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?

Monday 24 November 2014

Thornberry And Labour Snobs

In case you've been wondering, no I'm not dead.

The past few weeks have been incredibly draining at Puddlecote Inc and there is more to come, so Mrs P and I ran off to Rome for a long weekend to chill for a bit. We ate loads of good food, sweltered under a cloudless sky at times, consumed more than our fair share of wine and - a real bonus - came across a seriously interesting business opportunity while there. It might require a few more trips back to get it sorted but ... oh well.

Thanks to glorious WiFi, though, there was an early evening window where I could keep track of what was going on in the UK, the Emily Thornberry snobbery being the most striking.

The left seem to be trying to play it down, but it's quite clear she showed modern Labour's hand when it comes to working class people. The original tweet was appallingly ill-judged but her attempt at wriggling out of trouble was truly laughable!
Ms Thornberry initially tried to defend her tweet. Speaking to MailOnline, she denied snobbery but said she was astonished to see people hanging so many flags outside their house. 
She said: 'It was a house covered in British flags. I've never seen anything like it before. 
'It had three huge flags covering the whole house. I thought it was remarkable. I've never seen a house completely covered in flags.' 
When pressed that flying flags was common, she said: 'I was brought up in a council house and I've never seen anything like it.'
Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? Where I live it's difficult to find any road without flags during football tournaments and within a quarter mile of me there are three houses with flagpoles in their front garden specifically for the purpose of flying it 24/7/365. If she's never seen this she is woefully out of touch.

But then, her party's leader is a bit of a comedian too.
He said: ‘It's not the view we have of that family. Labour's never had that view of disrespect and I'm afraid her tweet conveyed a sense of disrespect - that's not my view, that's not Labour's view, it's wrong, it never will be our view and that's why I think it was right she resigned.’ 
Asked what went through his mind when he saw a white van outside a house with England flags, Mr Miliband replied: ‘What goes through my mind is respect - respect is a basic rule of politics and I'm afraid her tweet conveyed a sense of disrespect.’
Respect? White van men up and down the country - whether displaying the cross of St George outside their houses or not - tend to like burgers, beer and baccy. Ed's party, though, are fiercely opposed to absolutely everything working people like to consume.
A Labour government would impose tough restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcohol, unhealthy food and tobacco, according to a leaked policy document. 
The plan would end sports sponsorship by drinks firms and impose minimum alcohol pricing in an effort to cut the impact of drinking on Britons' health. 
There would also be new laws to curb the amount of sugar, fat and salt in food aimed at children, and a ban on advertising unhealthy products on TV before the 9pm watershed.
They don't respect the choices of working people, they despise working people because of their choices.

Luciana Berger is stomping all over Westminster trying to bring in laws advocated by stratospherically-paid fake charities which target calm enjoyment of products enjoyed by working class people. Just in the last few days she has been talking of the need to make it more difficult for white van man and his wife to choose what they can drink, and been badgering the Department of Health about pointless plain packaging. Andy Burnham wants to make Frosties history and Alan Johnson wants to ban Coca-Cola. Diane Abbott - part of the shadow health team, would you believe - vilely sneers about the concept of working people being allowed "a penny off a pint, a penny off beer, and you can have your fags as well"

They might claim that it's because working people are not making the 'correct' choices - a crass display of elitist arrogance in itself - but it doesn't even stop there. Any vaper will tell you that, while the EU Tobacco Products Directive was being drawn up, the only MEPs who contemptuously refused to listen to the thousands of pleas sent to them about e-cigs were Labour ones.

I'm little more than a glorified white van man who made good and come from sarf London stock - some might call it social mobility. Grandad Puddlecote was a lifelong proud Labour voter who lived in council houses on the same street for his entire 85 years and enjoyed tobacco and alcohol throughout all of it. He would spin faster than the lathe he used to operate if he could see the bastardisation of his party now.

Puddlecote Inc employees - the same type of people I socialise with daily - are woven from working stock and our biggest task while preparing for the annual staff party is making sure they have somewhere the approximately 40% of them who smoke can enjoy their tobacco at the same time as the alcohol we are paying for. It is becoming increasingly difficult thanks to attitudes promoted by Labour. I don't reckon the professional barbecue we put on this year would be received any better by the left either considering the usurping of the working man's party by rich Hampstead and Islington Labour snobs.

Thornberry did the country a favour by showing that Labour don't have the first clue about people in general. For Miliband to claim that his party respects the working class - while his party members furiously work to denormalise and outlaw their freedom of choice -  is a just a sick joke.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

It's Not The Onion, It's California

You may have read recently that Berkeley in California voted overwhelmingly in favour of a tax on fizzy drinks. If not, Snowdon wrote an interesting summary of it here.

Well, following hot on the heels of some other transatlantic madness, you might like to know what kind of weirdo-packed place the Graun reader paradise of Berkeley really is. Here is film of a sombre event in one of the town's supermarkets where political activists held a funeral this month for a "unique individual" ... a pre-packaged supermarket chicken.

No, it's not The Onion. It's Berkeley.

H/T American Thinker via NorCal David G

Monday 17 November 2014

Six Years Later ...

Today is the sixth anniversary of the evening when your humble host first asked "is this thing on" and began publishing what one early haughty detractor - to my great delight - once described as 'tabloid guff'.

Since that time in 2008, there have been 2,933 articles published here attracting 24,240 comments and 1,979,852 page views according to Sitemeter (or 2,909,702 if Google Analytics is to be believed!). Despite having to devote increasingly more time to my business - and subsequently less time on here - average daily page views are encouragingly up 5% on this time last year and April 2014 was the second most visited month in the history of the place.

Today is also noteworthy for me because I've just submitted a 21 page 11,000 word Puddlecote Inc tender submission for a potential £6 million of business over the next five years which has frazzled me for the past fortnight. This will, I hope, go some way to explaining the lack of content here recently. It is only a brief respite though, before I begin to tackle another hefty tender bid which will almost certainly lead to a few more article-free days in the next week or so.

Considering the above, and since today is also the start of Alcohol Awareness Week, I am very aware that a generous number of sherberts with a good friend of mine are definitely in order tonight.

Many thanks to all of the more than quarter of a million unique visitors who have passed this way since 2008, I shall raise a glass in your honour this evening, to be sure.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Youth E-Cig Use In USA: The One-Sided Equation

As I've observed in recent years, e-cigs are rudely ripping away the façade of respectability mendacious tobacco controllers have constructed around themselves. It really is incredibly fascinating to watch.

For over four decades now, a prime tactic of the global tobacco control industry Goliath has been deliberate cherry-picking of statistics in order to produce one-sided equations. From there, it is very simple to create a media-friendly sound bite to hoodwink policy-makers and most of the public.

The most obvious of these is the claim that tobacco use in the UK (the same method is used in every country) 'costs' the NHS £2.7bn to £5bn whilst ignoring the official documented fact that government receipts from tobacco - which are not hypothecated so apply to NHS funding just the same - have always massively dwarfed costs. Tobacco control simply pretend duty receipts don't go in the same pot.

Likewise, recently, it was loudly trumpeted by tobacco controllers everywhere that smoker prevalence in Australia had fallen "because of" plain packaging. It had fallen, yes, but only as one would expect from long term trends and certainly not directly as a result of plain packaging. At the same time, not a single one of them worldwide even murmured about the massive increase in daily youth smoking which occurred over the same time frame and was detailed in the very same statistical set they quoted from.

This left one journalist recently scratching his head as to how he'd been deceived into publishing a blatant falsehood in the Irish Journal (he didn't correct it though) and, even while beginning to write this very article, a tobacco controller - like a cat refusing to believe a mirror image is real - was similarly trying to avoid admitting the inconvenient 36% increase to me on Twitter.

The collection of anti-business sociologists, marketing wonks and ambulance chasers who comprise the tobacco control gravy train like to revel in the terms "expert" or - ha! - "scientist", but can you imagine a real scientist making calculations with one half of the equation missing? That spaceship wouldn't have landed on a comet, it would have more likely planted itself at high speed in the middle of Slough.

Y'see, what happens when you ignore half of the evidence is that you don't get a true indication of the full picture. But tobacco control know this very well when they deliberately tweet 'lies by omission' like this.

Of course, the 'public health' community piled in to re-tweet it, including such "experts" as anti-food hector Simon Capewell, an organisation which claims to spread "the truth about tobacco" and, naturally, geriatric ex-vandal turned Twitter troll Simon Chapman.

Worst of all though, was a re-tweet from someone who works at the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). Because, via Jacob Sullum at Reason, she appears to be woefully ignorant of her own organisation's research!
Yesterday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released survey data that show cigarette smoking by teenagers continued to fall last year even as their use of electronic cigarettes continued to rise. Between 2011 and 2013, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the prevalence of "current" (past-month) cigarette smoking among high school students fell from 15.8 percent to 12.7 percent, while the prevalence of current e-cigarette use tripled from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent.
And this is what it looks like when you add the other side of the equation into a graph.

Now, why is it that tobacco controllers - who always love to talk about decreases in smoking amongst all cohorts but most especially youths - seem to want to completely ignore this dramatic, easily-discoverable decline? Do you sense an agenda here?

It is quite clear that e-cigs are a factor in that big decline in youth smoking in the USA, yet the pharma-compromised tobacco control industry are desperately trying to spin the opposite. Why?

It's really not about health, people, believe me.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Boisdales

I did say that I was going to write about the night of Forest's 35th anniversary party last week but - thanks to Puddlecote Inc still bogging me down at the moment - I've only now managed to get around to it a week later.

I was accompanied by vaping consumer advocate Twigolet (read her account of the evening here) and the genial Mr Snowdon but we didn't go straight there. Instead we'd arranged to meet up at an event chaired by Martin "Bubblegum" McPhee, a man so devoid of features you'd associate with good health that - naturally - he wants to tell you what to eat, drink and not vape or smoke.

It was a very amusing event, delivered in monotone by whey-faced drones and - customary for any public health "debate" - devoid of even a soupçon of differing opinion. It was clear from the outset that the only answer to the question of Can The War on Tobacco Be Won was going to be yes. The long history of disastrously failed prohibitions was put to one side in this particular echo chamber as they congratulated themselves on how fantastic the FCTC has been in destroying the tobacco industry since its inception in 1997.

It matters not to these people that - according to their own sources and those of others - tobacco sales globally have never been higher. They will continue to talk up their own self-importance because the event was held in front of about 100 aspiring young bansturbators who need to to be trained in how to earn money from the taxpayer by talking bollocks. One in particular seemed especially eager to be seen handing a metaphorical (toffee?) apple to his portly far left wing host.

McKee's colleague at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - and member of ASH's editorial board - Joy Townsend was then called upon to give her opinion on the tropical medicine required to defeat the Ebola crisis. Oh silly me, course not, she was banging her anti-smoking drum again instead.

Perhaps that's a bit harsh. I did feel for her somewhat because she was billed as an 'economist' despite her previous burblings proving that if she has ever learned any economics, she has abandoned it in favour of blind allegiance to pathetic anti-smoking dogma.

There seemed to be a genuine person in there somewhere when she spoke of how the tobacco industry in the 1960s recognised harm from tobacco and tried to research a "safe cigarette". She also sailed dangerously close to heresy by describing e-cigs as "looking like a safe cigarette" ... before blowing it all by claiming that "all the good people" in the tobacco industry - yes, every one of them, without exception - left when young girls still screamed at sight of the Beatles. I don't know how old Joy was when BAT set up its harm reduction labs at around that time but you'd think someone who considers themselves an "expert" would have been aware that they'd just celebrated their golden anniversary?

Shame really, because if she ditched her ideological nonsense she could actually make a difference.

Next up in this incestuous charade was another McKee sidekick and co-author of the now legendary "nicotine is a chemical weapon" paper. The capacity to shamefully exploit the atrocities of Anders Breivik to push anti-smoking extremism tells you all you need to know about Pascal Diethelm, but it was still a surprise when - after being billed by McKee as about to reveal "the truth" about the tobacco industry - he simply trundled out the codswallop that must rattle around his one-track obsessive head in quiet moments.

Apparently, anti-smoking NGOs do it all for the love and don't get paid a penny {splutter}, while those working in the tobacco industry earn a fortune and "have no morals whatsoever". None of them.

But Diethelm has a cunning plan, you see. All that is need for the "endgame" to succeed is to get those tobacco industry profits down so that people don't buy their shares any more. It's a doddle and the FCTC has been terrorising the tobacco industry since 1997 so it's only a matter of time. Allegedly.

Presumably, this is why BAT's share price - along with their competitors' which follow a similar graphic trajectory - has been dying on its arse since then, huh?

So let's see what a real 'expert' thinks about the link between successful tobacco control and tobacco share prices, shall we? How about, I dunno, Nanny McPhee?

Hmm, doesn't say much to the success of the FCTC in the past 17 years, does it?

All that was left was for McKee to round off proceedings by reminding everyone present that e-cigs don't work - despite no-one really broaching the subject in any depth - and for him to remind us, with a cheeky chuckle, that the next debate was about Ebola so would "obviously not be as well attended as tonight". Of course not. Why would anyone at the London School of Tropical Medicine be interested in a potential global pandemic, eh?

After witnessing such scintillating wisdom from people I'd not trust to run a car boot stall, myself and my companions parked the bubble gum we had been chewing in the nearest bin and travelled a couple of stops on the tube to an entirely different world where reality still exists and where choices of the public are still respected.

Arriving slightly late, we joined a throng of decidedly un-monotone guests and fantastic people bearing glorious trays like this.

It was then just the, err, simple task of finding the others we had heard were attending.

There we are by the bar, can you see?
Those we caught up with are too numerous to mention, but having a long overdue chat with good friend Tom Paine was a particular highlight of the evening for me, as was meeting Joe Jackson for the first time - someone whose music I used to buy as a teen and who now impresses me even more with his catalogue of resistance to deniers of freedom of choice.  I also had the pleasure of a lengthy chinwag with DK while Twigolet met up with the subject of an article from August, Peter Thurgood, and engaged him in good-natured banter.

The evening also saw an unofficial launch of new campaign group Action on Consumer Choice, as announced on the night by Simon Clark.
Consumers who want choice, are prepared to defend personal responsibility and act with consideration for others now have another voice they can call their own.
Who could argue with that? Personal freedom of choice is surely as basic a freedom as you can imagine.

Well, ASH can, of course.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said she doubted whether the ACC would be able to attract anything other than tobacco companies. “It would be crazy for food or drinks companies to jump into bed with the tobacco industry. It would wreck their reputations and completely undermine any arguments they want to make against future regulation.”
From her pre-emptive reaction we can assume that Arnott - you know, the one who claims her organisation doesn't attack smokers - doesn't believe there should be a campaign to defend freedom of choice to consume tobacco, alcohol, fast food and vaping. Or perhaps it's just the usual psychotic hatred of the tobacco industry blinding her to a perfectly reasonable concept.

Not only was her contribution to the Guardian's smear article an implicit acceptance that the 'domino theory' - which she publicly denies, remember - does, indeed, exist. It also read like a warning to other popular industries not to get involved or else they'll be treated poorly when PH comes for them too. It's like an organised criminal protection racket except it's being communicated by a state-funded fake charity against legal businesses - actually, it's not like a protection racket at all, it is one. You do what we say and we won't come for you next. a veiled threat that her and the like-minded bores we'd seen earlier at the LSHTM cannot wait to destroy any other popular industry which dares to defend the freedom of choice of its customers.

I digress, but I think you get the picture and I've already gone on too long. I can only finish by referring you to Twigolet's summation of the night, because it's nigh on perfect.
The comparison between the two events I attended yesterday could not be more extreme. At the first there were the ideological rantings of those who think it their place to control how we all live, what risks we take, how we balance risk against pleasure, and who are conceited enough to believe that their own war on the tobacco industry trumps all other interests. At the second were people who were happy to enjoy life to the full, and just want to be left alone to do so. I know whose company I prefer.
Quite. Never forget we're on the side of the angels here.

Monday 10 November 2014

Us Versus Them

The Welsh Assembly recently held a public consultation on their 'public health' white paper, and the results are now in!

Well, they're officially called 'public' consultations but - as I've mentioned many times previously - these would be better described as public sector consultations. Most of the public don't know they are even happening but fake charities, state-funded bodies and quangos are paid from our taxes to write responses to them.

This one is no different, which you can see for yourself by reading the whole thing here. Except for one particular question, that is.

This is a result of 64.6% of the 525 answers having been submitted by the public. Novel, huh? What's more, it doesn't include another 279 which weren't received by the deadline - if they had, the percentage would have been 86% against the stupid proposal.

It should be the end of Drakeford's nonsense, shouldn't it? I mean, if you ask the public a question in a democracy and they overwhelmingly tell you to go boil your head, that's pretty final.

But just you watch them wriggle away from such an inconvenient statistic, because there are signs in the document that they're already working on it.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Remind You Of Anyone?

I mentioned last week that content here would be sparse, and so it came to pass. I've also spent this weekend doing next to bugger all due to the prospect of another similar five days to come. I'm quite simply fried.

I did manage to get to Forest's 35th anniversary on Tuesday though and intend, at some point, to write about that and the tobacco control industry event - chaired by Martin McKee - which went beforehand. In the meantime, I heartily recommend you read this account from my companion on the night.

Anyhow, in between enjoying the rugby and a few 'easy watch' films this weekend, the boy little P was quick to point this out to me today. On further investigation, it looks like it's going viral on the basis that it's batshit crazy.

We talk here, don't we, about the 'church' of public health and its sometimes astonishingly contrived nonsense towards popular consumer products. Well, doesn't this barking religious nut remind you of ideological tobacco control industry fruitcakes and their absurd justifications for plain packaging?

Watch out in the video for the blank-minded smug look on the dafty's face when she thinks she's 'proved' her point. Remind you of every professional tobacco controller that you've ever seen, heard or read about as they peddle their extremist conspiracy theory bullshit, perchance? I'd say so.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Exploit Children, Keep Nose In Trough

A compelling case was made in the Lancashire Evening Post yesterday.
Young people from across Lancashire want to see the Government reject standardised tobacco packs, following an event on the dangers of counterfeiting. 
The event was organised by Imperial Tobacco, a business that works with public sector organisations to tackle the illicit trade. The event explored how removing branding and logos would be a boost to counterfeiters who have no qualms about enticing young boys and girls into a life time of addiction.
No-one at all can argue with that!

So here's a thought. Why doesn't a state-funded lobby group whose only purpose is to justify its pointless existence with daft ideas like plain packaging - despite the complete lack of evidence - do the same kind of indoctrination scam for cheap publicity? Like, say, Tobacco Free Futures perhaps? Yes it would be transparently ludicrous and show them up as a bunch of desperate charlatans, but it would get a headline from lazy, unquestioning journalistic failures in the local press, wouldn't it?

Oh ... hold on.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Hands Off Our Packs - The Book Of The Campaign

It's been just over three years since the idea of plain packaging was first mooted in Westminster as a possible policy, ironically by a government which trumpeted how it was going to roll back our liberties and shackle the nanny state when elected in 2010.

The pro-plain packs campaign came with indecent haste after the lies which heralded the pointless tobacco display ban and the Neanderthal stupidity and stunning lack of impartiality which epitomised the business-shattering ban on vending machines (which both coalition parties had vehemently opposed while in opposition, by the way). Perhaps that's why the tobacco control industry were so blasé about their task and proceeded to conduct a campaign of such astonishing mendacity that I struggled to keep up with their almost daily abuses.

I did try, believe me, but the best summary I could collate from my many posts on the subject was this from last year.
The often fraudulent abuses of process, democracy and common decency are too numerous to list in full, but just to remind you of a few highlights: 
Attempting to rig the consultation; producing literature containing bald-faced lies to MPs; enthusiastically encouraging corrupt multiple signatures; and attempting to influence government to exclude any consultation responses they disagreed with and then trying to hide the evidence. Along with inviting two zealous supporters of plain packaging to review the evidence, including a far-left lunatic who simply despises marketing of any product, before producing an impact assessment document which the Regulatory Policy Committee rightly considered shoddy. This without mentioning shovelling taxpayer cash to vested interests to lobby government with, making demonstrably false claims, and blatantly misrepresenting the results of their own research
Like I say, this is by no means an exhaustive list, far from it.
The whole thing should have come to a shuddering halt after vehement rejection by the public at consultation stage but still it rolls on like an extra from The Walking Dead.

I've often thought that the plain packs campaign from anti-smokers has the makings of a great book about how very wrong our current political system - and state-funded cronyism - is, but am just not organised in my free time to adequately write it.

Fortunately, though, Forest's Simon Clark was taking notes on the whole campaign from the start and has produced a comprehensive run-down of it by way of isolating blog articles at Taking Liberties which offer us a revealing timeline of events.

There's an accurate taster of highlights at the Free Society review, and I can highly recommend settling down with your favourite brew and reading the book for free at this link. (Tip: I saved the pdf  'to drive' on an iPad and flicked through it as if was a Kindle e-book but if you prefer the hard copy experience, Brian Monteith points out that you can email for a freebie).

Do also consider sharing with others as it's a timely account of how debased modern 'career' politics, and its corrupt system of government lobbying government, has grown to systematically defraud the public. Do go have a read here.

Monday 3 November 2014

Mascot Watch #30: Our Phil Investigates #COP6

Our glorious chewy-faced hero in the sidebar has been having a little delve into the Department of Health's involvement in that recent farce in Moscow.

Reading between the lines, it would appear that the idea of boycotting COP6 - despite simultaneously talking tough on applying sanctions on Russia - didn't even cross the UK government's mind.
Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative) 
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what representations his Department received urging them to boycott the conference of the parties to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. 
Jane Ellison (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Battersea, Conservative) 
The Department received no such representations.
Well, they certainly received many comments on Twitter suggesting just such a course of action, but I suppose we don't count.

USA refused to go, Canada was 'proud' not to attend, and even Australia considered it, but the Department of Health ignored all that. So eager were they to be welcomed by Putin and do the complementary tour of Soviet monuments, they happily flew there and put all thoughts of air passengers being shot down in transit behind them.

Our Phil also asked a question about how much it cost us as taxpayers. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't reckon Ellison answered the question adequately here.
Philip Davies
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how much his Department spent on attendance at the conference of the parties to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Moscow; and whose travel, accommodation and other expenses related to attendance at the conference his Department paid for. 
Jane Ellison
The sixth Conference of the Parties (COP) of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was held in Moscow over 13-18 October 2014. To be able to participate in the full range of business at the COP, the United Kingdom was represented by two officials. 
The United Kingdom’s delegation travelled on economy class flights to Moscow and stayed during the COP in the hotel where the conference was held, however total costs are not yet available.
The question requested two answers; who went and how much it cost. It seems that Ellison doesn't want to say who went and - incredibly - doesn't yet know how much it cost!

We do now know, though, that the two delegates - Andrew Black and one other - stayed not in just any hotel. No, they stayed in the most expensive one. Well, if you're breaking sanctions you may as well take the right royal piss, eh?

Remember that the question allowed Ellison to sidestep the attendance of ASH's Deborah Arnott - also a beneficiary of your taxes - who went claiming to be the vaper's friend, but returned clutching a recommendation that e-cigs should be summarily crushed after a summit which was conducted in the midst of staggering censorship, denial of free speech, bribery, bullying, and abuse of democracy. Which expensive hotel she stayed in while selling out is not yet clear.

Hopefully, Mr Davies will keep prodding this blistering sore in the heart of government. The actions of Department of Health officials are starting to look a lot like institutionalised treachery.