Monday, 23 April 2012

Stirling is proud to present ...

... The 'independent' academic review on plain packaging. The Department of Health has so described this document in this statement: last paragraph on the first page.

The Stirling Observer finds its local university at the centre of the plain packaging campaign, and is justifiably proud. It quotes Professor Linda Bauld:
Professor Bauld added: “This systematic review forms the basis for the UK wide consultation on whether plain packaging should be introduced. The studies we identified and describe in the review were remarkably consistent in their findings
(well, there's a surprise)
and clearly set out what effect plain packaging could have. 
“The public consultation will take place from April to July and will help the government to decide whether the UK will follow Australia’s lead, where plain packaging will be introduced by 2013. 
“I’d encourage people to have a look at the evidence set out in our review, make up their own minds about the issue and respond to the consultation.”
Thanks for that, Linda. (In case anyone wishes to take up this invitation, this is worth reading, from Dick Puddlecote.)

Equally proud is the adorable Richard Simpson MSP:
*S4M-02667 Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Labour Party): Plain Packaging of Tobacco Review of Evidence—That the Parliament congratulates the academics from the University of Stirling Management School, who have conducted a systematic review of plain tobacco packaging, which it believes has led to the UK Government’s consultation on whether tobacco should be sold in standardised, or plain, packaging; notes that the study team included Professor Gerard Hastings and Professor Linda Bauld, both of whom are members of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies; notes that the review of evidence focuses on whether cigarettes should be sold in plain packs to reduce the attractiveness of the brand packaging and making the health warnings clear; further notes that the study claims that, in over three dozen other studies, it was shown that plain packaging can help smokers in three ways, by increasing the prominence and effectiveness of health warnings, by making the pack, and thereby smoking, less appealing and by removing the confusion about the relative harm that pack design can cause, and calls on all those who have concerns about the substantial number of new smokers each year in Scotland, who it understands are predominately young people, to respond to this consultation.
(Richard Simpson MSP is to be remembered for denying there was any need for a watertight case that the display ban would work. No doubt he feels the same about plain packaging.)

The 'independent' academic review in question is 'independent' only insofar as it is not officially part of the Department of Health. At least four of its six authors and at least two of their four institutions are set up to fight tobacco use and are funded for that purpose: to 'discover' (ad nauseum) the harms of tobacco and recommend restrictions on its use. Hardly objective or even a study, this is an attempt to assemble a brief in support of what government plans to do. Calling it an independent academic review is disgraceful and dishonest, and sadly what we have come to expect from the government in relation to tobacco control.

Just wouldn't it have been nice to have included the views of Ukraine, the US Chamber of CommerceTransAtlantic Business Dialogue and other US business organisations that have protested, the International Chamber of CommerceBrand Republic or even British American Tobacco? Perhaps an 'independent' academic review could have ensured representation of these views in the report, and even academics from relevant disciplines for assistance in compiling it.

But the wisdom of the health lobby trumps all of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for these so called experts and researchers to appear in court under oath.

That should blow the arse out of Tobacco Control forever.