Tell me lies about nicotine

by Chris Holmes

When I was growing up in the 1960s smokers did NOT think they were drug addicts. Smoking was a habit – perhaps a dirty one, but just a habit nevertheless – and the concept of nicotine replacement products like gum and patches did not exist. But the concept of nicotine replacement did!

The idea of substituting one form of nicotine for another was not conceived originally as ever leading to a saleable product to help people quit, but as “proof” that tobacco smoking was a drug addiction and that the “need” was specifically a need for nicotine. And it was not conceived by any special expert in addiction studies, but by a Scottish General Practitioner called Lennox Johnston.
Now I know that you’ve probably never heard of Lennox Johnston – hardly anyone has – but through the 1930s, 40s and 50s he was busy driving the British Medical Association mad by being well ahead of his time on the subject of tobacco and lung cancer. In 1942 he published an article in The Lancet which declared tobacco smoking to be the main cause of lung cancer, long before it was finally established as the truth in 1969.

The Medical Establishment don’t like being told things by underlings, and Johnston was by no means a member of the Establishment. He wasn’t even English, for God’s sake! So they weren’t going to listen to him or allow him to have credit for anything. He was repeatedly refused funding to conduct research into the link between smoking and lung cancer, which was given instead to Richard Doll and Bradford Hill.

Meanwhile Johnston was also experimenting with pure solutions of nicotine, regularly injecting himself with the stuff and twice nearly dying as a result because nicotine is extraordinarily poisonous even in tiny quantities. Later he assembled 35 “volunteers” who were habitual smokers and gave them regular injections of nicotine whenever they felt a desire to smoke. Some of them came, in time, to prefer the injection to the cigarette – just as we see some smokers, today, coming to prefer the vape stick to the cigarette, or the nicotine lozenge, or the mouth spray or whatever.

So: case closed! Nicotine is what smokers desire and any form of nicotine will do – right?

Trouble is, it doesn’t work. In January 2012, Harvard University published a study that confirmed my own published claims from five years before, namely that Nicotine replacement therapy DOESN’T WORK AT ALL. They looked at the success rates of all the nicotine products at the one year mark and found that the success rate (6%) was exactly the same a willpower alone. This is because smoking isn’t a drug addiction, it’s a compulsive habit.

Success with nicotine products

by Chris Holmes

A full eighteen months after Harvard University proved that nicotine replacement therapy “is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long term than trying to quit on one’s own”, we might wonder why smokers are still being prescribed these useless products at the taxpayers’ expense. This is no longer an “evidence-based” medicine – in fact it is not a medicine at all and never has been. There is no such thing as “therapeutic nicotine”.

“Therapeutic” means it does you GOOD!

Nicotine is a poison. All the effects of nicotine are toxic, but the drug companies that produce nicotine replacement products have been funding research for years now, trying to find another application for the products because they know it won’t be long before all smokers know it doesn’t work at all. Every now and then stories pop up in the press reporting that “research suggests” that nicotine patches “might be useful” for this, or “could be helpful” for that.

The problem with “research”

Let us not forget that it was “research” which suggested in the first place that nicotine replacement poisoning “might be” helpful to smokers. The trouble is, they only looked at the short-term effects. This is what passes for “science” nowadays because research like this is organised and funded by the companies that make the products, and all they’re after is a licence. So those short-term effects don’t have to be impressive, they only have to be slightly better than a control group using a placebo. This is easy to organise: you just run several groups at the same time, some with placebos and some with the product, using only small numbers of people within each group.

Cherry picking

Why small numbers? Because when you convert that number into a percentage later, you magnify it. Then you cherry pick both ways: you take the placebo group with the lowest number of successes, and the product group with the highest. The difference in real numbers of successes may be no more than a random anomaly really, but as soon as you convert both figures into percentages it looks like a very clear and positive result. Sometimes they even stop clinical trials early because they have achieved that already and they don’t want to blunder on long enough to run into nasty side effects or relapses that may occur in the long term. It is okay for the end-user to blunder into that sort of thing, but we don’t want it mussing up the trial data.

Exclusions

Did I mention that we exclude anyone from the trials who might be fragile in any way mentally or physically? Just in case they don’t respond very well or have a bad reaction that might mess up the trial and make the drug look dangerous. Of course the end-user isn’t protected by being excluded. Doctors will prescribe it with confidence to anyone, because they fondly imagine that it has been proven in the trials to be effective and safe. It hasn’t.

The truth about NRT

The cruel truth is that nicotine replacement products are still being fraudulently funded by public money and recommended to smokers because it creates the impression that the government is doing something about smoking but in reality it does not reduce the tobacco tax revenue by being effective in stopping people smoking. In fact that official endorsement legitimises a bogus product which can also be bought over the counter, and the government collect Value Added Tax (meaningless phrase that, isn’t it?) from the sale of those products. Also, promoting methods that actually work – such as hypnotherapy, for example – would save lives, meaning that more people would live to retirement age and start claiming a pension when there are frankly too many people doing that already…

The truth about the Department of Health

So that is why, when the science proved that every penny of public money spent on nicotine products is completely wasted, the government pretended not to notice, just as they did when their own research came to the same conclusions in 2005 (the Borland Report). I hate to break this to you, smokers, but your government doesn’t want you to realise that NRT doesn’t work because they don’t really want you to stop smoking. They want you to smoke, then try the nicotine gum, then smoke, then try the patches, then smoke, then try the lozenges, then smoke, then try the microtab, then smoke, then try the nicotine spray, then relapse into smoking again and hopefully this will have taken so many years that you ALMOST get to retirement age but not quite.

And then they want you to die. That is what “success with nicotine products” means to them.

NHS: Scrap NRT NOW!!

by Chris Holmes

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) was originally passed as if it were an effective medication on the basis of its performance at just six weeks.

Since 2001 the UK government has spent hundreds of millions of pounds every year on the free or subsidised provision of NRT through the NHS.

Many scientific studies have shown that willpower alone produces a long-term stop smoking success rate of anywhere between 2% and 8%.

In 2005 the government learned from the Borland Report that NHS Smoking Cessation Services had a long-term success rate of just 6.5%. This is well within the normal placebo range, proving that those methods don’t work.

Promoters of NRT then adopted the fraudulent tactic of selecting only trial studies with a particularly low success rate for willpower – such as 2% – for comparison with NHS Services, to make it look as if the 6.5% figure boosts smokers’ chances of success.

The Borland Report did the same thing: slyly comparing the success rate of smokers trying to quit with their doctor’s help (2.6%) with those going to the hugely expensive NHS Smoking Cessation Services (6.5%) and concluding: “Where suitable services exist, we recommend that referral [to NHS S.C.S.] become the normal strategy for management of smoking cessation in general practice.”

The Royal College of Physicians have actually argued that 6.5% is “cost effective” if you treat million of smokers, because then, even that puny percentage would clock up a few hundred thousand successes!  Barmy, eh?  Never mind the fact that we needn’t spend a dime on NRT because willpower clocks up the same result anyway.

In 2007 I published Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was (Volume I) – a book that blew the whistle on the NRT scam.

In 2009 I published the second volume, and meanwhile the cost of NHS Smoking Cessation Services rose to £84,000,000.  Just for that one year.

In 2010 my original claim that smokers’ cravings have nothing to do with nicotine was confirmed by research at the University of Tel Aviv.

In January 2012 my original claim that NRT has NO benefit was confirmed by research at the University of Harvard.

The Truth Will Out Campaign has been calling for the NHS to drop NRT since March 2008 because it doesn’t work at all.  The science backs this campaign but the BMA, the Department of Health, the MHRA, A.S.H. and N.I.C.E. all continue to recommend nicotine replacement products and public funding for them.  They are wilfully ignoring the facts.

My books made three controversial claims.  The first two claims have now been independently verified.  The third – that nicotine is not a drug at all, and that smoking is not drug taking – will inevitably be verified as well because it is all true.  But how many smokers have died since 2007?  More than half a million in the UK alone.  How many of them tried NRT on the advice of government and medical authorities, unknowingly wasting their precious time?

How much NHS cash has been wasted already on these bogus products since 2001?  Anybody’s guess, but since the Borland Report first gave the Blair government the bad news in 2005, it will certainly have topped £500,000,000 just in the UK.

IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THE CASH SHOULD BE DIVERTED NOW TO OPERATIONS AND EQUIPMENT THAT ACTUALLY WORK, PLEASE SHARE THIS PAGE ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK, ANYWHERE… NRT is a massive global con and YOU are paying for it.

Edzard Ernst, the Quack Professor, retires defeated!

by Chris Holmes

In a fawning interview extract from Zeno’s blog, the Professor Against Complementary Medicine announces his academic demise and threatens to become “really outspoken” against CAM therapies! HA HA HA HA HA!

What really makes me laugh about this latest evidence of his total loss of credibility – as well as his job, which he should never have had in the first place – is this astounding statement:

“The trouble is that it is relatively easy to get research funds if you have the reputation of being “sympathetic” to CM. If you are critical, it is much harder.”

Hmm! Is it really “relatively easy” to get research funds if you are going to be ‘soft’ on Complementary Medicine? Who FROM? Who are all these kind donors who are lining up to give universities funding for research into CM, but unfortunately for Ernst stipulate that he mustn’t be too critical? Can you NAME ANY, Prof.?

Or perhaps he was unconsciously referring to the £2 million he secured from Maurice Laing by pretending he was going to be fair and even-handed about CM? He claimed he wasn’t going to be “critical” or pro-CAM when he started out, but open-minded. After a while it became apparent that he was actually an anti-CAM zealot, and now nobody really wants to fund that project because anti-CAM zealots are really in quite a small minority. Nobody, that is, except perhaps drug companies but of course if they’ve ever provided any funding to Ernst’s project in the past they would have taken careful steps to make sure no-one noticed, and they wouldn’t want to fund it now because Ernst got a bit carried away and no longer has the sort of credibility he enjoyed for a while.

Has Ernst been beating around the bush in his previous assessments of alternative therapies then? Outspoken, eh? Yeah, you do that, Ernst. You become “really outspoken”. I’ve been saying you were a wolf in sheep’s clothing for years. Here’s the rope: you hang yourself, pal. The fact is you were never bright enough to quit while you were ahead, and now the only people who have any time for you at all are the other mindless zealots who don’t know anything about CAM therapies anyway, and that’s why you really lost your job – it has nothing to do with Prince Charles. Academics in the U.K. are not there by Royal Appointment, are they? And the Royal Family don’t have the power or influence to remove any of them either – what planet are you on? Nobody wanted to fund your little misinformation game any longer, and your University got sick of your unacademic, self-publicising media antics, as they were bound to in the end.

Go to America, where I’m sure there’ll be a cushy job for you. Take the PharmaDollar, and stop posing as an objective scientist!  You’re a joke.

the book that blew the whistle on the nicotine scam

related article 1

related article 2

Central Hypnotherapy

*Update, 4/8/11:  I couldn’t help laughing when I noticed that one of my centhyp tweets had been re-tweeted on 18th April by… none other than Edzard Ernst!  Since I have been very critical of him, he threatened to sue me and he was rather rude to me on skepticat’s blog, I was surprised he had done this… until I realised that he had not even bothered to check the link he re-tweeted.  If he had, he would have realised that it just led to a publishing website that sells my book!  So why did he re-tweet it?  Because before the link, I had written: “Why doctors don’t provide hypnotherapy”, which happens to be the title of one of the chapters.  Ernst must have glanced at that, assumed it was some anti-CAM argument and re-tweeted it as a knee-jerk decision based on his own over-zealous anti-CAM agenda… but without even bothering to check what it actually was!  VERY scientific, Eddie-boy!  Perhaps that says a lot about the way you’ve been conducting your “research” all along, eh?

By the way, if anyone doubts that anti-CAM zealots are in a pretty small minority, I think it’s very telling that one of their most celebrated and widely-published champions, Edzard Ernst, still only has 3166 followers on Twitter after 17 years of constant CAM-bashing!