Saturday 31 August 2013

University Of Bath Finally Get Serious

Great news!

A south western seat of learning is, for a change, hosting an event which is more serious than their regular fare.
The University of Bath will host what is billed as Britain’s biggest paranormal conference next week. 
Seriously Strange will run from Friday, September 6 to Saturday September 7, looking at issues from ghosts to telepathy. 
It features 30 speakers including Bafta-winning screenwriter Stephen Volk, former MP Lembit Opik and poltergeist investigator Guy Lyon Playfair. 
More than 200 delegates from all round the country will attend the event, which organisers say will include debates, research and live paranormal experiments. 
Organiser Dave Wood said: “This is a huge weekend packed with the weird and the wonderful – everything from poltergeist to vampires, UFOs to telepathy, monsters to shamanism. Subjects are addressed in a serious way by top experts in their fields.”
Well, considering their previous efforts have focussed on trying to pretend minimum alcohol pricing is a great idea; producing a hilariously inept website which seeks to undermine e-cigs; coming up with heart attack reductions which don't exist from a hopelessly compromised shill; and pretending pubs haven't been closing since the smoking ban, this event could be their most believable to date.

It's a step in the right direction, I s'pose.

H/T Moonrakin

Friday 30 August 2013

The Rovers Return

Just a quick note to say that the Puddlecote Midlands jaunt is now over and that there will be no selection of links tomorrow morning. After a week of being dragged round theme parks, safari parks, souvenir shops, overpriced eateries and chocolate factories as a walking wallet, with the reward being to drive three sleeping bodies back from each destination (not to mention the three hour return trip with only a Killers CD for company), I have no intention of emerging from my much-missed duvet before midday.

In fact, you'd be better placed telling me what's been going on.

Not that I haven't stolen a few moments to trawl some favourite blogs and comment threads, mind (mostly late with a glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc in a country garden containing far too many flying things for my liking). The pick of which has to be this comment from Anna Raccoon's report of the excellent news that a Scottish mental hospital smoking ban has been ruled illegal.
I am not sure that my reaction to cigarette smoke is exactly the same. For example I swim laps daily, which requires controlling your breathing so that you breathe in when your face is out of the water and breathe out when your face is underwater. If someone comes close to the pool and lights up a cigarette, I immediately find that my breath catches or stops, putting me off my stroke or sometimes making me swallow water, even though I have not yet seen that person or identified who is smoking. There are no false positives. I would imagine that the cause of this is irritation caused by invisible particles discharged from the burning cigarette which probably falls through the cooler air above the water and settles on top of the water.
So, second-hand smoke can cause drowning now? It's imaginative, I'll give it that.

Normal tabloid guff will be resumed shortly (including perhaps the best e-cig sighting ever!), but for now I'll mostly be ploughing through the seventy-odd e-mails you kindly sent me while I was away ... and wondering what on earth possessed me to spend nearly £20 on Wednesday attempting - and failing - to win a bloody soft toy minion!

Monday 26 August 2013

Midlands Marvels

It's more than likely that these pages will be sparse in the coming days as we Puddlecotes are on our hols. However - especially for Junican - I must report some encouraging e-cig sightings on our travels so far.

A couple with two kids vaping what looked like eGo Twists while driving a weathered red car through a safari park next to us; a woman throwing out some impressive vapour from a cig-alike at a theme park yesterday; and - most impressive of all this afternoon - a forty-something couple using tank systems in the gardens of Shakespeare's birthplace while watching actors taking requests for favourite passages ... just before we adjourned to a pub garden where, out of the six occupied tables, the tally was two with smokers, two with non-smokers and two with a combined total of four vapers. One even being advanced enough to be using a 'mod' which he stood on the table between puffs.

Now, I see quite a few e-cig users in and around Puddlecoteville, but the Midlands appear to be a thriving hotbed of e-cig revolution activity. Bravo!

What's more, there was no perceivable reaction from anyone in their vicinity - it's like e-cigs are now accepted as just another normal facet of life round here.

Hence, presumably, the recent furious drives to ban them and the accompanying lies and deceit, as reported by the Times today.
Health experts who recommended that the Government tighten the regulation of electronic cigarettes failed to declare their financial interests in Big Pharma’s rival products. 
A panel of academics met twice to discuss licensing e-cigarettes before the medicines regulator decided this summer to classify them as medicines rather than as consumer products. 
Against the wishes of much of the nascent e-cigarette industry, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency ruled that e-cigarettes, which contain liquid nicotine and not tobacco, do not meet safety and quality standards. 
At the meetings held at the MHRA’s London headquarters in May 2011 and January this year, the chairman asked the expert panel to declare any interests. Minutes of the meeting in 2011 obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act show that “no interests were declared by members”. However, some members of the panel worked as consultants for big pharmaceuticals companies and advised on nicotine.
And they try to tell us that the tobacco industry is corrupt? Sheesh.

Friday 23 August 2013

NHS Pharma-Based Service Is Brilliant, Say Pharma Shills

You know that study - widely reported on the BBC the other day, and propagandised by Nick Triggle - about how hugely successful the NHS stop smoking service is?

Well, here is the source document.

There were four authors. Robert West (RW), Sylvia May, Matthew West (MW), Emma Croghan (EC) and Andy McEwen (AMcE). Scroll down the linked page and check out the conflicts of interest.
RW is a director of the NCSCT, undertakes research and consultancy for companies that develop and manufacture smoking cessation medications (Pfizer, Johnson &Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Nabi, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device, and is a trustee of QUIT, a charity that provides stop smoking support;
MW has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device.
EC previously worked at the English Department of Health as the delivery lead for tobacco control policy, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, Johnson &Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), and receives royalties from a book on smoking cessation and a book on health promotion.
AMcE is a director of the NCSCT, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis), receives payment for providing training to smoking cessation specialists, receives royalties from books on smoking cessation, and has a share in a patent of a nicotine delivery device; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.
This is what the BBC considers impartial headline material. Right to reply will, then, naturally be offered to Allen Carr, ECITA and the tobacco industry very soon. Yes?

Well past time that the licence fee was scrapped, doncha think?

H/T GB via FB

Thursday 22 August 2013

Pathetic Britain

From Manchester Evening News:
A tram driver was caught smoking an electronic cigarette while at the controls – by a passenger who snapped her in the act.
Err, this is news?
She was pictured by a commuter travelling from his home in Whitefield to his job in finance in Sale. 
The 35-year-old passenger, who asked not to be named, said he saw the driver rummaging in her handbag while the tram was stopped at Shudehill – before she smoked the e-cig all the way to Market Street, where he got off.
All the way to Market Street, eh? It must have been hell on earth to witness that ... through plexi-glass.

Be afraid, be very afraid
He said: “What I saw wasn’t acceptable. I couldn’t believe it when she pulled out an e-cigarette. My first thought was for passenger safety – it’s clearly a distraction and the driver shouldn’t have anything that’s distracting.”
It is quite incredible what chicken littles can deem as a danger to safety these days.
The driver was sitting in front of a sign saying ‘Please do not distract the driver while the tram is moving’.
Nothing was distracting the driver except, perhaps, some pathetic prodnose taking pictures. Would this effete plank be equally concerned if she was scratching her nose while driving a mode of transport which doesn't require steering? On this evidence, probably yes.
The passenger added: “There should be policy on this. Anything that is taking the driver’s attention away from their job has got to be a bad thing. Luckily I was about to change trams – if I’d had to stay on it would have bothered me more and more.”
And this precious tart should never be bothered by anything at all. It's his birthright, so it is.
Metrolink chiefs told the M.E.N. they have asked staff not to smoke the e-cigs on the network as a courtesy to others – and are developing policies which could prohibit passengers from using them too.
And why is this, Metrolink? Any evidence of harm you might like to point to?
Human resources boss Marie Daly said: “We have taken the steps to develop rules and procedures for the whole company which stipulate that e-cigarettes should only be used in designated areas."
Designated areas being, presumably, the pavement.
“In the case of one of our drivers using an e-cigarette, we have spoken to the driver in question to ensure their understanding of our position regarding this subject, more from a safety point of view as the use of an e-cigarette may mean they could be distracted from their job.”
Oh do fuck off.

Remind me, how the hell did this country survive two world wars?

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Failure Is Success; Real Success Must Be Banned

On the same day that the BBC hailed the NHS stop-smoking service as its 'jewel in the crown' despite spending just under a billion smackers on an appalling success rate, comes this ... also from the BBC.
Merthyr Town Football Club is to rename its ground the Cigg-e Stadium after its sponsor, an electronic cigarette firm.
Great! A company selling products with a far superior track record than patches and gum are giving something back to the local community. The story has win/win daubed in bright red paint all over it!
But a doctors' professional body said the marketing, sale and promotion of E-cigarettes should be restricted.
Which makes said 'doctors' professional body' a collection of repulsive monsters, in my opinion. But then, that's precisely what we have come to expect from the BMA.
But BMA Cymru Wales, responding to the renaming of Merthyr's ground, said the sale and use of E-cigarettes needed to be regulated urgently "to ensure they are safe, quality assured and effective at helping smokers to cut down or quit".
Smokers are already cutting down or quitting - in unprecedented numbers - as a result of using e-cigs, they are 'helping' like a motherfucker.

And, err, they need to be regulated urgently? Too late sunshine, they already are, under 21 - count 'em - 21 different EU directives.
General safety
General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC 
The RAPEX system – notification and alerts of dangerous products
Technical Standardisation under Directive 98/34/EC  (an option not so far used, but could be used to set performance or design standards) 
Packaging and labelling
Dangerous Substances Directive 67/548/EEC 
Dangerous Preparations Directive 99/45/EC 
Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures – the CLP Regulation 1272/2008 applies from 2015. 
Chemical safety
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 
Electrical safety
Low Voltage Directive 2006/95/EC  
Electro-Magnetic Compatibility Directive 2004/108/EC
Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive 2011/65/EU (where appropriate) 
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive 2012/19/EU 
Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC 
Weights and measures
Making-up by weight or by volume of certain prepackaged products – Directive 76/211/EEC 
Nominal Quantities for Prepacked Products Directive 2007/45/EC 
Commercial practice
Sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees 99/44/EC 
Distance Selling Directive 97/7/EC 
Directive on Electronic Commerce 2000/31/EC 
Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive 2006/114/EC 
Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC 
Data protection
Protection of Personal Data – Directive 95/46/EC
If this is an 'unregulated' product, the OED must have redefined the word 'unregulated' quite dramatically without our knowledge.

Remember that, with 1.3 million users in the UK and growing - pulling tens of millions of cigarettes out of the market, as in the USA - e-cigs have had a massive hand in the paltry 1% decline in smoking prevalence since 2007 mentioned in Nick Triggle's pathetic NHS proselytising exercise today ... again on the BBC site.

So while the BBC have been loudly praising - on every platform available to them - what is, actually, utter failure of a state-funded operation, the real reason for declining smoking rates is quietly being undermined on their South East Wales pages.

You see, in BBC circles, this isn't really happening ...

Source: ASH .. yes, ASH!
... while their disgusting chums at the BMA are desperately scrambling to stop e-cigs helping any more smokers to quit.

It's never been about health, you know.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Scottish Politician Invites Your Opinion

Mesmerised Scottish politician Jim Hume is planning to present a bill to the Jockish parliament to ban smoking in cars and wants to hear your opinions. As such, he has produced a consultation document which is all his own work and not in any way aided by tax sponging tobacco controllers. Nope, not at all.

You can read the whole thing here.

Every item of junk science on the subject has been breathlessly reproduced, with Jimmy adding his own ignorant spin to it along the way. The result of which is that he has proposed some really illiberal shit.
I therefore propose to prohibit smoking in a vehicle while a child aged under 16 is present. The ban would apply irrespective of whether the vehicle was moving or stationary, on a road, a private driveway or any other private or public land. My proposals would also include convertible vehicles irrespective of whether the top is down but would not apply to motorcycles and sidecars.
Only in the crazy world of anti-tobacco fruitcakery can second-hand smoke in a soft top at 70mph on a motorway with the roof down be deemed a potentially lethal substance to poor innocent passengers.

Still, he is giving the illusion of democracy by asking what you think ... before carrying on regardless. The questions are on page 39, but to save you some time:
1. Do you support the general aim of the proposed Bill? Please indicate “yes/no/undecided” and explain the reasons for your response. 
2. Do you agree that legislation is a necessary and appropriate means of addressing the issues identified?
3. What (if any) would be the main practical advantages of the legislation proposed? What (if any) would be the disadvantages? 
4. Do you agree that a ban should apply to smokers while in a car with children under 16 years of age? 
5. Do you agree that the age of an offender shall be anyone aged 16 or over? 
6. Do you agree with making the fine for an offence (£60) in line with offences for failing to wear a seat belt and the use of a hand-held device while driving? 
7. What types of vehicles should the ban apply to? Do you believe that these proposals should include convertible cars irrespective of whether the top is down? 
8. What is your assessment of the likely financial implications (if any) of the proposed Bill to you or your organisation? What (if any) other significant financial implications are likely to arise? 
9. Is the proposed Bill likely to have any substantial positive or negative implications for equality? If it is likely to have a substantial negative implication, how might this be minimised or avoided? 
10. What lead-in time should be allowed prior to implementation of the ban and how should the public be informed? 
11. Do you have any other comments on or suggestions relevant to the proposal?
Be nice with the last one, folks.

You have until the end of the month to answer these questions, and I heartily encourage you to do so via the means below.
You are invited to respond to this consultation by answering the questions in the consultation and by adding any other comments that you consider appropriate.
Be nice with that too, eh?
Responses should be submitted by 5pm on Friday 30th August and sent to: 
Jim Hume MSP 
The Scottish Parliament 
EH99 1SP 
Tel: 0131 348 6702 
Fax: 0131 348 6705 
Please indicate whether you are a private individual or an organisation. 
He is promising to make the responses public, so fire away and see if you get published.

Monday 19 August 2013

This Is An Evidence-Free Zone

Time for a follow up to last month's article on train operating company policies for e-cigs.

You may remember that I found vaping to be permitted on the Eurostar when travelling to Brussels to protest the Tobacco Products Directive on July 10th. Subsequent enquiries discovered that you can also vape on East Coast trains and on Network Rail property.

Now, via the Devil, we know the South West Trains policy too.
Dear Devil

Thank you for your email. 
Currently customers are permitted to use these devises (sic), as we require greater understanding on how we could practically enforce any ban if we decided to introduce one. Should this position change, appropriate information will be produced. 
I do hope this information is of benefit to you.
Well, it's helpful to know that they are permitted, but the explanation is quite bizarre! Is it just me, or are they saying that e-cigs are allowed purely due to the fact that they haven't worked out how to ban them yet?

No mention of any evidence they may have come across which necessitates a possible ban, only a concern that if they do decide on a ban they might have some trouble enforcing it.

Give me strength!

Still, it's another train company we should congratulate for allowing their use at the present time, I suppose. All of which makes C2C trains look even more stupid than they did last month.

They seem to have little knowledge about the rest of their own industry, and certainly know bugger all about e-cigs.

Vape away, I say. If I can sneak a crafty puff in a doctor's surgery without being noticed, I'm sure Driver Dan and the Fat Controller have no chance.

If you've found out (or are intending to try, nudge nudge) how your local train company treats e-cigs, do please let me know. 

Sunday 18 August 2013

The Lamest Smear Story Ever

Scrambling around for any old toss to throw at UKIP, the Guardian have come up with the most hilarious 'smear' story you'll ever witness.
Ukip accepts £25,000 donation from e-cigarette firm
Hmm, I'd say that's a neat fit. UKIP are a self-proclaimed libertarian party (correctly) opposed to restrictions of e-cigs - which, remember, are backed by ASH and have been described by some health professionals as "a massive potential public health prize" - and have been for a considerable time.

The Graun seem to accept this.
Party, which has always opposed regulation of non-tobacco nicotine products as medicine, took Pillbox38 funds in May
If they have 'always' been on the side of e-cig manufacturers, there's no way that the donation can be seen to have influenced their policy, then. Surely a basic ingredient of any smear is that there are dirty deeds going on, something which clearly can't be applied here.

Or perhaps the funding pre-dated UKIP's interventions? Well, no, not at all as - again - admitted by the Guardian.
Electoral Commission records show Ukip accepted the funding in May ... 
Ukip has opposed the regulation since it was brought forward in December.
Hey, don't think the comedy stops there, check this out from a patently stupid Green.
Keith Taylor, the Green party's MEP for south-east England, said the donation was an argument for state funding of parties to take "vested interests" out of politics.
What? You mean like union funding for a Labour Party which - exactly like the e-cig company and UKIP above - shares its ideals? Sure, bring it on.
"While Ukip MEPs tend to shy away from doing too much work in the European parliament they do seem to have made plenty of time to campaign against the regulation of e-cigarettes," he said.
So, when they don't offer an opinion, they're wrong; and when they do, they're also wrong? Where did Taylor learn his craft? In a playground sandpit?
"I sincerely hope that Ukip's stance on this vital discussion affecting public health wasn't influenced by the £25,000 they received from Pillbox38."
Well, considering the donation came five months after UKIP had already moved against the stupid policy; and coupled with the fact that UKIP have 'always' supported e-cigs on ideological grounds, I think Taylor shouldn't worry his retarded head too much.

But, for me, by far the best bit is that the Guardian piece has shot one of their flagship columnist's regular conspiracy theories to pieces. For two or three years now, George Monbiot has been claiming that think tanks only say what they do because they are funded by private companies; that they would sing to the tune of anyone who wires them a buck or two. He is unconvinced that anyone can ever do or say anything unless they have been paid by some vested interest to do so.

The IEA's Kritian Niemietz offered an alternative explanation last May which Monbiot seems incapable of imagining.
For example, rather than the donors determining the contents of think tank publications, the contents of think tank publications could determine the donors. But that would be boring, wouldn't it?

In the case of UKIP and Pillbox38, this is exactly what has happened. The principled actions of UKIP have led to the donation, not the other way round. Only a weapons grade tool could think otherwise. Well, that or a Guardian reader, anyway.

Probably why UKIP don't seem remotely bothered by Guardian writer Rowena Mason's laughable 'scoop'. The Times yesterday reported their reaction as being a bit 'meh'.
A party spokesman said: “These cigarettes are a positive thing to have entered the market. The people trying to stop them are big pharma companies, which are the only ones who can afford to apply medicines regulations, and the anti-smoking lobby.”
Considering UKIP seem to be the only party to assess the situation properly, Pillbox38's donation is perfectly understandable and entirely above board.

Why, however, the anti-capitalist Guardian would be shilling for big corporate interests trying to kill a 'massive potential public health prize' is anyone's guess.

Friday 16 August 2013

Appeasement Never Works With Obsessives

Here's something for pub industry 'strategists' who thought it wise not to object too much to the smoking ban. After all, just a little effort and smokers could still use their tasteful pub gardens, couldn't they?
Meanwhile campaigning charity ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), says an outdoor smoking ban would be beneficial in some areas in the UK. 
A spokesperson has told Yahoo! News there was 'some evidence' that exposure to tobacco smoke outdoors may adversely affect people who are exposed to smoke on a regular basis. For example, in pubs or restaurants where staff are frequently passing by or through tobacco smoke when serving people outdoors.
That'll be just about all of them, then.

Some of us did try to warn that this was always destined to be the next logical step. Appeasement is listed in the health obsessed dictionary as another name for 'victory'.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Too Stressful

As regulars will know, output here has been strained recently due to workload at Puddlecote Inc. There are occasions when I give the odd insight into the perils of running a transport business, but today provided a startlingly unusual occurrence which has truly astonished all of us in the office.

We have gained a substantial amount of work recently which - as is quite normal - requires wading through mostly EU-created regulations that almost seem deliberately invented to stifle businesses and obstruct providing employment. To cut a long story short, we need three properly licensed drivers in a hurry, so advertised in the job centre.

This morning we received a CV from someone who described himself as 'hard-working', 'reliable', and had excellent transport experience except that his truck licence expired in a few months and would become invalid as he hadn't completed his mandatory EU-ordained 35 hours of driver CPC training (training experienced drivers to suck eggs, basically)*.

During a phone call with him, he insisted he was apparently desperate for work, but with only a few quid in the bank so therefore not able to pay the £75 medical required to renew his licence, nor the £400 for the CPC training. "No problem", we said, we can not only arrange funding, but also book him in for the five days training for next week.

"Ah, but ..." says our prospective employee, "that means I'll have to pay around £100 for train fares to get to the training centre, and I can't afford it". That's OK, we replied, there is a pool car used by our mechanics that we can let him use to get there and back. He said he'd consider it and went to talk with his wife.

Five minutes later, we received this incredible e-mail (paraphrased but accurate).
Thanks for your offer. 
I have spoken to my wife, who I always consult on work matters and which football team to play for. 
Yes, we thought that was irrelevant too, but hey.
She reminded me that I've had problems with being messed around by transport companies before where they asked me to do lots of different routes.
Kinda what driving jobs are all about, I'd have thought.
Also, I'd have to travel an hour each day to and from the training centre. I go that far for theatre and evenings out, but that is a lot of fun. Training isn't. I would find that far too stressful. 
I've also remembered that I hate driving, except in my own car. 
But you seem nice people, so thanks anyway. 
So that was a fair chunk of the morning wasted on a dead end.

I don't know how it is best to answer that kind of message, so I didn't bother. I just wish him the best of luck extricating himself from skintness by finding a job which isn't stressful but which gives him loads of money.

And if he finds one, I hope he tells me how I can get one too.

* Talking to others in our industry, the recently-implemented CPC regs have led to around 30% or more of established drivers throwing in the towel due not only to the cost, but also the dire information on how to get the training done. There are rumours that they may be scrapped - as they should be - but in the meantime, it just means higher prices for everyone due to higher wages being demanded. Clever old EU, eh?

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Czech Mates

Still up to my eyeballs work-wise here, but this is something to cheer you.

In an otherwise appalling article at Presseurop (plain packs are law in Ireland; John Dalli 'accepted money' from Big Tobacco; the EU 'David' to 100 lobbyists' 'Goliath' etc), there are some glorious quotes from Czech politicians about the EU Tobacco Products Directive.
“It’s just another attempt from Brussels to regulate the market,” says Jaroslav Kubera, head of the Civic Democrat (ODS) senators’ group, repeating the arguments that he used to get the entire leadership of the party club onside to reject the European proposal. “Today it’s smoking, next we’ll have to prohibit greasy food or driving a car. We have to stand up against it and to defend freedom.” 
In the Assembly of the Committee on European Affairs, Kubera’s party colleagues even pushed for the so-called “yellow card” against the tobacco directive, which is an exceptional diplomatic method of submitting a formal complaint against Brussels for overstepping its powers and forcing it to reconsider a law. 
For now, not even the pro-European left promises change. “I don’t see it as something to wage political battle over,” says Jeroným Tejc, leader of the ČSSD [Czech Social Democratic Party] parliamentary group. “The issue doesn't resonate with the party, and even though I'm a non-smoker, I respect the views of colleagues who have a different take on smoking.”
Stay strong, Prague. We love ya'.

Monday 12 August 2013

Smoke Or Drink And The NHS Will Cut Your Bits Off

'Tis an important date here in Puddlecote Towers but, before I zip off to a rather nice restaurant for the evening, here's something astonishing from the postbag.

Long-time fellow jewel robber Moonrakin recounted a story from the weekend about which he is still understandably angry. In his own words, here is what happened to his brother in law who I shall rename John.
My brother in law is an electrician and a builder - yesterday [Saturday] he got his thumb squashed very badly on site by a JCB digger. So ... chauffeured off 10 miles to our local A&E by the mortified digger driver- where the following took place: 
Doctor: It's bad
John: I can see that.
Doctor: Are you a smoker?
John: Never smoked - ever
Doctor: Are you sure?
John: Look, I've never, ever smoked
Doctor: If you're a smoker we're going to cut it off right away
John: Look, I said I don't smoke and never have...
Doctor: Do you drink?
John: Yes
Doctor: How much - more than 50 units a week?
John: Not sure, a couple beers two or three nights a week - more upon occasion.
Doctor: So how much do you drink?
John: Look, what's the score with my thumb?
Doctor: Don't know, we'll have to get a specialist in from [local city].
Moonrakin went on to say that further conversations later with the doctor confirmed that an admittance of drinking over 50 units would have similarly led to the thumb being lopped off. He was also quizzed far more intensely with the doctor seemingly unable to accept assurances that the brother in law could be a builder and a non-smoker.

Sounds like the doc was desperate to get the bone-cutter out, the psycho nice 'caring' professional that he obviously is.

So, the message here is to do what nanny tells you or they'll send your body parts back to you in a cellophane bag. Capiche?

Sunday 11 August 2013

Vote Dick

For some reason, a lefty blogger seems to be sufficiently bored to have resurrected a snap poll he last ran in 2010.

Back then, your humble jewel robbing tabloid host reached the heady heights of being rated the 21st worst blog on the internet. Coming from the 'progressive' ban-all-and-everything side of the fence, this made me incredibly proud - I nearly shed a tear, so I did - especially considering competition was intensely fierce at the time.

Three years on, I reckon your support could get me into the top ten. So please do wander over here and indulge the guy's quest to boost his visitor numbers by voting for me.

You have to nominate three blogs and rank them, so spread the, err, hate around wisely.


Friday 9 August 2013

More Humiliating Plain Packs Campaign Fail

I'm sure you've seen these quotes about plain packaging before, but just in case ...

Remember Smokefree Action's Myth 7?
Myth #7: It may be tobacco today but other consumer products will follow 
FACT: Tobacco is not like any other product ... Plain packs for tobacco will not therefore set a precedent for other consumer products.
And then there was ASH's Deborah Arnott being even more dismissive.
[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.
This must be merely a figment of our fevered imaginations then.
Plain packaging for alcohol could be the next step in tackling binge drinking, according to a marketing expert. 
Experts say plain packaging of cigarettes, which is already in place in Australia and being considered by our Government, will cut smoking rates and reduce the youth uptake of smoking. 
And now Auckland University senior marketing lecturer Dr Bodo Lang has told TV ONE's Breakfast plain packaging of alcohol could have the same affect on binge drinking.
The article even comes complete with video evidence, go have a look.

That's game, set and match for the domino theorists, I'd say.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Cry Me A River

Still incredibly busy at Puddlecote Inc so, in the absence of time to write anything tabloid myself, do go have a read of this article on the BBC website about the plight of anti-smokers compelled to use smokey beer gardens. Arm yourself with a hanky in case you shed a tear or two for the poor dears, won't you?
"Sometimes it's like stepping out into a mist," complains Barbara Harpham, national director of Heart Research UK and a strong advocate of the anti-smoking laws.
Just yer average impartial pub-goer, then.
"The majority of people don't like smoking but when they go outside it's imposed on them."
Imposed on them in the sense that they are strong-armed to the pub against their will, before being whipped with a cat o' nine tails out of the legislated safety of the plush interior into the smoke-filled danger of the garden. Doesn't your heart just bleed?
It's a situation that frustrates those who would rather dine or drink in unpolluted fresh air.
I bet you're welling up by now, aren't you?
"If people want to smoke outdoors they should be able to, but you don't want kids going where there are people smoking," says Harpham.
Because there are simply no other places for a poor obsessive anti-smoker to take kids in the summer except a pub beer garden, of course.
As a result, she says, families are often deterred from visiting pub gardens or dining outdoors lest those on adjacent tables set a bad example.
Never heard of a blindfold?
Her solution is for outdoor smoking and non-smoking areas.
Who can say fairer than that, eh? Just a small concession. Even though one could argue we have had legally defined smoking and non-smoking areas for six years now, otherwise known as outdoors and in-fucking-doors!

I was so emotionally moved by this heart-rending account that I took to Twitter to express sympathy.

Or, as the Daily Mash put it today.
Non-smokers told to shut up and stop being so utterly pathetic
Well, quite.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

What Ian Gilmore Didn't Tell Northern Ireland Yesterday

Like a fraudulent salesman caught flogging snake oil and run out of town with six-shooters peppering his heels, the alcohol prohibitionist movement's biggest hope decided yesterday to scoot off to Northern Ireland and see if he has better luck with the wide-eyed provincials.
Prof Gilmore, a specialist in liver disease and chair of the European Alcohol and Health Forum Science Group, said: "Given the failure of the Westminster government to follow through on its earlier commitment to a minimum unit price for alcohol, there is a real opportunity for government in Northern Ireland to show the way in adopting this evidence-based public health policy."
Evidence-based? He's surely pulling our chain. You see, we can judge how good the evidence for minimum pricing is from the competency of those paid with your money to produce it.

Step forward Sheffield University whose policy-led report has been the basis for all of the public sector waste of taxpayer funds in this area for the past few years.

They've already been caught providing fantasy stats to the Guardian and to Panorama - for which the BBC had to apologise - and their assertions have been described by their own side as "not scientifically credible".

Sadly for Gilmore, it just gets worse for his 'evidence'.

The junk scientists at Sheffield University recently changed all their previous sure and certain predictions of how great minimum pricing was going to be, making absolutely sure that they erased all online copies of the original. There's a hint to why they did so in this exchange with John Holmes, one of Sheffield's propaganda research team.

I think the point being made is that they are just cocking around with fake figures on a shonky pound shop calculator, as always.

And that's just the half of it. Although the original has been quietly removed, some, ahem, clever jewel robbers saved it as a copy pdf. Here are a few more highlights of the difference between what they insisted was fact in 2009 to con Cameron into action, and what their revised report now claims.
2009: 45p minimum price would cut consumption by 4.3%
2013: 45p minimum price would cut consumption by 1.6% 
2009: It would save 344 lives in year 1 and 2,040 lives a year by year 10
2013: It would save 123 lives in year 1 and 624 lives a year by year 10 
2009: Alcohol admissions would be down by 66,200
2013: Alcohol admissions would be down by 23,700 
2009: Year one direct health savings of £58.6m and cumulative ten year saving of £1,074m
2013: Year one direct health savings of £25.3m and cumulative ten year saving of £417.2m 
2009: Total societal value of harm reduction £6.6bn
2013: Total societal value of harm reduction £3.4bn
Hmm, to any impartial observer, that would appear to be enough to hold fire on heavy-handed legislation, right? The obvious reaction from a political point of view is that the evidence is so weak and flakey that not even idiot politicians could place any faith in it.

Now, I've scoured Twitter - and other places where the normally loud-mouthed anti-fun brigade tend to accumulate - but they are incredibly quiet about this massive downgrading of these, err, cast-iron 2009 promises. In fact, I've never, ever, seen such startling silence accompanying a major new revelation of current health 'evidence'.

This is the principal plank on which alcohol prohibitionists have built the case for minimum pricing over the past four years, and it's all over the place. No wonder Sheffield are desperately trying to hide it and the likes of Prof Gilmore are slithering off to NornIron and keeping schtum about Sheffield altogether.

Of course, for the prohibitionist, this merely means that there should be a minimum price of 50p, 60p or even more. In fact, seeing as John Holmes reckons that inflation ruins the whole idea, why not an ever-moving feast index-linked to whatever fiscal measurement punishes the less well off the most, eh? Exactly as we who are opposed to minimum pricing have been correctly insisting would be the case all along.

It was probably wise, then, that Gilmore didn't think Sheffield's 'ground-breaking' research worth mentioning in his press released jolly to Northern Ireland. It's not good form in temperance circles to tell the truth admit that every statistic quoted by his whey-faced cheerleaders since 2009 has been 100% incorrect, now is it?

H/T Steve W

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Jersey Politicians Are 'Crazy', Says @TomHarrisMP

Back in 2008, genial Labour MP Tom Harris wrote one of the most popular political blogs around. Some may remember that he was fair-minded but did tend to get attacked for the stupidity of many of his then government's policies.

One such time was October 2008 when Tom gave his opinion of rumours that the government was planning to ban smoking in "private dwellings". In an article entitled "The smoking ban, what a drag"*, he bravely made this rather naive claim.
But the Department of Health recently held a consultation on whether the smoking ban should be extended into people’s private vehicles and homes. Now, I know this caused a great deal of perfectly understandable outrage among a lot of people. So let me make this clear: the government will not, under any circumstances, legislate to stop people smoking in private. It would be a crazy move and, believe it or not, ministers are not crazy people - they’re politicians and they recognise political realities.
And if they did attempt to legislate in this direction, I would risk the wrath of those who don’t believe Scottish MPs should vote on English matters by voting against it. 
But as I say, I won't need to, because it's not going to happen.
I remember it because - as we know very well - politicians are mostly idiots and will eventually do something that crassly stupid. I also remember it because I suggested in his comments section that we have a bet on his prediction, payable on him being proven wrong ... which he most certainly will be at some point. Probably sooner rather than later. He politely declined.

So, by Tom Harris's assessment, we can now safely say that the idiots currently in charge of Jersey are officially 'crazy'.
Smoking in homes and cars could be banned under proposals being discussed by Jersey's health department.
Well, fancy that!
Senator Sarah Ferguson was among those to voice concern about a move to "dictate what you do in your own home".
As if that is ever going to be a persuasive argument against the kind of knuckle-dragging, self-aggrandising berk who infests parliaments across the (supposedly developed) world in the 21st century.

Yes, I know that - unlike credulous Tom - we very wise jewel robbers saw this coming a long time ago and are not remotely surprised at the increasing insanity of anti-smoking hysteria, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

* Tom's blog was closed down after pressure from the control freaks at Labour HQ, but the link - for the record - used to be here.

Monday 5 August 2013

Through The Looking Glass With Tobacco Control

I'm extremely busy with Puddlecote Inc's plans for world domination of the hairy-arsed trucker provision market at the moment so content may be very light this week.

However, in the meantime, you may be astonished at this article from Canada in which a tobacco control junk scientist proves conclusively that his industry's integrity and sanity has finally disappeared through the looking glass and is having tea and cakes with Humpty Dumpty.
A researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland found harmful levels of second-hand smoke in a survey of Montreal bar patios. 
The study found that a single lit cigarette could create air quality levels comparable to a smoggy day in Los Angeles. 
Professor Ryan Kennedy, who conducted the study, says the tests suggests second-hand smoke can be harmful outdoors, even on a windy day.
Now, we jewel robbers have known that the tobacco control industry lost its marbles a long time back, but they are now increasingly revealing themselves as a global laughing stock.

Needless to say, there are no links to this study - because it wasn't designed as a serious document to be read, merely created to produce a headline - so if anyone can locate it please do let me know, I could do with a good laugh.

Saturday 3 August 2013

How Did He Get It So Wrong?

From WalesOnline:
[Plaid Cymru Arfon MP Hywel Williams, a long-standing campaigner for minimum alcohol pricing,] said: “It’s obviously worrying. The amount of alcohol consumption has gone up steadily, along with the number of outlets"
Really, Hywel? Not according to the BBC it hasn't. Nor according to latest published government statistics on smoking, drinking and drug use among young people (page 137).

Not even, in fact, according to the alcohol-despising Institute of Alcohol Studies!

I'd have thought an elected MP - especially one with a keen interest in alcohol matters - would be able to source this information easily enough. So it kinda begs a question.

Hmm, whaddya reckon?

Link Tank 03/08

I think you're gonna like the top one.

"Ex-smokers are perhaps the most righteous and intolerant species to have ever inhabited this planet"

In praise of lads' mags

This week it's sugar's turn to be the new tobacco

Russia to ban swearing on the internet

The science of Champagne, the bubbling wine created by accident

France plans to ban Mercedes Benz cars

"When it comes to censoring the internet, China and the UK now have more in common than before"

The magic of beer: Home improvements

Robocop goes in after pothead blows himself up with liquid marijuana

Spiders with personalities

Friday 2 August 2013

Object To Control, Argue For Choice

Others have got there before me regarding the No Thank EU campaign, but the reason for action is best described by Snowdon here.
At some point in 2015-16, millions of Europeans are going to pop into their local shop and find that their usual brand of cigarettes, or pouch of rolling tobacco, is no longer available. Those who smoke menthol and slims will be told that the EU decided to ban them back in 2013. The packs will be covered in giant warnings covering three-quarters of their surface. The exact size and dimensions of the packaging and the cigarettes will have been dictated in Brussels. 
While the obesity warriors strive to make crisp packets and chocolate bars smaller, the Tobacco Products Directive aims to make packs of tobacco larger. While scientists recognise that Swedish snus is the world's least hazardous tobacco product, the EU will maintain its ban on it. 
None of this can be justified either on health grounds or on grounds of market harmonisation. As Angela Harbutt notes in this article, no EU country has even considered banning menthol. Nor has any EU government mandated 75 per cent graphic warnings, or demanded that cigarettes be exactly 7.5mm in diameter, or implemented any of the other three-in-the-morning ideas that the berks of Brussels have come up with.
Indeed. the proposed Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is a first class example of pointless EU interference where none is sought or needed, and more control of the UK being assumed by Brussels.

Consider too that the ban on snus is being pushed through despite an overwhelming majority of responses throughout Europe being heavily opposed to it, and the UK government's input - and, by extension, the British people's - being bypassed altogether by the actions of Anna Soubry, as well documented here recently.

Some might say that is enough to describe the TPD as a corrupt document in itself, but it having been drawn up by a Maltese Commissioner under investigation for fraud and with allegations of misdeeds and nepotism following him around almost daily, should have ensured the whole thing was scrapped and looked at again. That it wasn't is shameful of the EU and further proof that Brussels welcomes democracy and transparency like the Pope welcomes an endorsement request from Durex.

So, if you haven't done so already, do have a good look round the new No Thank EU site and add your name to the petition, remembering to tick the box which generates a message to your MEP (which you can personalise, as I'd recommend). Do also share widely with friends via Facebook and Twitter as I'm sure most of them have no knowledge of any of this deeply flawed directive, and are blissfully unaware of the proposals to consign long-enjoyed menthol tobacco and "half an ounce of Old Holborn" to prohibition and the inevitable black market.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Australian State Broadcaster Is Even More Gullible Than The BBC

Australia really is a funny old place.

Long time readers may remember a time (March 2010) when a smoke-hating Policy Exchange wonk here in Blighty produced a pile of garbage about the cost of smoking to the taxpayer being around £13.74bn, forgetting that taxpayers aren't actually affected by private costs to businesses or imagined personal losses. Here's a taste.
The tax on cigarettes should be increased as the burden on the taxpayer is too high, even taking into account revenues from duty, a think tank said. 
Research conducted by Policy Exchange found that while tax on tobacco raised £10 billion a year for the Treasury, the annual cost of healthcare and other consequences of smoking totalled £13.74 billion. 
That total includes £2.7 billion of NHS care, £2.9 billion lost in productivity during smoking breaks, the £342 million cost of cleaning up butts and £507 million spent putting out fires. 
Lost productivity due to the deaths of smokers and passive smoking victims costs £4.8 billion and £2.9 billion is lost in increased absenteeism, their report - Cough Up - concluded.
As I discussed in detail at the time, the guy must have been pissed out of his tiny mind when writing such rot, and it was rightly rubbished by the Telegraph and Spectator - to name but two sources - as economically illiterate propaganda of the most egregious kind.

Hardly surprising since the author, Henry Featherstone, had tweeted his intention to produce such codswallop well in advance.

In case you're wondering what he looks like, here he is sat to the right of Debs Arnott at said ASH AGM, perhaps detailing how quickly he could cobble together his weapons grade bullshit.

Maybe Debs threw the oleaginous twerp a biscuit for his faithful lapdoggery, I dunno.

Anyway, it is quite clear that the £13.74bn cost is arse-biscuits of the most superlative kind, even when speaking of a country where OECD figures state that around 21% to 22% of a 70m population still smoke. So let's say that's around 10 to 12 million if we exclude the kids.

Australia's population is just 22m, and they have a smoking rate - as they consistently remind us - of less than 15%. So, again, let's be generous and say it equates to 3.5 million smokers if we include youths, teens, kids, babes in arms and foetuses.

So I was quite surprised to see this on the ABC website.
Anti-smoking groups, buoyed by a pledge by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to "get serious" about the $35 billion cost of tobacco-related diseases in Australia, are urging him to solve his revenue problem by raising taxes on cigarettes.
"Crikey!", I thought, the Australian currency must have been through one hell of a crash! If that's the cost from so very few people, there must be about ten Aussie dollars to the pound!

Not so, because according to, that AU$35bn equates to about 20 billion of our dear old Queen's golden nuggets. That's right, 50% more than Henry Featherstone's daft claims for about a quarter of the number of people ... even giving all benefit of doubt to the prohibitionist convicts.

By my reckoning, then, even the wildest and most corruptly fabricated mock-up of costs caused by smoking in the UK amounts to £1,374 per smoker per year, whereas the Aussie equivalent - as stated with a straight face in the ABC article - is £11,666 per adult, youth, child, ankle-snapper and chain-smoking embryo per year.

What the hell are they smoking down there? Unfiltered dynamite?

Or is it, as is infinitely more likely, outrageous - and simply impossible - tobacco control industry lies accepted without query by an inept state-funded broadcaster? You know, like the BBC but with extra special incompetence added.

Perhaps all that sunshine down under in the sandpit has frazzled their claptrap detector or something.

UPDATE: Chris Snowdon, writing at the IEA today on smoking breaks and productivity, also references Featherstone's foolishness.
I've written a lot about these 'cost of vice' studies and I will not go so far as to say that Policy Exchange's is the worst in a highly competitive field. It is, nevertheless, poor. Its primary aim appeared to be finding an annual 'cost of smoking' that exceeded the annual revenue from tobacco taxes, thereby justifying higher tobacco taxes.
Precisely the way the laughable AU$35bn fantasy figure has been used by the ABC above, in fact.

You can read the rest here