Friday 29 December 2017

An Encouraging Tale Of Christmas Disobedience

Like most, I've been overrun with Christmas stuff recently - including a rather fabulous road trip to a café with a sea in its garden - but have an observational tale to tell which I found very interesting.

This year we Puddlecotes booked a Christmas dinner at the local pub. I know from speaking to a previous Manageress (a vaper) that the chain to which it belongs has stupidly installed a vaping ban but - never having come across one yet that can't be bypassed - I had brought a simple e-cig for the duration.

I was far from alone. Once we got to the venue at around 1pm, the place was packed and I counted at least five people vaping unobtrusive devices, seemingly without a care in the world. To say that it piqued my curiosity would be an understatement. I don't often visit there so watched with a keen interest. Had they changed their policy? Did the new Manageress just turn a blind eye?

Once seated at our table, we had a clear view of the whole pub and I watched as a group of 30-something lads stood at the bar laughing and joking, with one of them considerately vaping. No-one was concerned, nor did I see any perturbed looks from anyone else in the bar around any of the others I saw doing the same.

The new Manageress was helping with waiting tables for a steady procession of Christmas guests paying £40 per head (not including drinks) and I felt pretty sure she'd seen me using my Vype at least once, but nothing was said. I went to the bar to order some drinks and my silent query was answered by the barmaid as she poured a pint and said pointedly to someone behind me (one of the group of lads) that "you can't use that in here!". He swiftly apologised, but once she went to the fridge to get the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that I'd ordered, promptly carried on regardless.

It struck me then that the chain pub's policy is laughably unenforceable and was being widely ignored. This doesn't come as a surprise because 'stealthing' is always very easy but it was encouraging to see so many not showing any respect to a daft policy whatsoever, and absolutely no-one else caring that it was being flouted.

More intriguingly, however, a little later a new group of eight came in to take up their Christmas table. The mousey housewife who appeared to be the one who had booked it walked in with her handbag in one hand and a basic Ego type e-cig in the other, plainly on view. The Manageress came to make sure they were seated properly and to point out where the free tea and coffee was and I saw her look directly at the e-cig in wifey's hand. I was expecting her to say something about it, but there was just a brief pause - perhaps while she totted up the £320+ that this group was going to be putting into the pub's coffers - and she just smiled, had a laugh and a joke and was off without saying a word about it. The lady in question vaped openly throughout her meal and wasn't approached about it.

It just made me wonder at the wisdom of such vaping bans, I mean, what's the point? They are so incredibly easy to ignore, and it was clear that apart from a futile plea from one barmaid, the management of that pub were battling against something which is not only unstoppable, but also counter-productive to their main role of bringing in business for the brewery. Why would the Manageress risk pissing off someone providing nearly £400 of business with a pointless policy thought up by some lazy suit at HQ, and why would any employee want to throw out a group of lads spending freely over the bar when no-one gives a flying fuck about their unobtrusive friend vaping?

At Christmas, it was pretty to watch a pub policy being shown to be so ignorantly crafted and so pathetically simple to ignore. As the numbers of e-cig users increase, and the evidence of their safety continues to pile up, only the most foolish in the pub trade would continue to fight an unwinnable war against vapers. Let's hope that in 2018 we see more pubs realising that it's pretty pointless, and either dropping their policies altogether or altering them to allow "considerate vaping" which is far more realistic.

And let's also hope that any who refuse to do either lose income and go bust, as they richly deserve. 

Wednesday 20 December 2017

"At War With The Tobacco Industry"

Well we have always suspected as much, but today the WHO's newly-installed leadership has finally admitted that it isn't interested in what works to encourage smokers to quit ... it just hates the industry.

Director General Dr Tedros Ad-hanom Ghebreyesus (an Ethiopian with a dodgy background) only took office in July this year but his genius has already seen Robert Mugabe recruited as a {cough} goodwill ambassador before worldwide disgust forced him to backtrack.

AKA Idiot
Well now, he has confirmed to us all that he is even more deranged than his predecessor Margaret "Oh I do like a Dictator" Chan. Commenting on corrective statements - that is, corrective, as in to correct what was said previously - being aired in the US, this African lunatic declares that it isn't enough, and that nothing the industry can do ever will be. So he's declared the WHO to be at war ... not with the real or perceived harm of smoking, but with the industry.
These public statements acknowledge that the companies – Philip Morris USA, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Altria – knew the damage their products cause but kept selling them anyway.
As they are obliged to do by laws which demand they have a fiduciary duty to not shit all over their shareholders. I just thought I'd add that because he seems to forget that it's not good etiquette for legal businesses to nuke pension funds and unleash a global criminal market which would make Colombian and Mexican drug cartels look like warm up acts for the Teletubbies.
And it is not just courts that are taking action against the tobacco industry. The recent decision by French bank BNP Paribas to stop financing and investing in tobacco companies – including producers, wholesalers, and traders – is just the latest sign that public health is finally being put ahead of commercial interests.
BNP Paribas have done this against commercial interests, apparently, and not because they might see an angle in it by way of increased gullible 'ethical' investors or the avoidance of shroud-waving fuckwittery from the likes of unelected extremist African-led supranational cults.

And even if so, why can commercial interests not work in favour of public health anyway? Every leap forward in the history of public health has been aided and abetted by private industry and innovation, only a cretin would think the profit motive isn't a powerful force to harness.

Sadly, Dr Tedros is that very cretin, because he is determined to prevent that ever happening.
The industry couldn’t be trusted in the past, and it shouldn’t be trusted to do the right thing in the future. 
Even today, the same tobacco companies are marketing new products that they claim are less harmful – like “heat-not-burn” devices, which vaporize tobacco to produce a nicotine-containing aerosol – and funding front groups purporting to work for a smoke-free world.
Is he sounding, you know, a bit like a Luddite to you here? The evidence isn't in yet on either heat not burn or the Foundation for a Smokefree World, but this stunning Ethiopian savant don't need no stinking evidence. He may not know much about nicotine delivery systems, but he knows what he likes.
Enough is enough; at this critical moment, we must not let the momentum slip. Governments and health organizations like ours are at war with the tobacco industry, and we will continue fighting until we beat Big Tobacco.
Not beat cancer, or heart disease, or COPD, or any other illness they attribute to tobacco. No, the very first priority is destroying the legal tobacco industry. That's it. Period.

This is the same WHO which said "help yourself" to Thailand when they wanted to prohibit vaping and bang citizens up for 5 years for possession of e-liquids, and who passed that recommendation in India which is now planning to do exactly the same.

And now, under his leadership, Dr Tedros is planning to crush heat not burn products - responsible for "one of the most remarkable events we have ever seen in global efforts to reduce cigarette smoking" in some markets - under the clunking fist of his stratospheric ignorance.
However reluctantly, these companies have called on all of us to reject their products. We think it is time to take them up on the offer.
So there you go. As I've always maintained, it's never been about health, but now we are seeing that it never will be either. These dangerous extremists aren't even giving breathing space to what might work in the future! Under the leadership of an Ethiopian with a chequered background, the WHO just declared its principal aim is one of destroying a legal industry instead of working towards improving the world's lives and health.

He, and those members of the WHO who elected him their Director General, are clearly fucking insane. 

Tuesday 19 December 2017

The New Age Of Intolerance

As Snowdon wrote on Tuesday, there was fabulous news from Austria that their smoking ban has been stopped by the new government. The Guardian - big fans of a ban in just about every policy area - reported it in its own inimitable way, putting quote marks around the word freedom, presumably because their journos don't understand its meaning.
Austria stubs out looming smoking ban in name of 'freedom'
Austria’s far-right Freedom party has announced that a planned ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants that was due to come into force in 2018 will be scrapped.  
Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache said the reversal was agreed in ongoing talks to form a coalition with the conservative People’s party (OVP) following elections in October.  
“I am proud of this excellent solution in the interests of non-smokers, smokers and restaurant owners,” Strache, who had made the move a key campaign pledge, said on social media.  
“The freedom to choose lives on. The existence of restaurants (particularly small ones) has been secured. Thousands of threatened jobs have been saved,” said Strache, himself a smoker.
Subtle dog whistle there with the Graun pointing out Strache as a smoker, I guess hinting that he's only done this for self-interest, which is incredibly hypocritical of them.

Smoking bans trample the rights of private business owners to decide what their customers are allowed to do, and the rights of employees to decide the risks they are prepared to take. Defending those rights is very much a freedom issue so it is perfectly in keeping with a politician's job, irrespective of whether or not they smoke.

What definitely is self-interest, though, is the predictable reaction we see on social media whenever there is even a hint of a smoking ban being reversed or amended. There were a few anguished cries of "cancer!", and "poison!" once the news emerged from Austria on Tuesday - one even declared that this was a return to Austrian Nazi gas chambers - but the general thrust was, as always, about not liking the smell or having to wash clothes/hair/pillows (delete as applicable). Nobody that I could see said anything about bar workers, which is the now-forgotten reason tobacco control hung on their experiment in social engineering.

Yet all that is being proposed in Austria is adoption of the 'Berlin model' where separate ventilated smoking areas are permitted, quite sensible in a country like Austria where it can get very cold. This isn't being cooped up for 40 years with a smoker with windows shut and archaic ventilation (as second hand smoking studies invariably focussed on, and even then couldn't find a significant threat without gerrymandering the data and demonising anyone who came up with different results). 'Passive smoking' is a long-run tobacco control scam but it is enthusiastically supported by the gullible, along with hideous people who really want to believe it because they dislike the smell of tobacco so - in pursuit of their own self-interest - want to poke their noses into smokers' lives.

What is fundamentally so destructive about smoking bans, though, is that they have normalised this kind of selfish, bigoted and anti-social behaviour, and we can see this clearly in the comments to a very well-written Times article yesterday by Matt Ridley on vaping.

It is behind a paywall but to summarise, Ridley argued cogently - and referring to evidence - that Britain leads the world in the industry; that innovation was saving lives while saving consumers billions; that this has led to a sharp decline in smoking prevalence and that the vapour has no adverse affect on bystanders. What's not to like if you're an anti-smoker, eh?

He went on to suggest that advertising restrictions should be relaxed; that UK health organisations support e-cigarettes; and that there should be no vaping bans, merely discussions of etiquette around their use.

Yet the reaction he received in the comments was exactly the same as those from people who railed against Austria and their smoking ban! And I mean, exactly! Here is a selection.
"No problem with people vaping and using electronic cigs, just don't want it on public transport and enclosed  public spaces....and the work space." 
"We have got a ban on “smoking” which is brilliant . Vaping is just another form of smoking. Do not create a thin end of a wedge. Keep it clean. Vape if you want to but not in my space." 
"As a reformed smoker I find the exhaust fumes from vaping as offensive as cigarette smoke. I think vapers need to be segregated." 
"The argument that vapers should be allowed to smoke indoors with non smokers is flawed. Smokers have not been permitted to do so for years , so what are they missing by a continued ban, now that that they have found a new distasteful addiction, which while suposedly less harmful , can’t be good." 
"I accept is less harmful than normal cigarettes but I object to having perfumed stench in my face when indoors in public places." 
"Smoking, cigarettes or vaping, should be restricted to open air. Even that infringes my human rights."
And my personal favourite because it perfectly encapsulates the entire debate.
"I don't want to breathe in anyone's second hand nicotine steam. Go outside!"
Because that's what it has always been about, pure, naked intolerance ... not health. Me. Me. And more me.

This is why I have always said - and will continue to do so - that the smoking ban was the most socially-damaging piece of legislation ever bludgeoned through our parliament. In one fell swoop it spoke directly to the prejudiced, the intolerant, the lazy and the anti-social. It told them that our proud history of respecting personal and professional rights to freedom were at an end; it told them that whereas before the government would not legislate just because people didn't like something, now it was open season; and it empowered nasty little curtain-twitchers and prodnoses to swarm all over Times article comments sections spouting their ill-informed crap because the government is on their side now.

Once you convince the most vile in our society that they are important and that laws can be summoned up on the back of their intolerant whims, there is no end to the things they will demand be banned, and this is exactly what has been happening since July 2007.

Yet again, e-cigs flush out the truth from the fantasy, just as I always predicted they would. 

Saturday 16 December 2017

Keep Smoking, Thailand Needs The Cash

The drafts have been piling up here lately due to a hectic pre-Christmas in Puddlecoteville and at Puddlecote Inc, but here's a disturbing story from Thailand last week that deserves comment.
Net Idol arrested for e-cigarette faces 5 years saying police treatment "over the top"
A well known internet celebrity who was arrested in Pattaya at a checkpoint when an e-cigarette and vaping liquid were found has said her treatment at the hands of the local cops was over the top. 
Manutsaya Yaowarat - otherwise known as Fluksri Maneedeng - went on social media after she was filmed being dragged to the cells
It was confirmed that she had just one e-cigarette and one vial of liquid in her possession. No other charges have been mentioned. 
But a top lawyer said that she could still face 5 years in jail and a fine of four times the value of the vaping equipment and fluid that was found hidden in the console of her car. 
Popular online lawyer Kertphon Kaewket reminded the public that the importation of e-cigarettes and vaping fluid was a serious offence that could land people in jail for ten years and command 500,000 baht fines. 
But even possession was serious and could generate a 5 year prison term and from half to four times the value of the goods seized.
Presumably, if she'd have been smoking there wouldn't be a problem. Well yes, because the Thailand tobacco industry is a nationalised monopoly with a clearly stated aim.
Thailand Tobacco Monopoly was established in 1939 according to the Cabinet’s resolution. TTM operates in the tobacco production and distribution business in order to contribute revenue to the State for the country development and plays an important role in the economic system of Thailand.
The girl's 'crime', then, appears to be using something which would reduce tobacco duty income to the Thai state. Interesting way of governing a country, don't you think? 

A fellow jewel robber from the country (yes, there are some) pointed me in the direction of the law that was being enforced here, and it is truly laughable.
Testing by the Scientific Services Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology and by the Department of Disease Prevention, Ministry of Public Health, has found a number of hazardous chemicals detrimental to the body in these products, including propylene glycol, menthol, cyclohexanol, triacetin, benzene derivatives, lead, and cadmium.
Presumably, everything else containing PG and menthol will also be banned? It would make for quite a list.
Testing has also found that smoking with these devices may cause or contribute to the development and spread of diseases such as tuberculosis, colds, influenza, diphtheria, pertussis, and hepatitis B. Use may also lead to other serious diseases of the mouth, since users tend to share the devices among their peer group; a hazardous practice that may, in turn, lead to use of other addictive substances including ecstasy, ketamine, amphetamines, marijuana, or cocaine. 
So anything that can be shared is highly dangerous and could lead to the user becoming a junkie? Riiiight. I wonder what their stance is on kissing?

Anyway, who is to blame for this quite ludicrous state of affairs? Who has facilitated a national government to bring in a law prohibiting a less risky alternative to smoking in order to protect the Thailand tobacco industry?

Why, it's the World Health Organisation, of course!

In November last year I travelled to India for the WHO's COP7 shindig and Thailand was prominent on the group of 'parties' who were desperate that the word "prohibit" was not removed from regulatory options endorsed by the WHO. For two whole nights they were buzzing around trying to gain support, and they were eventually successful. The WHO's final guidance included prohibition and so Thailand can point to the World Health Organisation as a reason they have banned import, manufacture, sale and possession of a threat to their tobacco monopoly, and therefore justification for dragging a girl to the cells for possession of a bottle of e-liquid.

Great work guys at the WHO! The Thailand exchequer thanks you for being their tobacco industry's biggest supporter. 

Saturday 9 December 2017

A Healthy Dose Of Common Sense

Today I was in Puddlecoteville town centre for some Christmas shopping. Mrs P went into New Look in the shopping mall for some vouchers and - as men do - I hung around outside instead. Sat on a bench outside the shop I took a quick vape on my 18mg 50/50 Lime Zest at 8.9 watts (so no big clouds). Just as I did so a security guard - as wide as he was tall - waddled over to me; the conversation went exactly like this:

"'Ere, fella, you can't do that in here"
"Oh right, so you've changed policy then? Is that why the two vape shops have gone? You kicked them out?
"Well, they left"
"OK, you know it's not illegal don't you?"
"So why has the centre banned vaping?"
"Well, erm, the children" (vaguely waving to where some children had been but now weren't)
"You know that they're not dangerous, don't you?"
"Well, in my book they are far more dangerous than cigarettes"
"You should do some Googling then and get an education"
"I have done, that's how I know they're dangerous"

And you know what? That's not the first time that someone has said that to me. This is the false perception that years of tobacco control lies has fostered in a significant proportion of the public. I've always said that e-cigs had the potential to expose the abhorrent nature of the tobacco control industry, and that conversation shows just how much of a threat they are to the public.

That someone has been convinced of something so comprehensively untrue should make the 'public health' movement utterly ashamed of themselves, but I don't think many care.

The world in 2017 is a place where private innovation and enterprise is leading millions of people into doing what tobacco control has demanded for decades - quitting smoking - yet the main obstacles placed in front of them are the very same people who've been nagging for all that time, and the petty and counterproductive restrictions that have grown up around the incessant 'public health' lying.

Last month, the Freedom to Vape campaign produced a report on policies towards e-cigs in 391 councils up and down the UK. It showed that the attitude of authorities has got worse in the past 12 months instead of better. The steamroller of authoritarian pettiness and control - created and nurtured by disingenuous tobacco controllers - has gained pace rather than receding. So the NNA has launched a campaign entitled "Challenging Prohibition" which I urge you to read and share widely.

Also last month, in front of an audience packed to the gunwales with state-paid 'public health' grandees and activists, Sarah Jakes of the NNA was afforded a very rare (for 'public health' events) opportunity to speak as a consumer about the damage this environment of mendacity is causing, as perfectly illustrated by the ignorant security guard I had the misfortune to meet today. Or, in her words, how 'public health' is "fucking it all up".

It is 20 minutes long but I highly recommend you switch off X Factor Dancing Talent In The Jungle or whatever passes for Saturday night TV these days, pour yourself your most favoured beverage and watch what Simon Clark described as "a masterful speech" (transcript here if you prefer). I couldn't agree with him more.

Friday 8 December 2017

So Many Questions About Glantz

So ...

Following swiftly on from Chapman being excoriated in the Aussie parliament, let's talk about Mad Stan the aircraft mechanic. Because he's in a bit of a pickle, it seems.
A former UC San Francisco doctoral researcher Wednesday filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by a prominent tobacco control activist and tenured UCSF professor Stanton Glantz that spanned nearly two years. 
The lawsuit also alleges that Glantz retaliated against his former mentee, Eunice Neeley, after she complained about him to the university’s administration by removing Neeley’s name from a research paper. 
Neeley accused Glantz of consistent inappropriate behavior that included staring at her body, making comments directed at Neeley referencing sex, making sexual remarks about other women to Neeley while at the workplace, and making racist remarks about Neeley, who is black. 
Pretty grubby stuff, huh? But this was the kicker for me.
Neeley purports that Glantz used his tenure to intimidate his students from reporting his sexual harassment and emotional abuse. According to the lawsuit, Glantz was known to have told multiple students that as a tenured professor, “You can rape the vice chancellor’s daughter and still have a job.”
Using a position of power to deter complaints about behaviour is quite shocking. If this turns out to be true (and it's important to note that Glantz has denied the charges) it's Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo stuff on steroids!

I suppose only time will reveal more, but I'd like to ask a question. Considering that Kevin Spacey was quickly removed from a film and Netflix cancelled House of Cards at the whiff of impropriety, what will the FDA make of the fact they shovelled Glantz $20m recently?
UC San Francisco will receive a five-year, $20 million grant as part of a first-of-its-kind tobacco science regulatory program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 
The overall aim is to conduct programs of multidisciplinary research that will inform the FDA’s regulation of the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health. 
The UCSF principal investigator is Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. 
“We have identified serious problems in the way that the FDA has done cost-benefit analysis of major tobacco regulations, most notably warning labels on cigarette packages,” Glantz said. “In particular, the FDA underestimated the immediate benefits of smoking prevention and cessation, and based its behavioral assumptions on outmoded ideas. 
“By combining cutting-edge economic research with modern behavior studies, and studies of the immediate effects of smoke exposure on the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, we hope to help the FDA develop more realistic cost-benefit models that will better support sensible regulation.”
It was a grant for a five year project which takes it up to 2018. Neeley was recuited in 2015. Now it's quite feasible that the FDA helped pay her wages while she was allegedly being mistreated in her time there.

But even if not, how can the FDA square giving millions of dollars to Glantz and his team when this might have been going on? Should they not be investigating the affair themselves considering taxpayer funds are tied up in it? Surely they would be ashamed if their funds were being used to indirectly facilitate abuse? If nothing else, their investment surely requires public comment? And what about Amazon? Will they pull his books, of which there are many?

Most importantly, if the allegations are eventually proven true, how can anyone trust the 'science' of someone who has been so manipulative and dishonest in his working life?

It's one to watch, isn't it? 

Thursday 7 December 2017

Does Australia Punish Those Who Mislead Government?

Things have been busy in Puddlecoteville and surrounds, so I'm lagging behind somewhat.

Many will have already seen this, but just in case you haven't, here is Simon Chapman taken to the cleaners by Senator David Leyonhjelm under parliamentary privilege.

The central point the Senator was making is that Chapman was so woeful in his submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into e-cigs that Public Health England took the unprecedented step of writing and correcting him.

The question is whether this was deliberate or not. Leyonhjelm obviously thinks so.

Long term readers will remember that we had a similar case here in 2009 when Lord Darzi misled the House of Lords on the cost to retailers of hiding tobacco behind screens. History has shown that policy to have been completely ineffective - hence why tobacco controllers try not to talk about it very much - but the damage was at least only an entirely unnecessary chunk taken out of the pockets of honest businesses.

However - in the parlance of tobacco controllers themselves - if Chapman's misleading of his government means that smokers are stopped from quitting because e-cigs remain banned following the inquiry, 50% of them will suffer ill-health as a direct result.

Now, Lord Darzi should have been investigated under our laws which treat misleading legislators as a serious offence. He didn't because politics is an ends-driven game. But if the end is to prevent ill-health, and Chapman is shown to have obstructed that, he should surely have to face some pretty serious charges down under.

That is if Australia has laws on misleading parliament like we do here in the Motherland, of course.

Now do you see why I say some in 'public health' deserve jail time? 

Sunday 3 December 2017

Utter Waste Of Public Money

Just a quick one this. Let's lay to rest an inane argument that keeps repeating itself in ignorant comments sections and social media and has done for years.

On Friday, Mark Pawsey MP wrote an article on Con Home to say that vaping should be supported by government. As I was reading it, I just knew that someone would react like this ... and in fact three did in the comments.
"If this is the best thing you have to occupy your thought processes then I feel sorry for you. Its a trivial matter, compared to many big issues where the country is so obviously doing badly." 
"All-Parliamentary Group for e-cigarettes? You couldn't make it up." 
"complete and utter waste of public money wasting time on stuff like this"
Now, these dismissive arguments have cropped up for years when anyone discusses relaxing restrictions or de-regulating on lifestyle issues. For example, in 2010 when David Nuttall presented a ten minute rule bill on amending the smoking ban, the coverage was besieged by those who said he was wasting parliamentary time.

I don't remember anyone saying the same when the Health Bill 2006 was being debated in parliament. The triumphal response afterwards was that this was one of the most amazing and important things ever to have happened to the country, a massive watershed moment. I also don't remember anyone saying that the EU was wasting their time and taxpayers' money by spending two years debating how big the size of an e-liquid bottle should be.

Nor do you see many people ridiculing the government for spending its time on the pressing issue of people enjoying a Coca-Cola, or on debating exactly how far a kebab shop should be from a school. It seems to be vitally important when the ratchet is being tightened. 

But once the rules are in place and you talk about changing them, all of a sudden it's a waste of time. Something serious politicians shouldn't even lower themselves to contemplate.

See, I could agree with those who argue this if they also said that politicians shouldn't even be considering regulations on private choices and laws on what goes on in private property. But they don't. And all the while our elected reps think it's important to tell us what we should and shouldn't consume by way of legislation, it's perfectly bloody reasonable that they should also be considering that the rules could be changed for the better afterwards.

We didn't ask for these things to be included in politics, daft politicians led by the nose by state-funded troughers did that. Therefore these issues are absolutely part of politics. Saying otherwise is just a nonsense. 

Friday 1 December 2017

Plain Failure

Longer term readers here will remember the fiasco of the plain packs campaign in the UK. The often fraudulent abuses of process, democracy and common decency were quite shocking and this article would turn into a mini-book if they were all listed here. But here is a reminder 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 far an exhaustive list!

It's now five years since Australia first implemented the daft idea, and it will come as no surprise to anyone that it has failed miserably. It hasn't helped the credibility of the country's politicians much either.
59 percent of Australians believe that standardized packaging has been ineffective, 80 percent of them believe the government wouldn’t change or would be reluctant to change a preferred policy even if the evidence were weighted against it.
What's more, as this five minute video from RMIT University Melbourne's Prof Sinclair Davidson shows, the Aussie government has gone to extraordinary lengths in order to hide the failure. 

When such a lot of time and money has been spent on a policy (and the subsequent desperate civil service wriggling) which has had no effect whatsoever - and the public can see it for the red herring it is - it illustrates just how wasteful, gullible and spineless western legislatures have become in the face of state-funded 'public health' troughers, doesn't it?

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Tobacco Control Is Eating Itself

Any tobacco controller worth their inflated and unnecessary salary will tell you that tobacco companies cannot be trusted because they used to tell lies ... about 30 to 60 years ago.

As a result, industry as a whole is now routinely referred to as being "merchants of doubt". It has been a successful tactic because nowadays even the mundane - and generally ubiquitous in every political policy area - criss-cross of debate on legislative proposals is condemned by tobacco controllers as industry trying to lie. Here is a perfect example from Martin McKee in April this year.
This matters, because the struggle against tobacco is not yet won. The tobacco industry continues to produce misleading evidence, most recently in relation to the introduction of standardised packaging. The industry has commissioned reports to cast doubt on what is now recognised as the tremendous success of this measure in Australia, by means of highly selective analysis of the data.
It won't surprise you that the reference for this apparently settled declaration of plain packaging success in Australia was from McKee and some of his mates who - in turn - referenced themselves in that paper too. Incestuous really doesn't describe it fully enough.

The reason I mention this is that instead of the truth - which is that industry is presenting conflicting evidence to the manipulated policy-led bunkum that is now the 'public health' charade's stock-in-trade - McKee and his pals try to pretend that anything that disagrees with their assessment is automatically corrupt instead of evicence-based debate. Now, considering the 'public health' industry are the biggest liars on the planet right now, industry pushback is something which is sorely needed and a functioning democracy depends on it.

The problem for tobacco control is that e-cigs have come along and are ruthlessly exposing them for being disingenuous as we here have always known them to be. And boy is it causing a ruck!

Today, the BMA became the latest 'public health' organisation to realise that sticking to pathetic ideology is just fighting a losing battle, and have issued a cautiously positive position paper on e-cigarettes. In the UK that leaves the Faculty of Public Health as just about the only vaguely credible body that is still waving a club around, grunting from their cave, and pretending that every purchase of vaping equipment comes with a free mythical cancer-breathing dragon. But then, look at the standard of their leadership.

It's been pretty to watch as these institutions - every one of which originally wanted to ban vaping for no fucking reason whatsoever apart from cant and prejudice - slowly come to the realisation that they can't ignore reality any longer. But every one of them that stops talking crap means that there is increased pressure on those that wish to continue doing so. It's a simple equal and opposite reaction thing. To create the same level of doubt towards e-cigs, the increasingly vanishing few left have to get ever more extreme, and Mad Stan the aircraft engineer seems to have gone into overdrive of late.

Here's what he said in comments at a Conversation UK piece - that's the UK version, note, so presumably he sees events deserting him over here - today.

Click to enlarge

E-cigs worse than cigarettes? This is contrary to absolutely every piece of available research into vaping, it is solely something that Glantz believes. It is the very definition of "creating doubt", precisely what tobacco controllers acccuse industry of having done. While the tobacco industry is busy producing proper science, Glantz, an Australian pensioner and a low-grade physio from Lincoln are alone in the world spouting bullshit like some crack-addled loon wandering the high street wearing an A-board declaring that the end is nigh.

It's quite pathetic really. You kinda have to feel for him. With a waist the diameter of one of Saturn's rings he isn't a well man, yet his merchant of doubt workload is increasing in direct proportion to the number of former allies who are jumping ship and admitting that they were wrong about e-cigs. Sadly for him, propaganda posing as science just doesn't cut it anymore, and he is so antiquated that he doesn't know any other way.

So, when fellow tobacco controller Robert West presented this slide at the E-Cig Summit last month, it must have stung like a moody vindaloo!

This is basically Glantz's modus operandi exposed. It is what he has built a career upon, and here was West saying that it really needs to stop. In fact, he said that tobacco control had been "lax in accepting bad science at journals because generally we support the conclusions" and compared Glantz to a "recalcitrant first year grad student". Just imagine the horror of that for the old fella? What is he to do?

Well, create doubt of course! Ten days days later Glantz raked up a row from two years ago which led to demands that a journal be boycotted because Robert West edits it.

As Forbes mentioned earlier this year, what does that remind you of?
The hostility toward e-cigarettes is so great that attempts to sow doubt about the relative risks of vaping versus smoking bear a striking resemblance to the efforts of tobacco companies in the 20th century to mask the true nature of their products.
Yes, except most of the tobacco industry personnel who engaged in those tactics are long dead. People like Glantz are actively trying to create doubt now, and I mean today.

The fallout on social media has been astonishing. I've repeatedly said that e-cigs had potential to sort the ideologues from those who actually do think they're being altruistic, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that the suggestion 'public health' do the right thing would be met with such blatant and hilarious vitriol.

Tobacco control is eating itself in front of our eyes and reputations are being shattered. Buy in the popcorn because this could run and run. 

Tuesday 21 November 2017

How The Grinches Rekindled Christmas

When I first read this, I honestly believed it was some spoof April Fool article that someone had found from the spring and mistaken as fact.
SNP ministers are to consider a crackdown on Christmas treats as part of their "bold" plans to tackle Scotland's obesity epidemic. 
The move would see supermarket price promotions on festive favourites such as mince pies and selection boxes being banned north of the Border. 
Other seasonal treats which could fall foul of the legislation would include cakes, biscuits and chocolates, savoury party food and soft drinks.
But no, this is apparently a real story!
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has found confectionery sales rocket by 54 per cent in the 12 weeks before Christmas, with cakes and pastries up 32 per cent and savoury snacks up 20 per cent.
You don't fucking say!

It's Christmas. What part of that do these nutcases not understand? I've bought two tins of Quality Street already, I won't be touching them till late December, isn't that what we all do?

This, of course, is another step in the annual 'public health' assault on Christmas. Just like their incontinent tantrum about the Coca Cola truck, these people just can't abide the fact that normal people - as opposed to abnormal people like them - quite enjoy having fun.

Thing is, I'd kinda lost interest in Christmas since my kids became teens. Just buying a few pieces of colourful Fisher Price plastic or a Dalek that said "exterminate" and seeing the joy in their little faces as they messed with it for hours on end died long ago. Instead it had become hugely more expensive and not quite as magical. But if Christmas is so horribly offensive to 'public health' miseries, I am now heartily more excited about it.

Shit, if our over-indulgence at Christmas really gets up their nose that much, bring it the fuck on.

Their turgid and aggressively joyless reaction to the Coca Cola truck has inspired me to love Christmas once again. What better thing in the world can there be than to celebrate the knuckle-biting frustration of absolute bastards?

I think I'll get the tree down from the loft this weekend. Altogether now ... "holidays are coming, holidays are coming"

Friday 17 November 2017

Nine Years Later ...

Today is the 9th anniversary of this blog.

Still proudly "tabloid guff" (© Ben Goldacre fan-boys 2009), there is less content here in recent years due to the increasing pressures of Puddlecote Inc yet daily page visits are still marginally increasing. For interest, there have been over 5 million of them from almost 3,500 articles here.

Many thanks to all fellow jewel robbers who have popped by since 2008 (over 300,000 of you), I will be toasting you with a fair amount of chilled New Zealand white this evening. 

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Another Triumph For Repulsive Elitist Snobs

I remember back in 2007 when the English smoking ban came in, the reaction from politicians and health zealots was nauseating.

If it was truly about protecting bar workers' health, they may have said something like "we're really sorry smokers, we realise this is unfair on you but it's something we feel we have to do". But no, Health Secretary of the time Alan Johnson almost punched the air in delight announcing it; Cancer Research UK sent out newsletters to all its donors "rejoicing" in the news; and Deborah Arnott was excited about how smokers had been "exiled to the outdoors". ASH then published a report boasting about how they had connived, cheated and bullied government into abandoning manifesto commitments to accommodate smokers.

Today, we've seen exactly the same thing following this morning's court decision in Scotland to allow minimum alcohol pricing.

The moment it was announced, social media was swamped with arrogant middle class elitists jubilant at how they had stuck it to the working man. It was a landmark decision, a triumph, one 'public health' activist even published a gif of a stick man literally punching the air, while former Scottish CMO - a man I imagine to be quite rich - was said to be over the moon!

Not one of them had any concern for low earning moderate drinkers who will now have to struggle to pay for a meagre pleasure, no fucks were given for them. The ecstatic outpourings were not muted to take into account that innocent people will suffer hardship, far from it, it was more like health campaigners were bathing in the poor's misery.

We saw the same ugly disregard when the sugar tax was passed by doughnut-brained MPs, who can forget the euphoria of super-rich Jamie Oliver dancing like he'd just won the lottery at the pleasure he derived from making people pay more for something that he personally doesn't like.

All those celebrating these new immoral restrictions on liberty, property rights and self-autonomy are nothing but repulsive, elitist snobs.

You see, the smoking ban, sugar tax and minimum pricing all have something in common. They are all restrictions on pleasures that are mostly enjoyed by less prosperous families. The middle classes have been sneering at the enjoyment of the less well off for millennia, mostly by railing against the licentious and ungodly morals of the unwashed. But now they cloak it as some kind of care for health and think they can get away with it, but they can't.

Today's vile show of rapture from a wide array of bigots betrays what their real motives are. They are not sorry about the working guy because - in every 'public health' area - it is precisely that guy they set out to bully.

The smoking ban wasn't about bar staff, it was about making life more difficult for the builder who likes to enjoy a pint and a fag. They didn't temper their jubilation in respect for the fact that his life had just got worse, because they were glad his life got worse.

Jamie Oliver - and the ghastly middle class sheep that hang on his every odious utterance - didn't acknowledge that the sugar tax was effectively stealing pocket money from kids, because he was glad he was stealing pocket money from kids who he detests for choosing to drink something he disagrees with.

Likewise today. Health campaigners know very well that minimum pricing will have no effect whatsoever on harmful drinkers. It won't stop or slow down the consumption of alcohol for the small percentage of the population who drink far too much, it will just push some people into poverty.

But then it's not aimed at harmful drinkers, it is aimed at everyone. And with minimum pricing they have come up with a policy that targets only low earners. For these very well off elitists, this is just about perfect. A policy which turns their repugnant distate for the habits of working families into something that will harm the frightful working class ... but won't intrude on their own liking for a cheeky top of the range Merlot.

If Marie Antoinette had been able to create policy in this day and age, minimum alcohol pricing would be the policy she would have chosen.

And you know what the clincher is to prove that this is exactly the aim? Minimum pricing doesn't even deliver an extra penny to the state. All the cash generated goes straight into the pockets of mostly big businesses such as out-of-town supermarkets which 'public health' camapigners - overwhelmingly a left-leaning profession - usually like to demonise.

I have no axe to grind myself about minimum pricing, I will still buy my New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Peroni at a price that it won't touch, but I know and employ many people for whom it would cause a hardship. The campaigners behind hideous laws like it, though, generally tend to avoid consumers if they can possibly help it. They don't listen to their concerns, they talk at them rather than with them, and they exclude them from policy-making decisions, instead bypassing debate and going straight to government clutching junk science.

Just like the smoking ban and sugar tax before it, minimum alcohol pricing is just a big elitist party zone where the rich get to look down their noses at the poor and stop them doing things that the elite find a bit icky. They don't care that their actions are fundamentally immoral and are not ashamed at celebrating the misery of low earners because they revel in it. Making life less pleasurable for millions of people, predominantly those who don't have much money is exactly the point.

They are repugnant. May some higher being someday make them rot for eternity for being such a sick plague on society.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Clueless Councils - One Year On

Last year, the Freedom Association's Freedom to Vape (FtV) campaign submitted FOI requests to every local council in the UK to ask about their policies on vaping in the workplace. If you have a good memory, you will recall that the responses highlighted that the overwhelming majority of local authorities were imposing rules on their staff from a position of superlative ignorance. I wrote about it here.

But still, back then the subject was quite fresh for them so despite positive reports on vaping having been issued from Public Health England (August 2015), the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (February 2016), and the Royal College of Physicians (April 2016), they could be partly forgiven for being lethargic in applying sane and sympathetic policies for their workers.

Public Health England had only just published their guidance that "e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not be routinely included in the requirements of an organisation's smokefree policy" in July 2016, so the fact that 87% of those who responded admitted doing exactly that was concerning, but would surely change once the rusty cogs of public sector bureaucracy managed to grind their turgid way towards more knowledgeable policy-making, wouldn't it?

Especially since this year's government Tobacco Control Plan specifically stated that it sought to "support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products". And seeing as public health duties have been devolved to local government now, it should also be their duty to take the government's advice and apply it, don't you think?

So with this in mind, FtV followed up last year's efforts by again sending FOIs to all UK councils to see if there had been a change in outlook over the past 12 months. Surely - with all that positive information out there from prime authorities on tobacco control - the average public sector vaping worker's lot would be a happier one, right?


This year's report is now available to read here, and this is truly incredible.
126​ ​councils​ ​(32​ ​per​ ​cent​ ​of​ ​those​ ​who​ ​responded)​ ​require​ ​vapers​ ​to​ ​use designated​ ​smoking​ ​areas​ in all or some circumstances, despite the fact that vapers are not smokers. This​ ​is​ ​an​ ​increase​ ​from​ ​112 councils​ ​in​ ​2016.
Considering PHE's guidance in 2016 said that "it is never acceptable to require vapers to share the same outdoor space with smokers", you have to marvel at the spectacular ignorance and/or rampant snobbery which has led to an increase in councils demanding exactly that. They have, in general, done the exact opposite of what PHE have advised.

The future doesn't look bright either, as the report highlights:
When asked​ ​if​ ​councillors​ ​are​ ​due​ ​to​ ​debate​ ​the​ ​Government’s​ ​Tobacco​ ​Control Plan​ ​and/or PHE’s advice on vaping policies, a​ ​total​ ​of​ ​287​ ​councils​ ​replied​ ​no​. 
When asked if the council's​ ​policy​ ​will​ ​be​ ​reviewed​ ​as​ ​a​ ​result​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Government's Tobacco​ ​Control​ ​Plan​, 150​ ​councils​ ​either​ ​said​ ​yes,​ ​was​ ​scheduled​ ​for​ ​review​ ​later this​ ​year​ ​or​ ​in​ ​2018,​ ​or​ ​that​ ​the  ​policy​ ​was​ ​under​ ​review​ -​ a measly 38%​ ​of​ ​those councils​ ​who​ ​replied.
So basically, almost two-thirds of councils are gonna do diddley-squat about what are largely appalling and thoughtless policies. 

Here are just a few of the more egregious policy snippets from this year's crop of stunning, bone-headed stupidity. 

Despite the wealth of guidance from PHE, the RCP, NCSCT and the TCP, where do you think Glasgow Council went for their advice? Yes, America, obviously!
“Impartial studies such as Harvard reports and US Food and Drug Administration research state that the vapour has been found to contain detectable levels of several known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed. The reports also suggest that by simulating the use of cigarettes, E-Cigarettes might reactivate the habit in ex-smokers.”
Perhaps we can just save our taxes and stop paying all those UK-based health bodies then, let's just devolve our evidence-gathering to a bunch of conflict-riddled alarmists from across the pond. Glasgow's policy was updated in August this year yet - incredibly - they see absolutely nothing wrong with it!

Cumbria's policy is also out of the ark.
“use of e-cigarettes or ENDS in the workplace is currently unregulated. Extensive trials have not been undertaken to establish if they are safe and tests by Trading Standards have shown that some e-cigarettes are in contravention of product safety regulations. Using e-cigarettes simulates smoking behaviour. Allowing use of e-cigarettes can be viewed as condoning smoking. Cumbria County Council, in line with British Medical Association Occupational Medicine Committee and the Board of Science guidance, does not support the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace. It actively supports employees to stop smoking for their health and also supports actions to denormalise smoking. Consequently Cumbria County Council applies the same restrictions to the use of e-cigarettes that apply to smoking tobacco products.”
Just count the errrors in that paragraph. Isn't it astonishing? The policy dates from 2012, that's why. But they have discussed updating it, as their response details:
Vaping has been discussed at the Cumbria Public Health Alliance and at Cumbria Health and Wellbeing Board both of which contain Cumbria County Council elected members. These bodies both endorsed the advice detailed above. There are no planned further discussions or decision expected from elected members.
PHE? Pah! Cumbrian burghers had a chat this year and that's the end of the matter.

The desperate excuses they use to cling to prohibitionist policy are quite revealing too. Many replied that PHE's advice is just that, advice, so they have ignored it. Others, such as East Devon say they are dedicated to denormalising smoking ... so therefore e-cigs are banned. Burnley says vaping is banned because their policy applies to "anything that is smoked", while the comedy of the piece is provided by South Norfolk.
Employees taking their unpaid lunch break off-site may smoke/vape discreetly to limit them being identified as Council workers. This could be achieved by covering identifiable logos or for depot staff by stepping behind a stationary refuse vehicle so they are not visible from the road etc.
And by Fareham, whose comprehensive ban on e-cigs was updated in August and whose response of 11th October stated:
We follow national campaigns when publicised. We do not encourage e-cigarettes as a means of smoking cessation.
Yes, written slap bang in the middle of the national Stoptober campaign featuring adverts on TV which ... encouraged e-cigs as a means of smoking cessation.

I've been helping FtV recently by doing data-checking on the FOIs and - believe me - a staggering number of them are mind-rotting stuff. Anyone with a good understanding of the vaping debate who reads some of the utter garbage I have would, at some point, consider self-harm.

Cumbria wasn't the only council to still think that e-cigs are unregulated, for example. Brighton and Hove was just one of many others. It's almost like the TPD never happened. In fact, on the subject of the TPD, those who have completely ignored it are only matched by those who have used it as a reason to ban vaping.

A perfect bellwether, I think, is Elmbridge Borough Council which accepts that vaping is not covered by the Health Act 2006, but states that:
However, once the EU Tobacco Products Directive comes into effect in Member States in May 2016, electronic cigarettes and refill containers will come under the requirements of the Directive.
So if e-cigs are unregulated, they're banned. But if they are regulated, that's just another reason for them to be, erm, banned. It's almost like it's not about health and you're damn well not allowed to win if local councils can possibly help it. It's the kind of hysterical mindset that makes you understand how medieval witch-hunts occurred, just a bunch of hive-minded ignoramuses who seem to have no care for evidence or knowledge, just a cult-like bovine sense that banning things and sucking satisfaction out of life must be good ... even when aimed at their own colleagues.

It smacks of an environment where banning things is almost compulsory. It only takes a whisper from PHE or the government about salt, sugar, fast food, tobacco or anything else you can think of, and councils are falling over themselves. They rush to create initiatives, throw money like confetti at "raising awareness" days, publish slick promotional material for their latest anti-fun crusade, actually work weekends to promote it too, and use funereal language to demand you heed dire warnings about the tiniest of risk.

But should the government, PHE and a whole host of other organisations produce reams of research and reports saying that e-cigs should be encouraged, not banned, the same eager council employees cock a deaf 'un.

It's what we should expect from regulators, I suppose. The ratchet, as they say, only goes one way. They know - because it turns them on - how to regulate, while "de-regulate" is not even in their vocabulary. It tells me, though, that we obviously require far more cuts to council budgets. If they are so eager to create policies for problems which don't exist, while ideologically resisting guidance which is good for their employees' health, there are obviously far too many of them and they are working inefficiently.

Remember that these very same councils getting something so simple as vaping policy so very very wrong - even when presented with a wealth of good advice from those in their own profession - are the same ones entrusted with making local roads safe, planning how your town develops, and educating your kids. Just let that sink in for a bit.

Do go read the full report here - along with notes on all the FOIs submitted - and see how ignorant your particular council is. Believe me, there are vanishingly few decent ones. 

Sunday 12 November 2017

ASH In A Glass House, With Stones

Today, ASH has been pathetically throwing stones around in their glass house. This, in the Times, is truly astonishing.
Tobacco firms may face ‘murder’ trials
Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) has begun work on pressing the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to bring charges or to allow a private prosecution. 
[Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, a lawyer at Action on Smoking Health in the US] said: “All of the participants of the Geneva meeting are working towards a case with a charge of manslaughter or murder for the death and disease caused by tobacco.”
The justification for this, apparently, is that smokers have been misled.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash in the UK, said:“In the light of the Dutch action, we are assessing the feasibility of pressing the DPP to prosecute BAT [British American Tobacco], Philip Morris [International], Imperial Brands and JTI, or to win permission for a private prosecution. The lesson from the Netherlands is that the prospect of criminal charges has had a sensational impact. Smokers have been angry to find out low tar cigarettes are no healthier, because smokers inhale more tar and nicotine from low tar cigarettes than the tests show. Sick smokers have come forward in their thousands to take action against the industry.”
I am truly staggered that Arnott has had anything to do with such a vile proposal. One can only asume they are battling against irrelevance and so just see this as something to justify wasting our taxes on.

This from an organisation fully ensconced with an industry currently driving headlong with the batshit crazy idea of removing nicotine from cigarettes altogether, while leaving all the harmful bits in. Bear in mind, too, that the EU once demanded that levels of tar be displayed on the packets. Yes, for a decade the EU ordered tobacco companies to 'mislead' the public.

Anyway, that's by the by. The main point to consider is that if this kind of legal atrocity is allowed, let's talk about 'crimes' committed by ASH, shall we?

They still trumpet that smokeless tobacco is dangerous despite it being hugely less harmful than smoking, thereby deterring many people from switching. We also have ASH to thank for the EU-wide ban on snus ... because it was they who demanded it in the 1980s. And the estimated damage that ASH's actions may have caused as a result are huge.
IF, snus is made available by lifting of the current ban in the EU, AND, truthful public education encourages substitution of snus for cigarettes as in Sweden, around 320,000 premature deaths per year can conceivably be prevented among men 30 years and older in the current EU countries.
ASH, as far as I know, still oppose legalisation of snus.

And what about their opposition to e-cigs? They once lobbied the EU for a maximum nicotine strength of 4mg! This is well before the era of sub-ohm devices. If they had been successful, the vaping market in this country would have been strangled almost at birth.

They still defend the EU's arbitrary and unnecessary restriction of 20mg for liquids though, which Clive Bates condemns accurately here.
There are about 2.2 million vapers in Britain (ONS) (even more now - DP), so nine percent of them amounts to about 200,000 vapers affected.  It doesn’t need too many of these to relapse to smoking or stay as ‘dual users’ rather than going on to quit smoking for the toll of harm to be very high. What advice do those calling for complacency about the Directive have to address the concerns of this ex-smoker and current vaper, for example? 
Big numbers are in fact a lot of individual stories of triumph and adversity – and it is what regulation does to individuals that we should care about.  In the section below, I have put together a “Desk-murder calculator” so we can try out a few assumptions and see what sort of impact might have on those affected with some more precise numbers. 
I don’t want to sound alarmist calling it “desk murder”: but if a bureaucrat, politician or activist presses for a measure and people’s lives are ended prematurely as a result through a foreseeable causal mechanism for which there are no compensating benefits, then what else should one call it? Desk-manslaughter m’lord?
Clive doesn't want to call it desk murder, but considering ASH want to go down that road, shall we calculate how many deaths their evidence-free arbitrary decisions have caused? Because those 'manslaughters' orchestrated from ASH HQ are mounting up like a motherfucker, aren't they?

I would suggest that ASH would be better served putting down the stones they are intending to sling around their glass house, since the murderous intent of their efforts since they first moved to ban snus in 1984 could be counted as unnecessary deaths now into the many millions.

No-one in the UK can posibly not know that smoking carries risks - the packets scream Smoking Kills for crying out loud, and have carried health warnings since the 1960s - but ASH's decades-long drive to ban safer products is less well-known.

They have been misleading the public about safer alternatives for over 30 years, to the extent that if you ask a smoker in your local pub what snus even is, a vast majority won't know. They have also been complicit in perpetuating baseless fear of nicotine strength in e-cigs which has undoubtedly made tens of thousands of smokers continue to smoke, and all based on prejudice, dogma and lies.

So who's going to prison for that then, Debs? 

Thursday 9 November 2017

Killjoys - How Paternalism Harms The Public

Did you know that the annual budget for Public Health England is now £4bn per annum? That is just one nugget of info I learned tonight from a book that I've just finished reading. Now, assuming it's not a typo, this is a quite incredible amount of money. However, it's far from surprising considering that 'public health' nagging is now a very profitable industry in this country.

You see, last night I went to the lauch of Chris Snowdon's new book, Killjoys, at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square and very good it was too.

The launch was heralded by speeches which amused those assembled while making serious points. The IEA's Jamie Whyte spoke about how he finds nothing wrong with restricting choice for kids because - well, they're kids - but a state that presumes to know our choices better than we do ourselves effectively treats adults like kids. Snowdon himself also pointed out how we seem to be harangued at every turn about harmful life decisions such as smoking and drinking, yet more 'cool' and elitist dangerous pastimes such as mountain climbing or ski-ing are somehow left alone.

It is a theme he also touches on in the book, in fact it is a central one. That being that paternalists of today have barely changed in the past 150 years since J S Mill wrote his seminal thoughts on freedom, On Liberty.

Chris begins by examining Mill's work and notes that back then he was reacting to a fundamental religious morality police who objected to the licentious joys of the commoners. Mill's central thesis was, if you didn't already know:
the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right
The nearest that any paternalist of those days could come to satisfying Mill's harm principle was to say that they objected to alcohol being available because it offended them.

This restrictive way of sneering at the habits of the unwashed was fine for the snobbish paternalist, but Mill argued that only through liberty can an individual maximise his utility (enjoyment) and, consequently benefit the overall well-being of the population. And not much has changed in the intervening period.

The modern 'public health' paternalist would be mocked if they played to religion nowadays, so instead they portray themselves as part of the medical community instead. Yet a doctor can only treat you or advise you with your consent, whereas the new cult of 'public health' doesn't require your consent - or your vote - to curtail your choices and dictate what you are allowed to consume, while they also take your taxes to do so.

Killjoys argues that this is not only contrary to Mill's long-respected principle, but is also actively harming the welfare of the public - because it avoids even considering it - in many different ways, the main one being to view the public's health as our only consideration in life, and discarding absolutely every other measure of well-being that we might hold dear.

Benefits of behaviours and habits are ignored, and blatant downsides of illiberal legislation considered not to exist. 'Science' is perverted, and well-understood consensus on the effect of practices like advertising are denied.

Chris leads the reader through all the varied and shape-shifting tricks that the 'public health' cartel employs to pretend it is helping us instead of the opposite, touching on subjects such as using taxes as a weapon to drive for zero consumption - effectively prohibition - rather than reaching a sweet spot which would maximise the public's enjoyment of life while making adequate compensation for potential harm, real or imagined.

He also illustrates how 'public health' tries to pretend it is adhering to Mill's principles by portraying consumers as victims of industry manipulation instead of having their rights as consumers violated by 'public health'. Industry advertising is deemed to be irresistible, yet 'public health' is quiet about how their own propaganda is so ineffective despite using the same media. A strange occurrence seeing as the same 'public health' consistently says that we all want to ditch the unhealthy behaviour, so it is hard to fathom why we are not queueing up to take their advice unless the messages they are sending are fraudulent.

The books argues, well, that far from increasing awareness about consumer products, the 'public health' crusade actively restricts information, increases market failure that they claim to be correcting, and their policies lead to more harm, more barbaric stigmatisation, along with transferring wealth from the poorest individuals in society to the state and - of course - then onto 'public health' so they can start the whole vicious cycle all over again.

The idea that 'public health' wishes to be honest and cares for our welfare and enjoyment of life is betrayed when Snowdon highlights the outrage that ensued after the US government decided to place a value on consumer surplus - that is, the value of enjoyment lost when illiberal regulations are placed on consumer products. Quantifying the benefits of lifestyle products has been something 'public health' has avoided for decades, simply because it would destroy their entire prohibitionist agenda. Only costs must be counted, benefits must always be ignored.

The reader is also invited to consider that the real damage to the public of unhealthy choices are not the much-vaunted ones on costs to the NHS, which are entirely fictional, but instead those imposed by 'public health'. As I have said many times, if smoking was banned tomorrow, no taxpayer would get any kind of refund or decrease in their taxes, in fact they might even go up. However, shifting resources from traditional public health matters which we have no choice over and instead directing them to areas where we do threatens to take away funding from real healthcare. If you're not getting an operation you really need, that is a real cost to you; it might make you feel warm and fuzzy that some hospital is banning vaping in the car park but you still ain't getting that hip replacement.

Likewise, anyone who is irritated at having to wait another few years till they get their pension might reflect on why there is a multi-billion pound industry fixated on increasing costs to the welfare bill (pensions are the biggest public expenditure) when the only drivers behind 'public health' campaigns are snobbery and self-enrichment.

In short, 'public health' serves not to inform the public and cater for our well-being, but instead to alarm us and cater for the bank accounts of public health professionals, at the expense of the poor, pensioners, and the health system as a whole. It's something legislators might do well to look into.

Chris finishes with some very optimistic policy suggestions in different areas which - although perfectly sound and which would lead to a happier, more prosperous, less costly and better educated Britain, with the public's health not noticeably being any different than it is today - might bring some politicians out in a cold sweat.

I can imagine their horrified faces as they clutch their pearls at the thought of legislating for public well-being rather than morality, but if they truly cared about the good of the country that's exactly what they should be doing.

The book is a cracking read, only 160 pages and will make you think differently about 'public health' from whatever angle you started from. It is available free online from midnight tonight at the IEA website, I heartily recommend you go read it. 

Monday 6 November 2017

Kerching! 11 More Years Of Failure Please

Yesterday, The Sun wrote of a report on when the England might go 'smokefree' according to tobacco control criteria.
ENGLAND could be smoke-free by 2040, a new study has claimed. 
The goal, which means less than five per cent of adults using cigarettes, is getting closer due to new tech such as e-cigarettes. 
Current quitting rates mean it will take another 23 years to hit that level. 
But the Frontier Economics research funded by tobacco giant Philip Morris Ltd says if an extra 210,000 quit each year the target could be reached as early as 2029.
What is most interesting about this is that it chimes in with something published in the Tobacco Control comic in December.
The glaring omission in the rhetoric is the most obvious alternative for PMI to meaningfully contribute to achieving a combustion-free world: announce a date by which the company will phase out combustible products entirely.
This is a classic straw man. Suggesting an insane policy position, not to mention impossible for many practical and legal reasons, just to knock it down. However, although the year cited by Philip Morris's research isn't exactly when all cigarette production will cease, now we at least have a date when - at least in the UK - it might be a vaguely viable proposition, don't we?

Will the tobacco control industry now change emphasis and support the pretty clear motive behind this then? Of course not, because for them it's not about health. They just don't like industry.

So their reaction, again in the joke that is Tobacco Control, is to just double down on their objection to someone parking the tanks on their smoking cessation lawn.
The surprise announcement by the former head of the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, Derek Yach, that he would head a newly-established organization called the “Foundation for a Smoke-free World” to “accelerate the end of smoking” was met with gut-punched disappointment by those who have worked for decades to achieve that goal. Unmoved by a soft-focus video featuring Yach looking pensively off into the distance from a high-level balcony while smokers at ground level stubbed out Marlboros and discussed how hard it was to quit, leading tobacco control organizations were shocked to hear that the new organization was funded with a $1 billion, twelve-year commitment from tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI). PMI, which has been working for decades to rebrand itself as a “socially responsible” company while continuing to promote sales of its top-branded Marlboro cigarettes and oppose policies that would genuinely reduce their use, clearly believes this investment will further its “harm reduction” agenda, led by its new heat-not-burn product, IQOS.
You won't be surprised to learn that the entire article omitted to mention e-cigs at all. The "gut-punched disappointment" is solely down to the fact that these hideous human beings realise their 'quit or die' brand is in decline and, with it, a whole load of lucrative finger-wagging salaries are direly at risk.

In Sweden, snus has been hugely responsible far the lowest smoking prevalence and lung cancer rates in the world; tobacco control helped to ban it across the EU. In Japan, tobacco sales and smoking prevalence are in freefall due to stunning uptake of heat not burn; tobacco control is fighting against it. And in the UK, e-cigs are demonstrably having a huge effect; tobacco controllers opposed them all the way and - although some have since seen sense - many still do.

You also have to remember that in most of the jurisdictions where tobacco control claims that tobacco companies are promoting smoking, it is because their hysterical screeching about Big Tobacco has meant cigarettes are the only product that is allowed to be sold. Turkey is just the latest country to follow World 'Health' Organisation advice and ban e-cigs, for example. It is difficult for a global company like Philip Morris to cease production of cigaerttes while tobacco control runs around getting any alternatives prohibited, isn't it?

For tobacco controllers, reducing smoking prevalence has long since been kicked to the gutter in favour of destroying tobacco companies. The report that The Sun refers to - out today - shows exactly how harmful, again in their own parlance, their rent-seeking threatens to be.

This graphic tells a story.

To explain, the unprecedented recent decline in smoking prevalence happened not due to tobacco control's inane nannying, but instead after e-cigs went mainstream around 2012. This is quite simply undeniable.

However, instead of welcoming this, the efforts of many dinosaur tobacco controllers have been to focus on destabilising harm reduction; spreading doubt - exactly as they accuse the tobacco industry of doing decades ago - and promoting scare stories and junk science.

Or, as the vacuous Tobacco Control comedians put it, place emphasis on what doesn't work instead of what does.
What is required is leaders who have the humility to work with the movement and policymakers with the backbones of steel needed to stand up to the industry to enact and implement strong tobacco control measures, including high taxes, smokefree laws, effective media campaigns to denormalize both smoking and tobacco companies, and marketing, packaging and retailing regulations to make these deadly products less ubiquitous.
Do you notice how all of those approaches carry a nice juicy payout for tobacco controllers? Whereas the market solving the 'problem' without their interference doesn't? Just follow the money.

Anyway, the upshot is that creating doubt about reduced risk products which are proven statistically to be making a difference can only have one effect, according to the tobacco control industry's own propaganda. Creating doubt - according to the rhetoric they incessantly spout - will kill people, and the difference between welcoming a new approach instead of adhering to policies which lend themselves more to psychopathic bullying and self-interest for tobacco control is another 11 years. Yep, tobacco control would prefer another 11 years of failure than to relinquish their cosy cartel in favour of helping smokers quit using something that works.

You can go read the new report here. When you do, remember that we are on the side of the angels now, tobacco control - by contrast - has sunk to the depths of depravity. For many of them, failed policies which enrich them are preferable to hugely more successful products encouraging smokers away from lit tobacco, simply because industry makes them.

Have I ever told you it's not about health?