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.
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.
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.