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Watch Chief Medical Officer's breathtaking performance (smirk)

Some things are beyond parody.

When I wrote yesterday about the Chief Medical Officer's appearance before the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, I was working from an agency report.

I hadn't seen the video that my colleague Angela Harbutt has now posted on YouTube. It's well worth viewing.

Apart from Dame Sally Davies' persistent smirk, there are two things that stand out.

One, when asked whether shock tactics on television and packaging works, she replied airily that the "evidence base was put in the consultation (on plain packaging)" before adding:

"I'd have to go back and check what it was."

In other words, although she was happy to imply that "shock advertising" does work, she was unable to say what the evidence is.

Now I accept that the CMO is a very busy person who has to address a lot of different issues, but this is pretty basic stuff. Has she not read the "evidence"? Surely she can remember at least some of it? Isn't that her job?

Two, after declaring that the "early signs" from Australia are that plain packaging is "successful in reducing cigarette smoking", she was invited to reveal the source of the evidence for her claim.

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. Her reply is truly breathtaking:

"I had dinner with the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health of Australia on Monday evening. She said ..."

"Is that scientific evidence?" asked a member of the committee, interrupting this no doubt fascinating anecdote.

"No," she continued, "I didn't claim it as evidence. I am very careful to wait until it has been properly evaluated, peer reviewed and published. I said there was early evidence, she said, that the purchasing [of cigarettes] looked as if it was responding [to plain packaging]. I am only reporting to you what I have understood as early evidence."


While making it clear that she had a personal opinion on the issue of plain packaging, Dame Sally said didn't want to prejudice the consultation by telling the committee what that opinion was.

Strange, then, that she managed to sneak in at least two comments that made it VERY clear that, as far as she's concerned, there is evidence that plain packaging with shocking images will reduce the consumption of cigarettes.

See 'highlights' of her appearance before the committee here. Watch it and weep.

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Reader Comments (8)

You said it Simon - what a performance Dame Sally Davies put up on there. Breathtaking and conclusive to say the least.

The next time any of us are asked why we do not believe the silly myth about second-hand smoke that is constantly hammered into us by the anti-smoking nuts , all we need to say is "I am only reporting to you what I have understood as early evidence."

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 17:07 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I resent paying this woman's no doubt grossly inflated salary. I feel the same way about the whole of the Department of Health. Why do we need a CMO at all? Surely it is a prime example of a post that could be cut without any negative impact on the nation whatsoever. In fact, based on this performance, it would be a great example of government saving us money and simultaneously improving our lives.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 19:39 | Unregistered CommenterIvan D

Struth - should she be allowed out on her own.....

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 20:19 | Unregistered Commenterjoyce

It saddens me that I live in an age here even Professors abandon scientific integrity. I used to work in Scientific research, I left to teach mathematics because of idiots like her. It's not just anti-baccy, the climate-change guys don't use Baconian methods either.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:02 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Look at her gestures: her hand wringing is telling, typical of liars.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 11:53 | Unregistered Commenterbenpal

I'm from Australia..... Why haven't I heard this early evidance?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 11:09 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Dearie me - how did she get to be Chief of anything?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 12:04 | Unregistered CommenterJenty

God help us! Democracy is dead along with civil liberties, people have not woken up to the fact that manipulation and control are the issue and not smoking. Our health nor the health of our planet interests anyone in power in the least. Dumbing down has worked beyond their wildest dreams now ignorance rules the day. Governments rule by creating fear or hope. So fear rules. In the past there was the devil to fear now it's smoking. Electric cars or cars that run on water are of no interest. Breathing polluted air is okay. Carcinogens in food and drink are acceptable. Who the hell do they think they're fooling? All of the people all of the time? Yes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 12:09 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Roth-White

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