Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pell's front-cover-of-the BBC premature birth speculation

h/tip Chris Snowdon, Pell now claims a 10 per cent drop in premature births since the smoking ban was implemented in Scotland.

There is no evidence for this (Chris takes apart the figures). Considering that as I write the BBC has given it a home page splash there is surprisingly little in the article to justify all the fuss,
But while their work suggests a link, it is not proof that one thing necessarily causes another. As with all retrospective studies like this, it is impossible to rule out entirely all other factors that might have influenced the finding. 
However, Dr Daniel Mackay and colleagues from the University of Glasgow say their findings "add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation" and "lend support" to the adoption of such legislation in countries where it does not currently exist.
Not only do the figures give a nil result, but the reporter acknowledges that even if there had been a result it might not have been explained by the smoking ban. (But the figures show that there was no significant result to corroborate the stated finding.) The report nevertheless reports the researchers claiming this non-result is evidence of a health benefit that should encourage the spread of smoke-free policies. And of course we get this:
[The British Heart Foundation] says the focus should now shift to the effect of smoking in the home and confined spaces, such as cars, especially where children are present.
Well, fancy this research appearing just as another anti-smoking offensive appears to be under way.


Lysistrata said...

I thought you might mention this!

I've looked at Chris' analysis and there really is no story - highly selective and meaningless data.

It's bollocks.

Tried to say something (more politely) on the BBC website but cannot find anywhere to comment or even leave a message for the reporter.

Anonymous said...

Pell is on the list of those "anti-smoking researchers" who will be required to give evidence in a court of law UNDER OATH.

Their lies will be revealed to all.