Monday, May 03, 2010

Nick Minchin on tobacco addiction, 1995

It came up on the ABC show Qanda tonight that Senator Nick Minchin (he of the "climate change is a left-wing anti-industry beat-up" view) allegedly claimed in a government report that cigarette smoking was not addictive and that passive smoking was not real. Minchin claimed on Qanda that his statements were taken out of context, and that this was part of a larger argument that people should be free to smoke or not smoke as they see fit, without government interference.

The report in question wasn't hard to find: The Tobacco Industry and the Costs of Tobacco-Related Illness. A final section starting on page 119 entitled "Dissenting report by Senators Nick Minchin and Sue Knowles" does express a lot of disagreement with regulatory proposals out of a desire to see less government interference in general life. However, a comment on page 120 by Nick Minchin (and it is explicitly made clear that this opinion is only the opinion of Nick Minchin alone) reads as follows:
Senator Minchin wishes to record his dissent from the Committee's statements that it believes cigarettes are addictive (1.25) and that passive smoking causes a number of adverse health effects for non-smokers (1.34).

So....not a denial, but it seems to me a response of "not all the evidence is in yet" on the issue. I wonder if he still feels that way?

The dissent goes on:
The Committee's terms of reference did not ask it to reach conclusions on these controversial issues, and nor was sufficient evidence from both sides of the argument brought to bear. These are medical conclusions which it is inappropriate for this Senate Committee of inquiry to reach.

Senator Minchin briefly referred to this part in his Qanda reply when he claimed that his comments on smoking should be disregarded because the Senate Committee wasn't convened to address medical issues. This seems like a half-truth: to my eye, it's only the dissenters Minchin and Knowles who took issue with the scope of the Senate report's medically-informed decisions, specifically because they didn't believe that there was sufficient medical evidence of the reality of nicotine addiction and passive smoking. In 1995.

This might be worth keeping in mind when Senator Minchin makes claims about the supposed unreliability of current climate science on the question of anthropogenic global warming.

1 comment:

Not a fan. said...

Where the hell does the gov't get off attacking smokers. It's being descriminitory. I thought this was a wonderful country compared to a lot of others because as an aussie born and bred we were free. We each and every one of us are individuals and with that i pay tax, registrations x 5, have occasional alcohol, work 6 days in my own business and so on. I have been a smoker for 35 years and clearly understand the consequences and have done for the entire time. This raising the price to help people cut back is absolute bullshit as far as i am concerned. I absolutely agree it is unhealthy in a lot of ways, to our body and the environment, but for christ sakes, so is drinking alcohol to excess to which is far to expensive with similar consequences to smoking, but causes a damn sight more damage to communities,for eg:domestics,violence on the streets, road trauma at an unacceptable level and so on. For comments from clowns like NICK MINCHIN who may like a drink or drives in a dangerous manner or is a violent partner under his own roof, or a bad father, or crosses the road 5 metres from a marked crossing, i find his comments alone as discriminating. To say hurry up and die will save on health bills is appalling speech from a gov't minister. You are in the public eye and need a bit more respect you moron than that. We all die of something eventually, and may i say my grandfather passed away in 1992 and was a heavy non filter smoker, but lasted a couple of wars and an age of 86 when he passed. Take his smokes away and you needed to be better than a marathon runner let me tell you. I say leave us to our own choices and focus on the running of the country and pour money into our hospitals and roads. These are the 2 necessities we all each and everyone of us use more than anything else. MY SAY DONE, THANK YOU.