There is an old adage that the more things change the more they stay the same. This had new meaning to me whilst listening to music when a 2015 hit was played. It has a catchy chorus, which gets in your head.

“Here’s an invitation to the whole wide world

From your brother to your sister to your best friends girl

Can’t excuse it, No excuses, Everybody get stupid

 

When this song was in the charts in August 2015 I write an article titled “Invitation to get stupid accepted” based on the nonsense that poses as public health policy. Nothing has changed. Arguably the stupidity gets worse.

Lets look at three “bright ideas” from the first two months of 2017. The Australian TGA has decided to continue its ban on the use of nicotine in e-cigarettes. These devices are 95% less harmful than regular cigarettes and have been shown to help smokers quit. In fact a report from the USA shows that smokers who have more smoking related health problems are the biggest users of e-cigarettes. Wonder why?

This comes despite them being legal or in the process of being legalized in the UK, EU, USA, Canada and New Zealand. Professor David Nutt (President of the European Brain Council) was quoted on the medical website 6minutes calling the decision “perplexing and disturbing”.

 

This was backed by the public health lobby in Australia who were in turn accused by Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at University of NSW of “toeing the party line”.

I would go further and question whether some of those opposed to e-cigarettes are protecting turf and fear their government funding might be at risk if people switched to e-cigarettes.

 

Terry Barnes wrote on The Catallaxy files that the TGA ignored evidence provided by 40 authors. “… the patent lack of due process and procedural fairness – not just the wholesale redaction but the selective use of evidence, and the commissioning on specially-selected but un-named and taxpayer-funded consultants to critique the New Nicotine Alliance application and torpedo it – highlighted a serious flawed and inherently biased consideration of an application that used ideology to answer the simple scientific question at the heart of the application: whether a vaping solution containing nicotine at the proposed concentration is safe for human consumption”.

Whilst this stupidity goes on those wanting to quit and/or reduce harm from cigarettes in Australia are stymied.

Meanwhile researchers have called for a form of gastric band surgery to be the first option for obese adolescents. This was based on a study of 21 people aged 14 – 18 years old. Has anyone considered that changing the diet of these adolescents and getting them to exercise more might be a saner first up option.

Of course the argument trotted out will be that people (not just teens) might not change their lifestyles. Whilst this will certainly be the case, that does not change the fact that surgery as a first option is, well you know what. And that is before we even consider that giving people correct dietary advice to reduce carbohydrates rather than fats in the diet will help them.

Which bring us to stupidity number three – a sugar tax as the solution to the obesity “crisis”. As I noted two weeks ago, we have followed the public health advice to eat less fat. The result is an increase in obesity (although always remember the figures used are based on the discredited body mass index so are much lower than claimed).

The experts, rather than admitting they were wrong about fats, call for a sugar tax. Soft drink consumption will not be affected by a tax levy of a few cents. And it also makes sugar cane the problem when the actual problem is refined carbohydrates in general and low fat foods. This includes food, which get a government elephant stamp.

What else can one say except –“everybody get stupid”.