Tuesday 30 December 2014

Drafting A Scottish Government E-Cigs/Tobacco Control Consultation Response

A consultation entitled "Electronic Cigarettes and Strengthening Tobacco Control in Scotland" is due to close on Friday January 2nd. Time to get a wiggle on.

Now, it's true that - as we have seen with the recent Westminster smoking in cars consultation - the views of the public are generally sidelined in favour of those offered by quangos and fake charities funded by the government to lobby for illiberal legislation. That is even after the questions have been blatantly engineered to deter 'incorrect' answers (see here).

Here's a cut-out-and-keep guide to how it works.

However, it's still worth putting in the effort and responding to them in my opinion. The huge level of responses arguing against the MHRA's plan to ban e-cigs in 2010 arguably forced them to postpone their stupidity, while the consultation on plain packaging attracted the largest response in UK government history which could have played a part in hindering them for the last two years.

I've offered pointers a few times in the past (see here, here, here and here for example) about how to let the professional politicians and career bansturbators know that we're not happy. So how about having a pop at the Scottish one too, eh?

The document is in Word format and is downloadable here. You then simply type in your responses, save the file somewhere you can find it, and email it to tobaccocontrolteam@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Many are yes/no answers, but there are a few comments boxes where you can let rip. Here are some ideas from me.
1. Should the minimum age of sale for e-cigarette devices, refills (e-liquids) be set at 18?
The question could be re-worded to ask "should harm reduction only be allowed for adults", but that's just my inner libertarian talking. This would appear to be a slam dunk for the tobacco control industry due to the appallingly dangerous nature - in their view - of nicotine. Pharmaceutical nicotine-containing alternatives to smoking are available to anyone from 12 upwards whether their parents have given permission or not, but hey, that's just how anti-smokers roll. See my article of six years ago about The Wrong Suppliers.
2. Should age of sale regulations apply to: 
a. only e-cigarette devices and refills (e-liquids) that contain nicotine or are capable of containing nicotine, or 
b. all devices / refills (e-liquids) regardless of whether they contain or are capable of containing nicotine? 
Is nicotine the 'problem' or is the motivation behind this 'consultation' just an irrational hatred of e-cigs in general? I think we can tell from this question, can't we?
5. Should a restriction be in place for other e-cigarette accessories?  
Yes, great idea. Let's ban under 18 year olds from buying batteries, small glass containers and metals in tubular form just to satisfy the craziness of the absurd extremists in tobacco control.
6. If you answered “yes” to question 5, which products should have restrictions applied to them?
In Scotland, where the public sector is as bloated as it can possibly get, this is an exciting question. Can you just imagine the level of taxes they can waste detailing each and every different permutation of metal, glass and coil which has to be banned from a market of thousands of products?
7. Should the Scottish Government introduce legislation to make it an offence to proxy purchase e-cigarettes?
Scenario: Mum is horrified to learn her kid has started smoking. She hears from many friends who have quit that e-cigs are fantastic. She buys one for her son/daughter. She's now a criminal.
8. Should young people and adult non-smokers be protected from any form of advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes?
Non-smokers in Scotland need protecting from adverts? When did they turn into spineless jellyfish?
9. In addition to the regulations that will be introduced by the Tobacco Products Directive do you believe that the Scottish Government should take further steps to regulate domestic advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes?
A yes/no answer but I think we're getting an idea of what the government up there will do regardless of what the public say, doncha think? The corrupt shenanigans of the EU TPD are not draconian enough, so they're inviting their state-funded pals to suggest options for gold-plating.
12. Are you aware of any information or evidence that you think the Scottish Government should consider in relation to regulating domestic adverting in relation to impacts on children and adults (including smokers and non-smokers)? 
Err, yes. There has already been a comprehensive consultation on e-cig advertising by the ASA. It reported here and e-cig ads are allowed. Hey Scotland, you didn't win that independence referendum so why not save taxpayer cash and abide by the results? Anything else is just duplicating process and wasting your electorate's money.
14. Do you agree that retailers selling e-cigarettes and refills should be required to register on the Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register?
Are they tobacco? No. So of bloody course they shouldn't be included in a register intended for sellers of tobacco. Jeez.
17. Do you believe that the Scottish Government should take action on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces?
Not unless the intent is to highlight how you lied about why the smoking ban was necessary.
19. If you answered, ‘no’ to Question 17, please give reasons for your answer.
The only reason the smoking ban was smuggled past dim politicians was because of the pretend harm to others from 'secondhand smoke'. Have you proof that others are harmed by secondhand vapour? No? Keep your nose out then.
20. Are you aware of any evidence, relevant to the used of e-cigarettes in enclosed spaces, that you think the Scottish Government should consider?
Oh look! An invitation to every tobacco control clown in the country to cite lunatics like Mad Mechanic Stan Glantz. Vapers, you know the reputable science very well, lob it all in the box under question 20.
21. Do you agree that it should be an offence for an adult to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone under the age of 18?
No, because it introduces dangerous precedents as detailed here. Not that politicians give a toss about such fripperies as property rights these days.
26. Do you agree that there should be an exemption for vehicles which are also people’s homes?
Oh boy, this will be interesting. We've been told over and over that they have no interest in legislating about smoking in homes. Yet here is a hint that it's exactly what they want to do, or else it would be off the table.
29. Should national legislation be introduced to make it an offence to smoke or allow smoking on NHS grounds?
You have a smoking ban indoors already so you must mean car parks, fields and in the front of the building near the bus stops. There were witch-finders in the middle ages who were less insane than you.
31. If you support national legislation, what exemptions, if any, should apply (for example, grounds of mental health facilities and / or facilities where there are long-stay patients)?
So let's get this straight. People have mental health problems - which we are told should be taken seriously - that require them to be detained against their will, but now the extremist obsession with tobacco means you think it a caring thing to do to impose the might of the state against their smoking? What a nasty bunch of fascists the Scottish government is.
35. Do you think more action needs to be taken to make children’s outdoor areas tobacco free?
It's outdoors, where's the possibility of harm to kids? Go on, just one single study, I double dare you.
36. If you answered ‘yes’ to Question 35, what action do you think is required:
There is no option to comment further if you answered 'no'.
37. If you think action is required to make children’s outdoor areas tobacco-free, what outdoor areas should that apply to?  
Is there any outdoor area not available to children? The possibilities are endless for tobacco control lunatics.
38. Do you agree that retailers selling e-cigarettes, refills and tobacco should be required by law to challenge the age of anyone they believe to be under the age of 25?
Err, I thought it was just under 18s. We're not talking crystal meth here.
48. What lead-in time should be allowed prior to implementation of these measures and how should the public be informed?
The lead-in time should be 250 years and the public should be informed by smoke signals and carrier pigeon.

If you've found anything in the above you'd like to have your say on, remember that you are free to answer all the questions or just one, and you don't have to live in Scotland. Many of you have a couple of days off, so why not download the form here and email it to tobaccocontrolteam@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

Oh yeah, and copy me in at dickpuddlecote@live.co.uk as I have always enjoyed reading your contributions.

Monday 29 December 2014

Why Copy Failure?

Almost lost in the avalanche of miserable health lobbying over Christmas was yet another plea from state-funded prohibitionists for a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport.

A letter packed full of seasonal, ahem, joy from the usual temperance tax spongers was published in the Guardian (where else?) on Christmas Day.
Our children deserve a better future and we must take the opportunity to give it to them. Self-regulation of alcohol advertising isn’t working when it allows drink brands to dominate sporting events that attract children as well as adults, creating automatic associations between alcohol brands and sport that are cumulative, unconscious and built up over years. Evidence shows that exposure to alcohol advertising leads young people to drink more, and to drink at an earlier age.
Funny that. You see, over in France alcohol advertising is, indeed, banned under the wide-ranging Loi Evin. And what is happening there?
Between 2007 and 2011 (two years before and two years after the ban), there were modest increases in regular drinking (“usage regulier”), drunkenness (“ivresse”), binge drinking (“alcoolisation ponctuelle importante”) and daily smoking (“usage quotidian”) among 16-year-olds. 
That rise in consumption was even more pronounced for 17-year-olds in the period between 2008 and 2011
Le Loi Evin isn't working well for French adults either.
France has seen a sharp rise in the number of people being hospitalised for alcohol-related conditions. 
Around 400,000 people out of a population of 65 million are admitted to French hospitals every year for conditions like comas, hepatitis and liver cirrhosis, a rise of 30 per cent compared with three years ago.
In addition, short term hospital admissions for binge drinking symptoms are up by a staggering 80per cent.
Contrast that with the UK - where alcohol sponsorship is legal - and you have to wonder what is really motivating these 'public health' trouser-stuffers.
In 2013, around two-fifths of pupils (39%) had drunk alcohol at least once. Boys and girls were equally likely to have done so. The proportion of pupils who have had an alcoholic drink increased with age from 6% of 11 year olds to 72% of 15 year olds. Less than one in ten pupils (9%) had drunk alcohol in the last week. This continues the downward trend since 2003, when a quarter (25%) of pupils had drunk alcohol in the last week.
Yes, even more of a decline since the previous year when it looked like this.

So, underage drinking is on a continual downward trend and at the lowest it has been for over a decade in the UK where alcohol sponsorship is allowed, but on the rise in France where alcohol advertising in sport is strictly banned. You'd think the 'public health' lobby - who love to point at 'evidence' from other countries and demand we copy them - would be less gung-ho about copying failure, wouldn't you?

Call me cynical, but perhaps with the public sector being squeezed for cash, there isn't much scope for grant funds by saying all is well, now is there?

A Problem Shared

Puddlecote Inc re-opens its doors this morning, so my binge-Netflix-watching and compulsive Twiglet-eating can mercifully come to an end while the rest of the Puddlecotes switch between spending their mountain of Xmas cash and playing with their new electronic gadgets.

While I'm planning our January cash flow after making a £57k corporation tax payment (for government to then re-direct to parasitical fake charities), do go read this from Grandad.
Not only am I an adult but I am an individual.  I have my individual likes and dislikes.  I have a fondness for Mars bars, pipe tobacco and a drop or ten of alcohol.  I also like a drop of salt on my food and a ladle of sugar in my tea.  If these happen to be on your naughty list, they are not on mine so fuck off and mind your own business.  They are my choices as an adult and you have no right whatsoever to chide me about them.
Yes, he is describing the same old bullying establishment nonsense in Ireland as we have here. Or, more accurately, the same establishment nonsense in Ireland that our own population dislikes intensely - I suspect that sentiment is mirrored by Irish men and women from Donegal to Dublin.

Perhaps one day politicians will wake up. Or maybe they'll just continue down this line of bullying the public while their electorate deserts them and their vote evaporates? Whaddya reckon?
Some day I am going to die.  Until that moment I choose to live my life the way I want.  I choose to be happy and contented [which incidentally statistically improves my lifespan by several years] and to live life the way I choose.  I do not choose to deny myself anything just to satisfy your cravings for control and your obsession for righteous league tables.
Bravo! Or as The Pub Curmudgeon says.

You can show your appreciation for Grandad's blunt artistry here.

Saturday 27 December 2014

The Detached State

Tell us something we didn't know, Express.
Eighty per cent of Britons ‘hate the meddling nanny state’
BRITONS hate the nanny state and think the Government should stop meddling in people’s lifestyle choices, says a survey. 
Researchers found significant opposition to stealth “sin taxes” on products such as tobacco, alcohol or sugary drinks. 
Instead more than 80 per cent of those questioned, excluding ‘don’t knows’, believe it should be down to individuals to make their own lifestyle choices without official interference from Government.
There's life in the British public yet.

Sadly, though, there is nothing but entrenched denial in the ranks of the establishment.
Speaking at his party’s Spring Conference, Mr Pickles said: “We have stood up for (protecting) hard-working people from stealth taxes and nanny state interference. 
“Come the general election, I’ll be very happy to defend the record of Conservatives in Government against all-comers.”
He means the Conservatives in government who installed the tobacco display ban despite being staunchly against it in opposition? Because, you see, they were very clear what was going to happen if they were elected in 2010.
Shadow Health Minister Mike Penning said the Conservatives would seek to repeal Labour’s move if they win the election.
And they certainly can't blame their coalition partners on this one ... unless to say that the Lib Dems are bigger liars than the Tories.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said it was "the nanny state going too far."
Both parties simply waved it through.

As for the "record of Conservatives in government", they boast the Chancellor who increased tobacco duty by 50p per pack in 2011, 37p per pack in 2012, then 26p in 2013 and 28p earlier this year. They have since brought in a ban on smoking in cars (which will be all cars including e-cigs at some point), and laid legislation in front of the EU for pointless plain packaging.

This is just on tobacco. We could list this government's incessant nagging about alcohol, unapproved foods, sugar, fizzy drinks etc too, but what's the point? They don't listen to us.

Instead, their austerity 'cuts' have actually increased the wasteful shovelling of our taxes to the people they do listen to. State-funded quangos and fake charities which holler for more and more intrusive laws against our free choices are now better funded than they were in 2010 - in fact, this government proudly created Public Health England and its £500 million per annum budget - and they have even delved into freely chosen aspects of our sex lives.

This is protecting us from nanny state interference, is it? And they wonder why we increasingly despise every man jack of them. Sheesh.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

'Tis The Night Before Christmas And Santa Is Crippled

To continue the theme of seasonal public health miseries, what could be better on Christmas Eve than a message from Santa Claus, eh?

Not the real Santa you understand, kids, but the one those swell, fun-loving public health guys in Mexico have created. You know, the obese kidnapped diabetic Santa Claus who has had a leg amputated due to "the burden of disease and death from the consumption of sugary drinks" and considers the Coca-Cola Company to be "as much of experts in children as paedophiles" (sic).

Well ho ho bloody ho to you too, you mad chimichanga chomper.

When I say we are firmly on the side of the angels here, I'm not kidding you know. Merry Christmas.

H/T Simon "sugar is the new tobacco" Capewell via Twitter

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Eat Drink And Be Merry!

It's that ♪ most won-der-ful time ... of the year ♫ when the BBC likes to wheel out miserablists to tell us all we are in mortal danger if we simply enjoy ourselves in time-honoured fashion.

For example, on Friday morning I managed to catch Alcohol Concern's Jackie Ballard take to the airwaves (around 1:42:30 here) to warn of the perils of demob happiness on what was, apparently, another "Black Friday" - or the day we choose to celebrate with a drink or two more than any other in the calendar to the rest of us.

You see, there are those {gasp} 'limits' to watch out for.

Jackie got most of the usual cleverly-constructed tick box sound bites in. For example, the inference that we'd all drink sensibly if only the alcohol industry didn't advertise, and the cost to the NHS (which is dwarfed by the massively larger benefits to societal well-being of alcohol consumption).

But yet again she pushed the prohibitionist canard of arbitrary alcohol 'limits' as if they are set in stone and backed by acres of science.
We know that if you drink above those limits on a regular basis that you will be damaging your health
Well, for a start the overwhelming majority of people who drank over those 'limits' on Friday will not be doing so on a regular basis, now will they? Just like the overwhelming majority of people who splurge on big ticket items on Black Friday won't be doing that every day either. So this is rather a laboured point.

But we don't "know" this at all anyway.
[Richard Smith] remembers “rather vividly” what happened when the discussion came round to whether the group should recommend safe limits for men and women. 
“David Barker was the epidemiologist on the committee and his line was that ‘We don’t really have any decent data whatsoever. It’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t’. 
“And other people said, ‘Well, that’s not much use. If somebody comes to see you and says ‘What can I safely drink?’, you can’t say ‘Well, we've no evidence. Come back in 20 years and we’ll let you know’. So the feeling was that we ought to come up with something. So those limits were really plucked out of the air. They weren't really based on any firm evidence at all.
This committee did actually have some decent evidence to hand, but didn't seem comfortable with setting a 'limit' of a bottle of wine a day.
A study of 12,000 middle-aged, male doctors led by Sir Richard Doll and a team at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, found that the lowest mortality rates – lower even than teetotallers – were among those drinking between 20 and 30 units of alcohol each week.The level of drinking that produced the same risk of death as that faced by a teetotaller was 63 units a week, or roughly a bottle of wine a day.
On that basis, Ballard's preaching could have the damaging effect of deterring many people from reaching that optimum 20 to 30 units sweet spot, rather than doing any good. Health advice is all very well, but wouldn't it be nice if it came from unsullied scientists rather than public health careerists and fake charity temperance campaigners with an agenda?

So, this Christmas, eat, drink, be merry and pretend they don't exist. Enjoy the holidays everyone!

Sunday 21 December 2014

"The Worst Letter of 2014"

If you have read my account of how four vile, one-eyed tobacco control denialists thought it a cool idea to beat up on a part-time waitress from Cornwall for daring to write to the Lancet about e-cigs, you might be interested in this.

Clive Bates - former head of ASH, remember - has critiqued their letter in detail, describing it as the worst he has seen in 2014. Here are some highlights.
There’s a hint in The Worst Letter of 2014 that this fearless foursome somehow think they are plucky underdogs in this debate (they apparently believe they have shown “temerity” in putting their point of view!). This cannot pass unchallenged.  They have the money, the institutional support, abundant obedient researchers, captured journals, compliant editors, press offices and easy media access, tobacco control conferences, extensive networks, secure tenure, negligible accountability, and the misplaced public trust that comes with having ‘professor’ in your job title. The vapers that these professors taunt have none of this. Is it any wonder that some of them express themselves forcefully through the media that are available to them?

This is true of all tobacco control, and has been for a very long time - they are no David to industry Goliath as they like to claim. They have been the highly-funded bullies of a gagged seller and customer base for quite some time now. They just can't bear to hear dissent and have been accustomed to silencing it with ease, so the dinosaurs in their ranks are upset that they are finding the same tactics so difficult when handling vapers.
The authors of The Worst Letter of 2014 write as if they are owed a place in public debate, as if they have a right to airtime and column inches, and so resent intrusion of something not in their script. To claim that their preferred policies are driven out of public debate is also obviously absurd. The tobacco control establishment has plenty of opportunities to promote its favoured tobacco control techniques – and the news is full of stuff on plain packaging, banning smoking in cars and parks, taxing the poor and mentally ill and so on.  It is plain silly to complain that vaping is obstructing any debate on these things, especially given the enormous public sector, foundation and charitable resources thrown at tobacco control and against e-cigarettes.  If the authors of The Worst Letter of 2014 really are losing public interest so catastrophically, then it might be worth asking why, and then listening carefully to the answer.
Amen to that.

Do go read the whole article here.

Thursday 18 December 2014

How The Public Are Elbowed Out Of 'Public Consultations'

"Government agencies and councils in England that spend public money on lobbying ministers face a crackdown. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said it was wrong that taxpayers' money was being spent on political lobbying." - Eric Pickles, August 2010
Having been very busy, I'm late to the subject of the all-too-predictable rubber-stamping of an upcoming ban on smoking in all cars - because, yes, that's what it will very soon morph into - and a lot (not all) of what I would have wanted to say has already been said elsewhere.

However, it has been a textbook example of how government routinely makes damned sure the public is not listened to in any meaningful way - On any issue - but the people they hand our taxes to are. As you can see for yourself from the government's consultation response published earlier this month in the section entitled ...
Limitations to elicit representative samples of public opinion
This is where the state machine makes it crystal clear that allowing the public to advance their opinions really isn't the point of a 'public consultation'.
2.15. The consultation process was not intended or designed to elicit representative samples of public opinion, instead it sought information, comments and views on the draft regulation, impact assessment and equality analysis.
Yes, you can comment on what they intend to do, but not whether they should do it. For why? Well, you might say the wrong thing.
2.16. It is in the nature of open consultation exercises that, generally, it is only those who already have an interest in the subject respond to the questions. The nature of consultation exercises means that respondents are self-selecting, and cannot therefore be considered to be a representative sample of public opinion.
God forbid smokers themselves might respond, eh? They, or people who may have read blogs about the subject, perhaps, or those who believe the state should not be setting a sinister precedent by poking their nose into private property. You know, that type of pesky ne'er-do-well who doesn't believe an omnipotent state is a perfectly brilliant thing.

Because, you see, they can be so tiresome, can't they?
The responses from members of the public displayed mixed views on the draft regulations in general terms.
For 'mixed views', read raising of many valid objections to a particularly stupid and pointless law. But despite 30% of the 201 responses being from switched-on and alert individuals, without exception all were summarily ignored.

By strange contrast, the same caution about the "self-selecting" views of state-paid organisations specifically set up precisely to demand such laws is not even considered. Of course.
Over 90% of the responses from organisations supported the proposed approach set out in the draft regulations. Local authorities and local tobacco control alliances made up the biggest proportion of organisations who responded. 
Now that's what the state calls a "representative sample"! If you want to see what the poor impoverished David against the tobacco industry's Goliath looks like, you can see the 'representative sample' - including the perfectly impartial and representative of UK opinion smokefree cars advocacy campaign group of New Zealand - listed on page 18 here.

In the face of so very many highly-paid professional lobbyists, and with an adjudicator intent on suppressing any and all dissent, the public doesn't stand a chance. A situation which government, its politicians and the tax spongers they lob our hard-earned to are very happy about.

I mean, why should the people who have to live under these laws to have any input, eh?

Tuesday 16 December 2014

"Castigating Lifestyles", Polly? The Left Have No Equal

Via Simon Cooke, Polly Toynbee has done a superb job today in highlighting the disgraceful behaviour of the left towards working class people.

I mean, how else does she think saying this would have been turned out?
Some themes deep in the heart of Toryism just never go away. Up they pop, over and over. Control the lower orders, stop them breeding, check their spending, castigate their lifestyles. Poking, sneering, moralising and despising is hardwired within Tory DNA
Err, I don't believe Emily Thornberry is a Tory MP, is she?

As Simon points out, in every category Polly mentions, it has historically been the left who have been the most keen to "control the lower orders", and in the lifestyle choices we talk about here it has been the left in recent times and the present day who have been leading the charge for ever more intrusion into our lives.
[I]t's the left - including the last Labour government - who led the charge against people's lifestyles. Banning smoking in the pub, whacking a duty escalator on beer (while exempting wine and champagne), imposing planning restrictions on fast food takeaways and trying to ban gambling. It's the left that want taxes on fizzy drinks, bans on added sugar and salt, restrictions on portion sizes, the ending of multibuy offers and a host of other nannying interventions in people's lifestyle choices.
Simon uses the word "host", but I'd say it's been more of a deluge. Let's add a few more examples, eh?

It is Labour's Luciana Berger who has declared that plain packaging will be introduced if her party wins the next election, even though the public has soundly rejected it. She's not a loose cannon either, her party leader is right behind her.

It is Labour, not the Tories, who want to 'sneer' and 'moralise' on what families choose to buy their kids for breakfast by banning Frosties.

During last year's Brussels negotiations over the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), it was Labour MEPs and their European friends on the left who - without exception - refused to listen to anyone who tried to persuade them of the benefits of e-cigs. The TPD itself was driven through by an elitist pharma-linked Labour politician who pulled every trick in the book to avoid letting the public have their say. By contrast, some Conservatives fought gamely to defend free choice.

And it is Labour who are fighting tooth and nail for the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing - which will punish the poor - despite the Tories having binned the idea a long time ago.

When it comes to castigating lifestyles; poking, sneering, and moralising, the left have absolutely no equal. Like Polly herself, in fact.
Is Britain uniquely uncouth in our filthy drinking habits, or do our peculiarly restrictive laws cause the desperate drink-to-get-drunk-quick mentality? Why, oh why, can’t we be more Italian? Take away the urgency and mystery, and maybe we could all tipple a little nip in the coffee without making a fetish of alcohol
Well, if we all had a villa in Tuscany from which to preach - like rich lefty elitist Polly - perhaps we too could all be a bit more Italian while despising the 'lower orders' and writing about how to control them, eh?

The hypocrisy is stunning, isn't it?

Sunday 14 December 2014

Tobacco Control Dinosaurs vs Cornwall Waitress

On Saturday mornings, Radio 5 Live carry a sports humour show called Fighting Talk which features a round entitled "defend the indefensible". If I were ever allowed to choose four contestants who would be most suited to such a test, they would be Martin McKee, Simon Chapman, Mike Daube and Stanton Glantz for their stunning ability to be able to talk utter bollocks in the face of adversity.

Because it was with astonishment that I read on Friday that these global tobacco industry heavyweights had conspired to produce an attack piece over a Lancet article written by ... a housewife and part-time waitress from Cornwall.
We were surprised to read in The Lancet (Nov 1, p 1576), Lorien Jollye's criticisms of the public health community for, as she alleges, insulting and ignoring the supporters of electronic cigarettes
Now, for anyone who has followed the shenanigans of public health on social media, this isn't even debatable! As we saw from the John Ashton affair, it's part of these charlatans' routine to block social media comments from anyone who disagrees with them - often preemptively to avoid viewpoints which differ from their own - but continue to fire off insults anyway. McKee, Chapman and Glantz all do exactly the same, the only exception of the four is Daube ... because he's not on Twitter. But he was, as I understand it, responsible for calling authorities and getting a small business e-cig seller prosecuted in Western Australia.

In fact, they even block the opinions of those in their own tobacco control industry if they dare to say that e-cigs are a good idea. At least one of the four has, for example, even blocked arch anti-smoking activist Linda Bauld for that very reason.

As the Redhead says (do go read the whole thing), this more than adequately exceeds their own "scream test" criterion.
I’m sure you know what the tobacco control scream test is.
One of the measures used by anti tobacco campaigners to determine the effectiveness of an innovation, action, legislation or reform is how loudly the tobacco industry “screams”.
How wonderful it is then, that a brief article written by a lady who is a perfectly ordinary member of the public, and the activities of countless other people just like her, should elicit this plaintive cry for help from four of the most prominent figures in tobacco control…
However, the very effective campaign waged by their [e-cigarettes’] supporters has ensured that other measures of known effectiveness have almost disappeared from the debate on tobacco control.
They’re losing, and they know it. They know it, and it hurts. It hurts because very real and coherent challenges have come from entirely unexpected directions.
What is even more jaw-dropping is the justification given for the politically-juvenile Lancet tirade. You see, apparently they have given vapers plenty of options for engaging with them. No, really!
A recent Lancet–London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Global Health Lab (held in London, on Nov 4, 2014) debating the tobacco endgame, that was widely advertised, was an opportunity to engage on this issue. Yet rather than put forward their arguments, advocates of e-cigarettes instead chose to remain silent in the lecture theatre while insulting the participants on twitter.
Oops, one of those spare time 'advocates' was me, as I described last month. One of the others there on the night has given a more accurate interpretation of the event.
McKee’s assertion that this was an opportunity for us to engage on the subject of e-cigarettes is absurd. The subject of the seminar was “Can the War on Tobacco be Won” and the presentations were almost entirely oriented around the ways in which the tobacco industry can be put out of business. E-cigarettes received no more than passing references, and then only in a derogatory context. The event itself was so utterly one sided and farcical that it was obvious that it was completely pointless to participate. Even in the Q&A session at the end McKee was taking questions from the audience then rewording them as he put them to the speakers as if for some reason the speakers themselves couldn't hear or understand the originators. Needless to say McKee’s translations of the questions suited his own agenda and barely reflected the original question where that question was a bit too liberal for his liking.
Indeed, the very reason we attended was to hear what part McKee and his colleagues considered that e-cigs would play in their fantasy "endgame" scenario. But it just didn't feature. Instead we heard fairy stories, cod psychology, primary school economic nonsense about tobacco industry share prices and how brilliant the FCTC has been in scaring the tobacco industry witless since 2007 ... as you can see from the graph below.

It is also laughable that the four screaming dummy-throwers can claim that event to have been the ideal place for the issue to be discussed. The blurb vaguely mentioned harm reduction so was hardly worth part-time waitressing housewives travelling over 200 miles to sit in the audience on a Tuesday night for an hour, now was it? That's even if they had noticed it at all. Back to the Redhead for an explanation.
Except it wasn't widely advertized. Now, given the track record of these people and their understanding of advertizing, I can kind of see where the confusion stems from. The event in question was, in fact, publicized in the LHSTM in-house newsletter. Hands up who subscribes to that? Anybody? No? I thought as much.
Of course, McKee and his pals were quite at liberty - if they truly wanted amateur and unpaid vapers to offer their opinions - to invite them along. But they didn't (perhaps because they'd blocked them all). By contrast, McKee was invited to the E-Cig Summit in London last year as a speaker but reportedly declined because he was "not interested". I suspect he was also invited to the Global Nicotine Forum in Warsaw on similar terms but didn't materialise there either. Vapers took annual leave and self-financed their attendance at both these events.

Now, forgive me for being cynical, but if McKee wants to declare himself an 'expert' on e-cigs, why on Earth is he not interested in a whole day summit - while being paid a salary and on expenses - which discusses them unless he has a pre-conceived agenda?

To accuse people who have to sort out their own travel and expenses of being indolent and scared of debate for not turning up to a barely noticeable event - as members of an audience with the off-chance that they might get a word in with a highly biased chairman - is truly astonishing when McKee and his co-authors refuse to engage even when they will be given a platform as {cough} 'experts'.

As to Lorien Jollye's claims of marginalisation and bullying by the four crusty authors of this Lancet tripe, it is backed up by testimony from tobacco industry commentator Jon Fell after he had the temerity to post a contrary response on a BMJ article by Simon Chapman (you can read his fully referenced Storify piece here).
As the tweets show, I was blocked by @SimonChapman6 soon after my BMJ blog response was published. It's interesting too that his first instinct seemed to be to 'play the man' as much as react to the arguments put forward; in addition to apparently querying my integrity by questioning the company @Clive_Bates was keeping, in digging out some remarks I had made about plain packaging in 2008 @SimonChapman6 also seemed to query my professional competence, notwithstanding that he had asked me for data for his book on a previous occasion. 
Though I had never previously had any interaction with him, 'Mike Daube' - who I assume to be the same Professor Mike Daube who also signed this week's Lancet letter - weighed in with a BMJ blog comment too. Professor Daube's remarks were also direct and relatively aggressive. 
After nearly twenty years working as an equity analyst at an investment bank I've developed a relatively thick skin when it comes to criticism of my views or analysis. The tone of the responses to me made by @SimonChapman6 and Professor Daube, either on Twitter or the BMJ blog, does not bother me particularly. But I can imagine that someone without my background - say, a vaping member of public - might have found their approach intimidating, verging on bullying. Here is a distinguished academic - who has posted an article in a public forum that he knows enables others to respond - saying, in effect, "how dare you question me?", while his academic friend sidles up behind to put the boot in too. 
I have never had any direct social media interaction with @martinmckee. I followed him on Twitter for a while, then one day found myself blocked - I do not know why.
All of which very closely resembles the content of Lorien's article which McKee, Chapman, Glantz and Daube somehow found so objectionable.
We are normal people trying to dispel fears and misconceptions with experience and knowledge. We have struggled to get the ear of the very people who are advising the Government, WHO, and the public. We have been insulted or ignored, often both, in a shockingly aggressive way. Why? 
The sense of frustration is palpable among us. No matter how polite or constructive we are, some of the most influential and media savvy in public health will instantly bemoan the so-called trolling they are having to endure, which closes doors to people we have never even spoken to.
If, like me, you didn't find what Lorien had to say controversial or untrue, that'll because it quite plainly isn't.

As I mentioned the other day, all four of them are being exposed daily as being incapable of debate and their reputations being shot to pieces by emerging evidence on e-cigs. The Lancet article is yet more proof that they have been backed into a corner by their stubborn adherence to fantasy scenarios, have nothing useful left to say and so are thrashing around in a vain effort to pretend they are still relevant.

Still, I'm sure the four highly-paid tobacco control industry has-beens felt immense gratification in beating up on an unpaid housewife and waitress from Cornwall. So that's all right then.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Anti-Vaping Lie Comprehensively Busted (Again) By The NHS

To begin with a parish notice, the tumbleweed blowing around this corner of the internet recently has mostly been a result of pressure of work. I'm still mired in submitting for new business while also suffering the added complication of a sustained period of unusually heavy staff shortages which is shoving me out on the road on a regular basis.

The effort is paying off though, as we celebrated the largest remittance advice in our history landing in the Puddlecote Inc mail yesterday with one of our clients having a pre-Christmas clearout and paying £212,000 in one hit! Oh how I wish I'd had a Tardis at hand to go back and wave the little slip of paper in the face of the mid-90s me to assure him that the 16 hour days are/were worth it.

Yesterday was also a good day for producing this.
E-cigarette use rare in non-smokers, NHS survey shows 
Just 3% of adults are using e-cigarettes but almost all are current smokers or those who had given up, according to a new NHS survey of people’s health and lifestyles. 
The disclosure further allays fears voiced by some doctors and health campaigners that “vaping” could attract non-smokers who then get hooked on traditional cigarettes containing nicotine. 
The Health Survey for England 2013 found that 3% of its 8,800 participants aged 16 and over were using the devices, which have become popular in recent years. Some 29% of smokers and 6% of those who had quit said that they had used an e-cigarette, whereas just 1% of people who had never smoked had done so. Few children have tried them, it found.
This is yet more overwhelming evidence - after studies by ASH, the smoking toolkit and others in the UK which match the global trend - which proves that any tobacco controller or politician talking about there being a 'gateway' into smoking with regard to e-cigs is clearly a blinkered fantasist, an inveterate liar, or quite simply ignorant.

There isn't even any evidence that vast numbers of never-smokers are taking up vaping, let alone the extra absurd leap of logic which is required to claim that these pretend people would then bin their cheap, multi-flavoured e-cigs and plump instead for vastly more expensive, one-flavoured tobacco.

What's most amusing though, is the reaction of commenters at the Guardian piece to this new study. Mentions of the Pope's religion and bears shitting in the woods are woven into the thread as a recurring theme. Most are more worried that the NHS budget has been used to discover something so patently obvious. For example.
thomasdavid10 December 2014 11:22pm 
Er...why would I want to use an E-Cigarette if I dont smoke "normal" cigarettes?
So not only is the contrary evidence for this daft theory overwhelming, but the public wouldn't have expected it to be any other way. As hard sells go, it's right up there with flogging a guard fox to a chicken farmer. Any tobacco control industry dinosaur who still thinks pumping the 'gateway' line is a winning strategy is either incredibly stupid or so in hock to their pharma buddies at cost to their professional integrity as to require psychiatric supervision.

They're a bit like the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail; you cut their legs off, you ...

Monday 8 December 2014

Police Patsies

Across the Atlantic, some questions are finally being asked about the wisdom of sky high tobacco duties after the death of Eric Garner, an African American who sold loose cigarettes on New York streets. So sustained is the discussion that even the BBC has taken note.
According to a coroner's report, Eric Garner died due to "compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint" as he was wrestled to the ground by Daniel Pantaleo and fellow New York City police officers. 
On Wednesday a grand jury, presented with the report and a video of the entire incident, declined to indict Mr Pantaleo on charges related to Garner's death. The move, coming on the heels of a similar grand jury decision in a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, has prompted two nights of massive protests in New York and widespread outrage in the media over alleged police brutality. 
For some, however, another party bears some responsibility in Garner's death - an out-of-control nanny-state government attempting to enforce a prohibition on the sale of untaxed cigarettes. 
"For someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it," Kentucky Senator Paul said on MSNBC Wednesday night. "But I do blame the politicians. We put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws." 
Reason magazine's A Barton Hinkle explains how New York's high state and city cigarette taxes - totalling $5.95 a pack - have created a thriving black market on the city's streets.
This is, of course, economics 101 creation of a black market which the tobacco control industry consistently refuses to accept. It's all a figment of Big Tobacco's imagination, apparently.

Meanwhile, in the real world, it is the Police who have to enforce the short-sightedness of politicians.
The Daily Caller's W James Antle says that while public outrage is focusing on the level of force employed by the New York police, "let's not let the people who write the laws off the hook". 
"A man who is killed by government overreach, fueled by anti-tobacco fanaticism, is just as dead as one who smokes a carton of unfiltered Pall Malls every week for 30 years," he writes. 
"You want an all-encompassing state with the power to stop you from smoking?" writes the Hayride's Scott McKay. "Well, don't complain about the Eric Garner case. This is what big government looks like."
The US left are obviously not having it. They love big government and they love the state telling people what they can and can't do, so instead prefer to bash the police.

A less tragic case of public health absurdity harming the perception of the police occurred in Scotland earlier this year, which was described on Twitter by a Scottish licensing expert today as the best licensing headline of 2014 (best as in facepalm funny, that is).
Barman accused of breaking licensing law by serving undercover policeman a pint without a roll and sausage walks free from court after case collapses
THE case against a barman accused of serving one roll and sausage too few to undercover police ordering an early-morning pint collapsed in chaos yesterday. 
It’s estimated £25,000 of public money was wasted on the criminal prosecution over a 30p roll and sausage. 
The dad of three from Blantyre, Lanarkshire, was snared for serving pints to two undercover officers – known only as Archie and Davie – at 8.15am at the Empire Bar in Glasgow with one roll and sausage instead of two. 
Licensee John Longeran, a football agent, was also arrested and both men were charged for allegedly breaching the city’s licensing laws by serving alcohol without a breakfast. 
Allan said: “If it wasn’t so serious, I’d call it a pantomime.

“I’d never seen the inside of a court until this farce began. I thought the police were meant to chase murderers.”

The outcome is particularly embarrassing for Police Scotland at a time when resources are stretched and when the old Strathclyde police region has at least 33 unsolved murders.
In both cases, the driving force for enforcement by the police has come from laws created entirely on the back of exaggeration and scaremongery created by state-funded 'public heath' lunatics. In both cases a transaction which many people wish to voluntarily conduct has been criminalised and the police sent in to make heavy-handed arrests. One resulted in a death, the other in the utter waste of £25,000 over the failure to provide a 30p roll.

With just about everyone who comments on the measure recognising the fact that a ban on smoking in cars is going to cause the police even more complex problems for enforcement, you have to wonder why those at the top of the police command chain aren't making more noise. How low will their reputations and respect amongst the public sink before they realise they are wasting their time and resources, while simultaneously being held up as patsies by the state, their quangos, fake charities and others who politicians squander our taxes on?

See also "Yes, Stupid Laws Help Kill People" from Saturday's Link Tank.

H/T Norcal David G & Frank Davis

Thursday 4 December 2014

E-Cig Turf War In Westminster

There goes the neighbourhood.
Rugby MP Mark Pawsey set up a new APPG on e-cigarettes this week in Parliament. The group will examine and scrutinise this rapidly growing industry exploring the benefits the devices could have for people looking to quit smoking. There are an estimated 2.1m e-cigarette users, or vapers, in the UK and the number is rapidly rising. 
The group will also examine new legislation coming forward, both European and domestic, that affects the use of the devices.
Oh dear, some toes are being trodden on here. You see, there is already an APPG - whose secretariat is provided by ASH - which would claim responsibility for scrutinising e-cigs.

Indeed, as I pointed out earlier this year, Deborah Arnott's huge leap in salary to over £80k pa is partly due to a tactical realignment of her state-funded organisation's emphasis.
ASH altered their "objectives for the public benefit" a few years ago. You see, in 2009 it said this:
2) To advance the education of the public concerning the effects of cigarette and other forms of smoking and their effects on the health of the community and the individual.
Nothing in there about e-cigs or any other device which doesn't contain tobacco.

In 2010 - probably when e-cigs started to register on their radar - it was quietly changed to what it remains today (emphasis mine):
2. to advance the education of the public about the effects of cigarette and other tobacco and nicotine products.
Subtle, huh?
Of course, a fake charity entitled Action on Smoking and Health should have no business interfering with e-cigs considering they contain no tobacco and are not 'smoked' (even the OED accept that). So they should be relieved that this new APPG has reduced their workload.

But then, a cynic might say that it will also inevitably reduce the number of times ASH's pet MPs can go on TV and spout conspiracy theories, as well as possibly remove control of the debate from the control freaks at ASH. And where there's less involvement, there is also less scope for gorging on tax-funded grants, I expect.

So Godspeed the new APPG on e-cigs, and all who sail in her!

Tuesday 2 December 2014

The BMJ's Integrity Sinks Still Further

I'm beginning to think that the formerly respected BMJ's self-dereliction of their integrity is not just naiveté, but more reminiscent of an organ which is now dancing wholly to the tune of the pharmaceutical industry.

This time last year, they took the decision to refuse any research - however worthy or useful - simply on the basis that it may have received funding by the tobacco industry. It wouldn't matter if it was ground-breaking research revealing the elusive cure for cancer, the BMJ would be stubbornly uninterested.

At the time, many responses - including one from former editor Richard Smith - asked the obvious question as to why pharmaceutical-funded research was not being treated in the same fashion.
I suggest that exactly the same is true of the pharmaceutical industry and that we probably have even more evidence on the misconduct of pharmaceutical companies than of tobacco companies. 
So will the editors stop publishing research funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and if not why not? Knowing the heavy financial dependence of journals on the pharmaceutical industry, I shall be looking for sophistry in the explanations.
After all, one of their darlings - Ben Goldacre - published a tome about "How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients" just a couple of years ago.

Defending the decision, editor in chief Fiona Godlee had this to say.
"[There is a] growing body of evidence that biases and research misconduct are often impossible to detect, and that the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways."
Indeed it can, as was proven just the other week when a critique of the e-cig summit was published by the BMJ from a "journalist" called Ingrid Torjesen. Entitled "E-cigarette vapour could damage health of non-smokers", it made some bold claims.
Particles in secondhand vapour from e-cigarettes have the potential to damage the health of non-smokers, a study by environmental scientists presented at the e-cigarette summit in London on 13 November has found. 
Researchers presented the first results from chamber experiments that measured the concentration, size, and composition of particles in e-cigarette vapour, and how these parameters changed over time, to determine their potential effects on non-smokers. 
Roy Harrison, professor of environmental health and risk management at the University of Birmingham, and Gordon McFiggans, professor of atmospheric multiphase processes at the University of Manchester, presented the results. 
All well and good ... until the researchers themselves responded by saying that was not what they had said at all!
First, we have made no studies of vapours from e-cigarettes, our study made direct measurements of the particles in the visible "mist" from e-cigarettes with no analysis or quantification of the vapours. 
Second, we made no statement of the effects on health of non-smokers.
Incredibly, Torjesen was undaunted even when told she was wrong by those who presented the evidence that she had incorrectly reported. Instead, she reiterated the accusations and said that she was correct and that they were not.

It was then that another response pointed out that she may have an agenda.
I would like to draw your attention to a matter concerning the counter-response to claims by Professors McFiggans and Harrison that the article, “E-cigarette vapour could damage health of non-smokers,” written by Ingrid Torjesen, in which they assert that the author has seriously misrepresented their research. 
At the end of her counter-response, Ms Torjesen states that she has no competing interests. The fact that Ms Torjesen is the editor of The Advisor magazine which covers smoking cessation and is financed by McNeil Products, makers of Nicorette products, leads me to believe that she should have declared this interest. I feel that this is particularly so because the popularity of e-cigarettes is seriously impacting on the profits of the NRT companies, and her connection to the magazine could lead people to believe that her objectivity might have been somehow compromised. Indeed, in his response to her article, Professor McFiggans states, “However there is evidence that the misrepresentation of our work and misappropriation of evidence is more mischievous than simple misunderstanding.” 
Footnote: The magazine in question claims to be independent. It may well be editorially independent, but it is financed by a company that advertises their products within the magazine and who stand to profit by making the publication available to smoking cessation health workers. Surely where money is involved, it must be impossible to be totally independent - however hard one strives to be so?
Well, fancy that!

Having been busted, Torjesen then belatedly admits her competing interests may be a problem while throwing in the bereavement plea which anti-smokers tend to think should shut down all criticism.
If I have any competing interests in terms of my editorial direction, they are that I am a supporter of all forms of smoking cessation because of the damage smoking does to smokers, their families and other subjected to it through passive routes. I have also been an advocate of banning smoking in all forms since I was a child, being the child of two parents who were addicted to the habit and died prematurely of smoking-related disease.
Hmm. Bereavement coupled with the lure of payment from pharmaceutical interests - I would suggest - could meet Fiona Godlee's definition of "influence" in "invisible ways" quite comprehensively, doncha think?

Yet the BMJ published her article without any scrutiny of the person who was making such transparently outrageous claims.

All this follows on swiftly after the BMJ were slapped down by the EU for publishing execrable nonsense from Jonathan Gornall, and just last week published a load of deliberately misleading cockwaffle about e-cigs in an opinion piece so devoid of fact that it would have failed GCSE level.

So, to recap, the BMJ - which profits from, and prints articles sponsored by, Big Pharma - is quite happy to publish utter garbage from someone else who is dependent on pharmaceutical industry cash.

But it's only tobacco industry research which might be biased? Good grief.

Sunday 30 November 2014

A Reality Check From America

If you were to ever be unlucky enough to spend time in a room with a tobacco controller, it wouldn't take them more than five minutes to proudly claim that declines in smoking prevalence are solely due to their dictatorial restrictions, regulations and bans.

So what happened in America?
Fewer Americans are smoking, with the smoking rate at its lowest point in 50 years, federal health experts reported Wednesday. 
Just under 18 percent of Americans are smokers, down from 21 percent in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. 
"That is the lowest prevalence of adult smoking since the CDC's Nation Health Interview Survey began keeping such records in 1965," CDC said in a statement
Now, our own Office of National Statistics released their latest report on "smoking habits in Great Britain" just this week - which handily exposed a few tobacco control industry lies - and our rate is celebrated as being ... err ... 19%.

Tobacco advertising is still permitted in magazines in the US; their courts rejected graphic warnings; tobacco duty is lower than here; they haven't even considered plain packaging and they steadfastly refuse to ratify the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

They also don't have a nationwide smoking ban and {gasp}you can smoke inside with a beer in many places throughout the country. Yes, even in authoritarian hell-holes such as New York.

Yet they're still out-performing the UK and are not that far behind countries with an even poorer record of respecting the choices of their citizens.

It would appear on this evidence that prosperity and education drive reductions in smoking prevalence - all tobacco control does is fill its pockets with huge amounts of taxpayer cash, donated by stupid politicians, and dream up ridiculous campaigns to make sure they continue receiving it.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Illicit Tobacco Reaches A New Record In Australia

While the tobacco control industry attempts to keep the tax tap flowing by producing ever more absurd and laughable claims of imagined "evidence" in favour of plain packaging*, the predictable real consequences of their spiteful, ill-conceived and often pointless laws are starting to materialise in Oz.
Illegal tobacco use in Australia is continuing to grow with a new report revealing around one in every seven cigarettes consumed is illegal. 
The latest in a series of reports by KPMG LLP in the UK, Illicit Tobacco in Australia, shows that illegal tobacco use in the last 12 months has increased from 13.5% to 14.3% of total consumption.
Oops. Didn't they say this wouldn't happen?
The mix in the tobacco black market has changed since 2012. The report found that more branded illegal cigarette packs are being smuggled into Australia than ever before. Contraband cigarettes are now the largest component of the black market.
OK, so it's only a 0.8% increase. No biggie, right? Well, not unless you take into account the same survey from last year.
[In] the twelve months to the end of June 2013 (LTM H1 2013), the level of illicit consumption grew from 11.8% to 13.3% of total consumption. 
This is the highest level recorded.
The record just got broken.

This should come as no surprise, of course, since Australia's 7 News reported on an 'explosion' in the counterfeit trade back in July.
Plain Cigarette Packaging Boosts Counterfeit and Smuggling: According to a Channel Seven News report about a raid on illegal cigarette sales in a Sydney market, this idea has boosted smuggling and other nefarious activities by about 40 per cent and driven up seizures of sticks from 82 million in 2012 to 200 million last year. 
"Authorities blame the surge in counterfeit cigarettes on the introduction of plain packaging two years ago."
You don't have to be a mathematician to work out that the difference between 2012 - when plain packaging was introduced - and now represents around a 21% increase in illicit tobacco supply in just two years! And this, remember, in a country whose neighbours are huge distances away by sea or air and not - like the UK - a mere 21 miles with the convenience of a handy tunnel and free movement between EU nations.

Presented with this concrete and real-world evidence - and with Police and border agents advising of the tangible lure to counterfeiters that plain packs offer - Westminster would be stark staring bonkers to follow Australia on the say-so of notoriously mendacious, tax troughing career prohibitionists and their computer-modelled fantasies, doncha think?

They do have some fans cheering them on, though.

If the Indonesian gangs are sensing an opportunity, you can just imagine how excited Eastern European ones are going to be when if the coalition wave through plain packaging in the pre-election wash-up period, just as they treacherously did with the tobacco display ban.

Truly, then, it will confirm we are governed by imbeciles.

* In no particular order, see 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, & 8

Tuesday 25 November 2014

ONS Findings Tear Tobacco Control A New One

The ONS today released its latest survey of smoking habits in Great Britain and it's not great news for the tobacco control industry in general.

So mundane is it that the BBC lead not with the extensive tobacco statistics, but with a truth which most tobacco controllers have buried their heads in the sand to avoid admitting.
The concern electronic cigarettes are a gateway to smoking might be unfounded, the first official UK figures suggest.  
Data from the Office for National Statistics indicate those who use e-cigarettes, are almost entirely current or former smokers.
Well yeah, the civilised world and its collective dogs have known this for a long time but professional anti-smokers will continue to pretend otherwise for a while yet as their income relies on spouting bullshit long enough for inconvenient facts to evaporate. If you think about it, how can they admit that e-cigs are a boon to those who choose to quit smoking - with negligible concerns - without fearing for their tax-funded salaries, eh?

I mean, sooner or later, politicians are going to start wondering why they are paying huge levels of tax receipts to tobacco controllers when the single most effective tool for reducing smoking ever created costs nothing and is being paid for by smokers themselves. So we are witnessing - from innumerable chapters of the tobacco control cult worldwide - a state-funded industry desperately spinning to remain relevant. Ironically, this has seen tobacco control shamelessly copying the 'creation of doubt' tactics that they regularly condemn the tobacco industry for employing.

ASH have been so uninspired by the ONS conclusions that they issued a straw-clutching press release which smacked of an organisation thinking that - though they really must say something - they'd much rather be sipping a smoothie and reviewing their Moscow holiday snaps.
The decline in women’s smoking in particular puts paid to any suggestion that women’s smoking rates may be rising.
Err, I tend to keep an eye on these things but I've never heard anyone claiming that women's smoking rates may be rising, have you?

I have, though, heard many a tobacco control charlatan making up scare stories about how "glitzy" packs are seducing dumb-headed females into buying tons of fags.
Evil tobacco companies are conspiring to seduce us by wrapping up ‘our poison’ in shades of “pale or pastel colours”.  There is concern in public health circles that the dark arts of design, armed with images denoting “femininity, style, sophistication and attractiveness”, will result in us losing our pretty little heads. Or so says Cancer Research UK, keen to save us from our womanly weakness, with their latest research report published yesterday.  CRUK are outraged that “research shows” Big Tobacco is packaging brands of cigarettes specifically targeted to appeal to women.  
Well, if that's what the packs are supposed to be doing, it's not working very well, is it? The ONS state clearly that the largest decline in smoking prevalence by far is amongst women.
Women accounted for the fall on the previous year - the proportion of women who smoke cigarettes fell from 19% to 17% between 2012 and 2013. There was relatively little change in this proportion for men
So Debs is referring to her own side's propaganda and declaring it to be bunkum? We can safely strike that off the list of compelling justifications for plain packs then, eh?

Best of all, though - and I bet this had heads banging desks throughout prohibitionist la-la-land - was the ONS debunking one of the tobacco control industry's favourite sound bites.

ASH and their pals continually tell politicians that cigarettes are "more affordable" now than they've ever been in order to justify unsustainable duty rises. For example.
[C]ampaign groups such as the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) say that despite years of rising tobacco duty, increases in disposable incomes mean that tobacco remains relatively more affordable than it was in the 1960s.
Or how about ...
Although tobacco tax in the UK is relatively high compared to other countries, cigarettes are much more affordable today than they were in the 1990s 
Or ...
Currently cigarettes still remain around 50% more affordable than they were in 1965, when our understanding of the harm from smoking was in its infancy. 
Not so, says the Office of National Statistics.
Why are fewer people taking up smoking now than 40 years ago, and why are more smokers quitting? 
Smoking has become more expensive over this period, with tobacco prices increasing well above the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Figure 3. Consequently there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of a smoker’s income that has been needed to fund their habit.
They even provide a handy graph to prove it, just for those of us in the real world who haven't already noticed.

Tobacco Price Inflation versus Consumer Price Inflation, United Kingdom, 1970-2013

Having nailed three separate tobacco control lies in just one document, how long before desperate tax-sponging anti-tobacco activists declare the ONS to be ignored as an industry apologist?