Book Review - Quit Smoking - Weapons of Mass Distraction

Quit Smoking - Weapons of Mass Distraction

Dr Simon Chapman

Sydney University Press 359pp. Published as an e-book ($4.99 on Amazon) and paperback ($34.99) 

Book Review by Robin Osborne

From a night-riding graffitist of cigarette posters with Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions (B.U.G.A.U.P.) in the 1970s, to a semi-retired public health academic, Simon Chapman has conducted an unmitigated campaign against the tobacco industry. He set the tone with his PhD thesis titled Cigarette advertising as myth: a re-evaluation of the relationship of advertising to smoking and despite considerable headwinds has held the course. 

Chapman’s latest work is a detailed focus on yet another con associated with the world of smoking, namely that nicotine is so addictive that kicking the habit is impossible without interventions of some kind, mostly provided by the pharmaceutical industry at considerable personal or public expense. 

The artwork ‘Yarn’

 As has previously been reported in this magazine, governments rarely convene a Royal Commission in the belief that the evidence and findings will be anything less than disturbing and the recommendations costly to implement.

Such is the case with the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, the Interim Report of which was tabled in the federal Parliament on 11 August 2022, almost exactly a year after it was formed. A deeply concerning document, it reveals heartlessness and incompetence at the core of an institution charged with nothing less than the defence of the nation. 

Yet there is a major difference between this inquiry and others in recent times, for instance the Royal Commissions into Aged Care and the treatment of People with Disability. 

While the revelations in these were also upsetting, the responsibility for setting things right, or at least embarking on that path, lay with the government that had called the inquiry in the first place. In theory, anyway, as remedial action can take years to be implemented. 

Assoc Prof Romy Lauche

An open invitation for GPs and health clinics to collaborate with research has been issued by the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine’s (NCNM) Clinical Trials Unit.

An initiative of Southern Cross University, the NCNM is Australia’s first National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine. It was officially opened mid-2020, at a time when the need for solid research into natural medicines, supplements and lifestyle modifications was clear.

Geared towards furthering scientific research and delivering better patient outcomes, NCNM is focused on evidence-based practice, critical enquiry, and clinical reasoning in the field of natural medicine.

The Clinical Trials Centre was launched in May 2021.

Headed by the Deputy Director of Research, Associate Professor Romy Lauche, the Centre is currently conducting trials on the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) for sleep disturbances, whether Kefir has any impact on one’s microbiome, and if a specific over-the-counter herbal formula can help with menopause symptoms. They’re also analysing a weight-loss regime, combined with a supplement. Some of these trials are currently open for participants, with new trials following soon.

The Hon Mark Butler, MHR

The Albanese Labor government’s first health minister, Mark Butler, has raised what he considers to be the alarming state of both general practice and aged care in Australia, telling the AMA’s national conference on 31 July 2022 that, ‘At the heart of the parlous state of general practice is very substantial financial pressure, much of which has been aggravated by the freeze on the MBS rebate over the last several years.’

The minister added that while that freeze has ‘thankfully been lifted’ is remains ‘baked into the system and results in an ongoing reduction or cut of more than $500 million every year in MBS funding that otherwise would be there if the MBS rebates had not been frozen.’ 
Mr Butler also pointed to ‘a crisis in the GP workforce’, calling it ‘a recurring theme right through the healthcare system - I still think that the abolition of Health Workforce Australia was a deep mistake by Tony Abbott when he came to Government.

UOW medical students

At the end of July 2022, 19 University of Wollongong (UOW) medical students were welcomed to the North Coast. Their long stay placements are occurring across the whole Northern Rivers footprint, from Murwillumbah to Lismore and down to Grafton, including many places in between.
GP and hospital preceptors have supported the various orientation programs across the UOW student hubs to ensure students are educated in NNSWLHD and GP processes and site specific compliance requirements.
Given the recent flooding events impacting all levels of community, across the whole region, a talk for the students at UCRH Lismore was hosted by psychologist Ben Schiller, “Understanding trauma and the impact of natural disasters on the community”. The students will have direct contact with patients, communities, peers and clinicians during their 12-month stay and it is important these students have an understanding of the impact the 2022 natural disasters continue to have on the region.