Sunday, 30 September 2012

Outrageous Lies Are Becoming A Flood Surrounding E-Cigs

Earlier this week, estranged tobacco controller Michael Siegel (who is persona non gratis within his industry for the crime of retaining some principles) reported on a press release from Americans for Non-Smokers Rights.
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Publicly Claims that Electronic Cigarettes are Not Useful in Smoking Cessation, Despite Any Scientific Support for Its Statement
In a press release issued yesterday, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) publicly claimed that electronic cigarettes are not helpful for smoking cessation, despite the lack of any scientific evidence to back up its assertion (and in the presence of much scientific evidence to contradict its statement). 
[...] 
... ANR is lying when it states that there is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are an an effective cessation tool. 
There is abundant evidence that literally thousands (if not tens of thousands) of electronic cigarette users have successfully used these products to either quit smoking or to cut down substantially on the amount that they smoke. A clinical trial has demonstrated that among smokers who were not motivated to quit, 54% were able to quit completely or to cut down by at least half on the amount they smoke.
It's no surprise to catch an anti-smoking agency lying - after all, it's been a major plank of their global activities for decades. However, the blatant nature of the lies on show here towards e-cigs is quite astounding. Here's the quote in question from their executive director, Cynthia Hallett.
"What I find most egregious are the direct advertisements with false and misleading claims, including that e-cigarettes are effective smoking cessation devices, that e-cigarette use is permissible in all indoor environments, including venues that are smoke-free, and targeting pregnant women claiming that e-cigarettes are safer and healthier than other tobacco products."
Err, but e-cigarette use is permissible in most indoor environments because it hasn't been included in smokefree legislation in the vast majority of cases. How is that false or misleading? And it is very clear that they are safer and healthier than other tobacco products, and have been proven to be so.

What I, myself, find egregious, love, is the fact that you are deliberately scaring people away from products which have immense potential for harm reduction, much of it very well documented and even clinically proven. And that this is done by trying to claim that e-cigs are equally as damaging as smoked tobacco, which is not even close to the truth.

As if to prove the old adage about lies flying round before boots can be donned, the Missouri News Tribune is just one of many sources who have acted as an outlet for this utter garbage. Going the whole hog, it further quotes other dangerous idiocy vomited up by the original press release.
The group points to a study recently published in Indoor Air, which measured the contents of exhaled e-cigarette vapor and found that exhaling the vapor releases measurable amounts of carcinogens and toxins into the air, including nicotine, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Passive vaping? Yup, she's actually - with a serious tone - stopping people from using e-cigs as a potential way of quitting by invoking the fantasy problem of passive vaping, as covered here just recently following the dribbling rantings of Raving Mad Stan. To offer some perspective to Hallett's moral panicking, here is how they came to those 'conclusions'
Of note is the fact that the quantities measured for conventional cigarette smoke for these chemicals ranged from two to forty times higher, yet the quantities measured were so tiny that, even in smoke, none met or exceeded the Exposure Limit.
Firstly, it has to be emphasised that just this part - of a study referenced by Hallett herself, remember - comprehensively debunks her previous assertion that e-cigs are no safer than lit tobacco, but we'll carry on.
Concerned that some compounds that they expected to measure in the chamber tests were missing and/or present in barely detectible amounts, the researchers decided to measure VOCs directly in exhaled breath.
Yes, they did it again. Short of any proper scientific evidence of any attributable harm from exhaled e-cig vapour, they changed the methodology to ensure they would get some kind of measurement, however miniscule. It's a favourite mendacious tactic of theirs. As the author of that piece points out, the only way anyone would receive such minute traces of the chemicals mentioned at all is if they were snogging the vaper at the very moment they breathed out.

That is the definition of 'measurable' for the pharma cash addicted tobacco control industry.

It would seem that the three line whip from the WHO (who are equally in the thrall of pharma companies) on e-cigs is being adhered to by the global tobacco control industry and - as a result - we are seeing some of the most spectacular lies ever witnessed in the history of 'public health'.

The ANPR press release really is truly laughable, or would be if it weren't so hideously dangerous. When the time comes - and it will, without doubt - that e-cigs are proven beyond doubt to be a device overwhelmingly safer than smoking, there will be more than red faces. In litigious America, especially, I hope there will be some multi-million dollar law suits filed in the future citing these disgusting people for negligent advice and stripping them of every possession they have ever owned.

If they get away with living the rest of their days on a park bench, they should consider it a right result because some serious jail time on top is a more appropriate punishment.

I'll leave the last word to David Sweanor, former advisor to the WHO on tobacco control. For the likes of Hallett, and other irresponsible psychopaths, it should be akin to looking in a mirror.
"For anti-nicotine campaigners who say we need to wait for more research I would point out the way they are proving Nietzsche correct – we take on the attributes of our enemies. Cigarette companies spent decades making spurious claims that we need ‘more research’ before we could move on policy measures, despite the already-existing basis for informed policy measures. They provide very poor role models."
Or perhaps to Orwell.
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
I'll say this one more time, just for good measure. It has NEVER been about health.


Friday, 28 September 2012

Fake Charity Continues To Waste Taxes Making Kids Miserable

Last month, the excellent Harridanic site (which you really should bookmark, by the way) spotted fake charity Sustain attempting to ban online games which kids enjoy.

The state-funded grinches would probably describe their job as working to deliver healthy happy lives for children or something, but it's ironic that their efforts are designed exclusively to make kids miserable. Not just taking candy from a baby, but also even the sight of it in an online video game.

Their latest wheeze is to spend our taxes constructing a breathless complaint about Fanta.
An online video ad on www.fanta.co.uk, titled "Fun, New 2011 Fanta 'Bounce' Commercial. Check out the Video for More Fanta. Less Serious. New 2011 Fanta commercial where thanks to Fanta orange a DJ boy flips and bounces a bored girl, a hip chick, a nerdy guy, a cheerleader, 2 dudes, some dogs and a whole basketball pickup game all over town ... all because of an orange Fanta! What happens when his Fanta is gone!? Hmmm", featured animated characters. A female character was shown lying on her bed, looking bored. A male character jumped through the door and gave her a bottle of Fanta. They drank some and began bouncing up and down on the bed. Other characters in the street were also shown drinking Fanta and bouncing around. When they finished the bottles the music slowed, they stopped bouncing, and they all looked unhappy. The male character from the first scene returned and they all began bouncing again. On-screen text stated "MORE FANTA. LESS SERIOUS"
Shocking, huh?.

Forget kids stumbling across porn, paedophiles grooming in chat rooms and the like. No no, what we really want our government spending taxes on is banning videos which show youngsters enjoying drinks that they enjoy drinking. I mean, it's so unrealistic, isn't it?



Personally, I'd be pissed off if my two were not happy when I pay my - productively-earned - money on a treat for them, and even more disappointed if they spent their own on something which didn't make them feel they had acquired utility or value. But I suppose the parasites who spend their turgid, economy-draining, anti-social lives sucking on the public teat must have a different outlook, I dunno.

Anyway, the complaint was rejected but I do urge you to read the full judgement to show how pathetic these people are. Were they ever young themselves? It's a jolly advert, for Christ's sake, just the same as those which (we assume) used to be watched by those at Sustain and the ASA before they lost their happy souls and descended into their crusty, joyless nether world where something which portrays enjoyment in a bright colour can be considered as having the potential to kill children.

Can they not just have a Coke and a smile, and stop being so pathetic? It's the fucking chocolate orange scenario all over again.

We've known politicians to be out of touch with their electorate for a very long time - it's why we increasingly don't vote for any of them anymore - but the gap between their absurd ideological notions and reality grows ever wider by the week. Why else would they fund an entity as petty and miserable as Sustain when the country has no money and could do with a dose of cheer?

Remember, in the pre-bully state era, when we used to be able to simply ignore them?


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Laying The Groundwork In Wales

If you live in Wales, you'll have seen this before. In fact, you'll probably be pig sick of it by now.


Yes, as pointed out by my Twitter chum ArfurD, Fresh Start Wales - a government-funded anti-smoking org - has been sponsoring the ITV weather reports over the border.

I've always been interested in how much these things cost so, seeing as it is covered by the Freedom of Information Act, I asked.
Fresh Start Wales is paying ITV £18,334 per month to include the clip in weather bulletins. Fresh Start Wales is paying ITV £110,002 in 2012/13 and £73,336 in 2013/14.
This, remember, does not include our taxes they have spent on producing the video in the first place, nor on billboards and other advertising media supporting the same policy. I don't know how long the ads have been running so far, but this means Welsh viewers will eventually have to have endured ten months of it, day in day out, at all times of the night and day.

What is interesting about this is that it is subtle government lobbying government posing as a mini public information film.

The Welsh government has made no secret of the fact that they are soon to be tabling legislation to ban smoking in cars with children, so why not soften the public up first by shovelling £180k to one of their satellite bodies, eh? Ten months of a flawed message being subliminally dripped into the minds of relaxed TV watchers, and opposition - they expect - will just melt away.

If it doesn't, of course, the iron fist of the state will be brought to bear. Whereas in decades past they would broadcast films to advise the public, they now spend £180k in Wales alone to pass a message on, but with an open threat of coercion behind it if you don't comply.

And once they've slimed that law past a bovine public, they can go for what they have really desired all along, a comprehensive ban in all cars with children present or without.

To borrow a phrase ... whatever the weather outside, the state will always use your money to lie, cheat, bully, interfere and steal.


Thirdhand E-Cig Vapour: Yes, It's Apparently A Concern

Thanks must go to the kind fellow jewel robber who forwarded me a copy of the aforementioned unavailable study which Raving Mad Stan tweeted about on Friday.

On first skim, it takes itself very seriously so I'll have a closer look at it when I get time. But, for now, I thought you'd like to see this stand-out gem from the preamble.
Another important aspect in the future discussion about e-cigarettes will be the effect of third-hand smoke that mainly describes human exposure against residues of smoking on clothes, furniture, and other indoor surfaces (Matt et al., 2011). In case of e-cigarettes, the solvent of the liquids may remain on available surfaces and be a source for the contamination of residents.
Now, forgive me if I've misread that, but these guys seem to think third-hand smoke - which isn't even a thing - is reason to suspect that third-hand e-cig vapour is a future danger to the population. Yes, water vapour is now dangerous according to the public health racket. Quite remarkable! Think of the children and boil those kettles outdoors from now on please.

The study to which they refer is authored by Georg E Matt, a boggle-eyed fruitcake on the lunatic fringe of even a tobacco control industry which has long lost perspective.

You know you're dealing with someone incredibly deluded when Simon Chapman himself takes time to write a not-too-enthusiastic critique.
Many constituents of third hand smoke can be found in all homes and cars, regardless of smoking

It is important that research documents residuals from tobacco smoke. But it is equally important that consumers and policy makers are not led to believe that the chemical compounds thus located are somehow unique to tobacco smoke. 
The omission of this information in such reports risks harming the credibility of tobacco control.
In fact, he could have been referring to Georg Matt when he wrote this.
Opponents of clean indoor air will be able to point to dubious “endgame” advocacy in nations which have successfully introduced indoor smoking bans, and invoke slippery slope precedents that advocates actually want to ban smoking “everywhere”. This may unfairly brand tobacco control advocates as clandestine extremists with agendas which abandon all proportionality in the formulation of policy.
Proportionality flew out the window years ago, Simon, me old mucker. All that's left is quite astounding fuckwittery.

Probably why, even though this study cites Matt et al as a source - 'research' Chapman has politely condemned - his zealotry still found it perfectly correct to retweet when Nutty Stan made his great revelation to the world of Twitter. 


Not that it was much of a shattering revelation anyway, despite Stan's breathless scaremongery. It's months old and I've mentioned it before.

Still, it's worth looking into further seeing as Stan thinks it's such a cracker, isn't it? What are the odds that the study doesn't show e-cigs are that dangerous, after all? Oh look, it's already been looked into, and no, it doesn't.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Month Of Australian Miserablism

It seems that since the their government passed legislation enforcing plain packaging for tobacco, Australian prohibitionists have gone into overdrive. Barely a day passes without some new misery being contemplated for the poor unfortunates who find themselves living there.

In order to log it for posterity, here's a brief rundown of what has emerged from the authoritarian antipodean dustbowl in just a month.

We've seen plans to progressively ban tobacco entirely.
The 2000 Smoke Free Generation initiative has secured the backing of Tasmania's independent upper house, the Legislative Council, and will be scrutinised by the state government. 
The Legislative Council is calling for a ban on cigarette sales to anyone born after the year 2000. The initiative, brought to Australia by a University of Singapore academic, means that, from the year 2018, young people who would have then come of legal age, no longer could smoke.
The same day, it was proposed to quadruple the price of wine.
THE price of cheap wine could be increased fourfold to combat the rising cost of death and injury fuelled by alcohol. 
A government inquiry has been told wine is cheaper than bottled water and raising the price is the best way to fight the 32,600 deaths and 813,000 hospital visits caused by alcohol each year.
In New South Wales, they are targeting nightclubs by planning to ...
-Ban shots (no more birthday shots)
-Ban cocktails (no more mojitos)
-Ban doubles (no more scotch on the rocks)
-Ban glassware (no more bottled wine or beer)
-Restrict sales to no more than 4 drinks per person at a time (no more shouting your mates)
-Force venues to stop serving drinks an hour before close.
From here

 While elsewhere, others are calling for plain packaging for McDonald's and Burger King.
“What it is necessary to do is to create a neutral environment for consumers, because at the moment we have an environment that is obesity-promoting,” said Bebe Loff, director of the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Monash University.
The Australian Medical Association got stuck in too last week.
THE legal drinking age should be lifted to 25 to stop young people becoming addicted to alcohol and limit the violence associated with drunkenness, the head of the nation's peak medical organisation says. 
AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said the human brain was still developing until the age of 25 and exposure to alcohol earlier could change a person's addictive potential.
And, just in case alcohol is actually available anywhere in the future, there are calls to reduce the drink drive limit ...
Across Australia, the general driving and riding population has a legally allowed blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .05, which has been in force for over 30 years. But technology, attitudes and knowledge have improved. So isn’t it time to reconsider this BAC limit?
... which has only re-energised commenters who want breathalysers on every street corner for pedestrians.
Personally, I believe Australians have developed a binge drinking culture. And, that Point Zero 5 ought be made mandatory for ALL public places. That way, drunkards walking the streets could be issued with a penalty. Over time, we would develop a view that drunkenness is not OK - anywhere.
In case you were wondering, Point Zero 5 (0.05) is a drink driving (or, indeed, walking) limit more severe than that in force in the UK.

There is the odd blip of common decency Down Under - like that highlighted by Snowdon today - but, for the most part, all that walking around upside down seems to have finally seen the blood rush pressure mash their heads up.

Best of luck, My Choice Australia, you're gonna need it.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Series Of Uncanny Coincidences

This tweet popped up from the New Zealand plain packaging campaign last night. It might be news to you as it definitely was to me.


You see, as far as we over here are concerned, there is still a consultation process going on regarding plain packs. You know, that old-fashioned idea of the public being considered before government makes its mind up, and all that? The results won't be known for a few months yet, or so we are told.

Plain packs New Zealand, however, seem to think that is entirely irrelevant despite responses being overwhelmingly in favour of ditching the idea. They are very forthright in stating exactly what our government is planning to do. Publicly.

Now, either they are lying the big one to their followers (not easily dismissable, it's what tobacco control do) or they have received information from someone in the know who is not only blithely dismissive of democratic process, but also obviously quite corrupt.

Consider, too, a tweet from Simon Chapman in June - who, remember, lives 10,000 miles away - which states with absolute certainty that those opposing plain packs are universally dodgy.


Again, this is news to anyone who was following the debate in this country, yet conveniently came just a few days after Andrew Black of the Department of Health had written to Simon Clark of Forest about something he claimed to have seen. Not that anyone here knew that at the time, of course.

Chapman offered no link, nor was there any news coverage anywhere of this 'story'. In fact, it wasn't until three months later on the 13th September that the allegations were placed on the Department of Health website surrounding something the department's dedicated Aussie anti-smoker - Andrew Black - says he saw just a few days before Chapman's tweet. Uncannily enough, it concerned "screeds of made up names" being collected. What a coincidence!

How on earth, in June, did Simon Chapman become the only person in the world outside the Department of Health to know what was going on? The Guardian and Independent - the usual cheerleaders - were entirely oblivious, as were the rest of the global press. Yet Chapman looked in his crystal ball and there it was ... a moving picture of what was happening at a London rail hub.

Hey! There's probably a perfectly innocent explanation. Chapman perhaps had had a few glasses of Shiraz and let his imagination run away with him. Maybe the NZ plain packs lot did the same, I dunno.

The alternative - which is uncomfortable to contemplate - is that some unscrupulous soul within the Department of Health is regularly in contact with the other side of the world, passing on info which British voters are not privy to, in order to help influence opinion elsewhere. Oh yeah, and spending our taxes in doing so.

If there was an Aussie or New Zealander at the Department of Health in a position of authority concerning tobacco policy - who was bypassing democratic process by leaking info in advance of government policy - it might be a story which would be worth a newspaper pursuing. Lucky that isn't the case and they're all responsible and professional at the Department of Health then, eh?


Monday, 24 September 2012

Sock Puppetry 101

Busy times at Puddlecote Towers so content will be sparse, but this IEA 'bite-size' infographic on state-funded Sock Puppetry was worth reproducing, I thought (click to enlarge).


Government lobbying government is a phenomenon which should be more widely known, so please do share generously.



Sunday, 23 September 2012

It Lives!

Tobacco control may have moved on to other absurd (and increasingly transparent prohibitionist) nonsense, but there's one issue that refuses to die however much they try to pretend it has.

Belinda reports today on a petition in Scotland which has attracted interest from The Scotsman and the Sunday Express (click to enlarge, as usual).


More than six years after Scotland's ban, it's still being discussed. Still something newspapers feel is a live subject and worth talking about - hardly surprising since comments sections are always fiercely lively whenever the matter is mentioned. The same is true of Wales. It was bound to happen, as has always been historically the case when governments pass bad law. 

In Switzerland, they have a different kind of democracy. You know, one where they actually listen to what the people have to say instead of fake science and the congenital lies of state-funded activists. They today gave a resounding no to the idea of a comprehensive nationwide smoking ban.
La Tribune de Geneve suggests voters rejected a full ban because they did not want to force the smaller cantons into changing their local laws, and because of resentment at perceived state interference in people's lives.
Oh boy! Ain't that the truth!

If our own voters were allowed the same democratic input at the time, the result would have been the same in this country too. The Office of National Statistics were adamant about that in their General Household Survey of 2005 [pdf].


I'll break that down for you, again.
Since 1996, they have split the responses between those who approve of an outright ban, those who favoured some restrictions, and the numbers calling for none at all.
The figures up to 2005 were:
2003: 20%, 70% and 8% respectively.
2004: 31%, 63% and 5%
2005: 33%, 61% and 5% 
Note that the first figure is those in favour of what has now been inflicted on us. The significant majority didn't want it. This could have been embarrassing to Labour, in the wake of their authoritarian Health Act 2006, if the ONS hadn't changed the way they presented the stats ... which is exactly what they did. I'm sure they still asked the same questions, but tables were published showing 66% agreeing with restrictions (a flatline from the previous two years by their own admission), without any further detail. 
Lo and behold, a majority now in favour, whereas before they were struggling for a third of those surveyed. As Paul Daniels might say, now that's magic.
So, if our own government showed as much respect to us as the Swiss equivalent does to their citizens, the same result would have been seen here in 2006. Sadly, Switzerland seems alone in actually trusting their own people to make decisions in a {cough}democracy.

Every single country in Europe - from Ireland in 2004 to Bulgaria this year - have enacted bans on smoking in private businesses without even a casual nod to public opinion or democratic process.

It's why ASH Scotland are still being called on to defend their trouser-filling north of the border six years on, and why they are still required to trot out long since debunked Jill Pell junk science to do so.

It's never going away. Thank you Switzerland for proving that and being an embarrassment to every politician who claims - and 'claims' is the operative word here - to be in favour of democracy and freedom.


Friday, 21 September 2012

The Big Stick Is Brought Out To Beat E-Cigs With

If this blog had a motto, it would be the much-repeated refrain "it's never been about health". 'It' being the current western obsession with banning - or hugely hindering - any substance not approved of by trouser-filling health lobbyists and snobby elitists.

Nowhere is this more blatant than the recent escalation of aggression towards e-cigs.

Rather than celebrate the fact that millions of smokers have quit - and millions more cut down their consumption - thanks to e-cigs, the tobacco control industry have instead distorted facts, spread astounding lies, and corralled their largely vacant troops into doing their damnedest to get the things banned.

Michael Siegel, himself a tobacco controller, has posted many articles detailing the corrupt campaign being waged against them, for example ...

Anti-Smoking Researchers Seem to Be Losing Basic Scientific Reasoning Skills Due to Ideology

World Health Organization Needs to Change Stance on Electronic Cigarettes; Current Position is Leading to Public Health Harm

Author of Article Attacking E-Cigarettes Appears to Have Failed to Disclose Significant Financial Conflict of Interest

European Respiratory Society Hides Multiple Financial Conflicts of Interest in Statement Opposing Electronic Cigarette Use

Researcher Who is Unsure that Smoking is Any More Hazardous than Vaping has Hidden Her Big Pharma Conflict of Interest

Electronic Cigarette Opponents Fail to Disclose Relevant Conflicts of Interest to the Public

... to name but a few.

There are a few clues up there as to where this obscene nonsense is emanating from and it looks like it is only going to get worse. And, judging from the incredible pace in recent months, it is going to happen quickly. Especially once the world's biggest tobacco control troughers get together in Seoul in November.

As countries around the world either ban, or make moves to ban, something which is proving to be a gargantuan aid to health, The WHO - unelected and proud of it - are handing out free tips for regulators in their guidance for the Seoul circle jerk (emphases mine, ENDS means e-cigs).
33. It should be noted that ENDS are products resembling cigarettes and could therefore undermine the denormalization of tobacco use upheld by the WHO FCTC. Parties are therefore invited to consider that a ban of ENDS as already undertaken by some Parties would contribute to changing the social norms regarding the consumption of tobacco products. 
34. Parties may wish to consider that strong measures to prevent further spread of ENDS could be considered under a  number of provisions of the WHO FCTC, including Article 5.2(b) which requires Parties to “adopt and implement effective ... measures … for preventing and reducing … nicotine addiction …”. Most ENDS contain nicotine, and would therefore contribute to maintaining an addiction to nicotine.
35. Parties may also wish to consider whether the sale, advertising, and even the use of electronic cigarettes can be considered as promoting tobacco use, either directly or indirectly. Regardless of whether or not ENDS contain nicotine or tobacco extracts, they are used to mimic smoking, which could be considered as a (direct or indirect) promotion of tobacco use. 
38. ... regulating them rather than banning them could grant these new products a level of legitimacy in terms of market access,
The phrase "to prevent the further spread of ENDS" particularly stands out. I mean, why on Earth would the World Health Organisation wish to see a product which is - in their parlance - saving lives, spread further, eh?

When you consider that the EU is looking like entirely dismissing the results of their own public consultation in favour of a headlong rush into banning e-cigs, it has to be considered that the appalling advice above has something to do with it.

This one is a doozy too.
36. Additionally, the use of ENDS could hamper the implementation of Article 8 (Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke) as ENDS users in public places may claim that their electronic cigarette does not contain tobacco and/or does not produce second-hand tobacco smoke.
There's no "claim" about it! They don't contain tobacco, nor do they produce second-hand tobacco smoke! This is a world-respected body producing utter bollocks here, and without even the merest hint of shame.

It hasn't stopped one of their most insane cheerleaders trying desperately to promote some kind of health scare around it, mind. And when challenged, the dangerous lunatic retreats to the usual industry tactic of treating you like a mushroom (keeping you in the dark and throwing in the occasional bit of shit).


Impossible, of course, because - as is customary with these snake oil merchants - it is hidden away where no-one can see it.

In the pursuit of self-enrichment and obsessive prejudice, the attack on e-cigs is being co-ordinated from the very top, and real harm - not the imagined stuff these charlatans have been trading on since the late 70s - could be visited on people all over the world as a result.

So I'll say it again. It's never been about health. 



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Only Working Class Fat Makes You Fat

It's clear to anyone but the most blinkered that much of current healthy lifestyle advice is driven as much by snobbery as concern for the public, but I've never heard it put so blatantly as today on Radio 5.

Richard Bacon - the less said about his regular barely-suppressed political leanings the better - was hosting Clarissa Dickson-Wright promoting her new book. After celebrating Yorkshire's no nonsense approach to food, particularly the keeping of fat on ham which she described as "very important", she was quizzed by Bacon on the subject (around 1:31:00 onwards).
RB: Does fat make you fat?
CD-W: Does fat make you fat? I think the sort of fat you get in McDonald's hamburger or some other such thing would make you fat.
RB: But the fat on ham?
CD-W: No, it wouldn't make you fat, particularly, depends on how much you eat I suppose, but fat doesn't necessarily make you fat, no.
So there you have it. The food that those less well off eat will make you fat, posh food won't. Clarissa doesn't make things up as she goes along, you know.


Good grief.



Outbreak Of Common Sense Spotted In Melbourne

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you

O can't you see
You belong to me
You know the song. According to Wikipedia, it is ...
... the words of a sinister, controlling character, who is watching "every breath you take; every move you make".
Remind you of anything?

Hey, it's not my spot, but one from a member of the public health community who is more than refreshing! You can see him speak from around 6:00 minutes in - with introduction from a fellow jewel robber - on this video of the launch of My Choice Australia, a new anti-nanny state organisation down there. If you have time and something nice to sip, do watch the lot though as it's all good.


It's encouraging to know that, even in the prime cesspit of dehumanising nannyism, there are still some souls who can see the threat and are prepared to speak up.

All grease to their elbow, I say.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

'Domino Theory' Proven 100% Correct In Just Over A Year

OK, we've all been laughing about Deborah Arnott's broken crystal ball for a few months now, so for the purposes of this article we'll restrict her embarrassment to just a small snippet for those who may have missed it.
"[...] The “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false."
She was reacting to an argument which was first made against plain packaging by BAT Australia in their advertising campaign of May 2011 with images such as these.


Looks like they were acutely accurate to me. With the ink barely dry on plain packaging of tobacco - and the measures not even being applied till later this year - the upside-down branch of career gloom merchants has already marched on to their next logical step.
Plain packaging for junk food? Health experts call for govt intervention

“What it is necessary to do is to create a neutral environment for consumers, because at the moment we have an environment that is obesity-promoting,” said Bebe Loff, director of the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Monash University.

Professor Loff said stemming the tide of disciplines dedicated to the marketing of food was a huge ask, but controlling the portion size of sugary drinks was a good start.

She added that it took 60 years, and a decision by the government to ignore its own guidelines for regulating, to see the plain packaging crackdown on the tobacco industry.

“I’m not suggesting it be welfare-promoting, but suggesting that it be neutral so we’re not encouraged every time we turn around when walking through a supermarket, and being bombarded with all sorts of imaginative marketing techniques.”
When walking through a supermarket? The only "imaginative marketing techniques" I've ever seen in supermarket aisles are the packets themselves. I think it's pretty clear which way this prohibitionist is thinking, don't you?

So, it has taken one year and four months for BAT to have been proven correct with their warning. That is lightning fast and entirely contrary to the equally disastrous predictions of Arnott's antipodean counterpart, the oldest swinger in Sydney.
The tobacco industry and its stooges played the same slippery slope arguments over advertising bans, sports sponsorship bans and pack warnings . Ad bans started 35 years ago. No alcohol advertising ban and no momentum I’m aware of other than breaking the sport/alcohol nexus. So the slope ain’t very slippery folks ...
All of which proves that if anyone in the tobacco control industry tells you it's going to be sunny, don't leave home without an umbrella.

Not that this slope's lack of slipperiness stopped Simon Chapman himself suggesting what a good idea it would be for plain packaging to be shifted onto other products when presenting to his fellow public health bores, mind [ppt].


Hmmm, I think I've heard packaging of sweets lambasted somewhere before, and that was laden with references to precedents elsewhere too.

Pursuit of a bland, colourless and risk-terrified world seems to be a very lucrative earner for some, doesn't it? May God rot them all.


We're All Agreed Then

With a consultation on plain packaging underway in New Zealand, the tobacco control industry's lucratively pliant friends at the University of Otago have been happily producing 'science' to order.

Their latest offering comes to a stunning conclusion.
Results

Young adults distinguished between brands on the basis of their packaging alone, associated each brand with specific attributes, and were equally able to interpret familiar and unfamiliar brands.
Yes indeed, and it is the same for 'old' adults too, doncha know. And for all other products aside from tobacco, come to that.

Which, uncannily, is precisely what tobacco companies have been saying the packaging is for in their opposition to plain packaging. Here's an example - chosen at random - from JTI.
Packaging is essential to brand competition. Packaging is used by consumers to identify, obtain information about and choose tobacco products, easily and without confusion. Manufacturers use distinctive packaging to develop brand equity, innovate and compete.
So, we're all agreed, then. Good.

What with this and Cancer Research UK admitting that kids barely notice the packets, you've got to wonder why they're bothering with all this plain packs nonsense.

Oh yeah sorry, I forgot. They get paid for doing so, don't they. Silly me.


Buses Are Cool

Well, not as cool as trucks, of course, but ...


I loved the ad, anyway. I suppose that means, as we are constantly informed about advertising, that I will soon be overwhelmed by an irresistible urge to go out and buy one.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Impending Minimum Alcohol Price Escalator

Sadly, it looks like exactly what we have been predicting from our appalling government is coming true.

I've mentioned many times that the campaign for minimum pricing of alcohol is just a further means of control. Once the feet are under your living room table, they'll be ramping the price up at every possible opportunity.
When this small snifter doesn't produce the right buzz for the righteous, and it won't, calls will go out (not from the likes of us, natch) for something further to be done and the 50p, 60p, or even 70p unit and beyond is then only a circle jerk away.
Snowdon has warned you too, in many places.
There will only be calls for the minimum price to rise to 60p, 70p, 80p, and those demands will never end.

The 40p unit proposal is a Trojan horse. Once it becomes law, the temperance lobby will have a powerful weapon with which to incrementally raise prices. If 69p for a can of lager is “pocket money”, is not 89p or 99p also loose change? There is no correct price for alcohol. For the temperance lobby, the answer to the question of how much a drink should cost will always be “more”.

If 50p proves ineffective, we can surely expect campaigns for a 60p, 70p and 80p unit price in the years ahead.
And as night follows day, our government have confirmed that this will, indeed, the case. Here it is, bold as brass straddled across pages 3 and 4 of the government's statement of intentions.
Given the Government’s decision to introduce a minimum unit price, the debate has been about the level at which it should be set – whether it should be 40, 45 or 50 pence – but the setting of a minimum unit price will not be a one-off event. Once a minimum price is introduced, if it is judged to be successful, the level will need to be monitored and adjusted over time. A mechanism will need to be put in place in order to do this
We're talking here of a committee which will be entrusted to decide what the price rises should be, because you can be damn sure they won't be recommending reductions even in the very direst of recessions.
One way of setting the level would be to establish an advisory body (there are a number of these already, dealing with a range of issues) to analyse evidence and make recommendations to Government.
Now, how many people who believe in self-determination and freedom of choice do you think will be included in that body?

I'll give you a clue. Take a look at previous Department of Health 'impartial' evidence-gathering.

Meanwhile, the pub industry - who have been exhaustively fighting the beer duty escalator for years now - seem utterly clueless that minimum pricing is another cute donkey which is going to kick them very hard in the future, as Pub Curmudgeon pointed out last year.

There is such a lot of waking up and coffee-sniffing to be done in this country.

UPDATE: The Department of Health has pulled the report from its website for some reason. Fortunately, it had already been picked up and reproduced elsewhere.


Monday, 17 September 2012

He Who Casts The First Stone, And All That

Simon Clark has today revealed some desperate wriggling from the tobacco control industry as a result of half a million signatures against plain packaging slamming onto Andrew Black's desk last month. All very interesting it is too. I think they're right pissed off that the public had the cheek to oppose them!

It's odd, isn't it, that the same troughers who are usually so condemnatory of the Freedom of Information Act are now tweeting like buggery in celebration of its ability to release hidden documents. By jove, I think they've finally got it!

It did call to mind responses shared with me by fellow jewel robber, Jane120871, via e-mail which I was pleased to receive but didn't recognise the importance of a few weeks ago. You see, if you'd just read today's revelations, you could be forgiven for believing that only the Hands Off Our Packs campaign was employing agencies to gain signatures - something I'm sure the plain packs campaign are very happy about.

However, our Jane was approached by a chugger for plain packs while on a lunch break and, being curious, asked a few questions of the main smokefree bodies. Presumably conscious of the fact that their actions are liable to questioning from we poor saps who are forced to pay for their propaganda, she hit - it seemed to me at the time - a bit of a brick wall.

Here are some of the questions and answers.
How many agency staff are being paid out of your funds to collect signatures for this campaign?

An external Agency is commissioned to carry out this work and therefore we do not hold all the information needed to determine this.

How many man hours have you paid to agency staff to collect signatures for this campaign?

An external Agency is commissioned to carry out this work and therefore we do not hold all the information needed to determine this.

How many agency staff are being paid out of your funds to collect signatures for this campaign.

We fund this public engagement activity and related events through an agency and as a result we don’t hold this exact information.

How many man hours have you paid to agency staff to collect signatures for this campaign.

We fund this activity and related events through a contract with an agency and as a result we don’t hold this exact information.
I think you get the idea.

Fresh (North East) were a little more forthcoming, but not by much.
How many agency staff are being paid out of your funds to collect signatures for this campaign?

Answer: There are two agency workers collecting signatures for this campaign.

How many man hours have you paid to agency staff to collect signatures for this campaign?

Answer: Fresh have not engaged with an agency on an hourly basis so we do not have access to this specific information.
Do you reckon, like I did, that they didn't want to tell Jane anything?

It gets worse when she asked about how much these state-funded bodies were paying out of our taxes for obtaining signatures. They apparently didn't have a scooby! (well, apart from Fresh again, perhaps they didn't read the memo).
What hourly rate of pay has been paid to agency staff to collect signatures for this campaign?

We do not hold this information, which is determined by the Agency we commission.

What hourly rate of pay has been paid to agency staff to collect signatures for this campaign.

We pay a fee to a marketing agency who then determines its own staff’s wages – we don’t hold this information.

What hourly rate of pay has been paid to agency staff to collect signatures for this campaign?

Answer: Two agencies have supplied one member of staff each. One agency pays its member of staff £10 per hour however the other agency does not wish to disclose how much is paid to their member of staff. Therefore, we are unable to provide cost details for this section of your request on the grounds that this information is commercially sensitive which has been withheld pursuant to Section 43 of the Act.
Jane, as all good citizens should do, submitted a follow-up to this apparent lack of knowledge as to how much had been paid out to plain packs chuggers by state bodies who should be acutely aware of what they are spending. That was dodged too.
You say that you do not hold this information but it is surprising that you do not know what you were receiving for your payments. Please detail which agencies have been contracted to acquire signatures and on what terms they have been employed.

As already stated, Bray Leino manage this process on our behalf and liaise directly with the other agencies involved. We do not have such contracts in our possession.
It begs the obvious question as to how much, exactly, was paid to Bray Leino for the specific purpose so if you're reading this Jane ... ahem. I'd ask myself but they do tend to throw such a tizz, so they do.

The insinuation in correspondence released by the Department of Health is that the Hands Off Our Packs campaign were lax in their control over the signature gatherers. In fact, here is it in black and white from the Department of Health's Tobacco Programme Manager (Andrew Black).


A bit rich, isn't it? His own side are so out of touch with the goings-on at their chosen agencies that they don't even know how much is being paid per hour! How can they have patrolled who signed and who didn't when they have washed their hands of all responsibility, instead delegating it to a profit-making agency with a vested interest? (yes, Bray Leino were the agency chosen to receive the tax money the government lobbied itself with).

And just to round this off with an ironic twist, Black seems to put conditions on the Hands Off Our Packs signatures being accepted. You see, he wants to know all the same information the smokefree bodies claim they didn't have an inkling about, or else he'll scratch all signatures which object.


Now, I'm sceptical as to whether he issued the same rigorous demands to Smokefree South West and their coat-tail hangers. What do you think?

Aww come on, it's a serious question, why are you doubled up laughing?


Why Are We Paying For This Ineptitude? (2)

Just as an amusing aside, you may be interested to hear that your humble host has been mentioned in a hilariously incompetent slideshow at the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference in June (with thanks to fellow jewel robber, Gregster, for the spot).

During a presentation which at times looks like it was designed by a 7 year old, they took great exception to my asking a couple of questions as to what they were doing with my taxes, as I'm entitled to under the law.


I'm not entirely sure why the superfluous quotation marks around the word libertarian, perhaps they think that such people don't really exist or something. It wouldn't be surprising seeing as they can't seem to understand that others think differently to their own insular and deluded hive mind.

And how I can simultaneously be classed as right wing - a term usually used by ignoramuses, as in this case, to devalue those who disagree with them - is a mystery considering I consistently argue that there is no right or left in politics anymore, merely shades of authoritarian or libertarian.

Freedom2Choose get a mention too in the form of a member who I'm pretty certain doesn't exist. Cathy Freeman is a former Australian athlete who I can't imagine signing up for membership and sending FOI requests even if she was entitled to. Perhaps these idiots - who are obviously incapable of basic error-checking - are thinking of someone else?

There is also a hint that the Gold Medal winning Olympian has been issuing death threats to ASH, or do they just mean Freedom2Choose? If so, they don't seem to mind the casual tobacco control tax sponger making the association. The reference, of course, is the display of faux outrage they threw over an article which was obviously satirical to all but the most feeble of minds, and at the Freedom2Choose blog under a banner declaring it "does not reflect the opinions of the Freedom2Choose organisation".

Lastly, the authors and presenters - all employed by Smokefree South West at your expense - declare that they received 32 "vexatious" FOI requests about plain packaging. I presume they mean that it was distressing not to be able to squander our money without the hassle of accountability, because there is a section in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which allows non-compliance with such requests. If they figured they could invoke this section, you can be pretty damn sure they would have done. If they didn't, the requests weren't vexatious, simple as.

Like I have said before, I don't mind if they want to spend their time spreading smears and inaccuracies about me - in fact, I'm delighted I get under their skin so much - and we have come to expect that people in their industry throw our hard-earned down the shitter every day, but it's soul-destoying to know that they are wasting it on such utter incompetence.

Benefit cheats are more honest, and cheaper, by comparison.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bulgaria Is An Industry Shill Now, Apparently

In a democratic and free world, you'd expect legislative initiatives to be open to scrutiny and challenge from the public and from agencies who are stakeholders to the consequences, wouldn't you?

This guy certainly doesn't think so, though.


He is referring to this article which states that Bulgaria - a full EU member state - is using its membership mandate to object to minimum alcohol pricing, as they are perfectly entitled to do and would be shockingly negligent if they didn't do so in defence of their national and business interests.

This, surely, is the very basis of civilised political debate. Scotland proposes a measure; other nations raise objections; discussion of evidence ensues and an approach is taken which benefits the majority of human interests in the long run. No-one could possibly object to that unless they're a cast-iron, pompous fascist.

Perhaps this is just some ignorant geezer soaked with prejudice gleaned from the pages of the Daily Mail or something, I dunno.

Actually, no. This guy - who views a nation exercising its democratic rights as some kind of heresy or shilling for big business - is paid for his anti-social and totalitarian opinions.
Work for public health charity ASH Scotland. Previously Amnesty and Barnardo's.
So a serial sponger of other people's money, then. It figures.

The self-absorbed arrogance of these cunts never ceases to amaze me.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Drink, Be Merry, Get A Better Pension

"Invest in another glass, gorgeous"

Those with prohibitionist fantasies can bang on as much as they like about costs to the NHS of unhealthy lifestyles, but then it's not their own money which is being discussed, is it?

If their salaries were linked to truthfulness of their statements, I think we'd see an entirely different rhetoric. After all, their current abject failure is simply not being punished, sadly.

The opposite applies to industries where proper, accurate economics - as opposed to the fairy tales told by ASH and Alcohol Concern, for example - decide what level of profit and pay actuaries are entitled to.
Binge drinkers are to be given better pension payouts by insurance companies, it emerged last night.

Those who swig more than four bottles of wine or 15 pints of beer a week could qualify for up to £2,000 a year more than someone who is clean living.
Set aside, for a minute, the laughable emotive claim that someone drinking just over two pints a day is a 'binge-drinker'. The point here is that insurers have identified, quite rightly, that those who enjoy a drink here and there are - on a macro-economic scale - less likely to live as long as health nuts and are therefore a better financial risk.

By extension, the NHS should be very happy that the highly expensive parts of their creaking system - geriatric care - are lessened by those of us who enjoy life to the full and are quite happy to take the risk of careering into our box sozzled and stinking of cigars. The fact they are not just shows why we don't go to our local surgery if we want a financial adviser.

It might help to explain why the NHS is bankrupt in many areas too.
Edmund Tirbutt, a health consultant and author of Help Them Beat the Booze, said: ‘There is a real danger of insurers sending out the wrong message.

‘It might make perfect commercial sense to offer more to drinkers, but it will verge on the irresponsible if insurers now start using it as a selling point.’
This is probably one of the most stupid things I have ever read from any health dickhead anywhere.

Safe in the knowledge that it isn't his money he is risking (it never is with these people, is it?), he is adamant that the irresponsibility is with those who understand money and risk; who are the world's prime experts at it; and realise that the insurance industry would collapse if they took idiot advice like this regularly.

Beggars belief, doesn't it? The arrogance of the health lobby never ceases to amaze as they stray from their core knowledge base into professing themselves global experts in anything from market economics to global trade. When did the concept of doctors restricting themselves to what they are trained at, that is curing people when they are ill, cease to be applicable?

Remember, too, that insurers do not benefit from hugely inflated monetary contributions from smokers and drinkers like our government (and by extension, the NHS) does. The bonuses are being paid out despite all policy-holders paying an identical premium.

Next time you see the regular sheep-like refrain from some dull-headed online commenter that the NHS suffers financially from those who choose a lifestyle which includes booze or baccy, spark up a tab, pop open a cool one and toast their generosity in exhibiting their hilarious ignorance to the world.

Cold, hard, unbending numbers expose them as being weapons grade deludos.


Link Tank 15/09

A few slices of this week's embiggening of the web.

These control freaks should just tuck off

"The moral and practical high ground lies with the libertarian tendency"

Fraud and misconduct are threatening scientific research

Why Facebook banned two small black dots

Industry gears up to fight Bloomberg's soda ban

How the internet has transformed prostitution

Panic reigns as global bacon shortage looms

What's wrong with minimum alcohol pricing and why Alex Salmond is looking like a muppet

Porn star grumbles are "more about work than sex"

Trolls complain about other trolls in Australia

Parasitic hitman wasps


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Get 'Em While They're Young

On Twitter yesterday, an example of 21st century school spelling test words was posted. You may find a subliminal message in there somewhere.


Now, far be it for me to say that the government is inflicting its politicised view of the world on kids - which would be an abuse of power if true - but if this is not a hoax it's pretty pathetic of the school involved.

Coincidentally, one of the little Ps (the girl) came home from her secondary school yesterday with a much-anticipated - seeing as we had bought the ingredients at the weekend - and almost delicious ratatouille which she cooked in 'food tech'.

Mrs P took some to her office and shared it amongst her co-workers. They said, generously, that it was very well made but had to add that it could have benefited with "a bit more salt and pepper". The little P was chuffed that they enjoyed it, especially since the faults were not of her making.

"We're not allowed to use salt in our cooking", she stated, "it's a school rule".

Kids being taught that salt is not to be used at all for cooking? I reckon even fat-faced Oliver would cringe at that. The modern world seems to have forgotten that salt is better than gold.

When politicians inculcate kids against long-held, time-proven food preparation methods on the say-so of self-promoters based on century old flawed science, it really is time to flex the piano wire.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Plain Packaging For Alcohol: A Work In Progress

You may recall an article early this month detailing how 'scientists' have identified a link between glass shape and the speed at which individuals drink alcohol. In customary fashion, The Sun embellished this a little for impact.
Using a curved glass could get you drunk quicker, scientists say
This is, of course, not strictly true. The speed at which one drinks is no guide to how quickly one gets drunk, nor does it suggest that drinking faster means drinking more.

However, it is clear that the study concerned is part of a concerted effort by prohibitionists to ban alcohol advertising and marketing in the future (I wonder where they got that idea from, eh?).

You may have noticed in recent years that beers, especially, are now served in distinctive branded glasses. Most people seem to appreciate this both on an aesthetic level and also for the fact that it helps identify whose pint is whose when with friends. As usual, though, what pleases the public instantly makes public health miseries - who seemingly attach no human benefit to happiness or satisfaction - see red, as the study's introduction hints at.
In particular, there has been an increase in branded drinking glasses in the United Kingdom in recent years, many of which include shape as a differentiating feature. These glasses include chalice glasses, curved beer flutes, tankard and novel curved beer glasses, and have been used by numerous alcohol brands including Stella Artois, Heineken, Guinness, Pilsner, Amstel, Smirnoff, Carlsberg, Carling and Jameson's whiskey. While alcohol advertising is still permitted in the United Kingdom, packaging and, by extension, drinking glasses provide another, currently unregulated, marketing channel.
Before achieving their stated goal of banning all advertising of alcohol, it seems the prohibitionist wing already have their sights set on branding too.

Now, let's just remind you of what a certain Deborah Arnott said about the prospect of alcohol advertising being banned just a few short months ago.
"[...] 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."
As utter failures go, Debs' idiocy in spouting that is right up there in Michael Fish territory and becoming more embarrassing for the silly mare every passing day.

You see, notes to the glass shape study make it quite clear that they are, most definitely, using plain packaging proposals as a precedent for their own designs on banning branded glasses.
There may be other potentially modifiable factors which may influence alcohol consumption and drinking rate. These might include marketing signals (i.e., branding), and vehicles for these signals such as the glasses from which beverages are consumed. Legislation to control or limit these signals may therefore influence drinking behaviour. A parallel can be drawn with the tobacco control literature, where plain packaging has been shown to increase visual attention towards health warnings compared with branded packaging in non-smokers and light smokers.
Not only that, but one of the authors of the study - funded to the tune of £3,671 [page 48] by Alcohol Research UK, a former government 'arms length body' still using legacy taxpayer monies - is Marcus Munaf√≤, a member of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.

All very incestuous and also an indication that - whatever denial of precedents and 'domino theories' these truth-challenged nags profess in public - they are furiously working behind the scenes to link every strand of prohibitionist thinking together into a network of inter-connecting tactical abuses of the public's enjoyment and freedom of choice.

The last word must surely go to the first commenter at the Sun article, who saw that the 'scientists' (which the authors of the study most likely are not) mentioned in the headline were busying themselves with stuff the public would rather they didn't, and asked the obvious question.
Found a cure for cancer yet lads?
Quite.

H/T Harridanic.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Miracle Medicinal Herb

Hey! You can't say this in public!
A medical student claims to have cured himself of a debilitating disease by taking up smoking.

Formerly a non-smoker, Stephen Pendry, 23, struggled with crippling pain, tiredness, shortness of breath and dehydration since he was diagnosed with bowel disease ulcerative colitis four years ago.

He had to rush to the toilet up to 15 times a day but is now completely symptom-free, thanks to a new four-a-day cigarette habit.
All coupled with the chappie's thrilled face as he is about to light up.
He said: 'Smoking was my last option. I didn’t really want to wear a colostomy bag at the age of 23.

'Colitis is a condition which is constantly on your mind. It holds you back from doing a lot of things.

'Now, thanks to smoking, I do not suffer with the symptoms anymore and I can finally move on with my life.

'I know it’s controversial to say smoking can have positive effects, but doctors don’t always know best.'
Seems quite reasonable, but isn't it incredibly risky?
Despite well-known links between cigarette smoking and cancer, Mr Pendry balanced the decision to take up the habit against equally well-established links between ulcerative colitis and bowel cancer.

He said: 'The colitis, and the drugs used to treat it, can themselves cause cancer.

'I’m only smoking three or four cigarettes a day, so I don’t believe I am at risk.'
Well, it looks like the lad has done his research and made a risk/benefit analysis which appears to be quite sound. But what do the experts say?
Dr Sean Kelly, Consultant Gastroenterologist at York Hospital, who has written on the subject in the British Medical Journal, said: 'It is a well-established medical fact that smoking protects against ulcerative colitis.

'Rarely, we use tobacco as a bridge to conventional medical therapy.

'We sometimes get an ex-smoker to start smoking again - for a short period - to settle the colitis and then allow medicines, such as azathioprine, to maintain remission after they have stopping smoking completely.

'Around 20 years ago there was a lot of interest in using nicotine patches to treat ulcerative colitis, but the research was not terribly effective.'
Mr Pendry's approach is backed up by clinical research too, then. Therefore, if it works for him - and hasn't cost the taxpayer a penny in drugs - it's a happy outcome all round, good luck to the fella. Who could possibly object?
Martin Dockrell, Director of Research and Policy at charity Action on Smoking and Health said: 'The evidence doesn’t come from smoking, it comes from nicotine.

'There are ways of getting safe pharmacological nicotine in patches. We advise talking to a doctor about the benefits of going on nicotine replacement therapy.
Ah, of course.

Are you by any chance talking about the patches that York's Consultant Gastroenterologist described as "not terribly effective", Martin?

ASH, eh? Big Pharma's loyal salesmen even when the circumstances are piled high against them.

H/T Anna Raccoon


Going Through The Motions?

All decided already, is it?
[A government spokesman said:] "We are working with the alcohol industry which has pledged to take one billion units out of the UK's alcohol intake and introduce a minimum unit price."
I must have missed the announcement.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Thoughts Of An Odd New Zealander

The case for plain packaging tobacco is beginning to be made in New Zealand and - as I've mentioned before - the same carbon copy bollocks is being trotted out down there.

Self-declared politician-hating blogger, Cameron Slater, has made a few noises against the idea but generously allowed one of his commenters to put the other side. One can only assume he did this so we can all laugh at the writer's gullibility.

I mean, where does one start with this credulous nonsense?
In general I resist being told how to live by the nanny state – or anyone, especially my sister, and I find state interference in legitimate commercial transactions repugnant.
Sounds like the old "I'm a libertarian but only when I feel like it" line to me.
However I support the government’s proposed legislation to enforce plain packaging of tobacco, and I’ll explain why.
Yep, it is indeed.
Firstly, the legislation isn’t going to force anybody that chooses to smoke, to stop smoking. It isn’t going to prevent them from choosing the tobacco product and brand of their choice. It doesn’t infringe on the personal rights of any person to continue enjoying what they’ve been doing. Ask for 25 Holiday and that’s what you’ll get.
Buzz! Wrong.

Plain packaging is designed purposely to infringe on rights of the smoker. Curtailing the enjoyment of their chosen product is one of the selling points of it, as anti-smokers will willingly tell you.
Smokers display the branding every time they take out their pack to smoke. In doing so they are making a statement about how they want to be seen by others as they display and endorse the brand they have chosen.
In fact, denying smokers their enjoyment was a central plank of the Aussie campaign to ban logos and colours.
The study showed how cigarette brands and cigarette package designs gave meaning to personal characteristics, to social identity and to positions in hierarchies of status. (page 6)

Pack design doesn’t just communicate the ‘personality’ of a cigarette brand to the smoker... it also allows smokers to project these characteristics to others when they handle and display the package throughout their daily routines. Just as designer clothing, accessories and cars serve as social cues to style, status, values and character, so too can cigarette packs signify a range of attributes about users. As ‘badge products’, cigarettes can reinforce the characteristics conjured by brand image.(page 7)
So our faux libertarian is already on dodgy ground.

What else does his/her credulity stretch to?
Secondly, while selling tobacco and related products is a legal commercial transaction (subject to the laws around age, advertising, display etc), I challenge its legitimacy.
Err, shouldn't someone who claims to be resistant to the 'nanny state' naturally accept that individuals should be allowed to voluntarily purchase a product if it is legal? Apparently not.
Cigarettes contain a cocktail of more than 200 chemicals, mostly designed to physically addict you to smoking, ...
Really? You don't think that 21st century hyper-regulation might have banned such a practice if it were true? And if not, why is the tobacco control industry fannying around with plain packs when it could be getting the ingredients banned instead? Someone has been swallowing the anti-smoker soma a bit too often, methinks.
... as well as making sure they burn evenly and don’t go out while you’re not watching (makes you go through them quicker, and hopefully buy some more).
Boy! This guy/gal is such a conspiracy theorist they'll be babbling on about Freemasonry and lizards under the North Pole next. He (maybe I shouldn't assume it's a 'he') hasn't, one presumes, heard of fire safe cigarettes then.
If a corporation tried to introduce a new product called cigarettes today, assuming it had never been practiced, and knowing what we know about the contents of cigarettes and the effects of smoking them, they would never be allowed. The influence and financial clout of Big Tobacco around the world makes it unlikely that any government would ban the practice now, but I believe our government is morally and ethically obliged to do whatever it can to dissuade the public from taking up this toxic habit. I realise morals and ethics don’t always figure highly in government motives, but I live in hope.
If he (or she?) is pinning their hopes on plain packaging redeeming government morals, they'd be better advised backing 100/1 shots at Ascot Park. Even Aussie hector-in-chief Nicola Roxon has admitted that there is no evidence plain packaging will work.

Just from the facts above, any liberal thinker worth his salt would express doubts about plain packaging, but our author warms to their task - and displays some text book mouth-frothing - when attempting to debunk opposing arguments.
1. The “it won’t work, people will still smoke so don’t bother” argument. Well, the fact that they’re investing so much in trying to prevent this shows that it’s likely to be successful in dissuading new smokers from starting. If people are still going to smoke anyway, then this should be the best thing to ever happen to the industry. They can stop spending the 10s of millions they spend each year on marketing and promotion, and trying to find ways around the existing legislation, save millions on fancy packaging, and start making super profits.
Oh good grief. I hope this dolt never comes to London because - economically illiterate as they are - someone from the East End will probably sell them the Olympic Stadium or something.

Snowdon puts that wide-eyed idiocy to bed pretty succinctly here.
One of the main arguments made in favour of plain packaging—first in Australia and now in the UK—is that the tobacco industry strongly opposes it.

But this is a fallacy. It assumes that industry (any industry) depends on volume and turnover, when it actually depends on profit. The removal of branding is likely to have a negative effect on profit margins
And even Aussie super-prohibitionist Simon Chapman agrees.
"This explains a lot about why they fear plain packaging, because they will struggle to convince smokers that it's sensible to pay more for products that actually only look better because of their box."
Super profits? The entire point is to stop tobacco companies from making the profits they are currently making. Are you starting to sniff a bit of incompetence in this freedom lover's reasoning?

Next.
2. The “it’s not fair” argument. We created it (the huge marketing and branding juggernaut designed to feed new customers in to the market at a rate the same or faster than their dying customers are leaving it), so we should own it. Well boo-fucking-hoo, Big Tobacco. What you created was a machine designed to firstly lure, and then trap, new (young) customers into a lifetime of addiction, often followed by a slow lingering death. You have no rights to continue to profit from an instrument of death and disease, just because you built it. There are plenty of businesses around NZ that have had their business model turned on its head by the stroke of a politician’s pen, so suck it up.
I think we can discount the libertarian preamble now. This is nothing but psychotic anti-smoker rhetoric. If you can find any 'evidence' for plain packaging in that, then you're a better man that me, Gunga Din.
3. The “plain packs would make it easier to counterfeit” argument. Again, tough titties. You’re not worried about the health impacts to your gasping customers; you’re just worried that someone else will make the profits that you believe are rightfully yours.
'Gasping' hyperbole aside, I take it this blinkered dickhead has never heard of counterfeits being "up to thirty times more toxic than ordinary cigarettes". By arguing against a measure which will increase counterfeiting, tobacco companies are arguably acting - whether you love or loathe them - in the interests of those who smoke. By contrast, the author seems to care less about health dangers than he does about attacking tobacco companies.
4. The “infringing on people’s right to choose which brand to smoke” argument. Again, nothing more than a smokescreen. People will still be able to ask for, purchase and consume, all the brands that currently exist.
No they won't, moron. Plain packaging not only bans logos and colours, but also restricts packs - and the cigarettes in them - to a certain size and shape, which means many brands will cease to exist overnight. Go back and read the subject matter before commenting, it should be a prerequisite before putting your ignorance on record.
5. The “we have invested in our brands over many years and have a responsibility to our shareholders to do everything we can to defend our rights to use them” argument. Yes, now we’re getting closer to it aren’t we, vultures? This argument and the ones above are all about the profit you’re worried you might lose because fewer people may be inclined to start using your noxious addictive products, and you might not make so much money.
The same baseless argument as in 1) above, but with more spittle being ejaculated on the keyboard, and equally deluded.
6. The final canard: the “this is the thin end of the wedge – just think what products will be forced to use plain packaging if this succeeds” argument. A total red herring [...] Alcohol (as a legalised drug) is the product most often quoted as next cab off the rank if the nanny state has its way. It will never happen, and nor should it.
Oh I see! No wonder this plank is so woefully incoherent, they've been living in the black hole of Calcutta for the past few years. It explains why they know so little about plain packaging proposals and also why they've not heard of plain packaging for alcohol in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. Along with other precedents being spotted for fast food in, yes, New Zealand, and the whole caboodle on a global level.

Oh yeah, and since they claim to be a regular reader of the blog, had they missed the talk of plain packaging for formula milk - a big New Zealand product - being a distinct possibility too?

How many dominoes in other product areas are required before this weapons grade lunatic begins to see the threat?
Alcohol – while not minimising the harm that irresponsible and excessive use can and does cause – performs an important role as a social lubricant and has a number of recognised health benefits, when taken in moderation. Tobacco has NO recognised health benefits and is harmful taken in any quantity.
Only 'cos you believe whatever you're told sunshine. That will change once the current drive to make you think the same of alcohol (or even salty snacks in the future) sways your incredibly dull mind the same way.

He/she leaves the best till last though.
I’ve given a lot of thought to reconciling my general principles described above with the undoubted benefits to society of fewer new smokers taking up this vile and toxic habit.
No you haven't. You've done no research whatsoever and just let your ill-informed knee jerk.
I’m a firm believer in freedom of choice ...
Hahahahaha!
Cigarettes are purely a nicotine delivery system and nicotine as a drug is almost as chemically addicting as the varieties of meth and heroin out there.
Facepalm.
We should do everything we can to help young people avoid becoming addicted to smoking.
Indeed we should. It's just a shame that plain packs - as admitted by the most vocal proponents of the idea - won't have any effect whatsoever because kids aren't even aware of them.

Credit where it's due, mind. I can at least admire the writer's stubbornness. Despite being taken to task in the comments, he/she continues to valiantly defend the vacant-headed poppycock to the last.