Friday, 5 October 2018

Mind-blowing Cheek Of The EU

I’ve trekked out to Geneva to catch the last knockings of the latest WHO anti-tobacco shit show that is COP8 (see COP6 and COP7 tags in the sidebar for previous tobacco control codswallop) but I just had to share this incredible hypocrisy from the EU.
And attend she did. Bucher is new to the job and it showed, her very first contribution to stopping those 7 million deaths was to advocate a global ban on advertising of e-cigs and to classify them as tobacco products subject to the same restrictions as smoking.
What a fucking genius, eh? Good grief.

The EU, of course, also bans snus which has accounted for Sweden boasting the lowest smoking prevalence rate in the EU by a country mile.

So Bucher’s message appears to be “we want to stop people smoking so what we are going to do is ban and hide away all alternatives that smokers find useful”. And this daft woman thinks that is good policy?

Will no-one rid us of these troublesome - and utterly absurd - quangocrats? Can we leave yet?

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Tobacco Control Junk Science Of The Week

Or maybe even the year, or decade. Or ever!

From the Tobacco Control comic, naturally.
Indeed, while IQOS heat-sticks (HEETS) include a variety of flavours (tobacco, menthol, bubble gum and lime), no IQOS heat-sticks include capsules. 
Heets come in three 'flavours'. Gold tobacco flavour, amber tobacco flavour and blue (menthol) flavour. Bubble gum or lime heets simply don't exist.

It's a struggle to work out how they can make such a fundamental error like this until you read further.
Furthermore, when British American Tobacco (BAT) introduced its ‘glo’ HTP into the Korean market in August 2017, their heat-sticks (Dunhill Neosticks) did not include capsules. Like IQOS, the heat-sticks included flavour options (tobacco, menthol and lemon ginger), with three additional flavours introduced in December 2017 (‘Ruby fresh (cherry)’, ‘purple fresh (grape)’ and ‘smooth fresh (light menthol)’). 
There also isn't a Lemon and Ginger flavoured Glo stick from BAT.  So what the hell are they wibbling about?

And then the penny drops. Glo dishwasher liquid does in fact come in Lemon and Ginger flavour.


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Popcorn Time: Australia Is Wobbling On E-Cigs

The Australian Guardian reported on Tuesday that the Aussie government is to set up a new inquiry into e-cigs.
The health minister Greg Hunt has agreed to an independent inquiry into the health impacts of nicotine e-cigarettes after a concerted push in the Coalition party room over several months to legalise vaping. 
Several MPs raised the issue in Tuesday’s party room meeting, saying there was widespread support within the government for making nicotine e-cigarettes legally available.
This is significant considering Greg Hunt famously said that legalisation of vaping would never happen 'on his watch' last year. It may be political pressure which has forced his hand, but I reckon deep down he's quite relieved that the decision has almost been taken away from him because Australia - and, consequently, Greg Hunt - is fast becoming a laughing stock while all other developed nations are moving to sensibly regulate safer nicotine products.

This announcement has, of course, been welcomed by tobacco controllers keen to find out if vaping can lower smoking rates, just as they have always wanted. Oh, I'm sorry, my bad. I was confusing tobacco control with other professions who have integrity, of course they didn't welcome it, they reacted in their customary manner. By issuing veiled threats.

The prospect of a truly independent inquiry absolutely terrifies the tobacco control industry, which is why they routinely rig evidence-gathering for policymakers, as I have written about many times. My personal favourite is, coincidentally, from Australia as explained by Catallaxy Files.
In 2012 Professor Melanie Wakefield of the Victorian Cancer Council was awarded a $3 million contract to conduct a national tracking survey of tobacco consumers (and recent “quitters”) immediately prior, during, and after the implementation of plain packaging. Professor Wakefield has previously been a member of the National Preventative Health Taskforce that had recommended the implementation of plain packaging, she was a member of the Federal Government’s Expert Advisory Group on plain packaging, and was then was commissioned by the Health Department, in the absence of a tender process, to investigate the efficacy of the very policy she had recommended, designed. and implemented. Unsurprisingly the results of her research (with several co-authors) supports the efficacy of plain packaging as a policy to reduce the prevalence of tobacco consumption.
And yes, that's exactly how the tobacco control scam has worked for decades. Imagining, preparing, setting questions for, and marking their own homework. It's corruption, basically.

So of course the desiccated Sydney pensioner is going to feel threatened. After all, truly independent inquiries don't cherry-pick rare outliers and try to build doubt about products on the basis of pure prejudice like a Sydney pensioner would. A truly independent inquiry takes the body of evidence and weighs up costs against benefits to come to a sober policy conclusion. Tobacco control industry 'independent' research is always - and I mean always - conducted by state-funded anti-smoking lobbyists with huge conflicts of interest, is preconceived to come up with a certain result, and counts only costs, never benefits.

If tobacco control is scared of this inquiry, it could well be properly independent and could be a massive embarrassment to the bunch of senile dinosaurs in Oz who still cling to the idea that e-cigs can be banned forever in order that they can proudly remain in the elite club of basket case nations who continue to do so.

Australian tobacco controllers will also be scared about a truly independent inquiry because it might show that they have been paid barrels full of money for pathetic and inconsequential tobacco control ideas, while nations which have permitted alternatives have left Australia in their wake.

You know what the likes of the Sydney pensioner and his geriatric old farts need right now? Some real world statistics to prove that their policies are wildly successful. Yes, that would be the ticket! Something to show those federal MPs that they are barking up the wrong tree with vaping and should just carry on listening the old guard, like always.

Cue South Australia, then, and their latest stats on smoking prevalence, also released on Tuesday.

Oh dear. Not a good look, is it?

Yep, despite huge regular 12.5% tobacco tax increases and plain packaging, South Australia's smoking rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 2012. And what are they going to do about this? Incredibly, they are planning to legislate to follow other states down the regulatory path of equating e-cigs with smoking and banning vaping in public places as well. The stupid is very strong down under.

While smoking rates have been plummeting in countries like the UK and US since 2012 when e-cigs went mainstream, in Australia they have just trodden water despite the most hardline authoritarian anti-tobacco policy environment of any developed nation in the world. Just as in perfect population level experiment in the UK and Ireland, Australia - to its embarrassment - is proving that coercion is not successful, while encouragement and harm reduction is.

No wonder, then, that Greg Hunt is probably mighty relieved right now. He will have had people urgently whispering in his ear that he and his government are starting to look like clowns, and that maybe he should back pedal a bit. And politicians really don't like looking like clowns.

This should be incredibly interesting to watch - fortunately from 10,000 miles away - so I'm breaking out the popcorn. If Australia does a U-turn on prohibition of e-cigs, we are going to have sooo much fun! 

Monday, 17 September 2018

None Of Your Business Either

I'm afraid content has been incredibly sparse here of late due to real life getting solidly in the way.

There are huge changes afoot both business-wise at Puddlecote Inc and personally at Puddlecote Towers. Some good, some not so good but I've never been so short of time to write recreationally which - as you may have noticed over the years - is a beloved hobby of mine. I'd like to say that will change in the foreseeable future but I can't.

I did want to touch upon something in parliament recently though, and I had originally intended to write it as a follow-up to last week's article suggesting that it is none of Boston Council's business whether market traders smoke or vape around their outdoor stalls.

This same presumed political interference cropped up during the parliamentary presentation of Norman Lamb's excellent Science and Technology report on e-cigs. It was a great report - which you can read here - but one part of it raised the hackles of ignorant anti-smoking (and therefore anti-vaping) snotgobblers everywhere. They were incensed at the very idea that vapers be allowed to vape anywhere near them, the precious souls that they are.

Personally, I don't see the problem with it but Norman Lamb was very eager to distance himself from that when he presented his report to parliament on the 6th September.
Let me now turn to the area of our report that created the biggest debate: the treatment of e-cigarettes in public spaces. Despite some suggestions to the contrary, we did not recommend that e-cigarettes should be allowed in closed public spaces or on public transport. We called for a public debate on how these products are dealt with in our public spaces. The coverage of our report has certainly kick-started a public discussion, and I really welcome that. We need such a debate because the evidence suggests no public health rationale for treating e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes as one and the same.
Maybe he didn't recommend that they should be allowed in public spaces (which they are anyway considering there is no law against it) but why not? Well, here's why.
There are, however, nuisance justifications for restricting e-cigarettes’ use in public, such as in enclosed spaces and on public transport.
"Nuisance justifications"? Is that a thing politicians think they should be getting involved in now, is it? Well ASH trustee Bob Blackman seems to think so.
There is the nuisance aspect of smelling vapour, which often has a particular scent ... Personally, I would oppose any relaxation in the use of e-cigarettes in any enclosed spaces.
Bob, you speak as if whether the subjective "nuisance" of anything is any of your business, because it's not. And also, Bob, is this the policy of ASH whom you represent, because I think we should know. ASH like to portray themselves as friend of the vaper but if they are dead set against private businesses relaxing restrictions on vaping, maybe they should come out and say it. It would be weasel-like not to, don't you think?

Lamb came back to the subject later too.
However, there is a good justification, which I totally accept, for not allowing vaping because of the nuisance—because people find it invasive.
Nuisance is not a reason for politicians to intervene in behaviour unless it physically harms others (see J S Mill) so really has sod all to do with them. All politicians should note that if they come out with a sentence like that, they should really suffix it with "but that is none of our business".

If, however, politicians are now in the business of recommending action on "nuisance", maybe they can do something about some of what I find irritating. Here are some policy ideas they might like to consider, I suspect you could add more.

- On the spot £100 fines for people who stop in doorways
- A ban on kids in pubs (£2,500 fine for premises allowing it)
- Restrictions on boy bands on TV after 9pm
- The showing of holiday pictures to friends and colleagues to be reportable to the police unless explicit permission is given
- Immediately prohibit production of the Nissan Micra
- A ban on flying for people who stand up the moment a plane lands
- The name Keith to be prohibited
- Cous cous, just no!

Why on earth do we have politicians actually talking about "nuisance" as a reason for restrictions and bans? It is absolutely nothing to do with them, it is solely up to the owners of the property or business.

We went from a 30 year battle by anti-smoking fanatics to 'prove' with junk science that smoking was harming people around them, to now talking about how restrictions are justified because of "nuisance" which varies from one individual to another. Jesus effing Christ, when did this country's establishment lose all perspective about endorsing liberty?

I suppose if you can con the public that a whiff of smoke is going to kill them - and you fund a Goliath of a 'public health' industry to throw up scare stories for the good of their own bank accounts - the world is your oyster. 

Saturday, 8 September 2018

None Of Your Business, Boston Council

It is odd that recently the establishment seems pretty confused as to why the public despises them. They don't seem to understand that if they act like petty dictators, sooner or later they will piss the entire population off in some way.

Here is a perfect example from Lincolnshire.
Council discuss banning market traders from smoking and vaping at their stalls
We're only on the headline but unless you're an arsehole you should already be thinking, erm, why is it any of the council's business? Well, here's why they think it is, anyway.
Councillors in Boston have discussed whether market traders should be banned from smoking and vaping while working on their stalls. 
The suggestion to ban smoking and vaping from the Boston market was suggested by students from Boston Grammar School, Haven High Academy, Giles Academy and Boston High School, during a recent consultation.
Can you believe that? Market stall holders are taxpayers and also pay rent to the council; their customers are taxpayers; kids at fucking school are not taxpayers. Who did the council listen to? Yes, the ones who don't vote and don't pay taxes.

It is also another example of authorities who are clueless as to current recommendations around vaping. They are entrusted with power at a local level but are exercising it without even bothering to read up on the subject matter.

That aside, this is still quite insane. It is absolutely no business of the council what market stall owners do with their stalls, they are beholden only to their customers. There is no law against smoking or vaping outdoors and Boston Borough Council have no power to implement one. So what fucking right do they think they have interfering?
June Rochford from Frampton said: “I don’t think people should be smoking behind their stalls, especially if it’s a food stall. But then it is still a public place where people can smoke. I have seen a few traders smoking but they often move from behind the stall. 
"If this was imposed they would have to stop everyone from smoking in the Market Place as it wouldn’t work."
Well, yes June, you'd think people entrusted with running a council might have the brains to work those things out for themselves, but they obviously can't.

How this ever reached the level of becoming a council proposal beggars belief. A bunch of propagandised kids think up some hare-brained nonsense and the local authority leaps gormlessly into action despite it being an utter absurdity.

Now, do you think they consulted the market traders or their customers before embarking on such a wild goose chase? No, of course they didn't.

Fortunately, the idiotic policy dreamed up by a load of spotty indoctrinated kids has been shelved because the thick-as-shit council eventually had to concede that it was a waste of everyone's time and money to even consider it. But doesn't it show you the mentality of the modern politician? It is now a definitive them (who think they know better) versus us (who they see as ignorant and incapable of making our own decisions). No wonder voters all over the country are increasingly eager to give the political class a kick in the balls when we get to the ballot box. One day they might get the message and start respecting the people they serve. I'll repeat that, the people they serve.

As one trader pointed out, instead of a daft policy which will require rigorous enforcement, why not just leave it up to a natural - and free to taxpayers - method of regulation which has worked for millennia. That is, the customer is always right.
“Customers will enforce that – if somebody is selling goods and they have a fag-end hanging out their mouth then customers will make their own decisions.”
Quite. If customers are still buying regardless, they are obviously not bothered and the council are just dreaming up makework to justify their existence. Readers at Lincolnshire Live certainly don't give a penguin's pecker about it.

It looks like Boston is another council which has far too much time and money on its hands and could do with more government restrictions on their budget. Slash away, Chancellor, on this evidence there is still much more council waste left to cut. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Five Years On And The EU Has Learned Nothing

Today Snowdon reported that the EU is set to travel to COP8 in Geneva and demand that vaping be treated exactly the same as smoking for advertising purposes.

In fact, more than that, it will demand that even scenes in films portraying smoking and vaping should be classed as advertising.
In preparation for the event, various documents have been circling the global anti-smoking community to get a consensus on what to ban next. The depiction of tobacco use in the arts is one candidate. You can read the WHO's proposal here. The most notable part of the document is the WHO's intention to include tobacco use on film and television as tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) because:
Entertainment media content such as movies, music videos, online videos, television programmes, streaming services, social media posts, video games and mobile phone applications have all been shown to depict and promote tobacco use and tobacco products in ways that may encourage youth smoking uptake... Therefore, policies that reduce youth exposure to entertainment media depictions are required.
Note the word "may" in there. Because, as usual with tobacco control, there is no evidence whatsoever except for archetypal junk science from - you guessed it - Stan Glantz. They're interfering in the public's entertainment on the say-so of criminally-conflicted and arguably insane single-issue maniacs.

As Snowdon points out, the EU delegation to the FCTC's COP8 in Geneva - of which the UK will be a part - is actually trying to get e-cigs included in this daft policy.
The EU is one of the FCTC's members and, due to its size, it is rather influential. So have they objected to this? Yes, they have. But not because the proposals are too extreme. They object because they don't go far enough. In particular, the EU wants vaping to be included.
The EU welcomes the report of the Expert Group on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and supports its recommendations... [The EU] stresses that TAPS [tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship] regulatory frameworks and their implementation at national, regional and international levels do not only cover all tobacco products, both traditional and emerging ones such as heated products, but should also consider tobacco-related products such as ENDS.
Isn't that incredible? Five years ago the EU were forced to abandon total prohibition of e-cigs - apart from medically licensed ones with a maximum of 4mg nicotine - in their Tobacco products Directive (TPD) but not without a massive struggle.

At the time ASH were arguing for exactly that too. It was only once a lighter touch was applied and Public Health England - acting on recommendations from the Nudge Unit - turned guns away from vaping, that they apparently had an epiphany. The results we have seen since on smoking prevalence are astounding.

Now, you'd think that the EU might look back on 2013 and recognise that they regulated from a position of laughable ignorance back then, wouldn't you? They should be deeply embarrassed about it. But no, today's revelations suggest that they still haven't a fucking clue.

Five years on and the EU has learned absolutely nothing, judging by this

Vapers saw back then how intransigent, opaque, anti-democratic and abusive the EU is. It is why a vast majority voted for leave in the referendum. All this is doing is proving that they were right to do so.

As I understand it from COP7 in India, any EU proposal will be subject to approval from member states in meetings prior to the event. Once a position is agreed, no member state (including the UK) will have any power to object at COP8 because the EU represents all 28.

I guess we will see how serious the Department of Health really is about its Tobacco Control Plan if it allows the EU to do this. The ASA is already working on proposals to relax advertising restrictions on e-cigs rather than prohibiting all marketing outright, so direction of travel in the UK couldn't be further removed from the EU's position. And as for the proposal to ban all media online, this could mean that even bodies like NCSCT (involved in smoking cessation) would not be able to produce films for Facebook and Twitter.

If, as I suspect, the UK Department of Health - who, remember, are advised by ASH about FCTC matters - doesn't nip this in the bud, all arguments that we are better in the EU because we can have input will be washed away. If UK government policy which has produced brilliant results can be undermined by an anti-democratic gravy train urging an entirely unelected and unaccountable global cartel - both of which entirely cut the public out of their discussions - to prohibit vaping adverts worldwide, you have to ask what is the point of being in the EU delegation when we could represent the UK instead. And boy would we be hassling the fuck out of the Department of Health if they proposed this unilaterally. We tried that with the EU and they just cocked a deaf 'un.

We're watching you DoH and ASH. Very. Closely.

This is as daft as it gets and makes me 100% certain that I voted the right way in June 2016. The more of this sickening behind-closed-doors bureaucracy we can chip away at, the better. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

That Mask Keeps Slipping

Remember that smoking ban which was about protecting bar workers? Oh yeah, and the plain packaging of cigarette packets which was solely about making sure kids don't start smoking?

It wasn't about bullying smokers, heaven forbid! No, you were free to make your own choices, they just wanted to safeguard the kiddies and put a welcoming arm around poor put-upon bar staff. It was a shame that the hospitality industry was severely damaged with tens of thousands of pubs closing and the bingo industry all but wiped out, a shame that social exclusion for vulnerable adults has meant we now have a Minister for Loneliness, and a shame that intellectual property worth billions was eradicated to the detriment of legal UK businesses for no purpose whatsoever.

And it was a shame that this has set a precedent which has unleashed a torrent of single interest zealots on the public at large trying to prohibit everything from your weekend pint to a box of Corn Flakes.

But it was only about protecting people, absolutely nothing to do with veiled coercion towards smokers. Got that?

When the mask slips like that, it makes this blogging lark so worthwhile.

It's never been about bar workers. It's never been about kids. I have consistently said this for nearly ten years. It is purely hideous state-funded bastards justifying their existence by fighting for their place on the taxpayer teat.

They have no interest in the public's welfare, they don't even have an interest in health. Just look at that tweet and see what is missing from that list of 'successes' over the past 20 years; most especially since about 2012.

Yes, the one thing that their own kind didn't think up, which has had a far more dramatic effect than any of the daft policies they implement and then refuse to allow to be judged for efficacy. And the thing that many on their own side are lying through their fucking teeth about (you know who you are if you're an obese Irishman, a Sydney pensioner, a 1970s trot throwback from the north west, or an inconsequential wage slave from Lincoln) because they can't earn out of it.

It was never about bar workers, it was never about kids, it was never about health. It's always been a collection of zealots making a buck out of a job massaging their prejudice towards smokers.

Has there ever been such an ignoble and socially-damaging profession as tobacco control? I venture to suggest not. 

Monday, 3 September 2018

Is Barnsley The Doziest Council In The Country?

With councils squealing about 'austerity' and 'savage cuts' at every opportunity, the BBC reported yesterday on a vital public service being promoted by Barnsley Borough Council.
Smoke-free zones are set to be introduced outside 80 primary schools in Barnsley. 
The move is an extension of a council scheme which has already been implemented in the town. 
Each of the schools will be given signs, letters to send to parents and "tool kits" to help staff set up the zones around the premises. 
Kaye Mann, senior health improvement officer, said: "The aim is to make smoking invisible to children."
So it's a council scheme, is it? Because that's not what was conveyed to the media in May
ABOUT 150 children staged a peaceful protest imploring parents not to smoke near their school kick-starting a project to make smoking ‘invisible’ to school children across Barnsley.  
Pupils from Laithes Primary at Athersley South linked arms to form a chain on front of the school’s entrance, waved placards and shouted chants at the event on Wednesday - some even took to the megaphone. 
Yep, it was all the kids' doing, even down to the professionally printed banners. They bought those out of their pocket money, natch. 

Let's leave aside for a moment the vile manipulation of children here - completely oblivious to how it must make kids with parents who smoke feel to see their loved ones treated like that - and look at what Barnsley is actually doing. Because, as is quite obvious, it's fuck all to do with the kids, and not really anything to do with health either. 

Mawsley of POTV has been asking the council some searching questions.
Planet of the Vapes contacted Barnsley Council for comment. 
A spokesperson told us: “It's not an outright ban, more of a request, but yes, vaping is included."
So it's the usual 'voluntary ban' which I hope many will completely ignore. And erm, why is vaping included? 
"We want to encourage a smoke free generation and make all smoking invisible to children so they don't see it as a regular adult behaviour.”
If every kid at that school took up vaping at 18, they would still be "smoke free". Don't Barnsley get that? 

Well of course not. Because Barnsley Council is run by utter morons, as we can see from last year's Freedom to Vape survey of local authority policies on vaping in the workplace. 

Barnsley was one of the most committed councils in the country to ensure that smokers don't switch to e-cigarettes instead. 
Whilst the Council acknowledges PHE's statements that e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes; have the potential to help drive down smoking rates; improve public health; and help to denormalise smoking; and accept that current evidence indicates that the risk to the health of bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour is extremely low, the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace: 
- Is a matter of professional etiquette and projection of a clean and healthy image for our premises
- May lead to ‘lookalikes’ (e-cigarettes made to resemble cigarettes) being misconstrued as cigarettes
- May have an impact on public perception of the Council and its employees
- May affect people with asthma and other respiratory conditions who can be sensitive to a range of environmental irritants, which could include e-cigarette vapour
- May be a distraction for those vaping and also a nuisance or distraction for people nearby
- Would be contrary to the Council’s aim of inspiring a ‘smokefree generation’ in the borough 
The council also requires vapers (and smokers) to remove their Council ID card and lanyard so they cannot be immediately associated with the Council. Employees are not allowed to vape (or smoke) whilst wearing a council uniform.
OK, they are quite entitled to set their own vaping policies, however retarded they might be. And Barnsley's is one of the most jaw-droppingly ignorant in the country. But none of those barrel-scraping excuses justifications above have any bearing outside of schools. 

Now, remember that only a couple of weeks ago the government's Science and Technology Committee made this recommendation
Many businesses, public transport providers and other public places do not allow e-cigarettes in the same way that they prohibit conventional smoking. But, there is no public health (or indeed fire safety) rationale for treating use of the two products the same. There is now a need for a wider debate on how e-cigarettes are to be dealt with in our public places, to help arrive at a solution which at least starts from the evidence rather than misconceptions about their health impacts.
The Government's Tobacco Plan - subtitled "Towards a Smokefree Generation", yes the same words used by the cretins up in Barnsley - aspires to "help people to quit smoking by permitting innovative technologies that minimise the risk of harm". and Public Health England says "e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy"

Yet Barnsley Council is blissfully unaware of any of this. Here's what their bone-headed council lead said on the subject. 
Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “We want to ensure smoking becomes almost invisible to protect children’s health. Children and young people are influenced by adult behaviour and are less likely to start smoking if they do not view it as a normal part of everyday life."
So why are you 'banning' devices that smokers are using to stop smoking, you bellend?
“We’ve brought the latest campaign to the school grounds and it’s fantastic to see the children get involved too. We’re soon to see more schools across the borough take up this scheme and hopefully it will see parents listen and be more considerate about where and when they smoke, if not make them consider stopping completely.”
By 'prohibiting' devices that "have become the most popular stop smoking tool in England" according to CRUK? How does Barnsley get such dipshits as councillors? Are they selected by way of a lucky dip? Jesus wept!

It's clear that Barnsley has no clue about the subject and are just spunking taxpayer money up the wall on pointless, and arguably damaging, vanity projects.

In April, the local MP was bemoaning the fact that Barnsley is suffering from government cuts.
“Once again, local authorities are being forced to shoulder drastic cuts in funding through this government’s continued obsession with austerity. 
“Barnsley Council has seen its budgets slashed since 2010, but demand for vital local services in our community continues. 
“It’s grossly unfair and unrealistic to expect local authorities to continue providing the same level of local services with ever-dwindling resources. 
“This government needs to take responsibility for their cuts and provide the resources local authorities like Barnsley desperately need to continue providing for local communities.”
I'd say there is huge scope for further savings if Cllr Jim Andrews and his equally ignorant - and probably highly-paid - staff are an example of how Barnsley Council operates. They could start by sacking the lot of the useless idiots at no detriment to local taxpayers whatsoever. 

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Let's Make The Harmful Stuff Cheaper

Jesus H Christ!

I've seen some pretty moronic stuff from the tobacco control trough-snorting gravy train in my time but this really takes the biscuit.

I've written before about how this daft idea of forcibly making tobacco companies reduce the level of nicotine is monumentally stupid.
One can only assume that the people endorsing it are either corrupt or mentally compromised. 
The US FDA seems to think this is a great idea though. They will mildly relax regulations (perhaps) around vaping while at the same time taking an innocuous ingredient - nicotine - out of cigarettes but leaving all the other crap in. They couldn't be more crazy if they announced that they were to embark on an expedition to find out where unicorns live. 
This is the end result of decades of tobacco control lunatics having the ear of government.
But take a look at this. Not only do these dangerous maniacs think that lowering nicotine in cigarettes so smokers self-titrate by taking in far more nasties than they would otherwise is a good thing, they seriously recommend making the more lethal option cheaper!
The results indicate that smokers' response to price points when purchasing cigarettes may extend to [low nicotine cigarettes] if these were commercially available. Differential cigarettes prices based on nicotine content may result in voluntary selection of less addicting products.
They actually want to dangle a carrot in front of smokers by making it cheaper to smoke products with less nicotine which they would obviously smoke more of. It is truly staggering how much of a bastard industry tobacco control has become.
The FDA has proposed a rule that would reduce nicotine content in commercially available cigarettes. However, it is not known how smokers may respond in an environment where products of differing nicotine content and of differing prices are available. This study demonstrates that price may be an important factor that could lead smokers to select reduced nicotine products voluntarily, even if those products are rated as inferior or less satisfying.
Yes, and for a smoker, if a cigarette is not satisfying, they will light another one. Good fucking grief.

In 1976, in advance of the roll-out of nicotine patches and gum, Michael Russell wrote that "people smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar".

Now that e-cigs have turned up, the tobacco control mantra - in the US at least - seems to be people smoke for the nicotine, so we'll take that out so we can keep our salaries.

By crikey I hope these people rot for eternity. 

Friday, 17 August 2018

Science And Tech Committee Lifts Up A Stone To See What Crawls Out

I'm sure you've already seen it, but today the government's influential Science and Technology Committee released a report which will have capslock cretins, lardarse Irish academics, follicly-challenged no-mark physiotherapists and crusty Sydney pensioners spluttering their purified water all over their disinfected keyboards.

In the report - carried by, erm, just about every media outlet and heavily featured on the BBC - the committee makes a number of recommendations about reduced risk nicotine products which I summarise below:
- A simpler and cheaper system for manufacturers to get e-cigs approved for medicinal use
- Increasing information about e-cigs so that they can be used in far more public places
- More government-backed research into e-cigs and heat not burn products to be added to PHE's current annual review of e-cig evidence
- A review of the stupid limits on nicotine strength and tank sizes thanks to the inept EU's TPD
- To look at allowing e-cig adverts to make health claims (which, of course, are 100% true)
- A shift to a "risk-proportionate regulatory environment", meaning a joined-up government policy to co-ordinate approaches to regulations, advertising rules and tax regimes to accurately reflect relative risks of harm reduction products
- Vaping to be allowed by default in mental health institutions unless there is a damn good - evidence-based - reason not to
- And to look again at the absurd ban on snus
In the words of Committee Chair Sir Norman Lamb, "E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but current policy and regulations do not sufficiently reflect this and businesses, transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same. There is no public health rationale for doing so."

Of course, the reason many of those mentioned are confused is due to a longstanding and continuing campaign of misinformation by organisations - many state-funded - based on ideology and with little care about health. This cuts through all that and will send shivers down the spine of anti-vaping denialists up and down the country; their deliberate lies and fabrications have been nailed. The new age merchants of doubt - in the UK at least - have been rumbled.

They should, of course, take this as a chance to change their ways and move into the real world where safer nicotine delivery devices are doing their job for them but ... oh hold on, perhaps that's the problem!

What has also become clear today is how brutally e-cigs have, yet again, shown up the hypocrisy, cant, dishonesty and prejudice surrounding smoking ... or should I say, anti-smoking.

Norman Lamb has released a report saying that policies should be based on the evidence about e-cigs, that the public should be better informed, and that this is vital for the good of the nation's health. The response from the ever-decreasing band of anti-vape denialists and much of the public has been - effectively - "fuck health, I don't like them".

As Carl Phillips has written before on this subject, 'public health' campaigners who desperately cherry-pick evidence and sling ad homs around to avoid having to admit the obvious benefits of harm reduction are nothing but dangerous extremists.
About ten years ago, I coined the term “anti-tobacco extremists” to refer to those who take the most extreme view of tobacco use. This was an attempt to push back against anti-THR activists being inaccurately referred to as public health, given that they actively seek to harm the public’s health. I have since given up on that, and recognize that “public health” is an unsalvageable rubric, which should just be relegated to being a pejorative. But the extremist concept remains useful. The test for anti-tobacco extremism is the answer to the following question: If you could magically change the world so that either (a) there was no use of tobacco products or (b) people could continue to enjoy using tobacco but there was a cheap magic pill that they could take to eliminate any excess disease risk it caused, which would you choose? Anyone who would choose (a) over (b) takes anti-tobacco to its logical extreme, making clear that they object to the behavior, not its effects.
The same goes for the public who are squealing about the very thought of vaping being allowed anywhere. The very same miseries will have furrowed their brow and insisted that the smoking ban was to save the lives of those poor, put-upon bar workers. They absolutely, most definitely, honestly didn't want to interfere in your choices, but, you know, it's about health. Innit.

But now a report is produced stating - having looked at the evidence and taken testimony from a range of health bodies such as PHE, MHRA, NICE, ASH, and even the Department of Health - that there is no harm to bystanders from vapour, the mask slips.

"I don't give a shit", they shriek, "I don't want it in my pub!". Evidence be damned. The nation's health begone. Choice for all, get out of here. But then, it was never about health anyway.

Of course, the committee's report said that there needed to be better education of the public about these devices, so all the vitriolic bitching and whining proves - apart from that there are a hell of a lot of self-absorbed anti-social arseholes in the UK - is that what the report says is absolutely true. The public are ignorant on the subject and they do need to be better informed of the evidence, and maybe the government have to step in and do something about it. Ignorance doesn't cure itself, after all.

Anyway, you can read the report here, unlike the self-professed bar room experts screeching on social media about how e-cigs "STINK" (remind you of anything in the past?) will do. It's a great piece of commonsense which is causing a lot of butthurt anger amongst anti-vaping 'public health' extremists and the vilest anti-smoking prodnoses in the population at large.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The #COP8 Stitch-Up Is Afoot

Here we go. Strap yourselves in for the latest biennial anti-truth tobacco conference otherwise known as the FCTC's 'Conference of the Parties' (COP).

You can read about the previous two such as Moscow 2014 where the FCTC's Margaret Chan had tea with Putin instead of tackling Ebola, while thugs manhandled journalists out of the event at the COP6 tag here. You can also read articles on the 2016 shebang in New Delhi where - coincidentally - journalists were also manhandled out of the event, while Indian farmers were hounded away from the venue for the sin of holding a peaceful protest which may have upset the sensibilities of COP delegates intent on the serious of business of banning e-cigs, during a lethal smog cloud hanging over the city at the COP7 tag here.

Regular readers will know that I attended the event in India and I have flights booked for Geneva where COP8 will take place in October, so I was interested to see that the FCTC finally released their guidance - late - to the parties (member nations) on how to handle e-cigs.

You can read it here and, at first, it seems pretty unremarkable. However, it features a major dog whistle by describing the results of a survey conducted on the regulatory policies of countries that have ratified the FCTC and agreed to abide by its recommendations. Instead of listing the policies of all parties, it merely points out the ones which have banned e-cigs, subtlely signalling what the FCTC's particular preference is. On the plus side, it does highlight how low Australia has sunk to be classified in the same category as some of the worst abusers of human rights in the world.

The Aussie government must be so proud.

Further down the document, though, we come to the truly sinister part, as I also tweeted this week.

It's not just the sickening nepotism of a UN body asking for "independent" advice from another UN body, but also that the IARC's reputation as a serious purveyor of balanced research is widely questioned, as described by risk expert Geoffrey Kabat in June (do go read the whole article here).
[W]hen IARC’s assessments have been criticized by researchers on substantive grounds, rather than addressing the issues in question, the Agency has typically responded by dismissing the criticisms by 1) pointing to alleged conflicts-of-interest of its critics and 2) making sweeping assertions regarding the transparency and scientific rigor of its evaluation process and the monographs themselves. In other words, the Agency has shown no willingness to examine, and possibly learn from, the identification of serious errors and improprieties in IARC’s evaluations pointed out by respected scientists.
So it appears that the UN's IARC is equally as resistant to external scrutiny from those who disagree with its pre-conceived plans as its sister organisation, the FCTC. A good fit, don't you think?

The FCTC seems to want to find out if e-cigs cause cancer, so they have chosen a fellow unelected organisation which they can fully trust to come out with the result they seek. This is because the IARC is set up so it, quite literally, can find cancer in just about everything.
According to IARC “a cancer ‘hazard’ is an agent that is capable of causing cancer under some circumstances [emphasis added], while a cancer ‘risk’ is an estimate of the carcinogenic effects expected from exposure to a cancer hazard.” Here, “exposure” refers to actual human exposure levels. The Agency justifies the focus on hazard by arguing that, “even when risks are very low at current exposure levels, […] new uses or unforeseen exposures could engender risks that are significantly higher.” IARC’s focus on “hazard” opens a gaping loophole, which has given IARC carte blanche to highlight results that bear little relation to exposure or risk operative in the real world. To add to the confusion, even though IARC focuses on “hazard,” the title of the Monographs refers “Carcinogenic Risk to Humans.” 
IARC’s adoption of the very elastic concept of hazard is in line with the weight given to the precautionary principle in the EU Charter. The precautionary principle states that, when the effects of a policy or an exposure are unknown, steps should be taken to mitigate any potential adverse effects. While this sounds reasonable, in practice, the precautionary principle is often invoked by people who have no interest or ability to assess the relevant scientific evidence. 
There are many instances in recent IARC assessments of giving weight to positive results, even when these are questionable. At the same time, often higher-quality evidence that does not support an association is ignored. You can see how this penchant aligns with IARC’s invocation of “hazard” and the precautionary principle. 
IARC has long been concerned to guard against conflicts-of-interest, but as in the points discussed above, there is an asymmetry in its policy. IARC’s concern with potential conflicts-of-interest appears limited to those involving industry. The Agency shows little awareness of, or concern about, biases and conflicts-of-interest among academic or government researchers.
Again, it is a perfect fit, isn't it? An organisation which selects evidence to fit with its biased world view and ignores huge conflicts of interest in those who agree with it is cut from the same cloth as the blinkered and science-phobic FCTC.

The FCTC is riddled with a cancer known as Corporate Accountability, a subset of its membership which is not remotely concerned with health, only destroying businesses. All businesses. The IARC is also more interested in attacking industry rather than doing what's right.

As for the IARC's calm, objective view on what is carcinogenic, it doesn't have one.
Of the over 500 substances IARC has assessed over the years (i.e. those not in Group 3), only one has been deemed “probably not carcinogenic” and placed in Group 4. Thus, it appears that in practice IARC’s scheme disposes against declaring that an agent is unlikely to be a carcinogenic hazard.
This is an organisation solely set up to find cancer in literally everything. And the FCTC thinks this is a perfectly independent (which it's not) and dispassionate (which it's not) body to impartially assess the harms of e-cigarettes (which it won't). In fact, it has been gagging to re-categorise nicotine as cancer-causing since 2014.

An "adequate data set" along with funding that the WHO's pharma-friendly FCTC mentions as being desirable. I'm sure that - stung by the smoking cessation market running away from them - there will be pharmaceutical companies queueing up to provide as much as IARC demands, don't you? 

Do you think, maybe, that the FCTC is handing this task to an equally morally bankrupt and unelected UN organisation simply to get an answer to all those mischievous nations which see benefits in reduced risk nicotine rather than negatives? You know, the developed, educated ones that don't include basket case nations, banana republics, oppressive theocracies, murderous dictatorships, elitist inegalitarian kingdoms and Australia?

Because I do.

COP8 in Geneva will be an exercise in anti-vaping sophistry from people who are so self-absorbed and addicted to hoovering up your taxes to fund their lavish lifestyles - the UK funds the FCTC to the tune of millions - that they should not be trusted to run a whelk stall.

COP8 runs from 1st to 6th October this year. Watch this space in coming weeks for more updates about the most anti-human supranational meeting on the planet. Needless to say, this year's offering will have as little to do with health as the seven that preceded it. 

Monday, 6 August 2018

The FDA Blatantly Hands E-Cig Market To Big Pharma

Around about this time last year, the FDA's Scott Gottlieb made a public statement about e-cigs that many vapers thought was a new dawn in how reduced risk products would be treated in the US.

You may remember that I thought it was just a cleverly-worded hill of beans.
The FDA's announcement relents on some e-cig rules but only on the proviso that it might make vaping more attractive to smokers who will be deprived, by force, of nicotine from their combustible cigarettes. That is nothing more than vile coercion and should have no place in a land that claims to be free.  
I cannot possibly cheer the FDA's overall plan and I don't think there is anything particularly concrete to be happy about yet anyway. Smokers are being thrown under a bus but apart from that everything else is up in the air and subject to change.
Despite many vapers rejoicing at this "huge" announcement, and describing it as "momentous",  a "reprieve", with some even saying they had "every confidence" in Gottlieb, it stunk to high heaven in my book. The emphasis seemed to be more on pointlessly reducing nicotine in regular cigarettes rather than promoting e-cigs.

Nothing I've seen since has made me think that the FDA has any intention of taking harm reduction seriously as a policy to encourage smokers to quit. In fact, the evidence is all pointing in the opposite direction.

However, the whole thing has since taken an even more sinister tone with the release of another Gottlieb FDA press announcement on Friday.
Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new steps the agency is taking to support the development of novel nicotine replacement drug therapies to help smokers quit cigarettes
"Novel nicotine replacement drug therapies"? Is he talking about e-cigs here? Well, yes he is.
We’re working on multiple fronts to recognize the role that more novel forms of nicotine delivery could play in achieving our public health goals, as part of an appropriately regulated marketplace. This not only includes encouraging innovation of potentially less harmful tobacco products for those adults who still seek to use nicotine (such as e-cigarettes), but also taking a closer look at our overall approach to the development and regulation of NRT products that are regulated as drugs, and designed to safely reduce withdrawal symptoms, including nicotine craving, associated with quitting smoking. 
The development of novel NRT products, regulated as new drugs, is a critical part of our overall strategy on nicotine.
I added the emphasis because it's quite clear he is not talking about a free market in e-cigs sold from vape shops.

Instead, he has issued some guidance on how to get e-cigs approved by the FDA (emphasis again mine).
This draft guidance, when finalized, is aimed at providing sponsors with recommendations on the nonclinical information appropriate to support development and approval of orally inhaled nicotine-containing drug products. It recognizes that a great deal of toxicity information is available for nicotine. But such information may not be available for other compounds contained in e-liquids and delivered by these products. These include the flavorings and heat-generated chemicals. These products can be used for six months or more over the course of a lifetime. So, it’s important to understand the risks to humans from these exposures, including developmental and reproductive toxicity and carcinogenicity.
Drug products? Six months over a lifetime? I've been using my non-drug e-cigs for about 8 years.

But then when you look at the guidance, it is quite clearly intended for a different subset of businesses than those which currently provide e-cigs for the US market.

It is guidance for a therapeutic product and nothing more. Such a product doesn't currently exist and any company which decided to have a go at it would have to have millions of dollars to spare. It is designed in a way that pharmaceutical companies would understand because it is a route to a pharmaceutical, or 'medicinal', e-cig. This would likely take the form of some ridiculously safe and bland cigalike which is so far removed from the products which are finding favour with smokers and driving the lowest smoking prevalence figures in US history, that it will be practically useless.

OK, it's fair to say that tobacco companies have the resources to throw huge amounts of money at getting a product of this type approved, but it will still be a therapeutic, medicalised e-cig designed for complete nicotine cessation, so it barely matters who manufactures it.

Gottlieb’s approach is cigarettes stripped of nicotine coupled with medicalisation of e-cigs. Because almost all of the products currently being sold in America by independents will disappear in 2022 thanks to the imposition of a predicate date.

It's important to note that Gottlieb has not issued guidance to current e-cig manufacturers on how to produce an independent product which could be sold on the open market as a consumer product. He has hinted that there may be some on the horizon but, for now, he has bypassed that and gone straight to issuing guidance - which heavily leans towards the pharma industry - on what is acceptable for a therapeutic product. At the same time as still insisting on rules which will effectively remove competition from anything recreational that is currently on sale.

It is, to all intents and purposes, a co-ordinated effort to make e-cigs a medical product and one which should only be used as a means to quit nicotine entirely. It is basically handing the entire market to the pharmaceutical industry. In other words - and especially considering the parallel regulations to take the good nicotine out of cigarettes and leave the harmful elements in - 'quit or die' on steroids.

Many were of the opinion when Gottlieb took over the job that he'd just end up being a pharma shill. He seems to be living up to those predictions quite spectacularly so far.

It is so blatant that it's astonishing. One can only assume that this is a result of the American disease of corporate lobbying, with pharma front and centre. I don't know about you but I don't think it's wrong to call this organised crime.

So, no, Gottlieb's announcement in July last year wasn't a new dawn for e-cig use. It was the start of a process which will see a brilliant innovation crushed and handed to corporate interests to destroy. It also proves, once again, that none of this crusade against smoking has ever been anything to do with health. They really couldn't care less.

We're on the side of the angels, always remember that. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Twisted Language Of 'Public Health'

There are somewhat encouraging signs that the 'public health' racket community see their house of cards as being a bit shaky recently. Hardly surprising considering the huge porkies that are the foundations for their policy demands, but interesting nonetheless.

Take, for example, this from Snowdon in City AM on Friday.
Whatever you think of “sin taxes” on things like alcohol, sugary drinks and tobacco, they are indisputably regressive. 
But not according to an editorial in the Lancet earlier this year. 
In an effort to promote more sin taxes, particularly on food and soft drinks, the medical journal suggested that such taxes benefit the poor and are progressive. 
Whichever way you look at them, these taxes clobber the poor. 
Public health campaigners don’t want to admit this, even to themselves, because they see themselves as champions of social justice.
He's correct. There is no case whatsoever economically, or health-wise, for stating that sin taxes are progressive. So why are 'public health' campaigners making up daft fantasies over this - which no-one believes for a minute - when they have never felt the need before?

Well, perhaps they can sense that the public just doesn't buy their shit anymore.

It is pretty well established in the minds of the public that the poor suffer from these taxes. In the past 'public health' got away with it because people would say "well poor people shouldn't smoke/drink/eat fast food" etc if they are short on cash. But taxes are so incredibly high now - especially on tobacco - that the public are increasingly seeing them as an injustice. A form of bullying of those least able to afford a comfortable life.

No-one likes to see that kind of behaviour, and 'public health' know this, hence their pumping laughable tortured logic (aka lies) out in The Lancet to try to pretend they are friends of poor people rather than a movement which seriously damages their choices and well-being.

This isn't the first time either. I've written about the twisted language of 'public health' before. Y'see, they are getting more and more tetchy about the 'nanny state' tag. They've never liked it but the term is beginning to stick - perhaps as a consequence of the perception of their bullying with taxes - so they have tried to pervert the concept of a Nanny State to meaning businesses which provide products that people want to buy. No, don't laugh, they really did.

In 2016, Sam Bowman - then of the Adam Smith Institute - was faced with this bizarre definition of 'nanny state' on Irish TV on the subject of minimum alcohol pricing.
"Currently we have a nanny industry in alcohol who are deciding the pricing, deciding the availability, and deciding exactly how they want to promote alcohol"
His rebuttal was succinct and entirely accurate.
"Really what Stephen [Stewart] is saying is that he's annoyed that he's not in charge. 
"He's annoyed that the alcohol industry has too much say and he wants doctors to have a say instead. I think that's not right, I think that we should let individuals make the decision for themselves how much they drink and what they drink."
Well, of course we should. Anyone who says anything different is a little bit of a fascist, really.

But isn't it very heartening to see 'public health' spending time and effort trying to think up bizarre excuses for their behaviour? If they didn't think that the public are beginning to see them as the nasty societal parasites that they are, they wouldn't be bothering.

This is all very encouraging. It shows that the concept of sin taxes being regressive and a nanny state dictating our choices are hitting the target if 'public health' groups are twisting language and torturing logic to try to deflect the criticism. If it were all just water off a duck's back, the nannies wouldn't be investing their time trying to counter them in increasingly absurd ways, now would they?

Remember that when chatting over the water cooler or to friends and family in the pub or on social media. The perception that 'public health' is little more than a bunch of bullies and is representative of a sinister Nanny State could well be passing into common public acceptance.

I've always maintained we are on the side of the angels, of course we are. But considering the desperate "not us, Guv" agitprop from 'public health' recently, perhaps people are slowly starting to wake up to who the real anti-social demons are. 

Monday, 30 July 2018

Jamie Oliver And Other People's Children

Over the weekend, the Telegraph published an retch-inducing obsequious puff piece on Jamie Oliver which - inadvertently, I reckon - gave an astonishing insight into the dictatorial mind of the sanctimonious snob. It's behind a paywall but here are some hideous lowlights.
The night before I’m due to meet Jamie Oliver there are whispers from his headquarters of a big announcement. ‘All will become clear!’ they say. The next morning, news duly breaks that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will ban junk-food advertising on the capital’s Tube and bus network, as well as the opening of hot-food takeaway shops within 400 metres of schools – the culmination of 28 months of close collaboration between Oliver and Khan. 
‘It’s a mega day,’ Oliver tells me at Jamie HQ
He is happy, apparently, because a clueless attention-seeking Mayor has proposed a pointless ban on advertising - which will have no effect whatsoever except to kill advertising revenue and reinforce the idea of censorship while reducing public choice - and stated that he is intending to all but eradicate new takeaways in the capital unless they are to open in a park or the river Thames, as you can see by clicking to enlarge the graphic below.

It won't surprise you to learn that evidence to date - you know, that evidence thing that politicians like to pretend they look into - shows that all this will do diddley-squat for obesity rates in London.

Mega, huh?

No care for the businesses which will be affected and no care for the choices that he - in his misplaced ignorance - is depriving the rest of the public. Still, it makes his multi-millionaireship happy, so screw everyone else, eh?

But, incredibly, that isn't the astonishing bit. How about this?
‘I’ve been through five prime ministers. Mr Blair was the first person to admit that the state was responsible for children’s health between the ages of four and 16.
The state is responsible for children's health? Not parents? Can you think of anything more repugnant than that? Well, fear not because Jamie can.
The state was doing nothing about how this group are fed, while being right on the case of dog food.’
Did he just compare other people's children with dogs? Or was he comparing a Big Mac with a can of Pedigree Chum? Sometimes you just can't tell with obsessed hysterical extremists, can you?

Anyway, let's crack on.
He’s been accused of being the ‘fun police’, running a ‘nanny state initiative that penalises poor people’, of endangering the revenue of advertising agencies, being hypocritical, upsetting American mothers, and failing to understand what it is to be poor and unable to afford healthier food.
All of which is true, I'd say, apart from the affording healthier food. Healthy food is far cheaper than less healthy alternatives, but hard-working people (who are not paid to be in the kitchen throwing together recipes with ingredients they just have lying around the house like Jamie) make a trade-off with the time they have available. It's the time they can't afford, not a 45p cucumber.
‘Yes,’ says Oliver. ‘I don’t like [the criticism]. I got my arse kicked left, right and centre for 10 years. It makes me feel sick, but defending my position is more important. On the whole,’ he adds with some irony, ‘all of the people I care about most – obese children and their parents – are the ones who don’t like me.’
Well maybe that's a hint, Jamie old boy, that they'd prefer you to leave them alone to make their own choices. Reason being I think they know more about what's best for their families than you fucking do. 
Why don’t you just sell the lot and become an MP and continue your fight in Parliament? The suggestion seems genuinely to shock him; indeed, he stops talking for at least three seconds. ‘But you wouldn’t want me in Parliament,’ he says eventually. ‘I’ve done nothing clever in 15 years,’ he says. ‘It’s all common sense. All I’ve done is create conversations that newspapers report on. Having my own children changed me. It made me realise that those annoying kids down the street were someone’s children, and so they mattered.
I think the operative words there, Jamie, are "someone's children" as in not yours.
Childhood obesity is the first thing and the last thing I think about every day, which isn’t normal.’
No it's not, it is obsessive and you should seek help for your addiction to snobbery and bossing people around.

However, the most stunning part in the entire article has to be this.
Oliver’s obesity campaign faltered when Theresa May’s 2016 legislation (Chapter One) included a tax on sugar content in drinks but nothing about restrictions on junk-food advertising. ‘It’s absolute bollocks that parents are totally to blame for childhood obesity; incompetent legislation is to blame.’
Let's turn that round a tad. If parents are not to blame, he must be saying - in his knuckle-dragging way - that they are not to be judged responsible for what their kids eat. That, instead, the state should usurp parental choices and - as Oliver's daft policies show - dictate the food supply without even a nod to evidence, practicality, efficacy or financial reality. Nope, just feels.

For Oliver to say - with a straight, albeit slack-jawed fat-tongued, face - that the state is responsible for what kids eat, and not parents, is incredibly sinister. Once it is accepted that the state can involve itself in something as fundamentally private to families as what parents feed their children - in fact that it has more of a role than parents themselves - we are almost through looking glass.

I mean, Christ, give them that kind of power over parental choice and politicians will want to name kids next
"their children, Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Buddy Bear and River Rocket". 
OK, not a great example.   

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A Perfect Population Level Experiment

The NNA spotted a superb statistic on Friday at the government's Tobacco Control Debate. I don't know about you but I think this deserves more attention.
Yesterday in a debate on the government’s Tobacco Control Plan in the House of Commons, Sir Kevin Barron highlighted the gulf between the UK and Ireland, two countries with identical traditional tobacco control policies but with differing approaches to e-cigarettes. Between 2012 and 2016 smoking dropped by nearly a quarter in the UK . In Ireland, where e-cigarettes are viewed with suspicion, the smoking rate actually went up in this period. 
Here is the Hansard entry for it.
I want to give a comparator and to refer back to my intervention on the Minister. I chaired the Health Committee in 2005, after we had fought an election on a manifesto commitment by the Labour party to introduce a ban on smoking in public places. I stood on that manifesto, but the ban proposed was not a comprehensive one. The Health Committee, of which I became the Chair, investigated smoking in public places. We went to Ireland to take evidence, because it had had such a ban for about two years. 
I will now demonstrate the effectiveness of e-cigarettes by comparing smoking rates in the UK versus those in Ireland, where every other approach to tobacco control is identical to those in the UK, such as plain packaging, retail display bans and marketing promotions all stopped. In recent years in the UK, smoking rates have dropped by almost a quarter—according to the Office for National Statistics, 24.4% of UK adults smoked in 2012 and 15.8% in 2016—and the UK now has the second lowest smoking rate in Europe. In Ireland, which has exactly the same tobacco control as we put through this place over many years, smoking rates have stagnated: 23% of adults smoked in 2015 and 2016, dropping to 22% in 2017, according to Healthy Ireland stats. That shows how the use of e-cigarettes has been good in reducing smoking in this country.
As the NNA has shown with their links, Hansard and Barron are actually wrong here. In Ireland the rate was reported as 22% in 2012 (chapter 3) and 23% in 2016. Maybe Barron was confused himself, perhaps it didn't compute. But both figures are derived from the same source, Tobacco Free Ireland.

But whether it is down by 1% or up by 1% matters not, this is a real life experiment which is just about perfect. In the UK smoking rates have nosedived, while in Ireland they have barely shifted. In the UK we have a supportive environment to e-cigs, in Ireland high profile politicians are doing everything in their power to turn smokers away from them.

We are not comparing the UK with a country with vastly differing levels of disposable income here, far from it. Ireland is a country on a par with the UK as far as the economy goes.

What's more, we're not comparing with Africans, south east Asians, Indians, Scandinavians, Americans north or south or antipodeans. We are comparing with our nearest cultural neighbours, so closely aligned are we that we don't even enforce passport requirements between the two countries.

The British and the Irish are about as good a comparison for ecological purposes as there can possibly be.

And, as Barron said, the only difference between UK policy and Irish policy is that over here our government cautiously welcomes new nicotine products whereas in Ireland they don't.

As I mentioned only yesterday, if politicians really want to get smokers to quit smoking - because that is really what they want, isn't it - this should be compelling stuff.

For a political class who consistently say they always wish to act on evidence, this is about the best quality evidence they can get. A population-level, real life study of two almost identical countries - with just the one difference in nicotine policy - but with vastly differing outcomes.

So why are other countries not scrambling to emulate the indisputable success of promoting safer alternatives to smoking that this inadvertent experiment proves? Well, I guess it also shows that the other tobacco control policies legislated for in that timescale - of which there have been many - are completely and utterly pointless. And I suppose there is always the fear that if smokers actually did what politicians pretend they want to see, tobacco tax receipts would also plummet, and they are fully aware that the economically fraudulent propaganda tobacco controllers spout about smoking harming the economy is utter bollocks.

So bravo to Barron for highlighting such a stark comparator in the House of Commons chamber. You just have to wonder why the tobacco control industry and other politicians, both sides of the Irish Sea, have been so silent about it, whereas if the results were the other way round they would be screaming it from the rooftops.

It's never been about health, you know. 

Monday, 23 July 2018

Big Trouble In Little New Zealand

Via Eric Crampton, we are seeing yet more evidence of how vaping has utterly confused policymakers all over the world.

E-cigs and other risk reduced nicotine products are - quite rightly - described as a 'disruptive' technology. Of course, the traditional use of that term generally means that it is disruptive to the current market, but considering the current market is dried tobacco leaves in paper tubes that governments tend to dislike, you'd think they'd be happy about that.

Well, in many jurisdictions it appears not, and if you look closely you can see why. As Crampton points out, the NZ Ministry of Health's latest Health and Independence Report is optimistic about e-cigs but it is worth noting that this is only because they were made de facto legal by a court case brought by the makers of iQos. All of a sudden, vaping was legal too. And with that judgement has come some very irritating problems if you are a government set in its ways and who only had dried leaves in a paper tube to regulate before.
1 There remain interesting conflict of laws problems around plain packaging rules and the Fair Trading Act. Plain packaging rules for tobacco products would include heated tobacco, including Iqos. And, in theory, would also cover any nicotine derived from tobacco for vaping too. But putting the big smoking warnings on packages of products that are not smoked could be considered illegal under the Fair Trading Act's prohibitions around false representations and misleading conduct.  
I emailed MBIE asking about this, and they punted to ComCom. When I asked ComCom, they said that they cannot vet specific advertising or business practices for any company - and that companies would have to seek independent legal advice. So it is legal to sell vaping products - but if MoH believes the nicotine to be tobacco derived, it might consider it to be subject to the plain packaging rules. And it might be illegal to put those plain packaging warnings on the packages. But the government will not tell you. Seems pretty dumb. And it's an odd kind of dumb - companies that are cagey about how their nicotine is derived are probably ok, but ones that publicly state that their nicotine is derived from tobacco may not be.  
2 MoH is of the view that the Iqos decision does not apply to snus. Snus has seemed rather important in getting people away from smoked tobacco in Sweden. Why they want this to still be illegal - I don't get it. I expect that if they ever sued NZ Snus for selling the stuff, that the prohibition could easily be deemed inconsistent with the purposes of the Act. 
3 Excise rates on non-combusted tobacco for reduced harm devices remain unjustifiably high. This doesn't affect vaping, which is not subject to excise (phew!), but would be a problem for other products. And what about the display bans and bans on advertising less harmful alternatives?
All very complicated, isn't it? Where did that golden age go where the NZ government could just nod through ineffective policies from extremist tobacco controllers without too much fuss? Wasn't life so much simpler back then? Now, in the blink of an eye, some bastard judge has just made their lives incredibly complicated.

What's more, interests used to be aligned. Prohibitionist tobacco controllers would scream for ever higher tax on tobacco and all parties in government - much like the tobacco control plan debate here last week - shout "hell yeah!" in support. Yes, tobacco duty is well past the Laffer Curve in most western countries, but raising it doesn't cost a great deal and it helps politicians to virtue signal whilst keeping their state-paid vermin off their backs for a little while.

But now this new thing has come along and they're in a cleft stick. They've demanded smokers quit smoking for decades, and now they are. In droves. And it's happening alarmingly quickly. So much so that government receipts from tobacco duty are starting to tank.

It also shows their coercive and bullying tobacco control policies to be utterly useless, and they spent so much time, money and effort on the legislation to get them through. Just think of all those civil service man hours completely wasted.

So now they are trying to fit current policies to new technology and finding it's like putting a square peg in a round hole. It's the same all over the world, the EU Tobacco Products Directive in 2013 regulated e-cigs despite they not containing tobacco, the FDA classes e-cigs as tobacco products because it's far less effort than actually producing a bespoke regulatory regime for them.

Is it any wonder why the laziest of countries - mostly basket case nations, banana republics and dictatorships (and NHS trust fiefdoms) - simply ban the products rather than have the hassle of changing everything they have been doing for decades?

We are living in historic times. Products have come along in an inordinately short space of time for political policies - it's almost a global revolution - and governments are at a loss what to do about it. This is as disruptive as things get.

It's easy to laugh at NZ politicians because they have kind of brought it on themselves in being lazy and complicit in adhering to the sophistry and mendacity of the tobacco control cult in the past, but you have to kinda feel sorry for them having this hot potato thrown into their lap before they can get their spin-masters to react to it and burble their way through committees to water it down.

Of course, if NZ politicians really wanted to provide a huge incentive to their smokers to quit, this graphic provided by Crampton should show them the way.

NZ is a massive draw for criminals to sell black market tobacco in their area of the world. So if they really wanted to get smokers to stop smoking - because that is what they really want to do, right? - they merely have to enthusiastically welcome e-cigs and other safer nicotine products with open arms, not tax them, and see their smoking rates plummet while simultaneously easing pressure on the cost and workload of their border agencies.

What's not to like?

Let's see which way they jump, eh? God I love watching this stuff, it's like a global zoo dedicated to observing the behaviour of disingenuous and venal politicians. 

Sunday, 22 July 2018

WTO Agrees That Plain Packaging Is A Failure, Allows It Anyway

Late on parade with this due to business pressure, but Sinclair Davidson posted a very interesting article about the WTO's ruling on plain packaging a couple of weeks ago.

Davidson has consistently argued that plain packaging has had no impact on smoking in Australia and is an utter failure, despite the desperate spin being fabricated by the government over there.

Well, lo and behold, in the WTO's 800 page reasoning behind its judgement that plain packs are not contrary to global trade rules, they seem to agree.

The WTO strangely argues that there is evidence that the decline in prevalence in Australia appears to have accelerated post plain packaging, but none of the analysis includes any discussion of the huge tax increases which coincided with and then followed its introduction. Instead the WTO focuses on the far more trivial by saying it is unclear whether bigger graphic health warnings or plain packaging were more important.

This is like saying that someone died when a bus drove over his finger without mentioning that he was picking his nose at the time. It's quite obvious that the effect of successive 12.5% rises in tobacco duty have a far more dramatic effect than fiddling with colours on the packet.

When the WTO get to the “quitting-related outcomes and other distal outcomes” though, a little bit of truth comes out (emphases mine).
a. The impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on adult cigarette smokers' quitting intention and quitting-related cognition reactions is limited and mixed
b. The TPP measures and enlarged GHWs have had a statistically significant positive impact on avoidant behaviours, such as pack concealment, among adult cigarette smokers, while their impact on stubbing out and stopping smoking is much more limited and mixed
c. Although the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs have statistically significantly increased calls to the Quitline, the observed impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on quit attempts is very limited and mixed
d. The empirical evidence of the impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on adolescents' quitting-related outcomes is limited. This evidence suggests that the impact of the TPP measures and enlarged GHWs on adolescents' refraining from smoking cigarettes and thoughts about quitting is statistically not significant. No empirical evidence has been submitted to us on pack concealment among adolescent smokers.
Couple this with the Australia Bureau of Statistics data on chain volume measures of spending on Cigarettes and Tobacco showing a long-term decline in tobacco sales having been arrested since plain packaging, and you have to wonder what on earth is going on here.

Click to enlarge
And that is without even factoring in that the Australian government itself has been forced to form a new “Tobacco Taskforce”  to address the issue of a whopping rise in illicit trade post-plain packs. The anti-smoking lobby rubbished the warning of an increase in illicit trade as a result of plain packs but it is reported that seizures of illicit products in the year to date have already reached 98 tonnes compared with 117 tonnes in the whole of the prior year. Either enforcement agencies are on steroids or, perhaps, there is simply far more now to catch.

As Davidson says of the WTO's admission of lack of evidence of efficacy, "that is a damning assessment because what did convince the WTO was even worse – junk science". 

Quite. It seems that the World Trade Organisation, no less, was motivated to effectively endorse the confiscation of billions of pounds worth of intellectual property and branding - not just on tobacco as this now forms a precedent - despite finding that there is no valid science behind the concept of plain packaging and that it has had no beneficial effect on smoking prevalence. 

They have basically sided with vague predictions - from people paid to have extraordinarily strong conflicts of interest - about what may happen in the future. On this showing, we can expect the WTO to soon issue rules on the international trading of fairies from the bottom of the garden. 

It seems that everywhere you look these days there is an establishment carve-up going on. It's little wonder that people are increasingly sick and tired of the state and its self-protecting mechanisms. When even a global regulator of trade rules in favour of fraudulent bureaucracy over and above protecting legal businesses from over-reach of state institutions, armed only with ideological bullshit and fake science, we are in a parlous place. 

Hitch Orwell's grave up to a dynamo, his spinning could solve our future energy problems for a century at least.