Outsourcing today, to Clive Bates’s blog. He, in turn, was outsourcing to an investigation by a Swedish newspaper that discovered the European Commission (basically, the executive bureaucracy of the European Union) altered a consultant’s 2003 report about the minimal risks from smokeless tobacco, which recommended lifting the ban that prevented Swedish smokeless tobacco product sales elsewhere in Europe. This was clearly done for political reasons, because the EU was committed to the ban and did not want any inconvenient facts about saving lives via THR to get in the way of their neat little plans.
(For those who may not know, this is pretty clearly a salvo in the simmering fight between Sweden and the rest of the EU, with the former wanting to promote THR — or at least their smokeless tobacco industry — and the latter seeking to renege on the promise that Swedes could continue to sell snus even though it is moronically banned elsewhere.)
The grossest bits of this became apparent because they literally used “Tipp-Ex” (which goes by the much more intuitive name, “Whiteout”, over here). The original report suggested minimal risk from snuff/snus use, whereas the altered version claimed otherwise. The key bit (translated from the Swedish):
If one holds up the document to a source of light, it’s easy to read the original line:
“An increased frequency of cancer in the oral cavity has been seen among snuff users in North America, but not unequivocally in Sweden.”
After being painted with Tipp-ex, the sentence reads: “An increased frequency of cancer in the oral cavity has been seen among snuff users.”
It is worth noting that even the original claim is wrong, though whether that was the original author falling victim to a common misconception or lying is difficult to determine. It was clear in 2003, and still is, that the evidence does not support the claim there is a measurable difference in risk between popular American smokeless tobacco products compared to Swedish products. (The details are a topic for another day.)
The main point for today is that the EU government is not far behind the US government in lying about THR. They are, however, arguably solidly ahead in terms of the deaths they have caused by doing so, with their ban Swedish-style products. There is little doubt that the ban and associated lying is responsible for millions more Europeans smoking today than otherwise would.