Sunday 30 June 2013

Exclusive: ASH's Next Report

If you wondered why ASH have been relatively quiet of late, it might be that they are conjuring up one of their funny 'everyone-is-a-tobacco-stooge' reports.

You may remember the last one - which was picked up by just about no media outlets - for its astonishing stupidity. Listing organisations such as the CBI, the union Unite, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Scottish Grocers Federation, the Leicester Asian Business Association and the UK Travel Retail Forum as big tobacco stooges, it was described by Snowdon as "a Who's Who of everybody who has never received industry funding".

Still, stung by the massive public rejection of plain packaging which led to the daft idea being excluded from the Queen's Speech in May, they might be about to launch some more desperate smears. You see, they refuse to accept that the public have rightly decided that plain packaging is, well, plain stupid.

Yeah, course they did. It was nothing to do with the biggest ever rejection of a policy in the long sordid history of public consultations. No, not at all.

So, soon after Queen Bessie effectively told ASH to get stuffed, Debs Arnott fired off some terse requests to tobacco companies as evidenced by this offering at the BAT site from May 20th.

Perhaps not happy with the propaganda potential of this response, Debs probed further on June 18th.

Despite the honesty displayed by BAT (they could have just told her to mind her own state-funded, but protected from the Freedom of Information Act, business) this will no doubt be described by Arnott as 'covert' lobbying at some time in the future. Even when some of her imaginary targets came up blank.

Which would be jaw-droppingly hypocritical since her tobacco control industry colleagues get right shirty when they are similarly asked to provide details of their own grubby tactics.

But they seem to think that it is such a winning strategy that they've instructed their Scottish poodle in parliament to tee things up for them.
Alex Cunningham (Stockton North, Labour) 
No one could be more aware than the right hon. Gentleman, as a former Health Secretary, that the tobacco industry lobby is one of the most powerful groups around this place, given its direct and covert campaigns to delay legislation to introduce plain packaging for its products, among other things. Will the Government ensure, if and when they get round to registering lobbying organisations, that such organisations will be required to reveal whose payroll they are on, to ensure greater transparency? For example, tobacco companies might finance third-party organisations as a front to promote their causes.
Do you sense that ASH are building up to a mendacious press release to pretend the half million people who opposed plain packaging in the consultation are stupid drones and should be ignored? You know, a bit like they tried back in February when their campaign's corrupt attempt to rig the responses failed?

Perhaps we should send a few questions to ASH regarding the tobacco control industry's sponsorship deals with pharmaceutical companies and the millions they have received from state grants over the years, eh?

H/T Simon Chapman

Thursday 27 June 2013

A New Low For Tobacco Control

As if you ever needed yet another example of astounding chutzpah from the global tobacco control industry, read this and be astounded.
The smoking rate among adults in the United States has dropped again, an encouraging trend that experts on smoking cessation attribute to public policies like smoke-free air laws and cigarette taxes, as well as media campaigns and less exposure to smoking in movies. 
Eighteen percent of American adults were cigarette smokers in 2012, according to a report released last week by the National Center for Health Statistics, down from 18.9 percent the previous year. From 2009 to 2012, the rate dropped to 18 percent from 20.6 percent
That's right. It's nothing whatsoever to do with the e-cig revolution which has been accelerating during the same period, because Big Control is desperately trying to pretend that this isn't actually happening.

Billions of cigarettes not smoked is nothing to do with that 2.6 per cent decline. No, siree. Just like taxation doesn't encourage consumers to shop elsewhere.

So what does the tobacco control industry source for this bullshit have to say?
“The fact that we’re below this theoretical sound barrier of 20 percent is important,” says Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the university’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. “This data shows that the whole premise that there is this hard-core group, where no matter what you do you can’t get them to quit, is just not true.”
You're absolutely correct, Mad Stan, but we know very well what tends to work for the "hard-core group", and here it is.
First-Ever Clinical Trial of Electronic Cigarettes Finds 13% One-Year Quit Rate Among Smokers with No Interest in Quitting
We now have clinical trial evidence that these devices can be useful in smoking cessation, even among a population of smokers which had no interest in quitting. Despite this worst-case scenario, a 13% cessation rate was achieved after one year with the group that received 7.2 mg nicotine cartridges for 12 weeks, and the overall cessation rate was 7.8%.
Or it could just be a result of seeing fewer scenes of smoking in movies, of course. {wibble}
Opponents of electronic cigarettes can no longer argue that claims of the effectiveness of this product for smoking cessation are based solely on anecdotal or survey evidence.
Oh yes they can because, as the NYT article - entitled "Why Smoking Rates Are at New Lows" - proves quite conclusively, they will simply ignore the huge global e-cig phenomenon. There is no mention of it anywhere.

Possibly because the quite insane Glantz hates them so much that his view of them is a stunning example of sticking one's fingers in one's ears and shouting very loudly. He wants to see them banned because he claims you can die from passive vaping. He also believes that all the billions of cigarettes that are now not smoked are just a figment of your imagination.

I suppose we knew this had to come sometime. The massive uptake of e-cig use - along with the heavy evidence of smokers quitting in droves as a result - were always likely to make a dent in smoker prevalence figures, it was a curiosity to see how an industry which has lived the high life on pharma patronage was going to react to e-cigs doing the job that they have demonstrably failed to do in recent years.

Well now we know. They'll just claim the success as their own. Simples.

Has there ever been a more corrupt movement than the one devoted to full prohibition of tobacco or anything that looks like it? Sinking so low as to applaud themselves for the achievements of a phenomenon they are desperately trying to ban is scandalous, cowardly and shameful.

Oh yeah, and - I nearly forgot to remind you - it's never been about health.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Grier On E-Cigs

It's another busy week in Puddlecoteville so I have little time to write at the moment. So instead, I have a treat for you from elsewhere.

Writing at The Ümlaut, Jacob Grier provides an exceptional commentary on the current shameful and fraudulent campaign by tobacco haters to try and discredit e-cigs. Here are a couple of snippets.
Time was public officials and anti-smoking activists offered evidence of harm before imposing new restrictions on personal behavior. Advocates for bans on actual smoking in bars and restaurants made their case with studies indicating that long-term exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke was harmful to the health of hospitality workers. They sometimes went overboard with the alleged dangers, but at least they were trying. Today’s effort to extend bans to e-cigarettes is based on little more than the fact that they sort of look like the real thing. 
There is a better way. Innovations in manufacturing, distribution, and advertising are what brought about the cigarette’s domination, and innovation is what can finally end it. In a competitive market many users will choose mostly harmless vapor, some will continue to use patches and gums, others will stick to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, and still others will prefer more flavorful cigars and pipes. Though falling short of the smokefree America desired by many, this would result in massive improvements in health and happiness. But only if consumers have the choice—a choice that today’s anti-smoking movement is determined to take away.
It's a very well-written and easy-to-read piece - perfect to share with friends and family who may still be unaware or confused about the palaver surrounding e-cigs.

I would highly recommend anyone to go read the whole thing.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Meet Mr Mean

Via Vapingpoint Liz, do have a look at this YouTube clip. How genuine does he appear to you?

You have been watching Jeremy Mean of the MHRA reading from a script provided by the pharmaceutical industry (allegedly).

This is the man who ignored over a thousand responses to a public consultation from real people and instead decided that killing e-cigs stone dead was easier than being brave in opposing the nine (most state-funded) vested interests who were in favour of medical licensing.

Jeremy was one of the 'experts' who provided 'evidence' to the EU kangaroo court in May, and whose testimony - along with others - was described as "cherry-picking" and "not good science" by the only public health advocate on the panel with a shred of integrity.

Note how he claims that he doesn't want to "ban products currently on the market" despite his proposal meaning - as the MHRA have admitted - that every single one will be refused a medicinal license in their current form.

This is the man who wants to kill the golden goose which has led to hundreds of thousands of smokers switching to vastly less harmful e-cigs; the man who sees the massive harm reduction success of e-cigs as something to be stopped and rendered as useless as patches and gum.

If there was  book written about him, it might look something like this.

And the first line would read "Mr Mean lives in Healthland, which is very strange because he doesn't really care much about health."

Pic courtesy of Max Farquar, do please share widely.

Monday 24 June 2013

What A Tangled Web They Weave ...

In recent years, the tax leeches in the bloated tobacco control industry have employed a tactic of busting what they term as 'myths' prior whichever rent-seeking legislation they are endorsing at any particular time.

I can't understand why because it simply sets themselves up for humiliation when their daft claims - based on confident assertions rooted in cod science and fantasy - are routinely shown up to be fanciful nonsense.

ASH's "myths and realities of smokefree England" about the smoking ban, for example, will be regarded by future historians as particularly interesting seeing as just about all of their myths have since been proven to be true.

Likewise, I've had a hell of a lot of fun rubbishing Big Control's "Myth #7" in relation to plain packaging of fags - I've lost count of how many times, in fact. That isn't to big these pages up or anything - I mean, it really hasn't been that difficult. If an organisation tries to claim that tobacco interventions won't be copied by prohibitionists opposed to alcohol, fast food, fizzy drinks, and even eating meat, they may as well jump in the barrel themselves and hand us a gun.

Handily, these hilarious "myths" are left online so that we can look back and tick them off one by one as the debunkings are inevitably shown up to be the products of over-active state-funded imaginations.

The latest - from the same document as "Myth #7" - is "Myth #3".
Myth #3: Plain packs will cause confusion and extra costs for small businesses
FACT: It’s no more difficult selling plain packs than branded packs. Industry estimates that it would take 45 seconds longer per sale are based on a survey of the opinions of just 6 tobacco retailers. Objective research measuring over 5,000 transactions found that plain packs if anything reduced transaction times and selection errors (this was hilarious junk science as discussed here - DP). Retail sales will decline gradually but not overnight as the main impact will be on reducing uptake amongst young people not on current smokers, so shops will have time to adapt.
Hmm, that's interesting. Because, you see, Simon Chapman is revelling in the fact that his pet idea has - indeed - made it more difficult to sell plain packs than branded packs. That it is designed specifically to do just that.

So confused is global tobacco control with its web of lies over plain packaging that we have British anti-smokers saying retailers won't be affected unduly, while their Aussie counterpart is celebrating the 'fact' that they are suffering badly after only a few months.

Even as someone who is used to seeing these so-called myths turn into accurate predictions, I never thought I'd see the day when a fellow tobacco controller does the job for us!

Or should I say 'part of the job', because Angela Harbutt at Hands Off Our Packs has found something interesting about Chapman's latest display of childlike ignorance.
There is no mention of any loss of sales of tobacco as a result of plain packaging. None whatsoever. The reference surely refers to the increased administrative and staff costs of the plain packaging legislation, something the AACS has already been very public about.
Oh, really?
But then I had a wild idea that I might email the AACS direct, asking them to confirm what they meant. It was surprisingly easy to get a reply. This is what they told me:
In summary, plain packaging has adversely affected retailers in terms of costs (staff training, layouts, lost productivity), time to serve customers as well as receive stock as examples, but sales over the past six months remain unaffected.

Some anti tobacco campaigners will use any quotes to their advantage without understanding their true meaning or context and I need to ensure that I am as clear as possible in my communications, but rest assured retailers have been far more inconvenienced than smokers with the change, although smokers have been frustrated with slower service and incorrect products being given to them.
Yes, really.

It's a double slam dunk. Chapman reveals that the point of plain packaging - contrary to sleazy schmoozing by the UK Smokefree Action Coalition - is indeed to significantly harm retailers. Meanwhile, Aussie corner stores - contrary to the claims of Chapman and plain packaging advocates in this country - confirm that their costs have risen as a result of the law, so much so that they are forced to seek out other revenue streams to compensate because they haven't had "time to adapt".

Probably the reason why so very many UK stores objected strongly to plain packaging despite being vilified for it by Big Control.

Do go read the whole Hands Off Our Packs piece, if only to laugh at how shoddily self-proclaimed tobacco control messiah Chapman does his research.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Proven Liar Vivienne Nathanson Is Doing It Again

Do you remember proven liar Vivienne Nathanson?

No? Well, she works for the British Medical Association (BMA) which is basically a union for the medical profession. Here she is blatantly lying to the BBC in 2011.

On that radio spot, she was 100% confident that the rubbish she was spewing about smoking in cars had been peer reviewed and was incontestable. She was very certain about it.

It was not the truth at all. In fact, it was such utter garbage that the BMA were forced to quietly issue a humiliating correction a few days later.

It would appear that she hasn't learned from the experience.
"There is some small amount of emerging evidence of some people, particularly children, using [e-cigs] as an access source to get the nicotine hit," said Viven Nathanson from the British Medical Association.
Err, what evidence Vivienne? There quite simply isn't any - not even junk stuff provided by your corrupt friends - to refer to.

Unless, of course, she is talking about this from ASH last month (emphasis mine).
Among children regular use of e-cigarettes is extremely rare. Children who had heard of e-cigarettes were asked about their use and knowledge of them. What little use that is reported is confined almost entirely to children who currently smoke or used to smoke
• 1 in 10 16-18 year olds who had heard of e-cigarettes (1 in 20 among 11-15 year olds) has “tried e-cigarettes once or twice”.
• 1 in 100 16-18 year olds (0% 11-15 year olds) uses e-cigarettes more than once a week.
• Among young people who have never smoked 1% have “tried ecigarettes once or twice”, 0% report continued e-cigarette use and 0% expect to try an e-cigarette soon.
Is this really the proven liar's 'emerging evidence' of children 'using them as an access source to get the nicotine hit'? 0%?

What the hell is this woman's problem? Why can she never give an opinion based on facts and proper evidence?

Do you reckon the BMA might receive funding from pharmaceutical companies?

Friday 21 June 2013

Never Forgive, Never Forget

The tobacco control industry do like to pretend that the smoking ban is a dead subject, don't they? That everything is sunshine and sweet smelling roses in the world; that the debate is over.

Sadly for them, a majority of rational people - as opposed to the self-centred, intolerant and anti-social - accept that the ban we have is unfair and should have provided for some exemptions (especially now e-cigs are increasingly being included in bans, like in France and Italy).

If you've ever read a comments section anywhere, you will have heard some voice of common sense expressing the view of most by asking "What's the problem with smoking and non-smoking venues? Then everyone would be happy!".

Which is why the issue will never go away. For example, this private members bill is tabled for parliamentary business on Monday.
Smoking (Private Members’ Clubs)
Mr Philip Hollobone
Bill to make provision to allow smoking in a separate ventilated room in a private members’ club if a majority of the members of the club so decide.
It is part of a package of bills presented by Conservatives - see the whole list here at ConHome - who feel government of all political stripes has, ahem, lost its way. A euphemistic way of saying they have forgotten the people they are meant to serve and are guiding the country using a statist SatNav programmed by charlatans, fake charities, tax-sponging vested interests and utter lunatics.

Dubbed 'The Alternative Queen's Speech', the Telegraph quotes one of the MPs behind it thus:
Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough and one of the architects of the document, said: “This is serious attempt to deliver policies that the British public really want. There are ideas here that could form the basis of a future Conservative manifesto.”
In truth, Tory policymakers won't embrace policies that their electors actually like until they re-learn that we exist, something they're not looking very much like doing at the moment. We can but hope, though.

But before you get too excited, it's unlikely many of the bills presented will go anywhere - most won't receive a second reading. However, even if Hollobone's bill does fall by the wayside, I guarantee it won't be the last time the subject is brought up.

While crashingly flawed law as the Health Act 2006 still exists unamended, there will always be more realistic and workable proposals raised on a regular basis. Anti-smokers can pretend it's the end of the matter but it never will be, the debate is not over and will run and run for a long time to come.

So keep badgering your MP and keep pointing out how their stupid, petty, pointless nannying experiments over tobacco, alcohol, fast food, fizzy drinks, motoring and e-cigs are entirely unwelcome. One day they will get the message.

Remember, Prohibition in the US hung around for 13 years before the idiots finally saw sense.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Common Sense, Integrity And A Bit Of Honesty

The common sense and integrity in the title refers to Royal Bolton Hospital.
Smoking shelters WILL be rebuilt at Royal Bolton Hospital after public votes YES
THE public have spoken — and voted for smoking shelters to be rebuilt at the Royal Bolton Hospital. 
Hospital bosses decided to give staff, patients and visitors the final say on whether smoking shelters should be provided by the hospital. 
In a close-run poll, people who wanted the smoking shelters won with 1,629 votes — just 49 more than those against the proposals. 
Work on three new shelters will start this week
I remember reading about this poll when it was first announced and there was a lot of cynicism at the time.

It shows how low the trustworthiness of public health nags and administrators has sunk (estate agents and bankers will be pleased) that it was widely predicted that the poll would be ignored if it produced the 'wrong' result. But they have admirably stuck to their word and are installing the shelters regardless.


The honesty bit refers to some of the idiot commenters.
"Let's hope someone stops smokers from all congregating around the front entrance, and making people walk through a wall of smoke to get through."
"Smoking should not be allowed at entrances - I object to walking through someone else's stale smoke"
And this is what it has always been about.

It's very clear now that the smoking ban wasn't really about health - the irrational extremist objections to e-cigs being used indoors are testament to that - it was the government using the hammer of legislation to crack an insignificant nut of people, aww bless 'em, who quite simply don't like the smell of smoke. It was the law being used to pander to those who cry 'me, me, me!'.

However, instead of being honest, far-fetched excuses were made about how it was to protect bar workers (which has been proven as guff time, and time, and time, and time, and time again).

Having seen the country remodelled to their egotistical specifications, the selfish, the intolerant and the 'world-revolves-around-me' preciouses have been positively encouraged to proudly display their hateful opinions to the world. Even, as in this case, when the solution is intended to further kowtow to their weak sensibilities and inability to compromise.

Because, you see, they object to being uncomfortable for even the merest fraction of a minute. But they also object to any compromise which would help others and might even end up making themselves just that little bit less uncomfortable. Precisely the reason why, without exception, every single pub in the country - well, the ones that are left, anyway - is now condemned to catering to a loud and objectionable minority, without being permitted even the smallest concession of a room well away from fragile, anti-social bleaters for other customers.

One could have at least a little respect for this 'stuff everyone else' mentality if they'd only campaigned for the 2007 ban for the real reason - that they just wanted everything their own way - instead of inventing fairy stories about wisps of smoke being more deadly than mustard gas.

But at least now their true colours are increasingly laid bare for all to see.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Tobacco Control Tactics - E-Cig Version

Via the WSJ ($), here is a passage that should chill the hearts of some of the more smug vaping advocates out there.
On the marketing front, e-cigarette makers have also started emulating tactics once used by tobacco companies. They sponsor medical studies and testimonials from doctors, and run television spots advertising the use of e-cigarettes indoors or in the presence of children, since they do not result in second-hand smoke. 
"This is really undermining all the progress we have made in de-normalizing smoking," says Dr. Pisinger."
The denormalisation tactics toward e-cigs are very much underway including - as we see above - smearing valid arguments from suppliers in order to stifle debate. This is how they are able to completely ignore studies which prove beyond doubt that there is no harm to third parties from e-cig use.

It's why certain e-cig defenders who go around dubbing tobacco companies "Big Death" (they know who they are) are not really helping themselves. It's just more ammunition for bansturbators if their prior demonisation of other industries is accepted without question.

All of which reminds me of something I said on these pages three years ago.
You can't pick and choose which liberties you wish to keep, and which are OK to be stamped on. Bending an inch to these people just boosts their power and leads, eventually, to something being attacked which you hold dear.
Surely - in an environment where the same methods are plainly being employed against alcohol, fast food, fizzy drinks etc - we should be learning this by now. It's not like Niemöller is an obscure text, now is it?

Divide and rule works very well for health zealots because all the while the public are happy about others being pursued, but not so happy about the same treatment being meted out to themselves, the health lobby are unencumbered - they just want to ban everything.

Wise up.

How Can We Govern If People Are Thinking For Themselves?

Yes, I know Downfall parodies are somewhat passé these days but just in case you haven't seen this video which has been bouncing lethargically around Twitter ...

Well, it made me laugh anyway.

Monday 17 June 2013

NICE Don't Care Much About Health Either

You may remember a blaze of publicity earlier this month as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produced their new guidelines on tobacco harm reduction.

Very proud they were of it too.
Landmark guidance to reduce tobacco-related harm for people who don't feel able to stop smoking in one step is published today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Wednesday 5 June). 
The NICE public health guidance is the first in the world to recommend that licensed nicotine-containing products can be used to help people to reduce the amount they smoke, especially those who are highly dependent on nicotine. This includes people who may not be able to stop smoking in one go, those who want to stop smoking without necessarily giving up nicotine, and those who might not be ready to stop but want to reduce the amount they smoke.
Wahey! The part emphasised is exactly what e-cigs provide, is it not?

Amongst others, the BBC (link now disappeared) quoted Professor Paul Aveyard, Nice guidance developer, GP and Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Oxford who had this to say about their harm reduction potential.
E-cigarettes are an increasingly popular NRT option but they are controversial because they have not yet been licensed as safe and effective by drug watchdogs. 
But the guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence  says doctors seeking to help smokers can advise ‘these products are likely to be less harmful than cigarettes’. 
Professor Aveyard said he will tell patients that using e-cigarettes is ‘better than smoking.'
Yep, that's entirely the point of tobacco harm reduction. A key clue is in the the use of 'reduction' alongside the word 'harm'.

E-cig users welcomed this development almost as if it were a new age of common sense emerging from the 21st century fog of denormalising bilge from the public health Mafia.

The problem is that NICE were very careful to say that they would only recommend "licensed" nicotine-containing products, which is just another way of promoting pharmaceutical NRT ... but as a long term thing which will earn more money for those who produce it.

Of course, the MHRA have since stated that they are arranging the deck chairs so that e-cigs can be officially licensed as medicines even though, err, they are not medicines. Yesterday, I raised the possibility that this was merely a way of protecting the profits of pharma companies which most of the MHRA committee are linked to and the body itself is funded by.

Still, this surely opens up the possibility of e-cigs being available on prescription, doesn't it? The Telegraph believes this could happen "within nine months"!
GPs will be able to prescribe e-cigarettes, which let users inhale a mist of nicotine instead of tobacco smoke, once they have been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 
However, e-cigarettes will not be prescribed on a widespread basis across the NHS unless the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the public health watchdog, backs their use over other means of helping smokers kick the habit.
And here we have a sticking point. You see, NICE don't even see much advantage of e-cigs over traditional tobacco cigarettes according to a freedom of information request submitted by a fellow jewel robber.

From their Health and Safety Manual:
4.5 Smoking (including the use of e-cigarettes) is prohibited in NICE’s offices and in all other areas of NICE buildings. Failure to comply may be considered a disciplinary offence
From a team meeting in May:
1) It was agreed that e-cigarettes should not be used on NICE premises; and the Human Resource team should contact the relevant line manager/s to ask them to inform staff members as appropriate that e-cigarettes should not be used.
And just in case staff weren't aware, it was reiterated in the internal newsletter, just two days after NICE's grand press release.
Staff are reminded that smoking (including the use of electronic cigarettes) is prohibited in NICE offices and in all other areas of NICE buildings. Failure to comply may be considered a disciplinary offence.
So, NICE's approach to harm reduction attempts by its staff using e-cigs is to throw them outside with the smokers? What's the point of that? If you're going outside anyway, why not just spark up a fag?

From that short-sighted knee-jerk idiocy, it's going to be one hell of a stretch for them to "back [e-cig] use over other [pharma] means".

Are e-cigs banned from workplaces by law? No. Is there evidence that they harm others around the user? No. Is there evidence that e-cigs aid harm reduction (you know, the that thing NICE's guidelines were meant to address?). Yes!

But NICE have banned them anyway, at pain of disciplinary action no less.

I'm not sure how this squares with the self-congratulation in their June 5th harm reduction guidance which gained so much publicity.
However, there are other ways of reducing the harm from smoking, even though this may involve continued use of nicotine. This guidance is about helping people, particularly those who are highly dependent on nicotine, who: 
- may not be able (or do not want) to stop smoking in one step
- may want to stop smoking, without necessarily giving up nicotine
- may not be ready to stop smoking, but want to reduce the amount they smoke.
Great stuff. Except that NICE will fire you if you dare to get your harm reduction option from anyone but pharma suppliers.

It's beginning to look like a cleverly-contrived publicity exercise to hide a defence of pharma corporate status quo, isn't it?

As I said yesterday, serious questions need to be asked of these people. Do consider getting involved and asking them.

H/T JR for the FOI

Sunday 16 June 2013

Questions Need To Be Asked, So Let's Ask Them

Even those of us who have been aware for some time that the tobacco control movement has had little to do with health were still quite surprised at the incompetence of the MHRA last week.

In effectively killing off e-cigs - should their daft recommendations eventually be adopted - they seem to be either woefully ill-advised or criminally incompetent.

There is, of course, a third possibility as highlighted by the Free Society yesterday.
That a body can be convened by the MHRA/CHM with quite so many links to the pharmaceutical industry is almost unbelievable. Can you imagine an ‘expert committee’ advising government on tobacco regulation being populated by people working for the tobacco industry? No, nor can I.
Do go read the whole piece to see some staggering self-righteous hypocrisy.

An industry which has been accusing others of interfering in health policy for profit for decades - they even have a WHO convention banning the practice - is now backing the MHRA, which lists a committee so deeply mired in pharmaceutical conflicting interests as to be scandalous.

Remember the furore over the government's responsibility deal?
A BBC Panorama alcohol feature this week questioned the level of industry influence over Government policy whilst exploring the impact of alcohol misuse within hospitals. Scrutinising Government alcohol policy, Panorama revealed that industry representation on the Government and Partners Alcohol Working Group had recently increased from a few up to 7 out of the 16 members. 
Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said "The government needs to decide if it really does want to get to grips with the significant levels of alcohol harm in the UK, or stick with the status quo of allowing the drinks industry to call the shots. It can't have it both ways."
If you are a popular public supplier who wishes to be involved in the prohibitionist process, it's appalling that you're allowed anywhere near the table.

However, if you've been paid by Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, or any other competitor for nicotine provision, you're invited onto an advisory committee, no less.

Indeed, the MHRA's forerunner was described in 2003 as an organisation designed to protect the interests of the pharmaceutical industry!
"In deriving all its funding from industry fees, the Agency differs from some of its overseas counterparts, who have a proportion of direct governmental funding. The Agency is also unusual in having a stated objective to facilitate the development of the UK pharmaceutical industry"
This was criticised by Professor Sir Alasdair Breckenridge in 2005 who was in charge of the MHRA at the time..
"Thus it is unsurprising that many of the agency's employees have worked in the pharmaceutical industry." 
"In addition, from November 2005, European regulations will require that staff have no financial or other interests that could affect their impartiality." 
"Regulation of drugs by the UK regulatory agency is funded entirely by user fees. Strict rules are in place to ensure staff and committee members have no personal conflicts of interest"
Those "strict rules" obviously do not extend on who is allowed to entirely ignore the public on e-cigs and, instead, protect pharmaceutical patch and gum manufacturers against competition.

But then, Prof Breckenridge isn't squeaky clean either.
From 1992 to 1997 I was a member of a scientific advisory committee of SmithKline. I resigned from that in 1997. This had been an extremely valuable exercise for my development in medicines regulation. We did not discuss specific products on that board; it was a matter of the larger picture of industry.
Yeah, pull the other one, matey, I could imagine the tobacco control industry saying. You see, you only have to mildly object to daft pronouncements to be classed as a tobacco industry stooge without the remotest hint of evidence (like everything else they do).

Yet you can take the pharma dollar proudly for years and still be classed as a fine upstanding impartial source. So much so that you are invited to committees which advocate bans on new products which threaten pharmaceutical profits.

Questions need to be asked of the MHRA and its vested interests. The best people to ask them are MPs, so I do hope vapers everywhere will encourage their elected representatives to do exactly that by way of a written parliamentary question.

You have every right as a constituent to do so, and it is a very simple process - you don't even have to know who your MP is. Simply type your post code into, click on your MP's name and fill in the web form. They are obliged to provide a reply.

If you receive an ignorant or dismissive response - which I'm sure might happen - do please forward it my way. Not only could it provide great entertainment, but I'll even offer a prize if it's funny enough.

(For a few useful nuggets to drop in, see a letter featured Friday).

H/T Dave Atherton for MHRA digging.

Friday 14 June 2013

Burnley Thrash Manchester City

I went to a football match at Manchester City's Etihad stadium once.

Nice ground and all that, but I remember the stewarding being pretty heavy-handed to say the least. I was with the boy and in seats at the edge of the pitch, meaning he didn't see the last five or ten minutes due to a ring of hi viz-bedecked, err, crowd control operatives blocking his view entirely as they stood arms folded looking menacingly at supporters who had stumped up a princely sum for their ticket.

I remember the supporters being in jubilant mood, so much so that one lit a cigar about ten rows back. He may as well have taken the pin out of a hand grenade as three stewards leapt seats and ignorantly sent innocent fans flying to get to him.

So it wasn't too surprising to read this a couple of months back.
A City supporter has been left fuming after he was banned from the Etihad Stadium – for ‘smoking’ an electronic cigarette. 
The Blues fan, who asked not to be named, was spotted by stewards with the device at their clash with Chelsea – which came in the first week he had not been smoking. 
He was told that the e-cigarette, which can be legally smoked anywhere, was not permitted at the stadium and was then escorted from the ground by police. 
And now the lifelong supporter has been written to by Peter Fletcher, City’s head of safety and security, who has told him that his season card has been suspended. 
The disgruntled Blue said: “I was on the concourse at half-time having a drink with a few mates. 
“I took a drag of it and was asked by security to come into a room – I just thought I was going to be asked to explain what it was. 
“I was told they were banned and asked for my season card which I handed over. I was then escorted out of the ground by police.”
Nice way to treat someone who has handed over hundreds of pounds a year in advance for the privilege, eh? It seems Manchester City FC are the latest in a very long line of petty authoritarians who are more than happy to enforce pointless rules under the guise of caring about health.

There still isn't a study worldwide showing any health problem from a whiff of real smoke in an outdoor environment, but now e-cigs are also banned just for the hell of it, and fans humiliated and marched off the premises when they use an alternative which doesn't produce the 'deadly' passive smoke the club has been conned to believe in.

Meanwhile, down the road in Burnley they employ a different approach.
The club has recently installed smoking pens outside the stadium exit gates on match days in order to comply with football legislation
Yes, unlike Manchester City, they actually cater for their paying smokers! Arranging their business to fit in with their customers' preferences? How very novel.

What's more, if you would like to try an e-cig instead, they're happy to see their club associated with it.

And even explain what they are for the uninitiated.

But then, why wouldn't they? It's a win/win all round.
[Anthony Fairclough, Director of Commercial Affairs at Turf Moor, said:] “We are conscious of the problems within the stands by fans illegally smoking cigarettes and contravening the stadium regulations. In tandem with Totally Wicked we feel we can approach this problem with a viable alternative and we look forward to working together on this and a number of future initiatives.”
Well, quite. But then, if you're more interested in cracking heads and marching fans out of the ground with a police escort, you'd never spot it would you?

Now, I don't know about you, but if I were in the north west I'd much prefer being treated as a human being - instead of a vaguely sentient form of livestock - while watching my football. As such, my personal choice of venue would be Burnley FC and not Manchester City.

I'd also suggest that Burnley are far more interested in the happiness and health of their fans than the "we've got your money, now fuck off" attitude of Manchester City.

They might have loadsa middle eastern cash (I swear I read that somewhere) and a place in the Premiership, but Championship Burnley thrash the pants off Manchester City for looking after their fans I reckon.


H/T Ta to long-time jewel robber Steve W for sharing the flyers

Thursday 13 June 2013

A Fellow Jewel Robber Writes

I've mentioned many a time before that the vaping lobby are highly motivated and certainly not slow to confront their elected representatives. MEPs throughout Europe discovered this after the announcement of the Tobacco Products Directive recently, with many expressing surprise at the large volume of angry correspondence they received. As a result, 120 amendments have been tabled and there is a real possibility that the silly de facto ban on e-cigs will be watered down or even ditched entirely.

Yesterday's announcement by the MHRA will undoubtedly prompt another avalanche of letters - this time to UK MPs - which I wholeheartedly support. The astonishingly cretinous proposal deserves to be strongly resisted for its incompetent lack of foresight and common sense. I hope others who read here will consider doing just that and demand that their MP asks some stiff questions of the MHRA and its decision to completely ignore the public.

Quick out of the blocks is long time fellow jewel robber Steve W, whose trenchant message to Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk was sent today and is reproduced in full below with permission. He makes some very good points which may come in handy for others who plan to put their objection in writing.

Dear Simon, 

I am yet to receive a response to any of my previous four communications (sent on the 18th and 19th of April and on the 6th of June).  I have, heretofore, been acting under the impression that, in a representative democracy, your job as my elected representative, having been elected to office to serve your constituents, included some form of (moral at least) obligation to both engage with and represent my views as one of said constituents.  It appears that I was sadly mistaken and you do not share my view of this forming part of your responsibilities.  I am, however, prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt on one more occasion and assume that one of your office monkeys is failing in their job to pass on to you certain correspondences from your constituents.  As an employer myself, I am aware how difficult it can be to recruit suitably qualified people with the appropriate level of integrity to perform such tasks. 

I am writing to you today concerning a related matter to my previous correspondence (to which I would still appreciate receiving your considered response). 

As I am sure you are aware, yesterday the MHRA finally, and belatedly, released their recommendations concerning the future regulation of electronic cigarettes (wrapped up under the monicker of nicotine containing products or NCPs).  They are intending to regulate all nicotine containing products as medicines within the UK.  This will have several (if I was being overly generous I would say, unintended) consequences which I shall attempt to outline below. 

I shall initially make some serious points regarding the likely outcomes of this activity, and then point out a few less serious, yet natural conclusions to be drawn. 

·         The costs and timeframes involved in applying for medical licensing will kill off all innovation in a fast moving field.  Currently a separate licence is required for every product at a cost running into the millions of pounds and unlikely to be granted in under three years.  In a marketplace which is both consumer led and driven by ever more innovative products this imposition will be catastrophic.  Rather than consumers being able to assess for themselves the efficacy of, for example, new atomiser arrangements, the manufacturers will be forced to back a greatly reduced product range and to predict in advance which products are of sufficient value and efficacy to be worth licensing.  At this point they will then have to spend millions and wait at least three years before there is even the potential for any sort of return on their investment.

·         The removal of these products from the general consumer marketplace will cost some tens of thousands of UK jobs, many of them in economically deprived areas such as your own and surrounding constituencies.  As I said previously, I have recently become an employer for the first time, but not only will I be forced to lay off my staff, I too will be out of work.  Bearing in mind the current state of the economy it seems very ill-advised to actively kill off one of the few genuinely consumer led growth industries in the country.

·         Pharmaceutical companies currently make in excess of £500 million from ‘sales’ of nicotine patches, inhalers and gums.  Why have I put the word ‘sales’ in scare quotes?  Because only a tiny minority of these sales are genuine, with the vast majority being funded from the taxpayers’ purse in the form of prescriptions.  This arrangement allows an enormous premium to be charged thereby providing these pharmaceutical companies with a de facto tax payer subsidy to provide a product with a demonstrated efficacy in the region of 2%.  This in contrast to an entirely end-user driven market where people are actually choosing to spend their own money on an alternative to smoking which early studies (notably that of Dr Lynne Dawkins of the University of East London, but other studies, such as those from Etter et al. suggest similarly high success rates) suggest being effective in over 50% of cases.  The devil in me concludes that both the anti-tobacco lobby and the MHRA are more interested in retaining their status as favoured pets of the pharmaceutical industry, thereby retaining funding and future job prospects respectively, than they are in actually serving the public from whom theiur funding is derived and who provide them with their raison d’etre.  MHRA is entirely taxpayer funded whereas the likes of ASH and other lobby groups funding is largely split between DoH/other government bodies and pharmaceutical companies (ASH annual accounts reveal an embarrassingly small amount of their funding, as a ‘charity’ is derived from genuinely charitable donations – they were initially set up by the DoH and act as little more than a mouthpiece for vested interests both within and outwith the DoH/pharmaceutical industry).

·         A large number of those who have found electronic cigarettes to provide, for them, a satisfying and even pleasurable alternative to smoking have previously tried and failed to quit using patches/gums etc…  these people will likely be encouraged back to smoking should the devices they have become accustomed to over the previous few years no longer be available.  If, as claimed in the MHRAs press release, cigarette smoking is responsible for 80,000 deaths in the UK per annum, then driving in excess of 1 million currently non-smokers back to cigarettes means that those responsible will have blood on their hands.  If this now forms part of the remit of the ‘public health’ industry then we must have fallen so very far from the days when public health was about preventing the spread of communicable diseases such as cholera or dysentery.  On the bright side, I am sure the tobacco companies will be more than pleased at the prospect of regaining so many customers.

·         Whilst these proposed regulations will make the manufacture and sale of electronic cigarettes within the UK much more difficult, the same cannot be said of the remainder of Europe, with whom we share a free trade agreement.  The recent court decision (which I sent to you previously and regarding which I have received no response) in the TARTU Administrative Courts of Estonia where a similar directive was proposed, suggests that the legal position of such a regulatory framework is very questionable and that at least some EU member states will not face similar restrictions of business.  Is it now considered to be the place of the MHRA to interfere in cross border trade within the EU, or is it simply a desire to drive manufacturing and distribution jobs, as well as the revenues and taxes they generate, out of the UK, as this will surely be the end result of such an action.

·         As well as the above, I do not believe the borders agency has either the wherewithal or the manpower to prevent individuals from purchasing equipment and fluids of far more questionable quality direct from China, where you will find the standards and quality control framework is far less rigorous than our own.  However, I am sure that they too will be grateful for the increased trade and the further job creation that this would entail.

·         As the decision from the TARTU court highlighted, if these are to be regulated as medicinal products, perhaps one would care to highlight which medical condition they are being used to treat, then explain how the pharmacological effects derived therefrom differ in any meaningful way from the pharmacological effects of nicotine delivered via a traditional cigarette?  If, as in Estonia, there is demonstrated to be no material difference, perhaps one could then explain why cigarettes should benefit, by government edict, from an explicit trade advantage over a product which is likely 99% + safer, in as much as it is widely accepted within the medical community that the vast majority of harm caused by cigarettes has nothing to do with nicotine, rather it is to do with ‘tar’, particulates and carbon monoxide, none of which can be present in the vapour produced from a device which generates no combustion (therefore no combustion by products), said vapour being produced from a fluid of known composition. 

On top of these issues, the following would make for an interesting argumentum absurdum: 

·         Suppliers of tomatoes and aubergines are going to struggle to adequately define the levels of nicotine present in their produce, as the biochemical processes within these species of plant are, at best, ill-defined and subject to the vaguaries of both the weather and other growing conditions.  I also suspect that pharmacies are going to have some difficulties in handling the levels of fresh produce to which we have become accustomed to being able to buy freely and easily in markets and supermarkets all over the country.

·         The multinational tobacco companies will be overjoyed at the prospect of being able to provide cigarettes on prescription via the NHS, although, in this instance I envisage the bartering over the medical licence will be quite amusing to watch. 

There are several other issues I would like to raise around this regulation, however, in view of the fact that I wholly expect this correspondence to be ignored in similar fashion to my previous attempts to communicate with you, I shall leave it at that for now.  As a result of the fact that my previous correspondence has gone unanswered I have taken the liberty of copying this letter to the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, not a step I have taken lightly, rather one borne out of the frustration at what I perceive as a breach by you of your “…general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole, and a special duty to their constituents…” as detailed in section III, clause 6 of the ‘Code of Conduct, together with The Guide to the Rules Relating to the Conduct of Members’ (2009) updated May 2010. 

In conclusion, I would like to ask both for your views on the issues raised above and also for your support in opposing the imposition of these regulations, which, if enacted will likely be responsible for in excess of 1 million ex-UK smokers returning to traditional cigarettes. 

Kind regards 

Dr Steve W

Wednesday 12 June 2013

The MHRA Kills The Golden Goose

Proving yet again what is fast becoming a certainty of life along with death and taxes, the MHRA today finally concluded their deliberations on e-cigs by completely ignoring public responses to their {cough} public consultation.
All nicotine-containing products (NCPs), such as electronic cigarettes, are to be regulated as medicines in a move to make these products safer and more effective to reduce the harms of smoking
The UK Government has decided that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will regulate all NCPs as medicines so that people using these products have the confidence that they are safe, are of the right quality and work
Smoking is the biggest single cause of avoidable death - killing 80,000 people in England each year. Making safe and effective products available for people who smoke can help them cut down or quit.
This is wordplay and sophistry of world class proportion.

The Guardian report that there are now around 1.3 million e-cig users in the UK, which makes it quite clear that e-cigs are an incredibly successful tool to "reduce the harms of smoking"; that 1.3 million people find that they "work" and "can help them cut down or quit".

The MHRA should know this from their own public consultation back in 2011 during which they received 1,217 responses from the general public. An overwhelming majority of these - if not all of them - were from satisfied e-cig users pleading for the MHRA to leave the devices alone and allow vapers to, indeed, "cut down or quit". On the other hand, they received just 9 responses from the usual bansturbatory elite demanding medicinal licensing.

In the face of such a landslide - and identical to the process employed for the EU's consultation on snus -  the MHRA chose to side with the 9 and toss out the views of 1,217 members of the public. Because, you see, the term 'public consultation' is a bit of a misnomer; the description they are seeking is more like 'organised fraud with a pretence of involving taxpayers and electors'.

The MHRA know very well that their proposals will do the exact opposite of helping smokers to "cut down or quit". They also know that medicinal regulation will make e-cigs considerably less "effective" by stifling innovation, raising prices and obliterating choice, thereby vandalising the very incentives for a product which has huge market support - and which has cost the taxpayer nothing. In short, they won't "work" any more.

Instead, what we are now promised is - be in no doubt about this - an effective ban on e-cigs in the UK, as explained by E-cig Politics.
I refer to pharmaceutical licensing as a ban, because it is. There are at least 5,000 products on the market now, the majority being refill variants. All will need to be removed from the market immediately licensing comes into force (within 21 days is the usual requirement). A license can only be applied to one product or product combination: a single hardware model, or a single liquid type/flavour, or a single device plus one liquid type. There is no possibility of a single license for several products. Each single product takes at least 3 years and at least £2m to achieve a license for (as that is what it has cost Intellicig in time and money to get their license so far, with no result as yet). Intellicig famously underestimated the cost and timescale, and have had to modify their time plan by a factor of 2 (initial estimate was 2 years), and their cost estimates by a factor of 20 (initial budget was £95,000). And it's not over yet. 
If either the EU or the MHRA achieve a ban via the pharmaceutical licensing or tobacco product classification routes, legal e-cigarette sales are finished in the UK, and a huge black market will ensue.

But then it has all been so predictable, hasn't it? Once the revolution of e-cigs took hold, those who claim to be interested in health have clutched at multiple straws to deride, demonise, smear and undermine them.

We've seen attempts to invent passive and thirdhand vaping as a concept; heroic conspiracy theories claiming that millions of successful quitters are just an illusion; attempts to rig legislation at EU level; and junk science promoted as fact.

In the end, the pharma enthralled tobacco control industry have fallen back on justification so weak as to be laughable. That they vary in quality and that kids might use them.

ASH welcome regulation to stop kids using e-cigs despite their own study finding 0% of kids using them; the BBC seeks out a head teacher who banned e-cigs in their usual agitprop coverage, despite no student ever having been seen using one; and everyone else cites obscure and unrepresentative negative studies while ignoring the overwhelming benefits to health of over a million people cutting down on tobacco consumption.

It was all telegraphed beforehand too. With the MHRA abomination looming, state bodies redoubled their denialist efforts. The NHS Choices site - purporting to be a neutral fact-checker - displayed the underlying agenda perfectly by publishing this article yesterday.

Carefully cherry-picked junk science - and even this absurd Guardian article - were presented as proof that pharma produced NRT was absolutely brilliant, while e-cigs were dangerous and useless.

Written by someone who doesn't have much understanding of the devices (e.g. they all look like cigarettes; are triggered by air flow; batteries only last 2 to 5 hours), it contained 'neutral' info which clearly showed which side of the fence they were coming down on.
It’s not certain whether e-cigarettes deliver as much nicotine as forms of nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, so they may not be as effective at curbing nicotine cravings.
Hence why 1.3 million smokers have shunned e-cigs in favour of NRT with its 98.4% failure rate ... oh, hold on.
If you want to try a safer alternative to cigarettes but are concerned about the uncertainties surrounding e-cigarettes, you may wish to consider a nicotine inhalator.
A product which has been so successful that it hasn't attracted millions worldwide like, err, e-cigs despite being free and backed by saturation TV advertising.
Because e-cigarettes can be smoked in public places such as bars, restaurants and public transport, some people feel they may be normalising what has come to be seen as an unacceptable activity.
For 'some people', read 'a tiny minority of state-funded lobbyists and fake charities'.

And just in case you didn't get the message, they produce a neat infographic to make sure you make the, ahem, correct choice.

Today is the apex of tobacco control industry stupidity. Ultimate and resounding proof of what I have been saying for years. It has never, ever, been about health. And now they have illustrated it beyond reasonable doubt.

Anything that has gone before can now be disregarded, they have negligently provided all the evidence needed.

So they installed a smoking ban, so what? They have produced rules which could force 1.3 million vapers back to smoking. They banned vending machines. So what? They are effectively banning a revolutionary product which was reducing tobacco harm worldwide. They banned tobacco displays. So what? Their lapdog big pharma loyalty is the best thing tobacco manufacturers have heard for a long time. They intend to bring in evidence-free plain packaging. So what? They are also intending to obliterate a smoking alternative which carries global, real life evidence of overwhelming success.

It can never again be claimed that these people have any care for health. Ever. Just as we can now conclude with 100% confidence that public consultations are nothing but an elaborate and costly sham.

As one tobacco industry observer put it today, they have "killed the golden goose" before it's had a chance to lay many more priceless public health golden eggs. It was, as ex-Director of ASH Clive Bates dolorously described, "a good day for the cigarette makers".

But what does the tobacco control industry care? It was never about health anyway.

The 'Myth' That Keeps On Giving

Deborah Arnott is being shown up again.
[T]he “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited.
A charity has called for a complete ban on alcohol advertising at music and sports events.

Alcohol Concern wants the action to protect children and young people from what it describes as "excessive" exposure. 
The charity wants a ban on alcohol advertising in the trailers of films shown in cinemas with less than an 18 certificate. 
Dunno about you, but that looks like a 'sign' to me, especially since every proponent I've heard on TV or radio this morning has referenced tobacco ad bans as their inspiration.

Plain packaging of alcohol is merely a few steps further down the line, that's all.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Doctors Confused About Nicotine

Via Nursing in Practice comes this quite shocking revelation.
A survey of GPs has revealed some falsely believe one of the greatest health risks from smoking is nicotine. 
Nicotine is the addictive component of tobacco smoke, but unlike some other constituents of tobacco smoke, it is not carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and according to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) 'medicinal nicotine is a very safe drug.' 
The majority of survey respondents (96% UK, 98% Sweden) said that they regularly discussed smoking cessation with their patients, but less than half believe that long-term nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is preferable to smoking (31% UK, 48% Sweden). 
The survey findings show that a substantial proportion of GPs (40%) believe nicotine to be the first or second riskiest component of cigarettes, incorrectly identifying it as more harmful than smoke. 
Many (44% UK, 56% Sweden) also wrongly believe that nicotine in tobacco products is associated with cancer, while 15% in the UK and 22% in Sweden believe the same for pharmaceutical nicotine.
One wonders who they must be listening to, because it doesn't appear to be the RCP.
"Nicotine itself is not a particularly hazardous drug," says Professor John Britton, who leads the tobacco advisory group for the Royal College of Physicians.
Nor does it seem to be ASH.
In 1976 Professor Michael Russell wrote: “People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar.” Indeed, the harm from smoking is caused almost exclusively by toxins present in tobacco released through combustion. By contrast, pure nicotine products, although addictive, are considerably less harmful. Electronic cigarettes consequently represent a safer alternative to cigarettes for smokers who are unable or unwilling to stop using nicotine.
Their thinking is also not in accordance with guidance from NICE.
Prof Kelly added that the guidance endorses cutting down on smoking with the help of licensed nicotine products such as patches and gum to help reduce the harm caused by tobacco. 
He pointed out that while nicotine is a 'relatively harmless' substance, there is a lack of clarity over the safety of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and what substance actually causes death. 
the guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence  says doctors seeking to help smokers can advise ‘these products (e-cigs) are likely to be less harmful than cigarettes’. 
Professor Aveyard said he will tell patients that using e-cigarettes is ‘better than smoking.'
Remember, then, that next time some GP harangues you about smoking (or even e-cig use), he might not have the first clue what he is talking about and could be just reacting to confused messages being delivered by idiot politicians and their civil service arm-benders.

The only question remaining is who has led idiot politicians and their civil service arm-benders to produce such confused messages in the first place. Could it be that the past decade avalanche of anti-smoking denormalisation tactics has convinced doctors that anything contained in a cigarette is on the same danger level as the black death?

Well, yeah. That's about the sum of it.

Monday 10 June 2013

It's Not About Health In Italy Either

Just two weeks ago, I wrote about how the French had gone off message and admitted that tobacco control has nothing to do with health.
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.
This blog's official France-based official theologian commented at the time that a truly bizarre debate was going on over there.
I did read or hear that it was because people with visible e-cigarettes 'do not set a very good example' to the general public.
How naughty of them to disobey their masters like errant schoolkids, eh?

Bans are needed to "protect workers"? Pah! That Trojan horse is long gone.

Well, now it is becoming a European epidemic of idiocy. Italy has also come out of the closet and decided the coast is clear enough to admit health justification is nothing but a sham.
Rome: The Italian health ministry's top advisory body has recommended a ban on the smoking of electronic cigarettes in public places and their sale to pregnant women and minors. 
The recommendation by the ministry's Superior (?) Health Council came after France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine said she was planning similar restrictions.
So the Italian government is also either run by idiots or driven by wads of cash in pharma industry brown envelopes, then (As an aside, I don't believe I've ever seen the word 'superior' used in more undeserving context!).

Such a shame after visual evidence that Italy's emerging e-cig market was making great strides during their Six Nations match against, yes, the French in February (click to enlarge).

The advertising hoardings say "Fumare Digitale" or, electronic cigarettes
How dare 'Smokie's' rub the Italian government's nose in it, eh? Something obviously had to be done about the impudent upstarts.

We are living through significant times. One day, history will view utterly incompetent policies like these in the same way we laugh at the stupidity of medieval quacks.