Saturday, 7 July 2012

Fact checking charity cautiously debunk's Penny's 26 per cent claims

Among the more outrageous things that was claimed in this week's fanfare commemorating five years since the smoking ban was implemented in England was Laurie Penny's claim in the Independent that heart attack admissions had dropped 'as much as' 26 per cent since the ban started.  Even Linda Bauld could only come up with a figure of 2.3 per cent for heart reductions in England (a figure too small to show that it has a single cause): 26 per cent was a figure that demands explanation.

The report by independent fact checking organisation Full Fact even provides an illustration:


This should show without any doubt that there is no appreciable difference in heart attack rates in relation to the smoking ban. The reporter declares herself at a loss to understand where Penny's figures have come from (a request from Full Fact had no reply at the time of writing). She then discusses various other heart attack reports, all of them small ('five US cites', etc.) giving results with smoking ban declines of up to 50 per cent, and mentions Linda Bauld's study linked above from the University of Bath. (No evidence is given that larger-scale studies convincingly undermine the smaller ones, by including cities where no drop heart attacks was recorded following the introduction of a smoking ban.)

The conclusion is stated with moderation:
It is very hard to assess the accuracy of Ms Penny’s claim without first knowing her source. The research we have found from the NHS Information Centre shows at most a 22 per cent decline, although this only refers to fatalities. Among all incidents of heart attacks the reduction was a more modest 13 per cent. [emphasis added]
Ms Penny's claim is so far from the available evidence that it is hard to escape the conclusion that she has not researched the material properly. This article does properly conclude: 'however it is noticeable that trends don't seem to have changed much since 2002', but then we read:  
This suggests that there may be wider social and environmental factors that have also contributed to the fall, and singling out the impact of the smoking ban is a difficult process. 
Suggests? how about 'shows categorically', Full Fact?

Still, look on the bright side. Yet another body has acknowledged that the 'heart attack miracle' is an unsustainable fiction. 

1 comment:

nisakiman said...

Yes,but will the Independent report this contradictory information?

No, of course they won't.

Thus the myth is perpetuated. Classic Tobacco Control Tactic. Who needs to justify wild claims when you have the MSM in the palm of your hand?