Saturday 31 December 2011

And Now, The End Is Near ...

So here we are, out with the old crap and in with the new as we touched on the other day.

But while our gormless governors have been increasingly plotting to fill our lives full of gloom and misery, 2011 has been a quite superb year for me personally.

On the business front, we signed off our figures with our accountants on the last day before Christmas showing increased profit but, masterfully, they ensured that we will be paying circa £30k less tax. The exchequor won't be too out of pocket though, seeing as our growth means that we employ 20 more people now than we did on New Year's Eve 2010.

Additionally this year, my football team was promoted; my cricket team won just about everything; I enjoyed a first ever Park Lane black tie slap up 'do'; gave a speech in front of 250 people alongside an MP; made a first radio appearance; and, top of the pile, got married to the wonderful Mrs P.

And just to tie it all up with a pretty bow, we jewel robbers enjoyed two successes out of two by humbling Herr Bartlett and installing our esteemed mascot as Parliamentarian of the Year.

That'll take some topping in 2012, eh? We can but try, though - the next twelve months already threaten to unleash plenty to get our teeth into, sadly.

However, this is my lot for 2011 as I'm off to a smokey-drinky tonight, swiftly following on from a messy one last night which broke up around 3am this morning. Suitably refreshed after nodding off at the cinema with the little Ps during Sherlock Holmes this afternoon, all is set up nicely tonight for more behaviour which the state finds appalling.

I'll wish a hugely successful and Happy New Year to all who have passed by here in 2011, and hope you keep the words of Norman Stanley Fletcher closely in mind in 2012 ... "don't let the bastards grind you down".

Link Tank 31/12

Get the nibbles in, it's gonna be a long night.

Taxing festive cheer - a new low

Richard Branson isn't hugely successful for nothing, you know - he understands common sense

California to vote on making condoms compulsory in porn

A musical guide to hosting a New Year's Eve party

Ron Paul's ten principles of a free society

Better England free than England sober

Lest we forget 'The Quiet Man'

Seven things we were warned to avoid in 2011

How a small, unremarkable country came to dominate the world of beermaking

Wendy's in Japan adds fois gras and truffles to its burgers

Attack of the giant shrimps

Friday 30 December 2011

It Was All Going So Well In Holland, Too

The latest attack on e-cigs has come from just about the last place on Earth one would expect!

After reading this article earlier this month, I tweeted in support of Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers, for her liberal approach to nicotine delivery. To boil it down, it appeared that she recognised the fact that it is a personal decision to quit smoking; that it can only be achieved if an individual wants to do so; that government shouldn't be spending precious funds on bullying people; and that the pharma industry is quite capable of weaning smokers away from cigarettes with their own cash if they want to reap the profits.

Sadly, it seems she may have given with one hand, while offering a sop to disgruntled pharma companies with the other. This document, when translated, reveals that the Dutch government have just all but prohibited e-cigs.

According to my Dutch-speaking friend, this means:

What they actually say is that the e-cig will be considered as a drug (compared with patches and gum). This will mean that it needs a license from the Dutch FDA and trade over internet or ads are not allowed until the license is given.

Until now, it was temporarily assigned the drug status without being enforced. So it'll not be banned but will have the same status as nicotine patches and gum.
Now, the e-cig industry - although growing at a crackling rate - is still in its infancy, so licensing is a massive hurdle to overcome for the relatively small companies who are marketing the devices.

It has been estimated that to comply with the regulations and allow just one line to be approved under drug licensing requirements would cost over a quarter of a million quid. If any alterations are made, or a new design introduced, the process (and compliance costs) all starts again.

The alternative would be - as other jurisdictions have done - to class e-cigs as a recreational (tobacco) product, with lighter regulation. The upshot being that those who find quitting easy with an e-cig are able to do so with enjoyment of nicotine being a feature, not a bug.

Of course, that doesn't sit well with manufacturers of patches and gum, just as they thought they were cornering the market after decades of lobbying governments and banning stuff investment.

The Dutch Health Department's action has the potential for killing the Dutch e-cig industry overnight and leaving 'vapers' with the option of resorting to pharma products, or going back to tobacco.

Why does this not reek of tobacco company involvement, I hear you ask? Well, because it's not been the tobacco industry making shrill noises all over the world to have e-cigs banned. In fact, quite the opposite.

Philip Morris have purchased patents for similar delivery systems, while British American Tobacco have done the same over here. The latter crucially relies on such technology being deemed as a tobacco product, and not a pharmaceutical one, which is why it was Martin Dockrell of ASH spitting feathers about the idea.

The fact that ‘Big Tobacco’ is launching a ‘healthy’ cigarette (and has caught the attention of Tesco’s highly successful former chief executive Terry Leahy, who is investing in the venture) will dismay many people in the health lobby.

‘This is a cynical move to design a product to keep you smoking,’ is the view taken by Martin Dockrell, director of research and policy at Action On Smoking And Health (ASH)
Gotta keep the sponsors happy, haven't you, Martin?

Dutch smokers who are suspicious of e-cigs (I presume there will be some with that view just as there are over here) would seem to benefit from this policy. They get some relief from the incessant lecturing, while pharma gets a consolation prize of new business from vapers who are keen not to go back to smoking 'analogues'. However, it's an empty victory if others have to suffer as a result, especially since the justification for the ban is still one of a difference between nicotine for fun, and nicotine as a purely functional - and short term - route to government-approved purity.

In other words, it's only a reprieve. It won't stop the drive for sole use of pharmaceutical nicotine, and anyone who thinks 'sod vapers, what do I care?' has very quickly forgotten their own predicament after being abandoned by users of other frowned-upon products.

We thought Holland had shed the shackles of pharma lobbying and intimidation - for the arguable good of their countrymen - but this latest development shows that there's still quite a bit of weak-willed apprehension at play.

Come on, Edith, you can do better than this.

H/T Steve K

Thursday 29 December 2011

BHF Calls For A Law To Stop People Believing The Truth

Isn't it good when large charities do exactly what the public expect them to? Well, you won't see any of that from the British Heart Foundation today ... they're lobbying government instead.

In a press release which was surprisingly shunned by most news outlets (Mirror and Independent excepted), the BHF advance one of the many paper thin justifications that anti-smoking organisations are dreaming up to hide the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that plain packaging will have any effect on smoking rates - in children or anyone else.

Among the 2,700 16 to 25-year-olds polled, just over a quarter of regular smokers judged one cigarette brand to be less harmful than another purely on the basis of packaging.
You see, the tobacco control cult are unanimous that dose does not make the poison when it comes to tobacco. It is, apparently, a unique product which manages to circumvent the globally accepted rules of chemistry and biology (and even physics in some instances). This point is explained further in the BHF's tobacco marketing policy statement (via Belinda, emphasis mine).

The outcomes of a study commissioned by ASH show that the branding of cigarette packs profoundly affects consumer perceptions of the attractiveness and relative safety of the products. The same research found that adults and young people were significantly more likely to rate packages with the term “smooth”, “gold” and “silver” as lower tar, lower health risk, and easier to quit compared to “regular” varieties of the same brands.
What a silly idea. I wonder where they got that from, eh?

Well, perhaps from the EU.

Directive 2001/37/EC

Article 3

Cigarettes: maximum tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields

1. From 1 January 2004, the yield of cigarettes released for free circulation, marketed or manufactured in the Member States shall not be greater than:

- 10 mg per cigarette for tar,

- 1 mg per cigarette for nicotine,

- 10 mg per cigarette for carbon monoxide.
One must wonder why the EU would be passing directives on the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields, if it weren't to 'lower health risk' and - considering everything the EU does with regards smoking is designed to reduce prevalence - make it 'easier to quit'.

Not convinced? OK, how about this from the Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health (SCOTH)(again, emphases mine)?

Health effects of smoking lower tar cigarettes

Only prolonged smoking of low tar cigarettes can determine the extent to which health risks are reduced. UK figures show that male lung cancer diagnoses have been falling since the early 1980’s which reflects the trend in smoking which has decreased for the last twenty years. This may in part also be due to the lower tar cigarette.


Another possible explanation for the observed reduction in male lung cancer deaths may be the altered ratio between tar and nicotine in the lower tar cigarettes: the ratio between tar and nicotine has reduced as tar levels have come down and this means reduced exposure to tar and other harmful constituents of smoke measured on a per unit nicotine basis.
That would seem pretty unequivocal. Lower tar cigarettes are considered to be marginally less harmful than higher tar ones, and SCOTH even believe there is evidence to prove it.

Every producer reacts to customer preferences, with brands in all areas introducing lines which are lower in fat, sugar, salt, alcohol content, or whatever else they have been hectored into being scared of. Tobacco is no different. Seeing that smokers were concerned about levels of tar and nicotine, tobacco manufacturers developed a range of products with differing strengths to cater for each individual's choice and risk tolerance. And, yes, "packages with the term “smooth”, “gold” and “silver”" really are lower in the ingredients mentioned, as is helpfully documented by SCOTH here.

The EU set a maximum level on tar, nicotine and CO many years ago because they fully believed that health of smokers would be improved by doing so. If not, they were just spending money for no reason whatsoever. It must be one of the two (or, most likely, both).

So, the BHF's argument here is that young people believe something - which is true according to both the EU and SCOTH - to be true, and that therefore anything indicating this truth must be eradicated.

Hmmm, unless you're a chipboard-brained politician, it's not very convincing is it? Expect much more 'evidence' of the same feeble calibre on this subject in the coming months, though.

'Cos that's the problem when you're a tobacco control junkie scratching round the bottom of the barrel for ever-diminishing fixes to satisfy your prohibitionist cravings - once the easy pickings dry up, all you're left with is the unappealing crud.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

And They Wonder Why We Hold Them In Contempt?

Well, that settles it. Whoever's running the country, it's certainly not David Cameron.

The Prime Minister has ordered officials to develop a scheme in England to stop the sale of alcohol at below 40p to 50p a unit in shops and supermarkets.

Ministers could copy Scottish proposals, which would ban the sale of alcohol below 45p a unit, or bring in a more sophisticated system of taxes based on the number of alcohol units contained in the drink.

A Whitehall source said: “The Prime Minister has decided that when it comes to alcohol, something pretty radical now has to be done and he is keen on the minimum price. It is complicated how this can be delivered, particularly under European law, but it is clear that the voluntary approach has not worked.”
You'd have to have been living under a rock not to have spotted those two public health lobby sound bites, but I've highlighted them anyway. I'm sure we'll see many more in the new year too if this policy is pursued, Cameron has quite obviously fallen under the spell of the Department of Health pocket watch. Well, it's the only workable explanation for the curious anomaly described by Cranmer.

So a professing Conservative free-marketeer in coalition with a professing Liberal proponent of equality seek to adopt a Socialist mechanism to interfere with market prices which will disproportionately hit the poorest in society.

After months of correctly pointing out that the policy is sinister, illegal, won't do as intended, and just plain daft, now it's miraculously the best thing since air-brushed foreheads.

Here we have yet another example of how the civil service have utterly owned Cameron's government since the 2010 election. Remember this from April last year?

Mike Penning, the shadow health minister, told the National Federation of Retail Newsagents: "I am not a lawyer but I have always been concerned whether the Government's legislation on this is legal. Therefore a challenge by way of a Judicial Review seems a sensible thing to do."

Mr Pelling said the Conservatives, if elected, would bring the matter back before Parliament.
Their coalition partners were of the same opinion.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said it was "the nanny state going too far."
Then note the volte face once they were in office.

Ministers were accused of betraying British shopkeepers today by pressing ahead with a ban on tobacco displays.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced that laws brought in by Labour, forcing cigarettes and other products under the counter, would be delayed but not scrapped.
Sir Humphrey et al have done a right old number on spineless Dave and the equally lily-livered sock puppets he governs with, haven't they?

No point in going through all that election palaver anymore - if you crave power, simply get a job in Whitehall and have your own pet politician dance around on the end of a broom handle, it would seem.

Our esteemed mascot is, as always, on the button with his summation of Cameron's latest vacant-headed toss.

Philip Davies, another Conservative backbencher, said the proposal was "the most ludicrous thing the Government has ever suggested".

"I believe in the free market and I don't believe in the nanny state," he said. "If anybody thinks this is going to stop binge drinking they need their head examined".
However, as these hideous arseholes continue "to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion" by also pushing ahead with their laughable plain packaging nonsense in 2012, via Frank Davis, I think quote of the festive period must surely go to Phil Williams in this vid.

New Year's Eve is particularly miserable because it's when we celebrate the end of one miserable year and the beginning of another one. Don't be fooled. Next year is going to be just as shitty as this one, if not shittier.
Yep. That just about sums it up.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Nice Kid You Have There, Got A Licence For It?

I've seen some daft proposals in my time, but this has raised the bar by a considerable degree.

The state should require parents to be licensed. That is, there is no moral right to raise a child, and we would do well to think of it as a privilege that the state grants and can refrain from granting to certain individuals. If you don’t like that way of putting it, I am comfortable with a weaker claim: whatever moral right to raise a child there might be is defeated when the parent-to-be is significantly likely to cause the child substantial and avoidable harm, or, of course, if the parent does cause the child such harm. Those that should be refused a license to parent a child are those who are likely, in parenting, to harm the child. Those that should have a parenting license revoked are those who do harm the child.
A government-approved licence for being allowed to raise kids? What kind of statist nutter thought that one up? Well, actually, it's someone claiming to be some kind of libertarian!

Now, you can decide for yourselves if this is a wind-up or not - though the author insists in the comments that it isn't - but regardless of that, just imagine the disastrous implications of such an idea.

Quite apart from standing in direct opposition to nature and the principles of evolution, anyone who could possibly suggest that any state would be capable enough to be trusted with such crucial decisions is arguably insane.

How do we know this? Quite simply because we already have a long-running control group to test their hypothesis.

Just 60 newborns were adopted in Britain last year in a new low – at a time when the number of children now in care is at its highest since 1987.

The drop in numbers is down to delays in putting children with families willing to adopt, campaigners say – the average wait now drags on for two years and seven months.

Official figures released on Wednesday show that 60 newborns were adopted in the 12 months to March this year, down from 70 in 2010, 150 in 2007 – and 4,000 in 1976.

Some 2,450 children were placed for adoption, down by two per cent on the 2010 figures and ten per cent since 2007. Meanwhile, the number of children in care rose by two per cent to 65,520 – its highest level since 1987.

And one in three leaving care when old enough are not in education, employment or training, the Department for Education admitted.
It's incredible that some still can't recognise a perpetually-repeated theme here. That once government are delegated ultimate authority in any area - contrary to naturally occurring markets, the human condition, or plain nigh extinct common sense - they always, but always, fuck it up.

What's more, with every tweak as illustrated by the adoption example, they just make matters worse. In fact, here's the customary state approach to every issue they decide to take control of, expressed via the medium of one of their intellectual equals.

The concept of mission creep dictates that, in no short space of time, the worthy goal of harm prevention will morph into yet another tool of micro-management, dogmatic intervention, and self-preservatory job creation, while simultaneously resulting in a huge increase in deeply destructive human misery.

No, no. This is a crashingly stupid idea, and one which anyone even remotely 'libertarian' should be appalled by.

But that's the really scary part, y'see? If someone who claims to be suspicious of the state can suggest this, you can bet the contents of your granny's will that others with an overwhelming ideological trust in the competence of the state - despite all evidence to the contrary - wouldn't bat an eyelid in proposing state licensing of children as a workable policy.

Well. If risk can't be reduced to zero, it's the 'next logical step', isn't it?

Friday 23 December 2011

The Lure Of Prohibition In A Nutshell

Comedian Tim Minchin has lashed out at ITV after his performance was cut from Jonathan Ross's Christmas special.

Writing on his website, Minchin said he had been asked to compose a song for the show and wrote a "silly, harmless" lyric comparing Jesus to Woody Allen.

He claims the song - which he describes as "not very contentious" - was cut because the broadcaster feared it might generate negative press attention.
I really can't see what the fuss was about, to be honest. Judge for yourself.

Of course, in true prohibitionist tradition, the name Minchin is now far more sellable and recognised than it ever would have been before.

There's a lesson to be learnt there. Not that it ever will be.

Merry Christmas, all.

Today's Exercise In Futility

Listen, guys in Westminster. It's nearly Christmas, you really didn't have to scout around for something to justify your existence, you know. Especially something as pointless as this.

"Excessive" fees for using a debit or credit card to buy items such as travel or cinema tickets will be banned by the end of 2012, under government plans.

The move comes amid complaints that airlines, booking agencies and even councils were imposing excessive charges for using a card.

However, firms will be allowed to levy a "small charge" to cover payment processing costs.
Boy! That'll have them quaking in their boots, for sure.

"Hey, Boss! The government have banned us from charging more than it actually costs for card transactions."
"Oh noes, there goes our super-normal profits. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. We'd have gotten away with it too if it weren't for those pesky kids at Which?"
"Yes, Boss, and those politicians are really on the ball, aren't they? They foiled us good, and no mistake!"
Yes, that'll be the gist of the conversation up and down the land soon as traders are stung by this stroke of governmental genius.

They'll never think of absorbing the charges into the price and taking exactly the same money as they did before, that's far too complicated for them, isn't it?

Still, at least those unable to say no when they've had their heart set on the £5 flight - which turns into a £80 one - will be saved from having to develop some self-restraint, and there'll be a job creation or ten to monitor compliance with the new law. So it's definitely worth the consultation exercise, debate hours, legal costs and paperwork involved in placing it on the statute book. Innit.

Good grief.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Naughty Scots Are Not Doing What They're Told

Where does one start with this nonsense, faithfully copy and pasted by the BBC?

Many people understand advice on healthy lifestyle but fail to act on it, according to a report from NHS Health Scotland.

A majority described their alcohol consumption in moderate terms despite drinking over recommended limits.

Nearly nine out of 10 adults knew they should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, but less than a quarter did so.

Researchers concluded that offering advice alone was unlikely to work.
Now, far be it from me to point out the obvious, but 'offering advice' is the very limit to what any government should be doing in a free society. However, the implication seems to be that more bullying is required.

Because the recent incessant noises coming from these obsessive tax spongers have been an unqualified success, we must assume. Well, the report itself kinda puts a dampener on the back-slapping.

Current and ex-smokers were asked about their intentions to quit smoking or any attempts they had made to quit. 14% were current smokers with no intention of cutting down or stopping, a slight increase on 2009 (11%).


41% of adults in 2010 did not want to eat more healthily, an increase from 34% in both 2008 and 2009.
In a world where the public health community was paid by results, this would surely mean a cut in funding to shut their nagging for a bit. It's clear that the public whose health they are concerned about are increasingly fed up with listening to the whining. But of course, this is the alternative civil service universe where failure is encouraged, and bolstered by the shovelling of more cash their way.

Hmm, rather like those bank executives they keep moaning about, eh? Where is UK Uncut when such public money is being wasted that could be spent elsewhere? Strangely silent, it would seem.

Anyway, let's study the highlights of this state sector exercise in tutting at the Jocks.


Perceived consumption levels

• The vast majority of adults described their own alcohol consumption in moderate terms: 41% said they were a ‘very light or occasional drinker’, 21% said they were a ‘light but regular’ drinker, and 19% said they were a ‘moderate drinker’. Only 3% described themselves as ‘quite a heavy drinker’ and less than 1% as a ‘very heavy drinker’.

• The 2010 SHeS results found that 49% of men and 38% of women drank outwith either the weekly or daily recommended alcohol limits for their sex. These figures clearly exceed the proportions who feel they are light drinkers. The 2008/2009 KAM report illustrated the discrepancy between people’s perceived and actual alcohol consumption: of those who drank outwith the limits, 19% described themselves as a ‘very light or occasional drinker’ and 32% said they were a ‘light but regular drinker’.
Damn them all to hell for not adhering to those government limits, eh? You know, the ones 'plucked out of thin air'? Because they are so reasonable, so they are, as the report reminds us.

• Men are advised to not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day and women are advised to not consume more than 2-3

• Advice also exists about the maximum number of units that should be consumed within a single drinking session (men should not exceed 8 units, women 6)
So, we're talking one pint of Carlsberg - not a heavy duty beer at 3.8% - for men being the daily limit, and the same being excessive for women, for the former. And a 'binge' to be just over two pints of Carlsberg for men, and less than that for women.

In such circumstances, "the discrepancy between people’s perceived and actual alcohol consumption" is entirely down to the ridiculous 'limits' decided by a state which has long since departed from recognisable sanity. The public are overwhelmingly correct in designating themselves as light or moderate drinkers when those who produce incoherent claptrap like this have deemed 'hazardous' to be a third of a bottle of wine and a sherry trifle.

The story on weight is strikingly similar.


Perceptions of weight

• In 2010, four in ten people (39%) thought their weight was about right. Nearly half (47%) thought they were overweight and 8% considered themselves to be very overweight.

• The 2010 SHeS found that a quarter of adults (28%) were obese, and 65% were either overweight or obese. People’s perceptions of their weight do not, therefore, wholly correspond with their body mass index.
Are they still trolling this BMI shite? I mean, seriously?

When even the people who produce execrable poppycock like this are well aware that arbitrary BMI measurements are - and always have been - deeply flawed for population level judgements, assumptions made on the back of the system are as useful as a wine cooler in the desert.

The 2008/2009 KAM report found that 37% of overweight people described their weight as about right while only one in four obese people said they were very overweight.
Yes. And, do you know what? I'd say they're almost certainly more correct than the idiots who are paid to trot out this hectoring garbage just before buggering off on their Christmas break.

Likewise ...

Parents’ assessment of their children’s weight

• The majority of parents (83%) thought that their children’s weight was ‘about right’. Parents were more likely to think their child was underweight (11%) than overweight (5%) or very overweight (1%). The 2010 SHeS showed that, in total, 33% of children had an unhealthy weight (either under or overweight/obese), and that 14% of children were obese. Parental perceptions do not, therefore, always match reality.
Beg pardon?

Here we have a report investing ultimate trust in a roundly-accepted flawed measurement, then accusing parents - who know infinitely more about their kids than some detached clock-watcher in a government department - of being out of touch with reality.

The arrogance is so thick you could tile your bathroom with it.

Their report ran to 40 odd pages, but it could have been summarised in just a couple of sentences. Here's what they should have said.

"The public are naughty and aren't doing what we have decided for them, so our methods are obviously ineffectual and failing. In light of this, can we have more money."

Yes, it wouldn't pay their mortgages, but they could at least then claim they were being vaguely honest, couldn't they?

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Drinking Is Highly Contagious

"We know what you're doing Dick. The old ridiculous-headline-to-drive-traffic routine, eh?"

Err, not really, no.

New study finds binge drinking as contagious as the common cold

Do couples influence each other's drinking habits? Over a 28 day time frame, researchers were able to predict one partner’s binge drinking based the other partner’s binge drinking.

This study offers a unique explanation for why young adults are binge drinking: Because they are involved in a drinking partnership that promotes binge drinking.

This research shows your partner can influence your binge drinking — a finding that has important implications for assessment, prevention, and treatment.
See what they did there? You see, you always thought that you were harming no-one else but yourself if you chug a bottle of Pinot Grigio by the neck, when in fact you are brazenly inflicting your habit on your loved one. Or, say, you're a hazardous-drinking CAMRA pong-slobberer, your irresponsible habit is a danger to those around you.

“In some respect this is a cautionary piece of research. Pick your friends and lovers carefully because they influence you more than you think.”
One might even call it 'passive drinking', or something. I dunno.

This is a marvellous concept for extrapolating elsewhere, isn't it? Treated your lover to a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day? You're infecting them with the obesity bug. Hopeless romantic who likes to take your wife out for a rich, slap-up nosebag on a weekend? You artery-clogging bastard!

A bona fide danger to society, you are, and no mistake, to be avoided and denormalised at all costs.

Of course, the same applies almost everywhere. If you don't want to end up as a raisin-lipped, wizened old finger-wagging bore, don't listen to the type of shrill, interfering curtain-twitchers who produce pompous, nosy, rent-seeking, pre-determined policy-based junk like above.

Sunday 18 December 2011

When Is A Precedent Not A Precedent?

Why, when people who lie for a living say so, of course.

Back in 2007, ASH produced one of the most laughable public relations briefings of all time. Entitled Myths and Realities of Smokefree England, I think Snowdon described it best.

Myths and Realities of Smokefree England already has the makings of a fascinating historical document. With one or two possible exceptions that can be argued over, all of the so-called 'myths' have turned out to be true and all of ASH's 'realities' have turned out to be myths. And it took less than 3 years.
Now, I've pointed out a few glaring errors myself over the years, they're not hard to spot. Sadly, no-one in government - who pay this 'charity', remember - have bothered to pull them up on any of it.

So I suppose it's not too surprising when you see more state-funded fantasy being put forward to defend plain packaging of tobacco. Incredibly, they've produced another load of 'myths' which - if the last lot are to be taken as a guide - will be proven to be true as soon as our daft politicians have been stupid enough to pass the law.

In fact, myth #7 is already busted before they have even started. I mean, just have a gander at this bollocks!

Myth #7: It may be tobacco today but other consumer products will follow

FACT: Tobacco is not like any other product, it is the only legal consumer product on the market which is lethal when used as intended. That is why the UK and over 170 other governments have signed up to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which places legal obligations on governments to strictly regulate tobacco products. Plain packs for tobacco will not therefore set a precedent for other consumer products.
Pick yourself off the floor and stop holding your sides, because they really aren't joking. Seriously, they believe this shit.

Quite apart from the fact that I could point to a hundred or more articles here detailing the tobacco control template being put to use in other areas, I don't really need to. There was a perfect example published just yesterday at the Lancet.

The battle against obesity: lessons from tobacco

There are striking parallels between obesity and cigarette smoking; we believe this comparison to be fruitful;
As in, err, let's use it as a precedent. If you can read something else into that, I'd love to see into your imagination cos it probably involves unicorns, fairies and Holly Willoughby.

Those with a vested interest in denying you your free personal choices in all manner of different behaviours have been queueing up to copy anti-smoking tactics for a long time. I'm sure you could post links to very many examples yourselves, it's not like they're rare.

Not only that. Anti-smoking zealots themselves seem to have forgotten that they have held summits with fellow fun-hating bastards to train them how to further diminish your life.

Alcohol Focus Scotland, ASH Scotland and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems are pleased to announce a joint conference which will consider what progress has been made in alcohol control and tobacco control and explore what each sector might learn from the other.
So 'unique' is tobacco that the same people who are denying a precedent have been trading on creating one for the past year or so.

Myth #7 was not only busted before the Smokefree Coalition published their briefing paper, it was also busted by the very same people who helped to produce the lie in the first place.

All the other 'myths' will be shown to be true in time, but it's quite harrowing that politicians will be incapable of recognising that. And that they won't even notice that one of them is not only not a myth, but is being touted as a precedent by those who claim that such a thing will never exist.

Welcome to the new politics. Your sky is blue, theirs is purple with pink spots.

Friday 16 December 2011

It's Christmas, Let The Misery Commence!

How do you know when Christmas is really close?

Tree up and tinsel glittering around the house? Santa in your local department store? Easter eggs on the shelves at Asda?

Nope, it's none of the above. It's when the grinches pop up every-fucking-where.

The BBC have led the way today with blanket coverage of what they call 'Black Friday' ... or a night where a hell of a lot of people enjoy their annual Christmas works party to the rest of us. It's an exceptionally busy night because - for many many out tonight - it is the only time in the year they'll do it.

Even that is too often for the tutters and head-shakers.

The doom and gloom has been laid on thick, with Beeb reporters camped out in Cardiff just itching to report on puke and gore. Ambulance drivers have been wheeled on TV and radio all day to bemoan the fact that they have to work harder than usual, and to make the customary air-headed demand for charges on top of the taxes citizens have already handed over to pay their wages. Of course, if we were all tucked up early in bed and their services weren't needed, they'd be striking and marching on parliament once their jobs were cut.

Words to describe the evening - like jovial, revelry, merriment, celebration, carnival etc - have been replaced with carnage, mayhem, bedlam and irresponsibility.

Happy pigging Christmas to you too, you whey-faced tossers!

And just to prove it's a global thing, here's some quite hilarious idiot from Boston describing his decision to tell kids to "leave the Christmas cookies, cakes, candy bars, and soda at home and to bring fruits, unsweetened juices, popcorn and raisins instead.".

Superintendent Everett Olsen says the ban on holiday sweets has nothing to do with being politically correct, rather, his motive is simply promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“We aren’t trying to take the Christmas out of Christmas. We’re not trying to take the enjoyment out of children’s lives. We’re just trying to act responsible,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mike Macklin.
It seems that even Christmas isn't free of the toffee-nosed snobbery of the self-righteous. Because they, of course, are entirely perfect in their choices and restraint. Having fun and abandoning oneself to joyful things is just so common, isn't it?

There's still another week of this crap to go yet, too. Let's see what other miserable shite these morons have lined up before the 25th finally shuts their hideous traps, eh?

Thursday 15 December 2011

Panic Over - It's Safe To Watch The Advert Now

We've long since been used to the MSM screaming how something is good for us one day, bad the next. It's commonly accepted nowadays that we're best just to ignore it all.

However, it gets a bit serious when state bodies start believing such nonsense without question, and instigate quite absurd illiberal policy, as happened in 2007.

It was a straightforward piece of advice which appeared to do a generation of Britons no harm at all.

But the classic advertising slogan 'Go to Work on an Egg' is far too dangerous for modern-day audiences, it seems.

Advertising watchdogs have banned the catchphrase, claiming it fails to promote a varied and balanced diet.

The egg industry wanted to rerun the 1960s television adverts, starring Tony Hancock, to mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic campaign's original use on billboards and newspapers in 1957.

But the Government watchdog has blocked it on the grounds that eating an egg for breakfast every day does not constitute a healthy diet.
Well, the flip flop health advice has flopped the other way now.

While an apple a day is known for keeping the doctor away, researchers suggest going to work on an egg everyday could be the best way to start the day. For, they say, it can also keep unwanted intake of calories at bay. According to a Surrey University study, the first of its kind in Britain, eating eggs for breakfast can help slash the calories eaten at lunch and dinner. They keep us fuller for longer compared with other common breakfast foods. The researchers suggest, eggs are also better for people who want to resist afternoon snacks on biscuits, cake or chocolate.
Wouldn't it be funny if the health advice given by the DoH in 2007 had actively contributed to the 'obesity epidemic' they keep blaming us for?

Well, no, of course it wouldn't.

However, it would show, yet again, that these pillocks are fumbling in the dark while issuing daft edicts based on absurdly negligible risk, and that all they are really good at is restricting freedom - both for the individual and for businesses - because they have little else constructive to do.

In the meantime, I presume it's safe to show this without fear of the western world collapsing into a pit of debauchery and industry-led self-harm?

Count the heads. Did anyone drop dead during that?

Wednesday 14 December 2011

14 Million Random Acts Of Unkindness

Over at The Manifesto Club, Josie Appleton continues to diligently discuss issues of liberty which obviously don't concern our idiot politicians. With reference to two recent cases where adults were castigated for helping children, she concludes.

These are simple acts of human kindness. That they are punished as unprofessional or risky shows how everyday and normal caring has become contaminated.

Effectively, decent adults are abandoning children because it is too risky to help them.

These proceedures encourage child negligence. In the name of child safety!
Quite. As this high profile case tragically proves.

Neglect ruling in girl pond death

Two-year-old Abigail Rae disappeared from the Ready Teddy Go nursery in Lower Brailes, near Shipston-on-Stour.

She was found an hour later when her mother Victoria pulled her from the weed-covered pond.

During the three-day hearing at Stratford-upon-Avon Town Hall, the court heard how a bricklayer had passed a toddler, believed to be Abigail, walking alone near the nursery.

But he did not stop to help in case he was suspected of abducting her.
OK, that's admittedly an extreme example. However, I'll bet that a vast majority of people with a heart who read this blog have been in a position - at some point - where a child could have benefitted from some help, but where you either thought twice about it, or just walked on by. As Josie highlights, the potential consequences nowadays are just too dangerous.

Multiply that over a population and it's clear that millions upon millions of acts of kindness are prevented by an over-reactive climate of mistrust and suspicion, to the detriment of society as a whole.

And for what? Even the hyper-sensitive NSPCC are unequivocal that 'stranger danger', as opposed to abuse from family, friends or those of their own age, barely registers.

Violence: a family affair

The survey results have identified the extent to which violence towards children is primarily a family affair. The only arena outside the family where it occurs with any frequency is between age peers at school or in other settings where the young congregate. Violence by unrelated adults, including professionals, is rare.
In fact, well before Labour's knee jerked to introduce the concept of guilty until proven innocent by the Criminal Records Bureau - and before post-Huntley moral panic had embedded itself - there were signs that society was curing itself without government interference

A Glasgow researcher, Stuart Waiton, has produced compelling evidence that counters the fear that children are at greater risk than in previous times. According to Waiton, between 1988 and 1999 the number of children murdered between the ages of [5] and 16 decreased in England and Wales from 4 per million to 3 per million. The total murdered under the age of 5 dropped from 12 per million to 9 per million. Cases of abduction in which the offender was found guilty dropped from 26 to 8 over the same period.
Of course, the 'if just one child' mantra drives politicians on, despite the fact that CRB checks continue to fail in preventing the most egregious abuses.

Apart from the high profile cases we see screamed from the media, there is no evidence that paedophilia or abductions are any more prevalent than they were twenty, thirty, forty, or even a hundred years ago. The perceived threat, however, is so great that no politician has the guts to come out and say otherwise.

So we carry on with this societally damaging regime which some analysts have estimated could result in up to 14 million people being CRB checked in the future. Each of which is another small brick in building a society which is fearful of any interaction with kids; which diminishes the social well-being of the country; turns us all into uncaring introverts; encourages enmity and suspicion; and arguably detracts from the overall safety of the majority of children.

We've heard big noises from the coalition about how regulations are going to be scrapped or toned down, but little on the CRB car crash. Quite simply, I don't think they have the balls to even try.

They want to promote a 'Big Society', but how can one even begin to do that when almost all voluntary projects are bound to have some involvement with, or be on behalf of, children? The buzz derived from spontaneously volunteering is dimmed somewhat by being delayed by the CRB, and any feel-good factor disappears once viewed as a criminal and being forced to undergo the rigmarole of being checked to see if you're suitable, being charged a £60+ fee, then waiting up to three months before getting clearance.

We all want kids to be safe, and a society which facilitates that. Sadly, the hysterical situation we currently have is horribly counter-productive without actually doing much to mitigate one of life's incontrovertible truths.

Shit happens.

In Your Dreams, Cunningham

You may remember that Alex Cunningham's ten minute rule bill on banning smoking in cars was rejected in November, and another reading lined up for Friday January 20th.

The Cabinet Office describes what happens next.

Normally only the first 2-3 Bills on any Private Members' Bill day have a realistic chance of being debated. However, any Bill on the order paper can proceed “on the nod” without a debate at the end of business, provided no Member objects.
Sadly for Cunningham, his bill has been scheduled 63rd on the order paper for the day. Hardly worth him even turning up just to hear 'object' again, is it?

I'm sure this particular invasion of privacy and abuse of property rights will rear its grotesque head again at some point in the future - no doubt with Cunningham's equally grotesque gob spouting in favour of it - but, for now at least, it would appear to be as dead as a mammoth's scrotum.

Such news merits a snifter or two of the good stuff tonight, methinks.

Monday 12 December 2011

That's Handy, Harry

Within Puddlecote Towers, there is nothing more preached to the little Ps than basic manners. So much so, that I sometimes catch myself employing hyperbole in making the case for their avoiding being irritating arseholes of the future.

A case in point occurred on Saturday when the boy had unthinkingly transgressed one of Mrs P's golden rules during the day. After dinner, while the kids tucked into a pudding which has probably terrorised Tam Fry in his nightmares, I forensically described an apocalyptic view of his life chances if he continued to treat others without respect.

I laid it on thick, too. He's a good kid generally but - to be frank - he 'lost it' for a while and was pretty rude. To peals of laughter from the 'girls' (and from him, to be fair), I went into a polemic about how he would end up unemployable and stuck in some cockroach infested slum if he didn't get his manners embedded.

Even though I say so myself, it was a work of art. Off the top of my head, I threw in references to rude people we knew, pointed out that even if they were employed, their jobs were dreary, involved exceptionally hard work (something I know kids to find abhorrent), and made the highly unscientific link between that and a future whereby living on a park bench would be a distinct possibility if he didn't buck his ideas up. All laced with a liberal sprinkling of over-the-top humour, a couple of caricatured voice impressions, and the odd funny walk around the table.

Anyway, he got the point but was perhaps sceptical about how manners were really that important. Well, I hope so, anyway, as I'd hate to think he would just believe me without looking for proof himself.

Fortunately in that regard, a life lesson materialised the very next day which could almost have been staged by me, it was so perfect. Equally unscientific, but not in the eyes of a 10 year old.

After finishing the last bits of Christmas shopping, we had treated ourselves to a KFC lunch {waves to Jamie bastard Oliver} before heading home. Despite empty tables around us being littered with finished meals which people couldn't be arsed to throw into the bins, we did exactly that and exited. Just by chance - or because he's the smallest, I dunno - the boy was last out and held the door open for four twenty-something girls who were leaving at the same time, and who I initially thought were together.

The first two breezed past him without even acknowledging he was there, to his visible annoyance. The third and fourth smiled, said thank you, and held the door so he could leave having done his duty.

The ignorants then turned right on exiting and wandered off towards the crappy end of town, effing and blinding as they went, before stopping for a conversation with two slack-jawed berks with their trousers halfway down their underpants.

By contrast, the other two turned left, stopped briefly to look in the First Choice shop next door, audibly talking about where they had booked for their respective summer holidays and - as was exhibited by the sleeve logos we hadn't noticed previously - headed back to gainful employment at the town's higher class department store after their lunch break.

I looked at him, he looked at me. I said "Y'see?". He nodded in silent understanding.

Parenting is easy when life throws you a biscuit like that.

Friday 9 December 2011

Lansley Goes For The Europa League Consolation Prize

One story that slipped under the radar somewhat this week was this gem from Reuters.

The government is to begin a wide-ranging consultation on plain packaging of tobacco products by the end of the year, informed by the legal challenges Australia has faced as the first nation to pass such legislation.
The emphasis is mine as this would appear to be a significant departure from the wording of the Tobacco Control Plan, published in March [page 22].

The Government will look at whether the plain packaging of tobacco products could be effective in reducing the number of young people who take up smoking and in supporting adult smokers who want to quit. The Government wants to make it easier for people to make healthy choices but wants to understand whether there is evidence to demonstrate that plain packaging would have an additional public health benefit. We will explore the competition, trade and legal implications, and the likely impact on the illicit tobacco market of options around tobacco packaging.
Well, all that could easily have been done via consultation. There's no need to wait until tobacco companies show their hand with legal challenges in Australia, is there?

Unless, of course, the policy has been decided already and that was exactly what they were waiting for before committing precious public sector funding on a scheme which would end up scuppered.

By the same token, once the decision to spend the money has been taken, does anyone really think that something as trivial as widespread antipathy/disapproval/objection by the public who, you know, pay these tedious moral panickers' wages, will act as any sort of brake?

You do? In that case, I know a guy in Nigeria who wants to give you £20m ... just pop your bank details and PIN in the comments and I'll get him to send it to you.

Course not. The Department of Health has decided plain packaging is going to happen as long as they are confident of defending tobacco industry court challenges, and there's nothing you, or anyone else, can do about it. Ain't modern 'democracy' great?

Thing is, we know full well that a greater majority of the public think this is a daft idea; that it won't have any effect on smoking prevalence; is pathetic public sector posturing; and - apart from any other reason - is life-dulling and aesthetically unpleasant. But Westminster couldn't really give a monkey's chuff what anyone who isn't paid out of taxpayer receipts thinks anymore.

A recent study reported in Austria's second largest newspaper concluded that even amongst non-smokers there was only 31% in agreement with the plan, a figure that is not likely to be any more supportive in other EU countries, including ours.

There's also no evidence at all that it will work (it won't, of course - tobacco control's woeful record is testament to that), but it's not really about whether it will or not.

Y'see, it's an EU demand, and all our egotistical politicians have left - since they were pipped by Australia in sucking up to the WHO for the main prize - is a race to be the first country in Europe to stick their tongue up John Dalli's arse. A kind of Man Utd-esque Europa League for bansturbatory losers.

In the same week that Cameron was boasting about standing up to the EU, his Department of Health colleagues were sitting up and begging for an EU biscuit by obediently planting their latest shit on the faces of British people and businesses.

We'll have a go at the consultation, I suppose {sigh}, but you may as well source your cigarette cases now (plenty available here, though branded ones would be better .. hint, hint). Those people you pay truckloads of your earnings to, have cut you out of the whole process again. Public opinion doesn't hinder them, only the threat of losing face, and cash, in court action has that effect.

Better get used to it, because as Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi points out, it won't be the last time.

Bernardi: And on the very first day [after the plain packaging legislation was passed] they moved onto drinking. People who were advocating plain packaging [for cigarettes] were saying “We should have this for alcohol. We should have it in fast food”. Where does it end? The nanny state will never end because there is always another cause to advocate for.
It would if the money which funds the nannies was cut to the bone by a government committed to liberty and a 'bonfire of the quangos', of course. Now where on Earth could we find one of those?

For a bit of related Australian precedent-following, check out Angry Exile's article today.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Any 'Evidence' Will Do

Yesterday I mentioned the Welsh Assembly's Tobacco Control Action Plan which has reached a perfect level of consensus. Air-headed Taff politicos are united in thinking it's a work of genius, while the poor saps who are forced to pay their wages reckon it's a crock of shit. That's the way of the modern world, sadly.

Most of the gobshitery contained within has been discussed many times before, but I was particularly interested in the 'evidence' they would use for this much reported promise [page 35].

The Welsh Government will develop a campaign on smoking in cars carrying children and consider pursuing legislative options to ban smoking in cars carrying children if children’s exposure to second-hand smoke does not start to fall within three years (Action 4.7).
Now, apart from the obvious - that it's a threat designed to make you do as they say, and if you don't you'll be criminalised - what are they using as a driver seeing as sufficiently creditable justification for such a law is extremely thin on the ground?

Well, in a comprehensively referenced report, they seem very vague about their source.

Research published in March 2011 looked at the impact of smoking cigarettes in private vehicles. It recognised that exposure to second-hand-smoke can give rise to significant health impacts and that there is no ‘safe’ level of exposure. The main findings of the report included that smoking in cars is dangerous to children even after the cigarette is extinguished and that high levels of dangerous particulate matter from tobacco smoke is still present in cars up to two hours after lighting up, and that opening the car window does little to reduce the risk of harm to children.
Now, there were two pieces of research produced in that month, the first of which was by the British Lung Foundation, referencing ASH's "Essential Information on: smoking in cars" which, in turn, quotes the Ontario Medical Association report which we all now know to be a lie.

Can't be that, then. Even the Welsh Assembly wouldn't be that stupid as to use something which so recently made the BMA into a laughing stock. So it must be the one by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Delegates at a public health conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) in Cardiff will be told about new research showing that smoking in cars is dangerous to children even after the cigarette is extinguished.

The study also reveals that high levels of dangerous particulate matter (PM) from tobacco smoke is still present in cars up to two hours after lighting up, and that opening the car window does little to reduce the risk of harm to children.
Yep, that seems to fit.

Not quite enough to justify heavy-handed legislation though. A fact quite willingly admitted in the CIEH study itself.

Improvements to Future Studies

More details required regarding real-time measurements. Timed recordings should be taken of when a cigarette was lit, how long the smoking occurred for and time vehicle was parked.
Hold on. You mean such things weren't thought to be important at the time?

Detailed recordings should also be taken of any external events that may influence a rise in levels monitored such as time static in stationary traffic, whether positioned adjacent to a potential pollution source ie smokey exhaust from neighbouring vehicles.
Err, colour me staggered, but none of that was considered as pretty damn essential either?

In order to make a comparative study with relation to potential health effects measurements should be taken that can be compared to 24 hour or annual mean concentrations.
Yes, and this is the point, you see. Because the 24 hour thing is - duh! - vital if you're going to be comparing levels with a 24 hour measurement.

Which they did.

Although there is no recognised threshold at which adverse health effects are known to occur the US Environmental Protection Agency air quality index rates 24 hour exposure to PM2.5 concentrations as follows: Rates of 40 µg/m³ or less are deemed as “unhealthy for sensitive groups” with levels of more than 250 µg/m³ being “hazardous” for all individuals.
The study, however, didn't even come close, mostly measuring just a couple of hours, with levels rapidly dissipating when windows were open. Yeah, those of us living in the real world kinda knew that.

So, what we have here is a report using a gadget you can pick up off eBay; which wasn't accurately timed; which didn't control for external factors; and which compared apples with oranges in terms of EPA quality index rates. And this on top of trying to ascribe harm from minutes of kids sniffing the smell of smoke (not smoke itself, the subjects didn't smoke with kids in the car), when even the shoddy studies the whole passive smoking scare is based upon rely upon lifetime exposure to grasp at a manipulated relative risk roughly comparable to that of dying by kissing a kettle.

Apparently, that's the kind of compelling evidence that requires urgent legislation on private property in Wales.

The Senedd - being the font of restrained wisdom that it is - glibly overlooked the CIEH's "more details required" recommendation, and have just gone ahead with their pre-determined nonsense anyway. Who really cares if the evidence is shakier than a house on stilts in a hurricane?

These people have headlines to create; egos to massage; work to make up to justify their salaries. Any evidence will do. So what if it's crap? Money to fund the public health community doesn't grow on truth trees, you know!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A New Sinister Anti-Tobacco Precedent

The Welsh Assembly yesterday breathlessly introduced their Tobacco Control Plan for Wales to the collection of vacant wooden tops in the Senedd.

Nanny Beeb has all the usual details of hysterical over-reaction, all designed to meet the 'vision' of "a smoke-free society for Wales, in which the harm from tobacco is eradicated". Prohibition is front and centre these days, you see, long gone is any recognition of previous failures along the same lines.

This will be because - like any compulsive liar worth their salt - the problem of civil liberties and choice in a free society has been eradicated entirely by way of self-delusion, as described in the report [page 6].

The argument that people have a right to smoke and that efforts to reduce smoking prevalence infringes on their civil liberties, ignores the fact that two thirds of smokers in the UK start smoking before they turn 18. Creating a product that makes children and teenagers addicted and then arguing that it is their free choice to be addicted is an argument to be rejected outright.
D'you see? It's impossible to exercise free choice up to the time you're 17 years and 364 days old. Only after that arbitrary government-mandated age does the choice fairy come and sprinkle the magic dust on you. And smoking, of course, isn't something that anyone does because they enjoy it - even after turning 18. It's merely an addiction, and one which you must accept that the state is entitled to beat out of you with a very large pointy stick, if necessary.

Incredible, isn't it, that before you're 18 you aren't capable of exercising free choice ... and after you're 18, your free choice is to be 'rejected outright' because other people are under 18.

This is logic which would make even medieval witch-hunters stand and applaud in admiration if they were able. They were amateurs compared to these Taffs.

We're well acquainted with the headline-grabbers included in the report, all of which will have little or no effect on smoking prevalence while simultaneously making everyone's lives that little bit more miserable, and have their basis in all manner of selective stats (I might expand on that tomorrow, as it happens).

However, there's one disturbing proposal which should set alarm bells ringing for every business which manufactures any product disapproved of by government [page 13].

Other strategies such as the establishment of an independent regulatory agency and the introduction of price cap regulation, where a cap is placed on the pre-tax cigarette manufacturers price but not on the retail price that consumers face, may have potential in a UK setting and should be explored.

The Welsh Government will consider alternative strategies for tobacco control such as an independent regulatory agency and price cap regulation for discussion with the UK
Government (Action 1.7).
This would seem to read as a move by the Assembly to dictate a maximum price to private businesses, over which they aren't legally allowed to sell their product.

Not for the benefit of the end purchaser, of course. Don't be silly. They're happy to ramp up the price with extortionate taxation until you can't afford it anymore. No, this is a plan to tell tobacco companies that they are no longer allowed, by law, to decide what price they choose to sell their wares at.

A national maximum selling price decided by the state, and a complete destruction of the economic mechanism between producer and consumer. Only the state is allowed to profit from increased prices, while the manufacturer must have their profit levels squeezed into oblivion by out of control obsessives.

Oh, they'll claim that tobacco is a unique case but can you really believe that? You don't think, do you, that they might just think it has worked so well that BP's profits must be destroyed for the good of Gaia (and to mask tax hikes, which is the very point); fast food prices should be kept stable to allow state taxation to be applied without fuss; or alcohol prices need to be pegged so that minimum price regulation doesn't benefit the drinks industry?

Course not. Tobacco control innovations have never - and I mean, never - migrated into other areas of righteous policy, now have they?

There's only one conclusion to be drawn from such astonishingly draconian ideas. That politicians, blinded by incessant lobbying, have gone stark staring nuts! Dictating selling prices to private businesses rivals Soviet methods at their most excessive, yet not one of these hideous professional politicians bats an eyelid. In fact, they dismiss all thought of objection as irrelevant.

Those governing us are rotten to the very core, and are actively dismantling the fabric of the world we live in, just so we can be forced to live how they tell us to.

Optional self-sacrifice is fast morphing into state-enforced compliance in a way that threatens to turn the free market on its head, with our supposed servants - paid with money stolen from each and every one on us - ripping apart long successful methods of human interaction in favour of hare-brained preening and egotism.

And not one media outlet even mentioned it.

Smirnoff, McDonald's, Saxa, Cadbury's, Guinness, Walkers, Texaco, hell, even British Airways ... your boys face a potential future of taking one hell of a beating if this is ever allowed to become a valid state tool.

Scary times.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Nagging All Over The World

I'm heading uptown for some pre-Christmas binge-drinking tonight, so only have time for a few observations. In the form of a whistle stop tour of three continents, here are some interesting current examples of tobacco control template mimicry towards alcohol.

In Ireland, they're using the old 'evil industry' ploy.

Experts on alcohol consumption have accused the government of giving in to ‘corporate bullying’ by the alcohol industry. Speaking last week during Mayo Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week, Professor Joe Barry and Dr Ann Hope argued that the government has allowed the industry to self regulate and has failed to curb alcohol advertising.

Prof Barry called for a total ban on alcohol advertising, especially in sport, arguing that rugby has ‘sold its soul’ with the amount of alcohol-related sponsorships it accepted. He went on to criticise the decision to appoint alcohol-industry representatives to the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol, comparing it to a drug dealer sitting on a drugs task force.
Australian anti-alcohol campaigners are only marginally more subtle. The implied contempt for a popular industry is still there, but this time in a bid to take control of health warnings on booze.

Market research has overwhelmingly rejected the alcohol health warning labels recently launched by the Australian alcohol industry in favour of informative, clear and specific labels produced by the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education (FARE).

Michael Thorn, Chief Executive of FARE said, “This demonstrates that warning labels have to be clear, contain specific health messages and prominently placed on alcohol products. The research is an indictment of the industry’s weak approach to alcohol labelling and their inability to prioritise the health of Australians.”

FARE calls on the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council to agree to the introduction of mandatory health warning labels, starting with a pregnancy warning label and to rule out any industry led system.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, they've abandoned all pretence and are openly suggesting prohibition or - taking a leaf out of the anti-smoking handbook - the more passive aggressive term, 'alcohol free'.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has called on her government colleagues to lead by example and ban alcohol at all state functions, City Press reported on Sunday.

Her call comes as her department leads government's anti-alcohol and substance abuse festive season programme that is set to be launched in the Western Cape on Wednesday.

The campaign with the theme "Towards an alcohol and drug-free South Africa" is part of an inter-ministerial anti-substance abuse programme.
Advertising curbs, health warnings and outright bans. Now where have we heard all that before, eh? They're ambitious little critters though, I'll give them that. My, don't they move fast with a proven plan to follow!

And on that note, I'm off up the pub.

Monday 5 December 2011

Western Governments Prepare To Kill Millions Of Their Citizens

It recently came to light that there are approximately 2.5 million electronic cigarette users in the US. Far too many for the US Food and Drug Administration, apparently, since they're trying their doggone damnedest to make it impossible to get hold of them.

In what may be it's push into the endgame for e-Cigarettes, the FDA announced public comments will come to a close on December 8th for "Non-Face-to-Face Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing of Tobacco Products." The FDA will be considering in the very near future what actions to take to regulate how tobacco products (including new-fangled devices like e-cigarettes) and how they are marketed.

SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to obtain information related to the regulation of non-face-to-face sale and distribution of tobacco products and the advertising, promotion, and marketing of tobacco products. FDA is taking this action as part of its implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act). FDA is requesting comments, data, research, or other information related to non-face-to-face sale and distribution of tobacco products; the advertising, promotion, and marketing of such products; and the advertising of tobacco products via the Internet, e-mail, direct mail, telephone, smart phones, and other communication technologies that can be directed to specific recipients.
As you're probably aware since you're here online, most good e-cigarettes come from the Internet, not local merchants.

Depending on how the FDA regulates e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, the offline versions may become the only things we can get.
E-cigs are a predominantly online phenomenon, offering harm reduction in the order of around 99%. You'd think a governmental body would be ecstatic about them, wouldn't you?

But then, they're not made by pharmaceutical companies, so a 100% figure is the only acceptable one. Please just forget the well documented risks associated with pharma products like Champix at this point. It's vital you do so, or else the carefully crafted corporate suspension of belief shatters, the whole house of public health cards comes crashing down, and you'll never trust a politician or furrow-browed health professional again!

I digress.

So here we are with a US governmental agency using every means at its disposal to prohibit something which millions use as an alternative to smoking, despite their general mantra that smoking should be avoided at all costs. Many have given up entirely thanks to 'vaping', whilst a vast number of others alternate between e-cigs and tobacco, but still effectively reduce their intake of a plant that governments worldwide have sworn to eradicate.

Now then, children. What do you think the 2.5 million users in the US are likely to do when vaping becomes all but impossible in the 'Land of the Free'?

Get your money into US tobacco stocks sharpish, I'd say, there's likely to be an imminent bounce in share prices if the FDA get their way.

Meanwhile, the EU - as explained by The Ashtray - continue to maintain a ban on snus which is deeply harmful, and will almost certainly get round to banning e-cigs at some point.

They tell us that smoking kills half of those who partake - that's the regularly touted figure, remember. Their 'evidence', not mine. Yet millions upon millions of people around the world are having their harm reduction choices reduced, seemingly to protect pharmaceutical company profits. Well, it's either that or superlatively retarded decision-making from politicians. You decide.

And they say tobacco companies are evil? Those who spout that garbage should look at their own methods of mass murder before casting stones at others. The message really is "Quit (the right way), or die".

If you're from over the pond, you might want to tell the FDA precisely what you think of their crashingly stupid idea here. Nicely, of course. They may well be weapons grade bell ends but I don't think they'd look kindly on being reminded of the fact.

Meanwhile, the rest of us can feel safe in the knowledge that we're firmly on the side of the angels if this is the level of 'care' such obsessed, hysterical, corporatist freaks aspire to.

Sunday 4 December 2011

YOUR Property, You Say? Think Again

Yes, it's that scrupulously principled 'liberal', Clegg, again.

"We need to get tough on irresponsible and unjustified behaviour of top remuneration of executives in the private sector," he said.

"What I abhor is people getting paid bucket loads of cash in difficult times for failure."
Abhor away, Nicky boy, but it's still none of your Goddam business. There's a clue up there in the word 'private'. You see, a 'private' company is beholden to no-one whosoever except the person (or persons) who own it. Or should be, anyway.

That someone calling themselves liberal could even contemplate interfering in how private businesses choose to distribute their - post-tax - cash is quite astonishing. As if our largely unaccountable legions of the state haven't burdened private companies enough already with eye-watering taxation, hobby horse regulation, and absurd health and safety hysteria!

But then, this nation is now just a collection of conveniently envious and busybodying collaborators, as perfectly illustrated by the first 'Editor's Pick' comment selected by the BBC.

"So, if I own a company and decide to pay my directors X amount salary and the government don't like it, i have to cut their pay? Who's money is it exactly? Nobody tells me what to do with my money, so I can't see anybody else allowing it either."
It should be a no-brainer, but the level of self-destructive ignorance now prevalent in our country requires, naturally, that such common sense is eagerly down-voted!

We have laws against what people can or can't do in their own property now entrenched by selfish dickwads, and serious attempts at extending the same to private vehicles and homes. Bylaws to tell you what you can and can't eat, and even the stealing of your kids by the state is commonplace if it feels like it.

Now we see moronic seal-like clapping and honking over plans to dictate how much private - yes, private - companies are allowed to decide their own remuneration policies.

The biggest problem the UK faces - after soundbite-seeking politicians who just can't quit the addiction of making illiberal legislation - is the lumpen idiots who are happy to see the freedoms of others eroded without a moment's thought that, one day, their own property is almost certainly going to be targeted.

Big Society? You're having a laugh! There's little left now but to lock your doors and prepare to repel the state, and anyone else, who thinks they are arrogant enough to pry into your family's life, your rights, and your property.

None of it is yours anymore, after all, apparently.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Policy Exchange Embarrassed Again

You'll probably be well aware of the blow to Policy Exchange's reputation last March thanks to an execrable report by their ASH stooge, Henry Featherstone. It was nonsense from start to finish, as reported here and, as such, destroyed by organisations usually friendly to PE.

'Feathers' has since left PE, but his legacy is continued embarrassment for his former employers. You may remember his making these claims in what looked suspiciously like a paid-for commercial for Pfizer products.

Varenicline is the most cost-effective treatment option in the NHS Stop Smoking Service. Studies consistently demonstrate it to be superior to any other therapy, but it is only used in 20% of cases. Varenicline should be offered as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking


The NHS Stop Smoking Service should offer varenicline as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking.


the [NHS] only prescribes varenicline in 20% of cases, since it is often confined to patients who have failed with NRT. There is no good reason why all patients should not be offered it.
Well, Feathers may have seen 'no good reason', but then considering the pre-determined outcome he was aiming for, he didn't look very far.

A study just out couldn't be more clear how very wrong Featherstone was.

A new study finds that the smoking-cessation drug varenicline (Pfizer's Chantix) has too poor a safety profile to make it suitable for first-line use. Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and other research centers in the US, found the drug, known as Champix outside the US, was 8 times more likely to result in reports of suicidal behavior or depression than nicotine replacement products. They report their findings in the 2 November issue of PLoS One, an online journal of the Public Library of Science.
Oh dear. Not good news for Policy Exchange, that.

[Study co-author Dr Curt D.] Furberg and colleagues found that 90% of all reported suicides linked to smoking cessation drugs since 1998 involved varenicline, even though the drug had only been on the market for 4 of the almost 13 years they covered.
Hmm. Pretty unequivocal then. And it just gets worse. It seems that Featherstone's advice was not just wrong, but deeply irresponsible to boot.

Lead author Thomas J. Moore, senior scientist at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, says:

"While suicidal behavior or depression appear to be prominent side effects of varenicline, they are by no means the only safety issues."

He explains that the drug already carries a warning about the fact studies have found links between its use and aggression and violence.

"Its effects on vision, cognition and motor control and other risks have led to its being banned for airline pilots, air traffic controllers, military pilots and missile crews, and restricted for truck drivers,"
Plenty of 'good reasons' there, eh Henry?

It's been a year since Feathers left, but his vested interest idiocy is still making Policy Exchange blush.

What a plonker.