Tuesday, 28 July 2015

How @Tesco Just Removed Itself From My Shopping List

Dear Tesco

I live in an area where there is one of your stores, a Sainsbury's, an Asda and a Morrissons. Aldi is a bit futher away but I have that option too.

I tend to be a canny shopper and look for deals to decide which I will shop at. It may only save me a few pounds here and there but that's how free markets work, isn't it? You make the offer, I respond to it by either buying or not from your store.

However, I'd like to thank you very much for removing yourself from that purchasing equation by employing a tit like David Beardmore. You see, he has apparently decided to make choices on behalf of every parent who shops in your stores, because we are all obviously so much thicker than him.
"This is part of our 10-point plan against obesity and we have decided that from September we will only sell no-added-sugar drinks in the kids’ juice category."
Absolutely spiffing, Tesco, well done.

Now, while I admit to being astonished at your incredibly crass capitulation to a tiny handful of health fascists waving junk science about sugar, I find it very odd that you employ someone so very dense as to not understand that he is favouring shroud-waving trouser-fillers who effectively call you corporate murderers over and above people who actually give you their cash for products that they like to buy.

You remember us customers, don't you? You know, the ones who don't take every opportunity to slate you for fulfilling your customers' preferences?

In case you weren't aware of how stunning an own goal this policy is, may I remind you that Beardmore has all but ushered in an new era of pain for your organisation according to Professor Graham MacGregor of the self-enriching bunch of liars at Action on Sugar.
“Children should not be drinking sweet, soft drinks and parents should make sure they switch to water instead.”
I think you sell a lot more than water, don't you, Tesco? I believe you also sell salt, ready meals & cereals (which MacGregor also hates you for supplying) along with tobacco, alcohol, and crisps.

Every one of these products is purchased from your shops by customers exercising their own free choice. Once you eliminate that choice, you effectively tell your customers they are too stupid to decide for themselves. Personally, I find that a pretty ridiculous way to do business.

Still, it's your (or prissy David's) choice, so who am I to argue if you want to blitz your sales by telling millions of customers that they are less important that a tiny handful of self-installed health extremists with a fantasy axe to grind in order to keep their personal bank balances healthy?

When the news broke via an article in The Grocer, your Twitter staff seemed completely unaware of it! But I take it you are happy to follow this lunacy through because two days later long-term British staple Ribena has been disappearing from heavily discounted shelves as if it was some form of cancer.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I wish you the very best of luck running a business which is happy to appease people who hate you - thereby admitting that you are pedlars of unhealthy products who force people to buy crap with your wiley sales tactics - while simultaneously calling your customers idiots for making their own choices. It's a courageous business move, and no mistake.

In Mr Beardmore you have a star employeee, I will watch your future declining fortunes with an eager eye from now on ... while I shop at Sainsbury's where my choices are more respected.

Best regards

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Ulster Farming Union Gets It Wrong

A story on Tuesday about the smoking ban in work vehicles is so bizarre that even the state lapdog BBC is amused enough to cover it.
A farmer who lit up a cigarette in his tractor could face a fine of up to £1,000 after he was deemed to be smoking in his workplace. 
The quiet smoke break while parked at the side of a road in County Antrim was stubbed out when a tobacco control officer intervened. 
The tractor was deemed by the officer to be a commercial vehicle capable of "carrying more than one person".
Well, yes. Under the terms of the law, an offence has been committed because it can carry more than one person ... just not at the same time. The farmer is not the first to be penalised for not harming anyone, nor will he be the last.

You see, according to the lunatics of tobacco control, smoke hangs around forever. It cannot be blown away by open windows, by storm winds, or by the passing of time. Tony Benn may well have been dead for over a year, but somewhere his pipe smoke is still killing people to this day. We know this because tobacco control 'experts' tell us that the laws of economics, physics and dose/response don't apply to tobacco smoke.
Barclay Bell, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), said the case was an example of officials taking smoking legislation to extreme lengths. 
"At one level this is a bizarre and even funny example of excessive red tape, defining a tractor as capable of carrying more than one person," he said.
No, Barclay, your understanding of the law - and the BBC's evidently - is flawed. You see, it's not about whether someone can be harmed by being in the vehicle at the same time - nor has it ever been - it is simply a rule designed to inconvenience and bully smokers into quitting. It was never about health, which is why they now call it "denormalisation" and why plainly absurd claims about smoking being harmful on beaches are de rigeur.

The law is working against this farmer exactly as it was planned to do. It was designed specifically to interrupt his freely chosen choice to have a smoke break, that's how vile bullies work. D'you see?

The farming guy did get one thing right though.
But he added that it raised more serious issues. "Regardless of where you stand on smoking, in tough financial times it is justifiable to ask whether this is the best possible use of time and money?"
A question we've been asking ourselves here too. We're supposed to be in a period of austerity, so why the blithering fuck are government still handing our cash to vile, anti-social, economy-harming tax drains like ASH who drove such a repulsive law through parliament in the first place?

The country would be a far more relaxed, happier and richer place without them.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Allez Les Buralistes Français!

This Monday in Paris, the French health minister hosted her counterparts from 9 other countries - including, to our shame, the UK - to discuss how to implement utterly pointless plain packaging.
Ministers discussed the effect of advertising and promotion of tobacco products, especially concerning the design of tobacco packages and products.They acknowledged that significant scientific evidence exists to justify the introduction of standardized packaging.
That's rot, of course, there is no evidence worthy of the name, let alone anything 'significant'. It is, however, pretty clear that French retailers - who, as is always the case with tyrannical governments, have been ignored - will be affected by the measure in a free trading bloc like the EU.

The attitude of 'public health' is quite disgraceful when it comes to plain packs, especially. They declare openly that no economic factor should ever be taken into account; that only health should ever be considered, however flimsy their cock-eyed junk science is. And, with plain packs, cock-eyed junk science is about all they've got (see here, here, here, here and here).

So French tobacconists have today caused one hell of a scene in Paris, as the Guardian reports.
Angry French tobacconists have dumped four tonnes of carrots outside the ruling Socialist party’s headquarters in Paris in protest at plans to force the introduction of plain cigarette packets.
And they filmed it.

This is after a week of general civil disobedience throughout France.
France’s tobacconists are protesting against plans to force cigarette companies to use plain, unbranded packaging by disabling traffic speed cameras. 
The radar “hooding” – by covering them with bin liners – is symbolic: a “cover up” that deprives the government of money in the same way that the anti-smoking legislation will reduce tobacco sales and tax revenue, the protesters say. 
The first hooding took place over a month ago and, by this week, speed trap cameras in as many as 20 of 97 districts had been affected, said the group representing France’s tabac bars, the Buralistes Confederation. 
“It’s a sign that anger is mounting,” a spokesman said.
They weren't finished after the carrot stunt either ...
After dumping the vegetables against the gates of the party headquarters at Rue de Solférino at 6.30am, the tobacconists marched to the health ministry en route to the Sénat.
Indeed they did, making a real fuss, and mess, with a 4 million signature petition against plain packaging.

It has certainly got their concerns noticed. The French Senate has discussed the idea and decided to reject it, preferring to stick to the EU TPD proposals for larger health warnings instead. Unlike, sadly, our allegedly EU-suspicious Tory government which has gold-plated the demands from Brussels instead of treating them with healthy disdain.

I'm sure that's not the end of the matter, puritans never like losing and will certainly never listen to the people whose lives they destroy, but today is a good day for common sense and decency in France.

As the demands from insane public health lobbyists become ever more absurd - not just over tobacco, either - we're hopefully going to see a lot more of this type of direct action. Good, I'm all for it.

Les buralistes Français, vous avez bien fait aujourd'hui. Bravo!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Erm, Because It Looks Like Smoking

In the global catalogue of scientific literature, there is no poorer an illegitimate runt than the integrity-free BMJ's Tobacco Control Journal. 

Its 'research' is always almost exclusively policy-based garbage (see here and here for recent examples) which is hardly surprising considering the editorial board comprises a global who's who of tobacco control industry junk 'scientists'. However, an item in their July 2015 rag lowers that bar by some margin.

Four of the tobacco control field's finest dullards researchers surveyed 723 flight attendants to find out if they had ever seen someone using an e-cig on a plane or in an airport. Unsurprisingly, quite a few had. Not much of a revelation considering many airports have vaping lounges or don't have a policy and - even if ignorance has got the better of the airport's managers - using e-cigs where bans are in place is incredibly easy. Vanishingly few sane people give a stuff enough to report it, you see, even if they are aware vaping is banned and can be bothered to remember such a pointless rule. In fact, the only really surprising stat was that a majority (53.6%) hadn't seen an e-cig being used.

It was an interesting survey of e-cig prevalence in airports and planes, though, except that it was then followed by conclusions which had nothing whatsoever to do with the research!
"Allowing e-cigarette use in smoke-free places undermines the denormalisation of cigarette smoking ..."
No it doesn't. If anything it normalises vaping instead of smoking.
"... particularly with respect to the milestone ban on in-flight smoking that flight attendant unions and smoke-free advocates fought incredibly hard to pass."
They could make this claim if they had studied prevalence of smoking on planes and concluded it is increasing. But they didn't, and it isn't. E-cigs have made absolutely no difference.
"The use of e-cigarettes in air transit—both on aeroplanes and in airports—must be addressed in the current policy and regulatory deliberations in the US and around the world."
Erm, why? Because some flight attendants saw them being used? Seriously, this is the level of execrable junk Tobacco Control publishes!
"Given the growing evidence around passive vaping and air quality associated with e-cigarette use ..."
Yes, they are actually trying to pretend that passive vaping is a thing. Growing evidence? No, the fantasy concept is swiftly and effortlessly debunked every time some lying crank tries to suggest it is a threat.
"... banning e-cigarettes on aeroplanes and in airports is a needed step-forward for the protection of both passengers and crew."
We are so far down the rabbit hole here, aren't we? Vaping must be banned because some flight attendants saw it going on, so their eyes must be protected from being sprained at the sight. Well, I can only assume that's what they mean because no credible study has ever concluded that there is even a hint of harm to bystanders from e-cig vapour in any concentration.

In short, this absurd article could have saved a lot of words (and a lot of taxpayers' money) by just saying "we don't like e-cigs because they look a little bit like smoking". That's it, they have nothing else.

We know very well that this is why tobacco controllers hate e-cigs because this cartoon in the same Tobacco Control edition illustrates it perfectly.

Michael Siegel described the revealed attitudes of this cartoon very well today.
Sadly, this is an accurate reflection of how so many tobacco control groups and advocates see vapers. While the nicotine patch is an acceptable way to quit smoking, the e-cigarette is not. Why? For one reason: it looks like smoking. And smoking is idiotic. And people who smoke are therefore idiots. Apparently, smokers who sincerely try to quit smoking using e-cigarettes are even worse idiots because they aren't even really smoking. 
While that logic might sound stupid, it is precisely the thinking that characterizes the bulk of the "anti-smoking" movement today. That Tobacco Control saw fit to publish this cartoon demonstrates that they apparently see things in this way.
Well, with Simple Simon and Mad Stan on their editorial board, why would they not publish it?

The fact is that, yet again, e-cigs are showing up the tobacco control movement for what it has always been. A spiteful, intolerant crusade against the choices of others, captained by cranks, shills, vile bullies and arrogant crooks.

They have never cared about health, they just make up any old crap because they don't like smoking. It's perfectly natural that they are now turning their pathetically inept guns on e-cigs, because they also don't like anything that looks like smoking.

The Tobacco Control Journal is not science, it is merely moral ranting, and only marginally more sophisticated than the demented craziness which emanated from certifiably insane puritan mouth-frothers in 19th century Britain and 1920s USA.

So next time you hear about someone being described as a tobacco control 'expert', remember the flight attendants 'study' above. Because, that being the standard of transparent bullshit their bible publishes, they're no more an expert than you or I.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Beach Bullshit

Desperate to prolong her lucratively-remunerated tax-sponging existence for a few more years, Deborah Arnott has been commenting on the absurd Brighton beach smoking ban. As justification goes, it's pretty desperate.
"A growing number of local authorities and other organisations are exploring ways of providing more smoke-free public places in response to public demand. Football grounds and railway stations are already smoke-free, and increasingly children's play areas are going smoke-free too."
Yes, do you remember those huge popular movements calling for smoking to be banned at the far end of platform 2 at Preston railway station? The huge flags football fans waved - in between hurling foul-mouthed abuse at the opposition goalie - to force the Football League to make grounds smokefree? And the national letter-writing campaign by Mumsnet to the government over playground smoking? What's that? You didn't?

Well of course not, because the railways ban was snuck in around the time of the smoking ban under a byelaw inserted by Network Rail or whoever, no public were involved. Brian Mawhinney caved in to anti-smoking lunatics to enforce an unnecessary ban at football matches which is so 'popular' that it's still causing problems in every stadium toilet in the Premiership and Football League. No-one asked for it except lobby groups like ASH and their health fascist friends. And 'voluntary' playground bans are always introduced by dickhead local councillors trying to get their daft legislation - along with a pic of their dozy mug and sad comb-over - into the local rag.

There has been no 'public demand' for any of it, unless you count the public's money that ASH uses to 'demand' bans which have fuck all to do with health.
"Smoke-free beaches could provide a safe and pleasant environment, particularly for children ..."
Beaches are already a safe and pleasant environment, Debs, this ban won't change that one iota, and you know that. Oh yeah, and no prohibitionist tobacco control industry diktat is ever complete without mentioning the children, now is it?
"... but also for adults who want to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke ..."
Which is, of course, not dangerous inside, let alone on a beach surrounded by billions of litres of constantly moving air. Again, she is well aware of this, but likes to mention it knowing that the stupid, the hideously intolerant, and the certifiably insane in society will lap it up and - respectively - believe they are about to die, make plans for beating up a smoker, or scream and rant next time they think they see anything that looks like it might be smoking. Most probably an e-cig which will inevitably also be banned to save confusion amongst the knuckle-scrapers in our midst.

Nice work, Debs, you're a huge ally to vapers and no mistake.
"... as well as reducing the amount of cigarette butt litter on beaches, which doesn't degrade quickly and is harmful to wildlife."
This, incredibly, is about the only argument which holds water. However, it is a litter problem, not a smoker problem. The answer would be to encourage smokers to dispose of butts responsibly, maybe hand out portable ashtrays or provide more bins. People leave cans, bottles and food packaging on beaches too, is Arnott really so thick and rancidly anti-enjoyment that her answer would be to ban picnics for everyone? On this evidence, apparently so. Finding solutions which preserve liberties - if that is even a consideration for ASH, that is - is difficult, you see, whereas demanding bans is simple.

Having said that, I'm glad we have yet more proof that nothing ASH does has ever had anything to do with health.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Tobacco Control: Criminal Economic Vandals

Back in 2011, Linda Bauld released a 'review' of the smoking ban's effect on the UK hospitality industry. Here are some quotes from it.
"International evidence suggests that, after allowing for short-term costs associated with the legislation (e.g. new signage, employee training), the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses." 
"These reviews show that smokefree laws do impact businesses in the hospitality industry in a number of ways, many of them positive."  
"overall, however, existing evidence from developed countries in particular suggests that smokefree laws have a net positive effect on businesses (IARC, 2009)."
I know. Utter bollocks, isn't it?

Now, Bauld claims that she was only reviewing the 'evidence' at the time, even though it went against every observable measure of pubs falling over in their dozens per week. However, 11,000 pub closures later - and with politicians and consumer groups agonising over how to save the very concept of the British pub -  it is crystal clear that the 'evidence' was appalling and, as a result, so was Bauld's review. If you study crap, you are going to produce crap yourself.

But then, I'm pretty certain she knew what she was doing. In every jurisdiction, in every country on the planet, smoking bans coincide with huge damage to cafes, bars and restaurants. It's hardly unpredictable considering any smoker will tell you that the cigarette they smoke in their leisure time over a beer or coffee are the sweetest and - if they choose to quit - the most difficult to do without. Bauld's remit, then - which came with a price tag of £41,000 per page from our taxes - was to produce an astounding piece of Alice in Wonderland fantasy to pretend the dismantling of the traditional British pub wasn't happening.

I mention this whitewash because I can't wait to hear the junk science Aussie tobacco control liars are going to concoct to explain away this - entirely unnecessary and morally despicable - carnage that they have visited upon Sydney businesses.

The mendacious tobacco control industry - as well as denying the basic rules of economics - are wilfully ignorant about business too. It is incontrovertible that if you throw your best customers out of your establishment by denying them something they enjoy, they ain't going to give you their money. The hilarious myth of non-smokers replacing them in droves is nicely illustrated as poppycock by the lifeless and empty tables in the news story above.

What I am saying is that I know 'public health' want their smoking bans - because they want to bully smokers, there's no other explanation for outdoor bans - but I wish they'd be honest about it. Isn't it well past time they admitted that was the point? Admit that bans kill businesses in their thousands wherever in the world they are tried, and have courage in their conviction that health matters more than the public's choices and the rights of business owners. Anything else - like Bauld's fraudulent review - is not only lying, but also rampant cowardice.

They are not any friend of smokers, they're not 'encouraging' or 'supporting' them, they're just nasty fucks who happily derive income from deliberately inflicting misery and penury on others.

In any other area of life, we jail people for that.

UPDATE: There's one more facet of the New South Wales law featured in the clip above - which I commented on here - that further illustrates the insanity of tobacco controllers.

The law demands that smoking and eating should not happen in the same place, and designates fines for the smoker or business owner who allows it. But, as we see from the news report, owners are putting up clear signage saying that food must not be eaten in the smoking area. So what does any particular enforcement officer do when someone takes a sandwich from the eating area and goes to sit with the smokers to eat it?

Apparently, it has been noted that the law doesn't provide for fining eaters for eating in the wrong place. So what can they do? Fine the smoker for not moving, the owner for not stopping them from choosing where to sit?

It is, however, a recipe for disruption and enmity for people who just want to be left alone to enjoy their leisure time. As I've said many times before ...
Good old tobacco control, eh? Still fostering discord where once there was tolerance and harmony.
Stick them all in clink and throw away the key.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Battling History And Humanity

Where, oh where, do you start with this from New Zealand?
New Zealand has a problem and not enough is being done about it. Williams says drinking has been "normalised" in New Zealand, clouding the incredibly high risk that alcohol places on our health and several aspects of our well-being. 
"The drinking culture and pressures to drink and continue drinking are very persuasive and pervasive," she says.
This is from, you will not be surprised to learn, Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams who gets paid for having such an opinion.
"There's (sic) very few areas or occasions you can go to in New Zealand where alcohol isn't an expected part of the activity. 
"It's seen as an essential element to relaxation, an essential element to social connection and an essential part of all our gatherings, generally."
Probably, Rebecca, because alcohol is very good as a relaxant and brilliant for encouraging social connection. Parties at your place must be pretty crap if you aren't comfortable with that.
These trends also worry New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell, who believes drinking is "extremely" normalised. 
"We celebrate the birth of a child with alcohol and we commiserate the death of someone with alcohol," he says. "It's seen as such a normal thing that people buy it when they do their weekly grocery shop."
That's because it is normal, you berk. It's the very definition of the word normal.

Since you are one of the vanishing few who don't subscribe to the consensus, that makes you the one who isn't normal. That's how it works, y'see?
Bell says there's something about humans and the "pursuit of getting out of it". 
"Most, not all, cultures have had some form of intoxicant. Part of alcohol's popularity is it does what it says it's going to do. It give you warm feelings and it loosens your inhibitions."
Yes, it's been the same throughout the world for millennia, and it's a good thing. So why don't you just piss off and leave people to enjoy what they are clearly happy with?
Dry July's Scott Savidge acknowledges he's not an expert on alcohol - Dry July is first and foremost a fundraiser - but he says our longstanding relationship with alcohol is pretty clear. 
"It's so intensely socialised and so embedded in the culture and so freely available. 
"People have been eating plants and fermenting things to go to different spaces in their consciousness since the beginning."
Indeed, and that is never going to change, so stop trying.
Savidge believes the often-slated youth of today are no worse than other age groups and generations. 
"Younger people, students and so on are often targeted or highlighted because they're visible. What people don't see is the large numbers of people who aren't visible who are drinking problematically; the older people who drink at home in a way that's not monitored."
Were these people ever young themselves, because I'm struggling to imagine it. And 'monitored'? What sort of fucked up mentality would even consider the idea of monitoring people making free choices in their own homes?
Williams, of Alcohol Healthwatch, says there needs to be drastic action to stop the normalisation of alcohol becoming even deeper entrenched.
It's been entrenched for thousands of years, you sour old crone, stop wasting your pathetic life and go do something more constructive for society instead. Like peeling the pavement with your chin.
"The industry says it comes down to personal responsibility, but that's rubbish. It's a mix of personal choices and our environment. 
"The environment determines and sustains the culture. Every single review of our drinking habits says we need to restrict advertising of alcohol, yet we do nothing."
Every single review? Written by purse-lipped puritans like you, perchance?
Change needs to be made at the population level, she says. 
"No amount of education or social marketing will make a significant impact. There's (sic) so many studies and experts that say there needs to be taxation and restricted availability."
"So many", as in a few isolated professional miseries amongst millions of people who are quite content with how they choose to live their lives. You're outnumbered by orders of magnitude; you're the outliers here, the abnormal ones, not us, so go boil your heads in chip fat or something yeah?
At the moment, there's too much acceptance of drunken and drugged behaviour, according to Makary. 
He cites the drink-driving advertisements with a carload of drunks and one sober driver, implying it's okay to get drunk as long as you don't drive.
Yes, because it really is okay. That is just about the sum of it.

Look, I'm not a supreme idealist, I know that people like this have to exist - we've suffered their tedious ilk for just as long as some caveman first sucked on a weather-fermented fruit and knocked himself out - but can politicians please stop taking the hideous fuckmuppets seriously?

Humanity loves alcohol and history proves that will always be the case. Just because a handful of grumpy social outcasts open their miserable gobs once in a while doesn't mean anyone should be listening.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Food Is A Disease Accelerant, Obviously

Nanny Knows Best and Snowdon have already had their fun with this from Australia, but it's worth milking it a little more.

Remember that smoking bans are purely about health, aren't they? The concept is solely about protecting bar and restaurant staff from harm - because they don't choose to go to bars like customers do - and absolutely not about egregious illiberal bullying of smokers and trampling over property rights. Got that?

So, as we {cough} know this to be true - I mean, who would disbelieve a tobacco controller who derives his/her considerable tax-funded income from exploiting selfishness and vile anti-social snobbery - we can only assume that there is some dread health threat which comes from the mixture of outdoor smoke and food. The New South Wales law, after all, doesn't ban all smoking outdoors, just smoking outdoors where food is served.

There is no credible evidence that secondhand smoke harms anyone outdoors on its own, therefore food must be an accelerant or catalyst for cancer and heart disease for those who might get a faint whiff of smoke while eating their nice, healthy double mega-burger and deep fried chips with a foot long side stack of onion rings. Or maybe it's the qinoa and kale paella which is causing the specific problem of smoking around food, I dunno. Whichever it is, the ban must be evidence-based because no legislature would pass illiberal and absurd laws without it, now would they?

Or, just perhaps, smoking bans were never about health at all. Just an exercise in bigotry from tobacco control executives, and gullible politicians, designed to massage the crass prejudice of the selfish and intolerant who demand the world revolves around them and that the law panders to their petty, vindictive preferences.

No, can't be that. No chance.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Simon Chapman: World Class Comedian

This surely has to be the funniest tweet I've ever read.

This, coming from one of the world's foremost conspiracy theory-led opponents of innovative technology, e-cigs, to help smokers quit.

As if that wasn't laugh out loud hilarious enough, @Entropy72 immediately pointed out that Chappers - in his eagerness to attack a right of centre politician on Twitter - was also directly ridiculing his tobacco control colleague Mad Stan Glantz as pathetically stupid.

This, remember, is the very same Mad Stan who Chapman considered a font of wisdom when colluding with him as co-author of an attack piece against a part-time waitress from Cornwall.

I think we can all agree that Glantz is a fruitcake, but it's encouraging that Chappers has seen fit to lend his endorsement. If I'd hacked his account, I don't think I could have come up with anything as deliciously stupid as the tweet simple Simon published of his own accord.

I do believe I've said this before, and I have no reason to change my view.
Chapman is more and more becoming a cartoon character when it comes to e-cigs and harm reduction. The old dog who can't learn new tricks and howls at the moon about things he seems incapable of understanding. I would say that he should give it up because he's embarrassing himself, but I hope he carries on for a good few years yet, he's tobacco control industry comedy gold.
I know you've officially retired, Simon, but please don't stop speaking out, promise? Without a world class clown like you around, life would be that much more dull.

Health Advice: A Cowardly Source Of Government Waste

I was planning to write something about this Telegraph article at some point after a busy weekend because it looks set to be the nanny state story of the week.
Adults and children should be instructed by the Government to halve the amount of sugar they consume and eat almost twice as much pasta, potato and other fibrous foods, an official report is expected to say this week. 
In a bid to tackle an epidemic of obesity and tooth decay, the Department of Health will be urged by its scientific advisers to reduce the amount of sugar allowed in the official definition of a healthy diet.
I have used some emphasis on a couple of words there, which I will come back to later.

The donkey work of what I intended to say, though, has been covered by bloggers elsewhere. Grandad points out that this is a jaw-dropping load of arsebiscuitry on the part of the state.
They can advise me all they like and I shall take their advice and shove it in the bin where it belongs, but the very concept of a gubmint telling me what I can and cannot eat is frankly so hilarious that it's up there with the Monty Python sketches.
Indeed. Advice is the only thing state agencies should be giving, anything else is totalitarianism.

But then, who really gives a rat's arse what government advice is for alcohol consumption? The 'limits' are so laughably low that they are widely ignored, to the chagrin of vile alcohol-haters everywhere. If the state really wants to moderate consumption to maximise health, perhaps it would be better if the advice was linked in some way to real life and the public's experiences, instead of being 'plucked out of the air' as a sop to hideous, anti-social, highly-paid career temperance lobbyists.

The 'advice' in this case is equally incoherent, so will be treated in the same contemptuous manner by those of us who know bullshit when we see it.
A weekly diet plan based on meeting the recommendations included no fizzy drinks. The British Nutrition Foundation said only very low or zero calorie versions might be squeezed in by people who sacrificed food elsewhere. 
Its analysis, which will also be published later this week, found space for just four squares of dark chocolate, two chocolate biscuits and a small packet of crisps as "treats" allowed during a normal week. 
To meet the larger fibre recommendations, most people would naturally turn to wholemeal bread, breakfast cereals, and pasta, it said. 
But eating large quantities of these foods would push most people above the Govenrment's targets for salt, sugar and overall energy intake.
By having so many public sector tax scroungers to support, government is now issuing so much advice that it is fundamentally worthless. No-one understands it, so no-one will observe it, and even if they do it will have a negligible chance of doing what the state hopes - in its blithe stupidity - it was designed to do.

However, unintended consequences will run riot to the detriment of just about everybody. Simon Cooke sagely predicts what will actually happen, because we've seen it all happen exactly like this before.
Let's predict what will happen here. Firstly all the headlines will be about sugar with the myths and lies reinforced across the media. Stories (as with this story) will be illustrated with pictures of the evil white stuff further stressing the emphasis on sugar. Nice middle-class families will cut out the sugar replacing it with other sources of energy - fruit, bread, pasta and so forth. And then get surprised when they are neither slimmer nor healthier as a result. 
At the same time government agencies from local council public health departments and GPs through to schools, hospitals and prisons will start enforcing the 'guidelines' as if they are hard and fast rules. Perfectly slim and healthy children will have chocolate bars snatched from their hands by teachers, hospital food will sink to new levels of utter uselessness, and hordes of clipboard-wielding nannies will fan out across the nation trying to force every establishment serving food to 'offer healthy options', remove salt and serve less sugar. Those cafe sugar dispensers will be banned as rufty-tufty builders have to fight with a rationed dollop of sugar in an inconvenient and wasteful paper sachet. 
Meanwhile the triumphant fussbuckets will - even more shrilly than now - begin to shout about the need for a sugar tax or a soda tax. MPs will be inundated with deliberate misinformation from Action on Sugar while behind the scenes that shocking liar Simon Stevens (who runs the NHS) will agitate a ministers for "something to be done" about obesity. And that something will be a sugar tax - despite there being no link between overall sugar consumption (which has fallen) and obesity.
Quite. It's a well-known concept called mission creep.

Because this is the real and dangerous problem we are faced with in our country (and others) now. If a minister stood up in parliament and announced that a new law was being created to instruct the public not to consume what they like, and that they would not be allowed by law to consume the products they choose to - the Restricted Foods Act 2015 or some such -  there would be justifiable outrage. The global press would, quite rightly, ridicule the minister as being on a par with Kim Jong Il and I don't think he or she would last in post for more than a few days.

However, a network of disgusting and socially illiterate public sector tards has been created on the public payroll to misconstrue what should only be advice, thereby fucking up life in general for people who are generally very able to make their own decisions. In fact, far more astutely than quangos and NGOs because - incredibly - they know far more detail about themselves and their families than some state-paid throbber looking at population data and junk science from tax troughers like themselves.

If politicians want to instruct the country to eat what they tell us to, and only allow prescribed weekly amounts of products to be consumed, create a law about it. Have the balls to put their reputations and careers on the line by demanding it through legislation, technology is advanced enough to enforce it through swipeable smart cards, RFID etc.

If, however, they mean it to be benign advice and they truly believe in basic freedom of the individual to consume what the individual freely chooses, slash the network of self-serving arseholes who pump out incontinent and inept restrictions and regulations just so their pig ugly wife/husband/dog can have another facelift at the taxpayers' expense.

The government says we are spending too much as a nation; that we require austerity. Well, there are quite literally billions to be saved by defunding these hysterical, fact-free cranks and re-educating state agencies that advice does not give the public sector carte blanche to make up totalitarian rules.

We'd all be better off without the lot of them and arguably healthier and happier as a result.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In California, No Really!

I'm still very constrained by real life here in Puddlecote Towers and Puddlecote Inc, but I just had to find some time to report some great news from the usually madcap state of California.
State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) dropped a bill Wednesday that would have regulated electronic cigarettes after it was gutted by an Assembly panel to no longer treat vaping devises as tobacco products facing the same restrictions as cigarettes.
Senator Leno is a ridiculous pillock - allegedly funded by pharmaceutical interests - who knows the princely sum of fuck all about e-cigs, as we can surmise from his inept and hilarious pre-vote gobshitery.

He seemed to think that just repeating the phrase "e-cigarettes are tobacco products" would drive his fellow legislators to crap themselves and vote for an unnecessary, and entirely idiotic, ban on their use in public. E-cigs are not tobacco products for the, some would say obvious, fact that they don't contain any tobacco and are mostly not made by tobacco companies. It's quite a big clue. He also makes a big noise about Philip Morris launching an "e-cig with real tobacco". The reality that it isn't actually an e-cig - but instead a device unashamedly heating tobacco not burning it and therefore a tobacco product not an e-cig - appears to have escaped his limited intellect.

The bill (SB140) being scrapped and Leno making an arse of himself is great news in itself, but the composition of those who stuck the knife in his back is quite telling.
Five Democrats voted with Republicans for the amendment, which was sought by the electronic cigarette industry.
As in the UK, the left - Democrats there and Labour here - tend to offer most opposition to vaping, arguably on the grounds of ignorance and incredibly lazy research (if they have bothered to do any at all). So Democrats shifting their view and siding with the angels is something of a surprise, maybe even an indication that times really are a'changing.

In the case of SB140, at a public meeting in April, over a hundred vapers lined up to publicly and personally object to Leno's madness while Mad Stan Glantz sat at Leno's side spouting his usual data-twisting bullshit. The people won, and a stupid politician advised by a self-serving and increasingly barking aircraft engineer lost. Badly. There can surely be no better result than that.

If the level of public support for e-cigs and harm reduction is starting to spook Democrats in the US, the dinosaurs of tobacco control who still push anti-vaping messages - despite overwhelming evidence going against them - will be rightfully marginalised even further as fundamentally untrustworthy cranks.

We've already seen evidence that high profile figures in the UK Labour party are beginning to understand that sections of the tobacco control industry have been lying to them, with Luciana Berger recently tweeting about the stupidity of Mark Drakeford's Labour-led ban in Wales. And quite right too, no-one except the most vile in society are that bothered about e-cigs, so any ban is unjust, unjustified and counter to every item of rhetoric an anti-smoking politician has ever uttered in the past. Plus, only the most vacant MP can ignore the unusually large volume of correspondence they receive from personally motivated vaping consumers and their friends and family. At the end of the day, politicians need votes, which I think California's Democrats have started to realise.

Leno's defeat should set alarm bells ringing in many jurisdictions over the issue of e-cigs. Most especially in Wales where Drakeford will hopefully soon be forced into a similar climbdown, as his pathetically blind bigotry and lack of political foresight transforms into humiliating embarrassment and an entry in the footnotes of political history as a crashing failure.

But for now, let's toast the vapers of California whose determination has seen off Leno's nonsense and sent a message around the world that, you know, e-cigs are really not tobacco products and politicians would do well to leave them alone if they value their careers.

On a side note, SB151 which would have raised the age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21 was also binned (perhaps influenced by an editorial in the LA Times). California politicians caring about personal adult choices? Whatever next!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Tobacco Products Directive Goes To Consultation

This may well be the only article posted here this week as Puddlecote Inc is going through a major reorganisation. I've been with Reed this afternoon discussing recruitment of two new specialist transport roles to handle a large uptick in fortunes which led to the best results in the company's 20 year history last year. We're also commissioning architects to expand our office space until we can source suitable new premises. All very exciting but it tends take chunks out of my fun time.

However, I have had a brief look at the government's newly-released consultation on the measures to be implemented following the EU's Tobacco Products Directive and it's like watching someone you are supposed to trust deliberately crashing your new car.

You can read the consultation document here if you wish to immerse yourself in a morass of pointless - and in places, counterproductive - tobacco control industry bullshit.

At first glance, I think it deserves a full walkthrough at some point in the future as your humble host has done in the past (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). Yes, I know these things are not "public consultations" but instead public sector consultations - designed as makework for parasite civil service and fake charity tax troughers - but the results have to be published and can sometimes serve to show how corrupt the whole process is, so definitely worth submitting to.

If you find anything interesting in there yourself, do let me know, but I only got as far as question 2 before the increasing tobacco control barrel-scraping idiocy became evident.
The Government intends to implement this provision of the Directive to mean images, targeted at consumers, that are used to promote the sale of products, such as retailer websites offering products for sale. Do you agree with this approach?
This, relates to the {cough} overwhelming promotion of tobacco products all over the country. All advertising may be banned, plain packaging passed, vending machines unlawful, tobacco hidden behind screens at Mr Patel's corner shop, and smokers exiled to a bunker under the central reservation near Leicester Forest East service station, but Sainsbury's still have this page on their website, y'see.

This is, of course, unacceptable. Because thousands of kids - while doing the family shop online with the credit card they are not allowed to own - will stumble across the images and instantly be forced to buy dozens of packs. Banning these images is a no-brainer, then, isn't it?

Or, perhaps, it's not really about the kids, and tobacco control has never actually cared about the choices of adults. What do you think?

There is also an incredibly funny piece of lunacy contained in the document regarding menthol cigarettes. You see, the TPD aims to ban flavoured tobacco (cos the kids, natch) but - to a storm of criticism from anti-smoking obsessives - gave a stay of execution to menthol till 2020. Not that you'll know if you're buying menthol or not anyway.
5.19. The TPD2 will prohibit products benefiting from the transitional arrangements (menthol cigarettes) or exemption from characterising flavours (pipe tobacco etc.), from being labelled with any reference to taste, smell or flavouring. For example, a brand of menthol flavoured cigarettes may continue to be sold until May 2020, but will not be able to be labelled as ‘Brand X Menthol’.
That's right. You can ask for menthol, or flavoured tobacco, but there will be nothing allowed on the packaging to say if you are getting what you asked for or not. Considering plain packaging is supposed to be implemented here next year, that means for four years the UK will be in the utterly bizarre situation of deliberately stopping consumers of a legal product the right to know what they are buying. You won't be even be able to see from the pack design because the colour green will be banned and the word 'menthol' will be too.

When I say tobacco controllers are insane, this is exactly why I can never be proved wrong.

Do go read the whole consultation, it's well woth it for an insight into exactly how the taxes you pay are being abused and handed to thoroughly disgusting trouser-fillers in Shoreditch, Geneva and Brussels. To the benefit of precisely no-one.

The civil servants who drafted it even round it all off with a very funny joke.
The draft regulations will be finalised in due course, taking into account all relevant considerations.
Yes, of course they will. Just like every other consultation British government agencies have embarked upon.

If you wish to respond to the consultation, you have till September 3rd so no rush, plenty of time. The online submission form can be found here.

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Self-Denormalisation Of A Reactionary Antique

You'll have noticed that content has been sparse recently, real life has had me hectic morning noon and night for the past week. This may continue for the coming week too; just thought I'd post that parish notice here. I do have time to briefly highlight this rather amusing piece of Chapman fail though, I think you might enjoy it.

It seems that the Global Forum on Nicotine event in Warsaw last month (see my report here) has got under the gobby coffin-dodger's skin somewhat. Here's how he described it in relation to an Aussie Senator's upcoming committee to examine negative effects of nanny state policies.
On August 24, submissions will close on another Senate enquiry that Leyonhjelm will head as what he’s promoting as an anti-nanny state regulation clean out. Much of this is likely to be air cover for him to grease the political rails for his tobacco industry benefactors to break down barriers to market e-cigarettes in Australia, with a senior advisor Helen Dale (formerly Demidenko) having recently attended a small meeting of vaping activists in Poland.
When I read this in the offices of Puddlecote Inc, it brought on a laugh so unexpected that the midget gem I was chewing flew out and stuck to my monitor!

I just had to find out exactly how 'small' this 'meeting of vaping activists' was, so I emailed the GFN organisers to ask.
"Attendance comprised in excess of 250 delegates representing 43 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia. Our records show that 42 vaping consumers registered to attend."
Just 42 vapers. Amongst the other 208 or so were tobacco control professionals such as Linda Bauld of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Dreadful Arnott of ASH, Martin Dockrell of Public Health England, Marewa Glover of Auckland’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research, Jennifer Ware of Bristol University's Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, Stop Smoking service manager for Leicester City Louise Ross, University of Ottawa Adjunct Professor David Sweanor, Director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation (and inventor of nicotine patches) Jed Rose, and former head of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control at the World Health Organization, Derek Yach, to name a few.

But they're all just 'vaping activists' now, according to simple Simon. Do you think he's finding himself isolated amongst the dwindling residue of denialist tobacco control dinosaurs? Pretty much, I'd say.

We did have a bit of a laugh about it on Twitter, which must have boiled the old twerp's piss even more because - despite blocking me and anyone else who has ever tweeted him in support of e-cigs and harm reduction - he must have had a sneak peek at see what we were saying before then posting a laughable tweet to try to save his blushes.

Desperate stuff, and this time my hilarity forced Lucozade out of one nostril to spatter a new contract document I was signing. I had to reprint the bloody thing.

So driven was our Aussie clown to pretend the Warsaw event was small and inconsequential and that he is not an increasingly marginalised outlier in his own profession - a reactionary Luddite barking incoherently from his retirement home as the world he no longer understands advances without him - that his choices of picture merely emphasised his geriatric incompetence. He is brilliantly denormalising himself as a credible authority on tobacco control matters, it's a joy to watch.

One of the images was from a session entitled "The Moral Maze" where attendance was split between two discussions with half of the conference at a satellite in another congress hall, the other was from a plenary session which overran significantly due to the enthusiasm of those present, meaning a lot of UK delegates had to reluctantly leave before the end to catch their flights to Heathrow. Or, as VTTV host David Dorn put it ...

Chapman is more and more becoming a cartoon character when it comes to e-cigs and harm reduction. The old dog who can't learn new tricks and howls at the moon about things he seems incapable of understanding. I would say that he should give it up because he's embarrassing himself, but I hope he carries on for a good few years yet, he's tobacco control industry comedy gold.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

ASH Wales Matches ASH London's Vaping Ban Apathy

Far too forceful for ASH Wales
Despite an overwhelming 79% rejection of his policy by the public - and with even 'public health' types queueing up to tell him his proposal to ban e-cigs in enclosed spaces is a crashingly stupid idea - Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford is stubbornly and irresponsibly sticking to his guns. In fact, not only that, his response is to give the sane majority the finger, scream "screw you all!", and double down by banning vaping in outdoor areas as well!

The guy is quite clearly insane.
Wales’ health minister says he intends to ban smoking and e-cigarettes from hospital grounds and school grounds. 
Mark Drakeford told an Assembly committee on Wednesday that the bans would come as regulations off the back of the Public Health Bill, which also intends to ban e-cigarettes from enclosed public and work spaces.
There is - to put it simply - not even a whiff of evidence, or even addled junk science, that says such a policy is remotely justifiable. Indeed, his incompetent wibble is in direct contravention of all credible research and science currently available on vaping.

He knows this, which is why he has dreamed up possibly the most lame excuse I think you will see from any politician, in any government, for the foreseeable future.
He said the bill’s ban on e-cigarettes in enclosed public and work places simply brings “the position in Wales into line with the way that the trend is going. 
“Everything (sic) single day you will find more and more places that is (sic) already doing what this bill proposes,” he said, citing examples of the Wales Millennium Centre, the Millennium Stadium and the New Theatre that ban e-cigarettes already.
This is to fundamentally misunderstand the entire point of government legislation! In a free market economy where property owners enjoy rights over their property, legislation should only be required where markets have failed and/or property rights are seen to be negatively impacting on sections of the population. Drakeford is saying that the market is operating well - even implicitly admiring how it is working - so he is going to enact legislation to, erm, correct a market that isn't failing and restrict property rights which he believes are being handled responsibly. He's a politician who hasn't the faintest idea about what politicians are supposed to be there for!

The lardy loon is literally proposing anti-democratic and provably unnecessary laws to the Assembly committee which are based on nothing but fantasy, superstition and astonishingly ignorant intolerance. I don't wish to be rude, but there is orders of magnitude more evidence-based justification for Drakeford being sectioned under the Mental Health Act than there is for banning vaping in hospital grounds.

The Ashtray blog has reported on this and urges you to join with Labour's opponents in the Welsh Assembly in signing and sharing a Lib Dem petition to drop his silly and damaging idea. I couldn't agree more, so please do so.

However, I'm more struck by the almost supine response from ASH Wales to Drakeford's lunacy.
The proposed extended smoking ban has been welcomed by smoking campaign group Ash Wales.
They are perfectly aware that e-cigs are included in Drakeford's ban, but they're happy to 'welcome' it. They do qualify this meekly further on, but it's about as forceful as a bitch slap from a malnourished goldfish.
“From our point of view, as with the e-cigarette proposals in the Public Health Bill, we want to see more evidence before any firm decision is made on that issue. From our point of view its the minister’s call, but we want to see more evidence.”
Naturally, they're not at all bothered about seeing evidence that smoke outdoors is a health threat to bystanders (hint: it isn't), so it's nice to see that they're now making it perfectly clear that the smoking ban had bugger all to do with protecting staff.

However, their response to a totally unnecessary and potentially damaging ban on e-cig use is utterly pathetic. They'd like to see some evidence but - at the end of the day - if Drakeford goes ahead with it, they couldn't give a shit. It's "the minister's call" after all. Meh.

Two weeks ago, I had this to say about the weak and borderline apathetic "support" ASH London is giving to vapers.
They could have said something like "there is no justification whatsoever for banning e-cigs unless you're an authoritarian cockmuppet" but instead ASH - as usual - merely issue a few limp, fence-sitting platitudes when talking about e-cigs, which effectively tell Guy's and St Thomas' to carry on Doctor, ban 'em if you like, we really couldn't give a toss. 
For the avoidance of doubt, it's worth remembering that every vaping ban - and I do mean every one - is directly as a result of 'passive smoking' hysteria and junk science promoted by ASH for the pure purpose of increasing their own bank balances.
It's abundantly clear that the same applies to ASH Wales too.

Consider the vitriolic, almost violent, rhetoric both ASH and ASH Wales employ when politicians ignore or disagree with whichever ineffective grant-justifying tobacco control piffle they are lobbying for at any particular time. In such cases they threaten, bully, cheat, lie, doctor evidence, mislead politicians, misrepresent data, hurl baseless ad hominems and generally sling as much mud around as they can afford from the cash they have scrounged from the taxpayer. When it comes to vaping though, they can hardly be arsed to wave a sign saying "down with this sort of thing".

So obsessed are ASH Wales - and their equally vile sibling ASH London - with getting an utterly pointless ban on smoking in hospital car parks, that they're quite content to throw vapers under the bus.

It's well beyond time their state funding was switched off, the self-serving bastards shouldn't receive so much as a brass farthing of our tax receipts.