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Fact check on plain packaging

Claims by paid consulting firms for a firm producing cancer-causing tobacco products that “plain packaging” have failed are wrong.  The evidence they produce is inconclusive in statistical terms. Other evidence suggests there have been negative effects on consumption levels and participation in smoking.  The problem with the argument of London Economics is that they do not understand the concept of statistical significance.  They, in fact, find evidence of a decline in smoking but assert it is too small to be statistically significant. They therefore assert there has been no effect.  This is wrong – the conclusion should be that there is currently not enough data to determine an outcome.   I am interested to note that the same stupid statistical reasoning was used by climate denialists (many of whom get funding from tobacco companies and who promote false claims about the harmlessness of secondary tobacco smoke) to deduce there has been no statistically significant warming since 1998.   This claim is also false.

It is hardly surprising that the effects of plain packaging are as yet unclear.   The policy targets young people initiating smoking not primarily the overall stock of smokers.  It might take a few years for the aggregate stock data to show much response.  On the other hand the data on a surge in calls to “quit” lines suggests the policy is having an impact.

28 comments to Fact check on plain packaging

  • WhaleHunt Fun

    So calls to quit lines have surged equals more people are quitting. No logical inconsistency there. Assertions by climate denialists? So these are people who deny there is any climate. You do mix with weird people. Rational people do believe climate exists and are moved to laughter by the whining of the warmist collaborators about the irrefutable fact of no statistically significant warming since next year’s young voters were born. Endless attempts to argue against what the laughers are not saying, poor logic, bait and switch, straw man arguments, but no evidence other than religious fervour about heat hiding in the ocean recently, but not before.
    The loss of the argument by the warmist collaborators is nowhere better illustrated than by the wheeling out of the Prince to pass on the information he received by talking to plants.
    I desperately hope that the warmongers are right so that my deliberate and needless excesses might ensure that the children of warmist collaborators inherit a ruined and exhausted world, so barren that they eke out short brutish lives, wracked by previously preventable diseases, boiling grass and rats for food. Regrettably, you are so very likely wrong. Sad that.

  • cynical1

    I am interested to note that the same stupid statistical reasoning was used by climate denialists (many of whom get funding from tobacco companies and who promote false claims about the harmlessness of secondary tobacco smoke)

    ……

    List of tobacco funded deniers, please.

    Me? No. I’m SURE there is a climate….

  • Jaymez

    Just list one person who:

    a) is a climate denialist (i.e. someone who denies there is a climate, or that it changes).

    b) believes there has been no statistically significant warming since 1998 who is funded by the tobacco industry.

  • How do you separate the reduction of smoking due to plain packaging against the increase in taxes on tobacco products? Do you have statistics for the number of people who have moved from tobacco because of the costs and taken up marijuana instead?

  • Mel

    Seems like Catallaxy has sent its mindless Orcs over here to diss you, Harry.

  • hc

    cynical1, the IPA, Heartland,….
    FJaymez, red Singer was actively arguing that secondary tobacco smoke caused no problems while in employ of big tobacco. now a climate denier.
    Whalehunt you are an idiot I can’t be bothered. .
    Disillusioned – no I don’t.

    Mel, I looked though their link to me. They are a pathetic.

  • Jaymez

    Great typing Fred. Does your computer not run to spell check? It certainly doesn’t run to ‘fact check’. You make a claim that climate denialists get funding from tobacco companies. Then when asked to provide some proof you mention the research by Fred Singer. Which is not proof that Singer, or anyone you term a climate denialist was funded now or ever by the tobacco industry. Do you even know what Singer’s research was about in relation to second hand smoke? It was simply showing that the EPA’s assertions were statistically faulty, and his position has withstood the test of time to date with no-one disproving the accuracy of his paper.

    Your assumed assertion is one used often by the climate alarmist brigade is that if you can smear just one skeptical scientist then you can dismiss them all. You may like to read what Singer himself writes in reference to the allegations that he is somehow funded by the tobacco lobby. Then after reading it if you don’t post a withdrawal, I will forward this to Prof Singer and see if his lawyers would like to address it.

    “I am a nonsmoker, find SHS to be an irritant and unpleasant, have certainly not been paid by Philip Morris and the tobacco lobby, and have never joined any of their front organizations. And I serve on the advisory board of an anti-smoking organization. My father, who was a heavy smoker, died of emphysema while relatively young. I personally believe that SHS, in addition to being objectionable, cannot possibly be healthy.

    So what is the truth about SHS and lung cancer? I am neither an oncologist nor a chemical toxicologist, but I do know some statistics, which allows me to examine the EPA study without bias. I can demonstrate that the EPA fudged their analysis to reach a predetermined conclusion — using thoroughly dishonest procedures. EPA “scientists” made three major errors: 1) They ignored “publication bias.” 2) They arbitrarily shifted the statistical “confidence intervals.” 3) They drew unjustified conclusions from a risk ratio that was barely greater than 1.0.

    Since none of the epidemiological studies provided the clear answer they wanted, the EPA carried out a “meta-analysis,” lumping together a selected group of studies. Unfortunately, this approach ignores publication bias — i.e., the tendency for investigators not to publish their studies if they do not find a positive result.
    The EPA, in order to calculate a positive risk ratio, relaxed the confidence intervals from the generally accepted 95% standard to 90% — and admitted this openly.
    Even so, their “Risk Ratio” was just a little above 1.0 — whereas careful epidemiologists, because of the presence of confounding factors, generally ignore any result unless the RR exceeds 2.0.
    To sum up this somewhat technical discussion, while I cannot give specific answers about lung cancer or other medical issues connected with SHS, I can state with some assurance that the EPA analysis — to paraphrase my former teacher, Nobel physicist Wolfgang Pauli — is “not only wrong, but worthless.”

    My assessments are independently confirmed by the Congressional Research Service (in report CRS-95-1115) and by a lengthy judicial analysis in 1998 by Judge William Osteen — all available on the internet. Science journalist Michael Fumento presented, in 1993, a well-researched and eminently readable account in Investors Business Daily.

    In the largest (in terms of statistical power), most detailed (in terms of results presented), and most transparent (in terms of information about its conduct) epidemiologic paper on SHS and mortality ever published in a major medical journal (in the May 17, 2003 issue of the British Medical Journal), UCLA Prof. James Enstrom found no significant relationship between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. It is worth noting also that the World Health Organization, in a just-completed study reported in the British medical journal Lancet, gives a lung-cancer death rate (for US, Canada, and Cuba) of barely six hundred per year, only a fraction of the EPA number of U.S. deaths. An independent study, published in BioMed Central (2010) and supported by the Canadian National Cancer Institute and Canada’s Cancer Society, found no noticeable lung-cancer effect from SHS in nonsmokers; however, there was a significant effect from welding, use of paint thinners and solvents, and exposure to diesel exhaust, soot, and smoke from sources other than tobacco.” http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/second_hand_smoke_lung_cancer.html

  • Jaymez

    Still looking for a single skeptical scientist funded by the tobacco industry Harry!

  • Jaymez

    I did mean to write Harry that I note your ‘comments’ policy states “Comments are welcome although they must avoid personal attacks on anyone and particularly me.” So I hope you show the same courtesy to Fred Singer and apologise for you ill-informed attack on him, and more generally your attack on those of us who dare to question that humans are responsible for the bulk of the global warming since industrialisation, and that human emitted CO2 will cause catastrophic climate changes. All we want is reasonable evidence, not poor correlation and bias computer models which don’t account for many important natural variations and have failed the empirical test.

  • hc

    Jaymez, Sounds like you have answered your own question. Deluded on climate and deluded on the effects of secondary tobacco smoke. I assume a right-wing libertarian who dislikes government to boot.

  • Jaymez

    Harry, please do show where I am deluded? It is clear though that you make far too many assumptions rather than checking on facts. It is also clear you have nothing to support your claims!

  • John Mashey

    Oz: IPA, UK: IEA,
    US: many tax-exempt thinktanks (Heartland, CEI, CFACT, ATR, etc, etc) provide academic cover (with “Senior Fellows”, “Resident Scholars”, etc,) often for both climate and tobacco anti-science.

    They are funded by:
    – foundations, like (in US) Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, L&H Bradley, etc, and those donations are usually trackable via IRS Form 990s where they must report their donations. In recent years, some have shifted to an “anonymizer” Donors Trust, a donor-advised trust, where they send money, control where it goes, but its President writes every check. Either way, these can only give to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charities, which usually means thinktanks like Heartland, CATO, CEI, CFACT, etc, many of which are really PR agencies/lobbyists that are tax-free.
    For awhile, ExxonMobil used the EM Foundation for this, which made that money trackable, unlike almost all other corporate payments. That was silly, given that the amounts were ~rounding error in daily profits.

    – tobacco companies, whose “donations” are usually not trackable, except during the 1990s and early 2000s from records in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library(LTDL) @ UC San Francisco, or occasionally other events.

    – Other companies, whose money is rarely trackable, except via other sources, as was sometimes possible with Heartland, some of whose internal documents did appear, in LTDL or elsewhere.

    In US, most thinktanks are tax-exempt 501(c)(3): they have to provide public financials, and they have to tell the IRS where the money came from, but that part is not public. However, by cross-matching vs the foundations, one can at least have some idea of the fraction of money known or not. Bob Brulle recently published an extensive study, finding ~$900M/year of funding to thinktanks and related organizations that at least in part oppose environmental laws;

    In OZ, the IPA fills this role, in the UK it’s IEA.

    In US, the thinktanks have been helping big tobacco since the early 1990s, and they learned the anti-science trade with them. Thinktank climate anti-science really rev’d up more broadly in 1998. Only a few were very active before that, and of those, Frederick Seitz (Chair of George Marshall Intitute, the early bird in this) was a long-time tobacco helper, and (physicist) Fred Singer (SEPP) wrote a piece for tobacco attacking the EPA on secondhand smoke rules. Steve Milloy’s TASSC was set up about then by Philip Morris, and he does climate anti-science too.

    Of course, the Kochs and tobacco partnered for decades to foster the Tea Party.

    Heartland’s President Joe Bast has long attacked climate science and he wrote “Joe Camel is Innocent” and promoted smoking endlessly. For 12 years, he had a Philip Morris executive on his Board.
    Heartland’s James Taylor edits their Environment and Climate Newsletter, which has often carried pro-cigarette materials along with climate science-dismissive material.

    See Familiar Thinktanks Fight for E-Cigarettes. The first paragraph links to the backup reports for everything said above.

    In particular, Fakery 2:
    p.12 lists thinktanks that have attacked climate science, shows some of the key funders, including tobacco.
    pp.37-45 shows the role of tobacco in creating anti-science tactics, who got money (from Philip Morris, at least), what they do for the money (“access to GW Bush”), and details on Heartland’s history.
    PDF Advanced Search: tobacco gives 235 instances. There are other people who do both climate and tobacco, but I don’t have the time to track them down, just listed the ones I recall off the top of my head.

    Sometimes, especially in smaller thinktanks, the same people may opine on both climate and tobacco, but in larger ones, money comes from foundations, fossil fuel companies and tobacco, but the thinktank staff tends to specialize more, at least to try to create a semblance of expertise. For instance, as far as I known, at CATO, Pat Michaels only does climate, not tobacco. Anyway, asking for specific people is a bit of a strawman, asking for thinktanks or other organizations is much more relevant.

    Just to calibrate, tobacco companies basically stay in business by killing children slowly, since for most people it is hard to get strongly addicted after rapid brain development slows down. Thinktanks have willingly helped them for decades and seem to have no ethical constraints in doing so. Confusing people about climate is child’s play by comparison

  • John Mashey

    By the way, if anyone cares what Fred Singer thinks, or how his 1993 memo got paid for, see Fakey 2, pp. 15-17, p.28, with 2 tobacco funding chains. Singer falsely claimed Seitz to be Chairman of his Board for 2 years after he was dead, must have had a good spirit medium. Michael Fumento often shows up in Heartland Environment and Climate News, not exactly a peer-reviewed journal. He gets 8 hits in that PDF.

    He’s also a long-time associate of Steve Milloy’s.

  • Jaymez

    John Mashey, you write “In OZ, the IPA fills this role” If I follow what you have written you are claiming a priority role of the IPA is to oppose environmental laws. Firstly, I’d say it is mischievous of you to link to the IPA in any discussion about funding from tobacco lobby. If you want to accuse the IPA of receiving funding from the tobacco lobby do so at your peril, but you shouldn’t try to imply it by association. Secondly, I’d ask what evidence do you have that the IPA sees it’s role as opposing environmental laws. Certainly it has opposed ‘green tape’ to but say that equates to opposing environmental laws would be the same as claiming opposition to ‘red tape’ or too much bureaucracy is opposition to civil law.

  • Jaymez

    John Mashey, I can’t see anything you have referred readers to which:

    1. Shows anything he has done in the climate science area has been funded by the tobacco lobby as claimed by Harry.

    2. That his position showing the EPA’s presentation on second hand smoke was faulty, nor have you showed that his work on the subject was faulty or that he was pro-tobacco. Something that was implied by Harry.

    3. I could not find any reference to “Seitz to be Chairman of his Board for 2 years after he was dead” in the material I waded through as referenced by you so if it is important, you will have to give a more specific reference. However I suspect that this is just one of those silly ‘gotcha’ type things where on the death of Seitz, Singer didn’t think to file a change to the directorship of his company. I have done that myself with my family company and my accountants failed for two years to notice that the appropriate documents hadn’t been filed for change of directors.

    However you write that he “falsely claimed” as if there was some deliberate deceit for personal benefit involved. If there was, then you should be specific, otherwise you are just being deliberately misleading attacking the person rather than the content.

  • hc

    Jaymez, John Mashey knows this stuff and has answered your questions. The IPA has accepted sponsorship from tobacco companies and has argued that passive smoking causes no harm. It has also led the case against addressing climate change control policies in Australia. Ditto for Heatland. Read the “tobacco Papers” on Singer and seitz and open your eyes. You are being lied to.

  • Jaymez

    They will almost certainly not bother with following this up, but as a matter of principle I have passed on the libellous contents of this blog to both the IPA and Fred Singer. So in the event that accuracy and honesty is a concern, there is an opportunity to make apologies and corrections. Simply deleting the content will be insufficient as you don’t know how many people have read it, and of course I have dumped the screen contents. I do think it is important to always stick to the facts, even in a blog which isn’t read widely.

  • Jaymez

    Harry just putting the facts aside for the moment, what if we applied your logic? That is we assume if any of your funding comes from one particular source, all of your research is tainted because it is likely to unfairly favour that source. Then what would that say about people in your position who are employed by largely Government funded institutions? You benefit from any political party which is likely to increase either the size of government, or the amount of funding for universities. Additionally, since you have jumped on the ‘climate change gravy train’ as an area of specialisation, you would benefit from any government prepared to fund research ‘climate change’ areas. So are we to assume all of your output is tainted?

  • John Mashey

    Heartland IPCC-5, Oct 2010, cosponsored by IPA, one of Heartland’s climate anti-science conferences.

    quick search in LTDL, not all hits are relevant, but this one of BATco is, p.9:
    ‘All of the companies are actively involved in community programmes and charitable donations and these are usually associated with cultural and artistic activities . Far East companies do not appear to be involved in environmental programmes to the same degree as companies in some other regions . Roughly half the companies conduct corporate sponsorship of sporting events . In addition, Australia* supports local business community groups such as the Botany Enterprise Development Agency and contributes financially to prominent think tanks such as the Institute for Public Affairs and the Sydney Institute.’ (* means BATco Oz). That was 1993.
    The LTDL is a wonderful source of absolutely rock-solid evidence, although Australian material is relatively light, unsurprisingly. Sadly, unlike Philip Morris, we don’t have the year-by-year spreadsheets of who got paid outside US.

    Of course, IPA is already on-board with e-cigs, the last, best chance in the developed world to erase the existential threat of declining nicotine addiction in teenagers. Of course, developing countries are easier, but it’s too early to see the big rise in tobacco-related deaths that will happen.

    I don’t care what adults choose to do (if they don’t damage others), but most societies try to protect children against doing permanent damage to themselves before they grow up, and most have age-related rules to do that. If somebody is dumb enough to start smoking tobacco at 21, go ahead, although they’d (probably) be better off vaping, at least if they order Gummy Bear fluid with the zero-nicotine option. But, if they start that late, most still have the freedom to quit, a freedom tobacco companies must avoid at all costs. (For some, nicotine addictions can be as strong as opiates.)

    Insitute for Public Affairs, Wikipedia.
    Climate and tobacco.

    ===
    Singer: Fakery 2: p.2, 15-16. Singer prepared and signed the IRS form himself, *written by hand* as the images there show. It wasn’t a leftover form … but basically, Singer was running a 501(c)(3), which requires reasonable governance, but he didn’t have any. (I’ve been a Trustee of a real 501(c)(3) for 10+ years now…)

    (Jaymez can report me to IPA and Singer as he wishes … I’m sure I got on Singer’s Bad List years ago, and I doubt IPA would be as upset at me as, for example, Heartland, Ed Wegman, Will Happer, and I suspect, recently Murry Salby.
    But discovery might be fun, especially when somebody knows the right questions to feed to lawyers.)

    Hopefully, people might look at the links I cited and reflect on them a bit on the ethics of groups that help tobacco companies addict children. However, pseudoskeptics ridden by strong Morton’s Demons have the power to ignore all inconvenient facts. So, I think I’m done.

  • hc

    I try to be tolerant Jaymez but you stretch things. Please do not post on this blog again. There are many other places you can post to.

  • John Mashey

    (This might be partial duplicate, maybe comment is held in spam filter.)

    Heartland IPCC-5, Oct 2010, cosponsored by IPA, one of Heartland’s climate anti-science conferences.

    quick search in LTDL, not all hits are relevant, but this one of BATco is, p.9:
    ‘All of the companies are actively involved in community programmes and charitable donations and these are usually associated with cultural and artistic activities . Far East companies do not appear to be involved in environmental programmes to the same degree as companies in some other regions . Roughly half the companies conduct corporate sponsorship of sporting events . In addition, Australia* supports local business community groups such as the Botany Enterprise Development Agency and contributes financially to prominent think tanks such as the Institute for Public Affairs and the Sydney Institute.’

    (* means BATco Oz). That was 1993. Unsurprisingly, given USA-oriented lawsuits, the LTDL has relatively few records for Australia, but some pieces got caught almost by accident. Too bad we don’t have the funding records.

    Insitute for Public Affairs, Wikipedia.
    Climate and tobacco, even Wikipedia knows 🙂

    Of course, IPA is already on-board with e-cigs, the last, best chance in the developed world for them to erase the existential threat of declining nicotine addiction in teenagers. Developing countries are easier, but it’s too early to see the big rise in tobacco-related deaths that will happen.

    Fred Singer, with Frederick Seitz as Board Chair: the PDF attached at Fakery 2
    A PDF Advanced Search for Seitz works, but specifically:
    p.16 has images of the 2 IRS Form 990s filled out by Singer himself, *by hand* listing Seitz as Chairman for 2 years after his death. Seitz was claimed to be spending an hour/week.

    Morton’s Demon is widely seen in the US:
    ‘Morton’s demon stands at the gateway of a person’s senses and lets in facts that agree with that person’s beliefs while deflecting those that do not. This demon is used to explain the phenomenon of confirmation bias.’

    From this discussion, I see Australia has some also, to find Fumento and Singer and and think 1993 was the end of research.

    Last week was 50th Anniversary of US Surgeon General Report on smoking. p.13 of the Executive Summary says:
    ‘More than 20 million Americans have died as a result of smoking since the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health was released in 1964 (Table 1) (Chapter 12). Most were adults with a history of smoking, but nearly 2.5 million were nonsmokers who died from heart disease or lung cancer caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.’ All this is backed by massives of detail and the IPCC-like calibrations of what they know and don’t.

    Harry: in US, I can find the financial forms of the thinktanks. Is there something that in Oz? THis disucssion has raised my interest in IPA.

  • hc

    Sorry John it had many hyperlinks and so was caught up in spam filter.

  • John Mashey

    Thanks Harry, that happens when one actually tries to provide sources 🙂

  • John Mashey

    Harry: a quick question, over in NZ:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/9703967/US-issues-warning-on-tobacco-packaging

    The Emergency Committee for American Trade, National Association of Manufacturers, National Foreign Trade Council, US-ASEAN Business Council, US Chamber of Commerce, and United States Council for International Business have all criticised the legislation, which is due before Parliament this week.

    http://www.ash.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ASH-NZ-Tobacco-Returns-Analysis-2012.pdf
    which has the NZ market data:

    p.13 estimated market share 2012, BATNZ: 72%, ITNZ: 20.4%, PMNZ: 6.4%, with BATNZ getting 74.8% of market $, PMNZ 6.0%, about 95M NZD$ (~$75M US$)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Morris_International says PMI $76B 2011 revenue, so for an effect on at most 0.1% of their world revenue, they recruit these American trade organizations?? (and obviously PMNZ is part of PMI, not Altria) to stop a 4M-person country from trying to protect its children?

    The other interesting question: are these same folks involved in the same fights in Australia?

  • hc

    I assume so. As far as I know the NZ Parliament want plain packaging but don’t want the financial cost of a fight with the various interest groups. If Australia does not lose its case against these groups NZ will introduce plain packaging.

    If is obviously important for Australia to sion its case against these companies and interests.

  • John Mashey

    I got a chance to look, and indeed, here’s Chmaber of Commerce and <a href="National Association of Manufacturers.

  • John Mashey

    Oops, that was:
    I got a chance to look, and indeed, here’s Chmaber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.

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