Friday, 15 September 2017

It's Not About Health: A Potted History

It's almost become a motto of this blog to state that the bans and restrictions imposed by 'public health' and, in particular, tobacco control have nothing whatsoever to do with health.

There have been regular weekly examples of this over the eight plus years that I've been writing here, but New York Times science columnist, John Tierney, has put together the milestone themes in an excellent essay for The Manhattan Institute. Entitled "The Corruption of Public Health", it is a must-read.

Here are a few teasers, firstly on e-cigs.
In a bizarre historical twist, the public-health establishment is protecting the cigarette industry with the same infamous techniques that Big Tobacco formerly used. Just as tobacco apologists once argued that no conclusive scientific evidence showed that smoking was harmful, American public-health officials now insist that there’s no solid evidence that smoking is worse than vaping. No tobacco executive today would dare make such a ludicrous claim about cigarettes—he’d fear the resulting lawsuits—but government officials enjoy legal immunity that lets them engage in deadly deception, without paying the consequences.
It's true that vaping has brought the tobacco control industry's disgusting, inhuman and venal rent-seeking out into the open, but - as we know well here - it isn't a new phenomenon; they have always been disgusting, inhuman and venal rent-seekers. Tierney recognises this and accurately runs through some of the lies and egregious abuses of liberty that went before it.
But the vaping story is part of a much bigger and longer-running scandal. It is the most flagrant example of how a once-noble enterprise became corrupted by ideology and self-dealing. 
It redefined its mission to include just about any social problem or individual behavior that might pose health risks and provide a rationale for the government to intervene in people’s lives, as James T. Bennett and Thomas J. DiLorenzo chronicle in their history of the public-health movement, From Pathology to Politics
Now that the World Health Organization has redefined its mission to be the achievement of “physical, mental and social well-being,” the field has boomed with new jobs—not just for medical researchers but also for psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, environmentalists, and assorted activists.
Jobs and salaries. Because selling your services as an 'expert' is a lucrative enterprise.
Many smokers were persuaded to quit, but not enough to satisfy the progressives who came to dominate public health. They shared the passion for social engineering of the original Progressives, who had helped lead the movement to ban alcohol in the 1920s, and they adopted the same prohibitionist approach to tobacco. In Jacob Sullum’s history of the antismoking movement, For Your Own Good, he describes the profession’s new philosophy: “The public health perspective, which seeks collective prescriptions to reduce morbidity and mortality, does not take individual tastes and preferences into account. Having noted that smoking can lead to illness, public health specialists now identify smoking itself as a disease, something inherently undesirable that happens to unwilling victims.” 
To rescue these victims, public-health officials sought a “smoke-free society.” They lobbied for bans on smoking in indoor public spaces, reasonably enough—why should taxpayers using public property be involuntarily subject to a nuisance that’s smelly and can irritate respiratory ailments? But the activists also successfully fought for state and local bans on smoking outdoors and in private restaurants, bars, and workplaces, an expansion of government power ostensibly justified by the deadly menace of secondhand smoke. 
That claim, unlike the surgeon general’s landmark warning in 1964, wasn’t based on rigorous empirical analysis. Led by the Environmental Protection Agency and the CDC, the new generation of public-health activists cherry-picked studies and massaged data to support claims that secondhand smoke was causing thousands of cases of lung cancer annually and that banning it in some towns brought dramatic declines in the rate of heart attacks. Prominent researchers contested those claims at the time, leading a judge in 1998 to rule that the EPA had grossly manipulated “scientific procedure and scientific norms.” 
Long-term studies have subsequently debunked the alarms, but antismoking activists remain unapologetically convinced that the ends justified the means. In 2013, when the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published an exceptionally rigorous study that tracked 76,000 women (including wives of smokers) and found no connection between secondhand smoke and lung cancer, the results were dismissed as irrelevant to public policy. The journal quoted one expert explaining that ending the health risk of secondhand smoke was never really the point of the bans: “The strongest reason to avoid passive cigarette smoke is to change societal behavior: to not live in a society where smoking is a norm.” Science should never get in the way of social engineering.
Tierney's piece goes on to detail how these charlatans subsequently perverted science to demonise smokeless tobacco and snus, along with their routine defence tactic of smear, innuendo, ad hominem and professional sabotage, and he also touches on the role of Prohibitionist pharma organisations in the colossal deceit.

It is a great piece of work which illustrates how the pursuit of funding and profit - not the good of the public's health - is why nicotine in e-cigs is now categorised as harmful by people who self-describe as 'experts', but should rightly be in prison. It should be required reading in Ministries of Health the world over to show how a corrupt movement is playing politicians like gullible chimps on a daily basis.

I urge you to go read the whole thing here. It's highly possible it might make you angry, but go read it anyway.

UPDATE: Tierney also published a shorter piece in the Wall Street Journal on the same subject. The response from Mary Bassett, Commissioner at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirms his article is correct more than a thousand further words would.
John Tierney is incorrect in his criticism of New York City’s new e-cigarette regulation (“New York’s Mayor Gives Smokers Another Reason Not to Quit,” Cross Country, Sept. 9). E-cigarettes are a serious public health concern, especially for young people.
These people are barking mad lunatics. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Sinner, Keep Sinning - We Need The Cash

"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." - Luke 15:7
My oh my, how revealing is this?

It was announced today that Philip Morris International - makers of Marlboro cigarettes - were funding a new initiative.
NEW YORK – Ushering in a bold, billion-dollar, far-reaching new effort to end smoking across the globe, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World will be formally launched in New York City on September 13 at 9:30am EDT. 
The Foundation’s founder and president-designate, Dr. Derek Yach, will outline the Foundation’s mission, objectives, and an initial funding commitment of approximately US$80 million annually for 12 years during a speech to the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum at the InterContinental New York Barclay. Additional funding from other sources will be announced at a later date. 
Dr. Yach will be preceded by Mitch Zeller, director of the US FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, who will speak at 8:45am EDT about the need for a new approach to smoking cessation and harm reduction. Members of the media are invited to attend. 
Dr. Yach is a former World Health Organization cabinet director and executive director who led the development of the world’s foremost treaty on tobacco control, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In anticipation of the launch of his new Foundation, he said, “With more than 7 million smoking-related deaths every year, smoking kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Smoking is a global public health crisis that needs an urgent response with significant, sustained resources, fresh ideas and collaborative action. The Foundation will provide all that and more as we work to help the world’s one billion smokers quit smoking.”
As I understand it, this is simply PMI shovelling money towards people who would like to research tobacco harm reduction (THR). No strings attached, not even a prerequisite to report what they are doing with it.

And what is tobacco control's reaction to this?

Physically sick. Yep, Chappers' right hand muppet (Chuppet?) is sick that research might be taking place towards methods to help people find ways of quitting smoking without her salary being paid help.

Ok, that's just another of those Aussie nutjobs, but what about our own?
While the new foundation appears to be a rare example of a consumer-goods company supporting efforts to undermine sales of its own products, its creation was greeted with skepticism by one anti-smoking organization. 
“The tobacco industry has a terrible track record of funding research designed to support its efforts to block policies to cut smoking,” Deborah Arnott, chief executive of London-based Action on Smoking and Health, said in a statement. “Tobacco industry claims can never be accepted at face value.”

There are many who claim to be in favour of THR yet strangely get an attack of the willies once big industry gets involved. I think we can safely say that ASH is full of just such people.

What ASH should have done (if they were interested in health at all) - considering they have spent the last few decades condemning 'Big Tobacco' for not helping smokers to quit - was to welcome this huge amount of money and to congratulate PMI for changing course.

Instead, ASH decided to pump out what is basically a conspiracy theory. Apparently PMI are spending $1bn simply as a diversion. Does Arnott recognise how ridiculous that is?

As for the statement that “Tobacco industry claims can never be accepted at face value". Erm, her own industry has lied so much about e-cigs (and everything else) that she herself has openly opposed them at times. The tobacco control juggernaut is lying on a daily basis about vaping. It's not even being hidden, Arnott has the most amazing cheek to accuse others of being disingenuous when her global colleagues last said something truthful about 1975, the time the UK last held a referendum on Europe.

Rather than welcome a positive initiative from a tobacco industry which ASH and others have painted as irretrievably evil, they have chosen to slam it. This is the same bunch of people who have demanded that 'Big Tobacco' must pay a "polluter pays" levy, it has been a central plank of their demands to government for the past few years. But when just one company does so voluntarily, they jump to condemn it {whisper: could it be that this particular billion is not going to them like the plan they had in mind?}.

We've speculated before that the tobacco control industry has lost sight of its stated goal to reduce the number of people smoking, and instead has morphed into a movement which just despises tobacco companies, but I don't think we can call it speculation any longer after today. It's stark and blatant truth.

It goes to prove, yet again, that tobacco control has no care about health at all. To them, it's just a game and a means of feathering their cosy nest with cash. A tobacco company could devote its entire profit to THR and the likes of Arnott would still criticise. In fact they would criticise more because not only would it destroy their dated ad hom - that they never cease to lazily apply - about industry being untrustworthy, but it would also show that ASH would arguably have no further need to exist. Likewise the execrable Freeman who lied through her teeth at the Australian e-cig inquiry last week.

Oh hold on, do you think that could be why the scream test has been failed by tobacco controllers after this announcement? If you're not familiar with the scream test, here is Simon Chapman to explain:
Experienced tobacco control advocates have long spoken of the “scream test” of policy impact — if a new policy gets no reaction from the tobacco industry it rarely has an impact, but if the industry screams blue murder the impact will be large.
Barely a few hours in and they're already howling like stuck pigs. Must mean that the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World will be making a lot of people quit tobacco, and a lot of formerly comfy state-funded tobacco controllers redundant, eh? For tobacco control to profit, they need a sinner, and their chosen one just threw one billion problems their way.

Still, I must thank ASH and their international colleagues - yet again - for proving me 100% correct when I say the tobacco control bandwagon is absolutely nothing to do with health. On days like this it just gets too easy. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A New Voice Of Freedom From Nags

As Snowdon noted recently, there is a concerted effort underway by 'public health' charlatans to make alcohol into the same kind of pariah substance as tobacco. They employ the same frenzied lie-fest that tobacco control has employed for decades, but these hideous bansturbating bloodsuckers won't rest until they have siphoned the joy out of every facet of our lives.

For the latest on this new hysterical phenomenon, let's take a trip to Australia.

I had to ask about this because I couldn't believe such an endearing photo was being used by joyless 'public health' plankton, but yes it was. They are chasing the dream of the "no safe level" status - unsupported by common sense and against the rules of physics and biology - that tobacco control has disingenuously bestowed on smoking.

What's more, they have hypnotised ordinary folk into coming out with the most incredible load of bollocks.
The PM has been branded "irresponsible" for the photo, which showed him holding his granddaughter Alice, with a beer in his other hand at the AFL final between the Swans and Bombers at the SCG yesterday. 
He captioned the image "multi-tasking". 
Another wrote: "Does anyone see anything irresponsible with an adult hold(ing) a baby and juggling a beer? And when was drinking while holding a child OK?" 
The backlash continued: "I find it disgusting to see people breathing grog all over baby’s but sadly I’m not surprised by Malcolm doing it."
"And when was drinking while holding a child OK?"? Erm, well it's always been OK. Has the person saying that never been to a wedding?

Sadly, there are some catastrophically gullible people in this world, as well as a massive amount of intolerant bigots. They are the type of person 'public health' targets and actively cultivates. Tobacco control employs the useful hand flapping idiots, the temperance crusaders tend to rely on crusty old Aunt Mauds whose idea of a life is peering through their curtains and criticising their neighbours while cats spray up their sofas and their relatives make excuses to be unavailable at all times.

Some uncharitable types might say that's quite a good description of most 'public health' advocates, but I digress.

Look. Australia is this mad place where their chief anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-vaping, anti-industry bellend comes out with crap like "if you're thirsty, drink from the tap, why do you need Coke?". Where they ban Carmen the opera for crying out loud! It is a country rushing headlong into eradicating all joy out of all lives, led by people who belong in an asylum.

That the reaction to a beautiful picture of a grandparent kissng a child while enjoying a beer at a sporting event should prompt such ridiculous comments shows that the place has thrown its soul to the wolves.

Is there any hint that Turnbull may be drunk? No. Is there a hint that the child could be in danger? No. Is there a health threat from "breathing grog all over baby’s (sic)"? No.

It's school playground thinking promoted by people who are salaried to spread irrational fear about alcohol. We have the same type of anti-alcohol careerists here who would love to cultivate the same bovine mentality in the UK. My entirely personal view is that they should be given long prison terms and then kicked out of the country, but I know I may be an outlier with that.

Instead, then, how about a fight back? Just after hearing about this latest piece of Australian bedwetting nonsense, I was alerted to a new online campaign from an organisation calling itself Drinkers' Voice. In their FAQs they have this very astute raison d'ĂȘtre.
For too long, the anti-alcohol lobby has dominated the conversation on alcohol and your health, resulting in misleading statistics and scaremongering news headlines. This has left those of us who want to enjoy a drink without the fear of judgement out of the conversation.
Fucking too right they have! 'Public health' likes to leave the public out of their conversations because they know that we don't like them or the fact-free crap they spout. If they were confident that they would win an argument they would enagage in debate, the fact they always avoid doing so and purposely exclude the public from everything they do tells you all you need to know about them.

Drinkers' Voice is only a few days old but has already attracted the attention of BBC radio, Sky News, The Sun, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and the Sunday Times. It looks like a goer. One of its spokespeople is Richard Harding, who I have written about before.
Next up - and my personal favourite on the night - was Dr Richard Harding, a member of the 1995 committee which came up with the previous alcohol consumption guidelines. He was so calm and laid back that you could almost have missed the subtle contempt he has for Sally Davies and her ridiculous "no safe level of alcohol consumption" nonsense.
Here he is on Sky News yesterday talking about this subject.

Having looked into Drinkers' Voice, it appears they have been set up by CAMRA (meh), have refused industry backing, and will therefore be impossible to ignore via 'public health's' usual avenues of misdirection and ad hominem, although I fully expect the anti-alcohol lobby to be scrambling around trying to find a few lies to fling at them anyway. Anything, in fact, to avoid accepting the indisputable fact that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to health.

You can learn more about Drinkers' Voice by going to their website here. I'd like to think that whatever premises they have chosen as a base was christened with a nice smashed bottle of Bolly. Let's hope that they will be an inconvenient thorn in the side of 'public health' lunatics everywhere, and that no UK politician has to put up with shite about how they drank a light beer in the presence of a baby as if it's anything more than irrelevant orgasm fodder for rust-hearted, interfering busybodies. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Curious Case Of The Criminal Offence That Isn't

In early August, an article appeared in the Birmingham Mail which appeared to jump the shark regarding vaping on trains. As we will come to, it has since been significantly edited, but the Wayback Machine has the original.
Train users caught putting their feet on seats or vaping could face prosecution
Train company London Midland has launched a new campaign to stamp out anti-social behaviour and it could see passengers facing prosecution for breaking new railway by-laws. 
Commuters caught putting their feet on seats or vaping could end up in court. 
The new regulations were introduced this week (from August 7) in response to complaints from train passengers. 
"Prosecution"? "New railway by-laws "? "End up in court"? For using an e-cig? What fresh hell is this?

It seemed a bit rum seeing as new by-laws must be approved by the Secretary of State for Transport, and if that had been the case, it passed just about everyone by. So a few questions were asked about this hyper over-reaction on Twitter.

As usual, click to enlarge

Right OK. So within a few tweets we are already miles away from "new railway by-laws" and into some dumbass policy dreamed up by wooden tops in suits in a Brummie office. How, exactly, can anyone be prosecuted for breaking a private company's policy? I could install a policy of banning the eating of sardines in my office premises (thought has occurred), but I don't think the Police would race down with their blue lights flashing to enforce it and fine people for me.

Because the article also showed a BBC video of a passenger being given an 'interview under caution'. Now, I have experience of these so know that an interview under caution is a procedure, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, in situations where someone is suspected of committing a criminal offence. Not adhering to a private company's charter is not a criminal offence unless private companies are allowed to just make up criminal law on the hoof or something.

The Freedom Association's Andrew Allison asked this question about the interviews, and London Midland seemed to think that, yes, they were being conducted against vapers.

And again

They suggested, though, that it was not they who were conducting them, but the British Transport Police. So I asked them. They couldn't say how many interviews under caution they had conducted, for two reasons. Firstly, because London Midland hadn't even been in touch with them about it.
I have contacted the Officer in Charge for British Transport Police at Birmingham New Street and the Superintendent who has overall responsibility for British Transport Police’s Midlands region and neither are aware of any written guidance correspondence or guidance received from or given to London Midland on this issue or any guidance issued to officers specifically relating to vaping on London Midland services.
But secondly, and probably more importantly, because it wouldn't be their responsibility anyway (emphasis is all theirs, not mine).
A number of Train Operating Companies issue guidance that the use of e-cigarettes is prohibited on the railway. It may be that the TOCs’ Conditions of Carriage prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes however BTP are not responsible for enforcing conditions of carriage. Under normal circumstances, the use of an e-cigarette on a train or in any enclosed railway building is not a criminal offence. 
British Transport Police would not have issued any fines or threats of prosecution in relation to Terms of Carriage alone.
If anyone is conducting interviews under caution, then, it isn't British Transport Police, so it must be London Midland. I do hope they have a rock solid case for doing so, don't you?

On that note, as I mentioned earlier, the Birmingham Mail's article has since been re-written after Sarah J pointed out to them that it was very misleading. It now includes this clarification, presumably after consulting London Midland.
Although vaping is not specifically included within the railway by-laws, in light of customer complaints London Midland considers it to be a discomfort to other passengers and may therefore be a breach of the regulations.
The specific 'regulation' they refer to is Railway By-Law 6(8) [pdf] which states:
No person shall molest or wilfully interfere with the comfort or convenience of any person on the railway. 
That's one hell of a stretch. Which is why I was glad that the British Transport Police included their own guidance on the matter in their reply.
Is the use of an e-cigarette a Byelaw offence? 
The use of an e-cigarette would not normally be covered by Byelaw 6(8) unless we can evidence that the interference is wilful. For example, where after a complaint from another passenger, the individual continues to use the e-cigarette. We would need to ensure we are able to obtain sufficient evidence to support the prosecution.
London Midland can "consider" vaping to be a contravention of that by-law as much as they like - they are entitled to their opinion after all - but the Police beg to differ. Or, as they put it, "There is no law or byelaw against vaping on a train".

Nope, and some train company exec is not suitably qualified to decree that a criminal offence has been committed when the Police disagree, I'd say. So this would appear to be a case of some pompous, puffed-up, lazy pratts at London Midland making a great big deal out of a very minor 'problem'.

So what was the state of play before this grand new display of clunking fist power by London Midland? Well, whether vaping was prohibited by their charter or not, if a passenger felt discomforted or inconvenienced by someone vaping, they could complain. If the vaper then continued, wilfully, it would become a contravention of a railway by-law.

And what is the situation now? Well, exactly the same. It doesn't matter whether London Midland have an opinion one way or another, their charter doesn't create a criminal offence, and the by-law is only contravened if a vaper persists when asked to stop. A complete waste of time then, and a further hysterical restriction on e-cigs which the Royal College of Physicians have said should be widely encouraged.

Instead of a neanderthal show of widespread corporate ignorance, if London Midland had any bright sparks working for them, they could have instead adopted an inclusive policy like this advanced by ECITA a couple of years ago.
In order to ensure that customers are fully informed, we recommend the installation of signage, such as this:

so that those who wish to use electronic cigarettes are reminded to do so discreetly, and to treat their fellow passengers with courtesy and respect, while also informing those customers who do not wish to use such products that they can expect the products to be used in a minimally invasive or offensive way – and can report any misbehaviour in this regard. We believe that this is the appropriate balance to strike for this type of public environment. If such a policy were adopted by UK train operators, then they could be – at least in some small way – contributing to improvements in UK public health, rather than risking being a potential cause of harm.
Sadly, London Midland is staffed - from Twitter monkey right up to board level - by people with about as much acumen, common sense and imagination as a garden gnome.

Still, that's probably why they've just lost the franchise. Oh dear what a pity never mind. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Spot The Difference

You will often hear tobacco controllers talk about how the tobacco industry is evil and has a history of deceiving the public. It's a central ingredient of everything they do and they have used this to persuade governments to ignore the industry entirely, portraying big tobacco companies as untrustworthy.

The theme was explained in this BBC article last year.
In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public. Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”. 
In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” 
Proctor found that ignorance spreads when firstly, many people do not understand a concept or fact and secondly, when special interest groups – like a commercial firm or a political group – then work hard to create confusion about an issue. In the case of ignorance about tobacco and climate change, a scientifically illiterate society will probably be more susceptible to the tactics used by those wishing to confuse and cloud the truth.
If this kind of behaviour is reprehensible, how should we review research such as this by the tobacco control industry from last week? From the conclusions (emphases mine):
Although much is known about smoking‐induced cardiovascular toxicity, little is known about that of e‐cigarettes. This is an issue that continues to be a subject of debate. Nevertheless, based on the current body of evidence, e‐cigarettes are not emission free (as some believe) and, in fact, they emit various potentially harmful and toxic chemicals. Whether or not the levels of these toxicants are lower than traditional smoking remains controversial. In this connection, recent studies showed that e‐cigarettes‐emitted chemicals reach levels comparable to tobacco smoke, and those levels vary depending on multiple factors, including types of devices, e‐liquid, vaping topography, and vaping experience.
Isn't this, also, "establishing a controversy" by "those wishing to confuse and cloud the truth"?

Because, you see, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that e-cigs are safer than smoking, and the authors know this. They are just choosing to try to perpetuate the mythical harms of vaping in the minds of "a scientifically illiterate society".
Although it was originally argued that e‐cigarettes are “harm free,” the present prevailing belief is that they are “reduced harm” alternatives to conventional cigarettes. This latter notion is still debatable and not supported by conclusive evidence, especially considering the wide variation between e‐cigarette products. Even if that were the case, their harm can still extend to innocent/bystander nonsmokers through secondhand and thirdhand vaping, including children, pregnant women, casino/housekeeping workers, and people with preexisting cardiovascular and other diseases.
Debatable? There is absolutely no debate whatsoever that e-cigs are "reduced harm" alternatives (note the scare quotes), they just are. And as for "secondhand and thirdhand vaping", that only exists in the fevered imagination of corrupt researchers such as the authors of this junk crap.

So, can you spot the difference between the behaviour of the tobacco industry in the 1960s and the behaviour of tobacco controllers such as these now? Because I can't. Creating false doubts about much safer products to put people off using them, and deceiving the public into thinking that they are dangerous, is exactly the same as creating false doubts about the high risks of smoking in order to encourage use, n'est-ce pas?

Just yet another example of how e-cigs are exposing the tobacco control industry as big a bunch of liars as the caricature they have painted of Big Tobacco for decades. Perhaps governments should cut off all tobacco control funding and stop listening to them too until they buy a dictionary and look up the word 'honesty'.