Saturday 30 November 2013

The BMJ Is "Anti-Science"

In October I reported on how the BMJ had discarded its integrity by refusing studies funded by the tobacco industry. I made a couple of observations.
[...] we've always been told how brilliant this peer review thing is, haven't we? Now, though, it is apparently shite - glad you cleared that up for us, BMJ. 
But their assertion that "the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways" is funnier than any comic could ever be seeing as they thought it perfectly acceptable to publish, in July, a study celebrating the astounding success of pharmaceutical products ... written by a panel with pharmaceutical funding interests as long as Peter Crouch's arms.
Interesting, then. that BAT's Chief Scientific Officer has seen fit to comment.
The BMJ’s new policy of banning consideration of scientific studies based on their source of funding is particularly disappointing in the light of the BMJ’s historical policy of encouraging robust scientific discourse independent of ideology. Ten years ago the BMJ was “passionately anti-tobacco” but also “passionately pro-debate and pro-science” and further commented that the type of ban recently instituted “would be anti-science”. Allegations of misconduct by the tobacco industry were cited at that time in support of a proposed ban that the BMJ rightly rejected. 
It is ironic that the BMJ has now revised its prior view.
Isn't it just?
It has been argued that tobacco harm reduction is potentially the world’s greatest public health opportunity today. To have this kind of impact, those with an interest must find pragmatic ways to work together to find solutions based on sound science. For this research to be disseminated widely, it will be important for the science publishing industry to retain an independent, critical, yet open approach.
Harm reduction, of course, includes e-cigs. One of the chief detractors of e-cigs is Mad Stanton Glantz, who was referenced in the BMJ's original statement of their intention to ignore everyone who offers an opinion differing with that of the public health Mafia.

How convenient, then, that this ban should take effect at a time when a global debate is raging about - you guessed it - harm reduction and, in particular, e-cigs. There has never been a time when it is more important to listen to all sides ... unless you're a publication wholly owned by the e-cig hating BMA, of course.
We have also noted statements you have made in relation to the peer-review process currently followed at the BMJ. It appears that the BMJ Editors are concerned with the effectiveness of their peer-review system. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Studies approved through peer review have long been the currency of scientific credibility. The reputation of the BMJ is clearly dependent on this capability functioning properly. Applying selective censorship does not aid in addressing fundamental problem, and separates the BMJ from journals of unassailable scientific integrity and relegates it to the class of journals that politicise science. 
We respectfully invite you to revisit your decision not to consider for publication any scientific studies funded by the tobacco industry on the basis that such a policy is, in the BMJ’s own words, “anti-science”. 
In other words, as I suggested, the BMJ has discarded its integrity and is nothing more now than a partial, rickety rag hopelessly compromised by its acceptance of pharma funded studies without question - while blackballing those funded by others - yet attempting to pretend it still possesses some semblance of calm, unbiased authority.

Such a shame.

You can read the response in full here.

Link Tank 30/11

Such a depressing week.

After cigs, will they ban jazzy designs on fruit pastilles?

New York may ban vaping because it looks like smoking

Why have we criminalised love?

Brand-free packs, brand-obsessed parties

France set to ban coloured tattoo ink

“Simply put, the Xbox One is a gateway for porn of the future”

"Fast casual" Canadian restaurant to serve posh KFC

Don't worry, be happy - because it wards off diseases

Why pirate sites could soon be disappearing all over Europe

The world's most amazing tree houses (pic)

Crustacean invasion

Thursday 28 November 2013

It's Like Christmas Eve For Nick Clegg

Personally, the news of another review of plain packaging looks like a stitch-up to me.

It is being conducted - in double quick time, we are told - by Sir Cyril Chantler, a paediatrician who is bound to believe all the rigged evidence or else he'll be ostracised by the rest of the public health Mafia. There is also the small matter of "enabling legislation" so that if a green light is given, plain packs can be on your shelves before you can say '20 Benson and Hedges please'.

However, others seem to think it's just a bit of politicking, see here from Simon Clark and here at ConHome. I was also taken to task by a lifelong Tory friend on Facebook, and a fellow jewel robber in Westminster commented via e-mail that "interesting politics are going on here ... pressing ahead just before or after next May's elections would be pretty unwise".

They may have a point, who knows? I suppose it would explain why Andy Burnham has been less than happy today despite Labour's wildest dreams of sticking it to the working classes apparently coming true.

And, it surely can't have escaped the coalition's attention that the public really can't be bothered to get excited about plain packs, as the public consultation showed.

Or maybe it did. Because Health Minister Jane Ellison - following on from Anna Soubry as the DoH's latest Nicola Murray - claimed on Radio 5 this morning (from 2:16:00 here*) that:
"When we did the consultation in the summer, actually, it was more in favour of going ahead"
Utter nonsense, of course, which was contemptuously corrected by the IEA's Mark Littlewood immediately after she'd finished waffling. But it is interesting that, despite the largest response to a public consultation in the history of the UK government, the results should be so badly represented.

What she was restricting her commentary to were the 'detailed responses', rather than mentioning all who had expressed an interest. By that, she meant almost exclusively state-funded departments; fake charities; single interest pressure groups; and other professional 'stakeholders', rather than, you know, the public. The fact that the figures showed a tiny difference between those paid to spend their time writing, as against those of us who sent detailed responses on our own time should send a message to Ellison. If she received it, though, she isn't letting on.

Perhaps someone should point out that there is a 'public' bit in the term public consultation.

Anyway, sod all that, this tabloid guffer can't be doing with trying to analyse why politicians seem so resistant to listening to the public right now.

But perhaps there's a clue in the reaction of Nick Clegg. This was the most telling quote of the day for me (do go watch the video clip).
"We have an open mind as a government on this, and if the evidence from the review emerges in favour of plain packaging, which I hope it will, it's a measure we would then proceed with".
He's like a kid at Christmas, isn't he?

Not "I hope it shows that we don't need to interfere", not "I hope, as a liberal, that more rules will be unnecessary".

Nope, Nick can't wait to get started. He is crossing his fingers and praying that he will be able to take business away from the packaging industry; desperate to see gratuitous gore become a part of everyday life; and almost coming in his pants at the prospect of causing inconvenience to retailers.

If the review were to find that there is no need for legislation, I guess he would be right pissed off. And even if the review found that plain packs harmed kids rather than deterring them, he'd presumably be frustrated and depressed. Because he was so looking forward to banning something, so he was.

This is the same Clegg, remember, who wanted to ""roll back the power of the state" and "restore British liberties" with the Freedom Bill that went nowhere.

What a pathetic mess politicians manage to contrive every day, eh?

* And if anyone cares to record that lie and stick it on Soundcloud or something for posterity, I'd be grateful.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

NICE Are Not Nice At All

Another day, another case of counter-productive anti-smoker bullying.

Unsurprisingly, the BBC splashed this tiny story everywhere they possibly could; devoted their Radio 5 phone-in to it; and - of course - opened up a rare 'Have Your Say' page on their web story as per usual.
The NHS must stop turning a "blind eye" to smoking and ban it in all hospital grounds in England, according to new guidance. 
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it wanted to see smoking shelters scrapped so patients, visitors and staff could not light up. 
Staff should also stop helping patients out of their beds to go for a smoke. 
And patients who smoke must be identified and offered help to quit, the guidance added.

Now, NICE issue guidance on many things. They have issued 13 items this month alone, only one of which I expect will have crossed the autocue of Nicky Campbell or any other presenter on the BBC. Can you guess which it might be?

So what this boils down to, children, is that you're just not listening to them. The managers at NHS trusts up and down the country have been banning smoking in grassed areas, car parks and sitting on the wall by the main road, but the spurious reasons are so pants that people are not taking any notice. So put your hand out, you naughty boy, the regulator's ruler is to be applied to your smoky palms.

Naturally, by far the most popular comment under the BBC's article was the one which offered the most common sense.
252. landscape
My local hospital has a shelter for smokers. It's 20-30 metres away from the main entrance and off to the side of the car park so no one has to walk past it unless they choose to.
Still people stand just outside the doors but Hospital security are very good at moving people to the smoking shelter.
Perfectly fair way to deal with the issue.

Indeed, this is what Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust found to be the most advantageous solution when they applied to construct 12 shelters back in August.
Mark Trumper, director of development and estate at the NHS trust said it would "continue to discourage smoking" on all of its hospital sites, but had "taken the decision to establish a limited number of smoking shelters for patients and visitors". 
He added they would "create a more appropriate environment" around entrance areas where smokers "historically" have caused "a significant problem".
But common sense seems alien to NICE, who don't seem to be very nice at all.
[NICE public health director Prof Mike Kelly said] “We need to end the terrible spectacle of people on drips in hospital gowns smoking outside hospital entrances."
Yes, it's a disgrace from a 'caring' industry to force them to do so. Bring back smoking rooms and the "terrible spectacle" can indeed end. However, Mike's solution would never consider such a thing, it's not quite nasty enough.

Is the NHS prepared to compound the disgusting treatment of smokers by making them walk even further away from the building for no reason, or by taking away their liberty to do so?

You guessed it. Mike suggests a system of social engineering, coercion and restricting liberties. While you're in hospital contrary to what you'd like to be doing - and most who are there will not be suffering from smoking-related problems - NICE want staff to take that opportunity to nag, cajole and bully you. Even to the point of not assisting you if you decide you'd prefer to ignore their advice and have a smoke.

Hmm, this public sector organisation seems to forget who pays their wages and those of every NHS member of staff in the UK, doesn't it?

A long time ago (it seems) the banning of smoking was all about secondhand smoke. It wasn't restricting your freedoms, oh no, it was about ensuring others are not harmed. Now, though, NICE want you hounded even in wide open carbon monoxide riddled car parks ... for your own good, natch.

OK, that's the rant over with, but now for the comedy.

If you read NICE's full guidance, there are quite a few astounding and often hilarious suggestions. I'll just leave these two here.
"Varenicline and bupropion can be used with caution in people with mental health problems"
Varenicline, aka Chantix, because a drug linked to 500 suicides should be fine for them. Nope, can't see anything wrong with that.

Whereas, on the other hand ...
Encourage people who are already using an unlicensed nicotine-containing product (such as unlicensed electronic cigarettes) to switch to a licensed product [i.e patches and gum].

It's not about health. Again.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

The European Union And "The Rotten Hand Of Big Pharma"

Following on from yesterday's article here about the EU and its avoidance of democracy in favour of pharma lobbying, do watch VTTV's David Dorn explaining the disgrace in more detail and advising on how to go about embarrassing these motherfuckers into acting with decency.

Now, there may be many who think that there isn't a lot of point; that no-one in the EU is noticing. I can tell you that they certainly are.

A fellow jewel robber within the Berlaymont shared the EU parliament's social media briefing with me yesterday. It is a report sent out by parliament detailing the most significant mentions of the European Parliament on Twitter for each day. Here is their report for Monday.
·  “The European Union ignores science and common sense by making proposals that will damage the health of smokers and vapers” Ecigarette Research (230+ mentions)
·  “They just don’t get it – Commission proposal for the regulation of e-cigarettes” Counterfactual (210+ mentions) 
·  “Bayer is suing Europe for saving the bees [petition]” (100+ mentions today)
·  “Prostitution: We need to see paying for sex as violence rather than vice” Independent (75+ mentions)
Top hashtags: #ep2014uk (180+ mentions) #eu (100+ mentions) #ep2014 (80+ mentions) #ecigs (75+ mentions)
A follow up e-mail received this afternoon simply said: "Same again today".

They're noticing, right enough. They might not like what they are seeing, but they are very aware of what is being talked about by real people.

This has always been the strength of the vaping community. Despite public health tax spongers continually pretending that objectors are merely front groups for whatever industry they are trying to destroy at any particular time, vapers are real people and can't be ignored. Politicians are timid souls, always easily scared at the thought of bad press from bully-boy prohibitionists, but they're far more terrified of real people holding them and their stupid pronouncements to account.

Electorate outrage - as highlighted at The Free Society today regarding what David Cameron described as the not "very sensible approach" in other areas of the Tobacco Control Directive (TPD) - is still a powerful weapon.

It's always been clear that the TPD was a deeply corrupt document, drafted by incompetent Maltese politicians and presented to a supranational body riddled with cronyism and infested by lobbyists whose motivation is anything but health. This leaked Lithuanian lunacy is just the latest shameful episode in its ill-begotten timeline.

On the plus side, it has exposed this arrogant and insular cabal for the revolting creatures that they have always been. I do hope that those who read here and harbour a deep dislike for the bully state will find a little time to shine a light on them by doing as David Dorn suggests above.

Whichever part of this ill-considered, pharma-designed, evidence-light, propaganda-heavy, illiberal and incoherent TPD nonsense you object to, do get writing, sharing, retweeting and generally making a fuss to make EU politicians notice more than they already do.

Pile it up, people.

Monday 25 November 2013

The EU Doesn't Understand The Word No

My, haven't those pharma lobbyists been busy!

Via Clive Bates, it seems that Brussels is trying its best to ignore October's decision by the EU parliament and bring in medicalisation of e-cigs anyway.

A document has been leaked (see here) which details dozens of clauses which the EU's pharma sock puppets plan to insert into the tobacco products directive seemingly out of spite. As Bates describes:
Basically, the Commission has tried to smuggle in as much medicine-style regulation as possible, and then added the most restrictive commercial aspects of tobacco regulation on top – thus imposing the worst of both worlds for this most promising product. There are one or two acceptable things in the new draft, of course, but the very bad things listed hugely outweigh them all.
Now, my new gadget arrived at Puddlecote Towers on Saturday, this is the saucy little devil here.

So, for those who don't know much about vaping, let's measure how this one product would be affected by product-centric aspects of the EU's daft proposals.
- Allows only single-use cartridges.  No refillable units or tanks will be permitted.
Fail. Mine would be banned because it has a tank which holds {gasp!} a whole 3ml of liquid.
- Allows only flavours already approved for use in NRT.
Unless watermelon is a flavour allowed in pharma gum, my current favourite would be gone. Yes, watermelon, and you're laughing why?
- Limits nicotine density to 20mg/ml maximum with no justification
27mg here because it gives a satisfying kick. Knock it down and I'll be ordering more baccy from the milkman.
- Limits nicotine content of any container to just 10mg/unit.
Lots of little bottles instead of one big 30ml one, then? Of course, that's if I can find where to buy them because ...
- Bans all advertising in press or printed publications (except trade), on radio, TV and other audiovisual services and the internet.
I buy online. Without websites promoting their products, that's out the window too. This, naturally, also means that any smoker who is curious about e-cigs and wants to try them as a replacement - or even to quit - won't have a Scooby where to look.

It kinda looks like none of this is about health, doesn't it? That's probably because, as I have said many times before, anti-tobacco (and now anti-vaping) has never been about health. None of it. Only pharma profits.

As Bates describes:
Make no mistake, if implemented this proposal bans every product on the market today and would severely limit options for future products

This does seem to give us a better understanding of the EU in general, though. France said no in a referendum on the EU Constitution in 2005, they were ignored; Holland also said no on 2005, they were ignored; Ireland said no to the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, they were told to vote again and come up with the 'correct' result.

The EU, it seems, simply doesn't understand what 'no' means, in any European language. Why the hell should they be bothered what you, the people, think? They have a plan and they're going to stick with it.

Please do go read Clive Bates' article in full and consider his suggestions for objecting to this illiberal and dictatorial behaviour to your elected rep. Whether you are a fan of e-cigs or not, this is symbolic of the problem we have with gutless politicians and their mesmerised idiocy in the face of the public health Mafia in general.

I'll be badgering my local politicos again, the poor souls. Cos you see that lovely bit of shiny up there? Out of my cold dead hands, you shitehawks.

Sunday 24 November 2013


As a responsible blog, we warn you to exercise caution and clear children from the room before scrolling down.

You're probably well ahead of me here, but this sensitive material is? 

If you have been affected by issues covered in this article, please contact Samaritans.

Good grief.

Friday 22 November 2013

Prohibitionist Fantasies

Snowdon has been feasting himself by debunking some of the shameless lies being promoted by anti-booze types during 'Alcohol Awareness Week'. You might like to read about the most recent here, here and here.

Yesterday, though, saw an uptick in bullshit from the temperance lobby, with a succession of astounding nonsense at their hashtag #TackleAlcoholHarms, tweeted directly from some conference or other packed with people paid out of your taxes. They are set for more fantasy claims today before knocking off at 2:30pm to celebrate raucously with a lemon grass and durian smoothie, I expect.

I was particularly intrigued with this tweet, though, and was educated by Mudgie as to how it was disastrously gullible.

You see, we have undisputed and government-trusted figures about this from the BBPA. Here is what they look like.

Now, that doesn't look like a 'dramatic' rise in off-trade sales to me. It more suggests that beer consumption is in general decline, which kinda trashes the 'booze epidemic' mantra. The one thing we can tell conclusively is that there is no "up dramatically" about any of the lines there.

Ok, so maybe wine and spirits sales are taking up the slack? Not noticeably, no.
Wine & Spirit Sales continue to fall as year on year tax rises hit consumers 
Off Trade
- Total volume sales have continued to slide, down 3% annually and 4% over the latest 12 weeks.
In fact, sales of wines and spirits have been flat for some time now, as these graphics show quite clearly.

Yes, these data are provided by trade organisations. But even if we ignore the fact that government trusts these sources and that it would be in the best interests of private industry to talk up their successes to assuage shareholders instead of highlighting declines, who do you trust more? Tax-funded lobbyists whose income relies on pretending there is a "dramatic" rise in home consumption, or trade bodies for companies beholden to shareholders and financial regulators to provide accurate information?

And then there is this, which is not a slippery slope and therefore patently false.
They're not even hiding it any more.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Sláinte To A Soviet Ireland And The Patently False

Sometimes, little comment from me is required. Take this BMJ blog from Irish GP Pat Harrold, for example.
We are now set to become one of the first countries to ban tobacco branding. This means that the box of twenty will have a plain cover and you can only tell the different types by the lettering. The boxes will look generic, rather like the government products in the old Soviet Union.
Because that's precisely the kind of regime that every forward-thinking health lobbyist should be striving to emulate, of course.
I have made the transformation from an enthusiastic smoker to an even more enthusiastic non smoker and I have to say I welcome this strategy.
We've all met one, haven't we?
Maybe the idea could be extended to fast food and alcohol.
What? You mean it's not a myth? Quick, someone tell Deborah "patently false" Arnott!

Who needs a Hands Off Our Packs campaign in Ireland when this guy is making the arguments without one, eh?

UPDATE: Grandad has filleted Harrold in his inimitable laid-back Irish style, do go have a read.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Consensus On Policy-Led Evidence

Yesterday, Spiked carried a very interesting article by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, a trustee of Sense about Science which is a charity self-described as wishing to "stand up for scientific inquiry, free from stigma, intimidation, hysteria or censorship".

He takes the opportunity to criticise pressure being placed on large retailers to stop stocking controversial magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY). His main premise is that - whatever scientists think of what the magazine says - it is a freedom of speech issue to allow them to say it.

The main target of his criticism is science blogger Matthew Lam who wants WDDTY removed from shelves for transgressions such as cherry-picking, citing studies that don't back up their claims, and using irrelevant and incorrect information.

Sound familiar? It should do (see links).

Fortunately, Fitzpatrick is on the ball and highlights this selective scientific blindness in his piece.
Indeed, the misuse of scientific evidence is a much bigger problem in the mainstream of public health and the serious press (not to mention in scientific publications) than it is in supermarket magazines and tabloid newspapers. 
A recent pamphlet by Jamie Whyte exposed the flaws in the use of scientific evidence in a number of areas of policymaking: minimum alcohol pricing, passive smoking, global warming and happiness. Activist scientists concerned about the abuse of evidence and ill-informed advice would be well advised to turn their attention to serious issues of so-called ‘evidence-based policy’ rather than trying to crush the marginal eccentricities of WDDTY.
In his rebuttal, Lam disagrees strongly with just about every point Fitzpatrick makes about free speech and WDDTY, except for one.
Fitzpatrick has a point regarding the misuse of scientific evidence elsewhere and I agree wholeheartedly that more needs to be done across the board to change the way evidence is presented, disseminated and accessed.  But how does that mean that this campaign is worthless?
Whatever else they disagree on, that certainly looks like a consensual dislike of pretend science produced by public health advocates posing as scientists, does it not?

Quite right too, considering most of the policy-led rubbish spouted by sociologists, market researchers and aircraft mechanics must be deeply irritating for people like Fitzpatrick and Lam.

"Tobacco Today But Other Consumer Products WILL Follow"

Hey, Deborah Arnott, prepare for more embarrassment. Remember this?
[...] the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false.
Yes, we're testing that comedy staple Myth #7 again today.
Myth #7: It may be tobacco today but other consumer products will follow
FACT: Tobacco is not like any other product
No-one seems to have told Aussie nurse Rhonda Wilson about this 'patently false' bit. She sees fast food as a product crying out for the same treatment so she does, inspired directly by her country's plain packaging law ('sic' throughout).
Exactly the same messages could be echoed for fast food. I am thinking of especially the large companies who mass produce fast foods…. you know who they are…. they are dominated by bright attractive colours in their ‘restaurants’, and on their packaging…they include ‘nutritional facts’ on their labels (that you need a magnifying glass to read). They have cheap options to lure the cash poor….and they have meal deals and family meal deals which include fizzy sugary drinks to the mostly fried mix! 
It is not rocket science  – this stuff…hard to refer to it as food! This stuff is really, really bad for people to consume. It directly causes BAD health.  There is a clear and obvious cause and effect….. if you eat a lot of fast food + sugary drinks you will get fat, have cardiac disease, diabetes, diminished mental health… the list goes on…. other blog posts of mine have discussed food security and the excess of poor quality food… 
Fast food is addictive – our brains crave the saturated and transfats, and the more we have…the more we crave. It is fact.
There is another stark similarity too. Exactly like plain fag packs, she doesn't care that there is no evidence whatsoever to promote her snobbish prejudices above the public's right to freedom of choice without hindrance.
Would plain packaging and plain signage restrictions make a difference? I'm not sure that the evidence is out there to say it would help…. but in terms of health, I can’t see that it would do any harm to try!
Looks uncannily like a bona fide 'domino effect', doesn't it?

Tuesday 19 November 2013

We'd Prefer To Waste Money, Thanks

Curious news from Scotland.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will go to the Court of Session next week to urge it to pass the dispute over the proposals to the European Court of Justice for a ­decision. 
The association opposes the plans [for minimum pricing], which would set a 50p per unit floor price on all drink sold in Scotland, saying it will encourage countries around the world to retaliate with tariffs on imports of Scotch.
Well why not? One of the biggest problems for minimum alcohol pricing is that there is a ECJ legal precedent in the form of Commission v France, Austria and Ireland 2010 which ruled minimum pricing is illegal for tobacco products. I think it's fair to say that if Europe's eager baccy bansturbators can't force through a minimum price, alcohol haters are going to have an exponentially tougher battle.

So the SWA is proposing skipping all the expensive Scottish legal fannying around and going straight to that pivotal question earlier rather than later.
The two sides are now locked in a legal dispute at the Court of Session, with reports yesterday suggesting that it could take until 2017 for the matter to reach a resolution. 
A spokeswoman for the SWA said last night that it expected the case to be referred up to the ­European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, no matter what the Scottish courts conclude. 
She said that resolution of the case could be speeded up if the Scottish Government agreed to ask the Court of Session to send it there now.
Makes perfect sense. Especially since Health Sec Alex Neil agrees that the dispute will inevitably end up being fought in Strasbourg but is confident that the European Court is going to be a cakewalk.
Mr Neil said: "If we end up in the European Court, which I think at the end of the day may well happen, we believe if it does end up in the European Court we will win hands down."
So why not just get on with it then?

It seems that, in order to foster the perception that Scotland is a real country, they're just going to tie up Scottish courts wasting Scottish taxpayers' money for the next three or four years instead of saving cash with a quick yes or no from those with real power in Europe.

Says a lot about the SNP, that.

Monday 18 November 2013

Five Years (And A Day) Later

As has happened before, the occasion of this blog's anniversary escaped my attention yesterday. It's five years now, which is kinda like almost half a decade of this tabloid stuff ... innit.

In the time since 2008, there have been 2,637 published articles here attracting more than 1.6 million page views - at an average of 999 per day (how frustrating is that figure!) - from 241,000 unique visitors and just over 950 RSS subscribers.

As I've mentioned before, though, I'm more proud of the 21,435 comments that have appeared here in that time. I do read every one, even when finding my time increasingly constrained to reply. Your input is also especially welcomed - commenters and lurkers alike - when acting as 'fellow jewel robbers' by submitting FOIs; sending letters to politicians; digging up dirty documents squirrelled away in the nether reaches of websites ... and brilliantly telling me all about it. 

Interestingly, although that real life thing keeps intruding and preventing me writing as much as I have in the past, visits have remained constant with July 2013 actually surpassing the previous record high of July 2011 when our Stony Stratford day out was the centre of much attention. I put this mostly down to the e-cig effect considering that my Twitter following has also increased commensurate with the elevated activity of the EU and MHRA against vaping.

Which is proof that I was on the right lines when I predicted this last year.
Well, if anything, the situation as regards personal liberties which encouraged me to set Casa Puddlecote up in the first place has become exponentially worse. Whereas before the problem of dozy MPs listening to self-interested trouser-stuffers was becoming sinister and worrying, masks have since slipped; gloves have been discarded; and they are now openly treating the vast majority of the public with utter contempt. 
Indeed, the themes that we discuss here are almost becoming fashionable as scales tumble from the eyes of many and this incessant anti-freedom, anti-social onslaught against human nature is beginning to be recognised.
And ... (emphases mine)
Being a stubborn sort, I reckon there will be even more nonsense to highlight in the coming weeks, months and years; even more nauseating stink bombs of state policy; even more hideously pompous egos to prick; even more corrupt arseholes from whom to steal big fat juicy analogous jewels from. No point stopping now.
Quite accurate, I thought. Let's go for another year then, eh? 

Sunday 17 November 2013

More Want E-Cig Ban Than Supported Smoking Ban In Pubs

While I have a few moments, there was an interesting stat during Tuesday's BBC Breakfast VT piece about e-cigs and their public use. Their poll asked the public if vaping should be banned in public places, the result being:

Katherine Devlin: "Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up"
34% said yes, a blanket ban on the use of e-cigs indoors is justified, which the BBC described as "the public seems to be fairly relaxed about people using e-cigarettes in public".

Rather interesting, I thought, considering that the ONS published a poll every year from 1996 to 2005 on attitudes to a smoking ban in pubs. They split the responses between those who approved of an outright ban, those who favoured some restrictions, and the numbers calling for none at all.

The figures up to 2005 were (emphases mine):

2003: 20%, 70% and 8% respectively.
2004: 31%, 63% and 5%
2005: 33%, 61% and 5%

Note that the first figure is those in favour of what was undemocratically inflicted on us. The significant majority didn't want it. This could have been embarrassing to Labour, in the wake of their authoritarian Health Act 2006, if the ONS hadn't changed the way they presented the stats for that year ... which is exactly what they did. I'm sure they still asked the same questions, but tables were published showing 66% agreeing with 'restrictions' (a flatline from the previous two years by their own admission), without any further detail. Lo and behold, a majority now in favour, whereas before they were struggling for a third of those surveyed.

You could say, then, using the BBC's vernacular, that - considering the lesser percentage compared with the BBC's 34% on e-cigs - the public seemed 'fairly relaxed' about smoking in pubs prior to the smoking ban.

I also suspect that if the BBC had split their poll into those who approve of an outright ban on e-cigs, those who favour some restrictions, and those who think there should be none at all, that they could have presented their poll differently - perhaps arguing that a majority want legislative bans. The fact that they didn't reflects rather well on the BBC, I'd say.

Of course, others may not be as generous in not manipulating polls on public use of e-cigs so vapers should be wary of being complacent. That 62% opposed is not as encouraging as it superficially seems, in fact it's alarming how large the minority agreeing with the proposal is ... especially absent of any fake science suggesting vapour harms bystanders.

A larger majority than that has been ignored before in very recent history, after all.

Friday 15 November 2013

Smokefree South West Is "An Expensive Habit To Have"

The latest attempt by anti-smoker obsessives to arrogantly insert themselves into every occasion in your life comes from Fiona Andrews of Smokefree South West.

In the summer she was telling all who would listen that she should be part of your August Bank Holiday planning, and now she is rudely gate-crashing family Christmas celebrations too.
Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, said: “Everyone looks forward to spending quality time with friends and family over Christmas, but it doesn't come cheap. 
"People are still feeling the effects of the recession but their children will expect top presents and a roast with all the trimmings so something has got to give. 
“Smoking is certainly an expensive habit to have, and stopping smoking in the months leading up to Christmas could make all the difference to the family budget. 
Ms Andrews added: “Christmas is a time when families spend quality time together, but this increases the chance that children may be exposed to passive smoking, so our message is if you do smoke, to take it outside to protect your family."
This, by the way, is Fiona Andrews whose role as director of Smokefree South West is entirely funded by your taxes. Fiona doesn't need to worry too much about financing her own "top presents and a roast with all the trimmings" because it is all paid for by you, along with everything else she enjoys at your expense.

So, in light of the fact that families spend more on taxes than they do on housing, energy and food combined, it would also make a big "difference to the family budget" if lots of people like Fiona Andrews were sacked, would it not?

Since she cares so much about family finances, I take it she will therefore 'think of the children' whose parents are strapped for cash at the moment and petition the NHS strategic health authority to close down her collection of tax-spongers forthwith.

While "people are still feeling the effects of the recession", a selfless gesture like that would make for a great Christmas present, Fiona, while simultaneously enabling everyone to enjoy the festive period without having to listen to your state-funded shroud-waving and fake concern for our finances. Just sayin'.

H/T Moonrakin

Thursday 14 November 2013

Pleasure Without Pain

First, a picture to terrify prohibitionists everywhere.

This image of people stubbornly not listening to nagging is taken from today's Telegraph podcast featuring Peter Oborne and Nigel Farage. Well, it made me smile anyways.

The scene came about because they were discussing David Nutt's "alcohol without the hangover" and e-cigs, which inevitably touches briefly on the smoking ban in pubs.

Do go have a listen here from 17:50 in, or from 23:20 if you're just interested in Farage rightly slamming pharma lobbyists.

And when you've done so, I expect many might like to follow host Tim Stanley's Twitter feed after hearing his tongue-in-cheek plan for a ban amendment.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

An Apology: I Was Wrong About The BMA

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes
I have an embarrassing apology to make.

In the past, I've been of the opinion that the BMA is opposed to smoking. I stupidly thought that occurrences like the BMA's Vivienne Nathanson lying on the BBC about the effects of smoking in cars; their twisting of basic rules of economics to pretend that smoking costs outweigh revenues when in actual fact it's bollocks; and their backing of evidence-free plain packaging as a tool was proof that they were big anti-smokers.

My view has been comprehensively trumped in the past week though. Boy, do I feel silly now!

Last week, another rail company - this time, Greater Anglia - were persuaded to ban an alternative to smoking by the BMA ....
A spokesperson said the ban was "in common with other train operators" and the decision haf been taken "in line with the British Medical Association's recommendation that e-cigarettes should be included in the ban on smoking in public places."
... which follows in the footsteps of Scotrail, who also heavily referenced BMA advice to explain their own ban.

But that was eclipsed by their single-handedly opposing BBC Breakfast's assertion yesterday that the public generally think e-cigs are a good thing.

Of course I should have noticed the signs. Vivienne Nathanson has lied before about e-cigs, whilst only last month BMA GP Andrew Thomson was imploring Celtic and Rangers to ensure that their fans are kept in the dark about a potential substitute for tobacco.

I should also have taken more note of their absurd scaremongery towards e-cigs and come to the proper conclusion which was staring me in the face all along. That they must actually be big fans of smoking, presumably because it helps their chums in the pharma industry if smokers quit or cut down the politically-correct (and state-funded) way.

So, to all those I may have misled, I say a big sincere sorry.

Having said that, I'd like to offer a conspiracy theory instead of the obvious reality of the BMA's approach detailed above. It might help me to salvage something out of all this if you'd consider it.

Perhaps, silly as it may seem in light of their recent public pronouncements, the BMA aren't actually shilling for big pharma. Maybe, just maybe, their way of approaching the tobacco and/or e-cig debate is something like this.

Nah! You're right, I'm just making excuses for myself. This is the world-renowned BMA we're talking about here, not some bunch of amateurs who talk nonsense without thinking of the bigger picture of global harm reduction.

So that's settled then. The BMA are not an anti-smoking organisation at all. How stupid was I to think otherwise, eh?

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Energy Companies Are Today's New Tobacco And Must Be Silenced

I've often referenced the tobacco control template and how prohibitionists the world over are copying the tactics, but I don't think I've ever seen the ideological plagiarism being quoted as openly as this.
The FCTC's Article 5.3, and its accompanying guidelines, sets the precedent for limiting interactions between an industry that profits from harm and those tasked with minimising and ultimately stopping the harm it causes. 
Now is the time to make the case, and build a global campaign, for a climate agreement which protects climate change policy-making from the vested interests of corporations that benefit from the continued excessive use of fossil fuels.
For those not familiar with Article 5.3, it is the gagging clause which demands state bodies ignore opposition to tobacco control's policies, good or bad. They don't want any debate, less so one from anyone who actually knows their onions and is capable of highlighting their lies and spin (also see yesterday's post).

This is already being duplicated by the EU and WHO towards alcohol, but here we have a scary scenario whereby climate extremists could well be afforded exclusive access to idiot politicians over and above energy companies who are tasked with infrastructure to prevent the lights from going out, and oil companies who ensure transport serves our everyday needs.

Of course, even though the document proudly boasts throughout of imitating tobacco control tactics to the letter, this is not a slippery slope because tobacco is not like any other product.

Those fine upstanding tobacco control guys - who have never been known to tell a lie - said so. 

Monday 11 November 2013

An Object Lesson In The Art Of Ignoring The Public

The New York Times has provided us with an object lesson in how the tobacco control industry - and, by extension, the entire public health nanny state who hang on their coat-tails - contrives to ignore you.

Again, it is those mischievous e-cigs doing the exposing.
BRUSSELS — Facing a decision on whether to impose tight restrictions on a booming market for electronic cigarettes, members of the European Parliament received a pleading letter in September that was signed by thousands of former smokers worried that “the positive story of e-cigarettes may be about to come to an abrupt halt.” 
The signatures had been collected via a website,, which proclaimed itself the voice of the “forgotten millions in this debate” — people who had taken up e-cigarettes to stop smoking, and their grateful families. 
The website, however, was not quite the grass-roots effort it claimed to be. The text of the letter it asked people to sign was drafted by a London lobbyist hired by Totally Wicked, an e-cigarette company. The website had been set up by a British woman living in Iceland who had previously worked for the owners of Totally Wicked.
That is enough. It's all that is needed to jerk the knee of glorious democratic thinkers of our age such as Martin McKee.

You see, a grass roots effort involving millions of consumers is only worth listening to if it is organised by ordinary Joes and Janes themselves.

They are supposed to come together organically; find huge funds to set up web sites and petitions; after - of course - keeping their eyes continually on the impenetrable machinations of EU regulatory bodies buried amongst thousands of EU web pages; and all without any company pointing potentially troublesome proposed legislation out to them.

No enjoying a life for you plebs, oh no. You must be as dedicated to trawling through acres of regulations on every subject you remotely care about as Martin McKee and the public health community - who are paid a hefty salary to do precisely that all day - or you are to be considered an industry stooge, just like half a million public consultation responses on plain packaging can be air-brushed out of political discourse as if they didn't happen..

But, unlike you, the other side are exempt from accusations of astroturfing. Despite, err ...
Among the companies arrayed against the e-cigarette industry were GlaxoSmithKline, the London-based pharmaceutical company, which sells Nicorette nicotine chewing gum in the United States, and Johnson & Johnson, the American consumer products company, which owns the manufacturer of Nicorette gum, patches and inhalers.
Now is not the time to draw attention to the billions in fines pharma companies have been served with for fraud and malfeasance, it's irrelevant because they have never lobbied McKee or anyone else in the tobacco control industry. Not. Ever.

Sponsored, yes, but that's OK, because professional tax-sponger McKee and his ilk quite like them, they fit their anti-vape and smoke agenda perfectly.
“Are these people all in the pay of e-cig companies?” said Linda McAvan, an influential member of Parliament’s environment and public health committee. “No. But they have been told by these companies that Brussels wants to take away their product. They are genuinely angry. But their anger has been fed.”
What? Consumers are angry about something they were told would prevent them from consuming a product they enjoy? How fucking outrageous! But it's OK, they've been alerted by an e-cig company, so we can just ignore them as astroturf groups.

Their complaints should dribble in weakly, haphazardly, and ignorantly so highly-paid McAvan and her chums can continue making hay with their personal preferences while the spotlight is anywhere but on their dubious and borderline criminal cockroachery. The public actually knowing what is going on is so very inconvenient, isn't it?

This is cognitive dissonance at its most stark. Thousands of vapers have engaged in the democratic process by writing to MPs and MEPs, while state-funded, pharma-sponsored public health pros desperately invent ways to ignore anything someone outside of their influence says.

And they call others sock puppets? Go figure.

Sunday 10 November 2013

@GawainTowler: One Of Us

Guido reported on Thursday about the redeployment of Westminster's longest-serving press officer from London to Europe.
He’s had the hardest jobs in politics for a decade but now UKIP head of press Gawain Towler is heading back to Brussels. He will also stand for election in 2014. Putting out fires since most other spinners were still at school, Towler dealt with fruitcakes, loonies and Nigel Farage on a daily basis for years. Westminster will be darker without his signature red trousers, and farewell to the cravat/bowler hat/tweed look. 
Farage and co are vulnerable without him.
He also used the pic of Gawain in his bathrobe which I once did for laughs (though I can't for the life of me find the particular post).

The footnote H/T Gawain has been a regular feature on this blog and I can still heartily recommend following @gawaintowler on Twitter as I do. In light of this, despite my workload being stiff at the moment, I made a point of travelling uptown on Thursday to say farewell to Gawain with a beer or two before he leaves for a new UKIP job spec in Brussels.

For those who don't know who he is, Gawain was instrumental in securing Nigel Farage as a speaker for our day out in Stony Stratford, and is as sound as they come, right up to being spanked by the EU for having the temerity to blog his opinions.

He is mightily one of us, as this video clip shows.

His next challenge is to be elected as an MEP in the South West as third candidate in the UKIP list. If you're in that catchment area, please do him a favour in May 2014 when you cast your vote.

If location denies you that, instead raise a glass to the guy and pray to whichever God you respect that Labour and the Lib Dems poll less than 12% which is the magic number to turn UKIP's two MEPs there into three.

I'll miss the flamboyant bugger, so I will.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Daylight Is The Best Disinfectant

Brace yourself for some world class hypocrisy.

A remarkable essay turned up in a psychological science publication this month which is both hilarious and jaw-dropping in equal measure. Written in doom-laden hyperbolic terms, policy-led researchers in differing areas clubbed together to have a collective whinge. Its intro is dramatic.
Science denial kills. 
Instantly the climate change "denier" put-down is invoked, which is not surprising seeing as Michael Mann - yes, he of the much-challenged hockey stick graph fame - was one of the authors. Of the other four, two are Linda Bauld and Gerard Hastings (yes, them).

Say what? Hastings is a market researcher, and Bauld a sociologist. I thought this was about 'science'.

In fact, the whole article is a conspiracy theory of epic proportions (for which they get rightly trashed in the comments). The general message being "leave us alone to say what we want without debate or millions will die".
A common current attribute of denial is that it side-steps the peer-reviewed literature and relies on platforms such as internet blogs or tabloid newspapers to disseminate its dissent from the scientific mainstream.
By "side-steps the peer-reviewed literature", they presumably mean that we who object should do so by producing articles in the BMJ and getting them approved by Hastings and Bauld's chums, or not object at all. This stands alone as dictatorship of opinion, but is reduced to comedy when you consider that the BMJ only last month barred any input from those they don't want to listen to.

So how sciencey are these two? Well, they are part of a public health movement described neatly today thus.

That's not science at all, it is lobbying and should most definitely be challenged.

And what of peer review? Well, the editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, described it well earlier this year.
Peer review and journals – I couldn’t agree with you more, absolutely. I mean peer review is an utterly corrupt, ignorant stupid, mad system that we’ve created it’s just that we haven’t come up with anything better.  
But let’s understand what peer review is: 
Peer review is not about checking the validity of data
Peer review is not about reproducibility of data
Peer review is a check on acceptability, acceptability in the scientific community
That's right. A scam to make sure that anything which is published is acceptable to people like Bauld and Hastings. How convenient.

So, for example, Bauld producing utter cockwaffle for a fee on the effects of the smoking ban on pubs is acceptable to Bauld's chums, but my pointing out what I think is wrong with it is not and should be silenced.

Not only that. Even if you were silly enough to play by their deliberately corrupt and impenetrable rules and attempt to be published, they don't want to reveal their workings and are crying like babies that anyone wants to try.
Another common tool of harassment involves FOI requests.
Harassment? No. It's just we jewel robbers asking valid questions, you precious flowers, you.
The third and fourth authors’ research center on tobacco control has been subject to a number of extensive FOI requests from a tobacco giant, Philip Morris International, for confidential interview records involving teenaged participants. Notably, the identity of Philip Morris was disguised during the first FOI request, which was launched with a law firm serving as a front group (Hastings, MacKintosh, & Bauld, 2011). The information requested included “all primary data,” “all questionnaires,” “all interviewers’ handbooks and/or instructions,” “all data files,” “all record descriptions,” and so on.
What bastards, eh? How dare they want to check that Bauld and Hastings aren't lying through their teeth? But then, if the 'third and fourth authors' had nothing to be ashamed of, why did they resist so much that they were rebuked by the Information Commissioner for breaking the law? Especially since their own BMJ reported that they should release the data in the interests of transparency.

Oddly enough, Bauld and Hastings didn't see fit to reference those links in their little tantrum. One could almost call that lazy and deliberately selective.

Which is ironic because they continue ...
Another tactic to discredit “inconvenient” peer-reviewed results involves publishing alternative versions of “the evidence” using different sources that proport (sic) to be equally legitimate. For example, the third author’s review of the impact of smoke-free legislation in England, published by the UK government (Bauld, 2011) was the subject of a report by Imperial Tobacco, the world’s fourth-largest tobacco company. Entitled “The Bauld Truth”* as a play on the third author’s name (Imperial Tobacco, 2011), it presented alternative, non peer-reviewed evidence as more viable and opened with the statement that the third author’s review was “lazy and deliberately selective”. Anyone familiar with climate disinformation on the internet will recognize those rhetorical tools as the standard fare of dismissal of inconvenient science.
Opposing views, you see, are not to be tolerated. Only evidence that Bauld and Hastings produce - peer-reviewed by their mates, natch - is the true scripture. Debate is so tiresome, isn't it?

In light of the above, it's clear that the entire point of this piece - entitled The Subterranean War on Science - is to persuade their friends in politics and the media to ignore any dissent. Yet here is the stunning finale.
How should the scientific community respond to the events just reviewed? As in most cases of intimidation and bullying, we believe that daylight is the best disinfectant. This article is a first step in this effort towards transparency.
Huh? After a one-sided exhortation for privacy; a plea for information to be denied to anyone outside of their acrid circle of bansturbators; and for bias and selective sourcing of evidence to be protected, these people are seriously talking about transparency?

You really can't make this type of stuff up.

Daylight is, indeed, the best disinfectant, which is precisely why light should be shone into the grimy, tax-sponging corners where the likes of Bauld and Hastings reside so we can see what garbage they are producing instead of what they'd prefer, which is:
Finally, this knowledge is particularly important for journal editors and professional organizations to muster the required resilience against illegitimate insertions into the scientific process.
Yep, you got it. For anything which challenges their junk science to be ignored.

Do go read the whole thing and be amazed at their chutzpah.

If you haven't read The Bauld Truth, by the way I highly recommend it. Do go have a gander by clicking here

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Something To Put The Willies Up Every Politician

Here's an interesting comment underneath Russell Brand's latest vague critique of politics which doesn't say much more than 14 year olds have generally said since the 1960s.
If only 75% vote in an election, why are not 25% of our representatives chosen by lot? After all, we're happy to rely upon juries selected at random. 
I'd have much more faith in 650 MPs who are ordinary wo/men whose names had been drawn from a hat than I would in any 650 career politicians.
Ha! If nothing else it would put the wind up the current over-thinking PPE graduates and 'never-had-a-job-but-happy-to-dictate' ideologues we mostly have to suffer.

But, as I remember from a long-distant link tank, there have been studies on this in the past. And it don't look good for the performance of our currently-elected broomsticks.
Why Randomly-Selected Politicians Would Improve Democracy
In practice, there are numerous examples of democratic systems that are rife with corruption or paralysed by disagreement. Even in benign parliaments, it is often an open question as to whether the work they do really benefits the majority of people. 
Today, Alessandro Pluchino and amici at the Universitá di Catania in Italy say there is a better way. They have modelled the behaviour of a two-party parliament and examined how it changes as randomly selected independent legislators are introduced into the system. 
Their counterintuitive conclusion is that randomly selected legislators always improves the performance of parliament and that it is possible to determine the optimal number of independents at which a parliament works best.
I'm sure that politicians would provide us all a whole host of reasons why everyday people should be kept well away from their cosy bubble, of course. The unspoken one being that they've worked their socks off for years to ignore the public entirely!


Monday 4 November 2013

"Some Have Suggested That The Sugar Industry Is Approaching Its Tobacco Moment"

They're in a rare old hurry, these prohibitionist types.
If all this tax and regulation sounds familiar, well, it is. 
Calls for the government to intervene to regulate excess sugar consumption have been compared to the anti-smoking movement. 
Just like Big Tobacco, Big Sugar could be the next big public health campaign. 
Some have suggested that the sugar industry is approaching its Tobacco Moment - when regulators need to step in to protect society before any more harm is done.
Hey, I'm not making this shit up, you understand.
The Credit Suisse report argues that regulators should adopt strategies from the battle against smoking to fight the looming war with sugar. 
The template would include restricting advertising space to hurt marketing appeal, increase tax on foods containing added sugar, and including health warnings on labels.
Like this, perhaps.

Yes, it's a template stolen from the tobacco industry, as I've said many times before. I described the process in detail here way back in January 2009.

It's also a template denied by the likes of ASH and the Smokefree Action Coalition as being a fantasy. Or, as Debs "light the blue touch paper and retire" Arnott put it, "patently false".
The effective regulation of sugar consumption needs to focus on the individual. 
This is where plain packaging, health warnings on labels and public education campaigns are likely to have great impact. But could we go further?
"Further" than plain packaging?
Just as we have bottle shops for alcohol, imagine dedicated party shops or segregated areas in supermarkets where sugar-laden foods such as confectionary (sic), sweetened beverages, bottled sauces and breakfast cereals would be sold. The goal would be to drive home awareness of the prevalence of added sugar in foods and its negative impact on our health.
The naughty corner for Mars bars, Coco Pops and Coca-Cola? Yes, I do believe that is what is being suggested. Behind shutters so kids don't see them too, presumably.
This is a powerful message which seems to be saying that society is not prepared to wait for slow-moving governments, regulators (and, dare I say, academia) to provide conclusive evidence of sugar's detrimental effects.
Evidence? Pah! Who needs evidence?

Whatever you may think, please remember that this is not a slippery slope. It is, in fact, merely what is termed "the most unslippery slippery dip I've ever seen in my life".

Got that?

Sunday 3 November 2013

So Much Ignorance

This, from Australia:
A RETIRED builder has ­become possibly the first Australian to be fined for allegedly smoking an electric (sic) cigarette in a public place.
Erm, how does one 'smoke' an e-cig?
Producing a zip-lock bag containing the ciggy and a small charger, Mr Campo told the magistrate "it was only an electronic cigarette''. Amid chuckles from the galler, the bemused magistrate said, "That's a good one.'' 
The prosecutor said irrespective of whether it was an e-cig the regulations defined the offence as including "any tobacco or any other product intended to be smoked". 
Mr Railton said there was nothing the court could do but enforce the fine.
Well, actually, the court could have said that as it was not 'smoked', it wasn't covered under the law. But then, judging from the magistrate's 'bemused' comment when Mr Campo produced his device, it's probably the first time they'd seen one.

It's good to see that Australia is no different from the UK in admitting that smoking bans are just a sham, though. Bans were apparently brought in on the basis of {cough} serious scientific assessment of the harm caused by second hand smoke, which is entirely absent in this case.

It's never been about health at all really, has it?

Meanwhile in the Isle of Man.
A prisoner's appeal to be allowed to smoke e-cigarettes in jail has been rejected by the Manx government on health and safety grounds. 
Minister Juan Watterson said: "Medical opinion is that these products are still something of a lottery."
What, you mean they might be dangerous? You know, with {cough} serous scientific assessment of the harm to back it up?
He added that the decision was taken only "after considerable research, debate and scrutiny," and may be reviewed "if e-cigarettes are properly regulated in the future".
Oh right. So this isn't about health either. Just whether they get a green light from the tobacco control industry or its equally confused and frightened state poodles.

And just to lay another level of crass ignorance on top of all that ...
Draft legislation in the EU - including a UK version - plans to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes and bring them within medical regulation. 
Really BBC? Because last I heard, the EU had rejected the idea of medical regulation for e-cigs.

It is quite astounding how little legislators, the judiciary, and news outlets actually know about e-cigs. Yet also astonishing how arrogant they all are in pronouncing on them when they haven't actually got a clue what they are talking about.

The western world increasingly appears to be run by self-aggrandising simpletons.