Monday 30 September 2013

Farage Hits Manchester

I'm at the Forest Liberty Lounge event this evening, after a day where Nigel Farage has been the centre of huge attention.

After two fringe events, the media can't leave him alone even for a quick pint before tonight's Comedy Store event.

Next up he is in conversation with the IEA's Mark Littlewood.

It promises to be a cracker in front of a full house.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Lefty Media Lie About E-Cig Advert Bans

As gleefully reported by The Guardian, Independent, Huffington Post, Metro, BBC 5Live and Watchdog, all current TV and radio e-cig adverts have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. Most notably, the E-Lites one featuring Mark Benton.

Now, we need to go back to January for the background to this. Back then, The Times described the tortuous route that the E-Lites ad had taken before being aired.
Adrian Everett, the chief executive of the Bromsgrove-based company, said it had taken 14 months to clear the 30-second advert with Clearcast, the body that vets TV advertising before broadcast. E-Lites was forced to drop any footage of the product itself or promote the “intrinsic benefit of switching” from tobacco to ecigarettes.
Clearcast is a service with, it claims on its website, "50 years expertise in ensuring that television advertising complies with BCAP codes". If anyone knows the rules, it is them, or so E-Lites and three other e-cig sellers assumed.

Sadly, Clearcast were wrong.

The main complaint for all the ads now banned was this one, seen in four separate judgements.
Ten Motives: misleading because it encouraged viewers, and particularly young adults and children, to visit the website but did not make clear the characteristics of the product;
ZULU Ventures: misleading, because it encouraged viewers, and particularly young adults and children, to visit the website but did not make clear the characteristics of the product;
Sorse Distribution: misleading, because it encouraged viewers to visit the website, but did not make clear the characteristics of the product.
Zandera (E-Lites): misleading, because they omitted material information about the product, specifically its ingredients and that it contained nicotine.
In fact, this was the crucial factor in the banning of all of them. The ASA made much the same explanation in all cases, such as this from the Sorse Distribution judgement.
We noted Clearcast had understood that references to the type of product (e-cigarettes) were prohibited by the BCAP Code and that it was for that reason they omitted that information from the ad. However, we understood that the BCAP Code rule only required that ads for non-tobacco products such as e-cigarettes (whether or not they contained nicotine) did not reference or promote smoking or tobacco and did not include a "design, colour, imagery, logo style or the like that might be associated in the audience's mind with a tobacco product". We considered the rule did not prevent an ad containing verbal or text reference to an 'e-cig', 'e-cigarette', or 'vaporiser', providing that it did not also create a link between the product and smoking or tobacco products. We considered it important that ads such as this made clear the nature of the product being advertised and stated whether or not it contained nicotine. We judged that to be material information the consumer needed to know in order to avoid the likelihood of being misled. Because the ad did not make clear the nature of the product being advertised, and that it did not contain nicotine, we concluded the ad was misleading. 
On this point, the ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising).
So, they were considered misleading because Clearcast had given advice which was over-cautious. A simple thing to fix by amending them to supply more information about their products.

There was one other complaint upheld against E-Lites, centred on the actor tapping his pocket and going outside for a cigarette.
We acknowledged that there were no direct references to smoking or tobacco products, but the ad nonetheless referred to smoking by showing the man going outside for a cigarette. Although, as stated in point 5 above, the reference was oblique, rule 10.5 was nonetheless clear on this point, whether or not the portrayal was negative. 
We considered that a dancing baby was likely to be very attractive to a broad range of children for whom the baby and the dance moves would both be engaging. We recognised that for younger children the reference to smoking was unlikely to be noticed or understood, but for older children, in particular teenagers, the inference would be clear.
The secondary concern here, then, was that canny teens would know the guy was off for a sneaky puff ... just as they see in real life.

That's not exactly how the lefty press reported the ASA rulings though.

BBC Watchdog reportedly claimed "the use of the baby could appeal to younger viewers, particularly teenagers, and as a result may make the act of smoking more attractive to them." which is making a bit of a leap considering the ASA clearly imply that the portrayal was designed to be negative. The ASA also explained that it was not the baby which caused the problem, but that when Mark Benton disappears from the room, it was a reference to smoking.

The Independent cleverly referred to the baby and children without mentioning the ASA's age distinction.
It said that the TV advert could amuse children and breached rules which restrict adverts that might interest children from referring to smoking. 
The Metro article was alarmist and bore little resemblance to the judgements.
E-cigarette advert is banned over baby and nicotine fears
But that's as nothing compared to the Guardian and Huffington Post, both of which blatantly lied.

HuffPoUk did so in their headline, no less:
E-Cigarette Adverts Banned Over Viewer Complaints They 'Normalise Smoking'
While The Guardian also made the lie a central part of their article in the header ...
TV and radio ads for E-Lites must not be broadcast again in current form following complaints they normalised smoking
... and also - without clarification - led readers to believe that tax-sponging government lobbyists Smokefree South West were pivotal in the outcome.
Smokefree South West and 41 others said the ad promoted a nicotine-based product and encouraged and normalised smoking or the use of E-Lites.
Indeed they did, but the ASA rejected their complaint out of hand.
5. Smokefree South West and 41 other complainants who believed that ad (b) promoted a nicotine-based product and encouraged and normalised smoking or the use of E-Lites, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and therefore harmful. 
5. Not upheld 
As already noted above, e-cigarettes could be sold legally in the UK and were not a prohibited category under the BCAP Code, although they should be advertised responsibly.
We acknowledged the care taken with the TV ad (b) to avoid showing the product or referring directly to tobacco smoking. Although viewers would understand the man tapping his shirt pocket and leaving the room implied he was going outside to smoke, we considered that the ad's emphasis was on what had been missed as a result of smoking and that the ad's depiction of tobacco smoking was therefore negative. For that reason, we considered that the ad did not encourage or normalise smoking
On this point, we investigated the TV ad (b) under BCAP rules 1.2 (Social irresponsibility), 10.4 (Tobacco prohibited categories) and 4.4 (Harm and Offence), but did not find it in breach.
I take it we can discount any bleating from the Graun about press accuracy in the future, then? This is about as blatant as lying gets for a newspaper.

Now, I ask myself this. Why is it that it was only favoured organs of the tobacco control industry which picked up on these judgements the moment they were published? Why is it that they got their facts so very wrong? And why did they imply Smokefree South West to be a decisive complainant when their only complaint was one of the overwhelming majority to be dismissed as bollocks?

Hmm, where do you reckon they got their briefing from?

The above also illustrates that - despite their weasel words about being supportive of e-cigs - the UK tobacco control industry are moving heaven and earth to place as many obstacles in front of them as is humanly possible. .

Friday 27 September 2013

The Daily Mail: Peddlers Of Death?

You may remember that the Daily Mail published an incendiary article in January entitled ...

E-cigarettes cause more harm than smoking

They were forced to retract that claim because, well, it was utter garbage. Undeterred, though, they took another junk science-prompted swipe at e-cigs in August.

E-cigarettes contain chemicals that make some 'as harmful as normal tobacco'

Well, it seems that the Mail are convinced that e-cigs are highly dangerous, doesn't it? The clear message is that you should jolly well avoid them like the plague.

Except, of course, when it is the Daily Mail flogging them to you.

Look, DM, it's great that you've joined the e-cig revolution, but wouldn't it be wise to quit repeating the rantings of pretend scientists in the pocket of big pharma first, eh?

H/T @F3zzer

Thursday 26 September 2013

Alcohol Consumption Plummeting In Scotland

Shhh ... great news from Scotland was announced yesterday.

Official government figures have just been released which reveal the following [pdf page 53]:
  •  Average unit consumption for adults fell from 14.1 to 11.3 units between 2003 and 2012 
  •  In 2012, men drank an average of 4.6 units less per week than in 2003 (19.8 units in 2003 and 15.2 units in 2012). Average unit consumption for women declined from 9.0 units per week in 2003 to 7.6 units in 2012.
  •  The proportion of adults drinking at hazardous or harmful levels has declined since 2003 (from 33% of men and 23% of women to 25% of men and 18% of women in 2012) 
  •  Average unit consumption on the heaviest drinking day declined between 2003 and 2012 from 6.5 to 5.6 units for men and from 3.6 to 2.8 units for women. There has also been a decline in the proportion of men and women exceeding the recommended daily amount on their heaviest drinking day (from 45% in 2003 to 42% in 2012 for men and from 37% to 30% for women). The proportion exceeding twice the recommended daily amount has also declined slightly for men (from 29% to 25%) and women (from 19% to 15%).
  •  In 2003, 53% of men and 42% of women drank outwith the weekly and/or daily consumption guidelines. By 2012, 47% of men and 35% of women exceeded the recommended levels.
  •  In 2012, men drank on an average of 2.8 days in the previous week and women drank on an average of 2.5 days, a reduction since 2003, when men drank on an average of 3.3 days and women on 2.7 days.
  •  Since 2003 there has been a decline in the proportion of adults drinking on more than 5 days in the previous week from 17% to 12% in 2012
These are stunning statistics, an across the board decline of 15% to 30% in less than ten years! What's more, "the proportion of adults drinking at hazardous or harmful levels" - the ones always cited by health campaigners to divert attention from the overall decline - are at the high end with 22% to 25% decreases for women and men respectively.

It's a Scottish frenzy of reduced consumption! I'll bet the massed ranks of alcohol controllers must be ecstatic.

Indeed so. They urgently rushed out one of their regular avalanche of press releases yesterday. It went something like this.

"♫ Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds ♫"
That's right. There was no optimistic press release; no welcome for fantastic news; no rejoicing. In fact, nothing at all. It was as if the Scottish Health Survey had been blackballed for, well, telling the truth.

It seems that - for the self-declared protecters of health - reporting on good news is somehow taboo. Could it be that they are more interested in their own future funding than applauding the restraint of Scottish citizens?

After all, if their claimed catastrophic 'epidemic' of alcohol carnage is exposed as a myth - which, as you can see from these figures, it is - there's not much urgent need to shovel cash their way during straitened times, now is there?  

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Sickening Toadies Of The Week

Warning: This image contains scenes of gutless arse-licking.

So let's get this straight, Labour overwhelmingly backed the smoking ban in 2007 which led to pubs being slaughtered at an alarming rate. Not a rate fast enough for Labour though, it seems, so they installed the beer duty escalator in 2008 leading to tax on beer increasing by 42%. They are also proudly declared opponents of alcohol and are itching to introduce minimum alcohol pricing which is most definitely planned for pubs too.

Mere flesh wounds, obviously. Because CAMRA are today thanking - yes, thanking - Labour's Ed Balls for his 'support' of pubs by promising a few pennies off energy bills and pledging to temporarily not whack up state costs on the industry.

Someone please pass me a bucket. 

Tuesday 24 September 2013

The Pussy State

From the BBC on Friday:
A ban on smoking in all areas of jails in England and Wales is being considered by the Prison Service. 
It is thought the move is linked to potential legal action by staff and inmates who have suffered the effects of passive smoking.
In which case, this makes the Prison Service rather lame. This 'legal action' stuff has already been tested at the European Court. It's called the Labate case.

Faced with a court case brought by the wife of an employee who was exposed to "passive smoking" during 29 years of his employment, the EU - who have themselves been pumping the second-hand smoke myth for quite a while - vigorously fought the compensation claim. The judgement in 2009 was crystal clear.
"The Tribunal rejected as manifestly unfounded the claims for compensation submitted by the applicant."
I'm surprised a UK government agency isn't aware of this. They are massive fans of everything European, yet this precedent seems to be completely off their radar.

Snowdon calls it very accurately.
As usual, secondhand smoke is being used as the excuse for more draconian rules, but the fact that smoking will also be banned in outdoor areas and exercise yards - and that smokeless tobacco will also be included - shows that it's not really about passive smoke and it's not really about health. But then, it never is.

Y'see, the problem with the judicial system is that - unlike gullible politicians - it demands proof beyond reasonable doubt on the balance of probabilities. The fact that passive smoking studies are just a load of corrupt nonsense cobbled together by the tobacco control industry in order to achieve a pre-determined policy goal means that proving any prison condition as being caused - beyond reasonable doubt on the balance of probabilities - by inmates' smoke is quite impossible.

This is why anti-smoking parasites solely lobby governments. If it were possible to gather passive smoke 'victims'; issue a class action law suit; and inflict punitive damages on just a few small businesses, they would have done so long ago and smoking would have been banned by property owners overnight without the state having to do anything at all.

Now, tell me. How safe do you feel knowing that spineless pillocks are in charge of our prison system?

Monday 23 September 2013

THIS Is How To Restore Liberties And Treat Adults Like Adults

Who said this?
"The era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end."
"No more of a government treating everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions. Instead, let's treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives."
If you read here regularly, you'll know it was David Cameron in 2008 and 2011 respectively. Since then, we've just seen a continuation of Labour's infantilisation of the public, including caving in to state-funded lobbying by the tobacco control industry over the display ban - that both coalition parties were opposed to prior to 2010's general election - along with encouraging the insatiable health lobby by considering daft schemes like plain packaging and minimum alcohol pricing which were in neither party's manifesto.

Clegg's part in this new change (ha!) in politics was to promise that government would "roll back the power of the state" and "restore British liberties" ... before going on to melt in the face of nannying pressure by proposing an internet filter which will censor not only porn, but any site which discusses alcohol, smoking, or 'esoteric material'!

Yep, that's an end to "government treating everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions", and no mistake.

The effect of all this shilly-shallying is that Cameron and Clegg are seen as weak and easy to push around (which they are) by the legions of tax-sponging bureaucrats, thereby inviting abuse despite not actually doing anything of note to get the state's boot off of our faces.

In short, everyone now despises them.

The inevitable result has been millions throwing their hands up in exasperation and deserting to Ukip or other smaller parties after finally realising that career politicians are full of promises they have no intention of keeping. The 2010 election is increasingly being taken by many, justifiably, as the final straw.

Compare and contrast, then, what is happening in Australia just a couple of weeks after their own general election.
AGENCIES responsible for tackling obesity, capital city planning and security advice on asylum seekers are to be slashed as Tony Abbott takes the axe to Labor's reform agenda. 
The Coalition will also begin unwinding key "nanny state'' agencies such as the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, established to lead the national fight against obesity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use. 
Health Minister Peter Dutton has been critical of ANPHA's decision to spend $500,000 on a study into a potential "fat tax" despite neither side of politics supporting such a move. 
Two major health agencies - the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the year-old National Health Performance Authority - are under review and could have their combined budgets - of around $40 million a year - slashed. 
Climate Change Minister Greg Hunt has already taken the knife to key agencies, including the Climate Commission.
Remember that Abbott was elected with a hefty majority precisely because he was promising to do all the above. And, unlike Cameron and Clegg, he seems to be actually delivering.

Perhaps politicians this side of the world will one day realise that voters quite like being treated with respect; that tax-guzzling vested interests are best ignored; and that truly handing back liberties (not just talking about it) is a popular - and electorally successful - thing to do.

Well, we can but dream.

Les Voleurs Et Le E-Cig

A fellow jewel robber from La France alerts me to an e-cig business in the Dordogne.
Initiated in 2007 in the Lot-et-Garonne, Cig Liberty was the first company in France to promote the electronic cigarette. At its head, Richard Pfeiffer, a former smoker who after a lot of health problems wished to find an alternative to his smoking. 
On site, there are three models of e-cigarettes (déclinables with options) and more than a hundred consumables. Liberty Cig offers, in fact, 34 different flavors of refills (melon, strawberry through mint, coffee or redbull and aromas around tobacco) declined each time, four doses of nicotine.
He's doing so well, so he is, that it has attracted unwanted attention. In the words of our esteemed reader:
Bergerac, our local town, is the centre of the French tobacco industry (we have a very interesting, and the world's only, tobacco museum!). So, a natural place for the e-cig business to set up shop. 
Burglary is an almost unknown vice outside of the big cities, it just never happens, and as for 'Ram raids' - they don't exist outside of jewellery hoists in Cannes. 
Last night, the plate glass window of 'Liberty--Cigarettes' was stove in by a vehicle - and the entire stock of the shop lifted by thieves. 
Who'd a thought, even six months ago, that the marketing genius of the light fingered brigade would have been turning their hand to 'pssst, wanna cheap e-fag'. 
My taxi rides since have been punctuated by calls from other taxi drivers enquiring on behalf of customers as to any sighting of another shop selling liquid nicotine for desperate vapeurs!
Is this the first instance of an e-cig heist?

Coincidentally, this is just up the road from where the Puddlecotes will be holidaying next August. I shall have to visit the aforementioned museum, I think.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Hey, I'm Going To Miami!

Last month, Simon Clark highlighted a site called Smoke Spots, and a competition they are holding with the prize of a trip to Miami.
Smoke Spots allows consumers to interact and discuss venues with great smoking areas where they can comfortably smoke whilst they’re out. The site includes forums where experiences can be shared, a blog for inspiration and a growing database to find smoker friendly pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs. 
Already getting more traffic than expected and around 2,000 Facebook fans, the popularity of the site is increasing. New spots from across the UK are being submitted every day - a clear indication this service is helping consumers find great facilities. 
To enter the competition, registered users simply add a new spot or an event to the site and they are automatically entered into the prize draw. The prize includes flights, transfers and accommodation on Ocean Drive, South Beach for two people.
Annoyingly, Simon's article was written while I was on holiday in the Midlands where I used quite a number of venues which would have been good entries, but I didn't see his post till I got back, and now don't remember the name of any of them.

I kept in mind that free Miami trip though, so today submitted a place I visited to hold an informal 'interview' with a potential new driver down on the south coast last week. Not knowing the area at all, I said I'd meet him somewhere of his choosing, and he suggested the William Hardwicke in Bognor Regis, an excellent choice since it has substantial outdoor smoking areas both at the front and the rear of the pub, and it was also offering a lunchtime carvery on the day.

He either knows me very well or just struck very lucky. He got the job, natch.

The front - anyone got a pic of the covered smoking area at the back?
Now, I've got a feeling in my bones that this submission is the winner. I'm off to Miami soon, and that's that.

If you want to enter yourself, you have till 30th September and the details are here. But be warned that I'm already Google-mapping Ocean Drive and plotting itineraries, I'm that confident!

As an aside, I've dropped the site an e-mail to see if they'd consider adding a tag for 'spots' which are vape-friendly indoors too. If they're forward thinking, I hope they will consider it. I'll relay their reply if I get one.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Alastair Campbell Sups With His Devils

Former Labour spinmeister Alastair Campbell woke up yesterday morning and decided he was going on a one man crusade to spin for minimum alcohol pricing. His Twitter feed mentioned nothing else all day except the evils of alcohol and how hammering the poor with higher prices on their tipple would make everything hunky-dory.

It was all designed to lead up to an ITV article (complete with handy plug for his new book, natch) where he lectures on "Britain's booze problem" - you know, the problem that continually declines faster than anti-alcohol preachers can ramp up the moral panic - while condemning Cameron for ditching minimum pricing.

On his blog on Sunday, he was also not too enamoured with alcohol company sponsorship of sport.
If you watch as much football as I do, you notice trends: a booze ad, then a gambling ad, then a payday loans ad. Might there be a link between the three? When the England football team played recently, hoardings around the pitch told us that Carlsberg was ‘the official beer of the England team.’ The American PGA has an ‘official vodka’ sponsor. Whisky sponsors are in sports as varied as Formula One, rugby, golf, polo and rowing. FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser.
But he doesn't blame them, according to the ITV piece.
I'm not going to slag off the alcohol industry because they are legitimately selling a legal product that rakes in billions of pounds to the Exchequer. If they are allowed to sell it 24 hours a day, why shouldn't they?
Refreshing, don't you think?

Or perhaps he feels duty bound to say that seeing as he is "strategic counsel" to Portland Communications, a company registered as lobbyists by the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC).

Listed as a paying customer of Portland by the APPC is none other than AB-inBev ... makers of Budweiser, the FA Cup sponsors. (click to enlarge)

Now, if he were serious about his anti-booze campaign, shouldn't he consider not working for lobbyists for companies he blames for "Britain's booze problem"?

Note, too, that another client of Portland is the Association of British Bookmakers, which makes this Twitter exchange with our esteemed mascot a classic of the hypocrisy genre.

Which, of course, one could never accuse Campbell of.

Err ....

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Under 18s In The UK Are All Stupid

Longrider has rightly had a sound swipe at this recent talk of banning face coverings.

He pretty much nailed it, but this part jumped out at me when reading the article on the BBC.
[Home Office minister Jeremy Browne said:] "I am instinctively uneasy about restricting the freedom of individuals to observe the religion of their choice. 
"But there is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil when society deems children to be unable to express personal choices about other areas like buying alcohol, smoking or getting married."
Making out anyone under 18 to be nothing more than unthinking drones opens up so many ban possibilities, doesn't it?

Personally, I try to guide the little Ps to be able to make their own decisions well before that age. It should, I suggest, be a national ambition that we want every teen to know enough about the world to possess wherewithal for self-reliance as early as possible.

That we have a government minister tacitly admitting that our teenagers are so astoundingly incompetent that they're not able to decide for themselves what they do - or do not do - with their own lives, is a shocking admittance that politicians have fucked up the education system, I'd say.

Yet we still have some calling for the voting age to be reduced to 16. Perhaps in the belief that under 18s are so very stupid that they're the only ones who actually respect politicians these days, I dunno.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Tesco Extra Will Be Thrilled

Oh, good grief.
Cars should be banished from town centres, a Liberal Democrat minister has claimed. 
Transport Minister Norman Baker said drivers should be hit with big increases in parking charges so they are ‘disincentivised’ from parking near high street shops.
This is the Lib Dem solution to the long decline in town centre shopping, is it? Err, isn't the precise reason out-of-town shopping centres are so attractive that there is free parking and easy access?

So, while every other trade or consumer body advocates attracting high street customers with affordable or even free parking, this guy thinks the answer is to restrict choice and make it more difficult to get there. Instead, you should ride in and hang your bags on the bike handlebars, or carry your new TV home on the bus.

Where do the Lib Dems find such dogma-deluded buffoons?

Number 4 With A Bullet!

Woo hoo!

I begged; you humoured me.
UK's Top 50 Worst Political Blogs 2013
10. Spiked
9. Underdogs Bite Upwards
8. The Commentator
7. Frank Davis
6. Velvet Glove, Iron Fist
5. Comment is Free
4. Dick Puddlecote
3. Harry's Place
2. Guido
1  Socialist Unity Blog 
I must get me a sidebar badge for this noteworthy achievement. Anyone good with graphics?

Monday 16 September 2013

In Your Dreams, Sydney Morning Herald

This astonishing article has caused a bit of a stir in the bansturbator's paradise.
Australia could become the first major nation to outlaw smoking, with a federal government-funded trial about to test the viability of electronic cigarettes as a safer, permanent replacement for tobacco. 
Medical experts, cancer groups and anti-smoking lobbyists battled for decades to rid cigarettes from public spaces. 
The Sun-Herald can reveal that as part of its anti-smoking reform agenda, the previous Labor government committed more than $1 million to a pioneering study that, by 2015, will determine whether or not e-cigarettes could be utilised to phase out traditional cigarettes altogether.
Now, on reading it, I had serious doubts about this as being true (in fact, it made me laugh so abruptly that the cat scarpered for the back door) for a number of reasons.

Firstly, some of the loudest critics of e-cigs have been anti-tobacco fanatics in Australia.

So much so, that you'd be hard pressed to find an Aussie in their tobacco control industry who doesn't view them as created by Satan for his henchmen on Earth to lure kids to an early grave.

So such a sudden about-turn in policy is quite inconceivable, especially from a Labor administration, and double especially since the pharmaceutical  marketing department - otherwise known as the World Health Organisation - is still dictating to gullible idiot politicians that e-cigs are baaad, m'kay.

Secondly, no matter how much governments whinge and pontificate about tobacco, making it illegal so abruptly leaves a massive hole in their budgets, one which they would have no idea how to fill without hammering their citizens with taxes which could only possibly lead to their being destroyed at the ballot box. Yes, even the most hateful anti-tobacco MP knows full well that costs to the health system are minute compared with the vital injection of cash that fags provide to their coffers (they are knowingly lying when they claim otherwise).

Another reason is perfectly illustrated in the comments:
"Lungs are made to breathe natural atmospheric air,not pollutants of any kind, and smoke or vapour is not their designed operating condition." - Kane 
"I am very allergic to cigarette smoke. It causes my throat to constrict and triggers uncontrollable coughing and breathing problems. Substituting cigarettes with nicotine vapour does not address the issue. It panders to nicotine addicts and continues to expose the community to poison." - Severely Affected 
"Common sense says e-cigs should be banned in public for the simple reason that nicotine is an extremely addictive substance and therefore we do not want to give the impression that they are socially acceptable or in any way cool." - StBob
You see, there is far too much stupid around (created by the tobacco control industry, it has to be said) for any government to even consider such a move right now.

Changing attitudes towards e-cigs would have to come first, and even then you're looking at a decade or more of turning around the giant tanker of nicotine denormalisation which hordes of professional, publicly-funded tobacco control execs have made their stock-in-trade for their entire careers. That is a generational shift which would take a massive amount of resources to effect.

And what is the huge investment here? A laughable $1m. That's the kind of money governments lose behind a backbencher's mistress's sofa.

Besides, why would any government - let alone the Aussie one which includes some regions where you can be fined thousands for possession of e-liquid, remember - be thinking of opposing their public health puppets; severely depriving their treasury of cash; creating the mother of all criminal black markets; pissing off the WHO; confusing the bovine in their citizenry; and guaranteeing electoral disaster, when such a result looks to be occurring organically anyway.
Reynolds American Inc. may have just eight more years as a predominant traditional cigarette manufacturer if a leading tobacco analyst’s revenue projections about electronic cigarettes prove accurate. 
Bonnie Herzog, with Wells Fargo Securities, has estimated Reynolds will have $4 billion in revenue from e-cigs in 2021 compared with $3.9 billion from conventional cigarettes.
Ain't that free market clever? It's almost like it knows better than governments what people actually want, eh?

So, considering the above, I wasn't too surprised to learn that the Sydney Morning Herald article was nothing but fantasy horse shit.
A front page article in the Sun Herald newspaper on Sunday 15 November (sic) presented incorrect information about electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) research at The University of Queensland. 
The government had no input into the design of the trial and the decision to fund the study was based on the independent NHMRC panel's scores. 
The research is being conducted independently of government. The purpose of the trial is to test the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation by comparing their effectiveness in helping smokers to quit with traditional cessation aids such as nicotine gum and inhalators. 
To characterise this independent university research as part of a previous government's “anti-smoking reform agenda” is simply incorrect.
Nothing to see here, people. Politicians may be idiots, but they're not that stupid ... even Labor ones ... even in Australia.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Conspiracy Theories Don't Get Dafter Than This

Without wishing to make promises (or perhaps threats), the blue-arsed fly around-running at Puddlecote Inc looks like abating soon, meaning that I may be able to actually write stuff on the aged self-reminders which have been backing up in my drafts folder for some weeks now. 

But for something recent, here's a very quotable statistic via Reason.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is so excited about that possibility that he goes off on an illogical rant that Siegel quotes:
Electronic cigarettes as marketed today—with flavors like bubblegum and strawberry—are targeted at young people with the very clear intent of creating a new generation of smokers. Without question, tobacco companies are using the same despicable tactics with e-cigarettes that they used in previous decades with traditional cigarettes to lure youth down a path of nicotine addiction and eventual death.
Leaving aside the demonstrably false notion that fruity flavors appeal only to minors, Blumenthal is so focused on condemning tobacco and smoke-free e-cigarettes as the latest incarnation of Big Tobacco that he does not pause to consider whether what he is saying makes any sense. It does not, as Siegel points out.
The clear intention of electronic cigarette marketers is to sell as many electronic cigarettes as they can, not as many cigarettes as they can. In fact, of the more than 250 companies now on the general market, only one even sells cigarettes in the first place. Blumenthal's assertion, therefore, is not only unsubstantiated but preposterous.

This is for the USA, but it's quite staggering, isn't it, that anti-smokers truly believe 250 companies selling e-cigs are somehow doing so only to help the tobacco industry to entrap kids into smoking tobacco.

Not because they have seen the amazing potential for e-cigs and want a share of the immense profits on offer. Oh no, they have gambled their personal savings and worked morning, noon and night building their businesses up just to help out big tobacco.

People laughed at David Icke for more plausible conspiracy theories than this shite. Yet this is the kind of nonsense that is being spouted regularly by idiot politicians from advanced western democracies like the US right down to democracy free banana republics such the EU.

But, y'see, this is all the anti-tobacco - and now anti-nicotine (except made by pharma) - movement does these days. In fact, it is all it has ever done.

I'm sure it must have been about health at some point, but I haven't the time to research that many decades back.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Don't Feed Them

Another perfect example of why attempting to appease health campaigners is a disastrously inept policy comes, once again, from Australia.

As a response to the never-ending misery from self-enriching public health nagbags, Coca-Cola has embarked on a genial publicity campaign which involves:

- Clearly labelling their products with dietary information
- Committing to not advertising to anyone under 12
- Removing their products from schools
- Sponsoring healthy initiatives like bike-riding
- Encouraging, via adverts, healthy activities.

You'd think the health lobby would be happy, right? Nah, course not. It just gives them a chance for more publicity and more demonisation of a hugely popular product by following the tobacco control template.
Leading Australian health groups have launched an offensive against Coca-Cola's latest advertising campaign. 
Twelve health groups, including Diabetes Australia and Nutrition Australia, have written a joint letter to Coca-Cola calling on it to scrap its campaign for sugary drinks and pull out of children's sport sponsorship. 
Jane Martin from the Obesity Policy Coalition says the groups wanted to voice their concerns directly to Coca-Cola. 
"We think we are best placed to talk about the implications and the solutions as far as sugary drinks are concerned," she says. 
"I don't think the public should be taking dietary advice from Coca-Cola. 
"They were the people that said it was a myth that Coke made you fat, a myth that it rotted your teeth and a myth that it was packed with caffeine." 
She says those claims were found to be potentially misleading and deceptive.
It's simply impossible to appease these people. It is a lobby that can - due to the way it is funded worldwide -  never, ever be satisfied.  It is hideously manipulative, bullying and anti-social and will never stop as long as idiot politicians continue to dole out free cash to people like Ms Martin. No amount of do-gooding from 'Big Fizz' will ever get her onside, especially not appeasement which only serves to feed such precautionary parasites.

Do watch this six minute interview where she stutters and obfuscates to avoid genuinely congratulating Coca-Cola on a cycling initiative which no-one but the insane could criticise.


Wednesday 11 September 2013

The Never-Ending Toll

This is one of the occasional transport articles you'll find here so, if it's not your bag, look away now.

Since the BBC brought it up ...
The government has launched a consultation on a new Dartford crossing, costing up to £3bn. Readers came up with a much simpler solution to tailbacks - replace the toll booths. "It would appear most of the congestion is due to the antiquated manual toll collection system. I was surprised by the absence of electronic toll tags," said Bernard Murphy from Texas.
I've got an even simpler suggestion. Scrap the tolls entirely and remove the toll booths. For why? Because we have already paid for the tunnel many times over ...
The idea for a tunnel crossing was first promoted by Kent and Essex county councils in 1929. A pilot tunnel was completed in 1938, although World War II meant the tunnel was not completed to full diameter and opened to traffic until 1963. Tolls had been in place since the opening of the first tunnel, and were enacted to pay for the construction of the scheme.
... and we have also paid for the QEII bridge as well, over ten years ago. And because politicians promised they would stop charging us as soon as that happened.
Motorists have been let down by the government u-turn on the decision to continue charging at the Dartford crossing, it has been claimed. 
From [April 2003] motorists should have been able to cross for free but the government's change of mind means car drivers still have to pay the £1 charge.
This, of course, has since doubled to £2, and £5 for HGVs and coaches. Having said that, the government have been very generous in allowing you to use the roads - that you have already paid for in an imaginative variety of ways - for free between 10pm and 6am. Aren't they nice?

So now, as a result of the toll booths which shouldn't be there, idiot politicians are considering blowing another £3bn of our cash on another crossing to reduce congestion.


Here is why we have continued to be milked since 2003, in the words of then Labour Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman.
"We had a public consultation in 2000 about what we should do about the tolls and the public came to the conclusion the best thing was to continue the toll as a congestion charge."
Well that worked like a dream didn't it, sunshine?

But, hold on, government may have an answer to 'save' us money. Bravo!
The Highways Agency is already on to this and expects to replace the booths towards the end of next year. It is looking for suppliers to provide number plate recognition - similar to how money is collected for the London congestion charge. Along with new road layouts, they say the changes are expected to be finished by October 2014. 
Cost: Between £68m and £84m
So, to summarise:

1) We finished paying for the Dartford Tunnel and QEII Bridge many many years ago.
2) Promises to abolish tolls were reneged on in order to control congestion.
2) The toll booths themselves are now causing congestion.
3) So we need to be robbed of another £3bn to pay for a crossing to reduce congestion caused by the toll booths.
4) Or there is a cheaper option of £68m instead.

Who would bet against a new £3bn crossing and multi-million pound software to charge us forever for using it?

Has it not crossed the mind of any of these thieving bastards to cut us a break - and cut congestion - by letting us use it for free?

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Getting The Excuses In Early

Via Taking Liberties, for some unexplained reason the BBC today decided to hold 'exclusive' interviews with Aussie plain packaging originators Nicola Roxon and Simon Chapman on Radio 5.

For a few more days, you can listen to the whole piece from around 1:39:00 onward here but - for posterity - here is Mr Chapman explaining how his revolutionary new method of deterring kids from smoking will have such a remarkable effect ... that it won't be noticeable.

I think it's known as getting your excuses in early.

Incidentally, Chapman throws up an enormous straw man by arguing that it is those of us opposed to the policy who are demanding a huge decrease in kids taking up the habit as proof of its effectiveness. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are very well aware that it will have no impact whatsoever, thereby being - for once - in total agreement with the geriatric vandal.

In fact, the only people invoking dramatic reductions in youth smoking due to bland packs with hideous images are the massed ranks of frenzied and highly-paid tobacco control execs.

For example, this has been the scaremongery of choice ever since they got twitchy about the consultation response being later than they'd hoped.
Around 207,000 children aged 11-15 start smoking in the UK every year according to new research published today (Friday). 
This means that nearly 570 children are lighting up and becoming smokers for the first time every day. 
With so many children starting to smoke each year, Cancer Research UK is urging the government to commit to plain, standardised packaging of tobacco. Research has shown that children find the plain packs less appealing and are less likely to be misled by the sophisticated marketing techniques designed to make smoking attractive to youngsters.
I don't see any caution there, just an implication that plain packs will carve big holes in that 'jumbo jet' number. The latest use of the figures was just last week in Westminster, where MPs Nick Smith, Tony Baldry, Julian Huppert and Fiona Bruce emphasised urgency - all identically quoting CRUK's 200,000 kids who will miraculously recognise harm from smoking which they'd never quite noticed before (despite it being part of the national curriculum, for chrissakes!).

Not one of them mentioned - as Chapman did today - that even if plain packs were introduced tomorrow, there would be no discernible reduction of kids taking up tobacco over and above the norm. Well, that's surely what he must be saying, or else he'd be confident that a significant reduction as a direct result of plain packs will be clearly evident. No?

Policy-based evidence used to rely on some form of, err, evidence. Nicola Roxon admitted that there can be no evidence before plain packaging is implemented, now we have Chapman admitting that there will likely be no evidence after either.

Precisely why the UK shouldn't be even considering it.

Monday 9 September 2013

E-Cigs And Kids - An Audit Trail Of A Manufactured Moral Panic

Back in July, there was an incredible political move by tobacco control organisations in Rhode Island, USA. It was successful.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Chafee has vetoed legislation that would have banned anyone under the age of 18 from using or purchasing electronic cigarettes
The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and other health advocacy groups, in calling on Chafee to strike down the measure, said it represented a "stalking horse" for tobacco and e- cigarette companies that want to exempt the growing industry from the regulations and taxes imposed on traditional tobacco-based products.
Here were the behemoths of anti-tobacco - after decades of crying 'think of the chiildren' - objecting to a rule which would have made e-cigs an adult only product. Surely a bout of madness, you might assume.

However, Boston University's Michael Siegel perfectly explained what they were really up to.
Why would any public health group want to work to ensure that youth have free access to electronic cigarettes? 
There is no legitimate public health justification for such a position. 
However, there is a possible political explanation. These anti-smoking groups, which have an ideological opposition to electronic cigarettes because they look like cigarettes, don't want the electronic cigarette companies to be painted as responsible companies that have supported actions to prevent youth access to their product. Instead, they would prefer that youth do have access because if large numbers of youths do start using these products, then they can successfully argue for a ban on electronic cigarettes. If youth continue to avoid these products (as they are now), it will be difficult for these organizations to convince policy makers that they should ban the products or put severe obstacles in their way (such as high taxes or stifling regulation of their sales or marketing).
Indeed. And so it came to pass that the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) created a typhoon of publicity this week by releasing an alarmist report on youths using e-cigs. It prompted loud, garish, and largely derogatory articles about e-cigs from Yahoo, CBS News and the LA Times amongst others, despite the CDC's article being desperately flawed and pre-determined junk.

Scroll on to today and the appearance of Linda McAvan - the most dangerous European alive today with more than a whiff of pharma conflicting interests - on Radio Sheffield this morning (from 1:23.30 on).

She was worried, you see, about kids using e-cigs; referred to the CDC report from the US ... and used that as justification for strangling the devices with EU-ordered medicinal licensing.

It fits together like a jigsaw, doesn't it? Just as Dr Siegel predicted.

It doesn't matter that kids using e-cigs is not a significant danger to worry about anyway (recommended read), nor that the e-cig industry is being more responsible and scrupulous than those who pretend they hold the moral high ground. The job is done; a smear story has been manufactured; and is working exactly as planned - just as the tobacco control industry has been doing successfully for decades.

About health, is it? Think again.

Sunday 8 September 2013

E-Cigs Are 'Sexy'

Nigella Lawson would struggle to put it better.
"There's vapour like smoke," marvels Matthew Theunissen. "It crackles like a cigarette, gets warm in your hand like a cigarette and there's that familiar sensation in the back of the throat." 
Theunissen stopped smoking this week, one of a team quitting as part of the Herald on Sunday's Quitters campaign. The journalist, 27, had been 10 years on the baccy, but has now bought himself an e-cig and is impressed. 
It is that sort of reaction that Christopher Bullen and his team of Kiwi researchers have seen among the 650 smokers they tracked. 
E-cigarettes are more socially acceptable than cigarettes or patches, and people are willing to use them for much longer, Bullen says. 
"E-cigarettes give the whole enjoyment of seeing the vapour cloud coming up, and there's the manipulation of the product in the fingers, which is cool and sexy."
Only a few years on the market, and already terms like 'cool and sexy' are being banded about? Now that's progress.

Just out of interest, do you know of any instances where patches or gum have been described in such a way? They've been around since the 80s so it might be quite an involved search.

No wonder the pharma industry have cancelled all leave for their political lobbyists of late!

A typical e-cig user, pictured yesterday
Pic from here ... growl.

Saturday 7 September 2013

"Companies Whose Profit Is Money"

It took some time, but one of Scotland's leading tobacco control industry spokespeople has finally condemned NICE's June decision to endorse long term use of nicotine replacement therapy as a way of cutting down on tobacco.
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of Ash Scotland, said: "I am disappointed by the NICE decision. Patches and gum are much safer than tobacco, but they are produced by companies whose profit is money and these companies are looking for long term use to provide that profit. 
"Addiction, in whatever form, is not a good state for people to be in."
Not really, she was talking about something else, the odious hypocrite.

Link Tank 07/09

Another incredibly busy week at Puddlecote Inc, but a few links still stand out.

The British Isles: "the tobacco-smuggling capital of Europe"

Canadian panic in the playground

"Ireland's political establishment [is] driven ultimately more by politics than by genuine public-health concerns"

Cameron's porn filter blocks networks to enable working from home

Will Australia's gruesome cigarette warnings show up on soda and potato chips next?

Video games make old brains act younger

Scalextric helps McDonald's unveil the 'Happy Table'

The car-melting building

Remote control dogs

Thursday 5 September 2013

If You Disagree With Bob Blackman, Your Opinion Doesn't Count

I'm just ploughing through Tuesday's Westminster Hall debate on plain packaging.

The usual tobacco control industry stooges were stuck on ASH and CRUK broom handles to spout their mendacious cockwaffle, but this is a particularly grubby response from the debate's proposer - and member of ASH's puppet APPG - Bob Blackman.
Gerald Howarth (Aldershot, Conservative) 
As my hon. Friend rightly said, the Government consulted extensively. Some 665,000 people responded to that consultation, of whom 64% opposed what he is advocating. 
Bob Blackman (Harrow East, Conservative) 
It was not a referendum or a vote; it was a consultation. It is the power of the arguments that matters in a consultation, rather than necessarily the volume, particularly when the arguments are organised by a lobby such as Philip Morris.
Just take that in for a moment. A member of the UK parliament is entirely dismissing around 420,000 objections to the consultation simply because he doesn't agree with them. Instead, later in the debate he has this to say:
[...] a February 2013 poll on the issue found that, overall, 64% of adults in Great Britain were in favour of standardised packaging—great public support. 
A further poll by YouGov, conducted in March, showed support for the policy from 62% of Conservative supporters, 63% of Labour supporters and 60% of Liberal Democrats.
Specifically, this refers to polls by ASH themselves, and a pollster whose President is a trustee of ASH. For Blackman, this is perfectly acceptable 'evidence', whereas a necessarily impartial government consultation is somehow bent.

Plus, note the typical smoke-hater tactic of trying to pretend any objections are solely placed by tobacco companies. No, Bob, they are valid objections - closely scrutinised by the Department of Health - from real people.

Now, we've charted here the disingenuous, mendacious, crooked, and downright corrupt nature of the tobacco control industry's campaign, but surely an MP (who would claim to be a fan of democracy) passing off nearly half a million voters as irrelevant puts a rotten cherry on the top of a very nasty cake, doesn't it?

Like I said, I'm still trawling through the transcript, so please do go read the whole thing and - with the exception of a few honourable MPs in opposition to Blackman - see how many other instances of manipulative language, truth distortions, and bare-faced  lies you can spot.

UPDATE: Stone cold lie from Cambridge Lib Dem Julian Huppert:

"I think that we have seen different data sets from Australia. My understanding is very clear that there is a substantial reduction [of people coming forward to smoke] there."

Tuesday 3 September 2013

The Shiny Pebble In The Crown

About ten days ago, the BBC was gushingly reporting on how valuable - even cost-effective - NHS smoking cessation centres have proven to be in the past decade.

Faithfully reproducing quotes from a selection of pharma shills with clear conflicts of interest, Nanny Beeb was thrilled to report that the service was the "jewel in the NHS crown".

Chris Snowdon fisked the unutterable garbage here, and Lord did it beg for it.

But, embarrassingly for our {cough} world-respected news gathering organisation, their overtly-partial simpering to the public sector tool of tobacco control has been rendered even more pathetic by, err, tobacco controllers themselves.

Here is what Aussie smoke-haters Simon Chapman and Mike Daube have to say about the glowing report of NHS 'success' at the BMJ.
West et al report that across 10 years, 5,453,180 smokers attended and set quit dates at English smoking cessation services operating through 151 English Primary Health Care Trusts (PHCTs). However, they do not specify if these were unique individuals or included multiple attendances by some smokers. 
By applying relapse estimates to their four week data, they calculate a 12 month cessation yield above that which would have been expected from just writing a prescription for a smoking cessation treatment. For the most recent year this was an additional 21,723 ex-smokers. Averaged across the 151 PHCTs, this is 144 per PHCT, less than 3 each week.
Not great for an outlay from our taxes of £84m per year, eh? When even rabid anti-smokers describe state-sponsored nagging as an abject failure, the waste of taxes is shown to be even more stark, no matter how much the state's mouthpiece try to pretend otherwise.

Jewel in the crown? Not really. More accurately one of those pretend gems like cubic zirconia, paste, or maybe a shiny beach pebble which kinda looks pretty but is just an inconsequential and valueless piece of rock.

Still, it's nice to see - in this era of much-needed austerity - our antipodean friends making a damn good case for the cutting of another wasteful £84m per annum from our obscenely swollen public sector.

What are you waiting for, Gideon? Get the fiscal shears out.

Monday 2 September 2013

Ireland And Myth #7

With the health minister of Europe's leading tobacco control failure, James O'Reilly, committed to plain packaging, Japan Tobacco have been airing this ad in Ireland (click to enlarge).

What I found most interesting about it was the quote supplied from the WHO's Margaret Chan.
"... it is not just Big Tobacco anymore. Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol".
It kinda rubbishes the now legendary 'myth' #7, doesn't it?
Myth #7: It may be tobacco today but other consumer products will follow  
FACT: Tobacco is not like any other product, it is the only legal consumer product on the market which is lethal when used as intended. That is why the UK and over 170 other governments have signed up to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which places legal obligations on governments to strictly regulate tobacco products. Plain packs for tobacco will not therefore set a precedent for other consumer products.
As Chan's comments prove, the only mythical aspect of this non-myth is that it has somehow been imagined by those opposed to regulations. The slippery slope is not only encouraged by public health tax spongers, it is also something they regularly boast about as being future policy.

Only a fool (or a liar) would believe otherwise.

Via this place (do read the comments, they're jaw-dropping).

Sunday 1 September 2013

Tobacco Control Industry Credibility Takes Another Nosedive

Something crackers from New Zealand this way comes.
Parents of newborn babies are being told to wear smoking jackets and not touch their child for up to half an hour after having a cigarette - to protect the babies from smoke residue.
Yep, the kid may be crawling towards an electric socket with a knitting needle, but keep well away in case they experience real danger.
[Counties Manukau smokefree programme manager Vicki Evans said] "We recommend parents wait at least 20 minutes and wash their hands before touching their baby after having a cigarette, and wear protective clothing which is then removed after smoking."
Absurd, much?
However, a leading quit-smoking advocate says enforcing thirdhand smoke measures do little to protect children in the long run.
That'll be because there is no such health danger as thirdhand smoke. Considering the evidence consists of a telephone poll; a study so corrupt in method that its authors should be relegated to flipping burgers for a living; and a press release by an anti-bacterial floor mop company; anyone who actually buys into the fantasy must be so idiotic as to also believe that there was once a World War 2 bomber on the moon ... which then vanished.

This is how pathetically low tobacco control has sunk, with health service institutions being their version of an open mike comedy store. Next up, how fairies at the bottom of the garden can sprinkle magic dust on your baby to ease teething pain.

Good grief.