims made by Professor Pell, and besides, that the smoking ban was not enacted in venues frequented by children. At most I would have expected a tiny effect (probably resulting from increased exposure to smoke rather than otherwise) but a drop of one-fifth?'

I won't hold my breath (the series ends in the coming week).

Michael J. McFadden said...

Belinda, the "drop/rise" addition is great! People have a hard time following numbers, but trailing one's eye down that list just in the "drop/rise" column makes the picture VERY clear.

Well done!

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"