Friday 30 November 2012

The Characters Of Doom!

If you thought lizards under the north pole was an amusing conspiracy theory, you're gonna love this.
British American Tobacco has agreed to remove three letter abbreviations stamped on six brands of its cigarettes. 
[Health Minister Tanya] Plibersek says six packets of cigarettes obtained by the ABC early in October appear to breach [plain packaging] rules. 
"They have letters on them like NYC, LDN for London, SYD for Sydney, AUS for Australia, we think those sort of letter tags suggest some meaning to people who are smoking," she said.
Quite bizarre, as Snowdon remarked when this accusation was first levelled in October.
I would like to comment on this, I really would, but the nutters have finally gone beyond the point at which I can even understand their arguments. My nearest guess would be that they think people will be 'lured' into taking up the smoking habit by seeing the letters 'LDN' on a cigarette. That is so stark-staringly, fetch-the-tranquiliser-gun insane that I can only assume that there is another layer of wibble that I've missed.
Now, it's just a hunch, but I reckon quite a few smokers read this blog. So, if you have any suggestions as to what this nudge-nudge wink-wink message for the sinister and mysterious 'brethren of the herb' might be, I'd welcome them.

Having said that, now they mention it I'm seeing this subliminal message all over the place!

Oh noes! Even from ... THEM!

My God! It's blatant, they're not even hiding it anymore. What infernal mischief could this evil abbreviation be conveying? Someone call David Icke, and quick!

Thursday 29 November 2012

Minimum Alcohol Pricing Will Cost Teetotallers More Too

One of the key planks of the push for minimum alcohol pricing is the claim - only believed by the gullible - that alcohol costs the country a massive amount of money.

As is the case with all public health agitprop, this cleverly-constructed lie ignores the many benefits of alcohol to society. The £2.7bn cost to the NHS is exploited, without admitting that circa £10bn alcohol duties covers that externality like a motherfucker. And when professional prohibitionists gather up every conceivable and fantasy 'cost' (many of which are not public costs at all) it still isn't anywhere near the value we can put on the public's enjoyment of their chosen tipple.
The value to the person purchasing the alcohol of purchasing the alcohol must be higher than the amount they spend on purchasing the alcohol. If it weren’t, then they wouldn’t purchase the alcohol now, would they?

Now yes, this might be diminished by the costs they also bear in cirrhosis, drunken fights and waking up to one of the Two Fat Slags on vomit stained pillows. And it would be right to take those costs into account as well. But as our first order estimate of the consumer benefit of alcohol our lower bound simply cannot be any lower than the amount that people are willing to spend on purchasing alcohol.

The BBC tells me that this number is £38 billion a year.
The UK alcohol market also enjoyed the biggest rise in value, with sales estimated at £38bn – up 15% since 1999.
That’s a fairly large number to put against that £2.7 billion a year cost to the NHS (however strangely calculated that was).
Indeed, especially since the value of alcohol to society has since risen to £42.1 billion.

Besides, what does the average credulous nodding-dog member of the public in favour of minimum alcohol pricing - or any other policy promoted by the public health cabal, come to that - think will happen to these mythical 'savings'? Do they seriously believe any of it will actually be re-distributed to them?

Hmm, whaddya think?

However, buried in the Home Office's consultation dossier for minimum alcohol pricing is something quite interesting. You see, the government's plans will increase day-to-day costs for everyone according to the impact assessment (page 13).
Implementation of a minimum unit price at any level will increase prices and therefore inflation. As shown in Table 4 the impact of a 45p MUP is estimated to be a +0.2ppts, based on the weight of off-trade alcohol sold in the Consumer Prices Index.
It goes on to explain that this is only an estimate, and could be higher if price differentials are kept for more pricey products (which is a definite). To aid comparison, it is also highlighted that the across the board increase of VAT in January 2011 added 1% to inflation.

So if you screamed about the VAT increase (I'm looking at you, Labour) then there should surely be at least a fifth of the same effort employed in opposition to minimum pricing. Yes?

Now, whether one drinks or not, inflation is used as a measure for increases in producer salary costs, for benefits and pensions, as well as being a prime factor in the deterioration of savings income. If the CPI increases by 0.2%, so will that eventually end up costing the public more. Yes, even smug teetotallers!

Curiously, the Regulatory Policy Committee who presented this document haven't even attempted to quantify the increase in welfare benefits which would result from the rise in inflation. The two are inescapably linked, yet no mention is made of it as far as I can see. It's very odd, almost as if it could be as much again or greater than the costs foreseen to the exchequor.

Oh sorry, did I not mention that yet? See, if prohibitionist dreams come true, reductions in consumption will cost the treasury £200m in just the first year according to the same document (page 17), and could be more if drinkers start sourcing elsewhere (again, a definite).
It is important to note that additional costs to the Exchequer may arise depending on the effect of MUP on non UK duty paid consumption and the size of alcohol tax gap as well as any potential impact on Corporation Tax receipts.
We'll just add that to the deficit, then. That's another £200m, plus increased welfare costs to the same tune or greater, required from more taxation or further 'cuts' at some point. Nice work Cameron.

Still, if it makes the finger-waggers happy, who cares, eh?

UPDATE: Tim Worstall suggests an estimate of the total cost after benefits have been adjusted.
Benefits are uprated for inflation. Benefits bill is £160 billion a year. 
So that’s £300 million right there. 
So, half a billion a year out of the public purse.
Good work, Cameron.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Cameron's Minimum Alcohol Pricing Car Crash

So the rumours were true, today was the day the government announced it was going all-in on minimum alcohol pricing.

It has been reported that this is despite stiff opposition from many areas in Westminster, including the cabinet itself. In fact, it would appear that this policy is being forced on us simply because David Cameron is obsessed with it.

He really seems to have changed his tune, hasn't he?
"The era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end." David Cameron, June 2008
"No more of a government treating everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions. Instead, let's treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives." David Cameron, February 2011.
In between buttoning up our November payroll and sorting out an issue with our bank, I've been watching the resultant explosion of disbelief and anger on Twitter from left, right and centre of the political spectrum.

Much of what I might have written on the subject, had I not been busy, has already been covered elsewhere, which you may have seen with links I have tweeted or retweeted today. Take your pick from the examples below.

Now, Mr P Snr - an old-school lifelong Conservative voter - is completely against the idea too, but has an interesting theory which he appears to be using to reconcile his idea of a Conservative politician with the batshit crazy behaviour of the Prime Minister.

He is of the opinion that Cameron is such a master of manipulation; such a political genius, that this is all a ruse. He's playing a game to appease the health lobby, in full and certain knowledge that parliament will reject it and he can be seen to have acted in a correct manner.

Yes, it's wishful thinking but how do you expect a real Conservative to react when the leader of a party he has always kept faith with comes out with a policy that Old Labour would have recoiled in horror at?

OK, so let's pretend for a minute that this was Cameron's plan all along. How is it faring?

Well, by taking control of the lower end of the drinks industry's pricing mechanism, he is - in effect - admitting that he doesn't believe in the free market. Never again can he advocate free market policies with a straight face, since all his opponents now need do is to point at minimum pricing and laugh maniacally at Cameron.

Additionally, he seems to have completely forgotten about those who accuse him and Osborne of being 'Tory toffs' who are out-of-touch with the public, and only in politics to bash the poor and promote the interests of the rich. Considering that minimum alcohol pricing is specifically designed to attack the poor, again he has played right into the hands of his detractors.

So, even before today, politically it was a car crash policy just waiting for Cameron to hurtle off in pole position.

However, if anyone were still to believe that he is still some kind of superhuman political guru with a long-term plan none of us mere mortals are able to envisage, the timing could not have been more spectacularly inept. You see, this was also announced today. And a political genius would have probably seen it coming.
Minimum alcohol pricing ruled ‘incompatible’ with EU regulations
Minimum pricing on alcohol is incompatible with European Union (EU) regulations and should not be introduced, according to the EU`s ruling body.
The European Commission (EC) said minimum pricing could restrict imports of foreign alcohol, putting international producers at a competitive disadvantage in Scotland. 
While the EC recognises that Scotland has one of the fastest-growing rates of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the world, it said minimum pricing is a "disproportionate" response. 
"The case-law of the EU Court of Justice is unequivocal to the effect that national legislation imposing minimum pricing in respect of particular products falls within the ambit of the Article 34 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (prohibition on measures having the equivalent effect of impeding imports of products)," according to EC general secretary Catherine Day. 
"All trading rules enacted by member states, which are capable of hindering directly or indirectly, actually or potentially, intra-EU trade are to be considered as measures having an effect equivalent to quantitative restrictions."
Yes. Just as predicted, it's illegal under EU law, a previously well-known fact that has now been double-underlined in bright red ink.

So Cameron has thrown away any credibility he thinks he had for favouring personal responsibility over the nanny state; has broadcast to the nation that Tories don't believe in free markets; has fully confirmed suspicions that he is a 'Tory toff' who cares little for the less well off; and has presumably shown that - while he will slavishly follow every EU diktat which harms his own countrymen - he will fight the EU to the bitter end in order to make every man jack of us pay more for our meagre pleasures.

Political visionary? I think not.

I note that he tasked Theresa May with announcing it ... she may as well have done so wearing baggy trousers, clown shoes and a big red nose.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Cannabis Users: Stop With The Smug, Already

When viewing articles about smoking - particularly at the Guardian, funnily enough - I've always found it quite baffling to see some of the most vitriolic anti-smoking commenters are avid fans of cannabis.

The only possible justification I can see for their stance is that they are either:

a) Pretty pissed off that tobacco is legal and cannabis isn't.

b) Under the impression that their drug is 'cool' but tobacco no longer is.

or c) Supremely confident that state-funded bansturbators will leave them alone.

Well, it looks like that last one could be off up the swanee, according to the Indy.
Is this the 'tobacco moment' for cannabis?
For cannabis it is the "tobacco moment". The long-suspected link between consuming cannabis and developing schizophrenia has been repeatedly confirmed by recent studies. Observers say that for cannabis the present moment is similar to that half a century ago when scientific proof of a connection between smoking tobacco and cancer became so strong that no serious doctor or scientist could deny it.
What a bummer, man.

This is just the first of what the Indy declares will be a 'four-part series' too, so there is a long way to go yet on this. If correct in their conclusions, it could be the beginning of the end for the more enlightened thinking of jurisdictions such as Portugal, Mexico and - more recently - Colorado and Washington.

At time of writing, the comment count just rocketed past the 1,000 mark, many of which are tokers stupidly pointing the finger at alcohol as being more harmful ... as if that is going to help them.

Perhaps, then, it's timely to yet again quote Crampton's inspired words from 2010.
It's like a bunch of folks on the scaffolds complaining that the other guy's noose isn't quite tight enough. Y'all might instead direct your attention to the hangman sometime and try helping each other cut those ropes.
You see, the only way cannabis users are going to help themselves is by rejecting the state's assumed legitimacy for interfering unduly in the voluntary consumption of any product, whether healthy or unhealthy. Prohibition never works, we know that. But - as John Stuart Mill once said - each measure against tobacco, alcohol, fast food, salt, sugar (the munchies, anyone?) or any other popular substance "for the sole purpose of making them more difficult to be obtained, is a measure differing only in degree from their entire prohibition.".

How cannabis users think that calling for more prohibition of legal products will somehow make government legalise the sale and regulation of cannabis is anybody's guess.

I sometimes tire of repeating it, but unless you're prepared to defend all liberties - as I do, incidentally, for any potheads reading - against the collective arseholes who want to restrict them, stop bleating when someone sets out to demonise your particular preference.

Monday 26 November 2012

+++ Breaking News +++ Advocate Produces Exactly The Conclusion He Was Paid For!

There's been a flurry of activity on Twitter, with anti-smokers clambering over themselves in an ecstatic frenzy to tweet this little nugget, as ASH Wales have done.

Oh noes, the Hands Off Our Packs campaign is busted now guvnor, and no mistake!

So who is behind this holy grail of a report? Who is the unimpeachable 'international expert' they have found to trump the views of a vast array of law enforcement professionals with hands-on experience of the illicit tobacco trade?

Why, it's a Belgian named Luk Joossens. A guy as impartial as they come.
"Luk Joossens has been one of the world’s foremost tobacco control advocates for almost 30 years ... a relentless activist, and a versatile leader in the international tobacco control movement. "
Nope, no conflict of interest there at all.

Wanna know what he looks like? Well, here he is (pictured centre) at the COP5 anti-smoking shebang in Korea earlier this month ...

Pic from that nice Geoffrey Fong
... having a cosy chat with Deborah Arnott, also of ASH.

And they expect us to take his report seriously? Christ on a bike, I reckon they might have have been smoking too much!

See also today's inspired Daily Mash article, by the way. It's a must-read.

Sunday 25 November 2012

The Gradual Eco-Destruction Of A London Icon

As someone who operates in the same sector, it's always interesting to hear of developments from those in other areas of the transport industry to my own.

Yes, this is another in an occasional series of transport posts at Dick's place, so if it's not your bag feel free to disembark here.

Two years ago, I recounted a discussion with a London black taxi driver over the problems which the Mayor's Air Quality Strategy (amongst other imposed regulations) would present to their trade.
Boris Johnson is apparently soon to implement the policy, mooted by Ken Livingstone before his being kicked out (no surprise that Tory=Labour there), of banning the use of taxis which are over 10 years old. 
Now, one reason that the iconic 'jelly-mould' black cab has changed little in sixty-odd years is because they were originally built to last as long as possible. That is, to do the job intended for them, for a long, long time. As a result of cabbies driving the same taxi for decades, which was cost-effective, it wasn't as lucrative for new models to be produced for taxi drivers as it was for the domestic market. Such was a unique London sight created. 
Taxis are designed to run for hundreds of thousands of miles, and their reliability and profitability reflected in the £35,000 price tag for a new one. By placing a time limit on their use, a raising of overheads will be created for cabbies, and thousands of vehicles will be rendered obsolete overnight. 
In pursuit of a cleaner engine, waste is being encouraged and producers incentivised to skimp on reliability, thereby leading to more manufacturing (err, bad for the environment?) and, no doubt, higher fares to further dissuade leaving one's car at home.
At a friendly gathering yesterday, I saw him again and was updated on progress (or, more accurately, erosion) for London hansom cabs in the intervening period.

Just as in my part of the industry, taxi driver associations lobbied hard for a rethink. The result was the black taxi trade being afforded an extra 5 years, meaning that cabs built before 1997 are now not permitted on London streets. A slight improvement, but around 120 taxis are still being ruled out of service every month which - along with the main manufacturer going into administration recently - is now causing real problems with supply of eligible vehicles.

As we have come to expect whenever some remote state employee puts ideological pen to paper, the unintended consequences are coming home to roost. Most London taxi drivers rent their vehicles due to the prohibitive cost of purchase, and this market has been skewed dramatically by government intervention. Demand is out-stripping supply and rental charges have almost doubled in places.

There is still the option to buy, of course, since the Mercedes Benz Vito is in production ... but only if you have nearly £40k in cash or are able to shell out £585 per month on top of a £2k deposit.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that this relentless pressure on overheads must eventually lead to higher fares than they already are in London.

And don't think you can escape the increase in costs if you use a minicab firm, either. They are also subject to the MAQS and are forced to ditch their vehicles after only 10 years, along with many other new restrictions and regulations, all of which have their roots in Brussels. I found this to my cost last month when quotes for an uptown 2.1 mile journey varied from £9-£13 (£4 to £6 for every mile!).

Of course, Boris's insistence on green policies doesn't just end with this. Last month I reported on one of the many who his London Emissions Zones legislation had put out of business, with its resultant addition to the ever-increasing welfare bill.

And it's not as if any of this is going to do diddley squat for the planet, anyway. Our own company's disbarred vehicles, for example, merely get exported to other countries which don't have the same head-in-the-clouds regulations.
The last two exited our premises today ... bound for Ukraine. Two others have been taken to Ireland, with the last of the five now somewhere on its way to Zimbabwe! 
It would appear that although the UK has very strict emissions regulations to save the impending environmental catastrophe, they don't seem to be as harsh elsewhere. I'm not too sure how this helps protect the polar bears, myself, unless the countries mentioned are somehow using a different atmosphere to us. Nope, I simply can't work out how re-arranging the planet's vehicular furniture is going to stop global warming.
I fully expect now redundant black taxis follow a similar export route.

Now, I'd like to lay the blame squarely at the door of Boris, his enviro-loon advisers and those who nag them, but it's a wider problem.

We now have local legislators (councils), just beneath regional legislators (like, err, Boris), along with state legislators (Westminster), and supra-national legislators (the EU Commission). And if we're paying people with around 50% of GDP to be legislators, what do you think they're going to do? Legislate, of course.

There is never going to be a day where they turn up to 'work' and see no 'problem' to fix, simply because that way leads to the dole and a possible cancellation of the conservatory Mrs Pen-pusher had her heart set on. As such, we're actually paying these people out of our taxes ... to cost us all more money. Probably why an institution as vast, wasteful, and corrupt as the EU declares - with a straight face, apparently - that it cannot identify even a single euro to cut from its budget.

When even a group as fundamentally working class as London taxi drivers are being beaten into submission by ill-conceived, dogmatic governmental interference - for no reason better than public sector smugness and self-enrichment - it's clear that the whole system is desperately messed up and no longer seeks to serve the public as it is supposed to do.

And just to round this all off with some high comedy, you may be interested to know that one politician was particularly annoyed about how London taxi drivers are being forced - by Boris Johnson's air quality strategy - into a position where there might be a shortage of black cabs this Christmas. He was quite livid, so he was.

The name of this determined champion of the black taxi trade? Boris Johnson.

Friday 23 November 2012

Those Multiple Signatures: Some Questions Answered

With all this week's new information on how the plain packs campaign has been desperately conniving to ignore the half a million or so signatures against their barmy idea by saying they were 'rigged', it's well worth looking back at their own side's dodgy practices.

You'll remember that in October I described how a request for clarification from Forest was all it took for the tobacco control mendacity machine to kick into action. Refresh your memories by clicking here.

This was before discovery of an e-mail which was unashamedly encouraging plain packs supporters to submit multiple signatures, highlighted at the time by Deborah Arnott.
I understand that you have been copied into an email from a junior member of the UKCTCS which was circulated to the UKCTCS list encouraging sign up to the various websites supporting plain packs stating that  "You can only vote once on each petition, but I would seriously doubt that there will be cross checking between charity petitions so it may be worth signing all of them to get your money's worth"
Piecing together the events surrounding this, I asked a few questions as to how far this e-mail had travelled in this modern internet world.
How long after the original corrupt encouragement was a corrective email sent? How many people received the original email? How many acted on the email before being notified not to? How many forwarded the original email to how many others?
Truth be known, we didn't really have much of an inkling, nor would the plain packs campaign or the Department of Health be likely to tell us, even if they knew themselves.

However, writing on the HOOPs campaign official blog (worth a read in full, by the way), Angela Harbutt has provided some info which shows the potentially massive scale of abuse which could have occurred.
Direct links to each of the Plain Packs Protect, CRUK and British Heart Foundation petitions were helpfully supplied. 
We know (again from the FOI) that the email encouraging this activity was circulated by the Centre Administrator of UKCTCS to an (undisclosed) list of recipients on 23 July. 
It is not clear when the retraction was sent out (or to whom), but fast forward three weeks to 10 August (the closing date of the consultation) and poor old Deborah is called into action again. This time an email from Arnott to the Deputy Director, Tobacco and Responsibility Deal at the Department of Health, reads: 
I understand that you have been copied into an email from a junior member of the UKCTCS which was circulated to the UKCTCS list encouraging sign up to the various websites supporting plain packs stating that “You can only vote once on each petition, but I would seriously doubt that there will be cross checking between charity petitions so it may be worth signing up to all of them to get your money’s worth!”. 
Was the original email still doing the rounds?
Three weeks? Three weeks!

Three weeks of exponential forwarding to multiple addresses reaches one heck of a lot of people. Just think of the last forwarded e-mail joke you received with around a dozen previous forwarders still messing up the message, and multiply; multiply; multiply.

So this call to corrupt a public consultation process - originating in a supposedly respected public health institution - could have reached many thousands of people, a good proportion of which could have lazily clicked all the handily-supplied links without a care.

In light of this, I don't think Andrew Black should be too worried about a rogue (and now discounted) signature gatherer filling in a couple of names on a sheet outside Waterloo station, do you?

Simon Chapman would be shocked at this news, I'm sure. He'd probably tweet something like this.

Hear, hear, Simon. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday 22 November 2012

It's A Miracle!

We've come to accept that if someone from the tobacco control industry writes or speaks it's most likely bollocks, but their eagerness to make stuff up seems to be getting the better of them.
According to Smokefree Action’s study, the number of smokers has been greatly reduced in other countries through introducing plain packaging ...
And how did they collect the data for this study? Through a crystal ball? Do they have a Tardis?

Not one other country has mandated plain packaging except Australia, and even their regulations only kick in on December 1st. Yet Smokefree Action are claiming a "greatly reduced" number of smokers in countries (plural) before plain packaging has even been tried.

These people are truly miraculous, perhaps we are witnessing the second coming of the Messiah here. I mean, how else can one explain such awesome Mystic Meg-esque knowledge?

The local MP is very impressed, so he is.
Mr [Rob] Wilson said: “These statistics are extremely heartening ...
Not to mention impossible.
... and I hope that the trend of being ahead of the national average continues in the future.
Forget about something as irrelevant as being ahead of the game on smoking prevalence, Rob. If those statistics are true, the United Kingdom has just scooped the entire planet and invented time travel, or an indisputable method of predicting events which haven't yet occurred.

It's the most stunning scientific advancement of the past couple of centuries!

Rob Wilson, for your information, is a Conservative.

Katie Hopkins: Idiot Or Genius?

Katie Hopkins was prominent on BBC outlets yesterday.

Not heard of her? Well, she was once a contestant on The Apprentice and pops up occasionally with controversial views. Her website describes her as partly a social commentator, and I think her appearance on The Daily Politics can be placed quite firmly in that category.

Have a watch of this in case you missed it.

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I'll wager there are many of you bouncing off the walls like a Tasmanian Devil after seeing that, eh? It's another moment to set alongside Jane Deville-Almond's from 2009. Remember it?

Longrider and Captain Ranty are certainly spitting blood, and I can understand why. However, I am always personally quietly ecstatic when this proposal is pitched as it quickly and efficiently cuts through much of the bullshit we have to suffer from politicians and public health 'experts' on an almost daily basis now.

You see, once you shift the NHS very slightly down the road of charging for certain behaviours, the entire point of the NHS is threatened. Politicians are well aware that there is no official contract with the public on NHS healthcare, despite their charging us for it for decades. National Insurance was originally brought in to cover the cost and - even though it is not hypothecated these days, instead going into one big taxation pot - that's exactly how the public view their "stamp".

There would be uproar if charges began to be levied without anything done about NI payments. In fact, it is quite feasible that a case could be taken through to the European Court (because Westminster would fight it every step of the way) demanding refunds of taxes paid if the assumption of free healthcare was denied carte-blanche for sections of the population, as Hopkins' plan would demand. Just one successful judgement, and the vast level of PPI repayment claims would be pocket money by comparison and the NHS would be bankrupt overnight, if not the country itself.

Just the thought is enough to give sweat-inducing nightmares to politicians of any persuasion. Hence why, in the clip above, Philip Hammond and Emily Thornberry were so incredibly eager to knock the idea on the head as swiftly as humanly possible. Party politics disappear faster than Julian Assange near a foreign embassy once a threat to their budgets rears its ugly head.

These are the same people who have been pumping out this 'cost to the NHS' shit for a couple of decades, yet when Hopkins takes that line to its logical conclusion, they are terrified! They know full well that  their bent figures make up one of the biggest and most prevalent lies ever told in Westminster or beyond and, as such, are scared witless of any proposal like this.

If Katie's suggestion gains traction, we could quite conceivably see the hilarious situation where politicians who have been telling the unhealthy how costly they are for years, instantly U-turn and start arguing the opposite (and true) case that the healthy are more expensive. Can you imagine the fun we could have with that?

Now, I want to make it quite clear that Jane Deville-Almond's view is still evil by its very nature, simply for the fact that she is a dedicated and declared fan of the NHS, as well as benefiting herself from NHS funding. She really means it.

But with Hopkins, it's not as clear.

So we have a decision to make. Is Hopkins being serious, in which case she is a jaw-dropping incompetent? Or is she playing a game to highlight how the NHS - or, more specifically, the tax-sponging public health industry which profits from it - is an absurd contradiction in terms and should be changed dramatically from its current form? Which, of course, then makes her a very clever bunny.

At least one anti-smoking 'tobacco costs the NHS zillions' bore was very quick to make his mind up. He's very scared about how this might affect his livelihood.

So, Katie Hopkins. Idiot or genius? You decide.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Alcohol Concern's Christmas Money-Making Scam

Hey, we knew Alcohol Concern were short of money now they've been dragged kicking and screaming off the taxpayer teat, but how about this for a scam! (click to enlarge and see highlighted text)

Y'see, the problem this miserable bunch have is that when their funding went, so did their full-time fundraiser, meaning that they have to now live up to their charitable status by doing what we expect charities to do (and many expect they used to do even when being bankrolled from taxation). Beg for money. So that image is front and centre on their latest wheeze.

Now, an ideal way to promote this money-making exercise would be getting lots of column inches in newspapers, but it's a tricky thing to pull off. Of course, if there was a week in the run-up to Christmas - say,  'Alcohol Awareness Week', or something - it would be a great excuse to bombard the media with just about any old tripe, wouldn't it?

For those who may not have noticed, this week is - indeed - being called Alcohol Awareness Week. And, yes, the collective miseries are bombarding the media with an articulated lorry load of tripe. Alcohol Concern most prominently of all.

Highly-respected beer blogger Pete Brown sets the scene very well.
If I were going to be very naive, I'd say that Alcohol Awareness Week would be the perfect occasion to draw attention to the fact that, while there is still undoubtedly a problem with alcohol abuse in the UK (there always will be, so long as it is on sale, and if it were not on sale that problem would manifest itself elsewhere, in more dangerous substances) the scale of that problem is abating - at a dramatic rate. 
This is great news for the country as a whole. It's great news for health professionals and the burden on the NHS, and it's great news for groups who are potentially at risk, such as young people who may drink more than they want to thanks to peer pressure. 
But it's bad news for groups like Alcohol Concern, because it undermines their case for even greater restrictions on the sale and availability of alcohol, particularly their poorly though-out and ill-substantiated argument for a 50p per unit minimum price.  That's why they have now begun to ignore the statistical data gathered by the government and the NHS, and create their own.
Ring a bell with anyone? Well, if that doesn't, how about this?
They do this, and they dare, they have the gall, to say that it is the alcohol industry that is behaving irresponsibly.
Do I need to paint a picture here? I'm sure we've seen it all before - it's simply following the template (something Brown has noticed himself, by the way). Please do go read Pete describe what Alcohol Concern did next, as it's a prime example of prohibitionist distortion of the truth. And, in light of the aforementioned begging for handouts, a self-enriching scheme which is arguably rooted in fraudulent activity.

For further reading, I'd urge you to then pop over to Phil Mellows as he walks you through how Alcohol Concern cherry-pick eight year old statistics as if they're current, and couple them with other utter rot to construct a cost of hangovers to the press which bears no resemblance to reality or official statistics.

And this is the quite astonishing garbage you are going to be reading in the MSM for the rest of this week. All cobbled together from shoddy or cleverly-selected studies, and all designed for one purpose and one purpose only ... to fill the pockets of those whose job is to lie from the moment they wake till the second they sink into their beds to dream up even more crap to spout the next day.

Pete Brown's denouement couldn't have been better worded.
Alcohol Concern is getting increasingly desperate in its attempts to convince us of the existence of an entirely fictitious moral panic. 
Shame on them.

But then, why should they care about the truth when their prosperous new year depends on trotting out fake statistics, eh?

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Don't Mention Religion!

I understand that it's usually considered inadvisable to discuss religion, but on a day like this ... *

Long-standing readers will know that my respect for state education is pretty low. I've written extensively - from experience - about how poor some of its priorities appear to be. I'm not going to bore you again, just go click the education tag for back story.

But this week presented a very ugly deja vue experience, which I first described in 2010.
Arrived back home and the boy (9), who has just decided to get into football, was watching the England match. After a few minutes the crowd started singing the national anthem so I hummed along. A mad thought entered my head ...  
Did he know the words? No. 
Did he know what the tune was? No. 
Did he know it was the anthem of our country? Well, he had heard it before matches during the World Cup but ... err, that's it. 
Asking downstairs, the same responses from the girl (10). 
How fucking shit is that? 
A tip for new or prospective parents. Don't expect state education to teach your kids anything. Instead, assume the worst and do it yourself.
My point back then was that you would expect them to be taught the basics, Lord knows we pay enough for it.

I've left it mostly alone since, but - in the week following Remembrance Sunday - they have both been given homework (from two different schools) related to some guy who they instantly know as being called Siddartha Gutama.

I had a very good education, and am the go-to guy when things get a bit tough for their (pretty paltry, it has to be said) homework. But I don't know the guy.

Turns out he's an icon of the Buddhist faith.

So I asked a very simple question, you would think, of a 13 and nearly 12 year old in Britain. Do they know the words of the Lord's Prayer which was said during last Sunday's ceremony?

Blank looks.

I even gave them the first three lines.

Blank looks.

They not only didn't know the words, they had never even heard of it.

But they are both intimately knowledgeable about some guy who lived two and a half thousand years ago and is followed by just about no-one in this country.

Listen, I'm not religious in the slightest, despite Irish ancestry, but surely the Lord's Prayer should be at the forefront of religious education in a state which is supposed to be a little bit CofE? You know, having a Queen which is the head of state and the church, and all? How in buggery have they not been taught of the Lord's Prayer's existence after 8 or 9 years of state education, yet they know all about Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam and even the primary Buddha as if they're chums?

I despair sometimes, I really do.

* If you came here thinking I'd be discussing this irrelevance, then my changing the title from "Our Father, Who Art In Asia" wasn't a complete waste of time, after all.

An HMRC 'Wise Guy' Calls

The oddest thing happened this morning.

Sitting at my desk, some woman just wandered in through our warehouse and asked to talk to a director. I replied that I'm one so how can I help. She tersely declared that she works for HMRC and demanded a payment of £15,000 for overdue corporation tax.

I was taken aback for a moment as she looked about 60 and was dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt - it's not the kind of thing one would expect her to come out with.

As it happened, the people who deal with our accounts were both at a funeral at the time, so I said I'd have to talk to them first. She, however, insisted that as I was a director I would be able to sign a cheque right there and then. Of course I could, but there was no way I would even consider doing that, especially for someone who just breezes in arrogantly from the street.

She fixed me with a surprised glare (perhaps for not shitting myself when faced with a rep of the government, I dunno), before handing me her card and telling me all the nasty things that might happen if it's not paid in the next week. Now, I've often said that tax is effectively extortion with menaces, but I've never seen it illustrated in such a blatant manner.

On later talking to our credit controller, she said that we'd paid a huge amount up front and were just waiting for some communication of the balance due before settling it - that's what one would expect from a government agency, after all. However, we'd not received a single letter or phone call to tell us what we were supposed to pay. Wouldn't it have been much more professional - and less costly in time and, therefore, money - to ring or write rather than sending some late middle-ager round to ask for a cheque out of the blue?

And when did employing similar intimidatory methods to 1930s mafia protection racketeers become an acceptable state policy?

UPDATE: By coincidence, Ken Frost has today provided another example of eager HMRC debt collectors turning up unannounced and demanding cash.

Monday 19 November 2012

Plain Packs Campaign And DoH, Sitting In A Tree ...


Here we go again, pointing out how the plain packaging campaign is being, well, shall we say disingenuous?

We've already seen how they rigged the consultation by choosing anti-smokers to evaluate the results. They also rigged the consultation by only using evidence from the very same people who are campaigning for plain packaging, and again by excluding government departments who - despite having a very clear interest - might not give the 'correct' responses.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the Department of Health also shovelled half a million quid of your taxes to Smokefree South West to help them with their campaign, commonly termed 'government lobbying government' ... because that is precisely what it is.

It makes you wonder if these people cheat at cards too.

The latest addition to the long list of dodgy tactics employed by the plain packs campaign is revealed by Simon Clark today, detailing how Stephen Williams and his chums in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health have been deliberately misleading MPs (otherwise known as doing a Lord Darzi).
[...] it's the incident recorded in the first letter (subsequently released under FOI) that has led to charges of petition "rigging" and "cheating".
Just so we don't get off on the wrong foot, it is the plain packaging campaign accusing others of 'rigging' and 'cheating' here. No, really! Stop laughing.
And the source of those accusations? Why, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, administered by ASH and chaired by our old friend Stephen Williams MP who helped launch the Plain Packs Protect campaign. 
The APPG disseminates 'information' via a quarterly bulletin that is distributed, I believe, to every MP. The latest issue features a number of items about plain packaging with headlines such as 'Plain packs: not plain, just honest' and 'How the tobacco industry uses packaging to hook new smokers'. 
But the headline that really caught our eye was the one that screams, 'FOI request shows industry campaigners rigging plain packs petition'.
Indeed it does. A fellow jewel robber in or around the SW1 bubble sent it to me a while back, and it looks a lot like this.

As Simon goes on to explain, a letter answering the concerns raised in that FOI was sent at the end of August and I'm pretty sure that the APPG will have been very much aware of it.

It seems to me to have been quite a gamble for them, then, to boldly give MPs such a categorical - and deliberately misleading - headline as that. I mean, imagine if Simon's response was published before the government announced the results of the consultation, eh? It would make them look pretty corrupt.

However, via Nannying Tyrants, it would appear that if it was a gamble, they had already nobbled the bookie too!
What, exactly, is the DH hiding by not releasing the disclosure log for September 2012? Is there something in September's releases that damages the plain packs supporters?
Well, yes. That would be the thus far unpublished letter from Simon Clark which would turn the APPG's headline from a snippet of information into opportunistic mendacity.

So we have the plain packs campaign rigging just about everything they can lay their hands on; using government cash to lobby government; and spreading falsehoods to parliament. Meanwhile, the Department of Health - which still publicly claims to be impartial on plain packaging - is doing its bit by holding back information which could be used against those in favour.

It's all very cosy, isn't it? Though how they can still call it a "public" consultation is anyone's guess.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Four Years And Counting

After an incredibly problematic business week and a busy weekend, it almost escaped my attention that this blog yesterday passed its fourth birthday.

In the time since 2008, a not inconsiderable 2,467 articles of what was once described as 'tabloid junk' have appeared here, attracting just under 1.3 million page views - at an average of 944 per day - from 232,000 unique visitors and just over 800 RSS subscribers.

More importantly, in your humble host's opinion, are the 18,484 comments that have been placed here since November 2008. I have read every one, even if increasingly struggling to reply for various time-related reasons, and am grateful for your input which is sometimes brilliantly astute.

So what now from here?

Well, if anything, the situation as regards personal liberties which encouraged me to set Casa Puddlecote up in the first place has become exponentially worse. Whereas before the problem of dozy MPs listening to self-interested trouser-stuffers was becoming sinister and worrying, masks have since slipped; gloves have been discarded; and they are now openly treating the vast majority of the public with utter contempt.

Indeed, the themes that we discuss here are almost becoming fashionable as scales tumble from the eyes of many and this incessant anti-freedom, anti-social onslaught against human nature is beginning to be recognised.

Being a stubborn sort, I reckon there will be even more nonsense to highlight in the coming weeks, months and years; even more nauseating stink bombs of state policy; even more hideously pompous egos to prick; even more corrupt arseholes from whom to steal big fat juicy analogous jewels from. No point stopping now.

So, four more years then? Whaddya reckon?

Friday 16 November 2012

Just Can't Get The Staff

You may remember a guy called Professor John Britton. He is the anti-smoking crazy who believes a bar code on a 200mph car will, inevitably, seduce millions of children into starting to smoke.
John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, said: “The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes. I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits.”
Well, the credulous twonk is now urging the EU to get on with publishing their Tobacco Products Directive as a matter of urgency after the resignation of John Dalli.
I would hope that the Tobacco Products Directive could go out to consultation as soon as possible because we need to see what was proposed and be able to comment and maybe adapt it if there’s anything in there that could be improved.
Err, John. Mate. The consultation was nearly two years ago. Did you miss it? It was very well documented at the time, and the responses reported widely. The directive is the result of the consultation and, thus, not adaptable or amenable to improvement. It's kinda why it's called a "directive", as in 'an order'.

Are you not paid quite a lot of money to notice rather large details like that?

Thursday 15 November 2012

First Rule Of #COP5 Is You Do Not Talk About #COP5

As mentioned last week, the tobacco control industry are currently throwing global taxes down the drain as they witter interminably in South Korea.

I pointed out that one of the items for discussion is a uniform global tax on tobacco products, something they have been very careful to keep as quiet as possible in the past few months. In fact, whenever the subject is broached, some WHO drone is rolled out to say that there is nothing to worry about. Oh no. It isn't a command from global unelected dictators, at all.
[WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarveic said] "implementation of national tax policies remains the full sovereign right of the Parties"
Is that so?

Strange, then, that the event's daily bulletin for yesterday [opens in pdf] vehemently attacks the EU for not being too happy about having European taxation dictated by a bunch of pompous delusional cranks.
The EU has shown a lack of respect for other members of the Working Group by not taking seriously the important contributions of the other Parties and by focusing exclusively on compromises that relate to the EU member states as opposed to the rest of the world. The EU should understand that compromise with 176 Parties is more important than compromise within 27 Parties. 
It is ... difficult to understand why the EU is acting in such an obstructive and insular manner.
In other words, the EU doesn't like the way this sinister idea is heading and is exercising its collective 'sovereign right' to defend its own taxation policies ... and the WHO are livid about it. How very dare they!

So furious are the assembled tax receipt-addicts and gravy train stowaways that they've heaped shame on the EU by awarding them their badge of utter disdain.

"No, not that!", I hear you scream in horror, but yes, the dreaded Dirty Ashtray Award, no less. Gasp!

Quite a story, and it will be interesting to read about the debate that took place. Except that we probably never will do, since this was discussed at the session which Snowdon reported as being held behind closed doors.
Here's an interesting fact about these 'Conference of the Parties (COP)' shindigs. It won't surprise you to hear that the tobacco industry is not invited to participate, but they are apparently not even allowed to observe proceedings from the spectator's gallery. These are—I say again—publicly funded conferences. Refusing to allow the relevant industry to even hear what is being said strikes me as peculiarly paranoid—as if tobacco execs are so powerful that they can transmit pro-tobacco messages by just being in the same room. 
But it gets worse. As if it wasn't crazy enough not to allow the industry to see what goes on in these meetings, the fanatics have now banned Interpol (yes, that Interpol) from attending.
Additionally, along with the tobacco industry and those who have an identifiable interest in curtailing illicit trade - they being those who are tasked with tracking it down, and all - there was another group who were excluded.

They being anyone who might actually report what the WHO were talking about. No, seriously, I'm not making it up.
According to Drew Johnson, a "waste hunter" with the Newsmax website, the agency's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control began its biennial gathering Monday "on a high note by ratifying an agreement to combat smuggled and pirated tobacco products." 
However, that goodwill quickly evaporated the following day, when delegates of the conference's member nations chose to meet behind closed doors for a discussion about raising taxes to reduce smoking. 
Johnson added that attempting to cover this meeting was "frustrating" and "raises some serious questions about an organization that for years has operated largely behind the scenes and without the benefit of much public scrutiny." 
"When is the media more necessary than when an unaccountable, shadowy organization that devours millions of tax dollars each year from people across the world debates getting in the business of issuing global taxes?"
Quite (though I'm sure it's in the billions). But then, these hideous people have done little else for the past few decades except manoeuvre to exclude anyone who might get in the way of their pre-conceived vision of utopia. Debate has always been frowned upon, and only the truly devout are afforded an audience.

It's not even as if those who are allowed to participate are remotely sane, let alone impartial.
The representative from the Pacific island nation of Palau encouraged the agency to also "consider an international tax scheme for candy, sodas and even alcohol," Johnson noted. "Shockingly, a number of member countries expressed their support of that frightening idea." 
When a representative of the Ukraine expressed concern that tobacco regulations may compromise the independence of individual nations, and a Cuban official encouraged the convention attendees to be mindful of the many hard-working farmers whose lives depend on tobacco, they were met with rolled eyes and scornful looks.
In light of this, do you reckon the WHO are likely to publish minutes of the day's events any time soon? Because I sincerely doubt it. Lots and lots to hide, obviously.

It is astonishing that any government which values openness and accountability would consider taking this organisation remotely seriously, let alone pass laws, procedures or duty regimes on the back of their recommendations, but they most likely will.

I will remind you again that not one person at the Korean event has ever received a single vote to dictate to even one nation, let alone 176 of them. We're through the looking glass here people, with feather-headed Mad Hatters at the helm.

You'll Never Take Me Alight, Copper!

I haven't dipped into the hilarious ASH document Myths and Realities of Smokefree England for a while. For the uninitiated, this is a comedy item produced in the run up to the 2007 smoking ban just to give us all a few much-needed laughs.

Well, that isn't how it was originally drafted, of course. It was written in all seriousness, but considering all their "myths" have now been proven to be true since 2007 - offering a lot of fun along the way - it's well worth a read.

These 'myths' were specifically relating to a ban on smoking in enclosed places, but I do believe I might have stumbled across the first recorded incidence of a myth being debunked for outdoor smoking too.

Here's ASH's original gag.
Myth: There will be heavy handed enforcement with undercover officers and covert filming.
Yes, we all know this has happened for real many times since 2007 to prosecute pub owners, but get this.
NHS Tayside has employed an ex-policeman to patrol hospital grounds and search for staff flouting the health board's smoking policy. 
It has been claimed that the smoking liaison officer is using heavy-handed tactics to stop workers lighting up. 
Patrick O'Hara has been given the authority to demand credentials and trigger disciplinary action against staff who refuse to stub out cigarettes, including those using in-patient smoking shelters.
Heavy handed indeed, but I'm sure he's a dedicated and competent professional.

Sadly, there isn't a smidgeon of scientific evidence that any of these nurses are harming anyone whatsoever. But hey, it's never been about health, ladies and gents.

If we're laughing about an ASH 'myth' towards indoor tobacco use which is so inept that it is also easily debunked outdoors too, could the look on our amused faces be termed a second-hand smirk?

OK, I'll get my coat ... and watch out for the undercover ex-copper on the way out.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

BBC Agitprop And Year Old "News"

The BBC isn't averse to regurgitating any old nonsense from hyperbolic anti-smoking extremists (see Snowdon for illustrations), but yesterday they excelled even their own superlatively one-sided selves.

First up was a comparison of industry innovator James Buck to the inventors of machine guns, explosives and the atom bomb (comment by Simon Clark here), followed by a montage of adverts which are astonishingly identical to those of any other products in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, but which are now implied to be evil according to the BBC. 

And to top it all off, their desperation to attack tobacco continued today with a special investigation into the idea of licences for smokers
If you're a smoker, could you imagine having to apply and pay for a licence to buy tobacco? 
The application process might even include a test to find out if you understood the risks of smoking, and your swipe card licence would limit your tobacco purchases - perhaps to 50 cigarettes per day or less. 
So could a government-issued licence be the best solution to reduce smoking? And how could such a scheme work?
Similarly to the previous articles, there is not even a vague attempt at providing balance with opposing views being presented, simply one dreary airhead after another promoting their mind-bogglingly absurd agenda.

The latter of the three was spewed out by the raisin-faced greaseball himself, Simon Chapman.
Prof Simon Chapman from the University of Sydney is interested in the next generation of truly effective anti-smoking measures.
Which kinda admits that the trouser-stuffing gobshitery he's previously been involved with has never been that effective at all.

I'd comment more on the knuckle-dragging lunacy of his idea, but one hardly needs to when the BBC Have Your Say crowd spotted the multitude of flaws within an hour or so of publication (as did Ken Frost). After it had been ripped to bits with an insulting ease by people who live in that real world which Chapman has little knowledge of, one contributor summed up the case against with consummate brevity.
Some ideas are so stupid it is not worth commenting on
Quite. Especially since it's not even 'news' so shouldn't belong on the BBC in November. Well, not in 2012 anyway, because Chapman first dreamed up his laughable plan in November last year and published his pseudo-science to back it up in May

As such, all my thoughts on the matter are available in the two linked articles above. So I'm off out now for a regular curry evening with our now-retired accountant, who is 84 but has fewer cobwebs on him than the 'news' the BBC published today.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The Straw Man That Walked Into Conservative Home

Via Simon Cooke, I see Tim Montgomerie has read Wikipedia's article on a Straw Man argument, and decided to write an article following their template.
The straw man fallacy occurs in the following pattern of argument:
Person 1 has position X.
This being the libertarian (person 1) idea of minimal state spending and interference. No libertarian party worldwide has ever advocated the eradication of the state, just a much-needed and radical reduction in its scope and influence.
Person 2 disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially similar position Y. The position Y is a distorted version of X
In Montgomerie's case (person 2), the superficially similar (well, it's not even that) position is ordered anarchism.
A measly 5% chose a libertarian brave new world - which our question described as "a society where individuals are almost completely free of both government control and assistance, and rely entirely on themselves, their families and job creators to make a good society".
Err, that's not libertarianism which - in the real world and not Montgomerie's desperate pro-Cameron fantasy - is overwhelmingly minarchist by nature. It's, instead, a good description of the ordered anarchy espoused by spotty teens who used to daub a capital A in a circle on public buildings in the mid-1980s. Who mostly used to vote Labour, funnily enough.
Person 2 attacks position Y, concluding that X is false/incorrect/flawed.
And Montgomerie's attack?
Most voters (95% in this poll) want some role for government. When Conservatives are constantly bashing government it puts middle-of-the-road, moderate people off and it frightens people who depend upon government help for part or all of their income - or who, may be wholly independent today, but who wouldn't want the safety-net dismantled.
And off he goes arguing against a position which is entirely of his own making - with some quite astonishing contortions of fact - and not remotely recognisable by anyone who lives in the real world.

And that's the reason why people are not confident in voting Tory anymore. It's not a libertarian view that they are scared of, in fact a decent majority when it is explained would consider themselves naturally so anyway. They're not voting Tory anymore because the Westminster-addled cronies, addicted to their opinion polls and vested interests, simply don't represent anything the public recognise as being useful to the real world they now live in.

Labour went down that road years ago, ceasing to represent the working man and woman properly once Blair and his Shiraz-quaffing Islingtonites got involved. Now Montgomerie proves conclusively that the Tories have decided that they also don't want to represent the traditional support that brought them many years in government in decades past.

Meanwhile, they talk about voting by text and internet, while scratching their heads and wondering why diminishing numbers can be arsed to wander down the road and put a tick in a box on election day.

Perhaps they might consider that if even their self-installed 'independent' supporters are pumping out festering bilge like this, they're past us making the effort to do anything to support them. What's the point? They do what they damn well like anyway, whether you like it or not.

Including making up arguments for their own existence which are only fit for being citations at Wikipedia pages on how not to debate with integrity.

Monday 12 November 2012

The Curious Case Of The Non-Existent Post Cards

I am regularly astounded by the eagle eyes possessed by fellow jewel thieves, and here is a perfect example.

If you don't follow me on Twitter, you may have missed that Bray Leino - the advertising agency employed by Smokefree South West with your taxes - won an award last week for the plain packaging campaign billboards. Here's a picture of it - well worth £468,000 of your money, doncha think?

The company was also mentioned in a document recently published by the Department of Health. To be precise, it was an e-mail sent by them detailing the number of signatures they had collected in support of the idea.

If you click to enlarge the screen grab above, it states that NHS Dudley had delivered - directly - 3,711 postcards to the consultation. Bray Leino were very clear about this, adding that Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation had conducted "separate campaigns" which were "not part of the submissions mentioned above".

This was apparently news to NHS Dudley who had no knowledge of it, according to a response to a fellow jewel robber's FOI response.
How many signatures did Dudley NHS send to the Department of Health? 
It is not possible to provide this as NHS Dudley promoted individuals and organisations to support the plain packaging campaign. It was up to them to voluntarily sign up electronically or by post. 
How, where, and by whom were the postcards distributed? 
Dudley NHS worked in partnership with Cancer Research who distributed postcards at community events during May-July 2012. 
Who designed the postcards? What costs were associated with this activity? 
Cancer Research designed the postcards. Cannot comment on costs. 
Were the costs paid for from Dudley NHS budgets? If not, who provided the funds? 
No. Cancer research provided the funds. 
Please provide an image of the front and back of the postcards that were used for the campaign. 
You would need to approach cancer research for this.
How odd! It would seem, then, that someone has been providing information which is 100% wrong.

Your guess is as good as mine who it might be seeing as these inconsistencies seem to crop up quite often when it comes to tobacco control's desperate truth-avoidance exercise in the plain packs debate. It is, however, something further to note while we eagerly anticipate the already overdue DoH whitewash statement on the consultation.

In the meantime, I'm sure you will be as interested as me in knowing where the aforementioned Bray Leino award will be publicly displayed - in a polished glass cabinet with attractive lighting, natch - so that we who paid for it may view it in all its glory.

With a price tag of nearly half a mill, it's surely a precious national treasure, isn't it?  

H/T Mr AT by e-mail