Friday, 27 November 2015

EU E-Cig Idiocy Beginning To Emerge

It's been a busy week hence scarcity of content here these past few days, but a tweeted pic from Wednesday deserves a wider sharing.

As an example of how pointless, absurd, staggeringly stupid and tyrannical state vandalism can be, the proposed format for e-liquid bottle labelling after implementation of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in May next year can't be beaten.

Here, from a screened presentation (hence the low res) is what it will look like.

That's a lot of scaremongering nonsense for an e-cig accessory which has accounted for zero deaths amongst the many millions of European vapers over a ten year period, isn't it? Nice that - in amongst the self-aggrandising bullshit - EU pen-pushers allowed a little blue box for the manufacturer to tell consumers what they're buying though, I suppose.

What's even more insane is where it has to be displayed. Because, y'see, the TPD demands that the maximum bottle size for e-liquid must be 10ml from May 2016. In case you don't know how small that is, here's a 10ml bottle to scale.

All that (misleading) info will have to be printed on a label barely 2 cm tall by 6 cm wide, so will be all but illegible anyway. This is what you get when you pay thousands of regulators in Brussels to sit around thinking about what to regulate next to save themselves from the dole.

I predicted laughable, perverse, and utterly stupid outcomes like this back in 2013, before the TPD had been passed. I wasn't far wrong.
1) It will illustrate - as if it were needed - the wilful disregard the EU has for democracy and balanced debate. 
2) It will show conclusively that the EU is an organisation more interested in self-perpetuating than looking after its citizens in a responsible manner. 
And 3) it will show you how extremist tobacco control bastards operate, because it ain't ever been about health.
So it's not surprising that such a serious political platform as the Leave.EU referendum campaign group sees the TPD as a perfect example of EU over-reach and counterproductive meddling. Worse still, despite the UK being far more enlightened about vaping than other countries, because this is a directive - set in motion by an unelected EU Commission - there is stuff all the Westminster government can do about it, it's happening whether our elected MPs like it or not.

Can we leave yet?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Liberty In The House

Last month I highlighted an event in the House of Commons scheduled for this week. You can read how it came about here.
I’m delighted to say that, in response to the growing attempts to tell people what they can and cannot smoke, vape, drink and eat, that Conservatives for Liberty will be holding a lobby evening of parliament called Forgive us our Trespasses: The moral case for choice and responsibility. It takes place on Wednesday, November 25, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, and for those who attend, you will have the chance to hear from seven MPs and peers, outlining their belief in individual choice.  
The lobby will firmly defend the principle of freedom of choice which, as a Conservative who believes very strongly in liberty, I believe leads to the greatest prosperity for all. The lobby will defend freedom of choice by arguing that adults should be free to weigh pleasure and risk and decide for themselves when it comes to products such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and fatty or sugary foods.
Organised by Con4Lib, this is now nearly upon us and will be held in one of the Committee rooms on Wednesday night. More details have now been released. There will be six speakers, five of them MPs which is very encouraging.

I don't know how many places might remain but if you are in or around London that evening and have left it late, email, get yourself on the guest list and I'll see you there.

If not, there is good advice as to what you can do in support of the cause from Con4Lib's communications to attendees.
We want to highlight to MPs there is a groundswell of opinion in favour of freedom of choice and against unnecessary and unjustified state intrusion into individuals' lives when it comes to decisions about eating, drinking, smoking and vaping. 
We are encouraging people who believe in freedom of choice to write to their MP. This is important because MPs always receive letters and emails in favour of restrictions on lifestyle freedoms (mostly from state-funded pressure groups - DP), and fewer in opposition. We believe it is time for the silent majority to find their voices.
This is a good point very well made. Prohibitionists will always be front and centre in attacking the liberties of others, as George Ade once observed about the disastrous policy of Prohibition in 1920s USA.
"The non-drinkers had been organising for fifty years and the drinkers had no organization whatsoever. They had been too busy drinking"
Consumers - who outnumber prohibitionists quite comfortably in every policy area - are generally too busy in their everyday life to contact representatives about how their lives are run, and it's easier to ask for a ban on something (especially if you're being paid to do so) than to ask for MPs to leave us all alone.

But it's something we all need to do, and it can make MPs sit up and take notice. Politicians will calculate that if they receive a letter, probably another 100 of their constituents will feel the same. One MP once said if he received five personally written letters from constituents in one week on a single issue, it would prompt a policy meeting in his constituency office.

So, if you're not coming on Wednesday,  do consider lending your support by finding your MP here and telling him/her why you think this is an important concept.

If nothing else, use the very apt event hashtag #LeaveUsAlone on social media as and when you feel like it. Often.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Billion Lives, My Take

OK, I'm jumping in on this because it's something that needs to be said.

Simon Clark posted an article today criticising the A Billion Lives documentary makers for using a stat on secondhand smoke.
It's ironic however that a trailer for a pro-vaping documentary should begin with the bold statement 'YOU ARE BEING LIED TO' (about the risks of e-cigarettes) before making the utterly bogus claim that "One hundred and sixty-five thousand kids die from secondhand smoke [pause] every year."
I agree with him 100% as I expressed on Twitter.

I've taken some flak for that but there is a distinction which needs clarifying.

Clark uses a very apt word in saying that SHS claims are "bogus". This is because they are exactly that, the product of bigoted imaginations and a deceitful campaign from anti-smoking organisations dating back decades.
The trouble with implementing smoking bans back in the nineteen-seventies was that smokers and nonsmokers got along well and did not want smoking banned. So few bans went into place. The thorny problems of general amity and social cohesion, operating under a widely sane perspective amongst the public, were addressed at the 1975 World Conference on Smoking and Health of the World Health Organization, held in New York city, under Chairman Sir George Godber, a British physician and health official. 
A policy of “fostering the perception that secondhand smoke is unhealthy for nonsmokers” (as described by Doctor Gary L. Huber et al., in Consumers’ Research, July 1991) was initiated by Godber at the conference, with a specific aim “to emphasize that active cigarette smokers injure those around them, including their families and, especially, any infants that might be exposed involuntarily to ETS."
To understand how this desire to make shit up resulted in a process which created such a ridiculous figure (how many of the 165k per annum have been named?), I can recommend you read Frank Davis and VGIF for some enlightenment.

Now, the argument goes that it's OK to use that particular statistic because it is recorded in newspapers (ironically by the same organisation which is lying about e-cigs, go figure) and so is hunky dory; that quoting 'public health' exaggerations on SHS back at them is a good tactic to employ. I disagree for one simple reason.

No-one, but no-one, has died from secondhand smoke - we even have court cases stating that it is fantasy - let alone 165,000 kids! It is wrong and should be called out as wrong whenever it is mentioned. Many of the problems vapers face are rooted in this mythical nonsense - when people see vapour, they get scared they will be poisoned and die because they have been conditioned to think that anything they can inhale must be dangerous ... when it's not. It is a tool that has been used by anti-smokers to circumvent the idea of free choice. The extremists in tobacco control still cling to the hope that this irrational and baseless fear will convince the public to hate e-cigs too. To use it in favour of vaping can only be self-defeating.

So why am I comfortable with the "billion lives" stat being used, I hear you ask. Well, it's because that is an entirely different onion. It is undoubtedly a tobacco control industry exaggeration too, but it is actually rooted in some basis of fact. Personally, I don't think that a billion smokers will die as a result of smoking before the end of the century - which is what is claimed - but many will. This is because (some would disagree, see these debates from 2010), it is true. We can argue about how many exactly - and a billion is almost certainly an exaggeration - but it has an element of truth about it.

In that case, it is perfectly acceptable to throw this stat back at tobacco control liars and ask them why - if they believe a billion people will die from smoking - they are determined to deter as many as possible from switching to something even the most absurd of their profession admit is far less harmful ... and doing so with outrageous lies.

That's what I believe the A Billion Lives documentary should be about and I fully support that premise. I wouldn't be able to if it regurgitated baseless bullshit which could serve to damage vaping in the long run too.

There, I said it. Flame away.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Beg For Mercy, Duffy

This has been doing the rounds on Twitter, so for those who haven't seen it, settle comfortably and read something glorious and quite extraordinary.

On Tuesday last week, Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland sat down in front of elected Scottish MPs to pitch the idea of their ignoring any and all communications from the tobacco industry at the behest of the unelected WHO. Now, I don't reckon she was prepared for some of the responses she received. Here are some edited highlights [page 12 of this PDF].
Jackson Carlaw: Like the convener, I am a lifelong non-smoker and have no particular interest in the tobacco lobby at all. Does the WHO define what the tobacco industry is? Are you part of the tobacco industry, given that you depend on its existence for your employment?
Sheila Duffy: I am not and no, I do not depend on its existence ...
Jackson Carlaw: Is that not why ASH exists?
Sheila Duffy: ASH was set up by the royal medical colleges as, for more than a decade, the scientific evidence about the harms of tobacco had not gone out to the general public because of the tobacco companies’ public relations activities ...
Jackson Carlaw: Its existence depends on the tobacco industry and if there was no smoking, there would be no need for ASH.
Sheila Duffy: If there was no smoking, there would be no need for ASH ...
Jackson Carlaw: Should our meetings with you require to be held in public, as you have suggested?
Sheila Duffy: I am entirely happy with transparency as a working principle but ...
Jackson Carlaw: Do you encourage that? Do you list, for example, on ASH’s website, the politicians that you meet, when you meet and the issues that you discuss with them? (Hint: No, they don't - DP)
Sheila Duffy: ASH Scotland is not subject to an international treaty. (But "entirely happy with transparency", so why not just publish? - DP)
Jackson Carlaw: But you are part of the tobacco industry.
The honourable gentleman makes a very good point, don't you think? The World Health Organisation classes e-cigs as a tobacco product because the nicotine in them is derived from the tobacco plant, as does the FDA in America.

If nicotine in e-cigs is a derivative of tobacco, then ASH and ASH Scotland must - by the same token - be a derivative of the tobacco industry, no?
The Convener: Is the treaty a form of censorship? (Yes - DP)
Sheila Duffy: To be honest, I think that it would save you time (Staggered! - DP). You are busy parliamentarians and if you have to sift through the misinformation, the arguments for and against and the misleading submissions that tobacco companies will slip in with their evidence ...
The Convener: My point is that we get misleading information sent to us all the time. It is part of the role of staff and politicians to take on board the information that is sent to us, decide what we agree or do not agree with and to check its veracity. That happens daily and is our job from morning to night, but you are specifically asking the committee to support a petition that says that one sector of society has to be stripped of its ability to contact us in a way that everyone else takes for granted.
Sheila Duffy: To be very clear, I am not suggesting that you should not hear from tobacco companies and their vested interests (Yes she is - DP). I am asking you to consider Scotland’s obligations under an international treaty to which we are signatories and in that respect, the tobacco industry is unique.
The Convener: Okay, so we are being asked to treat tobacco companies specifically as a different type of organisation. Are you saying that we can hear from the arms industry, the sex industry and all sorts of sectors that some people might find controversial - and in some cases are illegal - but we cannot hear from a legal entity such as the tobacco industry?
Yep, it's kinda what she is hoping will happen. Note she says that she is "not suggesting that [politicians] should not hear from tobacco companies and their vested interests" when that is the entire point of article 5.3 of the FCTC and precisely what Duffy intended when submitting this petition. To 'suggest' exactly that. The WHO cannot demand it because it would be a disgrace and an affront to democracy, but it is designed - as in this case - to hoodwink policymakers into ignoring valid stakeholders. 

It is one of the fundamental principles of the tobacco control industry. Article 5.3 is the tool they use to shut down debate and stifle dissent, it is the administrative embodiment of their pathetic tactic of smearing anyone who has ever talked to a tobacco company as an industry shill. It is deliberate, and Duffy knows that very well. It has led to utterly pointless articles such as this on the BBC, which suggest that just listening to what an industry has to say - as a government absolutely should do - is somehow wrong. 

Duffy can claim till she's blue in the face that she doesn't want that to happen, but she and her office would have done a jig when they saw PMI being publicly shamed by the BBC for exercising their democratic rights. 

It is highly encouraging, then, to see Scottish politicians recognising this abuse and giving Duffy a hard time about it. Do go read the rest of the exchanges from page 12 onwards, I think you'll find them enjoyable. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Bravo Mr McKee ... Erm

It's very rare that I agree with Martin McKee, as you may have noticed, but I cannot fault him for this excellent tweet from Sunday.

He is absolutely correct. Exploiting tragedies to promote personal or political views is quite wrong.

For example, a latent anti-capitalist sympathiser with left of centre environmental views seemed to suggest at the weekend that the Paris attacks might justify restrictions on oil commodity traders.
The individual response is clear, to apprehend and convict in the courts those who seek to commit these atrocities. The population level response recognises the role that our dependence on oil plays in the crisis in the Middle East, targeting for action those commodity dealers in the west who help groups like Daesh to launder the funds from the oil under their control and those who are profiting by supplying weapons to all the warring parties.
The same commentator - an avowed opponent of smoking and e-cigs - also once employed the Anders Breivik massacre to bizarrely promote a ban on nicotine.
In early 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right-wing extremist, began to research a means of creating poisoned bullets. In his ‘manifesto’ subsequently published online, he noted that ‘A relatively simple process will convert hollow point and even standard ammunition – lead or other alloy bullets into hollow bullets. These hollow projectiles are then injected with a biological or chemical toxin. … [converting] your projectile weapon into a chemical or biological weapon’. His criteria for selecting the poison were ease of obtaining it and lethality (measured as the LD50, or dose required to kill 50% of 75 kg adults). After careful consideration of alternatives, including heroin, various insecticides and cyanide, he concludes that the ideal is nicotine. He notes that while pure nicotine has a slightly higher LD50 than cyanide, unlike almost all of the other substances he considered, it can be purchased without restriction. Indeed, he helpfully supplies a draft letter than can be used to order it from chemical suppliers, ostensibly for use in electronic cigarettes. He even provides addresses of such suppliers, indicating that he ‘received the 50 ml of 99% pure liquid nicotine shipment from China’, and was ‘relieved to see that there were no complications whatsoever’. At the time of writing it is still not clear whether Breivik did inject his bullets with nicotine and, even if he had, it is likely that the temperature achieved by a bullet being fired would have degraded much of it, but it is inevitable that his words will attract others considering similar actions and who will devise alternative, and more reliable means of delivery. 
It is unimaginable that governments would have failed to restrict access to any other poison that had been used, or was threatened to be used, in such circumstances. Yet nicotine retains its privileged position as an active pharmacological agent that is largely exempt from regulation (except paradoxically, when being sold as a means to assist quitting smoking). There were already strong arguments for regulating the sale of nicotine, most obviously by licensing it as a drug, as has been proposed in Iceland. The tragic events in Oslo make the argument overwhelming. Otherwise, we will be forced to conclude that, once again, the tobacco industry is exempt from the laws to which everyone else is subject.
So I am extremely glad to congratulate Martin McKee for coming out and saying publicly that exploiting terrorism for personal or political hobby horses is despicable. I'm sure he would join with us in condemning the behaviour of the above author. 

Oh, hold on ...