…courtesy of the U.K. taxpayer, of course… the latest mad idea for wasting NHS cash, have you heard about this one? Free patches from the chemist for 1 week “to help smokers with their New Years Resolutions”! This despite the fact that numerous scientific reports into the long-term results for NRT prove it is no more successful than willpower alone, with a success range of 2% to 8% – all well within the normal placebo range, and therefore utterly useless. And it’s free only for a week, which is obviously no different from a free sachet of shampoo given away with a magazine. Since when is the U.K. taxpayer supposed to be footing the bill for free samples of useless drug company products? This would be a scandalous waste of precious resources even if there were public money to burn, but as it is… I mean, how many kidney dialysis machines could be bought for that, eh? It’s MENTAL.
Now, quite which government should have their soft, delicate parts jammed in a vice for this piece of out-and-out idiocy, I’m not too sure! Seems a bit soon to have been dreamt up by the new Lib/Con pact, so I suspect this may have been a last gasp of Gordon Brown lunacy but what really made me feel like throwing the sofa through the TV screen last night as this was announced on the BBC Evening News was the appearance of Deborah Arnott from A.S.H. (Action on Smoking & Health) describing this latest cash donation to drug company coffers as “brilliant”. If that moronic marketing ploy is brilliant, Arnott, my wee dog’s an astronomer.
Deborah Arnott’s only reservation, fellow taxpayers, is that it doesn’t go on for long enough. Yeah, you would say that, wouldn’t you Deborah?
Cash In On Smoking And Health
When will the BBC twig that A.S.H. are not REALLY a “Public Health Charity”, which is what they purport to be. If they were, then their decisions and actions would have smokers’ interests at their heart first and foremost, would they not? Yet this was proven to be completely untrue back when Allen Carr died, and Deborah Arnott claimed that specific success rates quoted by Allen Carr’s Easyway International Group were “plucked out of the air” and “basically made up.” Her comments referred to two independent studies conducted by eminent experts in the field of smoking cessation which had already been published in peer reviewed journals indicating a 53% success rate for Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Clinics after 12 months. She made these comments whilst on the BBC Radio 4’s “P.M.” programme during a piece looking back on the achievements of Allen Carr. The Easyway Organisation sued, and won because Arnott was completely wrong about that. A.S.H. were forced to make a public apology and pay costs. So, did that make the “public health charity” see the error of its ways, and start promoting Allen Carr’s now-proven method too, and not just drug company products?
No. They just published the obligatory apology and then continued to completely ignore the Allen Carr method, which proves what I, the Easyway Organisation and many others have been saying for years: that ASH is just a shop window for nicotine gum, patches, Zyban and Champix, and it has sod-all to do with public health! It’s just shameless promotion of largely-useless quit products dressed up as “healthcare”.
The Scandalous Strategy
You see, here’s how it works. Nicotine Replacement Poisoning was originally passed as if it were an effective quit smoking aid on the basis of its performance at just SIX WEEKS. The manufacturers were even allowed to put the performance rate at six weeks on the packaging, as if it were indicative of the actual long-term outcome, which it certainly is not. The NHS and the Department of Health currently measure the ‘effectiveness’ of the NHS Stop Smoking Services by the results at four weeks, and then stop following up. Using this clearly-inadequate evaluation method, they have routinely boasted ‘success rates’ of 55% (average around the country) rising as high as 90% in the case of South West Kent PCT (see document reproduced in the Evidence section of this website). Long-term results are never mentioned when these very short-term results are being trumpeted to promote the services, which is grossly misleading.
Yet we now know for sure – having examined the scientific reports into the long-term NHS results that we EVENTUALLY managed to get out of the DoH – that the real outcomes at one year are a miserable 2% – 8%, no different from willpower alone!
The defenders of this policy are now reduced to sheer bluff to fool the public, and this is how they do it. Any spokesperson from ASH, the NHS or the DoH will always begin by telling you how many people are killed by smoking every year – as if that fact had any bearing whatever on the performance of those services and products! It is a smokescreen (no pun intended), to give you the impression that this is so serious a problem that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE – even if it makes no difference whatever and costs a fortune. Then they will blithely assure you that “numerous scientific studies have shown…”, but without letting slip that those were all short-term studies and they create a very false impression. The long-term studies they will not mention at all, except perhaps the Ferguson report, which artificially manufactured a 15% success rate at one year by cherry picking: excluding 20% of the 1039 participants from the final evaluation on the basis of socio-economic factors. In other words, they excluded all those they thought were least likely to quit before they evaluated the results, making a nonsense of that 15% figure!
All this would be quite funny if it were not a massive waste of precious NHS resources, and a shameful waste of smokers’ time, encouraging them to bugger about with bogus products that don’t do anything useful really. No-one knows how much time any individual smoker has got, so wasting any of it is potentially life-threatening, Doc.
ASH & Co – and the BMA, the DoH, the Royal College of Physicians, people like Edzard Ernst et al. – are always banging on in a very smug and pompous fashion about EBM: “evidence-based medicines” which the rest of us know as “drug company products”. Yet we can see from all this that it doesn’t matter what the evidence actually IS! Again, it’s just a marketing ploy: evidence about Allen Carr’s genuine and very respectable SUCCESS is ignored by ASH, yet the clear evidence of NRT abject failure is also ignored, they continue to promote that by sneakily substituting very short-term evaluations to mislead smokers and taxpayers alike.
This is a national scandal. The plug should be pulled immediately and there should be a public enquiry into who is responsible for this outrageous attempt to hoodwink everyone. If those millions were being spent on something like a herbal remedy – something NOT manufactured by a drug company – and it showed a 94% failure rate, the very same people who are defending current the NHS policy would be screaming for the funding to be stopped immediately, and everybody knows it! How long is this madness going to be allowed to continue? I’ve been saying this now for THREE YEARS, and in that time the number of smokers attempting to quit has halved, but the amounts of public money being poured into this farcical NHS pantomime has rocketed from £51 million pounds a year to £84 million last year. Those resources should be spent on things the NHS is actually GOOD AT, and smoking cessation certainly isn’t one of those things, as the science shows very clearly now.
If that is not grounds for a public enquiry, I’d like to know what is!