Sunday, 22 July 2018

WTO Agrees That Plain Packaging Is A Failure, Allows It Anyway

Late on parade with this due to business pressure, but Sinclair Davidson posted a very interesting article about the WTO's ruling on plain packaging a couple of weeks ago.

Davidson has consistently argued that plain packaging has had no impact on smoking in Australia and is an utter failure, despite the desperate spin being fabricated by the government over there.

Well, lo and behold, in the WTO's 800 page reasoning behind its judgement that plain packs are not contrary to global trade rules, they seem to agree.

The WTO strangely argues that there is evidence that the decline in prevalence in Australia appears to have accelerated post plain packaging, but none of the analysis includes any discussion of the huge tax increases which coincided with and then followed its introduction. Instead the WTO focuses on the far more trivial by saying it is unclear whether bigger graphic health warnings or plain packaging were more important.

This is like saying that someone died when a bus drove over his finger without mentioning that he was picking his nose at the time. It's quite obvious that the effect of successive 12.5% rises in tobacco duty have a far more dramatic effect than fiddling with colours on the packet.

When the WTO get to the “quitting-related outcomes and other distal outcomes” though, a little bit of truth comes out (emphases mine).
a. The impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on adult cigarette smokers' quitting intention and quitting-related cognition reactions is limited and mixed
b. The TPP measures and enlarged GHWs have had a statistically significant positive impact on avoidant behaviours, such as pack concealment, among adult cigarette smokers, while their impact on stubbing out and stopping smoking is much more limited and mixed
c. Although the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs have statistically significantly increased calls to the Quitline, the observed impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on quit attempts is very limited and mixed
d. The empirical evidence of the impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on adolescents' quitting-related outcomes is limited. This evidence suggests that the impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on adolescents' refraining from smoking cigarettes and thoughts about quitting is statistically not significant. No empirical evidence has been submitted to us on pack concealment among adolescent smokers.
Couple this with the Australia Bureau of Statistics data on chain volume measures of spending on Cigarettes and Tobacco showing a long-term decline in tobacco sales having been arrested since plain packaging, and you have to wonder what on earth is going on here.

Click to enlarge
And that is without even factoring in that the Australian government itself has been forced to form a new “Tobacco Taskforce”  to address the issue of a whopping rise in illicit trade post-plain packs. The anti-smoking lobby rubbished the warning of an increase in illicit trade as a result of plain packs but it is reported that seizures of illicit products in the year to date have already reached 98 tonnes compared with 117 tonnes in the whole of the prior year. Either enforcement agencies are on steroids or, perhaps, there is simply far more now to catch.

As Davidson says of the WTO's admission of lack of evidence of efficacy, "that is a damning assessment because what did convince the WTO was even worse – junk science". 

Quite. It seems that the World Trade Organisation, no less, was motivated to effectively endorse the confiscation of billions of pounds worth of intellectual property and branding - not just on tobacco as this now forms a precedent - despite finding that there is no valid science behind the concept of plain packaging and that it has had no beneficial effect on smoking prevalence. 

They have basically sided with vague predictions - from people paid to have extraordinarily strong conflicts of interest - about what may happen in the future. On this showing, we can expect the WTO to soon issue rules on the international trading of fairies from the bottom of the garden. 

It seems that everywhere you look these days there is an establishment carve-up going on. It's little wonder that people are increasingly sick and tired of the state and its self-protecting mechanisms. When even a global regulator of trade rules in favour of fraudulent bureaucracy over and above protecting legal businesses from over-reach of state institutions, armed only with ideological bullshit and fake science, we are in a parlous place. 

Hitch Orwell's grave up to a dynamo, his spinning could solve our future energy problems for a century at least. 



Thursday, 19 July 2018

Love Island Idiocy

It's still a bit busy in Puddlecoteville, but things are clearing so I may be able to write more on issues I have wanted to for quite a while .. perhaps.

As a quickie, though, this is a gobsmacker.


Remember that the UKCTAS is funded entirely by your taxes. And they believe a good way of spending your money - so much so that they are boasting about it - is ensuring that people watching Love Island don't see anyone smoking.

Can you think of anything more utterly pointless than that? Because I can't.

What's more, these highly-paid people sat down and watched 21 episodes of the show to count how many times someone smoked a cigarette; catalogued the brand used; and spent time on an exercise to work out how many "impressions" were created as a result. So we appear now to be paying organisations out of taxpayer funds to spend time and our resources on stopping reality shows showing reality. Seriously, this beggars belief.

I would ask UKCTAS how many people, exactly, they have stopped smoking with this brave new idea, because it hasn't even stopped the contestants. I don't know what the show is about, but - yet again - it seems tobacco control is having a harmful effect on people's lives. Here are some quotes from the show's fans.
“Am pretty livid the smoking area has been banned in #LoveIsland Thats where all the kick offs, strops, bitching and secrets come out.” 
“Not seen a single person smoke yet. I miss the chain smoking and gossiping area of the villa #loveisland,”
I love the justification for this too.
The reason that the show no longer airs people smoking is that the islanders have been banned from smoking in public areas due to the barrage of complaints the show received last year.
Oh really? Well UKCTAS just claimed credit for that. Do you think that they are claiming credit for this massive upswell of outrage from concerned private citizens or - as I think is more likely - the "barrage" of complaints came from UKCTAS and their equally miserable state-funded allies?

This is the state of affairs right now, it seems. We've seen recently how health extremists - and health extremists alone - attacked adverts for chocolate by demonising the Easter Bunny and complaining to the ASA. And now we see UKTCAS boasting about how they got smoking banned in Love Island and it being passed off as some kind of public movement.

It's not. There is no public movement. Just about no-one cares about smoking in Love Island and some fans are pretty pissed off that it has lessened their enjoyment of the show.

I'm sure UKCTAS could have some use somewhere, but paying for researchers to watch TV for hours on end, before sending staff to a conference - on taxpayer funding - in order to boast farcically about how they got smoking banned on Love Island, I would suggest, is a fucking shit waste of our money.

Still plenty of cuts needed. We've barely scraped the surface. 



Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Grandad's New Resource

A few months ago I met with a city analyst who read your humble host's offerings and was keen to meet. We enjoyed a liquid lunch in Threadneedle Street but before going our separate ways, he asked if I could put him in contact with Grandad, of Head Rambles fame, as he was a regular visitor to Ireland.

It would appear that they did, indeed, get in touch and the link-up has produced something very useful. Today Grandad explains on his blog how this new project came into being. The result is a glorious website - based on an extensive investor report - which delves into the murky dealings of the tobacco control industry over decades.

Entitled "Smoking - On Ethics" the site calmly runs through the grubby and disingenuous past of tobacco control, and explains how their industry of grifters, charlatans and snake oil salesmen has hoodwinked and conned the public for decades over tobacco. Moreover, it tells the whole story right up to the present day and the continuing misinformation and garbage that is being touted by the global tobacco control cult towards e-cigs, snus and other safer products.

It is impeccably put together by Grandad with easily-navigable links throughout, and the text is straightforward, expertly-written and very readable. It is a great resource for myth-busting the hysterical tone of anti-smoking lunacy we see today, and how it has developed over the years while the public has mostly been oblivious to the chicanery, neatly encapsulated in this short para from the section on harm reduction.
It appears that some in Public Health have adopted an approach which dismisses science which is unhelpful to them and will attack opponents as being paid stooges. It begs the question as to whether this is a new approach, or actually one that is now simply out in the open.
Indeed.

I can heartily recommend the site, I think you will enjoy it. So pour yourself a beverage or two of your choosing, go read here and enjoy. 



Thursday, 12 July 2018

EU Wants To Tax Vaping, Don't Let Them


Via new vaping media source Vapetrotter (which you should bookmark, by the way), it won't surprise you to learn that a vast impenetrable bureaucracy which lives solely on the basis of tens of thousands of employees earning their living by doing nothing but regulating, wants to regulate e-cigs further than the absolute shit-shower they did with the TPD.

The EU seems to have decided it wants to tax e-cigarettes. They don't have any moral or scientifc basis for doing so, but hey, salaries have to be paid and vaping is killing the treasuries of many an EU country.

They have published a consultation and - whether you vape or not - please respond to it and tell them (nicely) that they are taking the right royal piss.

There is also a petition organised by the Collective of EU Vaper Associations which is quite cool and and has been translated into a number of different languages. It's up to about 18,000 so far so do consider supporting that too.

Oh, and remember, as you can see from this, the state is not - and never will be - your friend. 



Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Grey Miserable World of 'Public Health'

Life still exceptionally busy with Puddlecote Inc, I'm afraid, but I see that the 'public health' bandwagon is still accelerating down the slippery slope they claim doesn't exist.

I find this kind of thing quite staggering.
Cadbury, Chewits and Squashies sweets have become the first companies to have online adverts banned under new rules targeting junk food ads for children. 
The Advertising Standards Authority said the companies did not do enough to prevent under-16s seeing the content.
Now, if you were around in the 80s or 90s, did you ever think we would be in a position where kids are not allowed to see adverts for things that they like to eat, and have for decades? All based on a fantasy panic whipped up by repulsive self-enriching tax thieves?

The Telegraph carried an article which is equally astounding.
The Easter Bunny cannot be used to market chocolate to children, the ASA has ruled after finding against Cadbury. 
The chocolate company marketed a storybook, featuring eggs and the Easter Bunny, on its website, which broke the rules against promoting food that is high in fat, salt or sugar to children under the age of 16. 
Cadbury was banned from marketing The Tale Of The Great Easter Bunny, written by pop singer Frankie Bridge, on its website, after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), decided it was aimed at children.
The Easter Bunny? This is a character that parents have thrilled their young kids with for hundreds of years, but in the new joyless, grey, miserable world that 'public health' have planned for us, this is now illegal.

The hold that 'public health' has over politicians is astonishing, but then it's because politicians are weak, cowardly, and ultimately incredibly stupid, as I have mentioned before.
Chocolate Oranges are one of life's little treats. The overwhelming majority of the public like them. Indeed, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't like chocolate. 
Yet here we are with two leading politicians arrogantly competing to be the one who appears toughest on making that treat more difficult to enjoy. This isn't a mind-altering drug we're talking about here - legal or otherwise - merely a fucking Chocolate Orange!
But back to today. The trouser-stuffing tax spongers were elated, of course.
Obesity Health Alliance lead Caroline Cerny said: "Whilst today's rulings should be celebrated, the complaints demonstrate the blatant ways in which the food and drink industry attempts to exploit loopholes in the rules."
They are 'celebrating' another little bit of joy being eradicated from children's' lives just so they can keep their snouts in the trough. There is little more vile than that.

And who, pray, was it who complained anyway? What disgusting type of person is so miserable as to be driven to complain about something kids like? Well, fortunately, the rulings are on the ASA website. Here is the one ruling against Cadbury.
The Obesity Health Alliance challenged whether the ads were for products that were high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS product ads) that were directed at children.
In other words, no-one at all cared about the ad except the Obesity Health Alliance themselves, a collection of mostly state-funded organisations who would be out of work if they didn't continually promote scares to keep their funding stream.

The complaint about Chewits is much the same.
The Children’s Food Campaign (Sustain) challenged whether ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) were ads for products that were high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS product ads) that were directed at children.
Sustain is a taxpayer-funded parasite which is also, strangely enough, a member of the Obesity Health Alliance.

And who complained about Squashies? You guessed it.
The Children’s Food Campaign (Sustain) challenged whether the Squashies World advergame was an ad for products that were high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS products) that was directed at children.
In each case, there was only one complainant, and it was from people who fabricated the moral panic in the first place and took government money to lobby the government to come up with rules to take as much joy out of children's lives as possible.

It is surely about time politicians woke up and realised the destruction these self-centred bastards are doing to society. They are draining the joy out of kids lives for financial gain and are entirely unrepresentative of public opinion.


Where is this bonfire of the quangoes we were promised? It's the least that should happen because some of these obnoxious parasites deserve to burn for eternity.  



Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Scottish Tobacco Control Plan Hypocrisy

On Wednesday, I promised to revisit the Scottish Tobacco Control Plan at some point, so better late than never.

In particular, let's examine this knuckle-headed nonsense from the document.
There is some evidence that dissuasive colour or dissuasive messages on cigarettes could reduce the attractiveness of, and therefore the potential demand for, cigarettes. Other studies have considered composition – reducing the nicotine level or flavours that mask the true taste.  
For the same reasoning which led to the introduction of standardised cigarette packaging, legislation could be made to make cigarettes less attractive. This could be done through changes to colour, composition and/or warning messages on each stick.
So what is this "some evidence" of which they speak? Well, it's the brainfart of one weird individual in New Zealand called Janet Hoek who is a botanist, zoologist and Beowulf expert and - amongst other ideas she hopes will launch her into global nanny state stardom - would like to see plain packaging for fast food and fizzy drinks and processed food to be treated like tobacco. Oh, she's not  a fan of vaping either, but that's hardly surprising from so-called 'public health' these days.

The "some evidence" is a study of 'Poo Sticks' in 2014 which drew on interviews with 14 adult social smokers aged 18 to 24, followed by another in 2015 which examined "two focus groups and 13 in-depth interviews". Compelling stuff, huh?

That's it.

Now compare that with the new advances in heated tobacco which have seen literally millions of smokers quit smoking in Japan and South Korea and which government inquiries in the UK, US, Russia, Germany and Japan have conceded will dramatically reduce harm.

Also, consider that there are approximately 40-50 new pieces of research on e-cigs coming out every single week, and none of them are finding any great danger, only hinting at innuendo and smears about those who use them, simply because the tobacco control junk scientists behind the research are shitting themselves at being out of a job.

Which does the Scottish government find compelling? Yep, the random isolated study of a handful of people by a zoologist obsessed with irony in an ancient text.

Their policy towards e-cigs is to further ban advertising and the approach to heated tobacco is to put it in plain packaging.

This is, quite simply, government by imbeciles.

It's almost like they find it more attractive to ban stuff and piss on the public's liberties than protect their right to make their own health choices by providing accurate information.

That's not government by consent and it's not evidence-based policy. It's authoritarian abuse of a population worthy of some backwards banana republic. If you're Scottish, I pity you. 



Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Snobbery Of Banning Sweets At Checkouts

On an otherwise glorious day of electrifying sunshine and impressive football success, let's nail this distasteful sophistry from the embarrassing Department of Health and its massed ranks of tax-troughing government lobbyists, shall we?

Via the BBC:
[Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] said the cost of obesity was too great to ignore. 
"Parents are asking for help - we know that over three quarters of parents find offers for sugary sweets and snacks at checkouts annoying. 
"It's our job to give power to parents to make healthier choices, and to make their life easier in doing so."
Parents are asking for help to, erm, say no? Government is now passing laws - and effectively creating criminal offences - because some parents find something annoying?

Jesus Christ, I find Coronation Street annoying but it's a minority view. So is the annoyance at the display of sweets at checkouts. And how do we know this? Because if it was a widespread problem with consumers, businesses would have got rid of them decades ago. The Conservative Party should know this, but then they seem to have abandoned conservatism in favour of big state interventionist stupidity of late.

The overwhelming majority of parents are perfectly able to say no to their children. The overwhelming majority of consumers are fine with sweets being sold at checkouts, maybe even finding it a nice impulse buy as a treat after doing the chore of a weekly shop. What is absolutely certain is that banning sweets at checkouts will have no impact whatsoever on the prevalence of obesity, nor on an 'epidemic' which is entirely fictional, and it won't save the NHS one penny of a gerrymandered and fictional cost.

So what is really going on here? Well, it's just good old-fashioned snobbery, as I have written about on very many occasions in the past couple of years.

If you questioned these parents who are apparently "asking for help" and asked why their parenting skills are so pathetic that they can't say no to their children, I wager you'd find that they tell you they're brilliant parents! And how dare you suggest otherwise! They are more concerned about "our children", as in everyone else's children.

Tom Paine wrote most eloquently about this a few years ago when discussing a quite rancid authoritarian snob who was rightly termed "the all-round worst person at the Battle of Ideas" of 2012.
My choice is Dr Michael Nelson, director of research and nutrition at the Children's Food Trust (a "social business" working with the "charity" the Schools Food Trust). ... it wasn't the advice he would give parents as to what their children should eat but his contempt for their ability to make choices and their right to do so that was the problem. He ... complained that parents (as witness the contents of packed lunches they sent with their children to school) could not be trusted to make good choices for their children's health. Government attempts to improve nutrition by requiring catering contractors to offer healthy choices had failed because those choices were simply not taken up. If we care about "our children" he said (oddly as he and I have no children together) then we must help parents who;  
...we know from experience do not themselves have the the power of executive decision when it comes to their own diet... 
In other words, these people are too stupid to be parents. I asked myself (but did not dare to articulate the suggestion unless it gave him ideas) why he stopped short of taking all of British childkind into care. After all, their parents are too stupid to raise them properly and are jeopardising their families' health irresponsibly.
Now, if you put the views of Dr Nelson to those who Hunt says are "asking for help", you would find that they would agree. It is not their own kids they want help with, but other people's. If you don't believe me, try this experiment. As above, if you hear a parent say they are in favour of this policy, ask them why they are so bad at parenting they need a law to help them say no. I guarantee you they will instantly talk about other parents and children who are not their own.

How a Conservative government has contrived to place itself in a position where one of its core beliefs - personal responsibility - is being obliterated by its adherence to the vile and the judgemental in society who like to tut and sneer at other people's lives, is a mystery.

Still, at least it's made them popular with the tax-sucking bastards who pander to society's most repulsive snobs, eh?
Government's New Plan To Halve Child Obesity 'Is An Absolute Travesty', Say Health Campaign Groups
For pity's sake, when will these oak-brained politicians realise that appeasing 'public health' only excites them more? Just ignore them!

Fucking idiots.