Monday, 31 August 2015

Drafting A Welsh Public Health Bill Consultation Response

Following swiftly on from Tuesday's post about the TPD2 consultation which finishes on the 3rd, the Public Health Bill in Wales is being conulted upon and that finishes the next day, on the 4th, as in Friday.

Specifically, this is the proposal which plans to ban use of e-cigs in public places because, well, no reason at all really, as the consultation questions make quite clear.

You can find the consultation here, there is an online survey or you can return an online MS Word proforma to instead. The survey is slightly different as it reduces many questions to just a multiple choice scenario, so is likely not to be included as a "detailed response". We've seen this tactic to ignore dissent before so I'd advise you to return the proforma by email and will use those questions for our purpose here.
1 Do you agree that the use of e-cigarettes should be banned in enclosed public and work places in Wales, as is currently the case for smoking tobacco?
No, of course not.

I must admit here to feeling vindicated by the Welsh government even considering this stupid policy. I've maintained for years now that there was no valid health reason behind the smoking ban, it was just a {cough}smokescreen for state bullying. They said it was about protecting bar workers, I said that was bullshit and just an excuse to pander to the most intolerant, bigoted and anti-social people in society. Now they are planning to ban e-cigs in Wales simply because they don't like the look of them (the 'no dogs, blacks or Irish' syndrome). I rest my case.

It's quite a simple answer then, isn't it? The ban "currently the case for smoking tobacco" is because, allegedly, there is harm to others from passive smoke. Public Health England stated quite clearly in their report on e-cigs on the 19th August that there is negligible risk to users and none to bystanders. Therefore the idea of banning them in public places is one which can only be considered by fascists. Considering the absurd nature of the Labour Party in Wales, this might not be a compelling argument - they might even thank you for the comparison - but it's worth a go.

You could also add, though, that only the most vacuous politician and pompous, self-absorbed, cretinous lobbyist would demand government coercion to enforce their personal preferences and petty prejudices on others. This could accurately be described as 'passive spite', which stinks more than acrid sulphur. In a decent society - this is assuming Wales wants to be one, of course - the likes and dislikes of one set of people should not take precedence over those of someone else without a very good reason. In the case of a ban on vaping, there isn't one, just those proposing the idea seeming to think they are more important than managers and owners of businesses who would choose differently on their private property. I'll say that again .. on their private property.

The question should be who do these arrogant prodnoses think they are to interfere in people's lives and businesses simply because they have deeply obnoxious character flaws.
2 Do you believe the provisions in the Bill will achieve a balance between the potential benefits to smokers wishing to quit with any potential dis-benefits related to the use of e-cigarettes?
No, it doesn't. You see, the benefits of e-cigs are real and documented. The 'dis-benefits' (is that a word?) are imaginary and backed up by some of the worst junk science the grubby 'public health' lobby has every produced, and even that has been effortlessly debunked.

If the Welsh Assembly passes this law, they can never again be taken seriously when they bleat about wanting smokers to quit. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if a smoker hoping to quit is forced outside he/she is not going to use an e-cig, they're going to smoke. Hundreds of thousands will do exactly that, so the policy may as well have been dreamed up round a table by Philip Morris and Pfizer. Has the big business-phobic Labour Welsh government considered this? Of course they haven't, because it is quite simply not evidence-based. A cynic might even conclude it's nothing to do with health at all, fancy that!
3 Do you have any views on whether the use of e-cigarettes re-normalises smoking behaviours in smoke-free areas, and whether, given their appearance in replicating cigarettes, inadvertently promote smoking?
They don't 'replicate' cigarettes at all. Here's my current one, you may notice it is not cylindrical, not thin, and doesn't have a glowing tip. It would also not react well if I tried to light it with fire. Only a moron could confuse it with a cigarette.

I don't know how backward the government is in Wales, but the Welsh public buy quite a lot of these. They don't "replicate cigarettes" and don't normalise smoking, they normalise using something completely different. This ridiculous statement - from a government body, no less - is like saying Linda McCartney veggie sausages renormalise steak tartare. Only a fool could think otherwise, but then Wales appears to have one posing as Health Minister.

Besides, all evidence so far (here's some) has found no renormalisation happening anyway, the Welsh Assembly may as well be tabling legislation to ban fairies from the bottoms of gardens.
4 Do you have any views on whether e-cigarettes are particularly appealing to young people and could lead to a greater uptake of their use among this age group, and which may ultimately lead to smoking tobacco products?
Yes, here's a view, the fictional "gateway effect" is exactly that, fictional. All credible studies conducted anywhere in the world have concluded that e-cigarettes do not encourage young people to smoke. This is incontrovertible and can be backed up by the fact that wherever e-cigarettes flourish, teen and child smoking rates have plummeted spectacularly (for example in France and in the USA). If e-cigarettes encouraged children to smoke, tobacco use would be increasing rather than declining rapidly, as is the case in every jurisdiction where e-cigs have not been incompetently banned. So, far from encouraging young people to smoke, e-cigs are doing the exact opposite. Why would the Welsh government want to discourage what they consider to be such a positive outcome?

It's at this point in the consultation that you may be wndering if the Welsh government looked at any evidence at all! No, I don't think so either.
5 Do you agree with the proposal to establish a national register of retailers of tobacco and nicotine products?
No, becase this is obviously designed to make businesses throw their hands in the air and stop selling popular products by adding regulatory burdens. In the case of tobacco it's none of government's business what legal products companies sell and consumers want to buy; and with e-cigs it's worse because it will hamper retailers who are doing the job of expensive stop smoking services and helping smokers who want to quit ... without costing Welsh taxpayers a penny! Just setting up a register and employing people to monitor it and update it, however, will cost taxpayers with no evidence it will have any benefits whatsoever.
6 What are your views on creating a new offence for knowingly handing over tobacco and nicotine products to a person under 18, which is the legal age of sale in Wales?
For tobacco there isn't a problem, in fact it's good to see that the Welsh government is doing exactly what Forest has been suggesting for many years now. Why it has come after variously vindictive, pointless, illiberal, and plain idiotic policies like vending machine bans, hiding boxes behind shutters, plain packaging and outdoor hospital bans is hard to fathom.

However, with e-cigs, is the Welsh government really planning to criminalise a parent who buys an e-cig for their 16 year old kid who smokes? Yes! Yes it is! Just the society Wales wants to see apparently, people being punished for the 'offence' of trying to do what they think is right. There can be no more appalling abuse of government power than that.

At this point - uless you have a view about intimate piercings, tattooing or public bogs - you might like to scroll down to question 19.
19 Do you believe that the issues included in this Bill reflect the priorities for improving public health in Wales?

The Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, ASH (all three of them as I understand it), many stop smoking services and others all see the potential of e-cigs for 'public health' ... but Wales is proposing banning them from being used just about anywhere. What "priorities" are these then? Because after years of banging on about 'helping' smokers to quit, we're a tad confused.

That's about it really. Remember you only have until Friday so if you plan to respond, go here and have at 'em.


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