The Department of Stealth 2

After about six years of being on this quest to prove to the world that there is no such thing as “therapeutic nicotine”, we now find ourselves at a crucial point: the missing report.

NRT Doesn’t Work

The central premise of the Truth Will Out Campaign is that taxpayers’ money should not be wasted on Nicotine Replacement Poisoning because the long-term failure-rate is so high that it is obvious to anyone with half a brain that NRT is virtually useless, and smokers should not be encouraged by medical authorities to waste their time with it, especially since some of them might not have much time left to find a real solution.

In the Evidence Section here on the site, I reproduce documents from the Department of Health and the NHS which claim (short-term) success rates as high as 90% in one area, and a national average of 55%.  These reports are very likely to be read by the public because they are easy to access, as are others like them which clearly suggest that all the money spent on NRT is worthwhile investment in real success.  In truth, the long-term outcomes are so vastly different that the wide publication of one and the covering up of the other amounts to seriously misleading the public about the effectiveness of those services.

The Missing Report

We still cannot find, and the Department of Health have consistently failed to produce a copy of the only report they have ever commissioned into the long-term success rates of the NHS Stop Smoking Services, which we know was carried out by a team from Glasgow University in 2005.  This report is supposed to be the evidence which justifies the claim by the Department of Stealth that the long-term success rate is 15%.

We Do Not Believe Them!

Various independent studies (i.e. nothing to do with government) suggest that the real outcomes, for NRT particularly, are between 5% and 8%.   In 1992 the University of Iowa published a very wide-ranging study which put the figure for willpower alone at 6%, which does rather suggest that NRT is a total waste of taxpayers’ millions.  So we became very curious about this 15% figure, as it seems to be double the success rate others are finding!

freedom2choose

The freedom2choose organisation’s Belinda Cunnison recently started to press the DoH over a similar matter: the famous claim that smokers are “up to four times more likely to succeed” with NHS quit services, to see if they could discover if there was in fact any truth in that.  As a statement, it certainly conveys the impression that the services really make a difference.  A big difference, I mean, not just a tiny difference that would inspire nobody to take that route if they knew what the actual figures were, because they would almost certainly be wasting their time.

Four Weeks is Nothing

The ludicrous claims of up to 90% success are based upon self-report at four weeks.  Some smokers actually laugh out loud when I tell them that the NHS chalk you up as an official success if you tell them you haven’t smoked for four weeks!  That is a system of measuring ‘success’ which is obviously designed to make the services seem more effective than they actually prove to be in real terms, but the fact that the government waited five years before they even did a pilot scheme to look at the real, long-term outcomes is frankly inexplicable.

The apparent fact that they then buried the actual report, and are still refusing to produce a copy of it is damning.

So far, Belinda has sent a number of emails to the Department of Health asking for detailed information about the “scientific studies” that underpin the claim that you are “four times more likely to succeed” with the NHS.  If the University of Iowa’s study is accurate, then the NHS would have to achieve long-term outcomes of 4 x 6%, which is 24%.  They don’t claim that anywhere, but they do claim 15%.

The Failures of the DoH so far:

They have failed to send a copy of the report from which the 15% claim supposedly originated every time it has been requested, but they have promised to send it several times.  The first time it was supposed to be in an attachment, but there was no attachment.  Then there was an attachment, but it was the wrong report.  Twice they have promised to put a link to the report on their website, this has still not been done two months after it was first promised.

They have also failed to explain what the actual figures are behind their claim, but they do refer to a number of different reports which are supposed to be relevant.  (The report that they actually sent to us was not one of them, or at least it wasn’t the bit about success rates!)

Goodbye Barry Davis

Right up until this point, a chap called Barry Davis was handling this matter, and obviously not very well.  The latest reply to Belinda’s awkward questions comes from a different fellow, a Mr Cameron Gordon.  What is most interesting to me about his attempt to clarify “the Department’s position on these matters” is that he offers no details about the reports that are supposed to back up the claim that the real long-term outcome is 15%, but he does claim that the “inference” that can be made from the reports when taken together is that willpower alone would account for about 4% of quitters.  This seems to suggest that “up to four times more likely to succeed” is reasonable enough, as that would be 16%.  But then, and quite inexplicably he adds a new reference to:

“a very recent publication (2009) by Borland et al of a randomised controlled trial (which) shows ten-month abstinence rates of 6.5% in the treated group and 2.6% in the untreated group- this is of all patients who set a quit date, not just those who quit at four weeks.”

Hey Cameron, you should have quit while you were ahead! You just confirmed what I’ve been saying all along: N.R.T. has a failure-rate of 94%, and since the largest ever meta-study into the various ways of quitting put the figure for willpower at 6%, that proves it doesn’t work at all!

Now think about it, folks: Why on earth would Mr Gordon want to mention that?  Simple: because he knows, really, that the long-term quit rates are so low – and people are asking awkward questions about it now – the only way to defend that “four times more likely” statement is to find new studies that put the willpower (untreated) figures even lower than before!  That was what he was looking at when he included the reference to this new study – the 2.6% figure for willpower alone.  But he was too hasty, wasn’t he?  Because four times 2.6 is 10.4, and this study only found 6.5% at ten months.

Cameron, I still want to see the report you are hiding which the DoH claim found 15% success at 52 weeks.  Because it doesn’t add up, does it?  Borland et al say it’s really 6.5%, you just confirmed that yourself.

Truth Will Out was right!

Now look back at the homepage of this site: didn’t I claim that NRT failed 94% of smokers? How many people read that and assumed I was exaggerating, eh?  Not at all, according to Borland et al.  I was in fact bang on the button, and that’s because the whole nicotine tale is a lie, as I proved in my book Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was. Thanks, Cameron.  I appreciate your help.  Now when are you going to scrap NRT, and stop wasting taxpayers’ money on it?

UPDATE, 31.03.09:

Recently the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council’s Michael O’Sullivan sent letters to both the Department of Health and A.S.H. (“Action on Smoking and Health”, which is supposed to be an independent medical group concerned for the health of smokers, but is actually a shop-window for pharmaceutical quit products), enquiring as to their attitude to hypnotherapy and smoking cessation.  Anyone who has already read my views on this will know exactly what to expect from these corrupt liars, but given that Cameron Gordon knows all about Borland’s finding of a 93.5% failure rate in the treated group at ten months, and that the Department of Health were boasting ‘success rates’ of up to 90% using the four-week measure, what he has to say in reply to the GHSC is very revealing.

Just get a load of this slimy piece of spin, then tell me these people aren’t knowingly misleading the public – and to a degree that I would call criminal:

3rd February 2009

“Thank you for your letter of 23rd January about smoking cessation treatments.  I have been asked to reply.

The primary outcome measure for stop smoking interventions by NHS Stop Smoking Services is a client’s smoking status at four weeks from their quit date. Smoking status is usually verified by client report and by means of a carbon monoxide (CO) test, which measures levels of CO in the client’s expired air and reveals the effects of recent smoking activity.  Whilst relapse can, of course, take place after the four-week follow-up point, the relapse rates for smoking cessation are well documented in the research literature and highly predictable over time.”

Yes Cameron, they sure are. And the results show that the programme is an abject failure, isn’t it – which is why you ain’t quoting any actual figures at all at this point.  Am I not right?

“This means that given good quality four-week data, probable success rates at later time points, such as six months or twelve months, can be calculated with a high degree of accuracy.

Yours sincerely [sic]

Cameron Gordon (Customer Service Centre, DoH)”

Yeah – it’s 93.5% failure, isn’t it Cameron?  So why have you guys been lying to the public and pretending it was only 85% failure at 52 weeks?  You’ve all been seriously misleading the public about the effectiveness of those services, haven’t you?  Just as I said in the book.  This is corruption.  There’s no other word for it.  And smokers are using these services in good faith, quite unaware that you are wasting their time and taxpayers’ money, and some of them are dying as a result.

Here’s the kicker: A.S.H.’s “Research Manager” Amanda Sandford answered Michael O’Sullivan’s request with these words:

“ASH’s position is that we only recommend smoking cessation aids that have proven to be effective through clinical trials (preferably randomised controlled trials).”

Nicotine Replacement Poisoning was originally approved on its performance at six weeks.  That has nothing to do with how EFFECTIVE it is in reality.  ASH know this perfectly well, and because they know they are pushing products that have no real success, they constantly try to mislead the public into thinking that alternative methods like hypnotherapy and the Allen Carr method are similarly useless, and just hope everyone will assume they know what they are talking about, and must be honest because they are medical, “scientific” people.  Now read this, taken from the Easyway website:

27th November 2007

Today Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the public health charity has apologised to Allen Carr’s Easyway Organisation for unfounded comments made by its Director in November 2006.

In November of last year, Deborah Arnott, Director of ASH claimed that specific success rates quoted by Allen Carr Easyway were “plucked out of the air” and “basically made up.” She made these comments whilst on the BBC Radio 4 “PM” programme during a piece concerning the death of Allen Carr, founder of Allen Carr’s Easyway organisation.

Deborah Arnott’s 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.

See?  ASH aren’t really a public health charity at all, otherwise they would have immediately dropped NRT and adopted the Allen Carr method – as Allen Carr kept suggesting to the Department of Health right up until his death, in the interests of public health – but they never have.  Instead they paid the legal costs of the Allen Carr group, and have been pointedly ignoring them – and us – ever since.

Both ASH and the Department of Stealth are acting against public interests and they know that perfectly well, to serve the interests of the medical authorities and the drug companies, which have become one and the same.  It is corruption, plain and simple – it has absolutely nothing to do with science, clinical trials, evidence or public health.  SCANDAL. COVER-UP. CRIMINAL WASTE OF SMOKERS’ LIVES AND TAXPAYERS’ MONEY.  You are lying, smokers are dying, the drug companies are making a killing – and it’s time the killing stopped.

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