Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sheila Duffy falls back on academic study

Sheila Duffy's latest letter to the Scotsman. Without a hint of embarrassment, she puts forward the 'independent' academic study by Hastings et al. as clear evidence that plain packaging will reduce child smoking:
Alongside the consultation document launched last week, the UK and Scottish governments published an evidence review by Stirling University. This collated 37 academic studies and concluded there was “strong evidence… plain packaging would reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products”. In one study, 87 per cent of children rated plain packs as “uncool”. 
It seems, therefore, that the evidence is plain to see.
Magnificent: an open admission that a predetermined agenda, supported by a so-called academic review written by people who share that agenda, using sources that address only that agenda and none of the wider issues, is all the evidence that the government needs to pursue tobacco control. My comment:
The academic study referred to by Sheila Duffy acknowledged two weaknesses: one that it isn't possible yet to evaluate the policy in practice, and two that 'a number of types of literature were not covered by the review'. 
IMO the study (described by Lansley as an 'independent' academic review) also fails as it doesn't include anyone outside the narrow confines of tobacco control among its list of authors. Nobody qualified to offer expert analysis in branding, marketing, communications or the international black market in tobacco was involved. The range of literature (Table 4.1) reflected this obsession with tobacco control and failed to reflect concerns from beyond the tobacco control community: 'barriers' to plain packaging were a nod to the idea that not everyone agrees with it. Considering we are awaiting judgement in a court case and Ukraine and Honduras have both risked the ire of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by challenging the legislation, an independent review should have been authored by all, or at least more, of the interests at stake. 
If you support the policy, and your source material supports the policy, and you don't include anyone who doesn't support the policy, then hey presto, your study will also support the policy.
This letter was a response to this by Robert Dow, who also comments on Ms Duffy's letter.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Belinda, in answer to the commenters who accuse you of supposition when talking of tobacco duty rising to compensate if prices fall after plain packaging. It's not supposition at all, in fact it's part of the plan.

"Fact: If there is a reduction in price, taxes can be raised to compensate."

And it's from the very same CRUK too (page 3 here).

Thought you might find that useful. ;)

Anonymous said...

You might like to know who Gerard Hastings one of the authors of the report) is. He is one of the expert witnesses who appeared for McTear in the McTear V Imperial Tobacco case.

Professor Hastings said that in addition to having been Special Advisor to the House of Commons Health Committee on the Tobacco Industry and the health risks of
smoking, he was currently Special Advisor in connection with an inquiry into obesity.

Here is what the judge said about the evidence of Hastings:

The evidence of Professor Hastings appears to me to add nothing for present purposes.

So we see a marketing man, who knows nothing at all about lung cancer and such but is a mere marketing man, but also a senior ASHite being part of an 'independent' panel producing an 'independent' report!

Corruption upon corruption upon corruption.

I wonder if Lansley know anything about this?

Belinda said...

Thanks DP :)

Junican: I am sure that the government must know. Social marketing has sold itself to tobacco control as a behaviour modification unit:

Hastings is professor in the unit at Stirling University