Thursday, 18 October 2018

How Dare You Reduce Harm!

Still bogged down in Puddlecoteville with real life, I'm afraid. I keep meaning to get round to write about recent trips including Geneva to see what the global cult of tobacco control was doing at COP8 at the start of the month, and I will do so soon.

In the meantime, you may have missed this article at the Telegraph in its 'premium' section, meaning you have to pay to access it.
Salesmen for one of the world's biggest tobacco firms have been caught offering potentially illegal incentives to smokers in bars to get them hooked on new "heat-not-burn" tobacco, it can be revealed.
In a breathless exposé, the excitable journo has highlighted the dastardly practice of the tobacco industry in trying to get smokers to take up something the UK's Committee on Toxicology (COT) assesses as 50 to 90 per cent less harmful than smoking. The bastards, eh?
Acting for Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, salesmen push tobacco devices in bars using a range of questionable tactics to entice potential customers, a Telegraph investigation has established. 
Erm, the smokers are already tobacco industry customers because they are smokers. And if the journo wants to talk about getting smokers "hooked" on heat not burn, has it escaped her attention that there is something else smokers are currently consuming which she might class as being "hooked"?

Evil tobacco exec tries to sell a safer product to a smoker, for shame!
The reporting of harm reduction products in media is pretty shit, I have to say. You know what we need? An 'expert' to calm things down a bit. But instead we get the head of the UK's pre-eminent tobacco industry-hating tax sponging organisation instead.
Commenting on the findings, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Ash, urged the government to take action.  
She said:  “After the Telegraph’s previous article exposing illegal advertising of IQOS by Philip Morris, the company promised the Government this would stop. Yet over a month later IQOS ads are still all plastered all over vape shops and tobacconists. Not only that, but now we find out Philip Morris is also plying smokers with free drinks in a desperate attempt to promote IQOS and sign up new customers.”
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?

Especially if it won't cost the taxpayer a penny instead of government funding groups like ASH to ... oh hold on!

So ASH are calling for a ban on businesses talking to smokers and trying to get them to switch from smoking to products which are far safer. This is actually tobacco control policy in the UK right now. Staggering.

Of course, this just illustrates yet again that anti-tobacco cultists have completely abandoned their stated purpose of acting on "smoking and health" in favour of simply attacking industry instead. I'm sure in the past there were well-meaning people in tobacco control who cared about smokers' health, but once it became a multi-billion pound global industry, grants come easier if you have a dragon to slay.

It's not been about health with tobacco control for a couple of decades now. 

Friday, 5 October 2018

Mind-blowing Cheek Of The EU

I’ve trekked out to Geneva to catch the last knockings of the latest WHO anti-tobacco shit show that is COP8 (see COP6 and COP7 tags in the sidebar for previous tobacco control codswallop) but I just had to share this incredible hypocrisy from the EU.
And attend she did. Bucher is new to the job and it showed, her very first contribution to stopping those 7 million deaths was to advocate a global ban on advertising of e-cigs and to classify them as tobacco products subject to the same restrictions as smoking.
What a fucking genius, eh? Good grief.

The EU, of course, also bans snus which has accounted for Sweden boasting the lowest smoking prevalence rate in the EU by a country mile.

So Bucher’s message appears to be “we want to stop people smoking so what we are going to do is ban and hide away all alternatives that smokers find useful”. And this daft woman thinks that is good policy?

Will no-one rid us of these troublesome - and utterly absurd - quangocrats? Can we leave yet?

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Tobacco Control Junk Science Of The Week

Or maybe even the year, or decade. Or ever!

From the Tobacco Control comic, naturally.
Indeed, while IQOS heat-sticks (HEETS) include a variety of flavours (tobacco, menthol, bubble gum and lime), no IQOS heat-sticks include capsules. 
Heets come in three 'flavours'. Gold tobacco flavour, amber tobacco flavour and blue (menthol) flavour. Bubble gum or lime heets simply don't exist.

It's a struggle to work out how they can make such a fundamental error like this until you read further.
Furthermore, when British American Tobacco (BAT) introduced its ‘glo’ HTP into the Korean market in August 2017, their heat-sticks (Dunhill Neosticks) did not include capsules. Like IQOS, the heat-sticks included flavour options (tobacco, menthol and lemon ginger), with three additional flavours introduced in December 2017 (‘Ruby fresh (cherry)’, ‘purple fresh (grape)’ and ‘smooth fresh (light menthol)’). 
There also isn't a Lemon and Ginger flavoured Glo stick from BAT.  So what the hell are they wibbling about?

And then the penny drops. Glo dishwasher liquid does in fact come in Lemon and Ginger flavour.


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Popcorn Time: Australia Is Wobbling On E-Cigs

The Australian Guardian reported on Tuesday that the Aussie government is to set up a new inquiry into e-cigs.
The health minister Greg Hunt has agreed to an independent inquiry into the health impacts of nicotine e-cigarettes after a concerted push in the Coalition party room over several months to legalise vaping. 
Several MPs raised the issue in Tuesday’s party room meeting, saying there was widespread support within the government for making nicotine e-cigarettes legally available.
This is significant considering Greg Hunt famously said that legalisation of vaping would never happen 'on his watch' last year. It may be political pressure which has forced his hand, but I reckon deep down he's quite relieved that the decision has almost been taken away from him because Australia - and, consequently, Greg Hunt - is fast becoming a laughing stock while all other developed nations are moving to sensibly regulate safer nicotine products.

This announcement has, of course, been welcomed by tobacco controllers keen to find out if vaping can lower smoking rates, just as they have always wanted. Oh, I'm sorry, my bad. I was confusing tobacco control with other professions who have integrity, of course they didn't welcome it, they reacted in their customary manner. By issuing veiled threats.

The prospect of a truly independent inquiry absolutely terrifies the tobacco control industry, which is why they routinely rig evidence-gathering for policymakers, as I have written about many times. My personal favourite is, coincidentally, from Australia as explained by Catallaxy Files.
In 2012 Professor Melanie Wakefield of the Victorian Cancer Council was awarded a $3 million contract to conduct a national tracking survey of tobacco consumers (and recent “quitters”) immediately prior, during, and after the implementation of plain packaging. Professor Wakefield has previously been a member of the National Preventative Health Taskforce that had recommended the implementation of plain packaging, she was a member of the Federal Government’s Expert Advisory Group on plain packaging, and was then was commissioned by the Health Department, in the absence of a tender process, to investigate the efficacy of the very policy she had recommended, designed. and implemented. Unsurprisingly the results of her research (with several co-authors) supports the efficacy of plain packaging as a policy to reduce the prevalence of tobacco consumption.
And yes, that's exactly how the tobacco control scam has worked for decades. Imagining, preparing, setting questions for, and marking their own homework. It's corruption, basically.

So of course the desiccated Sydney pensioner is going to feel threatened. After all, truly independent inquiries don't cherry-pick rare outliers and try to build doubt about products on the basis of pure prejudice like a Sydney pensioner would. A truly independent inquiry takes the body of evidence and weighs up costs against benefits to come to a sober policy conclusion. Tobacco control industry 'independent' research is always - and I mean always - conducted by state-funded anti-smoking lobbyists with huge conflicts of interest, is preconceived to come up with a certain result, and counts only costs, never benefits.

If tobacco control is scared of this inquiry, it could well be properly independent and could be a massive embarrassment to the bunch of senile dinosaurs in Oz who still cling to the idea that e-cigs can be banned forever in order that they can proudly remain in the elite club of basket case nations who continue to do so.

Australian tobacco controllers will also be scared about a truly independent inquiry because it might show that they have been paid barrels full of money for pathetic and inconsequential tobacco control ideas, while nations which have permitted alternatives have left Australia in their wake.

You know what the likes of the Sydney pensioner and his geriatric old farts need right now? Some real world statistics to prove that their policies are wildly successful. Yes, that would be the ticket! Something to show those federal MPs that they are barking up the wrong tree with vaping and should just carry on listening the old guard, like always.

Cue South Australia, then, and their latest stats on smoking prevalence, also released on Tuesday.

Oh dear. Not a good look, is it?

Yep, despite huge regular 12.5% tobacco tax increases and plain packaging, South Australia's smoking rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 2012. And what are they going to do about this? Incredibly, they are planning to legislate to follow other states down the regulatory path of equating e-cigs with smoking and banning vaping in public places as well. The stupid is very strong down under.

While smoking rates have been plummeting in countries like the UK and US since 2012 when e-cigs went mainstream, in Australia they have just trodden water despite the most hardline authoritarian anti-tobacco policy environment of any developed nation in the world. Just as in perfect population level experiment in the UK and Ireland, Australia - to its embarrassment - is proving that coercion is not successful, while encouragement and harm reduction is.

No wonder, then, that Greg Hunt is probably mighty relieved right now. He will have had people urgently whispering in his ear that he and his government are starting to look like clowns, and that maybe he should back pedal a bit. And politicians really don't like looking like clowns.

This should be incredibly interesting to watch - fortunately from 10,000 miles away - so I'm breaking out the popcorn. If Australia does a U-turn on prohibition of e-cigs, we are going to have sooo much fun! 

Monday, 17 September 2018

None Of Your Business Either

I'm afraid content has been incredibly sparse here of late due to real life getting solidly in the way.

There are huge changes afoot both business-wise at Puddlecote Inc and personally at Puddlecote Towers. Some good, some not so good but I've never been so short of time to write recreationally which - as you may have noticed over the years - is a beloved hobby of mine. I'd like to say that will change in the foreseeable future but I can't.

I did want to touch upon something in parliament recently though, and I had originally intended to write it as a follow-up to last week's article suggesting that it is none of Boston Council's business whether market traders smoke or vape around their outdoor stalls.

This same presumed political interference cropped up during the parliamentary presentation of Norman Lamb's excellent Science and Technology report on e-cigs. It was a great report - which you can read here - but one part of it raised the hackles of ignorant anti-smoking (and therefore anti-vaping) snotgobblers everywhere. They were incensed at the very idea that vapers be allowed to vape anywhere near them, the precious souls that they are.

Personally, I don't see the problem with it but Norman Lamb was very eager to distance himself from that when he presented his report to parliament on the 6th September.
Let me now turn to the area of our report that created the biggest debate: the treatment of e-cigarettes in public spaces. Despite some suggestions to the contrary, we did not recommend that e-cigarettes should be allowed in closed public spaces or on public transport. We called for a public debate on how these products are dealt with in our public spaces. The coverage of our report has certainly kick-started a public discussion, and I really welcome that. We need such a debate because the evidence suggests no public health rationale for treating e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes as one and the same.
Maybe he didn't recommend that they should be allowed in public spaces (which they are anyway considering there is no law against it) but why not? Well, here's why.
There are, however, nuisance justifications for restricting e-cigarettes’ use in public, such as in enclosed spaces and on public transport.
"Nuisance justifications"? Is that a thing politicians think they should be getting involved in now, is it? Well ASH trustee Bob Blackman seems to think so.
There is the nuisance aspect of smelling vapour, which often has a particular scent ... Personally, I would oppose any relaxation in the use of e-cigarettes in any enclosed spaces.
Bob, you speak as if whether the subjective "nuisance" of anything is any of your business, because it's not. And also, Bob, is this the policy of ASH whom you represent, because I think we should know. ASH like to portray themselves as friend of the vaper but if they are dead set against private businesses relaxing restrictions on vaping, maybe they should come out and say it. It would be weasel-like not to, don't you think?

Lamb came back to the subject later too.
However, there is a good justification, which I totally accept, for not allowing vaping because of the nuisance—because people find it invasive.
Nuisance is not a reason for politicians to intervene in behaviour unless it physically harms others (see J S Mill) so really has sod all to do with them. All politicians should note that if they come out with a sentence like that, they should really suffix it with "but that is none of our business".

If, however, politicians are now in the business of recommending action on "nuisance", maybe they can do something about some of what I find irritating. Here are some policy ideas they might like to consider, I suspect you could add more.

- On the spot £100 fines for people who stop in doorways
- A ban on kids in pubs (£2,500 fine for premises allowing it)
- Restrictions on boy bands on TV after 9pm
- The showing of holiday pictures to friends and colleagues to be reportable to the police unless explicit permission is given
- Immediately prohibit production of the Nissan Micra
- A ban on flying for people who stand up the moment a plane lands
- The name Keith to be prohibited
- Cous cous, just no!

Why on earth do we have politicians actually talking about "nuisance" as a reason for restrictions and bans? It is absolutely nothing to do with them, it is solely up to the owners of the property or business.

We went from a 30 year battle by anti-smoking fanatics to 'prove' with junk science that smoking was harming people around them, to now talking about how restrictions are justified because of "nuisance" which varies from one individual to another. Jesus effing Christ, when did this country's establishment lose all perspective about endorsing liberty?

I suppose if you can con the public that a whiff of smoke is going to kill them - and you fund a Goliath of a 'public health' industry to throw up scare stories for the good of their own bank accounts - the world is your oyster. 

Saturday, 8 September 2018

None Of Your Business, Boston Council

It is odd that recently the establishment seems pretty confused as to why the public despises them. They don't seem to understand that if they act like petty dictators, sooner or later they will piss the entire population off in some way.

Here is a perfect example from Lincolnshire.
Council discuss banning market traders from smoking and vaping at their stalls
We're only on the headline but unless you're an arsehole you should already be thinking, erm, why is it any of the council's business? Well, here's why they think it is, anyway.
Councillors in Boston have discussed whether market traders should be banned from smoking and vaping while working on their stalls. 
The suggestion to ban smoking and vaping from the Boston market was suggested by students from Boston Grammar School, Haven High Academy, Giles Academy and Boston High School, during a recent consultation.
Can you believe that? Market stall holders are taxpayers and also pay rent to the council; their customers are taxpayers; kids at fucking school are not taxpayers. Who did the council listen to? Yes, the ones who don't vote and don't pay taxes.

It is also another example of authorities who are clueless as to current recommendations around vaping. They are entrusted with power at a local level but are exercising it without even bothering to read up on the subject matter.

That aside, this is still quite insane. It is absolutely no business of the council what market stall owners do with their stalls, they are beholden only to their customers. There is no law against smoking or vaping outdoors and Boston Borough Council have no power to implement one. So what fucking right do they think they have interfering?
June Rochford from Frampton said: “I don’t think people should be smoking behind their stalls, especially if it’s a food stall. But then it is still a public place where people can smoke. I have seen a few traders smoking but they often move from behind the stall. 
"If this was imposed they would have to stop everyone from smoking in the Market Place as it wouldn’t work."
Well, yes June, you'd think people entrusted with running a council might have the brains to work those things out for themselves, but they obviously can't.

How this ever reached the level of becoming a council proposal beggars belief. A bunch of propagandised kids think up some hare-brained nonsense and the local authority leaps gormlessly into action despite it being an utter absurdity.

Now, do you think they consulted the market traders or their customers before embarking on such a wild goose chase? No, of course they didn't.

Fortunately, the idiotic policy dreamed up by a load of spotty indoctrinated kids has been shelved because the thick-as-shit council eventually had to concede that it was a waste of everyone's time and money to even consider it. But doesn't it show you the mentality of the modern politician? It is now a definitive them (who think they know better) versus us (who they see as ignorant and incapable of making our own decisions). No wonder voters all over the country are increasingly eager to give the political class a kick in the balls when we get to the ballot box. One day they might get the message and start respecting the people they serve. I'll repeat that, the people they serve.

As one trader pointed out, instead of a daft policy which will require rigorous enforcement, why not just leave it up to a natural - and free to taxpayers - method of regulation which has worked for millennia. That is, the customer is always right.
“Customers will enforce that – if somebody is selling goods and they have a fag-end hanging out their mouth then customers will make their own decisions.”
Quite. If customers are still buying regardless, they are obviously not bothered and the council are just dreaming up makework to justify their existence. Readers at Lincolnshire Live certainly don't give a penguin's pecker about it.

It looks like Boston is another council which has far too much time and money on its hands and could do with more government restrictions on their budget. Slash away, Chancellor, on this evidence there is still much more council waste left to cut. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Five Years On And The EU Has Learned Nothing

Today Snowdon reported that the EU is set to travel to COP8 in Geneva and demand that vaping be treated exactly the same as smoking for advertising purposes.

In fact, more than that, it will demand that even scenes in films portraying smoking and vaping should be classed as advertising.
In preparation for the event, various documents have been circling the global anti-smoking community to get a consensus on what to ban next. The depiction of tobacco use in the arts is one candidate. You can read the WHO's proposal here. The most notable part of the document is the WHO's intention to include tobacco use on film and television as tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) because:
Entertainment media content such as movies, music videos, online videos, television programmes, streaming services, social media posts, video games and mobile phone applications have all been shown to depict and promote tobacco use and tobacco products in ways that may encourage youth smoking uptake... Therefore, policies that reduce youth exposure to entertainment media depictions are required.
Note the word "may" in there. Because, as usual with tobacco control, there is no evidence whatsoever except for archetypal junk science from - you guessed it - Stan Glantz. They're interfering in the public's entertainment on the say-so of criminally-conflicted and arguably insane single-issue maniacs.

As Snowdon points out, the EU delegation to the FCTC's COP8 in Geneva - of which the UK will be a part - is actually trying to get e-cigs included in this daft policy.
The EU is one of the FCTC's members and, due to its size, it is rather influential. So have they objected to this? Yes, they have. But not because the proposals are too extreme. They object because they don't go far enough. In particular, the EU wants vaping to be included.
The EU welcomes the report of the Expert Group on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and supports its recommendations... [The EU] stresses that TAPS [tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship] regulatory frameworks and their implementation at national, regional and international levels do not only cover all tobacco products, both traditional and emerging ones such as heated products, but should also consider tobacco-related products such as ENDS.
Isn't that incredible? Five years ago the EU were forced to abandon total prohibition of e-cigs - apart from medically licensed ones with a maximum of 4mg nicotine - in their Tobacco products Directive (TPD) but not without a massive struggle.

At the time ASH were arguing for exactly that too. It was only once a lighter touch was applied and Public Health England - acting on recommendations from the Nudge Unit - turned guns away from vaping, that they apparently had an epiphany. The results we have seen since on smoking prevalence are astounding.

Now, you'd think that the EU might look back on 2013 and recognise that they regulated from a position of laughable ignorance back then, wouldn't you? They should be deeply embarrassed about it. But no, today's revelations suggest that they still haven't a fucking clue.

Five years on and the EU has learned absolutely nothing, judging by this

Vapers saw back then how intransigent, opaque, anti-democratic and abusive the EU is. It is why a vast majority voted for leave in the referendum. All this is doing is proving that they were right to do so.

As I understand it from COP7 in India, any EU proposal will be subject to approval from member states in meetings prior to the event. Once a position is agreed, no member state (including the UK) will have any power to object at COP8 because the EU represents all 28.

I guess we will see how serious the Department of Health really is about its Tobacco Control Plan if it allows the EU to do this. The ASA is already working on proposals to relax advertising restrictions on e-cigs rather than prohibiting all marketing outright, so direction of travel in the UK couldn't be further removed from the EU's position. And as for the proposal to ban all media online, this could mean that even bodies like NCSCT (involved in smoking cessation) would not be able to produce films for Facebook and Twitter.

If, as I suspect, the UK Department of Health - who, remember, are advised by ASH about FCTC matters - doesn't nip this in the bud, all arguments that we are better in the EU because we can have input will be washed away. If UK government policy which has produced brilliant results can be undermined by an anti-democratic gravy train urging an entirely unelected and unaccountable global cartel - both of which entirely cut the public out of their discussions - to prohibit vaping adverts worldwide, you have to ask what is the point of being in the EU delegation when we could represent the UK instead. And boy would we be hassling the fuck out of the Department of Health if they proposed this unilaterally. We tried that with the EU and they just cocked a deaf 'un.

We're watching you DoH and ASH. Very. Closely.

This is as daft as it gets and makes me 100% certain that I voted the right way in June 2016. The more of this sickening behind-closed-doors bureaucracy we can chip away at, the better.