Thursday 29 May 2014

Public health - might some truth be getting though at last?


One swallow doesn't make a summer. But there are two current news items that suggest that the truth is gradually seeping through to one or two bits of the public health world.

Firstly there's a letter from fifty odd doctors, researchers and public health folk urging the WHO not to regulate e-cigs out of existence. As one pointed out:

"If the WHO gets its way and extinguishes e-cigarettes, it will not only have passed up what is clearly one of the biggest public health innovations of the last three decades that could potentially save millions of lives, but it will have abrogated its own responsibility under its own charter to empower consumers to take control of their own health, something which they are already doing themselves in their millions." 

Progress (although it didn't stop the BBC running a ghastly phone-in essentially to plug some egregiously misleading documentary it's planning to air on tobacco - at the presenter said to one smoker who called: "that's basically the tobacco industry line" as that chap explained why he wanted leaving alone).

And then the radio headlines were filled with news that we aren't drinking quite so much:

Between 2005 and 2012 the percentage who drank alcohol in the week before being interviewed fell from 72% to 64% for men, and from 57% to 52% for women.

The survey also shows that the percentage of men who drank alcohol on at least five days in the week declined from 22% to 14%.

The percentage of women who drank frequently fell from 13% to 9%.

This was all part of a slightly scaremongering report (so typical of health fascists to wrap up good health news in scary stories about girls drinking) but Radio 5 Live ran a couple of substantial items focused on the core fact - on average, we drink a hell of a lot less than we did ten years ago and the latest cohort of teenagers are the more abstemious since the 1950s.

It may be a false dawn - yesterday I was told by one of Bradford's public health consultants that 'hazardous' drinking would increase in Bradford without 'further intervention. This - as I pointed out - is simply untrue yet these people carry on with the misinformation. Still, though it's a long way to go, I am reassured that some of the truth might just leak into the public health debate for a change.


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