Monday 29 February 2016

Could Tobacco Control Extremism Help Us Get Out Of The EU?

As piss poor legislation goes, the EU's updated Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) - which regulates e-cigs to within an inch of their life along with other ideologically stupid nonsense - ticks a lot of idiocy boxes for law-making and proves the public are correct in despising modern politicians and bureaucrats.

It hasn't been missed by those campaigning against our membership of the EU either, I mean how could it? Their role is to highlight how inept and pathetic the EU is and why we'd be better off out. So TPD2 is a Godsend.

In October those campaigning to leave saw the TPD as a perfect example of counterproductive EU over-reach, just the sort of thing to get hackles rising about unnecessary Brussels interference.
The innovation to help smokers quit that could save millions of lives is being held back by EU rules. 
If you are one of the country’s three million vapers, or you know somebody who you would like to quit smoking, then you should vote ‘Leave’ in the EU referendum.
Yep, can't argue with that.

By way of example, in 2013 I travelled to Brussels to take part in a protest against the TPD on the day the EU parliament held a debate in which the views of voters were roundly ignored.

Prior to that vote, MEPs had received tens or even hundreds of thousands of emails and other messages from vapers throughout the continent pleading with them not to pass the crap legislation they were planning to. As vapers waited in Place de Luxembourg for news, those who had ventured inside came out to report that not only had we all been ignored, but tobacco controllers were high-fiving and hugging each other at having killed off vaping for good!

I have to point out that this included many who now claim to be onside with e-cigs and the concept of harm reduction.

The decision taken that day - to regulate e-cigs as medical devices - was later turned over by the parliament before the democratic process was abandoned entirely and Article 20 of the TPD was crafted in camera, well away from prying eyes, with no scrutiny or voting process whatsover. It was also passed without anyone bothering to weigh up how it might harm legal industries and the public by way of an impact assessment.

What is even more damning for the way laws and regulations are introduced within the EU is the ignorant and incompetent behaviour of Anna Soubry  - the most ridiculous minister the UK has ever had the misfortune to suffer, or "repulsive little liar" depending on your viewpoint  - in endorsing such an appalling decision by the EU.

To explain the above, she went to the EU - behind the back of parliament and bypassing all proper scrutiny - to vote on a directive about which she knew virtually nothing. Yet she claimed, and I quote:
"I'm not going to pretend that I just did what my officials said because it wasn't like that in any event."
So she, instead, claimed that she was able to vote as she did - or subvert democracy to use the proper term - by keeping a parliamentary committee in the dark, in order to unilaterally vote on a set of measures without even knowing what was on the table. It was clear that she was under the impression that e-cigs had been dropped from the TPD altogether.

This is without mentioning the way the TPD was rigged from as early as the consultation stage by vested interests and infiltrated by pharma lobbyists from its very inception. Oh yeah, and we'll also not mention the mysterious support for the TPD we weren't allowed to see when the EU were ignoring public rejection of the directive, and let's also pass over the TPD originating commissioner's sacking for soliciting bribes.

TPD2 is the EU at its very worst. It proves beyond doubt that the entire edifice is corrupt to the core, entirely undemocratic, a hostage to vested interests and state-funded NGO trouser-stuffers, contrary to the public good, and long overdue for being dismantled.

So it was interesting to see this tweet over the weekend.

Sinclair is a sidekick of Matt Elliott, Chief Executive of the Vote Leave campaign and the mastermind behind No To AV winning the AV referendum in 2011 from a very low base (but finishing with 67% of the vote).

It's clear that the TPD has been identified by the 'out' campaign as an archetypal example of EU over-reach and UK government kow-towing to anti-democratic Brussels. Soubry was able to bypass our own government despite being completely unaware of what she was voting for, simply because of the harmful power the EU wields over the UK. By the same token, the public was barred from any input by multiple levels of bureaucracy, despite corruption arguably being a factor in at least three different ways.

What happened with the TPD was that the public - who unusually engaged in record numbers with an EU directive - were sidelined in favour of hideously biased NGOs, professional lobbyists, crooks, charlatans and shit-for-brains politicians who knew they could just say "well, you know, EU" and avoid an arse-whipping. The TPD illustrates that the EU Commission creates laws which it wants to inflict on the EU electorate, and if we object the answer is not to listen, but instead to dodge, obfuscate, gerrymander, and - if all else fails - take proceedings behind closed doors to ensure the Commission's proposals are railroaded through and the public's views are treated with contempt.

It's a good tactic from the 'leave' campaign to use the TPD as an example of how disgraceful EU law-making can be. No-one asked for the TPD, it was just decided that it was about time the EU had another one. It deliberately avoided public engagement and - in fact - connived and conspired to do the very opposite of what public opinion demanded by way of democratic engagement. Instead it reinforced the agendas of a small number of state-funded and policy-based careerists - many of whom lie as a matter of course - despite their not understanding the subject matter, and the rules it set in stone are unchallengeable for the UK and other member states for a decade at least. It's also a brilliant example of why the term 'regulation' is not always anything to do with making anything safer or more efficient, and why the tobacco control industry really couldn't give a shit about health.

It's only one of many policy areas where EU interference is unnecessary and quite pathetic - recent 'worthy' goals of the EU have focussed on regulating hooverscandles and toasters - and you can be sure that in each area the public will not have requested the interference, and will be given short shrift if they even attempt to object.

But when you have a city in Belgium packed to the gills with thousands upon thousands of regulators, what else are they going to do but regulate? Consequences fly out the window when a gravy train is in full flow.

What is particularly interesting for we who watch these events, though, is how the relatively niche issue of the TPD has been taken up by the 'Leave' campaign so enthusiastically. We've always known that the tobacco control industry is the most disingenuous, mendacious, corrupt and rancid of all state-funded lobby groups, but here we have those who wish to leave the EU recognising it and shining some light under the rocks where tobacco control sits grubbily sucking on our taxes and spreading discord and hate.

Now, wouldn't it be delicious if the egregious abuse of truth, democracy, transparency and civil discourse - which the tobacco control Goliath trades upon to keep itself at the taxpayer trough - turns out to be instrumental in getting us out of the EU whose opaque and anti-democratic practices they love so much?

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Slaughtering Sacred Cows

Back in August, Public Health England (PHE) produced a ground-breaking report on e-cigs which sent chills down the spines of bigoted old tobacco control industry farts the world over.

After years of hating e-cigs because of blind prejudice and ignorance ...

... here was PHE supporting vapers who have switched from tobacco and putting facts and figures behind the multitude of positive personal accounts. The 95% (to 99%) stat scared the living daylights out of certain luddites - generally the ones who think via their oleaginous snobbery and talk out of their arse - so much that their only recourse was to spread doubt and promote as many junk science scare stories as possible.

Oh yeah, and lie in medical journals of course.

Well today, with the release of new guidance to UK Stop Smoking Services by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT), another dagger has been thrust firmly into where their dinosaur hearts used to be before they sold them in favour of self-satisfied sneering, undeserved influence and pathetic conceit.

There are some golden quotes in this document, most notably in the first 20 pages. Every baseless piece of scaremongering bullshit has been calmly and wisely shot down. Do go read the whole thing, but here are my personal favourite highlights.
In order to prevent accidental poisoning of children, e-cigarettes and liquids should be stored away safely (just as you would with household cleaning products and medicines, including NRT products).
Yep, as simple as that. The attempts to portray e-liquid as some appalling household danger - despite other more lethal products being more freely available and causing orders of magnitude worse domestic threat - cut to the quick in one sentence. It should be obvious to the crusties who still remember when medicine cabinets were all the rage but, you know.
It’s not like a cigarette, which you would smoke from start to finish, with an e-cigarette you can sip on it once or twice, and then put it away.
Oh dear, that doesn't help the alarmists who like to talk about the huge levels of nicotine in e-cigs compared with a pack of fags, now does it?
It is unlikely that you will know, or be expected to know, everything about e-cigarettes
Much like most of the older generation of anti-smoking crusaders nurtured in the 1970s then ... who know the square root of fuck all about e-cigs but preach from their pulpit of pompous ignorance anyway.
Talk to experienced vapers, visit a reputable retailer and read posts on forums.
Don't block them on Twitter, dismiss their expertise, and call them anecdotes, astroturfers and trolls, do you mean? Wow! How refreshing, eh?
Be positive when speaking about e-cigarettes. When you say: “We can’t recommend e-cigarettes”, people hear: “E-cigarettes are no good”. Instead choose words that convey a positive message such as: “We can’t supply them, but we can certainly offer the extra support that will help you stop smoking if you buy your own e-cigarette”
So, saying "we just don't know, so best ban them" is not trendy anymore? Ooh that's gotta hurt.
Don’t be alarmed about recreational nicotine. This is a choice some people make, and it is not the business of stop smoking services to make judgements about this. We are not a ‘stop nicotine service’ and if we think getting people off their e-cigarette is a good use of our time, we are ignoring a far more important opportunity to help people quit and to stay off cigarettes.
So many sacred cows slain in just one small paragraph!

It's not the business of anyone to make judgements about recreational smoking either, but if someone visits a stop smoking service it's fair to assume they are making a choice to quit smoking. Where, however, did they indicate that they wanted to quit nicotine?

This not only slaughters the oft-repeated mantra - from sad purse-lipped, interfering curtain-twitchers everywhere - that vaping is merely replacing one addiction for another, it actually celebrates the practice. It also points out that recreational use of nicotine is nothing much to worry about, because it's not. This is now the position of government advisers PHE and also the state's network of Stop Smoking Services ... so why is the government's position still so backward as to publicly commit to a goal of "stop[ping] using nicotine completely" or to declare that "addiction to nicotine, we would consider harmful"?

Time for a change in policy, I'd say.
You can expect to pay around £20 for a good quality, and easy to use, refillable second generation starter kit. More advanced e-cigarettes for the adventurous or experienced user can range from £30 to several hundred pounds; although a decent third generation kit can be bought for about £70. As with other consumables, you will need to pay more for better quality products.
Well, in enlightened UK you can, obviously (kinda makes you wonder why dullards in the EU saw fit to impose a ban on all methods of advertising too, doesn't it?). But not in backward Australia where e-cig bedwetter Simon Chapman is King and e-cigs containing nicotine are banned for no reason at all. If you're an Aussie and want to quit smoking using e-cigs, you're screwed.

Talking of whom ...
Concurrent (dual) use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes has been associated with increased motivation to quit, and to a reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked.
If you listen carefully, you might just hear Simon "most vapers are dual users so they're bad" Chapman's head explode when he reads that.
Pregnant women are choosing to use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking and they may also be useful as a means of reducing harm for those women unable or unwilling to quit abruptly ... if a pregnant woman has chosen to use an e-cigarette to quit or to reduce the number of cigarettes that she smokes, she should not be discouraged from doing so. 
Kapow! That's the guilt-ladelling - and therefore arguably harmful in its own right -  junk science on vaping in pregnancy sensibly ignored too.

But what about 'passive vaping'? That's a concern for selfish shrimp-dicks and effete buttercups, isn't it?
There are no identified harms for bystanders from e-cigarette vapour
Oops. Awkward.

Fear not though, doubt-fostering prohibitionist wankpuffins, because you still have the 'renormalisation' fantasy to cling to.
There have been concerns that e-cigarettes might renormalise smoking, that is, make cigarette smoking appear to be a normal activity. Whilst this is a valid concern we do not have any data to show that this is occurring. Indeed, available data points in the opposite direction because cigarette smoking prevalence among both adults and young people has continued to fall in England as e-cigarette use has increased; the same has occurred in the USA.
Or perhaps not. In your face Drakeford.

It's about at this point of reading the NCSCT document - if I were a tobacco control industry e-cig denier - I'd think seriously of throwing in the towel. The lies are busted, or at least so much ignored that further attempts at promoting them can only lead to marginalisation, loss of prestige and probably much-deserved ridicule. Coupled with PHE's report in summer 2015, it shows that the UK really does get it about vaping now.

Which reminds me of a telling quote from proven liar McKee in a recent FOI request.
DPHs in the NW are livid – there is a draft open letter circulating
Wait till they get a load of this guidance ... which applies to the "DPHs in the NW" too. Liverpool and Manchester could very well disappear into a furious black hole created by righteous anger whipped up by a local concentration of galaxy-class dense minds.

Brace yourself and order popcorn.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Prominent Aussie Tobacco Control Researcher Admits Plain Packaging Is A Failure

Well, I say 'admits', but he more accurately uses the same approach as UK-based tobacco control industry turd-polisher, Olivia Maynard, did last year. That being, misrepresenting the research.
Take, for example, a study she led on the effect of plain packaging of cigarettes which was published in March [2015] (emphases mine).
Conclusions: Plain cigarette packs reduce ratings of the experience of using the cigarette pack, and ratings of the pack attributes, and increase the self-perceived impact of the health warning, but do not change smoking behaviour, at least in the short term.
This wasn't a run-of-the-mill study either. This, as Maynard herself boasted, is the only randomised controlled trial (RCT) so far to look at the effectiveness and behavioural responses towards plain packs. It's a gold standard study, the best there is. And it said plain packs do not work.

Not that this deterred committed tobacco control industry professional Olivia much, of course ...
The results add to the growing evidence base that plain packaging is likely to be an effective tobacco control measure.
Erm, like how? You've just said it didn't change smoking behaviour, in fact you were very clear on that.
Yes, welcome to yet another episode of the long-running series commonly known as the perverse and truth-free world of tobacco control. Where junk is science; failure is success; and none of them actually gives a damn because they all get paid out of your taxes for making shit up.

Yesterday, I mentioned that Aussie politicians are quite aware that plain packaging has been a thundering failure down under, hence their astonishing reluctance to go on record disingenuously claiming the opposite.

Well, on browsing the next tax-funded jolly lined up for tobacco control troughers - the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco (SRNT) annual meeting to be held in Chicago in a couple of weeks - I found something mighty interesting.

Y'see, Ron Borland - a career anti-tobacco researcher with a fine pedigree, if it's possible to use the word 'pedigree' in relation to tobacco control - has submitted a paper which is ingenious in its avoidance of describing what it really concluded following a study on the effectiveness or not of plain packaging (page 21). Translations in plain language are my own.
RESULTS: Smokers became much more supportive of the changes post-implementation.
They fell for our propaganda.
Most desirable reactions to GHWs were stronger, especially avoidance, ...
Smokers did what they always do and ignored the warnings.
... and there was some evidence of stronger relationships with subsequent quitting activity. 
They told us they would think about quitting because they know it's what we want them to say.
Indices of brand identification declined, but were unrelated to quitting interest. 
Smokers noticed the packs were plain now, but it didn't make a difference.
There has been an increase in reported use of budget brands and having no regular brand.
Without premium branding, why not just buy the cheapest?
CONCLUSIONS: Standardised packaging with larger GHWs has had modest positive impacts on smokers in all areas investigated. However, for cessation, at least, it has not been a game-breaker (emphases mine - DP), but adds another element to a comprehensive approach.
Erm, in other words it doesn't work.

Don't you just love the description "not been a game-breaker"? I think the scientific term is "we found no effect", but that would almost be like admitting it has been a crashing failure, now wouldn't it?

Don't expect the tobacco control industry to be trumpeting this new research anywhere, will you? It'll be quietly buried like Maynard's inconvenient RCT last year. Tobacco control 'science' is like that; it's not about health and it's as far removed from real science as is humanly possible.

Monday 22 February 2016

The 'Success' That Dare Not Speak Its Name

In Australia, the spin to pretend that plain packaging wasn't an unmitigated failure continues, and the post-implementation squirming is hilarious to watch.

Via Catallaxy Files, it seems that the Aussie government is struggling with a simple question as to whether plain packaging achieved what the government said it would. That being to reduce tobacco consumption and improve public health.

Tobacco controllers the world over have rejoiced in its genius, with some even going so far as to call plain packaging a vaccine against lung cancer! Therefore, the answer to the question as to whether it has achieved it goals would be a one word 'yes', surely?

Apparently not.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Put that on notice as well, if you can, to please provide it. Your department’s website says that the key findings of the survey were that the objectives of tobacco plain packaging were achieved. Given that is a departmental website—we are not referring to Professor Wakefield’s here—can you tell me: was there a key finding from the survey that plain packaging improved public health?

Ms Davies: The language on the website reflects the broad findings in the BMJ articles published on 19 March last year. They were referencing the proximal objectives as they are referred to in those articles. I think the department ordinarily now refers to them as the mechanisms, which are found in section 3(2) of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act under the objects of the act.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Yes, that is why I am asking the questions. Was there a key finding that plain packaging improved public health? That is one of the objectives.
Ms Davies: The tracking survey and the BMJ articles that relate to the tracking survey were not designed to measure prevalence and cannot measure prevalence.
Senator LEYONHJELM: So it did not measure whether there was increased giving up of smoking?
Ms Davies: As I said, the design of the tracking survey and the articles in the BMJ that discuss it largely related to the section 3(2) mechanisms—so reducing the appeal of the packet, increasing the effectiveness of graphic health warnings and minimising the pack’s ability to mislead. In the long term, those three mechanisms work to reduce prevalence.
Senator LEYONHJELM: How do you know? The post-implementation review is intended to determine whether the objectives of the legislation are being achieved.
Ms Davies: That is correct, and the post-implementation review looks at evidence that goes to both section 3(1), which is the broader public health objectives that you are speaking of—the longer term ones—and also the mechanisms by which those objectives are intended to be achieved, which are the proximal objectives.
Senator LEYONHJELM: The objects of the act are to improve public health, so if we cannot tell from the survey that the introduction of plain packaging improved public health then we have not established whether the act is doing what it is intended to do.
Oh come on now, it's not a difficult question. Did it or did it not achieve its stated objectives? For all the triumphalism over plain packaging emanating from the tobacco control industry, it should be a slam dunk!

Yet it would appear that politicians are desperate to avoid going on record confirming its success. Now why do you think that would be, eh? Speaks volumes, does it not?

Well, we already know that the Aussie government knew it wouldn't be able to answer this pretty vital question. It was quite clear to them a while ago that plain packaging was a failure which is why they indulged in some undemocratic gerrymandering of the 'evidence'.
Australia is in the process of conducting a post-implementation review into plain packaging. If this evidence is not front and centre, we will know that the process is a sham. Predictably enough, it seems that the post-implementation review has already shifted the goalposts. The policy was explicitly designed to reduce cigarette sales and smoking prevalence. Since it is now clear that it has had no measurable effect on either, the review will instead look at whether it has reduced the appeal of cigarette packs. That means looking at the same tenuous evidence that was cited by campaigners in 2011 - evidence that tells us nothing about the real world effects.
In short, they don't want to find out if it works because they know it doesn't.

Even funnier is the Aussie government's desperate wriggling to pretend that world class anti-smoking professional Melanie Wakefield is somehow an impartial 'scientist' after they handed huge anti-smoking campaigners Cancer Council Victoria $3m to 'study' the success of plain packaging.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Was Professor Wakefield a prior advocate of plain packaging?
Dr Studdert: Professor Wakefield has been involved in a wide range of tobacco related research over many years. I do not think it would be fair to say that she is an advocate. I think she is a researcher who has done a broad range of research in a range of areas related to tobacco control.
Senator LEYONHJELM: I am aware she has done a lot of research in this area, but my question is: has she been a prior advocate of plain packaging?
Dr Studdert: As I said, I do not think we would categorise her as an advocate. She has been a researcher for many years in a range of fields related to tobacco control.
Senator LEYONHJELM: So you are saying no, she is not an advocate, yes, she is, or you do not know?
Dr Studdert: Those are not the terms of our engagement with her over many years in relation to tobacco research.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Yes, I know, but you have done a lot of work with her and she has done a lot of work with you. Are you saying you do not know what her views are?
Mr Bowles: I think that what was said is that she has worked in the field of tobacco control for a long period of time.
Senator LEYONHJELM: I heard that, Mr Bowles. I am still interested in the answer: do you believe she has been an advocate of plain packaging?
Dr Studdert: I think she has been an advocate for supporting the evidence base for good policy measures. Yes, I think many—
Senator LEYONHJELM: Would she consider good policy to be plain packaging?
Dr Studdert: I would say yes, because she has done a lot of research in this area and knows the evidence base that supports that policy.
Mr Bowles: That said, it is probably a question best asked of her.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Yes. It is inconceivable given the longstanding relationship between the department and Professor Wakefield that you do not know what her views are.
Mr Bowles: No-one said the views were not known. She is a long-term researcher in tobacco control, so there will be elements of plain packaging, as there will be other elements of tobacco control. I just make the point that we cannot really talk on her behalf about some of her beliefs and all those sorts of issues.
Let's make this clear. If plain packs resulted in the complete destruction of retail trade in Australia and fire shot out of the arse of every smoker who consumed a cigarette from a plain packaged box, Melanie Wakefield would still say it had been a massive success. That's how impartial she is.

Can you imagine the screaming if governments gave BAT or Imperial Tobacco a wad of cash to assess the effectiveness of a policy? Christ, you'd never hear the end of it, but this is tobacco control we're talking about, they're allowed free reign to be as blatantly biased as they like. Governments will just pretend they are impartial. Except when asked to put their faith in impartiality on public record ... at which point they run away because they know very well they'd be lying.

So this is the monumental 'success' of plain packaging. Something politicians shy away from declaring in public, and spouted by professional lobbyists who politicians are scared of admitting are fatally compromised by conflicts of interest.

And they say the tobacco industry is corrupt? Good grief!

Sunday 21 February 2016

"Deciding Who Lives And Dies"

In customarily melodramatic anti-smoker style, Cancer Research UK recently released a video designed to raise cash ... for their friends in the state-funded tobacco control industry.

Entitled "Could you decide who lives and dies?", it's a typical example of the industry's overwrought shroud-waving bullshit, as you can see.

The blurb accompanying the clip claims that there is such a dire shortage of funding that they're having to turn smokers away!
With cuts to public health budgets, Stop Smoking Services can no longer be offered to everyone. Someone has to decide who gets help and who doesn’t. 
I'm sorry but that smells like dustbin juice to me. If you tell your doctor you want to quit smoking, watch how quickly he'll sign you up to a meeting with a stop smoking counsellor. Faster than you can say '20 Lambert & Butler please' I'd wager. And you'll get an appointment far easier than the one with your doctor!

Of course, what the CRUK vid doesn't tell you is that there is a perfectly reasonable - and entirely justifiable - reason for the cuts.
A sharp decline in the number of smokers using an NHS support programme to help them quit has been linked to the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes. 
Nationwide figures have shown a similar trend to those in the south west of Scotland. 
In 2013, the Information Services Division reported that the number of attempts to stop smoking had fallen by 13% compared with 2012.
It's quite simple. If no-one wanted to quit smoking there would be no need at all for stop smoking services, and the same principle applies if there is a decline in demand. If there is a decline of 13 per cent then quite obviously the services will require fewer resources, probably in the region of around 13 per cent funnily enough.

So what level of cuts are being applied then? Well, they're not very savage according to ASH.
Overall, smoking cessation budgets were down: in 39 per cent of local authorities, smoking cessation budgets had been cut compared to only 5 per cent where they had increased. They stayed the same in 54 per cent of local authorities. More than a quarter of local authorities (29 per cent) had seen cuts of more than 5 per cent. 

5 per cent seems to be quite a paltry figure under the circumstances. We don't know what the upper end of the level of cuts is because ASH only mention those exceeding 5 per cent. Presumably, if some authorities had cut by 10 per cent or more ASH would have chased a headline by saying so.

Therefore, considering a decline in demand of 13 per cent, in real terms most - if not all - smoking cessation services are now better funded than they were before.

Hardly deciding "who lives and dies", now is it? If anything, those statistics above make a great case for there being scope for more cuts to better reflect demand.

A better example of "deciding who lives and dies" can be seen in Belgium, however, where tobacco control industry policies have bred and nurtured a quite disgusting decision.
In Belgium, patients with lung fibrosis will not get reimbursed for a treatment if they have smoked in the last 6 months. The smoking abstinence will be controlled by a urine test, which needs to be negative to open rights to reimbursement of the drug. 
The former secretary-general of the French Society of Tobaccology (SFT) confirms that the urinary tests incriminate all nicotine consumers, including former smokers who continue to use substitutes such as patches or gums, and vapers.
Be in no doubt, the tobacco control industry are solely responsible for this kind of vile social eugenicism. Their sustained campaign of bullying and 'denormalisation' of smokers has encouraged behaviour which would be considered appalling if directed at any other section of society.

In Belgium, they really are "deciding who lives and dies", unlike the paltry cuts referred to in CRUK's pathetic video which amount to no such thing.

So, to answer CRUK's question, "Could you decide who lives and dies?". It appears from their video that the public would find it an unconscionable and detestable thing to do. However, the 'public health' community in Belgium (and elsewhere) seem to have no trouble with it at all.

Friday 19 February 2016

Stop With The Bullying, George

ASH often say that they "do not attack smokers or condemn smoking", but - with a budget coming up - it's that time of year where ASH always attack smokers.

They'll be pulling every string they can think of to sway the Chancellor into massively increasing duty on tobacco, which - as J S Mill observed - is a form of prohibition.
“Every increase of cost is a prohibition, to those whose means do not come up to the augmented price"
Tobacco duty rises over and above inflation are nothing less than bullying - a particularly vile brand of bullying which especially targets the poor - and are fully backed by groups like ASH. Indeed, if the Chancellor doesn't attack smokers financially in his budget, ASH will be furious about it. So yes, ASH certainly do attack smokers, and will be overjoyed if/when George Osborne caves in to their pleading.

So I'm happy to back Forest's campaign to axe the tobacco duty escalator. Simon Clark explains it here.
Axe The Escalator is a long-term campaign designed to combat these demands. We do however need your immediate support. 
The next Budget is on March 16 and it's important consumers make their voices heard sooner rather than later in case the Chancellor is tempted to. 
Please visit the Axe The Escalator website (accessible by clicking the link under the sidebar image on the right of this blog - DP) or go direct to the 'Tell Your MP' page. 
Enter your postcode and a letter will appear addressed to your MP. If you agree with it follow the instructions and we'll send it to your MP on your behalf. It should take no more than a minute or two.
Do make your views known on this, if only to point out that the escalator is a nasty club to hit smokers with and perhaps not the best approach, as suggested this week in an interesting National Post article.
They’re desperate. This is why they’re falling back on ever more heavy-handed interventions. Instead of looking for creative ways to help people quit smoking or find methods to minimize smoking’s harm, the public health establishment is seeking to make smoking highly impractical and difficult, if not impossible. 
While there’s an undeniable logic to this method, believing it can succeed hardly seems in keeping with what we know about human nature. It’s already very expensive, socially ostracizing and logistically difficult to smoke. But some people keep doing it anyway. That’s an indication that all the “sticks” in the world won’t be enough to motivate these smokers to quit (though they will steer smokers to cheaper contraband products); so why not try some “carrots”? 
I support the public health establishment’s campaign to cut down on smoking deaths. I just disagree with the method they’ve chosen to cling to, even when that method has exhausted its usefulness. No one who still smokes cigarettes in 2016 is going to be moved by punitive measures. The race to ban more and tax more tobacco products isn’t just ineffective, it’s getting in the way of voluntary entrepreneurial products that could be doing massive good.
Quite. So I encourage you to click the link and see what response you get from your MP about ceasing bullying and trying encouragement instead. Or, you know, perhaps just leaving smokers alone to make their own choices in life, an alien concept for our politicians to grasp, it would seem.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

McKee And More On That 95% Conspiracy Theory

Cast your mind back to January and you will remember our assiduous fellow jewel robbing friend, AT, uncovering conversations between CMO Sally Davies and Martin McKee where the latter stated that a key statistic in Public Health England's review of e-cig evidence - that e-cigs are around 95% less harmful than tobacco - was "originally created by BAT".

I wrote about it at the time, remarking that it was an extraordinary claim and a daft conspiracy theory. However, AT subsequently pointed out by email that the FOI response shows McKee directing Davies to an attachment which was not provided with the text of the emails. It was quite possible that this contained some explosive evidence that BAT really had "created" the 95% figure, so he toddled off to request it.

He just pinged me the response and it is as disappointing as it is hilarious!

The attachment turns out to be nothing more than a draft of this BMJ smear job - attributed to McKee and fellow charlatan Simon Capewell - which has already been discussed at length (as well as being ripped to pieces) here and elsewhere.

So, drum roll please ... here - sticking faithfully to the original draft sent to Davies - is the earth-shattering evidence in favour of McKee's claim that the 95% figure was "originally created by BAT". Brace yourselves.
In fact it is from a meeting of 12 people, including known supporters of e-cigarettes, some of whom have received funding from manufacturers. The meeting was part funded by EuroSwiss Health, one of several companies registered at the same address in a small town near Geneva whose Chief Executive has previously received funding from British American Tobacco, and who calls for the company to be “applauded” in their 2013 Sustainability Report​. ​Some others present are not known from (sic) their expertise in tobacco control but do have links to the Swiss company’s Chief Executive. The group also included the tobacco lead at PHE.
Erm, and that's it.

So to sum up (concentrate please because it's complicated). In 2010 some bloke wrote a book no-one has heard of let alone read; he then "applauded" BAT in 2013 for moving into products which are not cigarettes; he is linked to an organisation which part-funded a study in April 2014 by former government adviser David Nutt and others including the tobacco lead at PHE, so therefore the 95% figure included in PHE's 2015 review was - as McKee confidently communicated to the CMO - "originally created by BAT". Oh yeah, and amongst the panel of 12 there were no sociologists, psychiatrists, left wing marketing fruitcakes or aircraft engineers from the tobacco control industry to foment doubt and confusion.

Well QE fucking D!

Quite incredible, isn't it? I can only assume from this that McKee is judging others by 'public health's' own grubby standards.

But even if you take this laughable nonsense as proof positive that the 95% best guesstimate in this particular study was "originally created by BAT", it's still desperate straw-clutching from the porky porky-pie teller, as Clive Bates highlighted at the time.
The PHE’s lead authors, Professors Ann McNeill and Professor Peter Hajek, have no conflicts of interest whatsoever and come with unimpeachable reputations and great depth of experience.  They didn’t just rely on the Nutt et al study, they applied their own expert judgement to conclude that new evidence did not change the view expressed in the previous PHE evidence review, and that ‘95% lower’ was a realistic estimate of relative risk, including an allowance for future uncertainty. In other words, the 95% figure is McNeill’s and Hajek’s judgement, and they were reporting that it coincides with what other experts expressed in other studies.
McKee disregarded any of that, instead convincing himself of some vague pro-ecig illuminati conspiracy nonsense based on nothing but winks and innuendo. This is the advice he was communicating to Sally Davies in his role as trusted expert. It is David Icke-esque wibble that only a mind fatally crippled with hatred for vaping and the tobacco industry could possibly conjure up. And in doing so, he was obviously quite happy to insult the intelligence of members of his own profession and effectively call them incompetent.

But then what else can we expect from someone who is willing to lie to his peers in the BMJ?

H/T AT via email

Tuesday 16 February 2016

The Pope, Anti-Vaxxers, And Tobacco Control

You may not have read it because it is behind The Times paywall, but Lord Ridley has written a pretty good article about the daft stance many in 'public health' adhere to when it comes to vaping.

Running briefly through harm reduction ideas which have proved themselves incredibly successful in areas such as HIV, heroin addiction, sex education, 'designated driver' schemes for drinkers, and even allowing the homeless the occasional tipple to encourage them to stay in a shelter rather than on the street, he wonders why there still appears to be resistance to the same principle with e-cigs.
We are surrounded by policies designed not to stop us doing things, or stigmatise us, but to encourage us to do them more safely. In the case of addictions, where people find it genuinely very difficult to resist temptation, this surely makes sense. 
Which is what makes the attitude of so many public health professionals to vaping so baffling.
Well quite.
Yet instead of encouraging vaping, the government is about to implement an idiotic clause in the European tobacco products directive, which will ban stronger e-cigs, the very ones heavy smokers start with if they quit, and burden new vaping products with extra regulation, stifling innovation. Unless very much watered down, this is certain to slow or reverse the rate at which people quit smoking, while encouraging a black market - and might also energise furious vapers to vote “leave” in the referendum. 
Erm, and then some!
If public health experts can see the success of exchanging dirty for clean needles in the fight against HIV and hepatitis C, why can so few of them see the benefits of exchanging dirty tobacco smoke for clean nicotine vapour?
The answer to that question, of course, is ignorant ideology, as Ridley alludes to earlier in his piece.
So ingrained is the view that tobacco smoking - probably the most widespread and harmful of all drug addictions - must be fought with condemnation, that many medics and public policy officials cannot stand the thought that a far less harmful way of satisfying nicotine cravings has emerged from outside the public health realm, through a consumer product.
This is the "not invented here" phenomenon very well described by Clive Bates when pulling apart the desperate smears promoted by proven liar Martin McKee in November. It's a simple concept and perfectly understandable in relation to a group of people who have always revelled in their position as the nation's state-funded finger-waggers, as Bates neatly explains.
Not invented here: the products and harm reduction benefits have emerged through the free play of producers and consumers in a lightly regulated market. No one in public health has given their approval or been asked for it, no public spending is required and public health organisations have no controlling influence.
It doesn't help that most in 'public health' seem to be sixth-form level, industry-hating leftards either. Again, as Bates encapsulates.
Hostility to the private sector: culturally, the public health establishment is inclined to paternalism, and state-based or not-for-profit interventions. It instinctively distrusts the private sector and capitalism. It is ill at ease with the idea of consumers as empowered agents.
Regulars here know me well enough by now to predict that this is where I say this proves opposition to vaping is nothing to do with health. And it isn't. But there was a superb article published earlier this month that goes even deeper into this damaging anti-health position from those who should know better, and it comes from way up high.

Entitled "How to Deal with Stupid: The Denormalisation of Industry", risk and science communications specialist David Zaruk puts his finger firmly on the problem. And it won't surprise you that the problem is, once again, the WHO.
I came across the term “denormalisation of industry” in 2012, in, of all places, a publication by the WHO on e-cigarettes. The World Health Organisation was rejecting the possible benefits of e-cigarettes in reducing harm because it “could therefore undermine the denormalization of tobacco use upheld by the WHO”. Anyone unaware of the activist nature of the WHO under Margaret Chan might be alarmed that a global body would reject a beneficial technology out of spite, but this follows perfectly their anti-industry rhetoric, seen also in their anti-pharmaceutical industry position during the Ebola crisis or any IARC study on anything industry produces. On tobacco, the WHO has isolated industry, refusing to consider their research, engage with their representatives or even allow them to attend meetings (nor anyone else for that matter - DP). While they acknowledge that the tobacco companies are still legally permitted to sell products, they are excluded from any normal role within society – they are pariahs … who pay taxes.
Denormalisation, huh? Well whaddya know?

He continues ...
Research against second-hand smoke was, to say the least, quite dodgy (remember the claims that second-hand smoke was more dangerous than direct inhalation), but given the anti-tobacco bias of regulators, it was enough to act against industry. In a denormalised situation, it seems acceptable to reject an industry position without good data while legislating on shaky research. Who, after all, would stand up for the tobacco industry? Given that their scientists were not allowed to participate in the discussions, there was really no need for a fair assessment of the research.
Yep, this is what the tobacco control industry routinely does. It will exaggerate its own shonky research and pretend that is unimpeachable despite being mostly junk, but will apply impossible standards of probity to anything which opposes the 'official' position. It is rank and fetid hypocrisy which was perfectly described in "a tale of two Delphi groups", an article published in Addiction last month but posted at NSP in September (if you haven't yet read this, I recommend you do).
So what does all this tell you about tobacco control research? It tells you that when it comes to weighing the harms of different products, or assessing the impact of different policies, tobacco control researchers embrace the research that reports the findings they like and rail against the studies that report inconvenient or unwelcome findings. That is a hugely regrettable aspect of research in this area. The science of understanding human behaviour is difficult enough without the added burden of political interests around big tobacco and smoking colouring how different studies are assessed and different researchers are attacked.
And that's the whole thing in a nutshell. It's why we're seeing junk study after junk study thrown at e-cigs almost on a daily basis; why anything promoting vaping is instantly condemned as being a product of the shadowy Big Tobacco even if it has nothing to do with it; and why, yes, none of it is anything to do with health.

The 'public health' community - and most especially tobacco control - has mostly fallen in line behind pathetic policies which exclude opposition that might get in its way. It wishes to monopolise the debate and the best way to do that is to undermine those who challenge the 'approved' policy based on nothing but pre-determined junk science and ignorant, puerile, ideological stupidity.

Ironically, where tobacco harm reduction is concerned, this places those tobacco controllers who still deny the benefits of vaping in the same category as the Pope refusing to accept that condoms could help stop the spread of HIV in Africa, and ideology-driven, science-blind anti-vaxxers.

They're in good company then, and history will one day judge them in the same laughable fashion.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Sunday Psychopaths

Tobacco controllers will often tell you that they don't hate smokers, oh no, merely smoking. The problem is that with just about every utterance they exhibit the utter contempt that they have for smokers. Here's a cracker from Australian BMJ Tobacco Control Journal editor, Marita Hefler.

Erm, hands up who isn't aware of tobacco control advice that smoking is dangerous. Anyone, anyone?

Now, I don't know about the Australian education system but considering the UK one promotes mandatory tobacco control advice on the national curriculum - and Australia is arguably more authoritarian than here - I'd guess they probably do too.

The little Ps had their first state-funded anti-smoking lessons around about the age of 5, and every single year from then upwards. So much so that they and their classmates are sick of it. The elder of the two is currently revising for GSCEs and going through past papers. The deleterious effects of smoking is included in science and they have to learn it inside out and backwards to get their grades because - yes - it is a question that can come up because it has many times before.

How any tobacco controller can possibly say that smokers who started in the past few decades were not aware that smoking carries the potential for harm is quite ridiculous! But if they say kids of today aren't aware then they are clearly insane.

This is because the tobacco control industry lives in this self-indulgent cuckoo-land world where admitting that smoking is a personal choice would seriously threaten their jobs and salaries. If they have to concede that there is more than enough information now for the public to make an informed choice, they would instantly make themselves unnecessary and not worthy of government grants.

So their only recourse is to suggest - as Hefler has above - that no matter how much blanket and incessant coverage of tobacco control rhetoric; no matter how ubiquitous the advice from them; anyone who smokes obviously started because they are too stupid to understand it, therefore they are urgently required to provide more.

That, really, is what tobacco control thinks of anyone who considers their advice and chooses to smoke anyway. It's very enlightening, isn't it?

If this is pointed out to them, they always wriggle, of course.

No, they really do. In fact, the public believes that smoking - and especially the myth of passive smoking - is far more dangerous than it actually is. And, I have to add, to read someone in tobacco control talking about the public's misunderstanding of relative risk when they have relied on exactly that for decades to spread junk science bullshit is as jaw-dropping as it is laughable.

Unless, of course, that by saying the public doesn't understand they are admitting that they are useless and that everything they have done has been a roaring failure? Well, you know, it's one interpretation isn't it?

Meanwhile, in America, one of the adoring fans of the secular church of tobacco control lunacy makes a brilliant argument for banning e-cigs too.

Not that she's mad or anything.

Elsewhere, their faithful hate-filled foot soldiers continue proudly exhibiting their mental health problems on blogs, message boards and comments sections safe in the knowledge that smokers are untermensch and therefore valid targets for abuse like tobacco control has instructed. Because all smokers are stupid, aren't they? We know this thanks to people like Marita Hefler who tell the world so.

You will never, ever, hear a tobacco controller condemning such vile anti-smoker behaviour ... because they hate smokers, and they rely on it. Always have, always will.

We're on the side of the angels, remember that.

UPDATE: Apparently, tweeting publicly isn't meant to be regarded as public, so please disregard the above.

Saturday 13 February 2016

A Spectator At The Spectator

On Tuesday, I must admit to being privileged to have attended The Spectator's annual health debate entitled Can We Trust Health Advice? I am a bit of a veteran of such things but this was as polished and entertaining as they come.

I suppose that shouldn't come as much as a surprise considering it was chaired by the polished and entertaining Andrew Neil, who I understand owns the Speccie, but the venue and panel members were top notch too which only served to complement Neil's suave overseeing of proceedings.

I have to mention that I'd arrived early and so enjoyed a perfect waste of time in the locality at a pretty perfect pub for my particular interests. If you're ever in the Temple area of London, do check out the Edgar Wallace, as well as being an unapologetically traditional pub it's also an awesome treasure trove of hedonistic memorabilia.

Anyway, I digress. Arriving at the venue we were directed to a rather impressive library for pre-debate drinks, a stepping stone between the traditional and the modern.

And, half an hour later, were politely herded into the state-of-the-art, bells and whistles conference arena known as the Turing Lecture Theatre for the main event.

The speakers - as much as I could work out - were divided into three who believed health advice to be mostly trustworthy and three who mostly didn't (having said that, there were unconfirmed rumours that one of those in favour had changed their mind a few days before the event, I'll leave you to guess which).

First up was Dr Ellie Cannon of the Mail on Sunday who highlighted the slip slop slap campaign in Australia as a great piece of public health advice which raised awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and encouraged people to think about protection.

Dr Ellie Cannon
She is, of course, right about that but this was in the 1980s when hectoring and coercion were frowned upon; it was also of a time when 'public health' hadn't yet been carried away with its own self-importance and actually cared about outcomes rather than self-indulgence and posturing. Therefore the campaign was entertaining and persuasive rather than being based on doom and scaremongery like the ones we see today.

If that statement above sounds like opinion, yes it's supposed to be. This is a blog, it's kinda what such things are all about.

When she had finished, Andrew Neil, as is his style, peered over his glasses at the notes he had been making and asked Dr Ellie what she thought of Sally Davies's modern guidance that only "six and eight teaspoons (35ml) of sun cream per application" should be applied when in the sun. As I recall, she was fairly non-committal, but next speaker Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies fame was far more forthright.
Andrew Neil: Dr Christian, what do you think of the CMO's advice to only use six teaspooons of sun cream?
Dr Christian: Batshit crazy!
Now, Dr Christian was a bit of a conundrum on the night.

Dr Christian Jessen
Ostensibly he was on the pro-health advice side yet pretty early in his spiel railed against the appalling nonsense being spouted about e-cigs.

Indeed he is correct about that and his words carried the added advantage of legitimising any vaper on the panel or the audience who was using one on the night too. Which was nice of him.

His contribution was to say that sometimes health advice is good, sometimes it is awful. He also pointed out that when celebrities get involved it is quite wrong and they should really shut their traps (a certain gobby rotund TV chef comes to mind).

This theme was echoed by Spectator Health editor Max Pemberton who also leaped to the defence of science on health.

Max Pemberton
According to Pemberton, newspapers and broadcast media "sensationalises science and distorts research", but he was adamant that the science itself was always sound. As you can imagine, after some of the appalling junk we have seen from 'public health' researchers recently I had my reservations about that so made a mental note to bring it up in the Q&A.

The baton was then passed to Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, a man so condemnatory about shonky health advice that he wrote a book about it.

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick in full flow
Drawing laughter throughout the audience, Fitzpatrick not only ridiculed the current Chief Medical Officer's absurd alcohol guidelines, but also entertainingly ripped into the insane scaremongery of her predecessor, Liam Donaldson, who all but predicted the end of the world and cost the country a small fortune over swine flu.

I've seen him before and he was as box office as usual, so much so that Neil was forced to stop him as he more than strayed over his seven minute time slot. Neil also saw an opportunity to poke at Fitzpatrick's mistrust of just about all health advice, but it didn't really work.
Neil: Whose medical advice do you follow Dr?
Fitzpatrick: I avoid all of it!
This prompted Dr Ellie to bring up the slip slop slap thing again and ask if Fitz uses sun cream when on holiday. A fair point which broke his momentum for a few seconds, but he countered by pointing out that the simplicity and unconfrontational nature of that campaign was why it had been taken on board by most people since.

Next up - and my personal favourite on the night - was Dr Richard Harding, a member of the 1995 committee which came up with the previous alcohol consumption guidelines. He was so calm and laid back that you could almost have missed the subtle contempt he has for Sally Davies and her ridiculous "no safe level of alcohol consumption" nonsense.

As someone who has studied the subject for many years, he joins a long list of people who think Backbone Sally is a raving lunatic, he was just very nice about it.

Last on the stand was Chris Snowdon (who has released the basis of his contribution here). Central to his point was that 'public health' stubbornly refuses to accept that settled science on moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to health.

Highlighting the difference between useful health advice and 'public health' lobbying posing as health advice, he finished with a revealing admission acquired by FOI request.

I'm sure we'll hear more of that in time, and very much look forward to it.

A lively Q&A followed - impeccably marshalled by Andrew Neil - and I did get to ask my question of Max Pemberton. It went something like this.
Max, you place great faith in public health science and state that the media misrepresent it, but - and I think Dr Christian will have knowledge of this example - how about a recent study into e-cigarettes where the paper said one thing and the press release by the researchers declared something completely different and led to damaging headlines in the press? 
Dr Christian did, indeed, back me up but said he couldn't remember what the abuse of science was (it was this)

Sadly, Pemberton seemed to misunderstand the question so just re-emphasised that science is good and media bad, oh yeah and celebrities shouldn't get involved. Andrew Neil, however, did understand and pressed him more, asking how we can trust scientists if they release biased opinions to the media. Max conceded that was wrong if it was happening but that it was rare.


So, with a customarily professional summing up of proceedings by Neil, the audience exited into the February night and went their separate ways. Myself, I ended up in quite salubrious surroundings with like-minded people for a few more beverages and enthusiastic chat.

And that's how I came across a fitting postscript to the night's event. While discarding my warm clothing and settling into my seat, I put my iStick on the table only for a staff member to see it and advise me that "smoking is not allowed here". I naturally replied "that's fine because I won't be smoking" and he walked off utterly confused.

If you want proof that health advice is not to be trusted, there it is. Over a decade of e-cigarettes being in use in the UK yet misinformation and ideological junk science has not only led to ignorance-led bans on their use, but also the people entrusted to enforce the bans are woefully ill-educated about what they are and how to refer to them.

Kinda suggests that health advice is not really doing what it is supposed to and - as it is currently communicated - isn't enlightening the public as it should be, don't you think?

See also: The Speccie's account of the evening here.

Link Tank 13/02

The weekly link dump.

The argument for the legalisation of cannabis has been won. Now for the difficult bit

Twitter’s new ‘Safety Council’ makes a mockery of free speech

A sugar tax is anti-consumer and anti-business

Sally Davies accused of 'eroding pub culture'

This could be the best tourist attraction ever!

Indonesia bans gay emojis (pic)

Man eats at every McDonald’s restaurant in London in one day

Health and Safety Executive to sue Star Wars

Watching porn to save the whales

iPod watching mice

Thursday 11 February 2016

The Curious Incident Of The Wonk In The Night-time

At the weekend, the boy P and I went along to an Aviva Premiership rugby match at The Stoop to see Harlequins v Northampton Saints.

Sadly they have a pretty pathetic policy on smoking and vaping outdoors.

This means you can't smoke or vape in the huge area behind the south stand specifically created for pre-match relaxation and enjoyment. So therefore both are forbidden here ...

... and here ...

... and most definitely here by the entertainment.

Nope, if you want to smoke or vape you have to leave the stadium completely, and two members of staff plus two stewards are on hand to assist you in doing just that.

On a bitterly cold day with a spiteful wind whipping round the place, I'm sure all attendees - who have never seemed particularly bothered in previous seasons - felt comfortably 'protected' from a few wisps of smoke and some vapour. Outdoors!

Of course, it's not about that, there is - and never will be - any evidence that smoke outdoors is harmful to bystanders, and August's PHE report stated that there is no evidence of vapour being harmful to anyone at all!  Nope, it's the dictatorial anti-social 'public health' policy of "denormalisation" in action. In other words, bullying people into ceasing activities of which they don't approve.

This policy was brought about by a particularly rancid state, EU and pharma-funded organisation called Health Equalities Group (HEG), an offshoot of which is Healthy Stadia who conned clubs into installing these ridiculous bans, as I mentioned in January.
You see, some will know that I am a cricket and rugby fan so am acutely aware of how this group's badgering of sports venues has resulted in such fascist illiberal bans. So much so that in 2014 I enlisted the help of a fellow jewel robber to ask what Healthy Stadia had done to encourage outdoor vaping bans in particular. Their spokesman, Matthew Philpott, was adamant that they only "consulted" the clubs as to their policy.
We have not carried out consultation with fans concerning use of e-cigarettes at stadia, only with individual clubs and governing bodies.  
I should also state that we have not been instrumental in directing UK clubs to ban e-cigarettes – we have simply conducted consultation on their current policies regarding this matter.
Follow up questions asking for evidence of the material they sent to the clubs concerned was ignored, so I contacted a few clubs to ask exactly what Healthy Stadia had sent them. You won't be surprised to learn that it didn't correlate with Philpott's innocent explanation.
The advice they gave us was that e-cigs still normalised smoking and guided us to our Council Public Health views which was not to encourage. 
Advice? Erm, I thought it was just consultation.
So the bullying has come directly from pharma-funded HEG. If you've ever been told you can't smoke or vape outdoors by a sports club, they are the nasty, vindictive, interfering bastards who are responsible.

With vaping in particular, the HEG is a key promoter of anti-science scaremongery about e-cigs. Their Twitter feed can always be relied upon to seize any opportunity to create doubt about the products. Here's a nice example from yesterday.

Robin Ireland, of course, is HEG's CEO and a faithful sidekick of Martin McKee. He was referred to in December's FOI as someone willing and eager to leap to McKee's side and spout cherry-picked anti-vaping propaganda at the drop of a hat.

So, with all that in mind it was intriguing to see a guy called Michael Viggars pop up on Twitter the other night and post a quite remarkable tweet.

Could this be because the person he tweeted sarcastically dubbed himself an "ex-vaping astroturf"? Well probably yes, because you see it turns out he's part of HEG too. 

And he's really not a big fan of e-cigs. 

Therefore he has either had a Damascene change of heart or this would appear to have been a muck-uncovering exercise.

Well, I suppose they could change it by not being vile anti-vaping shit-stirrers who advocate for entirely unnecessary bans, but perhaps that would be too easy.

Anyway, it didn't last long. This olive branch of engaging with vapers soon evaporated once it became clear to Michael that the people he was tweeting were not astroturfers, merely vaping members of the public, and he began rapidly deleting tweets like those above. He also didn't feel keen on 'engaging' anymore.

Anyhow, it was all rather interesting and another epic social media fail from those who are inexplicably ideologically opposed to harm reduction.

By the way, if you are anywhere near Merseyside, you might be interested in this event that vape-hating propagandist Robin Ireland has lined up on Thursday next week.
Why vapers think e-cigarettes will lead to the end of cigarettes, and why their optimism may be misplaced – Robin Ireland 
When:  Thursday, February 18th 2016, 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines, 81 Lime St, Liverpool 
Robin Ireland, a Liverpool-based public health advocate, will discuss the evidence as much as it is available in the context of tobacco control efforts in England.
I'd bet he will do nothing of the sort. Expect formaldehyde, popcorn lung and every other debunked junk research to be heavily emphasised and the vastly more prevalent positive studies to be ignored or glossed over.
His position on e-cigs has led him to be vilified by vapers on social media
Quite rightly too, as anyone who is a "denormalised" sports fan chucked out of venues thanks to him and his hideous organisation will agree.

If you go, I'd obviously be very interested in what he has to say. Take pics.

H/T Top screen grabbing from @d4nno_