Saturday, 30 May 2015

Back of a fag packet statistics - how it should be done.

Proglodyte in the comments to If you're going to make up statistics, at least make up laudable ones:

Comparing Greece, Finland and UK -

Similar life expectancy: c.81

Cigarettes smoked/adult/pa
Greece: 2,995
UK: 750
Finland 671

Alzheimer's/Dementia death rates

Greece: 1.8/100,000
UK: 17.1/100,000
Finland 34.9/100,000

Sources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cigarette_consumption_per_capita
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN
http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/alzheimers-dementia/by-country/

12 comments:

paulc156 said...

Maybe the oft touted Mediterranean diet is at work. It's so good it more than cancels out the curse of tobacco.

Random said...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/31/last-cigarette-beijing-stubs-out-public-smoking-from-monday
And in China...

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, is it really so difficult for you to accept that while smoking is bad for physical health, it is good for mental health?

Would you also explain away the difference between the UK and Finalnd because of our 'Mediterranean diet'?

R, ah, bugger, another one bites the dust.

Bayard said...

"while smoking is bad for physical health, it is good for mental health?"

The alternative explanation is that fewer people die in Greece from dementia because the others who would have died from it have already died of something else brought on by heavy tobacco use.

To turn the bansturbators' argument back on themselves, it is obviously less expensive for the state to have people dying of heart attack or stroke than it is to have them dying after suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. OTOH, as you so rightly point out, the bansturbators appear to think that people who don't drink or smoke live forever.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B: "The alternative explanation is that fewer people die in Greece from dementia because the others who would have died from it have already died of something else brought on by heavy tobacco use."

Well, Proglodyte saw that one coming and chose three countries which have the same average life expectancy.

Bayard said...

"three countries which have the same average life expectancy."

So smoking tobacco doesn't make you die younger, but not smoking doesn't make you live longer, either, it just means you are more likely to die of Alzheimer's/dementia than smoking related diseases, ie, you are more likely to cost the state more in your final years, not less.

Now the bansturbators are largely funded by the NHS, an organisation whose size is directly proportional to the unhealthiness of the population. Thus Parkinson's Law indicates that the NHS will be most interested in measures that decrease the health of the population and make people spend more time in hospital, whilst, of course, professing to do the opposite.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, that is an excellent way of interpreting all this.

A bit like the drugs companies who love making medicines which alleviate chronic illnesses without actually curing them.

paulc156 said...

MW "PC, is it really so difficult for you to accept that while smoking is bad for physical health, it is good for mental health?"

Good for mental health? According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists "42% of all cigarettes smoked in England are by people with mental health problems". Apparently in the UK, smoking rates among adults with depression are about twice as high as among adults without depression and schizophrenics are three times as likely to smoke, which could at least suggest otherwise?
People may smoke to reduce stress and tension but still increase their stress and tension in the long term. Nicotine reduces anxiety but the addiction to nicotine leads to subsequent withdrawal symptoms and thus raised anxiety which in turn requires more nicotine/smoking on so on, ad finitum.

So claiming it's good for your mental health is an interesting claim that requires some good evidence. Even if one ignores the addictive effects of smoking, and just accepts it's a great stress reliever full stop, you'd still need to explain just how the smoker's mental health doesn't eventually suffer greatly as a result of the bronchitis, lung disease, heart disease, throat cancer etc that smokers are far more likely to suffer from as a result of prolonged periods of smoking.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Paul, you are clearly a committed non-smoker and thus are in no position to say what smoking is actually like.

Reading your description is a bit like listening somebody who has been blind since birth pretending that he can explain colour.

paulc156 said...

MW. For the record, I'm personally a non smoker though I don't object to people smoking in their own homes or out in the open [just not in my face!]. Surely though, if you claim that smoking is good for your mental health you'd need more than a personal view and some further anecdotal evidence to justify that. In the light of the evident correlation between mental illness and smoking you'd want to establish the causal direction was the right way round, wouldn't you?
Yes and there's no reason why someone 'blind from birth' couldn't have a perfectly good 'objective' understanding of colour. ;)

paulc156 said...

MW. For the record, I'm personally a non smoker though I don't object to people smoking in their own homes or out in the open [just not in my face!]. Surely though, if you claim that smoking is good for your mental health you'd need more than a personal view and some further anecdotal evidence to justify that. In the light of the evident correlation between mental illness and smoking you'd want to establish the causal direction was the right way round, wouldn't you?
Yes and there's no reason why someone 'blind from birth' couldn't have a perfectly good 'objective' understanding of colour. ;)

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC it's quite well known that people who can't cope tend to smoke more - it is called self medication. And smoking often does help you cope. Clearly there are some people who don't like it or simply don't get a buzz or who can cope without it.