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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

BUREAUCRATS SEEK ''TROPHY CONVICTIONS''

With the permission of our friends at the Canadian Constitution Foundation, we are posting this newsletter which you can also read right at their website at:  http://www.canadianconstitutionfoundation.ca/newsletter.php?newsletter_id=154

Bureaucrats seek 'trophy convictions'


Drop the pig and put your hands up in the air!




By Karen Selick, CCF Litigation Director

The National Post

The maxim “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” made sense back in the days when the only kind of acts that were illegal were genuine crimes that caused palpable harm to innocent victims: murder, rape, theft, etc.

But with the growth of the regulatory state, every individual is now subject to thousands of pages of densely written federal, provincial and municipal statutes and regulations. The law is also embodied in innumerable judicial decisions. And it’s all in continual flux: regulations are passed without parliamentary debate, and courts release new judgments daily.

There is probably not a single law professor, judge, or legislator in Canada who has even a passing familiarity with, let alone full comprehension of, all the laws we are required to obey. The average joe doesn’t stand a chance. We are all potential offenders every day, no matter how law-abiding we might wish to be.

Given this welter of law, how should those responsible for enforcing it conduct themselves? A legal battle unfolding in Ottawa provides a prime example of how not to do it.

Mark Tijssen is a major in the Canadian Forces. He grew up on a farm, attending livestock auctions and helping his father butcher animals for the family’s own table. He’s also a hunter who dresses his own game. And he has a University of Guelph degree in biomedical toxicology. In short, he can tell a healthy animal from a sick one. He’s concerned, like many Canadians, about the safety of commercially produced meats, especially since the Maple Leaf Foods episode of 2008 that left 21 dead and dozens of others seriously ill. He knows of the study showing that as much as 10% of the pork in Canadian supermarkets is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus germs.

Tijssen uses his farming and butchering skills to opt out of the commercial food supply. For years, he has inspected his own meat while still on the hoof, slaughtered it himself, and packaged it for later use. In November, 2009 he and a friend bought a pig, intending to share it.

But for unknown reasons, a neighbour reported to the Ontario government that Tijssen was running an unlicensed slaughterhouse on his property.

It’s perfectly legal to butcher your own pig and serve it to your immediate family in your own home. What’s not legal, as a result of new Food Safety and Quality Act regulations that quietly took effect in 2005, is letting someone else take home-butchered meat off the property.

It fell to conservation officer Graham Ridley of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to deal with Tijssen’s neighbour’s complaint.

Ridley could have phoned or visited Tijssen to make sure he knew about the 130-page regulation and warn him against violating it. A responsible person like a Canadian Forces major would surely have wanted to avoid getting into trouble with the law if he knew about it.

But instead, Ridley staked out Tijssen’s home for five full days in November 2009, watching from a tree-house on the neighbour’s property, waiting to see whether anyone would leave Tijssen’s property with meat. How gratifying it must have been when he finally saw the co-owner of the pig leaving with a box of pork. At last, a charge could be laid!

Ridley sprang into action, following the friend down the road and confiscating the pork.

Tijssen, on learning from his friend what had happened, telephoned Ridley the next day and acknowledged having butchered the pig. But faced with this golden opportunity of explaining the 2005 regulations to Tijssen, Ridley once again declined.

Instead, the following evening, after dark, Ridley raided Tijssen’s property accompanied by four police cars and two MNR trucks, lights flashing. Armed police officers searched the property painstakingly and carried off 14 articles of butchering equipment—evidence of Tijssen’s heinous offence—even though Tijssen had already acknowledged in the previous day’s phone call that he had killed the pig.

Tijssen now stands charged with four offences and theoretically faces penalties of up to $100,000. The MNR lawyers quickly offered him the chance to settle for a fine of only $8,000. They then reduced their demand to $2,000 and eventually to a paltry $1,000—not nearly enough to pay for officer Ridley’s five-day surveillance and the multi-officer raid, let alone their lawyers’ services

But Tijssen refuses to plead guilty and will be tried in February.

Meanwhile, one can’t help wondering: does the MNR really want compliance with the law, or trophy convictions to terrorize other unwitting citizens?

Friday, 24 December 2010

JOYEUSES FÊTES - HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Nous souhaitons des très joyeuses fêtes et une bonne année à tous nos lecteurs.


Pour l’occasion, nous vous offrons cet article de Pierre Foglia paru dans la Cyberpresse du 21 décembre qui décrit jusqu’à quel point on peut pousser la rectitude politique au sein d’une société qui cherche à plaire à tout le monde à tout prix.


Mon beau sapin






A very happy holiday season to all our faithful readers.

The following two of a series of articles were written by a friend of C.A.G.E., John Savage from the UK. Enjoy.

6,000+ Chemicals in Brussel Sprouts

A stark warning was issued earlier today by the charity Action against Relaxation, Socialising and Enjoyment (ARSE), concerning the lethal nature of the most traditional accompliment to the Christmas lunch - the Brussel sprout.

ARSE's chief scientific officer, Dr (bought off the internet) E Bonnie Kneeser-Scruge, stated, "As we all know, Brussel sprouts contain over 6,000+ chemicals. These include glucosinolates, sinigrin, progoitrin, glocobrassicin, carotenes, benzene acetonitrile, benzene propane nitrile, folates, 1-H-indole-3-acetonitrile, ascorbic acid, phenylthiocarbamide, goitrogens, benzene ethyl isothiocyanate and sulforaphane. One can hardly imagine what damage this lethal chemical mixture is causing to the health of the nation, especially to that of the children."

When challenged that she had only listed less than twenty of these 6,000+ chemicals, Dr (of Propaganda and Deceiving The Public) Kneeser-Scruge replied."As we all know, those 6,000+ chemicals are in Brussels sprouts. It's only a matter of using state of the art detection equipment, theorising or fabricating evidence to prove their existence. That is why we are urging the public to increase their donations to fund this vital research."

When challenged that ARSE was practically completely funded by government grants, Dr Kneeser-Scruge denied this, stating that the tax system was the most efficient means of collecting public donations.



Legal Age For Sitting On Santa's Lap To be Raised to 18

Anti-Christmas campaigners welcomed lifting the legal age for sitting on Santa's lap to 18. Government statistics show that 9% of young people aged 1 to 15 sit on Santa's lap, down from 13% in 1996. Most sit on Santa's lap in departmental stores. A trading standards survey in 2005 found that 12% of departmental stores were willing to allow children clearly under the current legal age of 16 to do so.

Deputy Health Secretary, Ima Killjoy, said, "Sitting on Santa's lap is dangerous at any age, but the younger people start, the more likely they are to become lifelong Christmas addicts and to die early.

"Someone who starts enjoying Christmas aged 15 is 3.12 (RR. 3.12, 2% CI: 0.00-6.24) times more likely to die of a Brussel sprout related condition than someone who starts in their late 20s. Enjoying Christmas has been too easy for under-16s, and this is partly due to retailers allowing them to sit on Santa's lap when blatantly under the legal age.

Dr Mercy Ree-Barstaad, director of ARSE (Action against Relaxation, Socialising and Enjoyment), welcomed the change but said the current fines on departmental stores were pitiful, with most given a verbal warning.


Monday, 20 December 2010

BELIEFS, MANIPULATION AND LIES IN THE TOBACCO ISSUE - Robert Molimard

English translation of the French original of this paper that was presented at a meeting of la Société d'Addictologie Francophone at the Sainte Anne Hospital in Paris on December 9, 2010, under the theme ‘’Truths, Lies and beliefs in regards to addiction’’ ("Vérités, mensonges et…croyances en addictologie’’). It will be published in the next issue of the journal ‘’Le Courrier des Addictions’’, organ of the SAF.

Translated by Iro Cyr with the assistance of Pr. Robert Molimard and Dan Romano

Disclaimer: In accordance with French law, Pr. Robert Molimard declares that he doesn’t have any competing interests with neither the pharmaceutical nor the tobacco industries.


Beliefs, manipulation and lies in the tobacco issue

Robert Molimard   

When contaminated by pesticides such as Gaucho ® or Regent ®, a bee becomes disoriented and can no longer find its hive or its wild flowers of choice. We cannot solve a problem if the messages are muddled. Undeniably, disturbing one’s sense of orientation and muddling communication hinders rational thought and behavior. Lies and manipulations are the weapons of choice for political and economic gains without regard for the well-being of people or the survival of the planet.

Tobacco manufacturers and merchants, the state, self-righteous non-profit organizations, the pharmaceutical industry - all powerful entities involved in tobacco issues - are ready to do anything to promote their own agendas. In a curious collusion, they all seem to be quite content with a general state of public confusion in which scientific truth has no place, and where the smoker, convinced of his own guilt, has become the apathetic victim.

The Tobacco Industry

As soon as the very first findings of the risks of smoking were publicized, the tobacco industry was quick to rebut these with misleading advertising.

Although some ads promoted the relaxing effects and social advantages of smoking, and even the glamorous aspect supposedly so seductive to women, other ads, however, specifically contested the negative health effects. During the period between the two world wars, in the United States where trade was not controlled by a Board of State as in France, many tobacco advertising posters were associated with doctors. For example:

‘’More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette’’; in a classic “argument from authority”, the ad encouraged people to follow the example of doctors, who must certainly know best.

Or in another ad where we find the caption "Not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels!" accompanied by the photo of an ENT with his stereotypical head mirror. They can’t possibly be dangerous when it is an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who says they are not.

And your doctor will go as far as prescribing L & M filter cigarettes: ‘’Just What the Doctor ordered’’. Instead of quitting smoking, they would even suggest that you switch to Philip Morris and in 3 out of 4 cases your cough will disappear! [1]

But the greatest success story in misleading tobacco advertising is the “light cigarettes” scam. On June 8, 1985, during the 3rd day of tobacco dependence I organized in Paris at la Faculté des Saints Pères, I had invited LT Kozlowski to give us a demonstration of the work he had done in Toronto with a smoking machine [2]. He explained that the amounts of nicotine and tar displayed on cigarette packs had nothing to do with the content in the tobacco itself. Moreover, tobacco contains no tar. It is formed during the combustion process. In other words, what the outcomes actually represented was the amount collected in the smoke when the cigarette was smoked by a machine under standard conditions. As for tobacco, it was virtually the same whether the cigarette was labeled heavy or light, based on the readings obtained from the machine. The big difference was made by the micro-perforations in the filter through which ambient air from the room can enter. Consequently, when the machine sucks the standard 35ml puff, if 30 ml enters through the perforations, the dosage relates to only 5 ml of smoke! All Kozlowski had to do is block the ventilation and change the setting on the machine to see the content multiplied by 22 for the reading obtained for 0.1 mg of nicotine and by 29 for that of tar. The smoker is perfectly capable of doing exactly that. Moreover, from determination of salivary cotinine in 2031 smokers of their usual cigarette, yielding from 0.1 to 1.mg of nicotine, Martin Jarvis calculated their real nicotine intake. He did not find any difference. Nicotine intake was about the same, irrespective of the machine-yield of the cigarette they smoke. (3)

The conclusion is clear and unequivocal: The smoker is not a machine. Yields reported are of no use in predicting the absorption of toxins. And yet, 20 years later, a European directive specified that as of January 1, 2004, contents (sic) for cigarettes should not exceed 10mg per cigarette for tar, 1mg for nicotine and 10mg for carbon monoxide. This 2003 directive is still in effect! It therefore becomes compelling to conclude that the EU endorses the light cigarettes deceit. I see only two possible explanations. Either the ‘’experts’’ who advise the EU are guilty of total incompetence and gross ignorance, or else they are moles of the tobacco industry. In any case, I personally have not been consulted and therefore plead not guilty.

The Medication Enterprises (Les entreprises du médicament)

Let us first of all acknowledge the change of name. It is neither innocent nor without reason. Formerly, it was known as the Pharmaceutical Industry, which is not a very reassuring name. Industry evoked factory chimneys belching black smoke. Pharmaceutical, springs to mind images of jars labeled “Poison’’ with a skull crossed in red. Enterprises on the other hand sounds dynamic, and evokes progress. As for Medication, it serves to heal, how can that not be beneficial? Is it a matter of a simple naive case for an enhanced image or a manifestation of the art of manipulation?

The big fraud in the tobacco issue was none other than the publication of the 1988 Surgeon General Report entitled “Nicotine Addiction’’. This fraud is incomprehensible unless one sees the link with the launch of the nicotine gum. The major premise of the Report seems to be a syllogism that states: “Tobacco products cause a powerful addiction’’ The minor premise is: “Tobacco contains a neurotropic poison - nicotine’’. Hence follows the conclusion: “Therefore nicotine is responsible for the addictiveness of tobacco’’. But there is no evidence that allows us to draw such a conclusion. A host of other assumptions are possible, and there are even major arguments to oppose it, such as the fact that no cases of nicotine dependence have ever been documented when this substance was used in isolation, as was already established long before the “Medication Enterprises” began marketing nicotine as a form of medication. This duplicity is more than amazing when you consider how common it is for addicts to experiment with the purified extracts of their plants of choice. Since no formal evidence of dependence to pure nicotine has yet to be produced, the conclusion that nicotine alone is addictive is not a syllogism, but rather, pure sophistry.

And yet, against all scientific rigor, this fallacy was implanted through repetition, hammered in as an unassailable truth, all with the support of health authorities and politicians. Thus the famous Fagerström test in the AFSSAPS good practice recommendations, continues to be called ‘’test for nicotine dependence’’. Yet not one of its 6 items even refers to it. This is simply a test for cigarette dependence and we would have no objection if it were referred to as such. Is this a minor detail? No, it is clearly an intentional mistake, extremely serious in its consequences both intellectually and scientifically. Because having arbitrarily decided that nicotine alone explains tobacco dependence and having it engrained in the minds of doctors, the authorities and the public, any research on the other possible factors of this dependency is now excluded in advance and a vast new market is made available for commercial exploitation by the pharmaceutical industry.

But a second manipulation, easy to debunk at least in theory, is also currently wreaking havoc: the big lie used as the basis of all repressive policies against smokers on the basis of passive smoking. As one would expect, they found popular support from non-smokers, forceful because they are now the majority, as well as among a number of smokers who considered that it would give them the incentive they required to rid them of their cigarette dependence. It is undeniable that the omnipresence of smoke was becoming increasingly intolerable and that regulation was necessary for the sake of non-smokers who had enough of the constant annoyance. But they had to find an argument that carried greater weight than simple inconvenience to non-smokers – the danger of other people's smoke to the health of nonsmokers. In 1990, Catherine Hill, estimated the annual deaths from passive smoking for France to be 1000, of which around one hundred were lung cancers. She noted that the margin of uncertainty becomes quite wide when dealing with estimates of such low impacts. In front of the Academy of Medicine, Pr. Tubiana in 1997 applied the considerable increase in cardiovascular risk of the U.S. assessment to France and estimated the death toll from passive smoking to be 2500, including 105 lung cancers. In 2005, without producing any specific study for France, Norman and Dubois reported 3000 deaths from passive smoking.

But these increases were still not sufficient to reach the critical level that would have made second hand smoke a serious public health problem warranting drastic measures. That’s when an international report made its appearance. Produced by four institutions, Cancer Research UK, European Respiratory Society, Institut National du Cancer and the European Health Network, announced, with great precision, 5863 deaths for France, quickly rounded to 6000 deaths for the press [4]. They had finally reached the level that was required to justify the measures that were quickly adopted in most countries. (Figure 1)

(Figure1) Reproduction of the table in the report ‘’Lifting the SmokeScreen’’ assessing mortality for France by passive smoking. It is broken down by age and exposure at home or at the place of employment, indicating separately the employment in the ‘’hospitality industry’’, including hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Moreover, deaths are calculated separately for the various causes - lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke and chronic respiratory diseases. None of these estimates takes into account statistical spreads.

But anyone who would had carefully read this report would have discovered that, with the utmost simplicity and dare I say nonchalance, the authors also showed separately the estimates for non-smokers thus revealing that smokers themselves were included in their total death estimates. In doing so,  they changed the definition of passive smoking itself! And suddenly, with only 1,114 deaths in non-smokers including 152 lung cancers, we almost went back to Catherine Hill’s estimate of 20 years earlier.''   When breaking down these 1114 deaths, it becomes unclear how a law banning smoking in public spaces can have any effect on 1007 of these 1114 deaths that relate to exposure at home, providing of course that the police are not permitted to break down your door with a ram to fine your smoking spouse. 107 deaths were attributed to exposure at work, and 6 of them to the special conditions for the hotels restaurants, bars and discos where the application of the ban was delayed by one year. (Figure 2)


Figure 2 .- Reproduction of the table in the report ‘’Lifting the SmokeScreen’’ assessing mortality for France by passive smoking among non-smokers. This is the only assessment that matches the traditional definition of passive smoking, ie ‘’non-smoking victims due to other people's smoke’’. The overall assessment comes from old data. The importance of exposure to the spouse’s second hand some at home is surprising, as is the weakness of death by exposure in the workplace, especially in the hospitality industry, where the consequences of the ban have had the biggest social impact.


Thus the authors have classified 4749 active smokers as victims of passive smoking using the specious argument that when smoking in their offices they also inhale the ambient air filled with their own smoke! I have previously produced a complete analysis of this outrageous report [5]. It obviously did not elicit any response. In my analysis, I pointed out that this report was presented at a conference held in Luxembourg on June 2, 2005, in the presence of the highest authorities of Europe, by the associations mandated to adopt it and under the sponsorship of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer precisely at the same moment as the launch of Champix ®.

But in terms of marketing, the operation is a failure. Indeed, not only have smokers, despite being stigmatized and persecuted, did not rush off to the pharmacies in response to the bans, but sales of all drugs known as ‘’nicotine replacement therapy’’ are plummeting. And this notwithstanding the intense indirect television advertising that should in fact be banned since in France it is not permitted to advertize for medication that is reimbursed by social security. One has to be blind not to see through their hardly veiled scheme that these ads make smokers aware of the drugs that are eligible for reimbursement so they can insist that their doctor prescribes those particular drugs to them.

But the major concern for anyone who really cares about the health of smokers, is that such drastic measures are counterproductive to smoking cessation. The official sales of tobacco increased while the smuggling figures do not show any reduction. The prevalence of smoking among youth is increasing. Smoking cessation consultations are increasingly abandoned by their clients. The Diplomas of Tobacology no longer attract any students. In defense of their proper identity, smokers now sink into themselves and shut themselves off in a way that public health messages [6] can no longer reach them.

The Anti-Tobacco Crusaders

These activists have abandoned logical reasoning and replaced it with faith and passion. Anything goes when it comes to pursuing the triumph of their such “good cause’’, and “white lies’ are a perfectly acceptable tool.  Any open debate and any valid scientific research is therefore precluded. We do find of course some pure idealists, survivors of former “virtuous movements’’ among them. Be that as it may, there are unfortunately a great number of self-interested do-gooder apostles fueling and exploiting to their advantage this blind militant force in an effort to assert their own power and fame, not to mention more tangible benefits.

For these knights of purity, tobacco is the absolute evil, the devil. It must be eliminated, eradicated. At the very least, it must be hidden or sold “under the counter’’, much like porn magazines (sic). The tobacco industry is diabolical. It must be destroyed, made to disappear, bankrupted through litigation.

The problem is that if the tobacco industry exists it is because it responds to a demand. If tobacco has spread around the world since Christopher Columbus, during an era when there was no other means of advertising than word of mouth and when tobacco was cultivated by primitive means, it is because there is something attractive about the product that causes people to crave for it. The industry responded to the demand, it did not create it. If the industry were to disappear, the demand would remain and would require to be fulfilled. And it would be fulfilled. Multinationals would be investing their money in tax havens, where they would fund an offshore production in some underdeveloped nation. Cigarettes would be distributed through organized criminal networks, fueling underground commerce and auxiliary crimes in the process. No quality control could ever be achieved. Control could only be dealt with through the police and corruption would inevitably creep in. For these reasons, the fundamentalist anti-tobacco crusaders are a true danger to social balance and public health.

As for the smoker, he is seen as someone possessed by the devil. He must be pursued, hunted down to his last hide-out, even in his own home. The smoker loses the ordinary rights of ownership and freedoms within his own home. Already in the U.S. smokers are increasingly denied rental housing. Moreover, in the spirit of good Judeo-Christian morality, he must be punished by where he has sinned. Let his vice cost him and ruin him. Let us therefore increase the price of cigarettes and rolling tobacco. For decades, we have been served a lie, with no tolerance for any criticism or challenge, namely: that the only effective method to reduce smoking prevalence is to increase the price of cigarettes. But since it does not work, they allege that it is because the increases are neither high enough nor frequent enough! But just as with their tactic of stigmatization of smokers, the high-price policy does not work.

That is where the real failure lies. One could always be tempted to defend such a policy if its success outweighed its serious adverse effects. Effects that destroy the individual, the HUMAN-slave to cigarettes. It sinks him into poverty and social exclusion, pushing him into more dangerous smoking behaviors. But it does not exorcise the demon of addiction.

They attempt to justify these dehumanizing policies by referring to large statistics with abstruse mathematical models [7]. However, if any of these policies were truly effective one would think that after 30 years of applying them worldwide we should be noticing their effects. Smoking prevalence should be lower in places where the prices are high. Comparing the 27 countries of the European Union for smoking prevalence according to price, and after adjusting for purchasing power, we should be able to calculate a significant regression line with a nice negative slope. I drafted this graph based on 2009 [8,9] data. The result is not debatable. We observe a cloud of dots, there is no significant correlation, and to add mockery to injury, the calculated regression line shows a positive slope! (Figure 3)

Figure 3 – Distribution of smoking prevalence in the EU in 2009 according to the price of the most popular brand of cigarettes (Marlboro ® ) adjusted for purchasing power. 


Science can only progress if we learn from its mistakes. What is truly diabolical is keeping our eyes tightly shut and manufacturing the results to best serve our own interests and obsessions!


References

1.- The University of Stanford website contains an important collection of cigarette advertizing images that can be downloaded from http://lane.stanford.edu/tobacco/index.html

2.- Kozlowski LT, Rickert WS, Popo MA, Robinson JC. Estimating the yields to smokers of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide from the "lowest-yield" ventilated-filter cigarettes. Br. J. Addict. 1982b, 77 : 159-65

3.- Jarvis MJ, Boreham R, Primatesta P, Feyerabend C, Bryant A. Nicotine yield from machine-smoked cigarettes and nicotine intakes in smokers: evidence from a representative population survey .J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001 Jan 17;93(2):134-8.

4.- Lifting the smokescreen, 10 reasons for a smokefree Europe .www.ersnet.org

5.- Molimard R. Le rapport européen "Lifting the smokescreen: Etude épidémiologique, ou manipulation? Revue d'Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique, (2008) 56 ;(n°4): 286-90

6.- Falomir, J. M., Mugny, G. (2004) Société contre fumeur, Une analyse psychologique de l’influence des experts. Grenoble : Presses Universitaires de Grenoble

7.- Ross H, Blecher E, Yan L, Hyland A. Do cigarette prices motivate smokers to quit? New evidence from the ITC survey. Addiction. 2010 Nov 9. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03192.x. [Epub ahead of print]


9.- The 2009 prices of a pack of 20 Marlboro cigarettes in 27 countries of the EU adjusted for purchasing power, according to http://www.cancer.be/images/journaliste/Communique-de-presse-taxation-tabac-100929.pdf

Saturday, 11 December 2010

CROYANCES, MANIPULATIONS ET MENSONGES EN MATIÈRE DE TABAC

Le professeur Robert Molimard fut l’invité de la Société d’Addictologie Francophone qui tenait une réunion sur le thème « Vérités, croyances et mensonges en Addictologie » à l’Hôpital Sainte-Anne à Paris le 9 décembre dernier.

Avec l’aimable permission du professeur, nous reproduisons ici le texte intégral de sa présentation. Vous trouverez cet exposé accompagné des fichiers audio et Power Point, dont nous vous recommandons fortement de consulter, dans son site Tabac Humain.


Croyances, manipulations et mensonges en matière de tabac

Robert Molimard

Contaminée par un pesticide comme le Gaucho® ou le Régent®, une abeille perd ses repères et ne peut retrouver ni sa ruche ni ses champs de fleurs favoris. On ne peut résoudre un problème si les messages sont brouillés. Perturber les repères, brouiller la communication
s'oppose aux comportements et adaptations rationnels. Mensonges, manipulations, sont les armes favorites pour accroître sans limites le pouvoir économique et politique et le profit, sans aucun égard pour le bien-être des populations ou la survie de la planète.

Fabricants et vendeurs de tabac, Etat, ligues de vertu, industrie pharmaceutique, toutes ces forces en œuvre dans le domaine du tabac sont prêtes à tout pour faire triompher leur intérêts ou leurs passions. Dans une curieuse collusion, elles semblent se satisfaire d'une confusion où la vérité scientifique n'a pas sa place, et où le fumeur est en fin de compte une victime complice.

Les tabagiers

Dès les premières informations sur le risque à fumer; ils ont été prompts à les combattre par des publicités mensongères. Certes les affiches vantaient la détente, la convivialité de la cigarette, l'aspect glamour pour séduire les femmes. Mais certaines étaient une négation des effets délétères sur la santé. Dans l'entre deux-guerres, aux USA où le commerce n'était pas encadré par une Régie d'Etat comme en France, on voyait parmi celles qui fleurissaient les murs les appels au médecin. "Beaucoup de médecins fument des Camels plutôt que toute autre cigarette". Argument d'autorité, poussant à les imiter. "Pas un seul cas d'irritation de la gorge en fumant des Camels". Elles ne peuvent être dangereuses, puisqu'un ORL avec son miroir frontal vous le dit. Et votre docteur va jusqu'à vous prescrire la cigarette filtre L&M :"just what the doctor ordered". Plutôt qu'arrêter de fumer, on va même jusqu'à vous suggérer de passer aux Philip Morris, et dans 3 cas sur 4 la toux disparait![1]

Mais leur plus belle réussite est l'arnaque des cigarettes légères. Le 8 juin 1985 lors de la 3e journée de la dépendance tabagique à Paris à la Faculté des Saints Pères, j'avais invité L.T. Kozlowski. Il venait nous exposer ses travaux menés à Toronto avec une machine à fumer[2]. Il expliquait que les quantités de nicotine et de goudron affichées sur les paquets de cigarettes n'étaient pas des teneurs du tabac. D'ailleurs le tabac ne contient pas de goudron, formé lors de sa combustion. C'étaient des rendements, c'est-à-dire les quantités recueillies dans la fumée lorsque la cigarette était fumée par une machine dans des conditions standard. Quant au tabac, il était pratiquement le même, que la cigarette soit étiquetée forte ou légère en fonction de ces rendements. La grande différence tenait aux micro-perforations au niveau du filtre, par où peut pénétrer l'air de la pièce. Si bien que lorsque la machine aspire la bouffée standard de 35ml, si 30ml entrent par ces perforations, le dosage ne porte que sur 5 ml de fumée! Mais il a suffi à Kozlowski d'obturer cette ventilation et de modifier les paramètres de réglage de la machine pour multiplier par 22 le rendement affiché de 0,1mg de nicotine et par 29 celui de goudron. Le fumeur est parfaitement capable d'une telle performance. D'ailleurs, dans un travail sur 2031 fumeurs, M. Jarvis[3] a calculé à partir de l'élimination de cotinine la quantité de nicotine réellement absorbée, et n'a trouvé aucune différence quels que soient les rendements affichés, de 0,1 à 1mg.

La conclusion est nette et sans appels: Le fumeur n'est pas une machine. Les rendements affichés n'ont aucun intérêt pour prévoir son absorption de toxiques. Pourtant, 20 ans plus tard, une directive européenne spécifiait qu'à compter du 1 janvier 2004, les teneurs (sic) maximales pour les cigarettes seraient de 10mg par cigarette pour le goudron, 1mg pour la nicotine et 10mg pour l'oxyde de carbone. Cette directive 2003 est encore en vigueur! Force est donc de constater que l'Union Européenne cautionne la duperie des cigarettes légères. Je n'y vois que deux explications. Ou bien les "experts" qui conseillent l'UE sont d'une incompétence majeure et d'une ignorance crasse. Ou bien ce sont des taupes de l'industrie tabagière. En tous cas, personnellement, je n'ai pas été consulté et plaide non-coupable.

Les entreprises du médicament

On appréciera d'abord le changement sémantique. Ce n'est ni innocent ni gratuit. Naguère, c'était l'Industrie Pharmaceutique. Rien de rassurant. Industrie évoquait des cheminées d'usine crachant des fumées noires. Pharmaceutique, c'étaient des alignées de bocaux marqués "Poison", avec des têtes de mort barrées d'une croix rouge. Tandis qu'Entreprise, c'est dynamique, cela sent le progrès, et Médicament, c'est pour guérir, ce ne peut qu'être bénéfique. Simple naïve question d'image? Ou manifestation de l'art de la manipulation?

Car la grande imposture en matière de tabac a été la publication du rapport 1988 du Surgeon General. De façon strictement incompréhensible, si l'on ne fait pas la relation avec le lancement sur le marché de la gomme à la nicotine, il a été intitulé "Nicotine Addiction". La prémisse majeure de ce qui semblerait un syllogisme est : "Le tabac crée une puissante addiction'. La prémisse mineure : "Le tabac contient un poison neurotrope, la nicotine" D'où découle la conclusion : "Donc la nicotine est responsable de l'addiction au tabac". Mais on ne peut d'évidence tirer une telle conclusion. Une foule d'autres hypothèses sont possibles, il y a même des arguments majeurs à lui opposer, ne serait-ce qu'aucun cas de dépendance à la nicotine seule n'a été décrit depuis l'isolement de cette substance, bien avant sa commercialisation médicamenteuse. Cela ne manque pas d'étonner quand on sait la propension des toxicomanes à explorer les extraits purifiés de leurs plantes favorites. Il ne s'agit donc pas d'un syllogisme, mais d'un pur sophisme, car aucune preuve formelle de dépendance à la nicotine seule n'a encore été apportée.

Et pourtant, contre toute rigueur scientifique, ce sophisme s'est implanté, à force d'être répété, matraqué comme une vérité première, avec le support des autorités sanitaires et politiques. Ainsi le célèbre test de Fagerström, dans les recommandations de bonne pratique de l'AFSSAPS, continue-t'il à être dénommé :"Test de dépendance à la nicotine". Pourtant, aucun de ses 6 items ne lui fait référence. C'est un test de dépendance à la cigarette, c'est tout, et l'on n'aurait rien à redire s'il se dénommait ainsi. Est-ce un détail? Non, c'est une faute, clairement intentionnelle, intellectuellement et scientifiquement gravissime par ses conséquences. Car avoir décidé ainsi, imprimé dans l'esprit des médecins, des autorités et du public que la nicotine à elle seule expliquait la dépendance au tabac exclut à l'avance toute recherche sur les facteurs de cette dépendance, et livre à l'industrie pharmaceutique tout un champ, désormais libre, d'exploitation commerciale.

Mais une deuxième manipulation, pourtant théoriquement facile à démonter, fait actuellement ses ravages: l'énorme mensonge à la base de toutes les politiques répressives à l'encontre des fumeurs au nom du tabagisme passif. Elles ont trouvé, et c'est normal, un soutien populaire d'autant plus efficace que les non-fumeurs sont en majorité, et que beaucoup de fumeurs ont pensé que cela pourrait les aider à se débarrasser du lourd fardeau de leur dépendance à la cigarette. Il est vrai aussi que l'omniprésence de la fumée devenait de plus en plus intolérable et qu'une régulation s'imposait, au nom du droit des non-fumeurs à ne pas être constamment incommodés. Mais il fallait trouver un argument d'un plus grand poids, le risque que faisait courir la fumée des autres à la santé des non-fumeurs. En 1990, Catherine Hill l'évaluait à 1000 décès annuels pour la France, dont une centaine de cancers du poumon. Elle faisait remarquer la large marge d'incertitude quand on veut apprécier des incidences aussi faibles. Devant l'Académie de Médecine, M. Tubiana montait en 1997 l'évaluation à 2500 décès, dont 105 cancers du poumon. Il transposait ainsi à la France la considérable hausse du risque cardiovasculaire dans l'évaluation américaine. En 2005, sans étude particulière pour la France, Norman et Dubois y annonçaient 3000 décès.

Mais ces hausses ne suffisaient pas à faire atteindre le niveau critique qui aurait fait de la fumée passive un grave problème de santé publique justifiant des mesures drastiques. C'est alors que parut un rapport international. Produit par quatre institutions, Cancer Research UK, European Respiratory Society, Institut National du Cancer et European Hearth Network, il annonçait avec grande précision pour la France 5863 décès, vite arrondis pour la presse à 6000 décès[4]. On atteignait enfin un niveau justifiant les mesures qui furent vite adoptées dans la majorité des pays. (figure 1)


Figure 1.- Reproduction du tableau du rapport "Lifting the SmokeScreen" évaluant pour la France la mortalité par tabagisme passif. Elle est ventilée selon l'âge et l'exposition à domicile ou au travail, en individualisant le travail dans "l'industrie de l'hospitalité", à savoir hôtels, restaurants, bars et discothèques. Sont calculés séparément les décès par cancer du poumon, affections cardiovasculaires, attaques cérébrales et affections respiratoires chroniques. Aucune de ces évaluations ne prend en compte la dispersion statistique

Mais la lecture de ce rapport révélait une énormité: le changement de la définition du tabagisme passif. Car, avec une grande naïveté, voire désinvolture, les auteurs donnaient aussi leurs évaluations chez les non-fumeurs! Et là, avec 1114 décès dont 152 cancers du poumon, on revenait à peu près à l'évaluation de Catherine Hill 20 ans auparavant. Mais, dans le détail, sur ces 1114 décès, on voit mal comment une loi interdisant de fumer dans les espaces publics pourrait avoir quelque efficacité sur les 1007 de ces 1114 décès liés à une exposition à domicile, tant que la police ne serait pas autorisée à défoncer votre porte au bélier pour verbaliser votre conjoint. 107 décès étaient attribués à une exposition au travail, et 6 d'entre eux aux conditions spéciales des hôtels restaurants, bars et discothèques où l'application de l'interdiction avait été retardée d'un an. (figure 2)

Figure 2.- Reproduction du tableau du rapport "Lifting the SmokeScreen" évaluant pour la France la mortalité par tabagisme passif chez les non-fumeurs. C'est la seule évaluation qui corresponde à la définition traditionnelle du tabagisme passif, à savoir les "non-fumeurs victimes de la fumée des autres". L'évaluation globale correspond à des données anciennes. L'importance de l'exposition à domicile au tabagisme du conjoint est surprenante, ainsi que la faiblesse des décès par exposition au travail, en particulier dans l'industrie de l'hospitalité, où les conséquences de l'interdiction ont amené les plus importants bouleversements des habitudes sociales.
Ainsi les auteurs ont classé 4749 fumeurs actifs comme victimes du tabagisme passif sous l'argument spécieux que, fumant dans leur bureau, ils en respiraient l'air qu'ils venaient d'enfumer! J'ai fait une analyse complète de ce rapport[5] scandaleux. Elle n'a évidemment suscité aucun écho. J'y faisais qu'il a été présenté lors d'une conférence tenue à Luxembourg le 2 juin 2005, en présence des plus hautes autorités de l'Europe, par les associations mandatées pour l'établir, sous le parrainage de GlaxoSmithKline et Pfizer, justement à l'occasion du lancement du Champix®.

Mais l'opération est ratée sur le plan du marketing. En effet, non seulement les fumeurs, stigmatisés et pourchassés, ne se sont pas précipités vers les pharmacies en réponse aux interdictions, mais les ventes de tous les médicaments dits "de sevrage tabagique" sont en chute libre. Et ceci malgré une intense publicité télévisée indirecte qui devrait être interdite, car il est cousu de fil blanc que le fumeur saura quel médicament, remboursé par la sécurité sociale, il lui faudra insister pour que son médecin le lui prescrive.

Mais le plus grave, pour qui se préoccupe de la santé des fumeurs, est que ces mesures drastiques se montrent contreproductives vis-à-vis du tabagisme. Les ventes officielles de tabac augmentent, sans que baisse la contrebande. La prévalence du tabagisme des jeunes s'accroît. Les consultations de tabacologie sont désertées. Les DIU de tabacologie n'attirent plus les étudiants. Par défense identitaire, les fumeurs se replient dans un "tabagisme retranché". Ils deviennent inaccessibles aux messages de santé publique.[6]

Les Croisés anti-tabac

On quitte le raisonnement logique pour la foi et la passion. Tout est bon pour faire triompher "la bonne cause", y compris le "pieux mensonge ". Tout débat, toute recherche scientifique sont donc "pré-clos". Parmi eux, il est évidemment de purs idéalistes, survivants des militants des anciennes "ligues de vertu". Mais il est hélas beaucoup de bons apôtres qui attisent et exploitent à leur profit cette force militante aveugle, pour asseoir un pouvoir ou une
notoriété, voire des avantages plus concrets.

Pour ces chevaliers de la pureté, le tabac est le mal absolu, le diable. Il faut l'éliminer, l'éradiquer. Au moins, le cacher, voire le vendre "sous le comptoir", comme les revues porno (sic). L'industrie tabagière est satanique. Il faut la détruire, qu'elle disparaisse, la ruiner par des procès.

Le problème est qu'elle existe parce qu'elle répond à une demande. Si le tabac s'est répandu dans le monde entier depuis Christophe Colomb, c'est parce qu'il a su la susciter, alors qu'il n'y avait d'autre possibilité publicitaire que le bouche à oreille, que sa culture était artisanale. L'industrie est née de cette demande, elle ne l'a pas créée. Si l'industrie disparaissait, la demande demeurerait, exigerait d'être satisfaite. Elle le serait. Les multinationales placeraient leurs capitaux dans des paradis fiscaux, d'où ils financeraient une production délocalisée dans quelque contrée africaine. Les cigarettes seraient distribuées par des circuits mafieux de contrebande, alimentant la délinquance. Plus aucun contrôle de la qualité des produits ne pourrait être réalisé. La répression ne pourrait être que policière, et la corruption s'organiserait. Ces intégristes sont des gens dangereux pour l'équilibre social et la santé publique.

Quand au fumeur, ils le voient eux possédé du démon. Il faut le pourchasser, le traquer dans ses derniers retranchements, même chez lui. Qu'il n'ait même plus de chez lui, et déjà aux USA certains fumeurs se voient refuser la location de logements. De plus, en bonne morale judéo-chrétienne, il faut qu'il soit puni par où il a péché. Que son vice lui coûte et le ruine. Augmentons donc le prix des cigarettes, puis du tabac à rouler. Depuis des décennies, on nous assène un mensonge, sans tolérer la moindre critique: la seule méthode efficace pour faire baisser le tabagisme serait d'augmenter le prix des cigarettes. Comme c'est inefficace, on dit que ce n'est ni assez souvent, ni assez fort ! Mais pas plus que la stigmatisation, la politique de prix élevés ne marche pas.

C'est là sa véritable faille. On pourrait la défendre si son efficacité compensait ses graves effets pervers. Car elle détruit l'individu, l'HOMME- esclave de la cigarette: Elle l'enfonce dans la pauvreté, l'exclusion sociale, le pousse à des comportements de fume plus dangereux. Mais elle n'exorcise pas le démon de la dépendance.

De grandes statistiques avec des modèles mathématiques abscons veulent la justifier[7]. Pourtant, si une d'une telle politique était efficace après 30 ans d'application dans le monde, on devrait en voir les effets. La prévalence du tabagisme devrait être plus faible là où les prix sont élevés. En comparant dans les 27 pays de l'Union Européenne la prévalence en fonction des prix, évidemment corrigés en fonction du pouvoir d'achat, on devrait pouvoir calculer une droite de régression significative avec une belle pente négative. J'ai établi ce graphique à partir de données de 2009[8] [9]. Le résultat est sans appel. Nous obtenons un nuage de points, il n'existe aucune relation significative, et même, véritable pied de nez, la droite de régression calculée a une pente positive! (figure 3)

Figure 3.- Distribution de la prévalence du tabagisme dans les 27 pays de l'Union Européenne en 2009 en fonction du prix de la cigarette la plus vendue (Marlboro ®) corrigé en fonction du pouvoir d'achat.

La science ne peut progresser que si l'on reconnait ses erreurs. C'est se voiler la face, truquer les résultats en fonctions de ses intérêts ou de ses passions qui est diabolique.


[1] L'Université de Stanford publie une considérable collection de telles affiches téléchargeables sur http://lane.stanford.edu/tobacco/index.html
[2] Kozlowski LT, Rickert WS, Popo MA, Robinson JC. Estimating the yields to smokers of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide from the "lowest-yield" ventilated-filter cigarettes. Br. J. Addict. 1982b, 77 : 159-65
[3] Jarvis MJ, Boreham R, Primatesta P, Feyerabend C, Bryant A. Nicotine yield from machine-smoked cigarettes and nicotine intakes in smokers: evidence from a representative population survey .J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001 Jan 17;93(2):134-8.
[4] Lifting the smokescreen, 10 reasons for a smokefree Europe .www.ersnet.org
[5] Molimard R. Le rapport européen "Lifting the smokescreen: Etude épidémiologique, ou manipulation?
Revue d'Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique, (2008) 56 ;(°4): 286-90
[6] Falomir, J. M., Mugny, G. (2004) Société contre fumeur, Une analyse psychologique de l’influence des experts. Grenoble : Presses Universitaires de Grenoble
[7] Ross H, Blecher E, Yan L, Hyland A. Do cigarette prices motivate smokers to quit? New evidence from the ITC survey. Addiction. 2010 Nov 9. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03192.x. [Epub ahead of print]
[8] Prévalences Europe 2009 selon http://ec.europa.eu/health/tobacco/docs/ebs332_en.pdf
[9]Prix en 2009 d'un paquet de 20 cigarettes Marlboro dans les 27 pays de l'union corrigé par le pouvoir d'achat, selon http://www.cancer.be/images/journaliste/Communique-de-presse-taxation-tabac-100229.pdf

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

C’EST LE GROS BON SENS QUI A GAGNÉ – Nicolas Girard, député


En novembre 2007, nous avons exprimé dans ce blogue ainsi qu’à nos élus que nous étions contre la baisse du taux d’alcool permissible au volant à 0,05. Nous avons plutôt favorisé des sanctions plus sévères aux récidivistes et à ceux qui font des grands excès de vitesse.

Nous avons aussi amplement exprimé notre désaccord avec le port de casque protecteur obligatoire.

À notre très grande satisfaction, le gouvernement Charest a décidé de laisser tomber la baisse de la limite légale d'alcool à 0,05. En accord avec notre opinion, ils vont plutôt se concentrer sur une surveillance plus accrue et sur des sanctions plus sévères pour les récidivistes. Tant qu’au port du casque de vélo, ils ont opté pour une plus grande sensibilisation, en accord une fois de plus avec notre point de vue.

Les raisons officielles évoquées relèvent du gros bon sens :
- les citoyens n’étaient pas favorables à ces mesures
- il faut être en mesure de respecter les lois actuelles avant d’en implémenter d’autres
- les policiers ont d’autres choses à faire que de courir après des jeunes qui ne portent pas de casques

Nous sommes particulièrement heureux de constater que l’opinion public a finit par peser sur la balance. Il ne faut jamais perdre de vue que nos élus sont là pour nous servir et non le contraire.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

NO FREE LUNCH


The CBC was recently reporting on the increasing concern about the level of influence the drug industry has on doctors' medical decisions. Adam Hoffman, founder of the McGill University chapter of the U.S. not-for-profit group No Free Lunch, estimates that as much as 70 per cent of continuing medical education activities in Canada are sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.


There is no denying that the medical profession is greatly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry that has infiltrated our universities, our health agencies, our bureaucrats, our hospitals and even as far as into our homes through television and the internet. When brand names such as Viagra, Valium, Prozak have become part of our casual conversations as if they were a common household name like Kleenex, we know that we are living in a dangerously over- medicated society. Believing that our young doctors, who were educated by our heavily pharma funded universities and work day in and day out in medicalized environments are not influenced consciously or subconsciously by them, is like believing that someone who works in fashion is not influenced by the latest designer trends. As one doctor put it to the writer of this comment when questioned why he was prescribing the expensive drug Avandia over less expensive older drugs that are as, if not more, effective in lowering sugar levels : ‘’Errrm, I guess it’s a trend to prescribe Avandia now’’! It speaks volumes of the reasons certain drugs - usually newer drugs with patent rights still in effect - are favored over others by many doctors! Incidentally, Avandia is no longer ‘’trendy’’ because it has been linked with increased risks for heart attacks.

The bigger tragedy in all this however is that our healthcare system is woven so tightly that we cannot escape it unless we want to live in the margins of society and resort to strictly alternative medicine. Sadly, we can no longer pick and choose which drug treatment we want to receive from our doctor and which we would rather not because it goes against our better judgment. For example, if a person refuses to be medicated for his heart condition by a certain drug or drugs that his cardiologist is adamant in prescribing, he may be labeled as a rebel against all conventional medicine and may even be refused further follow-ups and treatment by his specialist who has more ‘’deserving’’ patients to look after. Good luck trying to find another specialist or a GP to replace him. This can even result in the ‘’rebel’’ losing his driver’s license since, depending on his condition, he is obligated by law to have regular check-ups by a government approved practitioner who will give the green light for its renewal.

We are thankful that there are some watchdogs looking over the activities of the medical profession but unfortunately we are still very far from making meaningful differences and this as long as the majority of individuals will not have awaken (and started loudly denouncing) to the fact that health is a humongous industry and like every other industry it is subject to dishonesty and corruption. Unfortunately, even those professionals who have chosen the medical profession out of love and compassion towards their fellow humans can be subjected to insidious manipulations by the pharmaceutical industry that is increasingly proving to be no more ethical or moral than the next robber baron.