Saturday, 1 December 2012

Repeat after me: Glas-goals are working

Glasgow's Evening Times applauds Glas-goals, the city's smoking cessation project (a joint initiative of the local NHS health trust and the Evening Times) for its success in driving down smoking rates. Published two days ago, it declares that smoking rates and lung cancer rates are both down (it should have only seven paragraphs in it but at present it has fourteen: someone in the editorial department failed to notice that it has been replicated). An accompanying news report says that the Glas-goals campaign achieved double its expected quit rate.

I don't want to knock anyone's sincere efforts to give up smoking if that is what they want to do. But in the light of previous reports on smoking cessation, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the twelve thousand-plus smokers who have succeeded in quitting their habit are counted as quitters after just four weeks, because that is the common measure. The real test is after the quit programme is over and life has resumed its normal rhythm.

It is clear from the graph to the right of this blog that smoking rates in Scotland have not changed appreciably in the last 12 years. What is less well known is that against this largely unvarying decline in the smoking rate, expenditure on tobacco control as a whole has rocketed from £1.45 million in 1999 to £21.8 million in 2011, according to figures obtained from the Scottish Government in a Freedom of Information request (they even added up the totals for us!) At a bare minimum we can be sure that money distributed through health boards specifically for smoking cessation increased from £1 million in 1999 to £11.08 million in 2011. We also know that lottery money has been spent on tobacco control (the Refresh project) and that Cancer Research UK has funded tobacco control studies in Scotland. So the fifteen-fold increase in government expenditure on tobacco control, supplemented by other funding, has barely made a dint in the smoking rate.

Impressive, no?

P.S. I look forward to observing whether this additional exposure will prompt somebody from the Evening Times to read this story again and realise that they have printed it twice.


Michael J. McFadden said...

Belinda wrote of the latest antismoking study, " (it should have only seven paragraphs in it but at present it has fourteen: someone in the editorial department failed to notice that it has been replicated). "

Belinda, it's an antismoking study. The taxpayers pay them by the word. The content is immaterial.


Belinda said...

? Study ?

It's an opinion piece in the local newspaper.

Lou said...

Many thanks for doing the research on this. Circa GBP21,750,000 is negligence on the part of our "establishment".

If I may venture. The rail link from Glasgow to the airport could have been fully financed and completed for far less than TCI has spent since 1999... and with guaranteed results.

Belinda said...

Thanks Lou

The expenditure actually peaked 200/10 at £22.4 million.

Belinda said...

sorry, 2009/2010

Michael J. McFadden said...

Whoops! LOL! You're right Belinda! :> That's what I get for trying to juggle 20 open windows one-handedly!


Anonymous said...

I am not sure that the article should even be called 'Opinion'. 'Propaganda Plant' sounds more appropriate to me.
I have grave doubts about any of their figures. Here are a couple of phrases from the article:

"Since we launched our Clear The Air anti-smoking campaign last year, the Evening Times, in part-nership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, has helped thousands of people access cessation services"

"...and help bring smoking cessation services to people to help them quit for good"

"...encouraged tens of thousands of people to take up physical activity and quit smoking"

Did the Evening Times claim that x people have quit? NO!

"Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHSGGC's director of public health, said: "Our target was to help 6762 people to quit smoking, however nearly double the number of people stopped smoking through our services with 12,129 residents successfully kicking the habit"

Opinion Piece?

"Clear The Air also campaigned about second-hand smoke when the issue of people smoking in hospital grounds was highlighted.
Fumes from smokers at the entrance at Yorkhill Hospital For Sick Children was going through air vents to the Schiehallion ward, which treats children with cancer.

Children joined health board Tobacco Control bosses to make animated films shown around the hospital to tackle the problem.

Patient Julie Rodgers, 15, who has cystic fibrosis, got involved. She said: "The film is working because when I went past the place where they usually smoke there was no-one there.

Perhaps the air vents were specially designed to distinguish between tobacco smoke and other 'fumes'.

Propaganda of the most blatant and unreal kind. If those figures have any basis in reality, I'll eat Doll's Doctors Study.


Michael J. McFadden said...

Sheesh. I have to admit, that's one of the worse examples I've seen out there.