Monday, 15 January 2018

RIP Dolores, Thank You For The Music

It was a shock on my commute back from office today to hear that Dolores O'Riordan has died. At only 46, the loss of the lead singer of the Cranberries is very sad, and it was spooky considering that I had visited their website just this lunchtime to see if there were any plans to reschedule the European Tour that was cancelled due to her health problems.

I first saw the band live in the mid 90s and was a big fan, I can honestly say that there is no song they have produced that I didn't like. Like many I have seen online this evening, I also have very positive memories of meeting them purely by chance in around 2002 (I think).

The future Mrs P and I had tickets for a show at the Astoria in London and had decided to make a day of it with an afternoon visit to a restaurant prior to the show. We looked at the menus in a number of places in Greek Street and Frith Street before deciding to eat in an independent Italian. As we walked in, the place was fairly dark so I wondered if it was closed, I asked the question of a table near the front - the only one occupied - and they looked at me startled and motioned to a waitress reading a newspaper at the back of the place. She came over and seated us and while we read the menus I had a look around, only then realising that the table we had spoken to were the Cranberries! We were both wearing tour T-shirts from an earlier time so they must have been terrified that we would interrupt their meal.

We didn't of course, and left them to it. However, once they had finished, Fergal the drummer pulled out a few notes from his wallet and put them on the table as they jumped up to leave. I had to say something so went over and wished them good luck on the show. They were very warm, smiled widely, chatted briefly to us both, thanked us for coming and said they thought we would enjoy it.

Needless to say we did.

Most of the talk today has been about hit tracks such as Linger, Zombie and the much-used-in-adverts Dreams, but they are more of a band than that and Dolores was a master performer. Her live rendition of the doleful Ode To My Family could rouse any audience and their catalogue spanned from the raucous through to the pop-like. They produced happy anthems like Sunday and Just My Imagination, could get loud and angry with Ridiculous Thoughts and Salvation, be inspiring with Free To Decide and Analyse, yet still deliver heavily haunting and emotional stuff like Daffodil Lament and Dying In The Sun.

It's very sad news, but if there is anything good at all to come out of Dolores's death, it will be that more people might delve into the music they produced and discover just how good it is. As a taster, if you find any music videos as heart-warming as this for Animal Instinct, please do let me know.

Rest in peace, Dolores, and thank you so much for the great music and memories.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Public Health Minister Endorses Government Lobbying Government

As mentioned by Simon Clark yesterday, ASH spent this past week trying to whip up a frenzy about the 'NHS Pledge' that is seems to have organised as part of its role with the Smokefree Action Coalition.

You can see a copy of the 'pledge' here, it is basically yet more bullying of smokers and is based on the usual tobacco control industry truth-bending nonsense. However, the briefing note that accompanies it contains a direct call for help from the NHS to lobby the government in favour of policies advocated by state-funded organisations like ASH.
There is further action that is also needed to regulate the tobacco supply chain to ensure children cannot purchase tobacco and to further control the illicit market. Currently no licence is needed for the sale of tobacco. NHS organisations can support calls for full licencing of the tobacco supply chain from manufacturers to retailers to help further drive down smoking prevalence. 
NHS organisations can also support calls for the tobacco industry to pay to address the harm they cause. Tobacco companies collectively make an estimated £1 billion in profit in the UK alone while playing a major burden on the NHS and other public services. In the US companies are forced to pay a fee based on the number of cigarettes they sell which is used to fund tobacco control work. The same policy introduced in the UK could provide sustainable route to fund efforts to end the smoking epidemic.
In fact, the citation for the first paragraph is a report written by ASH.

This 'pledge' been signed off by the public health minister, Steve Brine, the very same person who is ultimately in charge of signing off the government's annual grant to ASH.

It is a condition of the grant that fake charity ASH receives every year that they are not allowed to lobby politically, yet here they are organising a 'pledge' of which one of the items in the briefing notes states that NHS trusts signing it will "support Government action at national level".  That's all well and good but those paragraphs above talk about licensing of tobacco sellers and applying a levy on the tobacco industry, neither of which is current government policy. So this is blatant political lobbying, and ASH are co-ordinating NHS organisations to promise to pester the government for more restrictions from government; more stigmatisation of smokers; and more funding for anti-smoking NGOs like ASH.

This is effectively Brine shovelling money to ASH in order to produce reports asking for more regulations and more money to be shovelled to, you guessed it, ASH and their equally tedious and obnoxious chums. Now, I don't know about you, but it doesn't seem right for NHS organisations - another arm of the government considering they are funded and run by centrally-granted money - to be lobbying, or to be encouraged to lobby, for ASH's demands by ASH and a government minister.

The 'NHS pledge is just yet another example of government lobbying government by ASH. Instead of signing this off, Brine should be telling ASH they are in breach of the terms of their grant and removing it from them.

Remember when a former Conservative minister condemned "government lobbying government"? It seems a world away now a fellow Conservative minister is lending the full weight of his endorsement to it and tweeted how "delighted" he was to do so. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Clowns At A Vaping Convention

If you think you'd seen it all when it comes to tobacco control junk science, wait till you get a load of this story of everyday charlatans visiting a vaping convention, published last month. Yes, this was actually published.
Assessment of indoor air quality at an electronic cigarette (Vaping) convention
E-cigarette (vaping) conventions are public events promoting electronic cigarettes, in which indoor use of e-cigarettes is allowed. The large concentration of people using e-cigarettes and poor air ventilation can result in indoor air pollution. In order to estimate this worst-case exposure to e-cigarettes, we evaluated indoor air quality in a vaping convention in Maryland (MD), USA.
Now, the first thing to note about this is that they didn't seem to seek permission from the venue or the organisers to conduct this research. No, instead they attended as if they were just interested observers and hid their measuring equipment inside backpacks.
All sampling equipment was placed inside a backpack and carried around the convention venue. Three teams of two people each took turns carrying the backpack inside the venue.
Now, why do you think they'd do that? Surely if they are altruistically performing an objective assessment with no ulterior motive they would simply explain that to the organisers. But, of course, if your motive is to concoct an attack piece solely with a goal of spreading muck about e-cig vapour, if you were to tell the organisers that you were unbiased, they would have every right to call you a disgusting liar when the study was completed, and would have a good case to demand answers from the relevant ethics board. So best just to keep the equipment hidden away, eh?

Because the study was either designed solely to demonise vapour, or the researchers are incredibly fucking stupid. You decide.
In our study, the estimated 24-h time-TWA PM10 was 1,800 μg/m3, which is 12 fold higher than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) 24-h TWA PM10 limit (150 μg/m3) established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and 36-fold higher than the air quality standards of the European Commission (50 µg/m3). The peak PM10 concentration reached 17,860 μg/m3. 
Ambient Air Quality Standard? What does that mean? Well it means the standard for outdoors, which is an odd standard to use for a study on vapers inside a vaping convention. Was this just incompetence or do you think they know that the outdoor standard is set lower? This is because if you are exposed to pollutants in the air outdoors they are ever-present. You cannot avoid them and they are all around you, all day. People visiting or working at a vape convention are not exposed for 24 hours or for days on end, as they may be in city air. The appropriate comparator is an occupational exposure not air quality standards for cities, but they didn't use it.

Still, those numbers are scary aren't they? Well kinda, except that they are talking about particulates as if vapour is the same threat as other airborne pollutants. The Scottish EPA describes 'particulate matter' as "the term used to describe particles of soot (carbon), metals or inorganic salts", while the US Environmental Protection Agency categorises them as "emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.  Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles.". E-cig vapour is an aerosol made up of liquid droplets, which are entirely different chemically and physically. Again, do you think they knew this or are just thick?

They were more realistic when comparing the levels they recorded with occupational (i.e. indoors) particulates not otherwise regulated.
Furthermore, for more than 50% of the time during the vaping convention, the PM10 concentration stayed over 10,000 μg /m3, reaching the TWA inhalable particle guideline of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
10,000 μg /m3 is, indeed, (averaged over 8 hours) the permissible exposure limit for non-specific particles, except that the junk scientists researchers did average their readings out (emphasis mine).
PM10 concentrations using integrated sampling were 8,850 and 8,429 μg/m3, (mean = 8,639 μg/m3), which was consistent with the overall mean PM10 concentration obtained from the real-time monitor.
So, their readings were actually well inside the permissible - let me say that again, permissible - exposure limit for indoor areas.

So nothing to see then, right? Well, no tobacco controller worth his salt would ever come up with anything that honest, they'd soon be kicked out of the Globalink junk scientist club if they did. No, they concluded quite differently.
These results can inform FDA policy by supporting restricting use of e-cigarettes indoors, and recommending worker protections at vaping venues, such as vape shops and lounges. Protections may include increased ventilation, and requiring extensive cleaning procedures after each convention, to minimize potential third-hand exposure to future users of the venue.
Yep, it was just a convoluted and bent ruse to advise the FDA to ban vaping indoors. The reference to "third-hand exposure" just proves further that these people are conniving shysters who would be drummed out of their profession if it wasn't for the fact they happen to be part of the morally-bankrupt and scientifically-corrupt tobacco control industry.

So, to sum up, these weird people took their measurements secretly, which arguably cast doubt on their ethics; they used an outdoor quality level which is lower than indoors because it was more favourable to their pre-conceived conclusions; implied that vapour is on a par with bitumen and diesel fumes; categorised a specialist vaping event as being comparable to bars and offices which is quite absurd; and when even doing all that their measurements still came in within acceptable levels, nevertheless still demanded vaping be banned in public. Do you think they may have an agenda here?

Talking hypothetically, what if these recommendations were accepted by the FDA? The clear consequences would be to convince millions of people that e-cigs are lethal, and it would cause higher costs and regulatory burdens for every business in the USA, and all based on lies that they deliberately intended to tell. Can you see now why I say that many tobacco controllers should be in prison?

Still, luckily for Americans, that isn't going to happen while these clowns are demanding that the FDA restrict use of e-cigs indoors, because the FDA doesn't have jurisdiction over indoor air quality.


Monday, 8 January 2018

The Power Of Ignorance

We are well into the new year and the 'public health' racket has leapt back into tax-sponging action, most notably in the pages of the Guardian.

Last week the tax-avoiding lefty rag was bemoaning the fact that Coca-Cola is resisting Public Health England's pointless plan to tax fizzy drinks which make up around 2% of a child's diet.
Coca-Cola is to use smaller bottles and sell at higher prices rather than alter its famous sugar-laden secret recipe, while Irn-Bru faces a growing consumer backlash over fears a new lower sugar version will ruin Scotland’s national soft drink. 
The changes are part of the preparations underway in the fizzy drinks business for the sugar tax. The cost of some “price marked packs” of Coca-Cola sold in newsagents and convenience stores will increase by more than 10% in March, just before the new tax comes into effect the following month. 
The plans will see a 1.75 litre bottle of Coke shrink to 1.5 litres and at the same time increase in price by 20p to £1.99. The price of a 500ml bottle is also increasing, from £1.09 to £1.25. The new price means the cost of a half-litre bottle will have soared 25% in a matter of months, as they were just £1 until last autumn.
Boo to the nasty big corporation! But considering the article mentions that Coke's bottling plant covers all of western Europe, it's pretty predictable that this is what was going to happen, as Timmy at the ASI points out.

If the public directs its anger at these price hikes towards those responsible - that being the government and its hugely overpaid quangoes - then that will be well and good. However, even now I expect the congenital liars in 'public health' are gearing up to persuade consumers that it is Coca-Cola being greedy and killing kids with their "toxic" "poison" (yes, that is the kind of batshit crazy hysteria anti-social health lobby maniacs have fostered in some on social media). The 'public heath' lobby know there will be some anger at rising prices, and that many won't have any idea that it is solely down to the government instead of corporate greed. It's the kind of ignorance that the overwhelmingly left-leaning - some even blatantly radical socialist - 'public health' scamsters will be eager to encourage.

Meanwhile, this week saw the anti-alcohol arm of the 'public health' tax drain also use public ignorance to their advantage.
Only one in 10 people know that alcohol causes cancer, according to findings that also show strong public backing for cans and bottles of drink carrying warnings about the link. 
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) said widespread ignorance of alcohol’s role as a carcinogen was “very worrying”, while Alcohol Concern said the lack of knowledge was costing lives. 
“Alcohol is a major cause of cancer but this survey clearly shows that the vast majority of people don’t know this, which is very worrying,” said Prof Linda Bauld, CRUK’s cancer prevention expert.
It's not a "major" cause of cancer, as Snowdon highlights in his Speccie article today, in fact it's decidedly minor.
The cancers associated with drinking are mostly quite rare. The lifetime risk of dying from these diseases is mercifully small and, for people who drink moderately and do not smoke, the increased risk from alcohol consumption is trivial to non-existent. 
The exception is breast cancer, which appears to be linked to drinking even at low levels – hence the Chief Medical Officer’s claim that there is no safe level of drinking – but the evidence for this has only appeared in recent years and there are reasons to be sceptical of it. Even if the statistical associations between moderate drinking and breast cancer are real and causal, the magnitude of risk is so small that it is unlikely to persuade many women to go teetotal.
By only talking about cancer and speaking to the public's deepest fears - while not acknowledging that moderate drinking is beneficial to overall mortality - it is 'public health, once again, lying by omission to bring in whatever pet policy they are badgering politicians about at any give time. In this case, it is warning labels on alcohol.
Bauld said CRUK agreed. “We urgently need to raise awareness. Requiring warning labels on alcohol products making clear the cancer link would be one way to do this, and this survey shows that the public support this measure.”
What a surprise! And can you imagine the poll that came to this conclusion that the public is in favour? It will have hugely exaggerated or skipped past the pitiful level of absolute risk and you can bet your mortgage it wouldn't have mentioned the fact that teetotallers die, on average, earlier than those who like a drink every now and then.

Just like the utterly pathetic sugar tax folly, warning labels on alcohol will have no effect whatsoever either. Those who are worried about the risk will already know that alcohol can be risky, and those who are less risk-averse won't care and won't even read the warnings. But at least it will keep the 'public health' state-funding bandwagon going for that little bit longer on their journey towards full prohibition of everything.

This is what is so very rotten about 'public health; that they destroy people's choices and pull society apart by harnessing ignorance and encouraging it. They are jubilant when the public swallows their daily vomiting of lies, and they trade on it, with campaigns relying on and nurturing exactly that ignorance. And to top it all off, after spreading falsehoods and whistling innocently as the public is educated wrongly, they then rely on the general fallacy that 'public health' is actually interested in the public's health, rather than chasing the "next logical step" in useless - and often counterproductive - policy recommendations just to keep their taxpayer funds rolling in.

Another article in the Guardian this week seems to believe that this government is surreptitiously squeezing the 'public health' cartel by starving it of funding. If so, this is a very good thing for the country. The more 'public health' groups are defunded, the more chance of the public being better informed and less ignorant of what is being done to them against their will by state-funded shysters. 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Tobacco Control Pigeons, Meet Philip Morris's Cat

Boom! Yesterday saw Philip Morris International (PMI) - the tobacco company that owns the Marlboro brand amongst others - making a New Year's Resolution with full page adverts in the Daily Mirror, The Times and The Sun. Here is what they said.

According to an ad industry website, this is "the first step in a campaign that includes further elements later this year". The idea that a tobacco manufacturer is publicly stating - in full page ads in widely-read newspapers - that they want to quit making cigarettes is quite a cat amongst the pigeons story, so much so that the BBC picked it up and ran with it too.
Tobacco firm Philip Morris has placed an advertisement in some newspapers promoting its "ambition to stop selling cigarettes in the UK". 
It is part of the company's drive to achieve a "smoke-free future". 
Asked why, if Philip Morris was so keen to go smoke-free, it did not simply stop making cigarettes and switch over to alternative production, a company spokesman told the BBC: "We are trying to go smoke free as fast as we can. If we just stopped selling cigarettes tomorrow, others would sell them in our place."
Well, it's not just that really. It would also help to fuel a black market and any CEO who cut their shareholders off at the knees with such a stupid destruction of their business would probably end up in jail for abandoning their fiduciary duty to their investors, many of which are pension funds which could see their value decimated overnight. Any tobacco controller who suggests this as a feasible course of action - and some actually have - is showing themselves up to be a monumental cretin.

Tobacco controllers have been very keen to peddle conspiracy theories about PMI and their smokefree future claims. They insist that the Foundation for a Smoke-free World is a scam and are desperately trying to undermine it (no doubt because it will do far more honest research than tobacco control ever has), and this new development is already being received in the same manner.

The overall initiative from PMI, though, shouldn't really be controversial. Uptake of e-cigs in UK, US and elsewhere, plus the astonishing success of heated tobacco products in Asia, shows that there is a huge market to be tapped in harm reduced products, so any company that ignores new technology and rigidly sticks to conventional tobacco could risk doing a Kodak.

And moving from delivery of nicotine via combustion to nicotine via heating or in vapour form is a pretty natural progression for the industry, but that's still no good for a tobacco control industry which is now more interested in destroying "Big Tobacco".
However, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health said the "offer to support" local authorities was nothing more than a donation, which is not allowed under World Health Organization guidelines. 
"As Philip Morris well knows the government isn't allowed to accept 'donations' from the tobacco industry," she said. 
"However, it does show that the industry has money to burn. Rather than making donations, it should be forced to pay the government more of its enormous profits."
This is bollocks, of course. WHO guidelines are exactly that, guidelines. The government is "allowed" to take donations from whoever it likes, all that article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC says is that any interaction with the industry must be transparent. Besides, I don't think government is quaking in their boots about any sanctions the WHO could apply considering it leeches off of UK taxpayers for its revenue.

But isn't it bizarre that PMI wants to help Stop Smoking Services (SSS); put smoking cessation messages into its packs for every smoker to read directing them to a website which mentions no brands but is full of information on how to stop smoking ... and Debs Arnott - reportedly someone who wants people to quit smoking - is arguing against them!

Arnott and her richly state-funded colleagues in tobacco control have lobbied and bullied to have all marketing removed from the tobacco industry - right down to the colours of the packets themselves - because they deem it all to be far too powerful. Yet here is PMI suggesting putting this incredibly powerful stuff into packs to suggest smokers either quit or switch to a safer alternative, and apparently it's now not powerful at all .. it's just a PR stunt. I wish they would make up their minds.

The truth is that there must be many in tobacco control circles shitting themselves right now. Initiatives like PMI's threaten to render tobacco control irrelevant and steal their jobs. This is why they persistently misapply article 5.3 and threaten governments with dire consequences if they so much as answer an email from industry. Tobacco control trades on this fear. They need it because they know damn well that in a fair debate they would lose dismally.

We now face the intriguing situation whereby PMI want to put inserts into packs to help people quit smoking, and want to assist SSS into the bargain, while anti-smoking groups heckle from the sidelines and lobby against it, and government probably feels obliged to dream up some bullshit reason why they won't permit any of it.

Now, if that doesn't convince you that this whole repulsive anti-smoking charade has never had anything to do with health, then nothing will. 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Aussies, Watch This Space In 2018

So that's another Christmas out of the way, and we sail optimistically into 2018.

Hopefully, this year will be particularly good for Australians who have the misfortune of being governed by bovine shitgoblin politicians entirely hypnotised by some of the most extreme trouser-stuffing tobacco controllers in the world.

Following the monumental failure of plain packs, e-cigs containing nicotine are still banned Down Under, but pressure is growing. Neighbours New Zealand are in the process of legalising vaping, as is Canada, leaving Australia in the same category as basket case nations like Thailand, Mexico and a smattering of African banana republics who still prohibit them.

Australia has also recently held two inquiries into e-cigs, which saw overwhelming positivity from submissions apart from batshit crazies like Chapman, McKee and a no-mark physiotherapist from Lincoln.

In 2018, the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance is getting on board with a tour of the east coast of Australia, launching this month. See the short film below and go to for more info.

Happy New Year everyone.