Talking of risible and ridiculous (see previous post), Cancer Research UK has just scaled new heights.
According to the headline of a CRUK press release embargoed until a few minutes ago, 'Half a million children predicted to die from smoking as MPs head toward a vote on standard cig packs'.
The implication is that half a million children will die from smoking but standardised packaging could reduce that catastrophic loss of life in the under 18 age group.
Needless to say the headline is a crude and inaccurate sleight of hand:
Around 500,000 children will die from smoking when they are adults [my emphasis] unless more is done to cut smoking rates according to new Cancer Research UK figures released today (Friday).
Based on current smoking rates Cancer Research UK estimates that of today’s 12 million under 16 year olds, 2.7 million will become smokers as young adults. This could lead to around half a million smoking related deaths unless rates fall.
This shocking statistic has prompted the charity to renew its call for MPs to back the introduction of plain, standardised tobacco packaging when they vote on the issue in the coming weeks.
See what they've done?
To claim, in a eye-catching headline, that half a million children will die of smoking when they are really talking about adults, most of whom will live well into their sixties, seventies and even eighties, is pretty sick.
Forget the "shocking statistic". What's shocking is the depth to which the tobacco control industry will sink to force through a policy that an overwhelming majority of people have opposed in not one but two public consultations.
I'll be interested to see how much coverage this shabby piece of propaganda gets. In the meantime here's Forest's response, issued yesterday:
Campaigners urge government to postpone introduction of plain packaging
Campaigners have urged the government to postpone the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco until it has assessed the impact of the tobacco display ban and larger health warnings.
Responding to new figures from Cancer Research UK which claims "around 500,000 children will die from smoking when they are adults unless more is done to cut smoking rates", Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, said:
"There's no evidence plain packaging will reduce youth smoking rates. Packaging isn't responsible for children smoking. It's mostly peer pressure, the influence of family members or the fact that some children will always want to experiment or rebel.
"Ninety-nine per cent of responses to last year's public consultation on plain packaging opposed the measure. That included retailers, unions and members of the public.
"The real scandal is the fact that the government is pressing ahead with a policy that has been rejected by an overwhelming majority of respondents to its own consultation.
"We urge the government to wait until it can assess the impact of the display ban, which is still being implemented, and larger health warnings which are being introduced next year as part of the European Union's revised Tobacco Products Directive."
Update: Via Dick Puddlecote and Guido Fawkes I have just learned that CRUK's "head lobbyist" earns £230k a year. Nice.
Update: CRUK's child-centred propaganda appears to have bombed. The only national media that appear to have covered the story are i, the condensed version of the Independent, and the Express.