Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Wise Speeches And Silly Games

You may remember that this time last week I wrote about Forest's Stop The Nonsense event and mentioned a particularly good speech by Mark Littlewood. It's now available on YouTube so here it is embedded for your enjoyment.


On the same subject, there was an interesting bait and switch style move inflicted on another of the speakers that evening, Emily Barley of Conservatives for Liberty.

Y'see, she managed to get a perfectly sensible piece on the silliness of plain packaging into left wing site Shout Out UK at the weekend. However, nestled amongst the links added by the site's sub-editor was this pile of utter tripe about e-cigs designed, it would seem, to appear as if it was something Emily would agree with.
First of all, how can we say that something which contains as much as 48mg/ml of nicotine is harmless? I’ve observed that there is a tendency to believe that nicotine is addictive, but ‘that’s it.’ Well, sorry to disappoint, but it’s a psychoactive substance that binds to the adrenal medulla in our brains, increases our adrenaline flow, which in turn raises blood pressure, plus the heart and respiration rate. For somebody with heart issues, this could be fatal. For a healthy individual, this could cause heart problems in the long term. 
It seems rather strange to me that people find it normal to not be able to control themselves; when they don't find it unusual to get withdrawal symptoms or experience irritability without the nicotine. Which is what you get from e-cigarettes. It can even be said that they cause a more intense addiction because one can smoke them practically anywhere – there are no bans or restrains, so it’s not hard to spot someone ‘vaping’ intensely every 5 minutes on a bus. 
The World Health Organization has already called for stricter regulation of the product’s sales, more research and a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public areas (due to recent research on potential risks of second-hand smoke to foetuses and children) – these issues will be discussed at the next UN meeting in October. Perhaps we will soon realise that no form of smoking is as glamorous as it seems and that there are better ways to quit than to substitute one type of cigarette for another.
Now, I queried this link with Emily by e-mail and she replied that "I think e-cigs are an excellent example of the market responding to people's desire for less harmful products. No need for government to get its big boots on!". So what that link was doing there in a piece extolling the virtues of liberty and condemning kneejerk anti-smoking fuckwittery is anyone's guess. Mine would be that Shout Out UK's anger at having to appear impartial was so great that they had to try to sabotage the piece somehow.

Still, while the snotty-nosed Shout Out children played their puerile games, Emily got her point across very well indeed. So well done her.
[W]hen it comes to ‘public health’ and freedom of choice, the slippery slope is real. All the things that well-meaning public health campaigners judge to be unhealthy are in the firing line. Unfortunately for us, the principle of control has been established. 
As you can see from our infographic (click to enlarge), it’s only a very small step from tobacco to alcohol and sugar. Bans on advertising, high taxation and plain packaging first for tobacco, and then for alcohol and high sugar foods.
Don’t like the idea of fatty livers plastered all over your favourite bottle of wine? Or chocolate bars doubling in price through tax? Reckon Coco Pops are perfectly formed as they are, and shouldn’t have their composition changed by government decree? Think that actually, California might have the right idea on cannabis? 
Then it’s time to stand firm on freedom of choice. Plain packaging will open the floodgates to these other controls, and I don't think that’s good for any of us.
Like the tobacco control industry, those on the left do try their best to nobble reasoned debate, don't they? It may explain why so many in public health are overwhelmingly of a leftish persuasion, I dunno.

If you're thirsty for more about the Stop The Nonsense event, Emily features in this condensed 12 minute résumé of the evening so do go have a watch.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Poo Sticks Resurrection

You may remember an article here last year about the the tobacco control industry's brilliant new existence-extending exercise, poo sticks. If not, do go have a read to catch up.

Well, with the pressure being loaded on the New Zealand government to fall into line and implement the stupidity of plain packaging, Janet Hoek - one of the world's foremost public health extremists - has seized an opportunity to resurrect the idea.
Australia’s decision to introduce plain packaging has aroused international attention and stimulated interest in complementary initiatives. To date, research attention has focused on external packaging and few studies have examined the physical objects of consumption – cigarette sticks. 
Practical implications – As policymakers internationally consider introducing plain packaging, they should examine whether dissuasive sticks could enhance measures regulating the external appearance of tobacco packages.
This is a euphemism for suggesting government mandate that - at the same time as turning the outside of packets into a B list gore film - the cigarettes inside should look like bile, sick and shit.
Hoek's angle is very interesting though, because - as we already know - tobacco controllers are involved in a global game of keeping up with the Joneses; of always looking for some way of kidding themselves that they are doing something important instead of just being miserable tax spongers.

Ireland preen themselves at being the first to inflict a national smoking ban, Australia is proud to have been the first to infantilise their citizens with plain packaging, but Janet has a plan to keep New Zealand right up there in the international illiberal bastards stakes.

Just think of the glory! The white fern nation could be the very first to not only demand plain packaging, but also to make the cigarettes look crap too! What a giant leap for mankind, eh? She explains her potentially huge contribution to humanity in this video.


Now, I'm sure you thought that with all advertising banned, along with sports sponsorship, cigarettes hidden behind screens and colour schemes taken off packs in favour of gory pictures, that no tobacco controller could ever claim with a straight face that the tobacco industry is 'marketing' their products.

But you'd be wrong because apparently, now, the white of a cigarette paper is evil and a means of conveying social acceptability. It's getting to the point where someone should seriously start to question the sanity of these people, doncha think?

By the way, Hoek also wants plain packaging for fast food and fizzy drinks. Not that there's a slippery slope or anything, after all we know that's just a fallacy cos Debs told us so.

And tobacco controllers would never lie, now would they?


Monday, 2 March 2015

Don't Fine Parents, Ban Stuff Instead!

For those in 'public health', the idea of leaving people to make their own decisions in life is simply unthinkable - because, you see, that way unemployment lies. Consider, for example, this article in The Conversation, 'public health's favourite source of 'debate'.
The Puerto Rican government has just tabled a bill that would see parents with obese children fined up to US$800 if they don't ensure their offspring lose weight. This government is clearly at a loss in the fight against childhood obesity and its latest attempt is a panicked, or at the very least desperate, public health response.
Fining parents eye-watering sums because their kids are not of proportions approved by the state? Surely as fascistic an idea as we've seen to date!
Obesity on the whole, however, is a lower socio-economic problem – the argument could be made that obesity is the least of their worries. Any solution that fines those already struggling to live day-to-day is a recipe for disaster.
Of course it is, not to mention deeply immoral. The bill should be scrapped, the public be given information on healthy eating and left to their own devices, which the author is going to suggest, right?

Nope, course not.
If the government is sincere about helping parents to better manage their children’s weight, then they should take a close look at the eating environments in the most disadvantaged communities. The sizable investment that would be needed to set up this proposed scheme could do wonders in these areas – reduce the cost of healthy foods, establish local markets and vegetable gardens, cooking classes, and so on.
Hold on, does he mean make healthy food - which is already very much cheaper than fast food - even cheaper? How will that work? Subsidies or price controls (which are going down a storm in Venezuela)?

Whichever, the "sincere" way of "helping" parents according to this blinkered fool is to spend lots and lots of money setting up a system that nobody wants. As in, lead a horse to water and miraculously make it drink. In public health, it seems to be forgotten that the reason individuals eat stuff professional food bores despise is that they choose to. Set up as many veggie gardens as you like, but if demand isn't there, the supply will just go to rot.

Yes, to tackle a 'problem' which costs the country an imaginary amount of money dictated by computer models created specifically for the purpose by public health, the answer is to spend bucketloads of real cash on initiatives which have bugger all chance of working.

There is a cheaper alternative, though, apparently.
If they're interested in a less costly public measure to help out the parents, they could place a ban on the fast-food marketing that manipulates their children’s dietary choices.
Of course. A ban. Public health's favourite 'moderate' response to any minor perceived flaw in their pursuit of a homogenous, perfected, ideal citizenry. Attack businesses, facilitate job losses and harm real people in order to reduce imaginary costs. Great plan!
There is no single answer to combating population-wide obesity, which is the result of so many factors, from a family’s genetics, to location, to income, to education.
Correct. And those who know which particular factors apply in any particular situation are the people themselves, so why is public health so devoted to "population-level" solutions which they clearly understand will not work? Is it a salary thing?
The answer to tackling the obesity epidemic arguably requires a cultural shift, a change in approach across all levels of society, akin to what we saw with tobacco in the 1990s.
The tobacco template delivers yet again, is there no amount of public health quackery it can't be used to justify? Onward ad bans, sin taxes, display bans and plain packaging for popular foods. Huzzah! Sound the trumpet, get the fat crusade started proper!

Please, for the love of Christ, someone hang these miserable, self-interested, trouser-stuffing puritans. Hang them all.


Friday, 27 February 2015

The Framework Convention On Cake Control?

Today is the tenth anniversary of the formation of the tobacco control industry's preferred method of undemocratic censorship and destruction of freedom of choice, the FCTC.

Congratulations to them for being entirely unelected yet able to demand policies which have massively boosted tobacco industry share prices, while simultaneously imposing laws which restrict the liberty of people and private businesses to make their own decisions in life unhindered. And all while descending into a neurotic totalitarian pit of opaque debate, opulent self-enrichment, suppression of the press and trampling of free speech that would turn any self-respecting fascist green with envy.

This brilliant strategy hasn't gone unnoticed by those who are equally eager to boss us around without the inconvenience of having to seek election.
The health arm of the United Nations does not want companies advertising cake, ice cream, or ice pops to children. 
The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a “European nutrient profile” to be used by countries in order to ban the marketing of desserts.
Erm, but children like cake, ice cream and desserts. It's what children do.
Banned without exception are pastries, croissants, cookies, sponge cakes, wafers, fruit pies, sweet buns, chocolate covered biscuits, cake mixes, and batters. 
The list goes on: “Chocolate and other products containing cocoa; white chocolate; jelly, sweets and boiled sweets; chewing gum and bubble gum; caramels; liquorice sweets; spreadable chocolate and other sweet sandwich toppings; nut spreads, including peanut butter; cereal, granola and muesli bars; marzipan.” 
Advertising for ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice pops, sorbets, and energy drinks would also be banned.
Well, that's ITV bankrupt in a week then.
“The list is not exhaustive and may be added to when used nationally,” the report said.
Not exhaustive? There's not a lot left! Besides, shouldn't it be parents who decide what kids eat and, indeed, watch on TV? It's a radical idea, I know, but just thought I'd put it out there..

But it's OK, there's nothing to see here. Yes, OK, tobacco control only wanted banning of tobacco advertising at first but are now onto plain packaging and eradication of product use in public in case a child sees it, but I'm sure there's no precedent. It's not like it's the same organisation using the same methods or anything.

Oh, hold on.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In Pall Mall

Tuesday night saw a final event in the Hands Off Our Packs campaign entitled Stop The Nonsense which, as you'd expect, I trotted up to London for.

Now, I've driven past the venue - the Institute of Directors building in Pall Mall - quite often, but never knew it was so opulent inside (as always, click to enlarge all pics).


Of course, as a director of a company myself, I had to enquire what the cost was to be a member and all I'll say is that it would be twice as expensive to buy a season ticket at White Hart Lane. I'd be tempted to join but apparently using e-cigs is banned inside - I say apparently because I only know after others told me they had politely been approached and asked to stop, whereas I was left alone throughout. Lucky me, eh?

Anyway, that's all by the by. I arrived fairly early and straightaway met long time reader here - and occasional contributor - Chris Oakley. We were so deep in conversation that when I next looked up, the room had filled out impressively in a very short space of time.


I'd say there were around 200 or so there which is an impressive turnout seeing as it was announced less than two weeks previously, it seems the pernicious nature of stealing a legal industry's intellectual property on a dubious pretext mobilises right-minded people who, like readers here, are on the side of the angels.

Not knowing what to expect, I found the tone of the evening to be more celebratory than any other emotion, probably because the campaign against plain packaging has had a lot of success. It brilliantly exposed the most corrupt and mendacious state-funded lobbying we've ever seen from the tobacco control industry - quite an achievement considering their grubby track record - which only succeeded thanks to the intellectual vacuity of politicians in believing junk science, whilst ignoring an overwhelming majority of the public who objected, and handing a profit boost to criminal gangs.

This is something Simon Clark touched upon in the first speech as he wondered aloud why David Cameron* had "rolled over to Labour", before informing those in attendance who weren't aware that the second 'public' consultation - released after the decision had been taken to proceed - had resulted in 99% of responses being in opposition.

His associate during the campaign, Angela Harbutt, was next up, with what will no doubt turn out to be a vain plea (aimed at vain politicians, how apt) for MPs to "stick to the facts, not fiction, vote no, stop the nonsense".

Further speeches followed from Emily Barley, who said she didn't join the Conservative party for this kind of nanny state bullshit, and John O'Connell of the Taxpayers Alliance who pointed out that choosing to smoke means you choose to pay the accompanying taxes ... but that the costs of plain packaging in loss of duty, increased Border Force wages, and possible billion pound compensation, will cost all taxpayers whether they like it or not. Rory Broomfield of the Freedom Association also chipped in to ask why on Earth the government was interfering in freedom of speech - which packaging arguably is - and gold-plating EU regulations when all main parties are telling us that they'd like less regulation from Europe, not more.

Dr Madsen Pirie was on the money in calling the tobacco control "a faith industry, not based on evidence", and illustrated it by highlighting that a majority of global anti-smoking professionals "say e-cigs lead kids to smoking but can they name three kids who have? No they can't, it's a faith", before Moral Maze's Claire Fox wondered why her nephew had seen dozens of washing up liquid commercials but had never been tempted to robotically wash the dishes in an ad-induced stupor (on Twitter, typically humourless anti-smokers seized on this as not being an evidence-based argument ... no, I'm not kidding).

A statement by former criminal justice minister Damian Green was also read out (the whole text here) where he described plain packs as "a dangerous proposal" which "would make life easier for criminal gangs", while my esteemed ally in this enlightened corner of the internet, Chris Snowdon, stated the obvious - "There is no doubt that this will be studied by those who want to do the same with alcohol, food and sugar" (more on that here tomorrow, stay tuned).

Lastly came a cracker of a speech by Mark Littlewood which I asked those filming on the night to just bung up on YouTube when they had time. Calling plain packaging laws "risible, and ridiculous", he was incredulous that while we have Russian planes flying over Cornwall, a £100bn deficit, Greece causing ructions in the Eurozone and a general election in our imminent future, "the last act of this government is to regulate colour schemes".

As a last comment on a pointless policy, bullied through after a three year campaign backed by disingenuous people using morally bankrupt and overt lying in order to fill their pockets with our taxes, it couldn't have been more apposite.

And when the quickfire speeches finished, the crowd of liberty loving people be like ...


These were just very brief highlights, believe me, so if you weren't there you missed a good evening of plain speaking and rare good sense. There are sure to be plenty more though because - as we well know - the tobacco control and public health beasts need constant feeding at the tax receipts trough and will never stop while they have mortgages and Mercedes Benzes to pay for. We have seen this in the past couple of weeks as they have already seamlessly moved into campaigning for outdoor smoking bans.

Still, I suppose it provides an endless supply of material for your humble 'tabloid junk' host to write about, eh?

UPDATE: Simon Clark has helpfully published a sound file of Mark Littlewood's speech. Go have a listen here.

*An interesting note on David Cameron and his view of plain packs. He came out with a quip during yesterday's PMQs which went something like this - "Now we are committed to plain paper packaging of cigarettes, it will give more space for the opposition to write their policies on". Yep, it looks like David Cameron doesn't have a first clue about the policy he is legislating on! 


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dick Out And About: A Test For Democracy

I've written a piece for Totally Wicked's Article 20 legal challenge site, pointing out that the legal system is designed to hold politicians to account when they fail the public ... which is what they've done with much of the EU Tobacco Products Directive.

You can read it here if you so wish. Do also have a look round the rest of the site and sign in support if you haven't already.