Scream test

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In every-day life, the Scream test is the withdrawal of something seen as extraneous to see if its absence is noticed, typically by someone screaming about it going missing[1], or if you want to find out who's responsible for something but can't find out:

The first solution to the problem gave me reason to stop and read more of the post. I found the solution, “the scream test”, to be somewhat funny and surprising, yet at the same time, terrifying.

The scream test was the most recommended solution [to find out which processes were populating a database table]. As comical as it sounds, the person responding advised the DBA to "lockdown the table and wait for the screams." [2]

Tobacco Industry screams

It has more recently been rediscovered and adopted by the Tobacco Control Industry. Here's Simon Chapman discussing, in 2013, the Tobacco Industry's vociferous reaction to the proposal to introduce plain packaging in Australia:

In tobacco control we call these reactions ‘the scream test’ of policy potency. We’re amused when the industry supports anodyne, useless campaigns like these. And we know we’re on the right track when they behave as they did over plain packaging.[3]

And again, in more general terms:

Experienced tobacco control advocates have long spoken of the “scream test” of policy impact — if a new policy gets no reaction from the tobacco industry it rarely has an impact, but if the industry screams blue murder the impact will be large.[4]

Tobacco Control screams


More recently however, there has been cause to apply this to the Tobacco Control Industry over the Royal College of Physicians report[5] that ecigs

  • Weren't a gateway to smoking
  • Didn't normalise smoking
  • Helped smokers to quit smoking[6]

However, according to The Irish Minister for Children Dr. James Reilly, and the Irish Cancer Society, the RCP are full of it, andtheir report can be safely ignored "until more research is carried out," (conveniently ignoring all the current research that doesn't agree with their attitude that ecigs cause cancer and aren't less harmful than cigarettes.)

The Irish Cancer Society has said it cannot recommend e-cigarettes to help people stop smoking until further research is carried out into the long-term health implications.


Responding, the Irish cancer charity said that while it recognised e-cigarettes were safer than tobacco, it could not recommend them for use as a smoking cessation device until further research was carried out.


Minister for Children Dr James Reilly said he was “very concerned” about e-cigarettes.

“We didn’t have sufficient information and I didn’t want the ‘perfect’ to get in the way of the ‘good’ in relation to including that in the legislation,” Dr Reilly said.

“But the evidence is starting to pile up now that this is a serious problem.”

Dr Reilly said he was concerned that e-cigarettes could become a “gateway” to traditional nicotine consumption. “I don’t want to undermine anything we’re doing by not having good, strong evidence, well-researched. I know that there are people in America very concerned about this.”[7]

PMI pledge money to stop smoking. Anti-smokers aghast at the idea

In 2017, when PMI pledged $1bn to "Fight Smoking[8]", Simon Chapman stated in a tweet:

Philip Morris appoints former @WHO tobacco boss to "reduce" smoking. … No announcement on end of tobacco advertising..[9]

shortly followed by his sidekick Becky Freeman who quoted him, saying:

This makes me physically sick[10]