Thursday 26 December 2019

Humanity Is No Longer A Priority For the NHS

If you wanted evidence that humanity has departed from the NHS in favour of elitist zealotry and pointless ignorant bullying, you couldn't find a better example than this.
Smoking to be banned on all hospital grounds from next April  
Next year’s NHS contract with hospitals will say no-one should be allowed to smoke in any areas such as car parks.
Car parks. You know, where cars spew out deadly exhaust fumes that can kill in minutes in the wrong circumstances. Remember when it was about the vague 'perils' of secondhand smoke ... in enclosed places? Those days are long gone.
Health ministers have said no-one should have to “walk past a cloud of smoke in order to enter or leave their local hospital”.
A laudable aim, no doubt, if you are setting policy to encourage self-indulgent, snobby and bossy people who have orgasms over interfering in the lives of others for no reason but to inflate their own pathetic egos, but of no benefit to public health whatsoever. Smokers are not going to quit because of bullying like this, if anything it will strengthen their resistance and create mistrust of the medical community.

As anyone who has ever visited a hospital will know, the reason these daft rules are ignored - not just by the public but by staff too - is because not only are they are evil, daft, counterproductive and unnecessary in equal measure, but also the vast majority of people recognise that hospitals are stressful places and there is no will from decent people to poke their nose in and finger-wag some poor sod who may have just lost a relative. Are they really saying here that the answer to someone having a cigarette to soothe their grief is to run over and slap them with a penalty charge notice? Fuck me, what hideous mind came up with that plan?

The slug-like justification above is purely because "walking past a cloud of smoke" is one of the most-used reasons for rancid people on newspaper comments sections - who self-select by gravitating towards articles which get their teeth gnashing - to justify their personal wish for the world to revolve around them. We all know their problem is not actually having to breathe smoke in doorways anyway, it's the existence of people doing something they don’t like. There is no evidence whatsoever that these people are suffering harm. Banning smoking in car parks on this basis makes about as much sense as passing a law to fine people who stop in shop doorways ... which is my personal bugbear.

So it seems that NHS policy is now going to turn its guns against people in stressful situations, despite the real harm and distress it might cause, in order to satisfy some of the most intolerant and hideous people in society.

And it's worse because there is a very simple answer to all this if only the NHS and health professionals could drop their bullying and actually be interested in improving lives. Want to banish people smoking by hospital entrances? Simple, build a smoking shelter away from the entrance, it's not rocket science.

It doesn't even need to cost anything. The government claims it is fully in favour of e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, so festoon it with ads for vaping products and get e-cig manufacturers and retailers to pay for it to be built and its upkeep, they would be glad to do so. Put adverts for Samaritans in there too and they could be offering a service to the grieving at the same time. You'd expect highly-paid professionals who work in an industry which is supposedly compassionate to come up with ideas like this, wouldn't you?

But, no, NHS offices are now filled with ideological bullies who would rather slap fines on people at their most vulnerable, pander to vile prodnoses, and ignore innovation which could actually help people switch to safer products which are backed by their own Tobacco Control Plan!

So, we are now in a situation where institutions like Grimsby hospital - which unveiled a sensible and forward-looking policy in October this year - will be forced to tear their newly-installed shelter down in favour of adherence to deliberate stigmatisation based on nothing but knuckle-dragging intolerance. So stupid.
Hospital bosses unveil plan to help patients and visitors give up cigarettes - a smoking shelter near the entrance 
“Peter Reading, Chief Executive at the Trust, said: “We have thought about this long and hard. [...] We need to ... help everyone to get the support they need to help them quit. We’ll be putting information about this support into the shelter, which is supported by the local public health team in North East Lincolnshire, and giving the users details of who they can contact to get help.”
Not that there is any adherence to government advice with this new NHS policy either, because they're not ruling out fining vapers too at some point in the future (emphasis mine).
Supplementary documents say the rule would “not apply at this stage to e-cigarettes” Health Service Journal reported. 
The health service and the NGOs, admin staff and assorted hangers-on appear to have completely forgotten what their role in society is supposed to be. They are paid by our taxes to provide a service which fits in with how people choose to live their lives, not to dictate their personal prejudices on us and impoverish or criminalise people who pay their wages for no reason except their own bigotry. They are the cart, not the fucking horse.

I speak from experience having just over a week ago been placed into the nicest room in the hospital - the relatives room where they sit you down, offer you tea and coffee till you're overflowing, and tell you your loved one is dead. I don't smoke anymore but you just know if someone sparked up there the most pressing problem - for the NHS - would be that you lit a fag rather than that your fucking Dad just died suddenly.

Daft policies like this prove that thinking amongst health professionals about providing a service which works for everyone is an alien concept to the higher echelons of the NHS; that they believe their obsessive zealotry is more important than the people who are unfortunate enough to have to visit a hospital; and that decency and humanity have left their premises long before the smokers they wish to eject have done so. They would rather drive bereaved and distressed smokers onto the street at their hour of heartbreak - not even conceding the car park or their own private car for crying out loud - than provide somewhere humane for them to take it all in.

The people who work in NHS hospitals are caring and compassionate, the people who lead them are the opposite; ignorant, overpaid, heartless and - on the basis of this crap - unimaginative, inhumane and incompetent. 

Thursday 19 December 2019

The Incomparable Deceit Of The WHO

Today saw a lot of media coverage over a new report from the World Health Organisation claiming:
Number of males using tobacco globally on the decline, showing that government-led control efforts work to save lives, protect health, beat tobacco
It further boasts that ...
[P]ositively, the new report shows that the number of male tobacco users has stopped growing and is projected to decline by more than 1 million fewer male users come 2020 (or 1.091 billion) compared to 2018 levels, and 5 million less by 2025 (1.087 billion).
Wow! A million globally, they say? That is a lot, isn't it? The Director General of the WHO - who once recruited Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador before worldwide disgust forced him to backtrack - is ecstatic ...
“Declines in tobacco use amongst males mark a turning point in the fight against tobacco,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “For many years now we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products. But now, for the first time, we are seeing a decline in male use, driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry."
Is that so, DG? Really? That million reduction is entirely due to the policies dreamt up by the massed ranks of tobacco control? Well, I think that is debatable. A clue is there if you scroll to the bottom of the page (emphasis mine, cos they'd rather you don't notice it).
The WHO report covers use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, waterpipes, smokeless tobacco products (like bidis, cheroots and kretek) and heated tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes are not covered in the report.
Yep, the WHO - for this report only - do not consider e-cigs as being tobacco use.

Now, in the UK alone we have approximately 1.9 million ex-smokers who now exclusively vape, and the law of averages suggests at least 50% of those are male. Globally, we know from the BBC that there are around 41 million vapers worldwide. Kinda knocks the WHO's pathetic 1 million into a cocked hat, doesn't it? Add those 20 million odd males who vape instead of smoke to the WHO's consumption figures and we're looking at the same old tired and failed tobacco control policies as always.

In The Hague next year, the WHO will insist at their biennial shit-fest - COP9 - that there is no difference between vaping and smoking, they will also insist that e-cigs are a tobacco product, that they do not help people quit and demand that governments across the world either prohibit vaping entirely or treat the products exactly the same as cigarettes, including slapping taxes on them, eradicating flavours and banning their use just about everywhere. There are no grants for these trouser-stuffing quangocrats from Mr Bloggs handing his own cash to a vape shop to buy a Vype or an Eleaf.

Yet, for the sake of a headline, they will admit that vaping isn't smoking just long enough to claim credit for a revolution which was absolutely none of their doing.

This report from the WHO is weapons grade nonsense. Plain packaging, for example - the WHO's big ticket item of recent years - has had no effect anywhere it has been tried, in fact all evidence points to it increasing the black market and leading to more people smoking. Wherever vaping is treated favourably, by contrast, has resulted in record declines in smoking prevalence never seen in hundreds of years. It is absolutely nothing to do with Tedros and his blinkered, Luddite, stick-in-the-mud troughers and their goalpost-shifting, cherry-picked junk statistics.

The deceit of these people is quite astonishing. If they were so confident that their policies are so fucking marvellous, they would include e-cigarettes and show that despite the massive uptake of vaping their interventions were still robust, but they can't. So instead they exclude vaping and try instead to claim credit for what they had absolutely nothing to do with, and in fact are straining every sinew to exterminate on behalf of their generous conflicted funders.

Christ, if Carlsberg did lying, even they couldn't do better than this. It's never been about health, and it's never been about truth. 

Monday 11 March 2019

Fake Charities, 10 Years On

We reached a significant milestone recently which should not go unmarked. It was just over a decade ago that legendary blogger Devil's Kitchen and his co-author The Filthy Smoker began the fightback against the widespread abuse of government funding being handed to lobby groups to lobby government. 
That was the date and time that your humble Devil first registered the domain—19th January 2009. I built the first site that night, using a simple Open Source CMS called WebsiteBaker. 
I then populated this simple site with a few organisations that I, and Kitchen contributor the Filthy Smoker, had identified as being particularly egregious specimens of the type we called "fake charities"
The fake charities site may not be around now but it was the first step in shining a light on the sly deceit on the public that state-funded lobby groups had quietly worked to build for many years.

Even government ministers were not aware that taxpayer money was being shovelled to single interest lobby groups to spend on attacking the government and demanding legislation that the government - who awards the cash - wanted to see passed.

It is one of the most corrupt aspects of the way this country is run and should have been banned years ago. The blogosphere-originated fake charities site exposed the de facto corruption - because that's what it is in all but name - where mainstream journalism had not only failed to even notice it, but actively encouraged it whether unwittingly or not.

As DK explained in 2012, it was (and still is) a stain on the way the country is run.
Some years ago, your humble Devil and his Kitchen colleague, the Filthy Smoker, noticed that more and more charities were being cited by news media—and, most especially, the BBC—in connection with government initiatives. 
These charities almost always reinforced these policies: and these policies were almost always ones that aimed to reduce freedom and liberty in this country. 
Out of curiosity, we started to investigate these charities in a very simplistic way: when a charity was quoted as being in favour of yet more grossly invasive legislation, we went to the Charity Commission website and looked up the public accounts. 
In the majority of cases, we found that these quoted "charities" were, in fact, largely funded by the government whose policies they were enthusiastically endorsing. 
I would like to say that what we unearthed shocked us, but that would be a lie. What did surprise us was just how many of these organisations there were. 
People tend to think of charities as being... well... voluntary organisations, doing actual, physical good deeds in the community—whether that be running soup kitchens, cancer hospices or homeless shelters. 
But most of these organisations were indulging in little more than flat-out lobbying. And they were using our money to do it. In our view, these charities were being deliberately disingenuous. 
And we came up with a name for these organisations—"fake charities".
DK's initiative has since moved on and now these organisations are described more as "sock puppets". In 2012, a report detailing "how the government lobbies itself and why" eventually resulted in a law which caused uproar among those who were incensed that their mouths might one day be removed from the comfy taxpayer teat they had suckled on for years.

Naturally, the term fake charities was resisted by fake charities and the troughers tried every condescending trick in the book to derail any criticism of their grubby antics, as DK described in 2016.
When we were (inevitably) attacked in various articles by the BBC and the Third Sector, they tended to ignore the "lobbying" clause—we were horrible, sweary, libertarian bloggers who wanted to do down the valuable work that charities were doing. Nevertheless, all these protests did was to bring the concept of fake charities to a wider audience—with the phrase becoming regularly used amongst the politically-aware.
The rearguard action against this abuse of public money has continued and just last week an update on the corruption was produced by the IEA with a report named "Still Hand in Glove" (which you should read, by the way).

The ten year anniversary of the fake charities site is one that we should not forget for two reasons. Firstly, it highlights that only the blogosphere can highlight these things, the idea that mainstream journalists are somehow investigative and able to tackle abuse like this is a fantasy. There are no Woodward and Bernsteins around anymore, anything that pretends to be investigative journalism nowadays is more likely to be conspiracy bullshit directed at those who oppose a big state.

Far from exposing the corruption of government lobbying government, the mainstream press has singularly failed to get any handle on it at all. Even now we are seeing pliant articles from lazy hacks - who have lost the ability to distinguish between state-funded activism and real life fact - simply regurgitating press releases from organisations funded by the government, to lobby the government.

Secondly, just about every liberty that we have lost in the past 20 years has come about because of fake charities and sock puppets. Government has actively used fake charities by handing them cash to lobby for their latest public-bashing schemes as I illustrated during the plain packs 'debate' with the gloriously now defunct Smokefree South West.

Fake charities/sock puppets take your taxes and lobby for more government, more restrictions, more bans. Not one of them has ever lobbied for a liberalising of laws or a de-regulating of restrictions, and they never will. When government doesn't ban something they are in uproar, but even when the fake charity community is caught out, they just stay silent for a while and come back regardless. No-one is punished, no-one loses their job.

As I wrote just the other day, there is a huge elitist monolithic hegemony in the public sector which self-perpetuates and its existence depends on not upsetting the tax-funded apple cart. The result is rules being applied on a whim against our liberty while any relaxation of rules will be resisted as if their lives depend upon it. In the case of lobbyists whose income is in the fake charity sector, this is undoubtedly true from a financial standpoint. If their scam is extinguished they might have to go get a job that doesn't involve shitting all over the choices of ordinary people. was a ground-breaking blog-led awareness raising campaign which opened many people's eyes to how government is feeding an unelected, unaccountable and unregulated prohibitionist gravy train with your money, whether you like it or not. It's creation 10 years ago was a much-needed breath of fresh air. 

Thursday 7 March 2019

A Ban If It's Law, A Ban If It's Not

In answer to a parliamentary question tabled by Liz Saville-Roberts of Plaid Cymru yesterday, the government's Home Office spokesperson, Victoria Atkins, gave us a small glimpse into how the choices of staff and the public are treated with contempt by the elites, and how they really only have themselves to blame for some of the abuse they receive.

Saville-Roberts asked which Home Office premises do not operate a no-smoking policy. It turns out that not only is the answer none, but that the Home Office has been massively gold-plating restrictions demanded by the smoking ban.
Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 
The Home Office supports the right to work in a smoke-free environment. The Health Act 2006 and similar laws in Scotland and Wales ban workplace smoking. 
Home Office staff must not smoke or use e-cigarettes anywhere on Home Office premises including: 
• buildings, vehicles and land – this includes all walkways, access areas and car parks
• outside entrances and exits of buildings
• private vehicles parked on Home Office premises
I really don't know where to start with a policy as hideous and daft in equal measure as this.

Why Atkins bothers to cite the Health Act 2006 is baffling because that merely bans smoking in any building that is more than 50% enclosed, it has absolutely no bearing on all the extra restrictions she seems proud to boast about. The justification given in that Act was that there was {cough} scientific 'evidence' that passive smoking harms bystanders in enclosed public places, otherwise politicians would have never dreamed of removing the right to use legal products, oh no! It was merely to protect those poor bar workers. They had no choice, see?

So where did the idea that bans outside in "walkways, access areas and car parks" should be included come from? Where is the {cough} scientific 'evidence' for banning smoking "outside entrances and exits of buildings"? And how does banning an employee smoking in their own parked car, alone, "support the right to work in a smoke-free environment"? Surely, to borrow from one of the most clichéd anti-smoking tropes of all time, the Home Office's right to protect an employee from their own secondhand smoke ends at the door of their own fucking vehicle.

It's not really about health, is it?

What's more, how is also banning the use of e-cigs in all of those places conducive to a "smoke-free environment" when they don't emit any smoke? In the past year or two we have seen Public Health England advocating for vapers being afforded somewhere in the workplace to vape, the government's Tobacco Control Plan clearly stating that vaping "should not be included in policies which ban smoking", and the Science and Technology Committee recommending that "rules around e-cigarettes should be relaxed so they can be more widely used and accepted in society".

It's scary that a policy so devoid of common sense has been written by a department which is tasked with our security, because its terms mean that although soldiers can face live firing on Salisbury Plain, they'd better not even think about having a smoke or a vape while they're there or they could face disciplinary action. Utterly absurd.

It's like different departments of the government don't even talk to each other anymore. How can you take politicians seriously when, on the one hand, you have health departments giving out guidance and a Home Office Minister trumpeting on Hansard about how they are proud to be completely ignoring it?

It also tells us that the smoking ban was a quite hideous piece of legislation which lifted up a rock and let every belly-crawling prohibitionist maggot slither out and run riot. I am pretty sure that prior to 2006 the Home Office wouldn't allow smoking in its offices, but the green light the Health Act gave to civil service regulators desperate to regulate something - anything - has led us into this situation where smoking is banned even if you are sitting at nose level with a car's exhaust pipe, and every weapons-grade bigot with an axe to grind about other people's choices is encouraged to chip in their personal gripe and a policy will be drafted to ban it. It's becoming the national sport.

Whether there is a law against it, whether there isn't, and even when the very government itself would prefer the opposite.

There has been a lot of talk today about how politicians are receiving abuse on social media and how it's very, very bad. But those are just words. Politicians and the system they have administered - badly - in recent years are attacking the public like no other time in history. Their ratchet has gone only one way for the past decade or so, if they want to gain a bit of respect, perhaps they might consider recommending a relaxation of pointless and draconian bans and restrictions instead of forever dreaming up new ways to beat the public about the head for simply wanting to use legal products.

Where is the cabinet minister who will stand up and declare that, you know, the public is there to be served. Not a target to attack and be moulded into something they'd rather not be? And maybe that the public might appreciate not being told what to do. Every. Fucking. Day!

Further reading along the same lines today here: "This will leave the Government in the absurd position of officially advising people to drink pure orange juice as one of their five a day while banning adverts for it because it is junk."

Monday 4 March 2019

Reality Bites In Snobland

Oh frabjous day!

Long time readers may remember when the sugar tax was installed by a timorous, erm, 'Conservative' government quaking in their boots under pressure from a gullible TV chef. I called it "a triumph for repulsive anti-social snobbery".
The sugar tax is born out of the same vile and scum-infested middle class base as the smoking ban. The only difference being that back then it was smokers, now it is the overweight. The precedent was set a decade ago, a precedent which gave a green light for the most hideous in society to point fingers, criticise the choices of others, publicly vomit insults, and demand government force be brought to bear on people who they feel offended at seeing.
Since then we have seen the laughable spectacle of Jamie Oliver's menu offerings being found to be more unhealthy than Burger King and Pizza Hut and Public Health England have come out with draconian measures of what is deemed to be unhealthy.

This has come as a bit of a shock to some of the food snobs amongst us. Farmdrop is a company which has advertised "fresher, fairer" food on the London tube for a few months now. I've seen their adverts and I personally wouldn't buy from them because I just know it will be expensive but I have no problem with their business angle at all, I wish them the very best of luck. I'm sure most of their customers wouldn't think the same about ads for Burger King or KFC, but then that's the difference, isn't it?

Well Farmdrop just got a dose of reality. L. O. L.
To combat childhood obesity, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has enforced a ban on junk food advertising across London’s public transport network, which we fully support. But is it really a ban on junk food as we know it?
For a company which is in the food business, to not see this coming is a fatal error. And, sorry guys, if you fully support this you just lost any sympathy from me.
Preventing brands from aggressively advertising junk food to children on the transport network is a step in the right direction and we fully support it. The link between heavily processed junk foods and obesity is well established (it's not - DP) and recent studies suggest that diet-related diseases like diabetes are rising among children, which is hugely concerning. The majority of Londoners support the decision as well, including respected figures in the food industry like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
I could go into the concept of polls which ask airy questions without going into detail but I don't think these guys would get it, but they should because what if the poll said "would you be in favour of banning advertising of 'junk food' which includes farm-produced butter, eggs and bacon?" because that's the PHE definition. I reckon they would get a different result and wouldn't be so supportive of the results.
Naturally, we were pretty shocked that a picture of some fresh groceries with a healthy mixture of fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs and cupboard staples would flout TfL’s new junk food rules. But it turns out that TfL score foods individually according to a nutrient profiling model created by the Government. It’s a pretty crude measure and means that foods you would still think of as junk, like fizzy drinks with artificial sweeteners or low-fat fried foods, could in some scenarios comply with the new regulations.
At this point I imagine the Farmdrop guys be like ...

Well yes because ...
We fully support the Mayor of London’s decision to prohibit junk food advertising on the transport network but we’re concerned about how it’s being applied. We hope that TfL sees some sense and starts to apply the ban with a little better judgement. 
Hey, it's not TfL's judgement of what is HFSS food, it is towards PHE that you should be directing your complaint. Reason being that if snobs call for bans on products they find icky because chavs like them (come on, own up, that's what it is about really) then the constituents of those foods need to be analysed and a policy formulated based on the ingredients. Just a feel-good about who makes it won't wash once you get the big state involved.

It is quite hilarious to see a company piggy-backing on hipster snobbery being hoist by a petard entirely fashioned by its snooty customers. The replies on Twitter to Farmdrop's astonished tweet were testament to it.

Here's the rub though. The companies that Farmdrop fully support having their ads banned - they touch upon McDonald's in their article - will, at some point, get round the rules by reformulating their products. Farmdrop, however - if it is true to its unique business selling point - will not be able to reformulate natural butter, eggs and farm-produced bacon. Their ads will still be banned unless PHE changes the rules.

And the only way that they can do that is by admitting that it's all snobbery after all and that the restrictions will only apply to large fast food chains and not to Jamie Oliver's sugar-laden hypocrisy or Farmdrop's perfectly natural, but sadly high in fat sugar and salt, produce.

Then we will see some pretty momentous court cases.

There is one thing that might help Farmdrop though. They could stop pandering to snobbery and join us in attacking ridiculously arbitrary rules and object to any restrictions on what we are allowed to see on advertising billboards. Now they have worked out that it really isn't about health, would they be prepared to join we who are on the side of the angels? I doubt it.

Once they and the people they sell to learn to be accommodating of the choices of others maybe we might get somewhere as a society. Until then, chalk one up for those of us who have been warning them for a long time about this and revel in the discomfort. 

Thursday 28 February 2019

Laughable Bullshit Tsunami Incoming From The Telegraph?

A Telegraph 'expert', pictured yesterday
Like Clive Bates who has blogged about this today in an article entitled "Anti-vaping activists pitch unscientific fringe positions to a national newspaper", I also saw an email detailing how the Telegraph is planning on publishing a massive load of bullshit about vaping tomorrow (Feb 29th apparently) in one of "a series of articles".
"We have spoken to the experts listed below and sought their views on the following topics: the medical concerns surrounding e-cigarettes despite them being promoted as a reduced risk alternative to traditional cigarettes; the marketing of e-cigarettes; the risk to young people of becoming addicted to nicotine via the use of e-cigarettes:"
The first thing that sprung to mind when I read this was what could have prompted it? Were Telegraph writers just sitting around one day wondering what to fill the pages of their newspaper up with when one of them said "I know! Let's do a deep investigation into e-cigs!" to which another may have said "Great idea! Let's get on Google!".

If so, one wonders what the search term must have been to come up with this set of 'experts', which is basically a who's who of wacky ideological fuckwit outliers who are out there where the buses don't run when it comes to the thinking around vaping in this country and beyond.
Professor Simon Capeman, Liverpool University  (Professor Public Health and Policy) 
Professor Anna Gilmore, Bath University (Professor of Public Health and Director of Tobacco Control Research Group) 
Professor Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy, Curtin University, Perth, Australia and Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth 
Professor Stanton Glantz, Director Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, California University 
Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Heath, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and former President of the Faculty of Public Health 
Dr Gabriel Scally, President of Epidemiology and Public Health, Royal; Society of Medicine 
Professor John Ashton, former president of public health at the Royal Colleges of Physicians and former president of UK Public Health 
John Dicey, Global CEO Allen Carr’s EasyWay 
Robin Ireland, former chief executive of the Health Equalities Group
Shall we go through them one by one? 
Professor Simon Capeman, Liverpool University  (Professor Public Health and Policy)
Does anyone remember Sarah Knapton? Well, she is/was a science editor (pfft) at the Telegraph who once wrote an astonishingly stupid article entitled "E-cigarettes are no safer than smoking tobacco, scientists warn" which was roundly condemned as being utter garbage. Her article was so very bad that she is now immortalised in Hansard as a junk scientist by Lord Callanan.
Much of the problem stems from media reporting of junk science. The worst example was a headline in the Telegraph in December, which screamed: “E-cigarettes are no safer than smoking tobacco”. It was a nonsense report based on, as I said, junk science.
The reason I mention her is that she had a roladex or something where she was hooked up with just about every junk science peddler in the safer nicotine debate. It would be a very slim roladex since there aren't too many of them these days. She is not the one who sent the email but it would appear that someone has been raiding her list of conspiracy theorist ne'er-do-wells and looks to have got confused between Simon Capewell and Simon Chapman.

So let's assume this one is Simon "Capslock"Capewell due to the location. The guy who tweets like a kid with ADHD, always in capitals and never a care for calm evidence-assessment. A far left business-hating prohibitionist who wants just about everything banned from fizzy drinks, through pizza and of course harm reduction products, he is part of a north west enclave of denialists who are ignoring anything sent to them by central organisations and even government itself despite deriving their funding from that source.
Professor Anna Gilmore, Bath University (Professor of Public Health and Director of Tobacco Control Research Group) 
Anna "anything for a grant" Gilmore has carved out a career in smearing industry of any stripe for cash. Recently awarded $20m by Bloomberg to make her smears global. Heavily incentivised to find fault with everything industry does because, erm, that's how she gets paid.
Professor Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy, Curtin University, Perth, Australia and Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth 
A geriatric former British tobacco controller now living in Perth, Australia. He was condemned by the PM of Australia in 2014 for leading calls to ban a performance of the opera, Carmen, because it is set in a cigarette factory. He was caught lying about that episode and is on record stating that e-cigs are a tobacco control conspiracy. Australia bans e-cigs for little reason whatsoever and is desperately fighting against a wavering Australian government which looks like it may join neighbours New Zealand in regulating vaping, much to his embarrassment. No conflict of interest there then.
Professor Stanton Glantz, Director Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, California University 
Where do we start? The world's biggest pharma-funded anti-vaping liar who said in December that vapers should go back to smoking. Currently embroiled in a bit of a kerfuffle after being accused of sexual harassment and stealing accreditation from female students in his team. His university settled out of court for $150k to avoid too many #MeToo negative headlines. His high-profile 'feminist' colleagues are silent about his antics but he is still being pursued by anti-misogynist groups who want to know why his university was rewarded with more grant money despite the scandal
Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Heath, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and former President of the Faculty of Public Health
Porky Paddy who FOI responses showed had lied in the BMJ and to the Guardian over comments he clearly made.  For a professor of 'public health' to deliberately lie in his profession's most prominent journal should surely call into question any integrity he claims to possess, but despite having a huge conflict of interest he is deemed an objective 'expert' by the Telegraph apparently. Even Debs Arnott of ASH called him out as an outlier on national TV news for his extreme, biased and ideological views.
Dr Gabriel Scally, President of Epidemiology and Public Health, Royal; Society of Medicine 
Not sure where Scally fits in here, I haven't seen what he says about e-cigs since he blocked me on Twitter after he threw a hissy fit about having to obey the law and respond to FOI requests during the plain packs campaign. A committed left-wing former NHS lead from the south west, it will be interesting to see what his 'expert' testimony is considering I'd heard he was amenable to harm reduction but despises big businesses, especially those who sell products containing nicotine. In this kind of company, he could actually be a fig leaf of objective balance.
Professor John Ashton, former president of public health at the Royal Colleges of Physicians and former president of UK Public Health 
Notice it says "former"? Yeah, because he lost that job after an astonishing Saturday evening in 2014 where - fuelled by what substance we don't know but suspect must have been mood-altering - he launched a night-long attack on vapers on social media. You can read the extraordinary goings-on here, some of them extremely creepy. Like Glantz and McKee, what should have been career-ending behaviour was passed over by 'public health' and he was reinstated to the Faculty of Public Health with just a small demotion.
John Dicey, Global CEO Allen Carr’s EasyWay
A business which has been rocked to its core by the advent of e-cigs which are a huge threat to their global sales of quit smoking books. No conflict of interest there then.
Robin Ireland, former chief executive of the Health Equalities Group
Yet another from the last bastion of e-cig denialism in the north west acting like Japanese soldiers still fighting an imaginary war once everyone else has gone home. Part of the Healthy Stadia group which lied to football and rugby clubs to get bans on vaping outdoors at their venues, in direct contravention of guidance being given by Public Health England at the time. Hopelessly pharma-conflicted.

And this is the stellar cast that the Telegraph thinks is an objective panel to pronounce on the benefits or otherwise of vaping. That Google search must have been pretty specifically worded to come up with just about every crank and looneytune in the harm reduction debate, whilst not picking up Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, Cancer Research UK, the UK government, Stoptober, Royal Society of Public Health and countless other organisations who have all sifted the evidence and are welcoming towards e-cigs.

The star journos at the Telegraph 'science' department seem also to have missed the Cochrane review - the gold standard of research - which contradicts everything their carefully-selected fruit loops and extremist bullshitters have fed the gullible hacks at the Telegraph.

And another thing. You have to wonder why so many left-wing, vehemently Brexit-hating 'public health' freaks are so fond of a Brexit cheerleader such as the Telegraph. Could it be that - via the Sarah Knapton link - it is the only newspaper still remotely willing to publish their crap?

And it truly is bullshit. A tsunami of it. Bates has gone through each one of their ridiculous assertions in this blog article, I do recommend you read it, it will raise a smile or two I promise.

So now we just wait to see what execrable nonsense the Telegraph comes out with tomorrow. It could be a classic of its genre, a masterclass in fake news and the best bit? They are making it a series! Get the popcorn in, this could be great fun. Did I ever tell you it's not about health? 

Monday 25 February 2019

10 Questions, 9 Of Them Stupid

Forgive me Father, I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last article, hand me the hair shirt and beads.

Real life has been getting in the way like a mofo recently, I'm afraid. Business, family and personal pressures have conspired in such a way that I've had little time to even catch up with what's going on let alone write anything. If you follow me on Twitter too, you may have noticed.

But prior to a busy week, I've a window to have a go at some recreational writing and what better to comment on than an unintentionally funny article from Sydney pensioner Simon Chapman on his blog last week. I do feel for the guy, he's getting old, the dementia might be kicking in and he is still desperately clinging to tried-and-trusted smears against industry which don't hold up in the modern world. You know, like your grandparents who get shouty when you say they should have data on their phone and they reply that "I just want to ring someone on it!".

One of my obstructions recently has been that I've had a lot of building work on my house done, and I mean tons. The team doing it are incredibly experienced (for that, read old) and brilliant at what they do, but the moment the idea of smart bulbs which can be operated by an app came up, their hackles raised and I was told "a light should have a switch, you turn it on and off, that stuff is just nonsense". It's the old dog and new trick mindset, and one which is amusingly illustrated by Chapman in this article entitled "10 questions for Philip Morris International on their “transformation”".

Its basis is this tweet from Moira Gilchrist of Philip Morris.

Now, the impertinence of a tobacco company exec invading the crusty guy's decades long smear-led safe space is red rag to a bull for Chappers, so he leapt into action ... by reproducing correspondence he had with a former PMI exec in 2005, before today's alternative products were available and about a completely different subject.

Anyone with elderly parents will recognise this harking back to the old times as if they were just yesterday. The modern world can be so confusing, can't it?

But anyway, that's not the point of my article. I don't know if Gilchrist will take up his offer of publishing a blog on his site of up to 2000 words, but his 10 questions are so inane and rooted in the past that they're well worth fisking. Corporate reticence, a fiduciary duty to shareholders, along with a legal department shitting bricks and a reluctance to give away info to business competitors might prevent her from replying in depth, but I can have a go.
1) You say you want smokers to switch to IQOS, but Philip Morris USA (a separate company to Philip Morris International which just happens to share the words “Philip Morris” in its title) is on record recently as saying on its website that cigarettes are “our core product” and that they are working hard to keep their smokers happy with “best quality” cigarette products. Are cigarettes also PMI’s “core product’? Or asking another way, how much global revenue does PMI make from tobacco today, and how much from IQOS and what are your forecasts for these numbers in the next 10 years? Are your shareholders happy with you purposefully trying to drive south (by far) your biggest income stream?
The original draft described Philip Morris USA as an "affiliate" of PMI, which is 100% wrong. It is a separate company as he has had to correct but it kinda hurts his line of smear, so he did so in a snarky way. But this is just the start of his quaint misunderstanding of the modern world.

He knows that cigarettes are PMI's core product because, ahem, there are a lot of smokers in the world. So obviously PMI makes a lot more revenue from smoking than it does from nascent products. Chappers, who seems to revel in the fact that new products are just a fraction of 'Big Tobacco's' main offering, went a bit silent when the question of global revenue was answered quite emphatically on Twitter.

So what of his concern for shareholders? That's a first for a guy who is so right-on he's been hating big business of every stripe since he was at university and vandalising bus shelters. They may well be unhappy with a company declaring they are changing their "core product" over time but here's the thing Simon - you cretin - if they are doing that they are doing exactly what tobacco controllers say that they want, reducing the number of cigarettes they sell.

You'd think a rampant lefty who hates smoking would be happy with this double whammy - shareholders losing out and percentage of combustible tobacco declining - but his sympathy for shareholders is just a pubescent debating tactic as we shall see further down.
2) What are the KPIs (key performance indicators) for the sales, marketing and public affairs staff in your cigarette division today? Are they being asked to try and sell less cigarettes or to keep on trying to sell more? Could we all see copies of some of those please?
Fewer cigarettes, Simon, fewer.

In the pensioner's tiny little mind, this is a very simple equation for a multinational company. There is only one policy and it is global. Erm, but it depends on jurisdictions and what the legal framework is, doesn't it. Let's take, for example a random country. Say, I dunno, Australia. How does PMI sell e-cigs containing nicotine in that country when they are banned? How do they transition smokers away from tobacco when they can't sell iQos? I wonder who is behind that kind of retarded policy? Wouldn't it be pretty brazen if someone who had a hand in it then accused a company of being disingenuous by not selling enough products which they had done their damnedest to ensure remain illegal?

Every country is different. Simon only sees a homogenous blob of countries with fully-aligned legislative and trading criteria, or pretends to. Either he is woefully stupid or he is preaching to the unthinking. You decide.
3) In Indonesia, Philip Morris International owns the Sampoerna tobacco company. In 2016, Reuters reported that you were trying to get “wider reach” there via “stronger cigarettes” What do you say to those who say you are being duplicitous with all this reduced harm talk when this is what you are doing when you calculate that people in the west might not notice? Similarly, when the city of Balanga, Luzon in the Philippines wanted to implement a smokefree campus and surrounding environs, you supported the Philippine Tobacco Institute in its (successful) legal case against the proposal. So you say you want people to quit smoking, but only if they switch to IQoS, is that it? And if not you will continue fight effective tobacco control as usual?
Similarly to the bollocks he spouts in question 2, what chance when Indonesia bans e-cigs and any other alternative products?
Indonesia's trade minister Enggartiasto Lukita set off a backlash from anti-smoking groups in November when he suggested tobacco farmers would be hurt by the fledgling industry, and that those turning to e-cigarettes -- also known as vaping -- should smoke regular cigarettes instead. 
"We should turn vapers into conventional cigarette smokers," he said at the time.
And do you know what? I think the old coot knows this.
4) In recent years, your company has aggressively opposed tobacco control policies like graphic health warnings, plain packs, and increasing tobacco tax, all known to reduce smoking. When you do this, can you understand that many people think you are flagrantly lying when you say you want to help tobacco control?
See what he did there?

Plain packs has had no effect on reducing smoking in Australia except in his increasingly senile mind. Nor has it in France or in the UK. There has never been any significant evaluation of graphic warnings either, with many studies showing that smokers just ignore them. But Simon skips past all that controversy and states a bald fact which is debatable at best and simply not true at worst.

Vaping, however, has had a dramatic effect wherever it has been allowed to flourish, which doesn't include Australia.

And, erm, when did PMI ever say they want to "help tobacco control"? Considering how shockingly poor their results have been recently - and the abject misinformation they have been peddling on alternative products - tobacco control is the very last industry producers should be helping. Harm reduction talks directly to consumers and cuts out the parasitical tax-funded leeches of which Chapman is a prominent reactionary in a self-enriching cohort more interested in delaying their obsolescence than any concern for health.
5)  What do you say to critics who say that your business model is surely all about smoking AND vaping, not smoking OR vaping?
There is only one of those, and it's Chapman. Considering all tobacco companies have said that their risk reduced products are more profitable than conventional tobacco, a 5 year old should be able to see that's a nonsense conspiracy theory.
6) I don’t think I’ve ever met a smoker who wanted their kids to grow up and start smoking. Do you feel the same way? Would you also hope that children would not take up vaping? If you really believe ecigs are of minimal risk, why not openly encourage kids to vape?
No-one has ever said that kids should be encouraged to vape, but the old duffer knows this, he's just using an old argument about how even smoking parents don't want their kids to smoke. But it is exactly that, a decades old argument and this particular old dog is still doing old tricks and wondering why he's not getting the same biscuits.

I know Gilchrist wouldn't be able to reply as I do, but I personally couldn't give a toss if my kids took up vaping. And it doesn't seem to have crossed Chapper's increasingly-shrinking mind that if a kid smokes already vaping is a better option for his side, and that if they vape instead of starting smoking, that's something he should be celebrating. I know it's tough for an imbecile to imagine multi-factorial outcomes such as that, but you'd think with more time to feed his carp since retiring he'd have thought a bit more deeply.
7) Smoking by Australian teens is at a record low (1.9% of 15-17 year olds currently smoke) I find it hard to believe if your company had not modeled the impact of such a dire situation on your bottom line into the future if this was to continue. So what does that modelling show? And am I wrong in thinking that if your IQOS product does not attract a significant number of kids into regularly using it, then your company will wither and die within a few decades because if only smokers switch, many of those will quit and die, with no cohort of young people moving through to replace them.
This is the only decent question he asked, and it's a very good one. He could have saved a lot of words and just restricted his article to this one valid point. I remember that this question was asked of PMI's Mark McGregor at a fringe event organised by Forest at Tory Party Conference in October, but it's sadly not made the cut in the highlights (Updated to add the transcribed exchange, scroll to the end of the article).
8) The  parent company of Philip Morris USA, Altria, just invested $US12.8billon in Juul, the vaping product that has spearheaded 20% of US teens using ecigs in the last 30 days.  Are you going to tell me that this teen use of ecigs “concerns” you or that there were a lot of champagne corks popping at work when you all saw that data?
Yawn. Just a rehash of his 'think of the children' scare story from question 6. He knows very well that everuse in past 30 days is experimenting, but he and similarly ideological denialists use this as a dog whistle to scare the living shit out of unwitting parents.

And now for the highlight. You're gonna absolutely love this. If he'd wanted to illustrate to the world that he has not a clue about how e-cigs work and should probably just pick up his pension and go feed the ducks when he is tempted to comment on harm reduction, he couldn't have done it better than this.
9) The average daily vaper inhales 200 times a day and up to 600. The average daily smoker inhales about 95 times a day. Does that comparison suggest that nicotine delivered via vaping might be very, very addictive? Does that bother you?
Stop sniggering at the back, he's an elder statesman don't you know, and degenerative mental health is not a laughing matter.

Does this erstwhile antipodean anti-smoking colossus really not understand that nicotine delivery is vastly different between combustible products and non-combustible products? Here is a graph to illustrate what I mean, courtesy of Lynne Dawkins of South Bank University.

Clive Bates explains further here:
“My wife/boss/friend/agony aunt/dog etc. uses it constantly. S/he must be getting more nicotine”. 
Myth: This is a commonly expressed view that we hear from those whose partners/ friends/ family members have switched to vaping (and retarded Australian blowhards - DP). Given that vaping results in less efficient nicotine delivery to the blood than tobacco smoking, those switching to e-cigarettes need to vape more than they used to smoke (vapers commonly refer to this as ‘grazing’). Concerns over ‘excessive vaping’ can be reduced by switching to a higher nicotine-containing e-liquid.
Now, Chapman likes to tell the world he is an 'expert' on such matters, so why is it that he is so woefully ignorant on something that is central to the debate? I mean, this is a fundamentally basic error. He is arguing on the same level as a Daily Mail reader with not even  basic understanding of the product.

Far from suggesting "that nicotine delivered via vaping might be very, very addictive", it shows the polar opposite. That vapers take or leave their nicotine habit and just top up here and there, never reaching the levels of the big instant hit that smoking delivers.

Is this wilful or is he really that fucking stupid? Can't lie, but it could be either couldn't it?

And now for his jovial "and finally" moment.
10) I’ve heard people very unkindly quip that it would be a good idea if all tobacco company employees were obliged to smoke or vape (in the obverse way that no cancer control agency would hire a smoker). It would be hard to imagine a senior executive in a car company who chose to not drive or own a car, but to always cycle or walk and openly declare that; or the head of a meat marketing board who was an open vegetarian, or a skin cancer prevention advocate who was deeply tanned. So why do you think your company is comfortable with some of its employees choosing not to smoke or vape? Do you smoke or vape yourself?
I'm sure people work for meat companies who are vegan, and I'm sure people who work for car manufacturers only cycle. Classic bait and switch from the old fool to conflate "some of its employees" with upper management to con the gullible with a trite argument.

Irrelevant anyway, as he could have found out if he ever accepted any of the many invitations he has been offered for conferences on harm reduction. Because if he had not been so cowardly, he would have seen that Moira Gilchrist uses an iQos. Relentlessly.

So anyway, 1 hit out of 10 ain't bad for a pensioner. I'm sure there are more brain-addled Australians around, but not many who are still convinced they are sages in a field of which they have very little understanding outside of the funny farm.

You can read his blog unfiltered here, it's great fun.

UPDATE: Relating to Chapman's question 7, thanks to Simon Clark, who has sent me a transcription of the exchange between Chris Snowdon and Mark MacGregor at the Tory Party Conference fringe event.
CS: You don't recommend IQOS for anybody other than existing smokers ... 
MM: No, no. 
CS: ... and you want to reach a point as soon as possible where there are no smokers, so what is the long-term prospects for PMI? Within 70 years there's no smokers to convert to IQOS and all the IQOS smokers are getting older and dying, so within a century, outside, you're finished, aren't you? 
MM: Well, I guess we've quite a big challenge with those billion, or 1.1 billion, smokers so if we could get 300, 400 million of those to convert to IQOS I think that's a big enough challenge for now. What you do in the longer term feels more like a debate for somebody else.
Make of that what you will. 

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Popcorn Poppycock

You'd think, wouldn't you, that the US governmental Food and Drugs Administration would be tasked with giving the public information based on rigorous and robust science. Sadly, you'd be wrong.

This week - in the face of hysterical panic about youth use of e-cigs - they have produced a poster which they will be sending to every High School in America to be put up in school bathrooms. Now, let's put aside for a moment the laughable idiocy of showing kids the new risky fad that many of their peers use and that they might be missing out on, and look instead at what is in it.

Well, as you can imagine from an arm of the tobacco control scam, it is full of lies, none bigger than this.

Erm, inhaling flavours from an e-cig causes popcorn lung? Well that's the message they seem to be wanting to send here. This is the biggest lie that tobacco controllers have ever told, and that is from a long list of fucking massive lies that their industry is renowned for.

Michael Siegel has written extensively about this and, to cut a long story short, it is absolute bollocks.
There is no evidence that e-cigarettes cause popcorn lung. Despite millions of e-cigarette users, there has not been a single confirmed case of popcorn lung caused by e-cigarettes. Moreover, since the level of diacetyl in cigarettes is 750 times higher, on average, than in e-liquids, why isn’t the Tennessee Department of Health warning kids that smoking can cause popcorn lung? The rest of the story is that popcorn lung has not even been associated with smoking. There is absolutely no evidence that vaping causes popcorn lung. 
Juul, the market-leading product in the US which has caused panic amongst knuckle-dragging American parents countrywide, and which the FDA seeks to demonise, doesn't sell flavours containing diacetyl. But then again, nor do any other vape companies because e-liquid manufacturers stopped stocking products containing diacetyl back in 2015, so it's difficult to contract popcorn lung from a substance which is hugely diluted compared with that in cigarettes if it isn't even in any products at all.

But that's the message these government-funded goons are sending to the entire country. 

Shouldn't the FDA know these kinds of things? Instead of basing their decision-making on solid science they are embarking on hare-brained public information rooted in fantasy and seem to be on an intellectual par with medieval witch-finders. It makes you wonder if they are even in the business of seeking the scientific truth at all. Which means that if they can get this so badly wrong, what is the value of taking anything the FDA says on trust? 

The answer, of course, is absolutely none. 

Thursday 3 January 2019

A Short History Of Pharma-Bought Influence

If you have half an hour to spare, you could do worse than watch the two excellent films by YouTuber Grimm Green embedded below

Long-time readers here will remember the history of anti-smoking legislation and how it developed from an aspiration in the 1970s with the Godber Blueprint. Specifically:
The 3rd World Conference on Smoking and Health (“The Worldwide Campaign Against Smoking”) was held in New York from June 2 June 5, 1975. 
Sir George [Godber, raging anti-smoking UK CMO,] noted that the means by which smokers could be encouraged to quit, was to : “foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily” to secondhand smoke. 
In other words, the perception of harm to others would have a far greater impact on convincing smokers to give up the habit than merely harping on the long term health risks to smokers themselves. It would also make it easier to convince the public that discrimination against smokers was justified, not just for their own good, but to protect the health of those around them.
This was a gift to pharmaceutical companies who were peddling their ineffective - but highly lucrative - nicotine patches and gums without too much success at the time. The long search for junk science to back this dream began after that conference and anti-smoking legislation has become exponentially more hysterical ever since, with pharma interests encouraging it every step of the way.
At every turn, the public is told that the evidence is leading the policy, but there is every reason to believe that the policies were set in stone many years ago and that these policies have been leading the evidence. It is clear from the documents that plans to deal with passive smoking, for example, were being drawn up long before there was any evidence of harm.
Scroll on to today and we see exactly the same misdirection and junk science being targeted at vaping products, and exactly the same big industry actors throwing billions at hungry 'public health' researchers to produce it.

In a well-referenced piece of investigation, Grimm Green takes you through the history of how Big Pharma bought the 'science' from those days and continues to do so today. Every time there is a threat, there they are, a massively-rich global industry paying huge sums to corrupt the public's understanding and buying off politicians to install legislation which favours their products.

Ask any MEP, for example, and they will tell you that pharma lobbyists swarmed the EU during formulation of the Tobacco Products Directive in 2012, yet anti-smoking orgs concentrated hard on complaining about those from the tobacco industry who were outnumbered about 20 to 1.

If you've ever wondered why the tobacco control industry seems completely unconcerned about conflicts of interest arising from pharmaceutical grants yet strangely will scream at any hint that a researcher has even had a cup of tea with someone working for a tobacco company, well it's because many of the most powerful players in the tobacco control industry are trousering huge sums from the former, as Green highlights. Hardly any surprise, then, that there was indecent haste by tobacco controllers in the early years of e-cigs to kill the insurgent technology off as swiftly as was possible, it was only a groundswell of activist vapers who headed it off. But the corporate struggle goes on to this day, with the US being the focal point for a rearguard action to try to demonise anything that threatens pharma sales as the burgeoning e-cig market is doing very well.

Don't believe me? Well, take a pew and watch both parts of this. A short history of how Big Pharma has paid for 'science', legislation and - ultimately - global public perception in the smoking and nicotine debate, none of which has anything to do with health, but lots to do with a manufactured market spat over nicotine driven by big stinking corporate profits.

Once again, as I have revelled in many times before, new nicotine products are revealing the corruption and cant that had previously gone unnoticed in the war against tobacco. A spotlight is increasingly being shone on the unrepentant cockroaches in the tobacco control scam like never before. Long may it continue.

With the direction of travel heading towards acceptance of safer nicotine alternatives for those who choose to quit, it's fair to question the true motivation of those last die-hard defenders of 'quit or die', don't you think?

H/T @Twigolet