Tuesday 25 September 2018

Tobacco Control Junk Science Of The Week

Or maybe even the year, or decade. Or ever!

From the Tobacco Control comic, naturally.
Indeed, while IQOS heat-sticks (HEETS) include a variety of flavours (tobacco, menthol, bubble gum and lime), no IQOS heat-sticks include capsules. 
Heets come in three 'flavours'. Gold tobacco flavour, amber tobacco flavour and blue (menthol) flavour. Bubble gum or lime heets simply don't exist.

It's a struggle to work out how they can make such a fundamental error like this until you read further.
Furthermore, when British American Tobacco (BAT) introduced its ‘glo’ HTP into the Korean market in August 2017, their heat-sticks (Dunhill Neosticks) did not include capsules. Like IQOS, the heat-sticks included flavour options (tobacco, menthol and lemon ginger), with three additional flavours introduced in December 2017 (‘Ruby fresh (cherry)’, ‘purple fresh (grape)’ and ‘smooth fresh (light menthol)’). 
There also isn't a Lemon and Ginger flavoured Glo stick from BAT.  So what the hell are they wibbling about?

And then the penny drops. Glo dishwasher liquid does in fact come in Lemon and Ginger flavour.


Thursday 20 September 2018

Popcorn Time: Australia Is Wobbling On E-Cigs

The Australian Guardian reported on Tuesday that the Aussie government is to set up a new inquiry into e-cigs.
The health minister Greg Hunt has agreed to an independent inquiry into the health impacts of nicotine e-cigarettes after a concerted push in the Coalition party room over several months to legalise vaping. 
Several MPs raised the issue in Tuesday’s party room meeting, saying there was widespread support within the government for making nicotine e-cigarettes legally available.
This is significant considering Greg Hunt famously said that legalisation of vaping would never happen 'on his watch' last year. It may be political pressure which has forced his hand, but I reckon deep down he's quite relieved that the decision has almost been taken away from him because Australia - and, consequently, Greg Hunt - is fast becoming a laughing stock while all other developed nations are moving to sensibly regulate safer nicotine products.

This announcement has, of course, been welcomed by tobacco controllers keen to find out if vaping can lower smoking rates, just as they have always wanted. Oh, I'm sorry, my bad. I was confusing tobacco control with other professions who have integrity, of course they didn't welcome it, they reacted in their customary manner. By issuing veiled threats.

The prospect of a truly independent inquiry absolutely terrifies the tobacco control industry, which is why they routinely rig evidence-gathering for policymakers, as I have written about many times. My personal favourite is, coincidentally, from Australia as explained by Catallaxy Files.
In 2012 Professor Melanie Wakefield of the Victorian Cancer Council was awarded a $3 million contract to conduct a national tracking survey of tobacco consumers (and recent “quitters”) immediately prior, during, and after the implementation of plain packaging. Professor Wakefield has previously been a member of the National Preventative Health Taskforce that had recommended the implementation of plain packaging, she was a member of the Federal Government’s Expert Advisory Group on plain packaging, and was then was commissioned by the Health Department, in the absence of a tender process, to investigate the efficacy of the very policy she had recommended, designed. and implemented. Unsurprisingly the results of her research (with several co-authors) supports the efficacy of plain packaging as a policy to reduce the prevalence of tobacco consumption.
And yes, that's exactly how the tobacco control scam has worked for decades. Imagining, preparing, setting questions for, and marking their own homework. It's corruption, basically.

So of course the desiccated Sydney pensioner is going to feel threatened. After all, truly independent inquiries don't cherry-pick rare outliers and try to build doubt about products on the basis of pure prejudice like a Sydney pensioner would. A truly independent inquiry takes the body of evidence and weighs up costs against benefits to come to a sober policy conclusion. Tobacco control industry 'independent' research is always - and I mean always - conducted by state-funded anti-smoking lobbyists with huge conflicts of interest, is preconceived to come up with a certain result, and counts only costs, never benefits.

If tobacco control is scared of this inquiry, it could well be properly independent and could be a massive embarrassment to the bunch of senile dinosaurs in Oz who still cling to the idea that e-cigs can be banned forever in order that they can proudly remain in the elite club of basket case nations who continue to do so.

Australian tobacco controllers will also be scared about a truly independent inquiry because it might show that they have been paid barrels full of money for pathetic and inconsequential tobacco control ideas, while nations which have permitted alternatives have left Australia in their wake.

You know what the likes of the Sydney pensioner and his geriatric old farts need right now? Some real world statistics to prove that their policies are wildly successful. Yes, that would be the ticket! Something to show those federal MPs that they are barking up the wrong tree with vaping and should just carry on listening the old guard, like always.

Cue South Australia, then, and their latest stats on smoking prevalence, also released on Tuesday.

Oh dear. Not a good look, is it?

Yep, despite huge regular 12.5% tobacco tax increases and plain packaging, South Australia's smoking rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 2012. And what are they going to do about this? Incredibly, they are planning to legislate to follow other states down the regulatory path of equating e-cigs with smoking and banning vaping in public places as well. The stupid is very strong down under.

While smoking rates have been plummeting in countries like the UK and US since 2012 when e-cigs went mainstream, in Australia they have just trodden water despite the most hardline authoritarian anti-tobacco policy environment of any developed nation in the world. Just as in perfect population level experiment in the UK and Ireland, Australia - to its embarrassment - is proving that coercion is not successful, while encouragement and harm reduction is.

No wonder, then, that Greg Hunt is probably mighty relieved right now. He will have had people urgently whispering in his ear that he and his government are starting to look like clowns, and that maybe he should back pedal a bit. And politicians really don't like looking like clowns.

This should be incredibly interesting to watch - fortunately from 10,000 miles away - so I'm breaking out the popcorn. If Australia does a U-turn on prohibition of e-cigs, we are going to have sooo much fun! 

Monday 17 September 2018

None Of Your Business Either

I'm afraid content has been incredibly sparse here of late due to real life getting solidly in the way.

There are huge changes afoot both business-wise at Puddlecote Inc and personally at Puddlecote Towers. Some good, some not so good but I've never been so short of time to write recreationally which - as you may have noticed over the years - is a beloved hobby of mine. I'd like to say that will change in the foreseeable future but I can't.

I did want to touch upon something in parliament recently though, and I had originally intended to write it as a follow-up to last week's article suggesting that it is none of Boston Council's business whether market traders smoke or vape around their outdoor stalls.

This same presumed political interference cropped up during the parliamentary presentation of Norman Lamb's excellent Science and Technology report on e-cigs. It was a great report - which you can read here - but one part of it raised the hackles of ignorant anti-smoking (and therefore anti-vaping) snotgobblers everywhere. They were incensed at the very idea that vapers be allowed to vape anywhere near them, the precious souls that they are.

Personally, I don't see the problem with it but Norman Lamb was very eager to distance himself from that when he presented his report to parliament on the 6th September.
Let me now turn to the area of our report that created the biggest debate: the treatment of e-cigarettes in public spaces. Despite some suggestions to the contrary, we did not recommend that e-cigarettes should be allowed in closed public spaces or on public transport. We called for a public debate on how these products are dealt with in our public spaces. The coverage of our report has certainly kick-started a public discussion, and I really welcome that. We need such a debate because the evidence suggests no public health rationale for treating e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes as one and the same.
Maybe he didn't recommend that they should be allowed in public spaces (which they are anyway considering there is no law against it) but why not? Well, here's why.
There are, however, nuisance justifications for restricting e-cigarettes’ use in public, such as in enclosed spaces and on public transport.
"Nuisance justifications"? Is that a thing politicians think they should be getting involved in now, is it? Well ASH trustee Bob Blackman seems to think so.
There is the nuisance aspect of smelling vapour, which often has a particular scent ... Personally, I would oppose any relaxation in the use of e-cigarettes in any enclosed spaces.
Bob, you speak as if whether the subjective "nuisance" of anything is any of your business, because it's not. And also, Bob, is this the policy of ASH whom you represent, because I think we should know. ASH like to portray themselves as friend of the vaper but if they are dead set against private businesses relaxing restrictions on vaping, maybe they should come out and say it. It would be weasel-like not to, don't you think?

Lamb came back to the subject later too.
However, there is a good justification, which I totally accept, for not allowing vaping because of the nuisance—because people find it invasive.
Nuisance is not a reason for politicians to intervene in behaviour unless it physically harms others (see J S Mill) so really has sod all to do with them. All politicians should note that if they come out with a sentence like that, they should really suffix it with "but that is none of our business".

If, however, politicians are now in the business of recommending action on "nuisance", maybe they can do something about some of what I find irritating. Here are some policy ideas they might like to consider, I suspect you could add more.

- On the spot £100 fines for people who stop in doorways
- A ban on kids in pubs (£2,500 fine for premises allowing it)
- Restrictions on boy bands on TV after 9pm
- The showing of holiday pictures to friends and colleagues to be reportable to the police unless explicit permission is given
- Immediately prohibit production of the Nissan Micra
- A ban on flying for people who stand up the moment a plane lands
- The name Keith to be prohibited
- Cous cous, just no!

Why on earth do we have politicians actually talking about "nuisance" as a reason for restrictions and bans? It is absolutely nothing to do with them, it is solely up to the owners of the property or business.

We went from a 30 year battle by anti-smoking fanatics to 'prove' with junk science that smoking was harming people around them, to now talking about how restrictions are justified because of "nuisance" which varies from one individual to another. Jesus effing Christ, when did this country's establishment lose all perspective about endorsing liberty?

I suppose if you can con the public that a whiff of smoke is going to kill them - and you fund a Goliath of a 'public health' industry to throw up scare stories for the good of their own bank accounts - the world is your oyster. 

Saturday 8 September 2018

None Of Your Business, Boston Council

It is odd that recently the establishment seems pretty confused as to why the public despises them. They don't seem to understand that if they act like petty dictators, sooner or later they will piss the entire population off in some way.

Here is a perfect example from Lincolnshire.
Council discuss banning market traders from smoking and vaping at their stalls
We're only on the headline but unless you're an arsehole you should already be thinking, erm, why is it any of the council's business? Well, here's why they think it is, anyway.
Councillors in Boston have discussed whether market traders should be banned from smoking and vaping while working on their stalls. 
The suggestion to ban smoking and vaping from the Boston market was suggested by students from Boston Grammar School, Haven High Academy, Giles Academy and Boston High School, during a recent consultation.
Can you believe that? Market stall holders are taxpayers and also pay rent to the council; their customers are taxpayers; kids at fucking school are not taxpayers. Who did the council listen to? Yes, the ones who don't vote and don't pay taxes.

It is also another example of authorities who are clueless as to current recommendations around vaping. They are entrusted with power at a local level but are exercising it without even bothering to read up on the subject matter.

That aside, this is still quite insane. It is absolutely no business of the council what market stall owners do with their stalls, they are beholden only to their customers. There is no law against smoking or vaping outdoors and Boston Borough Council have no power to implement one. So what fucking right do they think they have interfering?
June Rochford from Frampton said: “I don’t think people should be smoking behind their stalls, especially if it’s a food stall. But then it is still a public place where people can smoke. I have seen a few traders smoking but they often move from behind the stall. 
"If this was imposed they would have to stop everyone from smoking in the Market Place as it wouldn’t work."
Well, yes June, you'd think people entrusted with running a council might have the brains to work those things out for themselves, but they obviously can't.

How this ever reached the level of becoming a council proposal beggars belief. A bunch of propagandised kids think up some hare-brained nonsense and the local authority leaps gormlessly into action despite it being an utter absurdity.

Now, do you think they consulted the market traders or their customers before embarking on such a wild goose chase? No, of course they didn't.

Fortunately, the idiotic policy dreamed up by a load of spotty indoctrinated kids has been shelved because the thick-as-shit council eventually had to concede that it was a waste of everyone's time and money to even consider it. But doesn't it show you the mentality of the modern politician? It is now a definitive them (who think they know better) versus us (who they see as ignorant and incapable of making our own decisions). No wonder voters all over the country are increasingly eager to give the political class a kick in the balls when we get to the ballot box. One day they might get the message and start respecting the people they serve. I'll repeat that, the people they serve.

As one trader pointed out, instead of a daft policy which will require rigorous enforcement, why not just leave it up to a natural - and free to taxpayers - method of regulation which has worked for millennia. That is, the customer is always right.
“Customers will enforce that – if somebody is selling goods and they have a fag-end hanging out their mouth then customers will make their own decisions.”
Quite. If customers are still buying regardless, they are obviously not bothered and the council are just dreaming up makework to justify their existence. Readers at Lincolnshire Live certainly don't give a penguin's pecker about it.

It looks like Boston is another council which has far too much time and money on its hands and could do with more government restrictions on their budget. Slash away, Chancellor, on this evidence there is still much more council waste left to cut. 

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Five Years On And The EU Has Learned Nothing

Today Snowdon reported that the EU is set to travel to COP8 in Geneva and demand that vaping be treated exactly the same as smoking for advertising purposes.

In fact, more than that, it will demand that even scenes in films portraying smoking and vaping should be classed as advertising.
In preparation for the event, various documents have been circling the global anti-smoking community to get a consensus on what to ban next. The depiction of tobacco use in the arts is one candidate. You can read the WHO's proposal here. The most notable part of the document is the WHO's intention to include tobacco use on film and television as tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) because:
Entertainment media content such as movies, music videos, online videos, television programmes, streaming services, social media posts, video games and mobile phone applications have all been shown to depict and promote tobacco use and tobacco products in ways that may encourage youth smoking uptake... Therefore, policies that reduce youth exposure to entertainment media depictions are required.
Note the word "may" in there. Because, as usual with tobacco control, there is no evidence whatsoever except for archetypal junk science from - you guessed it - Stan Glantz. They're interfering in the public's entertainment on the say-so of criminally-conflicted and arguably insane single-issue maniacs.

As Snowdon points out, the EU delegation to the FCTC's COP8 in Geneva - of which the UK will be a part - is actually trying to get e-cigs included in this daft policy.
The EU is one of the FCTC's members and, due to its size, it is rather influential. So have they objected to this? Yes, they have. But not because the proposals are too extreme. They object because they don't go far enough. In particular, the EU wants vaping to be included.
The EU welcomes the report of the Expert Group on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and supports its recommendations... [The EU] stresses that TAPS [tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship] regulatory frameworks and their implementation at national, regional and international levels do not only cover all tobacco products, both traditional and emerging ones such as heated products, but should also consider tobacco-related products such as ENDS.
Isn't that incredible? Five years ago the EU were forced to abandon total prohibition of e-cigs - apart from medically licensed ones with a maximum of 4mg nicotine - in their Tobacco products Directive (TPD) but not without a massive struggle.

At the time ASH were arguing for exactly that too. It was only once a lighter touch was applied and Public Health England - acting on recommendations from the Nudge Unit - turned guns away from vaping, that they apparently had an epiphany. The results we have seen since on smoking prevalence are astounding.

Now, you'd think that the EU might look back on 2013 and recognise that they regulated from a position of laughable ignorance back then, wouldn't you? They should be deeply embarrassed about it. But no, today's revelations suggest that they still haven't a fucking clue.

Five years on and the EU has learned absolutely nothing, judging by this

Vapers saw back then how intransigent, opaque, anti-democratic and abusive the EU is. It is why a vast majority voted for leave in the referendum. All this is doing is proving that they were right to do so.

As I understand it from COP7 in India, any EU proposal will be subject to approval from member states in meetings prior to the event. Once a position is agreed, no member state (including the UK) will have any power to object at COP8 because the EU represents all 28.

I guess we will see how serious the Department of Health really is about its Tobacco Control Plan if it allows the EU to do this. The ASA is already working on proposals to relax advertising restrictions on e-cigs rather than prohibiting all marketing outright, so direction of travel in the UK couldn't be further removed from the EU's position. And as for the proposal to ban all media online, this could mean that even bodies like NCSCT (involved in smoking cessation) would not be able to produce films for Facebook and Twitter.

If, as I suspect, the UK Department of Health - who, remember, are advised by ASH about FCTC matters - doesn't nip this in the bud, all arguments that we are better in the EU because we can have input will be washed away. If UK government policy which has produced brilliant results can be undermined by an anti-democratic gravy train urging an entirely unelected and unaccountable global cartel - both of which entirely cut the public out of their discussions - to prohibit vaping adverts worldwide, you have to ask what is the point of being in the EU delegation when we could represent the UK instead. And boy would we be hassling the fuck out of the Department of Health if they proposed this unilaterally. We tried that with the EU and they just cocked a deaf 'un.

We're watching you DoH and ASH. Very. Closely.

This is as daft as it gets and makes me 100% certain that I voted the right way in June 2016. The more of this sickening behind-closed-doors bureaucracy we can chip away at, the better. 

Tuesday 4 September 2018

That Mask Keeps Slipping

Remember that smoking ban which was about protecting bar workers? Oh yeah, and the plain packaging of cigarette packets which was solely about making sure kids don't start smoking?

It wasn't about bullying smokers, heaven forbid! No, you were free to make your own choices, they just wanted to safeguard the kiddies and put a welcoming arm around poor put-upon bar staff. It was a shame that the hospitality industry was severely damaged with tens of thousands of pubs closing and the bingo industry all but wiped out, a shame that social exclusion for vulnerable adults has meant we now have a Minister for Loneliness, and a shame that intellectual property worth billions was eradicated to the detriment of legal UK businesses for no purpose whatsoever.

And it was a shame that this has set a precedent which has unleashed a torrent of single interest zealots on the public at large trying to prohibit everything from your weekend pint to a box of Corn Flakes.

But it was only about protecting people, absolutely nothing to do with veiled coercion towards smokers. Got that?

When the mask slips like that, it makes this blogging lark so worthwhile.

It's never been about bar workers. It's never been about kids. I have consistently said this for nearly ten years. It is purely hideous state-funded bastards justifying their existence by fighting for their place on the taxpayer teat.

They have no interest in the public's welfare, they don't even have an interest in health. Just look at that tweet and see what is missing from that list of 'successes' over the past 20 years; most especially since about 2012.

Yes, the one thing that their own kind didn't think up, which has had a far more dramatic effect than any of the daft policies they implement and then refuse to allow to be judged for efficacy. And the thing that many on their own side are lying through their fucking teeth about (you know who you are if you're an obese Irishman, a Sydney pensioner, a 1970s trot throwback from the north west, or an inconsequential wage slave from Lincoln) because they can't earn out of it.

It was never about bar workers, it was never about kids, it was never about health. It's always been a collection of zealots making a buck out of a job massaging their prejudice towards smokers.

Has there ever been such an ignoble and socially-damaging profession as tobacco control? I venture to suggest not. 

Monday 3 September 2018

Is Barnsley The Doziest Council In The Country?

With councils squealing about 'austerity' and 'savage cuts' at every opportunity, the BBC reported yesterday on a vital public service being promoted by Barnsley Borough Council.
Smoke-free zones are set to be introduced outside 80 primary schools in Barnsley. 
The move is an extension of a council scheme which has already been implemented in the town. 
Each of the schools will be given signs, letters to send to parents and "tool kits" to help staff set up the zones around the premises. 
Kaye Mann, senior health improvement officer, said: "The aim is to make smoking invisible to children."
So it's a council scheme, is it? Because that's not what was conveyed to the media in May
ABOUT 150 children staged a peaceful protest imploring parents not to smoke near their school kick-starting a project to make smoking ‘invisible’ to school children across Barnsley.  
Pupils from Laithes Primary at Athersley South linked arms to form a chain on front of the school’s entrance, waved placards and shouted chants at the event on Wednesday - some even took to the megaphone. 
Yep, it was all the kids' doing, even down to the professionally printed banners. They bought those out of their pocket money, natch. 

Let's leave aside for a moment the vile manipulation of children here - completely oblivious to how it must make kids with parents who smoke feel to see their loved ones treated like that - and look at what Barnsley is actually doing. Because, as is quite obvious, it's fuck all to do with the kids, and not really anything to do with health either. 

Mawsley of POTV has been asking the council some searching questions.
Planet of the Vapes contacted Barnsley Council for comment. 
A spokesperson told us: “It's not an outright ban, more of a request, but yes, vaping is included."
So it's the usual 'voluntary ban' which I hope many will completely ignore. And erm, why is vaping included? 
"We want to encourage a smoke free generation and make all smoking invisible to children so they don't see it as a regular adult behaviour.”
If every kid at that school took up vaping at 18, they would still be "smoke free". Don't Barnsley get that? 

Well of course not. Because Barnsley Council is run by utter morons, as we can see from last year's Freedom to Vape survey of local authority policies on vaping in the workplace. 

Barnsley was one of the most committed councils in the country to ensure that smokers don't switch to e-cigarettes instead. 
Whilst the Council acknowledges PHE's statements that e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes; have the potential to help drive down smoking rates; improve public health; and help to denormalise smoking; and accept that current evidence indicates that the risk to the health of bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour is extremely low, the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace: 
- Is a matter of professional etiquette and projection of a clean and healthy image for our premises
- May lead to ‘lookalikes’ (e-cigarettes made to resemble cigarettes) being misconstrued as cigarettes
- May have an impact on public perception of the Council and its employees
- May affect people with asthma and other respiratory conditions who can be sensitive to a range of environmental irritants, which could include e-cigarette vapour
- May be a distraction for those vaping and also a nuisance or distraction for people nearby
- Would be contrary to the Council’s aim of inspiring a ‘smokefree generation’ in the borough 
The council also requires vapers (and smokers) to remove their Council ID card and lanyard so they cannot be immediately associated with the Council. Employees are not allowed to vape (or smoke) whilst wearing a council uniform.
OK, they are quite entitled to set their own vaping policies, however retarded they might be. And Barnsley's is one of the most jaw-droppingly ignorant in the country. But none of those barrel-scraping excuses justifications above have any bearing outside of schools. 

Now, remember that only a couple of weeks ago the government's Science and Technology Committee made this recommendation
Many businesses, public transport providers and other public places do not allow e-cigarettes in the same way that they prohibit conventional smoking. But, there is no public health (or indeed fire safety) rationale for treating use of the two products the same. There is now a need for a wider debate on how e-cigarettes are to be dealt with in our public places, to help arrive at a solution which at least starts from the evidence rather than misconceptions about their health impacts.
The Government's Tobacco Plan - subtitled "Towards a Smokefree Generation", yes the same words used by the cretins up in Barnsley - aspires to "help people to quit smoking by permitting innovative technologies that minimise the risk of harm". and Public Health England says "e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy"

Yet Barnsley Council is blissfully unaware of any of this. Here's what their bone-headed council lead said on the subject. 
Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “We want to ensure smoking becomes almost invisible to protect children’s health. Children and young people are influenced by adult behaviour and are less likely to start smoking if they do not view it as a normal part of everyday life."
So why are you 'banning' devices that smokers are using to stop smoking, you bellend?
“We’ve brought the latest campaign to the school grounds and it’s fantastic to see the children get involved too. We’re soon to see more schools across the borough take up this scheme and hopefully it will see parents listen and be more considerate about where and when they smoke, if not make them consider stopping completely.”
By 'prohibiting' devices that "have become the most popular stop smoking tool in England" according to CRUK? How does Barnsley get such dipshits as councillors? Are they selected by way of a lucky dip? Jesus wept!

It's clear that Barnsley has no clue about the subject and are just spunking taxpayer money up the wall on pointless, and arguably damaging, vanity projects.

In April, the local MP was bemoaning the fact that Barnsley is suffering from government cuts.
“Once again, local authorities are being forced to shoulder drastic cuts in funding through this government’s continued obsession with austerity. 
“Barnsley Council has seen its budgets slashed since 2010, but demand for vital local services in our community continues. 
“It’s grossly unfair and unrealistic to expect local authorities to continue providing the same level of local services with ever-dwindling resources. 
“This government needs to take responsibility for their cuts and provide the resources local authorities like Barnsley desperately need to continue providing for local communities.”
I'd say there is huge scope for further savings if Cllr Jim Andrews and his equally ignorant - and probably highly-paid - staff are an example of how Barnsley Council operates. They could start by sacking the lot of the useless idiots at no detriment to local taxpayers whatsoever.