Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ask and Ye Shall Receive...kind of

I always get ticked off when I hear anti-smokers rattle off bullshit. This time the bullshit was brought to me by the Ontario Government.

Here's what happened: A friend at mine at my day job jokingly sent me an e-mail about the government's blurb on some tobacco tax (like it's not high enough; in reality, it is gouging), and how increases are always about "protecting children" or some other feel-good reason. Anyways, some of the "Fast Facts" on this website seemed a little fishy, since most of these things are.

I enquired about a "fact"; actually here's what I wrote: "I'd love to hear where the "$5.8 billion in productivity losses each year" comes from, especially when there isn't a definition for "productivity losses"."

So for that, I got back: "The information contained in the "Did You Know?" section on the Strengthening a Smoke-Free Ontario page was provided by the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. Specifically, the reference to productivity losses can be found in a report titled, Evidence to Guide Action: Comprehensive Tobacco Control in Ontario. Please see the bottom of report page 14 (or PDF page 26)."

Welp, right there, I turned off. I was hoping I'd be wrong but I wasn't.  How much more biased can you be when you don't have an independent study? Three independent studies usually work for me but when something anti-smoking comes from the Ontario Agency of Protection and Promotion, I'm not going to get an honest answer.

Anyways, I went to page 26. First off I glazed over when I saw mention of Third Hand Smoke at the top of the page. There's no such thing as third hand smoke and there never will be so why even print it? Look at that, bullshit where I didn't even look for it.

I think this was the paragraph that I was directed to: "In addition to these health care expenditures for diseases related to tobacco, there are indirect but very real costs. These are the costs of productivity lost due to increased sick days and the early death of adults who are employed or work at home. The economic value of this lost labour was $4.4 billion in 2002. The 2009 equivalent was $5.8 billion"

OK. Anyone see a few glaring problems? Me too.

We'll start with "indirect". Other than padding numbers, what's the use "indirect" data?

Increased sick days was a funny one because last I looked, most places don't pay you if you call in sick. So really, no one's losing money except for the person that calls in. Now if certain work places have paid sick days, they don't pay you for being sick, you don't get deducted for not being there. It's called a salary. I think if it's a sunny day, golf would probably be the greatest loss of productivity in the work place. Actually, it would be Nice Weather that would be the greatest loss of productivity. I won't even go into going to work and jerking around for 9 hours. Wait, I just did.

The "early death" is an interesting one. If someone is dead, and I'm going to go out on a limb here, they're probably not on payroll. Plus, that dead person's replacement will probably start at a lower wage than their predecessor. The magic number for productivity loss that got pulled out of the air was $4.4 billion.

I did an inflation check, which is 3% per year. So, in 2002 it was $4.4; 2003 would be $4.5; 2004 would be $4.6; 2005 would be $4.8; 2006 would be $4.9 or $5.0 if you like to round; 2007 would be $5.1; 2008 $5.2 or $5.3 if you like to round and; 2009 should be $5.4. Excel doesn't lie. Anyways, there's a billion and a half dollars that got lost somewhere along the way. I'm sure no one's going to own up to that though.
So, in the end, this was a good/bad sort of thing. The good part was they actually got back to me. I'm genuinely surprised about that. The bad part is what they sent me - a bunch of fluff. I didn't read the rest of the report yet. I'm sure there'll be another Blog entry about that.

As to why am I anti-anti-smoking, well, the obvious, I smoke but for the most part, I don't like Anti people, including anti-smokers. Being Anti is more of a controlling personality trait. I can't stand Anti people, mostly because they're not likable and are usually rain clouds that only discuss their anti-issues at any given chance. They're not fun at parties either. I'm Anti-Anti; two negatives do make a positive.

One thing before I go; this stood out: "Tobacco-related disease accounted for 10% of hospital days in 2002, more than the days for alcohol and illegal drugs combined" It's good that, really, alcohol and illegal drugs came in so low (both are "drugs", but here, they're "combined"). But if only 10% is tobacco related, then what's the other 90%, besides drugs and alcohol?

Here's the pdf in case anyone cares:

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