Monday, 20 February 2012

"Come Back Here, I'll Bite Your Legs Off!"

Over at VGIF, Snowdon has been describing ASH's reaction to a report he has written on plain packaging for the ASI.

For a fake charity so used to declaring that 'the debate is over' - even when it's not by any means - feeling compelled to answer a full house of well-constructed arguments, while having very little in their hand except a pair of twos, must be quite daunting. Which is probably why the response is laugh-out-loud inept.

After Snowdon describes, in five heavily-referenced pages, the fact that there is no plausible evidence to justify plain packaging, ASH responds.
Firstly, there is now a large body of evidence to show that plain packaging will be effective.
La, la, la, not listening, la, la, la.

And on the idea that counterfeiters will no doubt be very pleased to only have to fake one packet design rather than dozens, they fire back thus.
Secondly, there is no evidence that plain packaging will lead to an increase in tobacco smuggling.
Probably because it hasn't been tried before ... which is precisely the reason there isn't any evidence that it will work as intended. Oddly enough, one lack of evidence is enough to require urgent action according to ASH, the other is to be ignored. Hypocrisy doesn't get much more stark than that.

In fact - perhaps because presumably, as these things tend to work, she would have heard about the report over the weekend and been startled into hurriedly spewing something out - Amanda Sandford submits a performance not unlike that of the Black Knight in The Holy Grail. Having been savaged by Snowdon's critique, all Sandford can do is cry 'tis just a flesh wound' before bleeding, pathetically, a load of already debunked nonsense by return, and shouting "come back here, I'll bite your legs off" as Snowdon strolls off unperturbed into the distance.

But surely the the most hilarious part of her response was kept till last. A denouement so jaw-droppingly laughable that it wouldn't look out of place at The Comedy Store.
Thirdly, the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited.
"No sign of it being prohibited"? Has she just returned from Panama after faking her own death in a canoe, or something? Thereby missing articles in obscure organs such as, err, the BBC?
There should be a ban on all alcohol advertising, including sports and music sponsorship, doctors say. The British Medical Association said the crackdown on marketing was needed, along with an end to cut-price deals, to stop rising rates of consumption.
Or, as discussed in low-profile venues such as the House of Commons by powerless non-entities like Howard Stoate MP?
The only sure way to tackle the problem is removing the alcohol industry's ability to target young people in that way. Banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship from events that are attended by children and young people, or watched by them on TV, is one way to enable young people to develop a healthier relationship with alcohol.
At the same debate, here's another small-time bit player, Stephen Hesford MP.
[...] the death rate from tobacco-related illness was 120,000 a year when the Government decided to take action to ban the advertising of tobacco products. The death rate from alcohol-related diseases is now about 40,000. Would the tipping point be 80,000 or 100,000? Is it only at that point that the Government would want to act? I would like to ask the House and the Minister to reflect, as we might prefer action sooner than that [...]
Did he just compare alcohol with tobacco there and suggest that - to use Sandford's terminology - "a measure [that] has been applied to tobacco" should "be applied to other products"? Yes, I think he did.

As did Sarah Wollaston MP in her ten minute rule bill of March last year proposing various bans and restrictions on alcohol advertising.
The industry will claim that these measures will kill off sport and culture, and that advertising is designed only to persuade people to switch brands. The same claim was made before the tobacco advertising ban.
But if Sandford really did miss all the above, there's always the chance of watching Panorama tonight where Gerard Hastings will talk about alcohol advertising and what he thinks should be done about it, as if we don't know.

Moreover, it's not just alcohol we're talking here. The bloated ranks of tax-funded public health advocates are falling over themselves to gain publicity (and thereby justify their salaries) by declaring their particular area to be 'the new tobacco'.
Obesity expert wants fatty foods tax in Wales

[Dr Haboubi said] "Why don't we put tax on unhealthy food? Like the way we do on cigarettes and alcohol."
And one from earlier this month.
Sugar 'is toxic and must be regulated just like cigarettes', claim scientists
If that's not evidence of a 'domino effect', perhaps Amanda got confused between dominoes and pontefract cakes.

She's not on very solid ground with this claim, either.
Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous consumer product which is why there is a WHO health treaty (the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) to regulate tobacco use.
Yes Amanda, but we do already have a 'Framework for alcohol policy in the WHO region' which is much the same thing (plus, incidentally, also contains talk of banning advertising), and there are indeed moves afoot to install a full Framework Convention for alcohol. Can you guess where they got the idea from, Amanda?
Spurred by the creation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, there have been increasing calls for the adoption of a similar agreement for alcohol, usually termed a “Framework Convention on Alcohol Control” (FCAC).
That's a hell of a lot of dominoes, I'd say.

ASH's problem, I fear, is that they're already fully set up with their paltry evidence, and being comprehensively shot down so near to the launch of the consultation leaves them no time to fabricate anything new. As such, we're going to hear much more of this discredited guff in coming weeks unless they can think up even dafter barrel-scraping logic.

Should be fun.

Conservative Home has more on this, where you can comment.

Please do go and sign up against extremism here.


RooBeeDoo said...

OT (sorry) but the smoking ban was put into Room 101 last night on BBC2.  I very nearly choked on my cig.

Anna Raccoon said...

Why worry? Years ago meat was displayed in enticing mounds in butcher's shops - and then they were forced to sell it in plain white cardboard platters with just essential information printed on the front, Sales soared - it made the product look so sanitised, clean, efficient and desirable. The public loved it.

I'm sure the public will be just as pleased to see cigarettes sold in packs that make you think of doctor's white coats, the nun's wimple, endless white beaches in Sri Lanka.......white has so many associations with good clean healing fun.

Put up a bare white poster - and the public will go - bet that's Silk Cut!

The white pack could be the making of the cigarette industry....

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Sadly, Anna, the word 'plain' is a bit misleading. This is what Australia is getting, and is in line with what ASH have lined up for us over here. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I got a text about that on Friday, will have to seek it out on iPlayer. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

There's a video report here, but since it was published, the gory pictures have been increased in size to 75% of the packet :-0 

Anna Raccoon said...

Gory pictures? Blimey, the kids will lurve it! Lots of different ones too - you could collect the whole set!
It takes real genius to figure out that stopping the companies using boring old red and silver and making them portray pictures that would probably be banned if they took them to school could actually increase sales.
Oh, wait, they didn't figure it out did they?

Bandit 1 said...

These antismoker fucks really are sick.

Gary K. said...

Listening to the anti's comments is like listening to Humpty Dumpty who told Alice:

Words mean what I want them to mean. No more and no less.

Gary K.

Mark Wadsworth said...

with no sign of it being prohibited.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

You're right! From 13:30 onwards here (for 6 days)

Lou said...

My understanding is the urgency has more to do with "being the first in Europe" and getting it all in place several years before the next election.

Couldn't say I had fun with the shower that make up the "group", but I can confirm not one single committee member has an open mind on the subject. It's a whitewash.

Frank J said...

Don't think the APPG is an official group. It's a gathering of the like minded.

Could have a good night out with that lot, couldn't you? (perish the thought)

Robert said...

Why are we going down the road of plain packaging when the point of sale legislation comes into force this year?

Michael J. McFadden said...

Dick, I think you must be getting carried away with this slippery slope thinking.  After all, they're not talking about banning alcohol in movies, right?

non sum dignus said...

The wearisome wimmin like Debs & Co prove beyond doubt that most
women ,not all ,should stick to kitchens,beds and TV soaps.
The silly little libbers only get some profile because our collapsing society is
in the hands of half men , trans gender Fabians and castrated Tories.
I cant imagine any real men listening to a word they say.
Let them stew in their own lonely bitterness,silly lttle sows.

Truth overcomes eventually