Monday, 10 December 2018

More Plain Packaging Failure

No matter how many times tobacco controllers claim that plain packaging has been an overwhelming success, the facts stubbornly refuse to adhere to their fantasies. I've often amused myself with articles on this subject and it's great to see that the failure continues into its sixth year, according to Australian Channel 9.

Remember that Australia was not only the first to introduce this daft idea, but has also punished smokers with a number huge 25% increases to tobacco duty and outdoor smoking bans but with little effect. Once celebrated as offering "a vaccine against lung cancer" by an over-excitable Sydney pensioner, reality keeps butting in and pointing out that plain packaging was a laughable policy and a scandalous waste of public money.

Of course, despite treating even the tiniest positive sign as proof of plain packs success, when things go badly like this the tobacco control scam just circles its wagons ... and blames something else. On this occasion, it's apparently because there are not enough TV ads telling everyone that smoking is bad, as if the public didn't already know this. It's not like the pack doesn't tell them, now is it?

It started with more Aussie kids smoking in the wake of plain packs, but since then smoking rates have flat-lined before the Channel 9 news that more men are smoking now - or "blokes are back on the smokes" as one Aussie newspaper put it. The Daily Mail reported it succinctly too.
Recent data has shown that the campaign to reduce smoking habits of Australians over the last half a dozen years has failed as smoking rates among men actually increased in that time.  
The Daily Telegraph reported on the figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which showed smoking among young men, 25-29, had seen an increase. 
Rates among young men had risen from 17.3 per cent to 19.3 per cent between 2013 and 2016 alone.   
Smoking among older men, 40-49, also saw an increase. 
It's not working in France either, as we found out in March where it was branded a failure by one of those who championed it.

Yet despite all this we see barking mad 'studies' in health journals triumphantly speaking of not just a possible beneficial effect of plain packaging, but ...
A Global Public Health Victory for Tobacco Plain-Packaging Laws in Australia
I don't think co-author of that particular 'study' - Melanie Wakefield who campaigned for plain packaging and evaluated its effectiveness herself - found that absurd headline hard to write, if I'm honest.

It's hard to imagine any other industry which receives massive tax-funded subsidies getting away with trumpeting abject failure as a huge success, but then tobacco control is a completely unregulated Wild West of a profession, and when you have that scenario, liars are always going to float around the top of the cesspit.

So, we have a flat-lining of smoking rates in Australia - and now a rise in some demographics - where they are wielding the big stick mercilessly and where nicotine alternatives like e-cigs are banned; but a dramatic decline in the UK where smoker punishment is less draconian, and e-cigs are legal, regulated and the use of which is advertised in government stop smoking campaigns. 

Hmm, where's the Australian Sherlock Holmes to solve this impenetrable conundrum as to what is going wrong down under? 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

A Decade

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of this little corner of the internet.

As long-time readers will have noticed, the last year has been considerably lighter on content than previously, and in recent months very sparse indeed. This is because, sadly, a lot of real life has barged its way in - both business and personal - and has left me little time (and sometimes inclination) to write much here. I'm afraid to say that this will be continuing for the foreseeable future so it might be worth subscribing for email notifications of articles rather than checking back since they will be very infrequent.

As in previous years, I'd like to thank all fellow jewel robbers who have popped by since 2008 - over 300,000 of you have posted over 30,000 comments on more than 3,500 articles - creating nearly 6 million page visits. It's been a hell of a ride.

I have a couple of rather significant life changes coming up which could free up far more opportunity to write, but it won't be for some considerable time. In the meantime, thanks again for reading and engaging over the past 10 years with this "tabloid guff", as I am still proud it was described as many years ago by snooty twats.

À bientôt, mes amies.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Health Guidelines Are A Weapon Against Choice

Be afraid, be very afraid! 
On Friday evening, I went to Maxwell's in Covent Garden for a pre-theatre meal with a friend. The place has been in business for over 30 years that I know of and describes itself as "the home of the freakshake". I'd never heard of a freakshake before I booked a table and I didn't eat one, but plenty of healthy-looking young things around us did.

Today, a vast number of other people found out what a freakshake is for the first time thanks to those hideous health fascists at Action on Sugar. Via the BBC:
The campaign group Action on Sugar is demanding a ban on freakshakes and all milkshakes with more than 300 calories. 
It surveyed milkshakes sold in restaurants and fast food shops in the UK and found they contained "grotesque levels of sugar and calories". 
Freakshakes are milkshakes that also contain chocolates, sweets, cake, cream and sauce. 
The Toby Carvery Unicorn Freakshake came top of the survey with 39 teaspoons of sugar or 1,280 calories. 
That is more than half the daily recommended amount of calories for an adult and over six times the amount of sugar recommended for seven to 10-year-olds.
I'm late to the party as Snowdon has already pointed out that - as is obligatory with 'public health' lobbyists - Action on Sugar and its supporters are blatantly lying about these products in just about every claim that they make. I recommend you go read how jaw-droppingly shameless they are about it at his site.

I'd like to highlight, though, once again the naive and gullible fallacy of believing that health guidelines are nothing to be afraid of and are actually just giving us information. I wrote about it two years ago in response to this tweet from a 'public health' apologist on (mendacious, natch) alcohol advice.

I only need repeat what I said back then.
This idea that these are just recommendations, and that's all, is incredibly naive. Have these people been sleeping for the past 30 or 40 years? When have guidelines ever remained guidelines without leading to more and more coercion? 
With sugar, the guidelines had barely been altered downwards by the WHO before there were calls from 'public health' that the public isn't following them so we need a sugar tax and TV advertising bans on certain foods. 
There used to be guidelines about what food kids should be given by their parents to take to school, now we have packed lunch inspections and unapproved food being confiscated, while many openly talk about mandatory school dinners because the 'guidelines' are not being adhered to. 
These are just a few examples of many many others I could have chosen (add more in the comments as I'm sure you will know plenty of other examples). This is how health nags work, people, if you haven't noticed that where have you been? 
As a result of these 'guidelines' that we are apparently free not to follow - you know, they're just fuzzy-wuzzy friendly advice, that's all - a whole new door has been opened on alcohol nagging. 
Soon there will be campaigns by the usual suspects to say that the guidelines are not being adhered to. It will not be because the public have taken note of the advice and chosen to ignore it, instead the legions of public health parasites will say that the 'guidelines' are just not working and something must be done about it; that big industry is blinding drinkers to the harms; and that - how convenient - there are now so many more people drinking over the recommended guidelines that government must crack down hard!
And what have we seen today? 'Public health' parasites saying that the 'guidelines' on sugar are just not working and something must be done about it and that government must crack down hard.

By banning a dessert milkshake! We're well beyond the fucking looking glass here aren't we?

We are not free to ignore recommended guidance all the while vicious, draconian, career-puritans like Action on Sugar and their similarly arrogant, sneering elitist chums are indulged by government agencies instead of being recognised as the anti-social cunts that they really are.

As Snowdon describes today, there is not likely to be a ban on Freakshakes, politicians aren't that stupid ... yet (even though we did once see two parties fighting over which was more determined to declare war on a fucking chocolate orange). But it opens an Overton Window which Public Health England will likely exploit.
Public Health England, in its madness, wants to cap calories in milkshakes to 300 per serving. It is Action on Sugar's job to make Public Health England seem relatively reasonable. To that end, they are calling for it to be a crime to sell a milkshake with more calories than this.
Quite. There may not ultimately be a ban, but there will definitely be coercion, and that is because the guidelines or recommended daily amounts are not produced to give us information and then to be left alone - as Suzi childishly tweeted two years ago - they are intentionally produced in order to be a weapon with which to beat us into submission.

We should all be appalled at the very suggestion that any dessert - not drink as Action on Sugar claim - should be subject to a ban, yet this kind of story appeals to the most repellent in society who succumb to the powerful urge to dictate what other people choose to do with their lives. If we want to live in a free country we shouldn't be pandering to such obnoxious and nauseating people, we should be treating them with contempt, yet Action on Sugar - and any number of 'public health' activists in other areas - do precisely the opposite.

If government wants to educate the public with recommendations and guidelines, that's fair enough, but anyone who believes - with the 'public health' industry wildly out-of-control as today proves very much that they are - that those guidelines are just advisory and we are perfectly free to ignore that advice is, quite frankly, a cretin.

Prior to 2007, the very idea that government should be in the business of dictating what businesses can or can't allow their customers to enjoy in their private premises would have been anathema to the country as a whole, but once tobacco control legitimised prodnosery with the smoking ban, it opened the floodgates. Now you just have to harbour some sneering contempt towards what other people are doing that you disapprove of and a 'public health' lobby group - somewhere - has got your back. It doesn't even matter anymore that the only possible harm can be to yourself, the sugar tax proved that. It now also doesn't matter that you are given information to make those choices for yourself, because 'public health' doesn't want you to have those choices available at all.

People who work in 'public health' often bristle when they are referred to as health fascists, but can you think of anything more fascist than dictating how big your pizza is, how much bacon you are allowed to consume, or whether or not you should be permitted to eat a milk-based dessert? After today, the debate is over. It's well past time government stopped listening to these horrendous organisations and starved them of funding; that or drown the miserable bastards in a butt of Marmsey for glorious ironic effect. 

If nothing else, politicians should take away the weapon of 'guidelines' if they want to say we are a liberal country with a straight face. Make it clear that the recommended levels are exactly that, recommended, and that if we choose to ignore them we should be left the fuck alone. 

Thursday, 8 November 2018


A curious piece turned up on the BBC the other day from their 'reality check' team.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock wants to encourage people in England to make "better choices" around their alcohol, sugar, salt and fat intake, while getting more exercise. 
He is promising to spend more on public awareness initiatives to prevent obesity in the latest in a long line of of public health campaigns over the years. 
Three of the best-known health messages are eating five portions a day of fruit and vegetables, getting 150 minutes of exercise a week and quitting smoking. 
But what evidence is there that these have worked?
Being a tax-funded organisation, the BBC team were of the opinion that gentle messages from the government - based on education of the public - are not effective. The fact this is exactly the message that tax spongers in 'public health' were screaming about when Hancock made his policy announcement is surely a coincidence.

There was one area, though, where the 'reality check' team had a different view.
The Labour government banned smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces in England in 2007. 
The result is a marked decrease in the number of smokers.
Yep, when vile coercion is used instead of messages intended to change personal choices without a big stick, the BBC was hinting that this was a huge success.

Except, erm, it was nothing to do with the smoking ban, as the graph they publish with the article shows very well.

The result of the smoking ban was not a "marked decrease in the number of smokers". The marked decrease in the number of smokers came from 2012 when e-cigs went mainstream. As you can see from the BBC's graph above, all that the smoking ban did was halt a previously massive "marked decrease" of smokers prior to 2007.

The 'reality check' team did mention something around this at the very end of the article - how could they not considering it's so fucking obvious - but only in faint terms (emphasis mine).
Changes in law, habits and tastes may all contribute to changes in attitude which may affect lifestyle choices. For example, some of the decline in smoking could be attributed as much to the rise of the e-cigarette as anything else.
Some?!? Look at the figures for crying out loud.

It's a pretty rum definition of reality and an odd understanding of the word check if the BBC refuse to face up to what reality actually is and fail to check it properly.

Looks more like a supportive puff piece for their comrades in the tax-leeching game to me. 

Friday, 2 November 2018

Cretinous @DundeeCouncil, An Abusive Employer

If you live in Dundee, I'd be very afraid if I were you, because your council is run by weapons grade idiots.

Now, I run a business and have to ensure that my staff are as competent as they can be or else the business fails, but it appears that you don't require even the slightest semblance of intelligence or awareness of what is going on around you to run Dundee Council. You also don't need to have any empathy with any of the nearly 8,000 employees that have to pitifully work for the vile bunch of cretins who govern the city. Via The Courier:
A new policy that bans council workers from smoking during working hours has been branded “tantamount to bullying”. 
Trade unions have also hit out at the Dundee City Council rules, which will mean workers are not allowed to smoke or vape on tea breaks, while travelling between offices or when outside, even if they are not identifiable as council staff. 
Anyone caught flouting the new rules could face disciplinary action.
This is a quite astonishingly tyrannical policy. It effectively says that the council - as an employer - has the right to dictate what employees do in their spare time. It says that they have a right to demand employees do the council's bidding even when they are not being paid.

Dundee Council, as a result, have catapulted themselves to the top of the UK league table of abusive employers. What next? Considering the ridiculous demonising of sugar, will Dundee's vacant councillors soon ban their staff from buying a Coca-Cola while on a lunch break? A McDonald's?

Oh, and they are liars too. According to Simon Clark, their justification is this.
The policy has been created in response to the Scottish Government report ‘Creating a tobacco-free generation: A Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland’, with guidance from COSLA, and explicitly bans council workers from smoking whilst outdoors, even while walking from one premises to another or during tea breaks. The ban also includes e-cigarettes, which the council does not consider different from cigarettes.
In consultation with COSLA? Well that seems very strange considering Health Scotland "in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)" had this to say on e-cigs just last year.
Terminology – the use of smoking terminology should be avoided when referring to ecigarettes. E-cigarette use is often known as ‘vaping’ and e-cigarettes users are often known as ‘vapers’. Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking, and the evidence on the relative risks for users and bystanders.
Erm, Dundee City Council may be distinguishing between between smoking and vaping by mentioning them separately, but they are treating them exactly the same. It takes a monumental collection of fucksticks to think this is somehow acceptable. I have an idea that the Dundee dickheads didn't have any engagement with COSLA whatsoever. If they did, COSLA have questions to answer too because there must be some hideously lazy public sector staff flicking rubber bands around the office and failing to check what Dundee were saying and comparing it with THEIR OWN FUCKING ADVICE!

More cuts required, obviously.

Sooner or later, I expect the champions of vaping, ASH and ASH Scotland, will ride in and chastise these backward Scottish burghers and save the day. Well, maybe not just right now.
Anti-smoking charity ASH Scotland’s chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “Policies like this aim to care for employees and the communities they serve."
Yep. Sheila believes it's perfectly acceptable for workers to be bullied by their employer as to what they do in their spare time because she really wants them to quit smoking. Sheila also believes it's fine that they can be sacked for using a device - again, in their spare time - to quit smoking.

Where the fuck does the lucrative tobacco control industry find these incredibly repulsive people? Do they have anti-interviews where the most hideous are given the job?

As for the ASH mothership.

Once again, ASH seem pretty keen to endorse draconian bans on smokers and are more than willing to disregard the fact that vapers are being thrown under the bus along with them. I often hear about how ASH are the new guardians of vaping and how sincere they are about safer alternatives - mostly from ASH -  but they keep doing shit like this.

ASH Wales, remember, "fully welcomed" a ban on vaping on a Welsh beach, while ASH London absolutely loved a ban on smoking and vaping in hospital grounds. Now we have Duffy of ASH Scotland clapping her tiny hands in excitement about vapers being threatened with dismissal and her London counterparts remaining silent as Scottish vapers are being bullied by an ignorant and hypocritical council.

Put simply. Employers should have absolutely no say about what their workers do - legally - when they are not being paid. I understand the unions are on the case and, for once, I hope they make a massive scene and cripple the city until the pathetic and incompetent people running Dundee Council take their heads out of their arses and think outside their tiny, prejudicial and vapid minds.

I would, however, like to thank them for yet again proving that none of this has ever been about health and that ASH has never been a friend of vapers.

Dundee Council, you are utter morons and abusive employers. In an ideal world your entire executive would be fired on the spot for harassment of your employees and barred from public office for a lifetime.  

Sunday, 28 October 2018

A 'Stalwart Smoker' Tries iQos

A few years ago a friend of mine who travels incredibly regularly for business wrote some guest blogs here. You can see them on the Bear Tripper tag. 

Having recently tried an iQos for the first time after not having heard of it until earlier this month, Bear sent some interesting initial thoughts as a blog article. 

Note: I am not Dick Puddlecote.

I am a stalwart smoker of cigarettes.

Years ago I tried e-cigs when they were new on the market, in fact I was the one who first introduced DP to one in 2009. As someone who travels on an extremely regular basis, I found that the e-cig was helpful in many ways, most notably for use in some no smoking hotel rooms where the policies on smoking are particularly draconian, however I still wanted a proper cigarette. I found e-cigs dried my mouth.

Just a supporting note on that, there are still many smoking hotel rooms, no matter what people say, and it's quite rare on my travels that I don't find them. If you're a regular traveller - especially on business expenses - you are a good customer and I treat those hotels well for their understanding approach to people like me.

Enter the IQOS which I have only just heard about (which says something about the lack of marketing, why are smokers like me prevented from hearing about it? I can only guess that it is because anti-smokers are blocking marketing). It is described as the healthier way to smoke. I had to try this, obviously. My first thought was ‘what a great idea’.  However, after pondering, I kept asking myself the same question. Why?

This is a ‘healthier’ way to smoke but wherever I've tried to use it I am still faced with going outside. If you use an e-cig, nobody knows you ‘smoked’ in a room. With IQOS, you can’t do that. A colleague told me that using IQOS meant he didn’t smell of smoke anymore, but not convinced the hotels or bars would see it that way, regardless of whether or not it had no harm to others.

I was an early adopter of e-cigs, as mentioned earlier, and I remember asking about using it in a couple of bars and was told, at the time that I couldn't. Their understanding of the smoking ban was so poor that they were worried it would be seen as smoking. In truth, they didn't know what e-cigs were and the fines for allowing smoking are so draconian that they didn't want to take the risk. I now see anti-smoking organisations including e-cigs in their campaigns but find it quite hypocritical because uptake would be much better if they had spoken up in the early days so that bars weren't afraid of allowing them. It's probably too late now. As Dick often says, it's not about health is it?

Some bars have now accepted and encouraged vaping, but very few in this country. I have found that the attitude in mainland Europe is far better than in the UK despite this country being praised for being welcoming towards vaping. Maybe that tells us something about the attitudes of Brits and our reluctance to turning a blind eye to silly laws.

Will IQOS be the same? Will we be allowed to smoke a ‘safe’ cigarette? Given that it is like the invasion of the bodysnatchers these days where people point and roar if you smoke, drink, eat chocolate, drink fizzy drinks etc, I am not sure we will have that option. Since trying the product I have looked up articles about it and found nothing but health organisations trying to demonise it before it gets started.

As to IQOS itself. I like the idea. I did find it dry and did not like the ‘taste’ but that was the same with e-cigs in the beginning. It can only be improved. New flavours could prove popular.

We then get to cost and availability. Heets are not that cheap. Will this cost reduce and will they be more available as they grow more popular?

I would like to keep trying IQOS, and will do until the Heets I currently have run out (or beyond if I enjoy it and can easily find more), but I am not seeing the advantage yet. The smoking ban was clearly not about health or else we would be seeing far more vaping allowed in public places. but with IQOS the outlook seems to me to be even worse. So why are we trying to make smoking healthier when we are still banned and thrown outdoors.

If someone in the anti-smoking movement can explain that to me, I'd think harder about whether to carry on trying something safer, but all the while I am thrown out into the cold I'll carry on with the fags, thanks. 

Monday, 22 October 2018

So Predictable

Just the other day I said this about the pitiful state of tobacco controllers when it comes to safer products made by industry.
I don't know about you, but I always thought tobacco control was about stopping people smoking by whatever means. You'd think Arnott would be happy about smokers being encouraged to use something far safer, wouldn't you?
And, today on the BBC, here we go again.
One of the world's biggest tobacco firms, Philip Morris, has been accused of "staggering hypocrisy" over its new ad campaign that urges smokers to quit. 
The Marlboro maker said the move was "an important next step" in its aim to "ultimately stop selling cigarettes". 
But Cancer Research UK said the firm was just trying to promote its smoking alternatives, such as heated tobacco. 
"This is a staggering hypocrisy," it said, pointing out the firm still promotes smoking outside the UK.
Look, it's very simple. In much of the world, the ghastly tobacco control machine has been demonising e-cigs and other similar products so much that governments are banning them. The latest is the absurd decision by Hong Kong to prohibit sale, manufacture and advertising of anything to do with vaping while still allowing cigarettes to be available everywhere. They join cretinous policy-makers in Thailand, Brazil and other assorted lunatic nations like Australia.

What the blithering fuck do these cretins think are going to be promoted if they do silly things like that? Well, a brain donor from CRUK seems to think he has a stunning argument on that.
"The best way Philip Morris could help people to stop smoking is to stop making cigarettes," George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK's tobacco policy manager said.
Jesus Christ! This is the thinking of a fucking 10 year old yet he is being paid handsomely to have it. George, there are things called businesses that are beholden to their shareholders, your puerile nonsense is quite absurd, as I have mentioned before.
Any CEO who cut their shareholders off at the knees with such a stupid destruction of their business would probably end up in jail for abandoning their fiduciary duty to their investors, many of which are pension funds which could see their value decimated overnight. Any tobacco controller who suggests this as a feasible course of action - and some actually have - is showing themselves up to be a monumental cretin.
Let me tell you something that I fully believe Butterworth knows very well. Philip Morris ceasing production of cigarettes would not lead to a single smoker quitting. Their carcass of a company would be picked over by hawkish competitors, their shareholders would be in uproar, pension funds would suffer and their brands would just be produced by someone else.

If he truly believes this is a good argument he is a moron. But I suspect he is not that dense and just says it because he instinctively wants to oppose anything industry does. It's a quite pathetic stance to take and one which ASH are happy to follow too.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said Philip Morris was still advertising its Marlboro brand wherever globally it was legal to do so. 
"The fact of the matter is that it can no longer do that in the UK, we're a dark market where all advertising, promotion and sponsorship is banned, and cigarettes are in plain packs. 
"So instead Philip Morris is promoting the company name which is inextricably linked with Marlboro," she said.
It advertises its brand in other countries, Debs, because it is legally entitled to do so and is arguably obliged to to satisfy its investors. You were in Geneva for COP8 and singularly failed to remove prohibition of safer products from the FCTC's guidance to less developed nations. If you want Philip Morris to stop selling cigarettes why not talk to your colleagues and get them to stop encouraging countries like India - for example - to ban alternatives?

As for Philip Morris advertising its company name, erm, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a smoker who knows who makes the cigarette they smoke. It's an utterly absurd argument.

The simple fact, yet again, is that tobacco controllers are raging about the fact that industry is doing their job far better than tobacco control can. And they are sensing how much of their funding is going to disappear.

It's never been about health with these people, and today proves it yet again. They are more interested in attacking industry than encouraging smokers to quit.

It wouldn't be so pathetic if it wasn't so bloody predictable.

Anyway, here's the campaign video that these 'anti-smokers' are objecting to. Not my cup of tea but oh how ridiculous and venal tobacco control make themselves by wanting it shut down.