Friday 31 May 2013

It's Not Junk When WE Do It ... Again

Important new research on tobacco health warnings is just in from Canada ...
Warning Labels On Cigarettes Would Help Smokers Quit
A leading tobacco control researcher says the next step to encourage smokers to quit is to print warning labels on cigarettes. 
Massey’s new College of Health head Professor Paul McDonald, a world expert on smoking cessation, backs the Government’s plans to introduce unbranded tobacco packages with graphic warning images, saying it is the next logical step for cigarette packaging.
A "leading tobacco control" researcher says this? Well, that's it then, eh? I'll bet the research is sound and impeccably unchallengeable, so anyone with objections may as well pack up and go home.
The qualitative study surveyed 10 smokers ...
Oh dear.

Perhaps Simon should get on the dog and bone to this "leading tobacco control researcher" and tell him to stop publishing rotten "science", he being Editor Emeritus of the Journal of Tobacco Control, and all. 

Or do you kinda suspect this will be proudly published in Tobacco Control anyway and is just yet another example of "it's not junk when we do it"?

Good grief with tassels!

Thursday 30 May 2013

It's Not About Kids, It's About YOU

Walking distance from Puddlecote Inc is a chip shop which opens between noon and 2pm and currently offers a lunch deal of small cod and chips for £3.10 - quite generous I think. Equidistant to the shop is also a school. I've yet to have seen a schoolkid in there since we took up residence in 2005.

According to this incredibly daft proposal from Salford City Council, though, they are committing a cardinal sin by opening at lunchtime.
Takeaways near schools in Salford could be banned from selling "hot food over the counter" before 17:00 to encourage children to eat healthily. 
The ban would affect new outlets opened within 400m (1,300ft) of a school.
Firstly, forget the 400m rule, it would soon be discarded as we have seen elsewhere.

More importantly, it's fair to say that this is nothing whatsoever to do with 'protecting' children, merely the cloak under which Salford Council - an overwhelmingly Labour one - wishes to dictate to its population.

As a policy, it's incredibly badly targeted. I mean, are Salford City Council not responsible for administration of schools in their area? If they're that desperately concerned about what their charges eat at lunchtime, they can simply stop kids leaving the premises at lunchtime, surely?

Or is that too much of an imposition on liberty for them to contemplate, so they'd prefer to restrict the choices of adults instead?

Of course not, they're not at all interested in liberty and free choice, as the BBC's Newsround illustrates.
The idea's to make it harder for children to buy things like chips and burgers on their way home from school.
On the way home from school? Err, that is - and never should be - any part of Salford Council's role. It's none of their business what kids do once they have left the school gates. In loco parentis stops once school finishes, the 'in loco' bit ceases to be relevant, you see. It is parental responsibility from then on.

Rancid socialists have a big problem with parental choice, because they are terrified that parents might make choices which differ from the ones they like to inflict on others. But then, they are terrified that adults too might make choices that differ from the ones they have arrogantly assumed they have the right to dictate. Hence this policy proposal.

It's nothing to do with the chiiildren, as Newsround's choice of unelected supra-national 'expert' proves.
"The evidence is very, very clear that dietary preferences and habits are learned from the environment in which we all grow up," said food policy expert Dr Corinna Hawkes at the World Cancer Research Fund International. 
"So that means in order to change our preferences, to change our habits, we have to change our environment."
It is, however, a fantastic reason for the BBC to ring up anti-food nutter Aseem Malhotra again - repeatedly - for his usual extreme fantasy view on a minor story about a policy which is simply not going to happen for reasons based inconveniently in real life.

 Can we abolish the licence fee yet?

Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Man Who Stood Up To An EU Kangaroo Court

At the start of the month, I wrote about how a travesty was scheduled for an EU committee and linked to where you could watch it.
The opening comments will be delivered by a Labour MEP who I described as - and continue to believe is - the most dangerous European alive today. She will be followed by a series of carefully selected tobacco control extremists who will advance their ridiculous reasons as to why e-cigs should be banned.
What I hadn't foreseen was that a sane voice would have managed to slip the security cordon and deliver a message which was deeply unwelcome, as I tweeted while watching.

It was a stellar performance, believe me.

Now, via the medium of YouTuibe, you can see him back up his sound assertions. I highly recommend this short video to you where Professor Jean-François Etter expands upon his brave testimony of May 7th and describes how the "public health community" are pursuing policies which will "kill millions of people".

Bravo, Monsieur!

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Mike Daube's Glory Days And E-Cig Ignorance

"Time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days" - Bruce Springsteen
Mike Daube is someone you may have read about a few times if you're one of this 'ere jewel-robbing community.

He is a former Director of ASH UK who moved to Australia, advocates banning smoking just about everywhere and is a big fan of the slippery slope. He believes bansturbators should be able to take as much taxpayer money as they feel like, and is now engaged in ensuring that the tobacco template is followed faithfully by calling for gory health warnings on bottles of wine. He is also quite open in admitting that he wants to see full tobacco prohibition by making life as difficult as inhumanly possible for smokers.

The problem is that he is now very old and the archetypal dog which has long since lost the skill of learning new tricks.

You see, for someone who has spent so much of his dreary life obsessing about lit tobacco, you'd think he might be receptive to the idea of e-cigs - an alternative which solves just about every gripe anti-smokers usually have about fags. Such as ...
By virtue of emitting no tar, indeed, no carcinogens of any kind, they knock the stuffing out of passive-smoking concerns. They do not stink, so there is no reason to complain that they interfere with others' enjoyment of food and drink. No butts are left over and no ash is spilled, so they create no litter. They emit a clear vapour but do not burn, and so pose no fire risk. The batteries are rechargeable, the rest recyclable.
What's not to like?

Sadly, the above was in reply to a desperate attempt by Daube to portray e-cigs as some kind of tobacco industry conspiracy.

Faced with the impenetrable facts in favour of e-cigs, he instead harks back to the era of Slade, Kojak and the Austin Allegro by talking about 1970s attempts at creating a safer tobacco alternative.
Public health expert Mike Daube, who was interviewed for the National Newsagent article, told Fairfax Media the products were far from safe. 
"The massive promotion of these products provided enormous distraction from anti-smoking efforts," said Daube, a professor of health policy at Curtin University in Western Australia.
And then conflates these attempts with e-cigs which were conceptualised and invented by some bloke from China who wanted to see people quit tobacco.
The buying of e-cigarette firms by Big Tobacco is not a noble attempt to mitigate decades of death caused by cigarettes, Professor Daube says. It is a totally commercial strategy, he says, one that is not motivated by harm reduction."
The fact that harm is being reduced is not acceptable to Daube. He just doesn't like the fact that tobacco companies are a part of it.
"They're not talking about substituting cigarettes for e-cigarettes," he says. "They're talking about using these products as well as cigarettes. Through e-cigarettes, they know they can get back into workplaces and restaurants. They're promoting e-cigarettes as a way to smoke in places that you otherwise can't."
Because, you see, for Jurassic Daubosaurus, attacking the tobacco industry is far more important than actually improving public health, a task which he has been employed to do with public funds for the past 40 years.
And it's not just smokers being targeted, says Professor Daube, who advocated the plain packaging of tobacco in Australia, implemented last December. Colourful e-cigarettes adorned with decorations could be seen as a way to make cigarettes attractive to younger consumers, targeting people who may never have smoked but may, through attractive marketing, feel compelled to try an e-cigarette.
Hmm. ASH UK, the organisation he himself ran in the 1970s, can find no evidence whatsoever that this is happening. But Daube is so single-minded in his out-of-date crusade against big tobacco - and conditioned over decades to promote falsity as fact - that he really couldn't care about the truth.
"If we have learnt anything over all these years, it's that Big Tobacco will do anything to keep people smoking."
And this is what it's really all about. Daube is another to add to the list of mostly moth-eaten, tired, aged tobacco control industry activists who have been overrun by current events. The game has changed with the advent of e-cigs and they are simply too old to adapt to it.

Like the guy in his sixties who can't quite get the idea of how to text or e-mail, Daube is incapable of changing his approach to facilitate better public health outcomes. Instead he sticks rigidly to throwing rocks at an industry which is doing exactly what his movement has been demanding for decades - to market a product which is not tobacco and therefore less damaging to health. You might assume from this that Duabe isn't actually that interested in health, and I'd tend to agree with you.

He is not alone. Around the world there are a handful of former tobacco control industry big hitters who have been rendered obsolete by the e-cig revolution, so they are reduced to trotting out boring stories of decades-old victories in a vain attempt to portray themselves as somehow relevant in the 21st century.

Even boxers now realise when it's time to retire before they look ridiculous, but it would appear that the lucrative tax-funded gravy train is more difficult for crusty tobacco control industry spongers to resist.

Monday 27 May 2013

France Admits It's Never Been About Health

Online news site The Local can usually be relied on for some superb off-the-wall articles about bizarre behaviour by people in Sweden, Germany, Denmark and France. You know, like Danish farmers marrying donkeys or Swedes setting up a church to worship lettuce, that sort of thing.

This, however, is apparently a serious story about bizarre behaviour by the French government.
The French government could be set to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and at work because of health precautions, it emerged on Monday. The ban threat comes as the nicotine-filled ‘vaporisers’ experience a boom in sales in France.
"Health precautions"? They are hugely safer than the cigarettes the French government has been nagging everyone to give up for years!
France’s Minister for Health, Marisol Touraine, could be ready to introduce a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in certain public places, once she receives an expert report on Tuesday into the health effects of the smokeless devices. 
Despite what is thought to be a largely positive report, commissioned in March and carried out by pulmonologist Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg, sources for French radio RTL claim that Touraine is planning a bill to outlaw e-cigarettes in public.
Now, one has to wonder why the need to ban e-cigs in public. If the French government has fears about their safety to users, the ban should be on their sale, shouldn't it? There has never - except in the minds of the most hysterical hypochondriacs and pathetic tobacco control scaremongers - been any suggestion that they could be harmful to passers-by.

Don't those pharma tentacles get everywhere these days? It's never been about health, merely secret corporate hand-shaking.

The Sage Of Sydney

I've mentioned the astonishing arrogance of anti-smoking zealots before ...
You see, they're the experts on everything. They've already re-designed the laws of physics and chemistry to advance their agenda, why not the principles of economics too?
More than once.
The tobacco control industry like to portray themselves as 'experts' in everything from economics to organised crime, when the only area they are truly expert at is hating tobacco companies and sponging off our taxes to do so.
But, while finally finding time to clear out my blog drafts this bank holiday weekend, I found probably the funniest 'expert' fail of the lot.

On March 5th, Patrick Wintour published a piece in the Guardian confidently predicting that legislation on plain packs would be in the Queen's Speech.

Alex Ralph at the Times tweeted that there might be some doubt, but a tobacco control 'expert' was on hand to educate him.

Thank heaven for the expertise of political 'expert' Chapman, eh? The sage of Sydney, no less.

Otherwise, we might have believed ridiculous stories from non-Guardian inferiors like Murdoch's Sun ... which turned out to be true.

So it would seem journalists are, after all, proper experts in evidence-gathering, and Chapman just a common-or-garden typically pompous tobacco control windbag.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Something To Share

When you're fully finished sunning yourselves after a day which began emptying Tesco shelves of anything remotely barbecueable, you may be interested in watching this well-crafted original music video from Jay at Nannying Tyrants*.

Quite a talented production, don't you think? The exact opposite, in fact, of this.

* Listen out for sound clips of Andrew Black and Australia's pre-eminent bark-faced narcissist.

Thursday 23 May 2013

It's Silly, Costly, And Evidence Free - But Let's Make It Law Anyway

I'm sure you will have heard about the EU ban on restaurants providing jugs of olive oil this past weekend. If not, have a butcher's at this.
The Treasury minister and senior Liberal Democrat condemned the new rules banning oil jugs and dipping bowls from restaurant tables. 
However, he said British councils and Whitehall departments are also responsible for "silly rules". 
The new EU ban has been described by Sam Clark, one of Britain's top cooks, as authoritarian and damaging to artisanal food makers. 
Asked about the changes, Mr Alexander told the BBC's Sunday Politics show that ministers and elected MEPs had made the decision even though it is "pretty silly".
Firstly, I think he meant "fucking silly", but to each their vernacular.

Secondly, it's OK the coalition saying it is 'silly' but, if so, one has to wonder why our country didn't vote strongly against such silliness.
Last week Britain abstained, while the Dutch voted against ... 
In a press conference at the EU summit, Mr Cameron declined to explain how Britain had ended up giving the green light to the ban. 
"Our argument was bound up in a whole set of arguments we were having about rules of origin and all the rest of it and I won't go into the tedious complexities," he said.
Is that a way of saying that you've been caught out being a simpering EU puppet, Dave?

Because, you see, it was such an astoundingly stupid law that European public opinion appears to have scuppered it.
A European Union ban on the use of unmarked olive oil jugs on restaurant tables has been dropped following a public outcry across Europe.
Well, yeah. Good. Why was it even a law in the first place?
Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, welcomed the U-turn ... "I'm glad the commission has seen sense and backed down on these arbitrary rules. They would have interfered with businesses, imposed unnecessary costs and taken choice away from consumers. Common sense has prevailed," he said.
Err, hold on. "Arbitrary rules" which "would have interfered with businesses, imposed unnecessary costs and taken choice away from consumers", but which our government failed to oppose despite it being "common sense" to do so?

I know it's a clichéd phrase, but you really couldn't make this shit up.

But get this.
Commission officials have admitted to The Daily Telegraph that they have no evidence of the practice. 
"We don't have any evidence. It is anecdotal and that was enough for the committee," said an official. 
The decision has highlighted the bizarre system of Brussels regulation, known as "comitology", where binding legislation is automatically passed into law despite not having majority support among EU countries.
Is your belief beggared yet?

There is no evidence; it didn't have majority support; it was binding on all EU countries; it was passively approved by the UK government; despite their admitting it was 'silly', not common sense, and that it would harm businesses, add costs and remove choice.

Seriously, how much do you trust the EU and/or your UK governors right now after this evidence? And, err, can we fucking leave yet?

Because, just the other day, the best that our wise Westminster troughers were offering was ...
“We will continue to work with the catering industry to help them adapt to these changes.”
Hey lads. It's silly, not based in common sense, will cost you money, annoy your customers, and we were down the pub when they legislated for it. But we'll help you comply and there is no chance that we will ever tell you to ignore the fucking clowns.

Quite incredible.

Let's just revisit Danny Alexander's comments at the top of the piece.
However, he said British councils and Whitehall departments are also responsible for "silly rules". 
So, the excuse for EU incompetence - to which our government didn't object - is that there is incompetence at every level of state bureaucracy and we should just live with it, eh?

I've got another idea. When we next look at our payslips at the monumental amount of tax these rancid people are taking away from us, we should remind ourselves of this and reject every damn one of them as undeserving of every last penny.

When they talk of our "moral duty" to pay taxes, we should point them in the direction of their lazy arrogance and wilful neglect of the appallingly inept job we are forced to pay them to do, and the utter contempt in which they hold us.

None of them care one jot about the public. The fact that they can't even organise an olive oil jug in a restaurant properly speaks volumes.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Eric Schmidt The Cross Border Shopper

Kudos to Google's Eric Schmidt today for standing his ground so bluntly on tax avoidance (emphasis mine).
Schmidt: "Taxes are not a choice." 
Q (from Krishnan Guru-Murthy): "The way you use transfer pricing, Ed Miliband says that's wrong. You've taken a decision to put a lot of money in Bermuda, and you take moral positions in lots of other areas." 
Schmidt: "If the international tax regime changes we will too." 
Q: "But is that moral?" 
Schmidt:"Virtually all the American companies have tax structures like this, and UK companies operating in the US do too. But if we pay more taxes in one area then we pay less in another."
And that is the beginning, middle and end of it.

Miliband and Cameron are playing a confidence trick on the public in a competition to appear the most 'concerned'. But the truth - which is obstinately refusing to move out of the way of political massaging of voter envy - is that politicians like Miliband and Cameron made the rules which Google are adhering to.

The EU is a free trade area for all 27 member states, meaning that a multi-national company has to choose where to base its operation. Only a business with someone astoundingly incompetent at the helm would choose a nation which didn't benefit their business the most.

The problem for the UK is that we are not competitive enough for Google to stick their name plate up on a head office in London, and it is arrogant for British politicians to automatically assume Schmidt should do so whether the UK is competitive or not.

The alternative - which I really do believe some sad people are suggesting - is that Google should have head offices in every EU state where they do business. But then, they are a multi-national with all the associated economics of scale which help to create jobs, lower prices for their advertisers and (ahem) allow them to offer services 100% free to the public; and the EU is run like a great big nation with businesses based all around it according to their choice. Like, as Schmidt rightly compares, the USA.
Schmidt: "Personal answer: when you have high differential tax rates you will have widely divergent outcomes, you have this in the US where you have lots of different rates. There's some feeling this is good because it makes governments moderate ... this is a big fight in the economics community.
So, if Miliband and Cameron want Google's cash, work for it. Make the UK the most attractive EU nation to base itself. The fact they don't means that Miliband and Cameron are failing in not attracting the receipts, not that Google are 'immoral' for not rewarding that failure.

Of course, we could always leave the EU, thereby solving the problem, but none of the three main parties can officially contemplate that so - IMO - they really should zip their traps.

Besides, again in my humble opinion, it's everyone's democratic duty to avoid tax as I commented at Longrider's the other day.
The state is made up of legislators and employees whose only job is to legislate and spend. Human nature – and historical experience – shows that they will legislate and spend as much as they possibly can unless checked. 
We are now at such high levels of taxation compared with GDP (over 50% in many developed nations) that legislators have trouble legislating for more money to spend as it is politically damaging to their re-election. They know this which is why we have seen many policies since 2000 which seek to bribe the public with spending of *other* people’s money. For example, minimum wage, paternity pay, auto-enrolment pensions, plus talk of a living wage etc. 
The control of excessive legislation on taxes is fear of electoral defeat; the control on excessive spending (which they’d naturally wish to do) is to deprive the state of excessive money to spend, thereby forcing them to live within their means or have to explain themselves for accumulating debt. 
Governments have reached the limit of what they can get away with from the electorate with taxation in relation to GDP; they have almost exhausted other people’s money that they can spend; so they are now scrambling around trying to claim that it is “immoral” to follow their own rules and use perfectly acceptable avoidance methods. Just to hoover up more money to spend. 
Avoiding tax is therefore a part of democratic process, and we should be proud to be part of checks and balances on out-of-control government by doing so.
We jewel robbers should understand this very well.

Hands up who refuses to pay UK duty on cigarettes and utilises the EU market to buy them abroad instead. It's our way of sending a message that the state has gone too far and is no longer competitive compared with Belgium or, I dunno, Bulgaria. It is our little bit of tax avoidance and follows the same principle as that of Google. If the UK government refuses to change its rates of duty, they would have a fucking cheek to harangue us about taking our duty payments elsewhere.

Likewise, vapers have seen what politicians do when they are given too much of our tax - they inevitably waste it by producing ridiculous documents like the Tobacco Products Directive which effectively bans e-cigs.

Trying to make Google, Amazon, Starbucks etc into patsies is an attempt to conceal the obvious fact that the UK government has spent so much of our money that they have nowhere left to go to raise funds to waste, as again Longrider neatly describes today.
Clegg and Miliband ... will merely piss it up the wall, lining the pockets of their fat cat cronies in the NGOs, fake charities, quangos and the makers of inane public information films. 
It is you and I who have to dig deeper into our wallets to fund the largesse of politicians who think our money is their money to give to their friends and co-conspirators in the third sector and the public sector.

There is one last curiosity which all three leaders have brutally exposed in the past week too.

When all three parties talk tough about limiting banker bonuses, the industry replies that, in the global internet-led world, the bankers would simply up sticks and move to where their rewards - and the huge taxation which comes with them - are better appreciated.

When there is talk of taxing banking transactions (the Robin Hood tax), banks reply that many companies would simply relocate to Singapore and take their corporation tax contributions with them.

"Good riddance" is the general bravado from advocates of both policies, "if they think like that, we don't want 'em".

Yet when companies like Google and Amazon do exactly that to avoid unhelpful tax rates, politicians whine like a McLaren F1 car.

I wish they'd make their minds up.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

E-Cigs Becoming Cool? Trendy? ... Profitable?

I don't know who Jodie Marsh is, but the video below says she is a model, so does that make her glamorous?

Whether the answer is yes or no, she certainly knows her stuff on e-cigs, by crikey!

The reason I ask is that e-cigs have attracted some stellar afficionados.

Hollywood stars like Stephen Dorff and Johnny Depp have embraced them, following on from Katherine Heigl on the Letterman show, no less (please feel free to add others I might have missed). And now, Jodie Marsh, the most informed and eloquent celebrity so far on the subject of vaping in my opinion.

Early articles on e-cigs portrayed them as uncool or even embarrassing to be seen using. Yet in the past few days detractors have described them in entirely different terms. A Sydney Morning Herald sneerer said they were "trendy", whilst a Daily Mail hack reported that they are "the latest craze" (by the way, do go read the Mail article as its 'information' is an exhibition of utter shite from start to finish, as I remarked on Twitter). 

I'm sure this adulation of e-cigs will all come as a terrible kick in the guts to a certain closed-minded blowhard we all know.

Of course, if he weren't such an old dog incapable of learning new tricks, he might be sensing an opportunity with all this 'trendy' celebrity-glittered publicity. You know, rather like a proper businessman would do.

Bannatyne once said that ...
“One of the hardest lessons I've learned along the way was that the advice you don’t want to hear is probably the advice you should listen to the most”
This would appear to be precisely one of those occasions.

E-cigs as trendy, a craze, and attracting positive attention from celebrities, politicians and astute businessmen? With all that in their favour, what businessman could possibly be stupid enough to not be able to spot massive profit potential in the e-cig revolution?

UPDATE: Thanks to Rursus in the comments who provides an update of Bannatyne's deep comitment to health.

Monday 20 May 2013

Shhh, Don't Tell The Food Snobs

In their down-time, the little Ps occasionally play a globally popular online game. On different computers, they can compete and 'see' each other within cyberspace as well as interact with each other or with players from all around the world.

It's a massive site with such a huge amount of tricky levels that it allows almost endless game-play. Being so very popular, it constantly requires more new difficult-to-negotiate areas so encourages users to design and submit their own environments.

Here are a couple the little Ps came across at the weekend (click to enlarge) I'm told it is one of dozens of similar 'obbys' (puzzles, to we crusties).

Note also the challenges listed to the right of the screen.

Complete with a slice of pizza? I did chuckle.

There is a worldwide tour 'convention' for this game, so popular is it amongst kids and teens. Their continent-hopping roadshow visits this country in a couple of months and the best session times were sold out in a matter of days when announced. 

Can you imagine the reaction if food snobs (cos they're not about health either) were to discover this? We could expect hastily-arranged bent studies on the health dangers of online games; furious fantasy calculations of how many kids will die by seeing the Pizza Hut logo; accusations of kids being paid 'Big Food' stooges; and a host of the usual suspects going all Helen Lovejoy while they attack the website developers 

So keep it under your hat, yeah? 

Sunday 19 May 2013

Norman Lamb: Perfect Example Of The Genre

I enjoyed a news-free day yesterday watching cricket with the boy all day and Eurovision in the evening with both little Ps and a deadly pizza.

Reading back this morning, though, I spluttered over my bacon and eggs reading Simon Clark's revelations about the flip-flopping of Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb.

In camera with a potential voter, he was right on their side.
"I'm Norman Lamb, your MP. Have you voted yet today?" I shook his hand and told him that because of the smoking ban and plain packaging I wouldn't be voting for his party. 
He made clear that he 'respects my opinion' (ie thinks I am wrong). But we chatted on about plain packs and he said, almost verbatim, "I can reassure you that it won't be coming in during this parliament". He made fairly clear that the preference is to wait to see the body of evidence coming from Australia/New Zealand, which he believes will come.
However, Clark then points to a Guardian article where Lamb shows that he was either attempting to strategically manipulate the voter or ... readers of the Guardian.
"MPs from all three parties support this, so I will continue to argue the case for us to act. There could still be an opportunity in this parliament to act and I will argue the case for it," said Lamb.
Shocking, yes. But hardly unexpected. He has form, you see.

This was Norman Lamb saying whatever would get him elected back in 2008 when it was revealed by the Daily Mail that the smoking ban had been followed by a rise in smoking rates.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: 'These are pretty stark figures which demonstrate forcefully that the Government's strategy on smoking has not been successful. 
'It's yet another case of the Government pursuing tough eye-catching initiatives which in the end don't succeed in tackling the real problem.'
Eye-catching initiatives like, perhaps, the tobacco display ban. A law which 'liberal' Norman Lamb strongly objected to while in opposition.
Commenting on today’s ban on the open display of tobacco in shops, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb said: “This is the nanny state going too far. 
“This will hit small businesses with added costs while there is no clear evidence that it will actually reduce the number of young people smoking.
“The Government is obsessed with headline-grabbing gimmicks instead of tackling the real problems."
He later became a member of the government and was part of the Lib Dem contingent which waved the ban through despite the lies provided to parliament which underpinned it.

He has since experienced a Damascene change in attitude, it would seem. Plain packs are, apparently, not "the nanny state going too far" despite "no clear evidence that it will actually reduce the number of young people smoking".

So Lamb is against the smoking ban until he isn't; is against the tobacco display ban until he isn't; and is against legislating on plain packaging without evidence, err, until he isn't.

It all depends on who he is talking to at any particular time. Of course, now he is in government, "eye-catching initiatives" and "headline-grabbing gimmicks instead of tackling the real problems" are his stock in trade. Oh yeah, and lying to the electorate too, natch.

A perfect example of the principle-free 'say anything for a vote' political class and why they are deservedly so despised.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Rebecca Taylor MEP On E-Cigs

I'm going to do something very dirty now, that is to praise a Liberal Democrat for being - surprise, surprise - fairly liberal.

MEP Rebecca Taylor agreed to be in this short three minute film about e-cigs after attending the shocking EU workshop on the 7th of May chaired by the most dangerous European alive today. I predicted on the morning of the shebang that it would be a farce and it didn't disappoint, as Rebecca found out a bit later on.
"Some of the speakers were making assumptions which have absolutely no evidence to back them up"
Indeed. Here's the clip (watch for a fleeting cyber-glimpse of your host if you freeze at 0:38).

It is so rare these days that politicians actually listen to the public and act upon their pleas, so she should be congratulated for speaking up for e-cigs. She's often on Twitter and worth following just on the evidence above.

Having said that, she lets herself down badly by believing the utter nonsense about minimum alcohol pricing.


Link Tank 18/05

Back whether you like it or not.

Where will the plain packaging slippery slope slide to next?

Wetherspoons boss says pubs are better focussing on food VAT cut than minimum alcohol pricing

More idiotic politicians move to tax e-cigs

KFC tunnel smuggling in Gaza

Bloomberg's nanny state: A cautionary tale

The collapse of liberty in Scotland

21 to drink coffee?

STOP that or you'll go blind!

Is some sex wrong even among consenting adults?

Stay strong, Prague

"We’ve been under attack for too long, and it’s time to lay off."

The new Jesus is an anteater

Friday 17 May 2013

Some Nasty Animals Shouldn't Be Kept As Pets

As I was laughing throughout this BBC article, I couldn't help but be reminded of stories where big cats have assaulted those who loved and cared for them.
Alcohol Concern's survey suggested that 31% of Labour MPs, 20% of Conservatives and 19% of Liberal Democrats thought their colleagues drank too much and the charity called for a change in drinking habits among politicians at Westminster. 
Chief executive Eric Appleby said: "If a quarter of employees reported an unhealthy drinking culture in any other organisation it would provoke immediate action by bosses."
That's the Alcohol Concern, created by government in the mid-1980s, which has been reared and nurtured by the love and financial sustenance of politicians as a pet to snarl, bully, and intimidate a previously content public.

Now it has slipped its leash and is savaging its carer. Oh joy! How d'ya like them apples, boys and girls?

What sweet irony, too, that MPs are currently considering new laws against people who keep vicious dogs as pets. They should be well aware, then, that irresponsible owners who don't properly discipline animals with ferocious vandalism in their genes are liable to turn nasty without warning.

You reap what you sow, as they say, so suck it up Nanny Statists.

Thursday 16 May 2013

The Honest Campaign

I read something in Westminster records today which very much reminded me of this chutzpah from ASH.
The tobacco industry has run a well-resourced and mendacious campaign against standardised packs. If it does not proceed with the proposal, the UK Government risks being seen as bowing to this pressure.
Mendacious campaign? Are they serious?

The past couple of weeks have seen politicians (mostly Labour) queueing up to lie outrageously to their respective houses.

Here's the latest from Baroness Morgan in the Lords.
Nine months after the consultation ended, we are still awaiting a response from the Government.
Yes. So are we, dear. We'd like to see if half a million ordinary people are to be respected for their views or ignored. We demand an answer too.
In the time we have been waiting, Cancer Research UK estimates that more than 150,000 children have started smoking.
They may well have done, but not one of them because of a colour scheme.
Let us take a moment to reflect on the support for standard packs, which is extremely broad. I mentioned the support of the health community. I cannot overstate the extent to which health organisations agree with this measure.
You can definitely overstate it. Health organisations will always agree with just about any pile of cockwaffle that they themselves have concocted ... because they are paid to produce it.
This issue also resonates with the public.
No it doesn't. There was not a single member of the public involved in the plain packs folly. No-one asked for it; no-one campaigned for it before the tobacco industry thought it up; no-one is that daft as to think it urgent. It is solely a policy construct of people paid to devise ever more bizarre attacks on smoking.
In the Government’s consultation more than 200,000 members of the public supported standard packs.
And half a million rejected it! Is this woman incorrigibly ignorant or is she ... mendacious?
These are the supporters of standardised packaging: a majority of the public and more than 190 health and welfare organisations.
Err, should that not read "a minority of the public" and "the financially motivated"? If the Baroness were to be honest, she would say yes. But she isn't.
Yet their collective voice has at times struggled to be heard over the well organised campaign by the tobacco industry.
You have got to be shitting me! Who had huge billboards stuck up all over the South West paid for by £468,462.06 of taxpayer receipts? And who was castigated for being invited for a short meeting to fulfil the DoH's democratic obligations?

Baroness Morgan has proven conclusively that ASH are hilariously hypocritical to accuse the other side of being "mendacious". She has presented half-truths, never-were-truths, paid-for study results, unrelated propaganda, and lies to the House of Lords, no less. While also being a prominent agent in the denial of "the collective voice" of the public being heard over the "well-organised campaign by the tobacco [control] industry".

The campaign against plain packs, in contrast, did not attempt to rig the consultation; did not produce literature containing bald-faced lies to MPs; did not enthusiastically encourage corrupt multiple signatures; and did not attempt to influence government to exclude any consultation responses they disagreed with.

There was only one honest campaign in the plain packs debate. And it ain't the filthy, disgusting, lying one which the Baroness endorses. Her deeply mendacious - yes, mendacious - contribution to the Lords' debate proves that conclusively.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Italy To Propose Tax On E-Cigs By The End Of The Week?

Following swiftly on from yesterday's article about how Italian MEP Giancarlo Scottà has been floating the idea of sin taxes on e-cigs, comes this from German news source Südtirol Online.

(I'll try my own paraphrasing as Google translate comes out like something from the Swedish Chef)
Tax on E-Cigarettes looming
The Italian Treasury is now targeting electronic cigarettes 
The Letta government wants to tax them in the economic measures decree that should be adopted by the end of this week, this is expected to raise 14 million euros for ailing state coffers in this year alone. 
Next year it could be up to 50 million euros. The state wishes to make up for the losses in tobacco tax revenue. 
The state complains that, due to the increasing success of electronic cigarettes ... tobacco sales are declining by 80 million euros with negative effects on treasury coffers. 
The extension of tobacco tax to e-cigarettes would mean that they would equate with normal cigarettes.
Idle rumour? Well, it's possible since this is a regional German operation reporting it, but there seems to be a fair amount of detail. It would be interesting if any Europeans have seen the report elsewhere.

But after reading of an MEP - out of 27 nations to choose from - from the very same country raising exactly the same proposals with the EU just a couple of weeks ago, it's one hell of a coincidence doncha think?

H/T Jens Mellin in yesterday's comments

Tuesday 14 May 2013

We're Losing Revenue! Quick, Let's Tax E-Cigs!

Could this be what it's really all about?

Italian MEP Giancarlo Scottà tabled this extraordinary written question a couple of weeks ago.
I wish to put a question to the Council regarding an issue which has recently been attracting a great deal of interest, but which has never been addressed from the point of view set out below. 
I am referring to ‘electronic cigarettes’, devices considered to be ‘nicotine-containing products’ which therefore fall within Article 18 of the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products (COM(2012)0788 — 2012/0366 (COD)).
The consumption of traditional cigarettes provides the Member States with sizeable revenues, as a result of the substantial taxes to which they are subject. 
According to a recent report by ANSA (Italian news agency) of 21 April 2013, in the first two months of 2013 alone, Italy’s coffers registered a loss of EUR 132 million, corresponding to a fall in revenue from duty on tobacco of approximately 7.6%. Of course, this shortfall cannot be completely blamed on the increasing use of electronic cigarettes, but it is certainly partly responsible. 
In light of the above, can the Council state what action it intends to take to address the differences in tax revenue materialising in State coffers following the proliferation of electronic cigarettes, which currently appear to be free from any form of duty?
Now, just pause for a moment and digest that.

He seems very upset that Italians are stopping smoking at such a rate that it is depriving his government of moolah. This, from someone in a profession of which approximately 100% claim that they would be delighted if everyone in the world quit smoking immediately.

What a surprise, then, that he is hinting at taxes being applied to e-cigs for the sole reason that they are stopping people from smoking and, therefore, reducing Italian government receipts.

Looks very much like that is the gist of it, eh?

Now, it's easy to condemn Scottà for his absurdly hypocritical concern but you can bet your house that more politically astute MEPs have had this very same thought bouncing around their heads ever since the e-cig revolution burst on the scene and disturbed their comfy status quo.

It dovetails nicely into the fears of the tobacco control industry too, doesn't it? You see, they're desperately constructing a damage limitation exercise while e-cigs continue to soar in popularity and show up their movement as being laughably ineffective, wedded to corporate pharma interests and - the best bit - not as interested in health as their prior emotional string-pulling has led the world to believe.

We seem, then, to be witnessing an unholy alliance of grasping state representatives weeping as their budgets decline, while simultaneously an unwanted guest - in the form of e-cigs - breezes in and smashes the sound system at tobacco control's carefully crafted mood music party.

Legislators want the money, obsessive anti-smokers want the decades-long ego-stroking to continue (as well as the cash it affords them too, natch). And they all hate e-cigs for fucking it up.

It would neatly explain why Linda McAvan - the most dangerous European alive today - and her junk scientist chums are endorsing utter garbage as fact during internet televised kangaroo 'workshops.  We've seen the same behaviour before, and I've written about it, but never has it been displayed so honestly in the public domain.

It also proves that - at the highest level - the ability of e-cigs to aid smoking cessation is accepted no matter how much tobacco control circle their wagons and try to deny it.

If it was truly about health, furrow-browed politicians who harangue us relentlessly to abandon tobacco - and the lucrative industry which has profited by producing ever more imaginative but ineffectual wheezes to bully smokers into submission - would be welcoming the advent of the e-cig and allowing them to be advertised as smoking cessation devices.

Like I said, that would be if it were truly about health which, of course, it has never been.

Nice of Signor Scottà to admit it.

H/T Rursus via e-mail

Monday 13 May 2013

Perils Of Puddlecote Update

I thought you might be interested in an update on the case of the shunted and towed vehicle.

I recounted the whole sorry tale back in March so do go have a read if you're unfamiliar with it. That first episode in what promises to become a saga was left something like this.
All I will say is that now - three weeks on - we are still £300+ down; have heard not a peep out of the police; and are pretty unimpressed with the whole experience. It's true that we've probably expended about the same £300 in time, effort and expenses, but what would you do?
We have, however, now heard from the police ... but it wasn't very encouraging.

A month ago (five weeks after the event), we received a short, one page letter thanking us for contacting them. It stated that they were sorry to hear about how our vehicle was parked legally before being shunted onto a yellow line, and that no-one had bothered to contact us before it was towed.

Unfortunately, they said (paraphrase, the letter is in the office):
"It is not in our best interests to pursue the matter, so please take it up with your insurers."
And that was it! Not in their best interests!

We were quite surprised at this, especially since the footage clearly showed the chasing woman going to a door next to the CCTV camera and fetching a spouse/relative/colleague to inspect the damage on the back of our vehicle. Naïvely, we believed - seeing as we were innocent victims of a £300 charge and a day trying to sort it all out - they might have sent a bobby along to knock on their door for an informal chat. You know, because we are taxpayers who fund them?

So we searched the police websites for the right person to contact and express our dissatisfaction. We found her e-mail and copied in seven others on the relevant local authority police panel.

After ten days, we had received not a single response, so e-mailed them all again. A few days later, still not a single response.

Sorry if this is getting boring, but ... we then rang our community support officer (who was breathless, as usual).

"Hi sunshine, we're having a hell of a time getting in touch with Mrs Prunehat (name changed to protect the useless) at the PCC office, can you help?"
"Sure {huff, puff}, I'll give them a ring {huff, puff, splutter}".

Ten minutes later, we receive a call from Mrs Prunehat herself. Yay!

"Hello", she chirpily began, "I'm sorry to contact you so late, how can I help?"
"Yes, we contacted you a while ago but the e-mails must not have reached you"
"Oh no, I saw them. I just forgot to reply"

I'm not making this up, honest! After two weeks of begging for a response or even an acknowledgement (not difficult in the modern age), it was only once our power-walking copper rang her on his mobile that she could be bothered to pick up the phone or apply fingers to a keyboard.

Despite our exasperation, we ran through the whole story (again) and politely notified her that we weren't too thrilled with the service. Her reply merely repeated what the curt letter had said, except that she added that they couldn't waste their 'resources' on our problem. She could, however, raise a complaint for us if we wished. We definitely wished, if only out of beleaguered curiosity.

Which brings us to today, when we received a call from the police from a woman who was unfortunate to be afflicted with an almost unintelligible accent. Guess what she said?

"I'm afraid we can't use our resources on your problem".
"But your letter has a tag line saying that you are supporting the public, yet we have been wronged and you won't do anything about it!"
"You can always take it up with your insurers"
"OK, could you tell us who to contact as you have the registration number"
"No, we can't possibly do that!"
"Why not?"
"Because it is a breach of information laws"
"So how are we to pursue them via our insurers if we don't know who it is? Please remember that we have already done your job for you by procuring the CCTV footage"
"That is up to you"
"Couldn't you just send someone round to the address and ask some questions?"
"No, but that is something you could do".

And that seems to be where it ends. There doesn't appear to be anyone higher to get in touch with.

In summary, our vehicle is parked legally; someone shunts it onto a yellow line; it is reported; police attend and (probably) check it's taxed before ringing the council; council turns up and tows it; no-one tells us until we call to report a theft; we pay £300.

{Deep breath}

We (not those we pay taxes to) investigate and gather evidence; the police see it but refuse to help; they then refuse to reply to repeated attempts to contact them; when they do reply, they say it's our problem and tell us to do the investigations ourselves; and won't help by accessing their computers and giving us the details of the owner.

So here we are, two months later, still £300 down through no fault of our own and no nearer recouping it despite annually paying these people six figure sums in taxation for exactly this kind of event.

Are we leaving it at that? Well, what do you think?

To be continued.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Ireland: EU Leader In Tobacco Control Failure

While the tantrums of the tobacco control industry over plain packs are still ringing in our ears, it's worth pointing out how their 'bash tobacco companies' idea has yet more anti-smoker failure written all over it.

For example, let's look at the EU's pioneer in tobacco control, Ireland. In February, their Minister for Health, James Reilly, was ranting about how bad Ireland's smoking rates were.
"The overall prevalence rates for Ireland are more or less similar to the EU average with 29% of Irish adults being current smokers. This is simply not acceptable."
This is the Ireland which was the first EU country to implement a comprehensive smoking ban; the first to hide tobacco behind screens; the first to place restrictions on vending machines; and the first to ban packs of 10.

Ireland's smoking ban began in March 2004, so how did that affect the number of smokers? Well, this report by the Irish Department of Health and Children gives us a clue.
Overall, 29% of respondents in SLÁN 2007 reported that they were current smokers. This was lower than in 1998 (33%) and a non-significant increase from 2002 (27%). The downward trend between 1998 and 2002 was seen in both men and women, and across all age groups and social classes (see Table 1). Progress then stalled in all these categories, with no significant change in smoking rates between 2002 and 2007.
That's correct. There was an increase of 2% following a prior dramatic decline.

As Reilly's remarks show, nothing has changed since 2007 despite the ever-shrill demands of the tobacco control industry. Six years later, prevalence is still at 29%. All the 'urgent' bans and restrictions; all the game-changing legislation, has had no effect whatsoever.

And how does that compare to other countries?

Well, the OECD recently released their 2013 factbook which charted - amongst other trends - the prevalence of smoking for a large array of countries since 1990. You'll find tobacco control pin-up boy Ireland at the extreme right of this graph (click to enlarge) with the lowest reduction in smoking of all nations in the EU.

All that taxpayer cash handed to obsessed single interest bully boys and doom-mongers, and the upshot is a decline of 3% in around a quarter of a century. Epic fail, huh?

Of course, if you look carefully at the figures, it isn't difficult to work out which European nations are performing the best.
Large declines occurred in Nordic countries, in Denmark (from 45% in 1990 to 20% in 2010), Iceland (from 30% to 14%), Sweden (from 26% to 14%), Norway (from 32% to 21%), and in the Netherlands (from 37% to 21%). 
That is, Nordic countries where smokeless tobacco and snus are widely available - and Holland which has one of the loosest smoking bans in Europe.

Any rational analysis of these conflicting experiences would suggest that making alternatives to smoked tobacco available (snus and e-cigs) would be a good thing, and severity of smoking bans have little relevance.

Of course, that would be to assume that global tobacco control inc has anything to do with health rather than pointlessly attacking the tobacco industry.

Plain packaging wouldn't 'save lives' any more than previous spiteful laws have done. If anti-smokers want to see reductions in smoking, they'd be better served by campaigning for the EU ban on snus to be lifted, gently encouraging smokers instead of bullying them with 'denormalisation', and getting on board with the e-cig revolution.

The exact opposite, in fact, to what the newly proposed EU Tobacco Products Directive is seeking to do.

Wouldn't it be great if, one day, politicians looked at hard statistical evidence such as that from the OECD rather than speculative, fantasy, policy-based garbage produced by ideological, liberty-averse state-funded front groups, eh?

Friday 10 May 2013

The Creatures Outside Looked From Pig To Man, And From Man To Pig ...

Busy in Puddlecoteville again, and likely will be for the next few days.

However, after yesterday's revelation that Labour despise the working man (and woman) so much that they will lie to deprive them of their meagre pleasures, I couldn't help but notice this exchange in the commons yesterday.
Angela Eagle (Wallasey, Labour): Many of us were shocked by the omission from the Gracious Speech of the promised legislation to ensure plain packaging for cigarettes. The public health Minister, Anna Soubry, publicly supported the proposal, and when the Leader of the House was Secretary of State for Health he said: 
“The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It's wrong that children are being attracted to smoke by glitzy designs on packets.”
Note: Anna Soubry supported the proposal when she had no business doing so as a minister before a public consultation has been concluded. If this was done by a Tory about a policy Labour disagreed with, they would be scandalising Soubry and calling for her resignation.
Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire, Conservative): The hon. Lady asked about standardised packaging. I initiated the consultation on standardised packaging, and I did so, as I said at the time, with an open mind. As my right hon. Friends have made clear, no decision has been made in response to the consultation on that. I think that the hon. Lady will recall that the nature of the Queen’s Speech is to put forward proposals for legislation where the Government have decided what their policy is, not to venture into legislation where no policy decision has taken place. It is completely false to imagine that there was ever a question of including reference to standardised packaging in the Queen’s Speech; there never was, and it would not have been appropriate to do so.
As we see above, Labour are desperate to bypass a consultation (to which half a million citizens objected) because they couldn't give a flying fuck what you think. And they are brazenly happy to employ bare-faced lies in doing so.

While Tory Lansley - to his credit - at least recognises that the public are a feature of something which is called, err, a public consultation.

Why do Labour hate the electorate so much that they will lie their arses off to ignore their views? Wasn't their movement originally set up in objection to Tories and Liberals doing exactly that to working people?

Clever man, that Orwell.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Lies And Loathing In Labour

It was interesting to read how Diane Abbott accused a government which - almost tiresomely - consistently insisted it had an open mind on plain packaging of somehow reneging on a "promise".

As Simon Clark observed:
As anyone who has followed the plain packaging debate knows, David Cameron has not broken any promise nor done a u-turn. 
The Coalition Government, bless 'em, never promised to introduced standardised packaging.
Nope, it's a big fat lie from a politician who could be described in the same way.

It seems to be party policy, though, judging from this contribution from Labour's Baroness Royall of Blaisdon during the Lords' Queen's Speech debate.
Neither is there any legislation on the sale of cigarettes in plain packaging—again, a commitment promised and abandoned because of the efforts of the tobacco lobby.
Nope, it wasn't a promise, and it wasn't a "commitment" either. Are these politicians so inept that they have failed to notice the thousands of hints to the contrary? I knew they were stupid, but wow!
It was also abandoned in the face of a political challenger, the leader of UKIP, who was seen in interview after interview last week, after so many Conservatives had defected to his party, celebrating that success with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other.
Like millions of Labour supporters like to do, you mean?
Neither is there any legislation as floated on public health, or on minimum alcohol pricing.
Probably because it is quite obvious that minimum pricing is deliberately designed to punish the poor.

I remember when Labour - who were once led by a Prime Minister who was almost never seen without his pipe - used to represent the working class, but then I'm in my forties. It's so old hat, isn't it?

Nowadays, Labour in Westminster hates you if you like "a pint in one hand and a fag in the other". So much so that they're grumbling that the coalition isn't punishing you hard enough for your free choice.

It is little wonder that UKIP are picking up so many votes when it's hard to recognise where one elite bunch of lying political upper class snobs end and the others begin.

This is not even mentioning their class hatred towards those who eat McDonald's instead of a North London ethnic tofu salad. Good grief.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

The Final Throw Of The Dice For Plain Packs Is So Predictable

There has been more desperate activity at the start of this week by those in favour of plain packs.

They've thrown insults, cast aspersions about MPs, issued threats, occupied Twitter with predictions of Armageddon, and are now saying it must be because the Tories' campaign strategist once worked on a tobacco campaign that reports are suggesting the coalition might not include legislation in today's Queen's speech.

The one possibility they refuse to consider is that their case was quite simply shite.

Like cats avoiding looking in a mirror, they are incapable of viewing their own possible failure without seeing a non-existent ferocious beast poised to usurp their authority.

For example, yesterday ASH tweeted this link to a press briefing they published a few days ago.

Y'see, they are still ignoring those half a million signatures in opposition as if they were an aberration rather than the biggest rejection of any public consultation in the history of British politics.

ASH's briefing is probably the source of the Mirror's speculation about Lynton Crosby, due to this standard tobacco control industry slur.
4. The source for this story is not known, but we speculate that it may well have been Lynton Crosby. His lobbying company’s involvement in the plain packaging debate in Australia is detailed in this brief at paragraphs 27-28. 
27. In Australia, while Lynton Crosby was Federal Director of the Liberal Party, the Party accepted major donations from the tobacco industry. It has been reported that between 2000 and 2010 the Party received $AUS 2.5 million from PMI and BAT. 
28. The UK Conservative Party has hired Mr Crosby through his lobbying firm Crosby Textor Fulbrook, which has represented tobacco industry clients, including PMI, since the 1980s. In Australia, Mark Textor, co-founder of the company with Mr Crosby, was an adviser to the industry in its campaign against standardised packaging. CTF now has an office in London.
It says the usual stuff {yawn}. In effect "they were paid for a tobacco campaign once so are now forever making the case for tobacco, in this life and probably the next" despite now being paid to get the Tories back in power with popular policies (which bossy infantilising of the public is clearly not). Playing the man not the ball is usually a signal that the debater has lost the argument, but the tobacco control industry have traded on it for decades.

The plain fact is that they might have bitten off more than they can chew with this one. They got greedy and moved before their last nonsense of banning tobacco displays had even been fully implemented. The public - and politicians who aren't entirely vacant broom handles - are getting tired of their constant shrill, apocalyptic whining.

In such circumstances, it would be advantageous to have cast-iron evidence but - as we have seen - there is nothing but dodgy polls, state-funded claptrap, bastardised evidence, dick-waggling exercises, and attempts at rigging the system to their advantage. It's hardly surprising, then, that when all that made no impression they should seek to throw their last crap and bandy about speculative character assassinations.

What I find very encouraging about ASH's May 3rd document is that they are still - even at this late stage of the game - spinning wildly to disprove valid issues raised by the Hands Off Our Packs campaign. They are obviously well aware that the threat of an increase in counterfeiting is real, and that government will be concerned at a time when illicit trade is already rising rapidly due to previous tobacco control industry meddling.

So, even now, ASH are still doing what seasoned political campaigners call 'playing in the other side's playground' by constantly reminding us all how dangerous an increase in counterfeiting might be.
21. The tobacco industry claims that standardised packs will increase illicit trade. There have been a series of recent media reports based on industry funded studies suggesting that the UK faces a growing level of illicit trade. However, all independent studies (including HMRC’s “Measuring Tax Gaps” publications) show that the illicit tobacco trade is falling in the UK. The most recent HMRC figure for the proportion of cigarettes consumed in the UK that are illicit was 9% in 2010/11 (mid range estimate, down from 21% in 2000/1). The most recent independent study is a survey by the market research firm NEMS in the North of England in January and February 2013 (sample size 1500), showing the level of illicit trade down to a record low for the region of 10%.
As is their custom, they are again using two years out of date figures with only a small cherry-picked regional study to try to hide the worrying current rise that politicians will already know all about.

They are almost doing the Hands Off Our Packs campaign's job for them, cementing in the minds of the government how threatening the effect of more counterfeiting could be and all but admitting that plain packs will facilitate it.

Because, rather than some small survey in the North East, real up-to-date UK and Europe wide stats show conclusively that illicit is growing alarmingly however much state-funded front groups try to deny it, as The Times reported last week.
The most startling statistic to emerge from first-half figures from Imperial Tobacco Group is the 10 per cent fall in the number of cigarettes the company sold in the UK. This has to be down to the illicit or quasi-legal trade, because basic consumption across Britain is flat and there are no indications that Imps is losing share to its legal competitors.
In Spain, the total was down by 12 per cent; in the rest of the European Union, excluding Germany, sales were off by 7 per cent. Across the EU as a whole, though, total consumption was down by at most a couple of per cent.
The rise in the black market is hardly surprising. A legal pack can cost you £8 or so; illicit ones may change hands at £3. Clearly, a large chunk of Imps’ market in the developed world is disappearing in a puff of smoke. The question is how much further this can go. The UK illicit market is about 25 per cent of the total; indications from other countries are that when it gets much above 30 per cent, governments take action to protect their tax revenues. We shall see.
That is real time, one week old, startling 2013 evidence instead of more encouraging data from 2010 before tobacco control ballsed it all up with stupid, spiteful, and ultimately pointless tobacco industry-bashing legislation.

If plain packaging does somehow squirrel its way into the Queen's speech today, it won't be based on compelling justification provided by the tobacco control industry. Instead, it will be a result of flimsy 'evidence' produced to order, government lobbying government, attempts to bypass the democratic process, emotional hysterics, interference from other countries, corrupt practice, lies and - in the final few days - pathetic bullying.

Just the usual modus operandi, then.