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More propaganda from Cancer Research 

I was on LBC shortly after seven this morning discussing the latest study from Cancer Research.

According to CRUK, the number of children who have taken up smoking has risen by 50,000 in just one year:

About 207,000 children aged 11 to 15 started to smoke in 2011, a sharp rise from 157,000 in 2010.

Curiously, these figures are not supported by the latest government research, unless there has been a huge increase in the number of 11-15 year olds.

According to Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2011:

... the 5% of 11-15yr olds considered regular smokers in 2011 is unchanged over 2010. The proportion of girls who are considered to be regular smokers actually fell from 6% to 5% in 2011. The proportion of 11-15yr olds who have never smoked increased from 73% to 75% (60% in 2005).

The NatCen Social Resarch report adds:

A quarter (25%) of pupils have tried smoking at least once. This represents a sustained decline in the proportion of pupils who have tried smoking and is lower than at any time since the survey began in 1982, when more than half of pupils (53%) had tried smoking"

In 2011, 5% of pupils smoked regularly (at least once a week). The prevalence of regular smoking among 11 to 15 year olds has halved since its peak in the mid 1990's - 13% in 1996."

This is a very different scenario to the one Cancer Research is trying to concoct. Either CRUK is wrong and is scaremongering, or the government figures are wrong.

If the government figures are wrong it suggests that recent government policy (bans on tobacco displays and vending machines, for example) have been a monumental failure.

Despite its own damning indictment of tobacco control policy, CRUK thinks it has the answer to the alleged increase in the number of children smoking:

Sarah Woolnough, executive director of policy and information at Cancer Research UK, said: "With such a large number of youngsters starting to smoke every year, urgent action is needed to tackle the devastation caused by tobacco.

"Replacing slick, brightly-coloured packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings is a vital part of efforts to protect health.

"Reducing the appeal of cigarettes with plain, standardised packs will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.

My question is this: if the display ban has failed to reduce youth smoking rates (as both government figures and CRUK's latest research suggests), why should plain packaging be any different?

Update: Not for the first time the media has fallen for CRUK's propaganda. See Child smokers: thousands more take up habit (Sky News), 207,000 children take up smoking , and 50,000 leap in child smoking: report (AFP).

The AFP agency report will of course go all around the world. Meanwhile, with the exception of the interview with me on LBC this morning, I've yet to hear (or read) a single word against CRUK's report.

Update: The BBC has the story here too – '570 children a day' start smoking, with brief quotes from me and the Tobacco Manufacturers Association.

Update: As I predicted, this story will go around the world – Organização pede mudanças em maços de cigarro proteger crianças – even though it's a gross misrepresentation of the true picture.

Always nice, though, to hear what I sound like in Spanish Portuguese:

Simon Clark, do grupo de lobby britânico Forest, que atua contra a adoção de restrições contra o fumo, reforça a visão de que não há indícios conclusivos associando a aparência do maço a uma redução no número de menores que fumam.

"Os principais motivos que levam adolescentes a começar a fumar é a pressão dos colegas e a influência dos pais, não a embalagem", disse.

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    Joy is the cologne you serve in some while not achieving small number of sheds attached to your spouse.

Reader Comments (11)

SW was interviewed on R4's 'Today' this morning spouting the figures. She was asked if, by 'taking up smoking' she meant that the children became regular smokers, she said that it did but the figures themselves were unchallenged.

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 8:31 | Unregistered Commenterjoyce

PS She also appeared to include 18 year olds within the definition of 'children' despite the fact that 18 year olds have reached the age of majority.

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 8:33 | Unregistered Commenterjoyce

If you inform the population you wish to sample that a particular product is bad for you, you are unlikely to get an honest answer to any research that you carry out concerning that product. This means that ALL data you collect is statistically invalid.

Furthermore health education messages are more likely to be taken up by the educated and affluent, thereby increasing the likelihood that any epidemiological study will merely show the gap between the health of the rich and the poor, and not that a particular product is either harmful or efficacious.

These "studies" should be filed under Science Fiction

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 8:47 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

"Reducing the appeal of cigarettes with plain, standardised packs will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.

Now why did I think as soon as I started reading this post that the figures would lead to this conclusion?

They are transparently childlike in their approach, and yet the MSM falls for it hook, line and sinker every time. I can only think that the MSM is either complicit in the machinations of TCI, or they are under pressure to adopt this editorial line. I can't honestly believe that they really take this stuff at face value. My kids used to try this type of persuasion all the time - it's part of learning how to get your own way in life - but by the time they were teenagers they had become much more subtle than CRUK appear to be.

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 9:00 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

"I've yet to hear (or read) a single word against CRUK's report."

then have a look at the comments under the article on the Telegraph web-site, Simon. Very few anti-smoking pussies commenting there, but plenty of critical comments, including some very thoughtful ones (I particularly commend those from poster "ianbb")

Anyway, this is just "CROOK" up to their usual tricks - no doubt under the guiding hand of Professor Robert "get yer press release studies 'ere" West, a most egregious and extremist example of the anti-smoking zealot masquerading as a bona fide epidemiologist.

From one of ianbb's Telegraph comments, it seems that CROOK have taken some very small numbers, tortured the data according to the perverse logic that so typifies the childish mentality of anti-smoking zealots and converted it into a whole population count. This is such an appalling distortion of the statistical method, that it isn't even worth debunking any more. It is just mindless propaganda, to provide a sound-bite just at the right time (ie when HMG are probably panicking over plain packaging).

CROOK did the same sort of thing in July 2008 - coinciding with the 1st anniversary of the smoking ban - which "showed" that 400,000 people had, miraculously, "quit" smoking in 9 months after the ban, and that, as a result, 40,000 lives had been saved!. But this "study" was produced for one purpose only - to provide a "good news" headline for the MSM on 1 July 2008. And it was, of course, just garbage (if that isn't being too unkind to garbage).

I did a little review of the 2008 CROOK study, which is still available in the F2C archive, if anyone is interested.

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 12:29 | Unregistered CommenterBrianB

Surely anyone with half a brain can work out CRook is lying? They really are desperate to steal industry from tobacco companies aren't they.

The question is - are our politicians stupid enough to believe them? Well, I did say anyone with half a brain and if Stephen Williams is any measure of intellect in the HoC then I'd say they'll be happy to accept any old lie because it fits their own bigoted prejudices.

Incidentally, on a radio debate with Sandford about the tobacco display ban ages ago. She was told that kids who never looked at displays before were now interested to see what came from behind the shutters and that might entice them to start smoking.

Her response appeared to be that ASH was happy to accept some collateral damage as long as they could get at the industry.

She accepted children would be curious about smoking because of it but said they'd get used to it. I wonder how many kids began because of the tobacco display ban. For sure ASH won't tell us and they don't seem to care that stupid unnecessary legislation creates child smokers.

It would seem they have driven kids to smoking but then they do need new smokers as much as the tobacco industry don't they?

If these figures are true - which I doubt - then it shows juts how useless all of their efforts are to date in stopping kids from smoking and that will get worse with Plain packaging. We know that when it comes in, child smoking will rise back to the figure of the 1960s but that really doesn't matter to CRooK and their mates because this is not about health or saving kids. It is about destroying an industry they despise and ensuring their fat salaries and funding continue.

We did warn them they were making smoking more attractive to kids but they marched on with the hate campaign anyway.

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 12:30 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

This morning, on Radio 5 Live, a 17 year old girl who started smoking at age 16, when asked why she started smoking, replied, after some jumbled comments about how the people who had cared for her as a child had smoked, that she thought she had become addicted to second hand smoke and thus moved on to actual smoking. Now, despite the fact she had phoned in voluntarily, she sounded both wildly confused and highly defensive. Is this what CRUK and ASH have done to the nation's youth? Or is she just a one off?

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 13:00 | Unregistered CommenterP T Barnum

Sorry, that isn't Spanish, it's Portuguese (quiet logical, since you're linking to a brazilian website).

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 16:42 | Unregistered Commenterbelsha

Oops, sorry!

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 17:08 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

I think you guys need to step up your media war with these people very soon, as their arguments are just ridiculous.

So despite smoking being illegal under 16, being illegal to purchase, the advertising ban, the smoking ban in indoor public spaces, the removal from sight of cigarettes from shop displays, pricing at £7 a pack, the public funding of millions and millions of pounds of anti-smoking education and ghoulish advertising campaigns - more kids are smoking!

It would appear to any reasonable person that the anti-smoking policies are utterly failing. We do not need more as existing evidence more than suggests it's a waste of time.

What we need to do is sack all these public funded "experts" and pseudo-charities and save ourselves the hard earned taxpayers money.

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 20:27 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

The biggest load of nonsense Ive ever read. Where on earth did CRUK dream up these figures ? They are not in the slightest bit believable.

The likes of Forest do need to step up their media war, the best line of defence is attack.

Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 20:08 | Unregistered Commentermark

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