Thursday, 23 February 2012

Arnott vs Snowdon

A very interesting debate took place between Deborah Arnott of ASH and Chris Snowdon, author of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist and historian. This little skirmish took place on the Today programme, where Arnott had most of the air-time which is what you would expect from the beeb. However Chris scored some good points and personally I think did some damage. To begin with Arnott speaks about peer reviewed studies around the world (around the world?) showing that plain packaging would be successful. Surely this is doing things the wrong way round.
Let me explain. Presumably we are talking about epidemiological studies. Such a beautifully balanced word is epidemiology, it has twelve letters and literally sings from the page. Why? Because an epidemiological study is a one size fits all johnny, it can say whatever you want it to say, it depends who’s paying the bill. An epidemiological study can only make sense of intrinsic evidence as and when it becomes available, it cannot be used to determine any outcome unless that evidence is already available…and since we don’t know whether or not plain packaging works because it’s never been tried, then what use are any studies until then?
I do wish Chris had handled the question about funding a little better though. Arnott made the point that the Adam Smith Institute takes funding from tobacco companies – so what? At least it’s private money and not extracted from the taxpayer as it is for Arnott and her cronies. In fact ASH get two bites of the same taxpayer cherry. Once from central government – whether we like or not - and secondly, from CRUK, (cancer research UK) and BHF (British Heart Foundation). Just what the hell are these two doing funding ASH…shouldn’t they be using this money for their own needs?

Anyway since nobody will be reading this I’m going out to play in the sunshine.

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