Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Out With The Old ...

So we come to the end of another year - the sixth that this blog has operated in - full of highs and lows in equal measure.

On a personal and business level, this year has been the most challenging and troublesome that I can ever remember so I'm ecstatic to see the back of it. Fortunately, 2014 promises (at this very early stage) to be far more rosy, fingers crossed. It is these work pressures which have led to fewer articles being posted here than in previous years, though it's very heartening that there has been an increase in readers nonetheless; this year attracting more traffic than any previously and July in particular setting a new record for the number of unique visitors in a month.

As far as matters concerning us here, though, the announcement that plain packs was being shelved back in May stands out as a Champagne moment, as does the scrapping of minimum alcohol pricing - only to be countered by facepalm strokes of stupidity such as the spineless (or politically inspired, as some believe) decision by the coalition to re-consider the former, and the transparently pathetic war against e-cigs by the EU and MHRA.

However, one thing has become crystal clear during 2013 in my humble opinion, and that is that the tax-leeching public health industry's accelerating extremism is increasingly being recognised - by a wide variety of previously uninterested people - as being a threat to the public's calm enjoyment of little pleasures in life and also as having little to do with health. That, I think you'll agree, is entirely a good thing for those of us on the side of the angels, and a mood-swing that I hope continues in 2014.

Tonight the Puddlecotes are off out to an old-fashioned house party - kids all collected upstairs with their new Christmas gadgets, adults enjoying a raucous smokey-drinky downstairs, floating towards midnight on a river of beer, spirits, wine and cocktails. And it's only up the road so a mere tenner cab fare there and back. I can't think of a better way of ringing in the new or - in my case - sticking two fingers up to the old.

Thanks to everyone who has swung by this corner of the internet this year, a Happy New Year to all of you from Puddlecoteville. Have a great evening!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Debauchery And Gluttony: The True Spirit Of Christmas

I'm late on this since that Christmas thing has been intruding, but after doing a bit of catching up on my reading, I can heartily recommend you listen to a 13 minute recording over at Spiked (I'd have liked to have embedded it here but ...) discussing the miserablists who pop up around about this time every year.

Commenting on the joy-sucking snobbery exhibited by "left wing Scrooges" and "modern puritans" who see Christmas as a problem rather than something wonderful and life-enhancing, Brendan O'Neill draws historic parallels with the Church, Cromwell, and Dickensian dismissal of the poor as irresponsible plebs who should behave and know their place. All while pointing out that hedonistic over-indulgence has a far greater claim on December than anything the charmless and anti-social amongst us might wish we'd comply with.

This quote in particular chimed with me ...
"There is a huge chasm today between ordinary people and - I don't know what you want to call them, the chattering classes, the liberal elite, the political class, whatever we want to call them - there is a huge gap between these two constituencies"
... considering it's similar to what I was saying on Friday.

Do go have a listen in full, and then remember that the true spirit of Christmas ain't quite over until the last booze and Quality Street runs out or the darts finishes on TV, whichever is the latter.

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Political Enemy

Via an excellent rant at Longrider's place (do go read), this is hardly surprising, is it?
Nearly half of Britons say they are angry with politics and politicians, according to a Guardian/ICM poll analysing the disconnect between British people and their democracy. 
The research, which explores the reasons behind the precipitous drop in voter turnout – particularly among under-30s – finds that it is anger with the political class and broken promises made by high-profile figures that most rile voters, rather than boredom with Westminster. 
Asked for the single word best describing "how or what you instinctively feel" about politics and politicians in general, 47% of respondents answered "angry", against 25% who said they were chiefly "bored". 
Rage is the dominant sentiment across just about every sub-stratum of the electorate
And, do you know what? I don't think it will change any time soon while politicians are still engaged in a war on their employers (you know, us poor saps, the public) as highlighted by the IEA's Mark Littlewood back in September.
In order to give you a sense of the tide of possible regulation we face – not just from Brussels but homegrown –  let me just give you a heavily abridged list of policies that are currently on the agenda of the public health lobby. 
A minimum pricing for alcohol, plain packaging for tobacco, a twenty per cent tax on fizzy drinks, a fax tax, a sugar tax, a fine for not being a member of a gym, graphic warnings on bottles of alcohol, banning parents from taking their kids to school by car, a ban on gambling machines in betting shops, a ban on smoking in cars, a ban on anyone born after the year 2000 ever buying tobacco, a ban on the sale of hot food to children before 5pm, a ban on multi-bag packs of crisps, a complete ban on alcohol advertising, a ban on electronic cigarettes, a ban on menthol cigarettes, a ban on large servings of fizzy drinks and a complete ban on advertising any product at all to children. 
And these are just the policies proposed in the last few months.
All this on top of (also abridged) a ban on what publicans can allow on their property despite a government promise to the contrary; an internet filter because they personally don't like what you view online; arrests for joking on Twitter; banning supermarkets from placing sweets near a cashier; a refusal to allow a referendum on the EU - again, despite numerous promises; and even the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition competing to be the most eager to stop you eating a chocolate fucking orange.

If I knocked on my neighbours' doors on a daily basis telling them all that I demand them not to do, while simultaneously hacking their bank accounts and stealing their cash to pay for the time I spent doing so, I don't think I'd be very popular along the street, either.

So, finally, the public seem to be waking up and realising that these people are not there to serve our interests anymore; that it really is a war between MPs and everyday people; and that politicians are an enemy. A political enemy with its campaign HQs in Westminster and Brussels, working long and hard to shaft each and every one of us on a daily basis. About time, too.

Perhaps - and this might come as a massive surprise to most elected politicians who don't seem to realise that freedom is popular - a good way of reversing public opinion which places MPs alongside burglars, granny-muggers and vandals in popularity, would be for them to sit on their hands for a bit and stop passing law after ridiculous law specifically designed to ruin the way we freely choose to live our own lives.

If only they could then imagine committing to a New Year resolution to not be such utter bastards, eh? What a marvellous 2014 we could be in for then. I won't hold my breath though.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Drink! It's What The Baby Jesus Would Have Wanted

Previously, from the Office of National Statistics ...

ONS General Lifestyle Survey 2008:
Following an increase between 1998 and 2000, there has been a decline since 2002 in the proportion of men drinking more than 21 units a week, on average, and in the proportion of women drinking more than 14 units.
ONS General Lifestyle Survey 2009:
This trend seems to be continuing under the new methodology; between 2006 and 2009 the proportion of men drinking more than 21 units a week fell from 31 per cent to 26 per cent and the proportion of women drinking more than 14 units a week fell from 20 per cent to 18 per cent.
ONS General Lifestyle Survey 2010
The proportion of men drinking more than 21 units a week fell from 31 per cent in 2005 to 26 per cent in 2010 and the proportion of women drinking more than 14 units a week fell from 21 per cent to 17 per cent over the same period.
ONS General Lifestyle Survey 2011
The proportion of men who reported drinking alcohol in the seven days before interview fell from 72% in 2005 to 66% in 2011. Similarly, the proportion of women who reported drinking alcohol in the seven days before interview fell from 57% to 54% over the same period. In addition, the proportion of men who reported drinking alcohol on at least five days in the week before interview fell from 22% in 2005 to 16% in 2011. The proportion of women reporting drinking alcohol on at least five days in the week before interview fell from 13% to 9% over the same period. 
There is a downward trend in the proportions of men exceeding four units and women exceeding three units on their heaviest drinking day in the week before interview. The proportion of men exceeding four units on their heaviest drinking day was 41% in 2005 and 34% in 2011. The proportion of women exceeding three units was 34% in 2005 and 28% in 2011.
And now, the latest figures are in!
In 2012 58% of adults (people aged 16 and over) living in private households in Great Britain drank alcohol at least once in the week before being interviewed. This proportion has been declining both for men and women. Between 2005 and 2012 the proportion of men who drank alcohol in the week before being interviewed fell from 72% to 64%, and the proportion of women fell from 57% to 52%. 
The proportion of adults who drank frequently (those who drank alcohol on at least five days in the week before being interviewed) has also been declining. Between 2005 and 2012 there was a fall from 22% to 14% in the proportion of men who were frequent drinkers, and from 13% to 9% in the proportion of women.
All in all, more real news which you won't hear from the legions of state-funded prohibitionists who constantly try to pretend we are embroiled in a mythical unprecedented booze epidemic.

Therefore, on such a fine Christmas Day, via @OldMudgie, might I suggest you take heed of this sensible advice from beer blogger Pete Brown.
Christ’s first miracle – if you believe that particular superstition – was turning water into wine at the wedding in Canaan. According to the Bible – and I think this is a fairly close translation from the original Hebrew – the saviour of mankind announced his presence on Earth by getting people shitfaced and showing them a good time. 
So don’t get drunk every day over Christmas. But do get drunk at least once. And tell our Puritan overlords that it’s what the Baby Jesus would have wanted.
Hear, hear! I'll drink to that..

Cheers! And Merry Christmas everybody!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Why E-Cigs Will Continue To Be Attacked In 2014

Over at the Ashtray blog, some have been predicting what will happen to e-cigs in 2014.

It's easy to foresee, though, if you take note of what has gone before. Historian Victoria Berridge - in her book Marketing Health: Smoking and the Discourse of Public Health in Britain, 1945-2000 - was very clear about the principle. They're quite simply not going to be allowed.
The battle lines were drawn - as [former ASH chief in 1977] Simpson put it, "If there was such a thing as a safer cigarette, then there would be no need for ASH". The style and agenda of the organization was bound up with its stance of opposition to reduction of risk and in favour of its elimination. To achieve this necessarily pitted itself against industry interests, but also against sections of government which saw the way forward in cooperation and voluntary regulation.
These are the scriptures which public health ideologues adhere to, and have done for decades. They ain't letting an impudent upstart like e-cigs break their rent-seeking modus operandi anytime soon. Not while the pursuit of prohibition pays.

E-cigs will continue to be maligned, lied about, attacked and prohibited for the simple reason that many tobacco controllers are not in the game for health reasons. It's never really been about health, y'see. They are merely perpetuating their own self-enrichment while they can still get away with it, aided by the most incompetent politicians this - or any other first world country - has ever been condemned to suffer.

May God rot them, every one.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Desperation Of E-Cig Prohibitionists

The massed ranks of vested interests - financial and moral - lined up against e-cigs have come up with some pretty lame and laughable "justifications" for banning them so far, but I think we have found a clear winner for the title of the most pathetic.
I can almost hear the e-cig enthusiasts now: "But vaping is totally harmless! You can't even smell it! It's just water vapor!" But let's be honest. It's a little bit gross. If you've ever walked through a cloud of second-hand vapor, you're breathing in tiny little water droplets that were just inside some stranger's body.
I take it, then, that - rather than venture out in public on a cold winter day - this neurotic chimp hides away indoors for fear of all that visible breath drifting close to him.

Obama: "a little bit gross"
This is such desperate stuff that I almost pity the effete jerk.

Friday, 20 December 2013

World Begins To Realise It's Not About Health

It was back in 2010 when I first mentioned the potential of e-cigs to show up the tobacco control industry and their lapdog politicians for what they really are, instead of the caring health-conscious professionals they pretend to be. I've said the same many times since, like this in very early Jan 2012.
To put it bluntly, any anti-smoking organisation who continues to act against e-cigs are openly admitting that they have no care for smokers' health (as if they ever did), and that can only be a good thing. 
The sooner they are seen as the prohibitively costly, self-serving tax leeches that they are, feeding the prejudices of the most obnoxious in society, warping social fabrics worldwide, while delivering little by way of net health benefits, the better for all concerned. 
The game's afoot for 2012, and I for one be watching developments with great interest.
As we approach 2014, the developments don't require any keen watching cos they're everywhere; the tobacco control industry has all but dropped the charade that their role is anything else but the professional application of good, old-fashioned moralising prohibitionism. And people are, indeed, waking up to this fact.

Thanks to New York's inclusion of e-cigs into their smoking ban, visitors to Reddit - usually comprised mostly of left of centre, big state-loving hipsters who quite like a ban on other people's vices - have experienced scales falling from their eyes like plasterwork from a 112 year old London theatre roof. Here are some crackers from the 2200+ agitated comments in /r/news.
We come up with the first realistic alternative to smoking tobacco in the history of mankind, successfully remove all harmful chemicals in it spare nicotine, and within less than 10 years we already have bans in place to prevent its use. Utterly disgusting. 
If we accept this line of reasoning on e-cigs, then it becomes precedence. We can't have reasoning like this become precedence because then it could be stretched to pull shit like banning and passing more ridiculous shit. 
The guy said that he didn't want e-cigarettes to become socially acceptable.
So it's not about health, it's about feelings. What a turd. 
10 years ago when the indoor smoking bans started getting passed there were people who said that it set a bad precedent. But people responded by saying, "Nope. Never. This is a public health issue. And we would never, ever pass a law like this if it wasn't a public health issue." (And I would agree with those people.)
But here we are. And now we really are setting a really dangerous precedent. 
I was under the impression that the "smoke" that comes out of e-cigarettes is just water vapor. If that is the case, this makes no sense at all, given that the primary goal of cigarette laws in New York is to reduce passive smoking. 
Proof that the anti-smoking movement is less about the health impacts of smoking and more about a moral crusade. 
So the smoking ban clearly had nothing to do with second hand smoke did it? 
I haven't smoked a single cigarette in my life and I hate second-hand smoke. If people start smoking beside me on a bench in a park, I stand up and leave (not without giving them an evil look).
This law is bullshit. E-Cigarettes are way better than most of the odors you can encounter in a crowded city and there are no known negative health effects.
And so on, and so on.

I think we could all see this coming a mile off. E-cigs were always going to separate the clever/altruistic anti-smokers (who realise opposing e-cigs is daft and exposes them as extremists) from the politically stupid and/or pharma-conflicted ones. Or, as a Facebook friend of mine put it this morning:
Lovely, if they carry on like this the Tobacco Control Industry is going to disappear up its own arsehole. They just keep making themselves look more and more ridiculous.
Don't they just.

But so do politicians. Despite almost universal derision and condemnation from the public over the New York ban, the vote wasn't even close, 43 in favour and only 8 against! The polar opposite of the will of the people and a stark demonstration that New York legislators are as out of touch with the public as it is possible to be. And we can say the same on this side of the pond about the idiots at the MHRA.

Despite my predicting this, I truly believed that they'd have wised up by now and am amazed that they think they will be respected for continually promoting such transparent poppycock. But hey, who am I to object? With each passing day, they further destroy their credibility while simultaneously confirming that it is we who have always been on the side of the angels, not them.

Great, innit?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

How Times Change

Behind the bike sheds; in the copse at the far end of the playing field; in the outside toilet block. They were the archetypal hiding places when kids surreptitiously smoked at school (or still do).

If you got caught, it was detention, 100 lines, a couple of sides on your least favourite subject. Maybe a letter to your parents if you were really unlucky.

So, consider this real life conversation, overheard by one of the little Ps at her school today.
B: So why did you get an e-cig?
A: Mr Jackson (the head teacher) caught me smoking in the school grounds.
B: {gasp}Where?
A: Behind the sports hall where I thought no-one could see.
B: What did he say?
A: That I'm lucky not to be kicked out already, but if I'm caught again, that's it!
So, what's your position? Appalling evidence that kids are using e-cigs? Or great that kids are reducing harm by using e-cigs?

Neither. The conversation was between two teachers.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Remote Control Government

In the week that the Ashes were surrendered to Australia, it's perhaps fitting that responsibility for UK policy appears to have been meekly delegated to the Aussies too.

In January, The Times reported that some are more equal than others when it comes to British government public consultations. Y'see, if you're Australian, you even get to tinker with the timeframes.
Anne Milton, then Health Minister, said on July 5 that the Department of Health’s three-month consultation was to be extended until August 10 to “make sure everyone who wants to contribute can”.

That same day an Australian official in the Department of Health and Ageing wrote to the Department of Health requesting a two-week extension to the July 10 deadline so that Australia’s Minister for Health could sign off the submission. 
“We are currently going through the clearance process for the submission at a time when several of our key ministers are absent on leave or work-related travel, during a break in the parliamentary sitting period,” correspondence released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals. “I am sure that our Health Minister, the Hon Tanya Plibersek, MP, would welcome the opportunity to personally sign off the submission, if at all possible. To achieve this, we will require an extension, due to her short absence. 
“Accordingly, would you or the relevant area responsible for the consultation, be willing to approve a two-week extension until Tuesday 24 July? Alternatively, can you suggest a timeframe that would be acceptable?” 
Later that day, an e-mail was sent by the Department of Health’s tobacco programme manager to the Australian Government, and others, explaining that the deadline had been extended.
Fast forward to the present day, and we see from Sir Cyril Chantler's method statement of how he is running the newly-announced stitch-up review of plain packs, that he's donning a cork-rimmed hat and popping down to the sandpit personally.
“My review is not concerned with legal issues, such as competition, trade-marking and freedom of choice” 
“Nor will it consider issues such as the overall economic impact of standardised packaging on tobacco producers, retailers or associated industries.”
But ...
“I intend to undertake a visit to Australia and to take account of the experience of standardised packaging in that country.”
Now, we've experienced the public consultation becoming the public sector consultation before, many times, including the suppression of the wrong kind of responses. However, I don't think we've yet come across a consultation which cuts out the UK altogether!

All these responses are to be ignored ...

... as are - to be fair - all rigged studies produced by tobacco control industry tax spongers during the consultation.

But, yet again, Australia gets top seat at the table.

Who is this plain packs charade being run by, and on behalf of again? The British people, or vainglorious empire builders in Canberra and Sydney?

For more, I highly recommend you read "Does the government understand the meaning of "independent"?" at The Free Society.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Reactions To #EUEcigBan And ... Farage The Vaper?

Last night's EU 'deal' on e-cigs is still not set in stone, but it's interesting to see the differing reactions from the serious parties (I exclude Labour and the Greens from this because they are astoundingly ignorant on the matter).

Lib Dem Chris Davies seems to be largely happy!
Remember that we started off with the European Commission insisting that e-cigs should be classified as pharmaceuticals, and subject to expensive approval procedures and a host of regulations and restrictions in different countries. 
Almost all governments backed this stance.
So although the European Parliament voted for a different approach MEPs have had an uphill battle to get their wishes accepted. 
The deal negotiated between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers is not perfect (they never are). I would have preferred to see less regulation on concentrations and volumes, but when compared to the initial proposals I think our negotiating team have done a fantastic job.
Hmm, debatable.

For example, my own e-cig would be banned, as would the liquid I use and the bottles I buy it in. I would also not be able to mix my own liquid, and others who haven't yet found out about vaping would have trouble knowing much about it since "advertising will also be severely restricted". Apart from that, it's a stonking result!

Martin Callanan of the Conservatives is more forthright.
“This is a perverse decision that risks sending more people back to real, more harmful, cigarettes. 
“Refillable e-cigarettes would almost certainly be banned, and only the weakest products will be generally available. As many smokers begin on stronger e-cigs and gradually reduce their dosage, making stronger e-cigs harder to come across will encourage smokers to stay on tobacco. 
“E-cigarettes have helped people give up tobacco. They are not completely safe and they may need regulation but they are a great deal safer than cigarettes and this agreement will make them harder for smokers to obtain. 
“The fight is not over. National governments and the parliament plenary must still endorse this deal. We will continue to fight for sensible and proportionate regulation of e-cigarettes. 
“The EU keeps talking the talk on producing more sensible legislation. This legislation shows it clearly isn’t walking the walk. Thousands of e-cigs users have contacted me, and I will keep fighting for them until the last minute.”

While Ukip seem to have trumped the lot. Not just with an unequivocal condemnation ...
“This will lead to another ridiculous ban from the EU on the majority of e-cigarettes which are better for the health of smokers and for British manufacturers of e-cigarettes. 
“The EU should not be putting restrictions on a safer alternative to smoking. 
“E-cigarettes have been a lifeline for many people but this agreement will have the draconian effect of driving more 'vapers'* back to full tobacco cigarettes. 
“While the EU talks about guaranteeing direct subsidies to European tobacco growers from the EU budget, I suspect it also has its beady eye on the loss of tax revenues to national governments as people switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes. 
“If the EU was truly interested in people’s health it would be helping to popularise rather than restrict e-cigarettes.”
... but also with a video of Farage admitting that even his 'incorrigible' smoking self could be tempted!

Nige the vaper? Please no!

Still, it would be churlish to set one against the other too much seeing as they have all - in their own way - admirably resisted disgraceful attempts by the tobacco control industry and their well-funded allies to destroy e-cigs.

It's rather more telling that the only factions desperately scrambling to protect Big Pharma and Big Tobacco profits on this issue are ... big industry-hating Labour and the Greens.

Says a lot, that.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Daily Mail Reports Results Of A Study Which Hasn't Started Yet

It looks like the Daily Mail group is ending 2013 in the same shoddy fashion as they started it.

Back in January, the Mail on Sunday published an appalling article on e-cigs which they were forced to retract by the Press Complaints Commission.
A Health article on January 27 said some experts believe electronic cigarettes can be more harmful than real ones. In  fact we are not aware of any experts who hold this view compared to the risks of cancer, heart disease and lung damage from real cigarettes. We apologise for any contrary suggestion.
That particular pile of trash was written by an appallingly incompetent journalist called Susannah Butter. But, incredibly, the Mail seems able to boast another equally bungling, substandard hack in the form of Emma Innes.

She wrote an article along almost identical lines which was published on Friday.
'E-cigarette smokers inhale MORE nicotine and toxins than regular smokers': Study finds 'users are unknowingly inhaling' a host of dangerous chemicals 
Researchers at New York University found that due to the ‘frequency of puffing’ and ‘depth of inhalation’ e-cigarette smokers absorb higher levels of harmful chemicals than those who smoke traditional cigarettes. 
Dr Deepak Saxena, associate professor of basic science and craniofacial biology, said: ‘The issue is urgent as a recent survey conducted among students at eight U.S. colleges found that 12 per cent of e-cig users had never smoked a conventional cigarette.’ 
‘Due to the frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation, and length of vaping,’ says Dr Xin Li, ‘e-cig users may actually absorb higher concentrations of nicotine and other toxins than conventional tobacco smokers.’
Emma didn't care to provide a link for this ground-breaking new study in order that we can study the data. But that's probably because there quite simply isn't any.

Her source looks to be nothing but a press release from New York University College of Dentistry (emphases mine).
Deepak Saxena, associate professor of basic science and craniofacial biology, and Xin Li, assistant professor of basic science and craniofacial biology, both at the College of Dentistry, are working to close the gap between marketing and science by using oral cavity and various systems biology approaches to reveal the health impact of e-cigs. The FDA and the American Lung Association have cautioned that e-cig users are unknowingly inhaling vaporized chemicals including diethylene glycol. “The issue is urgent,” notes Saxena, “as a recent survey conducted among students at eight U.S. colleges found that 12 percent of e-cig users had never smoked a conventional cigarette.”
Hmm, sounds familiar, huh? In fact, you'll find all Emma's other quotes in there too, just before this final para.
Since the initial interaction of nicotine from e-cigs with the human body occurs first in the oral cavity, Saxena and Li will collect saliva and oral mucosa from College of Dentistry patients who are e-cig users to determine the relative abundance of oral bacteria and changes in DNA in these patients in order to compare them with the effects found among conventional cigarette smokers.
So, this is just an announcement of a study which will take place in the near future, not - as Emma states - one that has already concluded and declared results.

Now, it's clear that Saxena will be determined to find that e-cigs are bad, because he seems to dislike them despite having only scant knowledge of what they are. This is made crystal clear by this radio discussion - laughably titled "understanding e-cigarettes" - where he exhibits his ignorance in many ways, including describing e-cig use as "vapping".

However, when the study is finally published, debate about its claims can begin, but that time really isn't now.

This is a new low for junk journalism about junk science. We're now very well used to "science by press release" whereby conclusions are sent to the press before biased research has been peer-reviewed and published - if, indeed, it is ever published. But at least the studies have normally been completed before some ignorant hack pumps out their garbage.

Emma Innes has just told the world about conclusions from a study which hasn't even started yet and, as such, I expect her lies to round off the Daily Mail's year with another humiliating retraction.

Snowdon offered some good advice on this yesterday.
You can contact the Press Complaints Commission here. I encourage you to do so.
And so do I.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Sponsor A Tobacco Controller Today

The sixth WHO anti-smoker "COP" conference takes place next year in Russia, and already plans are feverishly being made.

I hoped to make you aware of this via a puffer vid published on YouTube, but it seems to have been removed which you can view in the comments. Fortunately for our friendly global collective of finger-waggers, though, I had already screen-grabbed the last slide detailing a heart-rending appeal which I'm sure you'll find impossible to ignore.

You see, they might be awash with taxpayer cash and generous sponsorship from the pharma industry, but there are still a few finishing touches you can help with so that they can enjoy a trip of a lifetime.

Forget starving African kiddies; saving the polar bears; or palliative care for cancer sufferers, this is where your cash should really be going.

Sponsor a tobacco controller today!

But remember ... give an anti-smoker cash and they can nag you for a day; but give them the means to lay bricks or start a productive business, and they get the chance to stop sponging off of us and earn their own frigging money for a change.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Welsh Wibble

"The land of my fathers, and my fathers can have it" - Dylan Thomas
It seems we are seeing more idiotic harm reduction deniers emerging, this time in Wales.
[Dr Julie Bishop, consultant in public health for Public Health Wales said:] "Like regular cigarettes, e-cigs should be prohibited in workplaces, educational and public places to ensure their use does not undermine all of the good work that has gone into smoking prevention and smoking cessation by reinforcing or normalising the habit."
I take it we can now safely bin the idea that smoking bans had anything whatsoever to do with protecting bar staff, then?
PHW said that in response to "confusion about whether electronic cigarettes are harmful or helpful" it had reviewed the available evidence on e-cigs to help health professionals and the public.
The word 'help' is used here in its very loosest form, as their "position statement" makes very clear.
"E-cigs mimic smoking a cigarette and some of the promotional material appears like cigarette advertisements.  There is much more work to do but anything which may reverse the progress would be a risk to population health.”
It is sometimes staggering that this kind of codswallop is retched out by people who are paid - by our taxes, of course - to bang on about how very lethal smoking is. While talking about "risk to population health", they seem to have taken no consideration whatsoever of potential benefits to population health that e-cigs will undoubtedly bring.

I'd say that is criminally negligent of them, but I'm sure some court or other will settle that particular debate in the future ... hopefully bringing with it jail time for the most egregious of these clowns.

The rest just trots out the same lame - and increasingly recognised as desperate - arguments against the smoking population choosing its own way of consuming safer nicotine without any help from overpaid public sector rent-seekers like Bishop.
“Anything that could increase their appeal to children and young adults should also be avoided such as sweet flavourings or certain packaging."
Because kids should carry on rebelling with real tobacco instead of e-cigs. And if they smoke already? Well, carry on with the fags, boys and girls, better that than put a tobacco controller out of a job, eh?
“Scientific testing has shown that the amount of nicotine – which is a poison – and other chemicals varies widely between different brands of e-cigs."
Perhaps because there are hundreds of different types of e-cig, but all of them state clearly the level of nicotine in them, you naughty disingenuous pharma shills, you.
"There is no way for consumers to know exactly what they are putting into their body. This is because e-cigs are not licensed or regulated which makes it impossible to carry out accurate tests across the board to determine whether all e-cigs are effective and safe."
Ooh, you little liars! They're regulated under 21 different EU directives.
“By issuing advice to our partners and the public on the pros and cons of using e-cigs we are hoping to provide some clarity on this confusing issue so that we can help people understand why there is concern from a public health perspective.”
Pros and cons? I saw lots of fake cons, but not a single 'pro'. You'd think they had an agenda to adhere to, or something.
[Dr Pat Riordan, Director of the Health and Healthcare Improvement Division which runs Stop Smoking Wales, said:] “Nonetheless, the scientific evidence proves that by using behavioural support services like Stop Smoking Wales, which uses a range of tested nicotine replacement products, you are four times more likely to quit smoking than by willpower alone.” 
Ah, there it is.

As if this dinosaur view of nicotine policy is not bad enough, they have compounded things somewhat by today issuing a barrage of stark staringly ignorant tweets.

In your humble host's opinion, it's worth cataloguing these crass bleatings because, be in no doubt, there will be a reckoning at some not-too-distant time from now.

Still, Dr Riordan wants to make clear that her quango is not all bad.
"The last thing we want to do is alienate smokers who are using e-cigs in good faith as a part of their attempt to cut down or quit smoking."
Too late, cupcake, I think you've just done precisely that. Vapers are learning very quickly what duplicitous, self-serving and repulsive vermin you lot are and - I would venture - have always been.

Nice to be reminded that it's still not about health, though.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Shouldn't Be Allowed

If you ever needed an explanation as to how detached public health is from how we - the people who pay their wages remember - would like to live our lives, just keep an eye on their Twitter feeds.

Here are three examples from just one day.

It's not investment advice being given here, it's expressing disdain that popular products should be so successful. Something should be done about this, obviously.

Because the personal prejudices of a handful of extremists should trump the enjoyment of life by billions of people. Only organic quinoa farmers, owners of craft shops, and recycled tie-dye clothing vendors should succeed in this brave new world desired by George 'Scrooge' Monbiot and his swooning fans.

The poor can go hang too.

Many people like buying tobacco, hence the success of the product; and people definitely like the homeless being helped, especially if it comes through profits from stuff which is being bought anyway. That's a win/win in anyone's book (even some psycho anti-smokers) surely?

Not good enough for the public health industry, though. Better the homeless stay that way and decrease the surplus population rather than accept donations from the extremists' ever-growing list of unapproved legal sources.

And. lastly, how very dare businesses offer the public things they quite like!

Sweets? Popular fast food? Shocking, I tell ya', quite shocking! WH Smiths ought to be ashamed of themselves for understanding what their customers enjoy.

They should, instead, bow to the will of a tiny minority of insipid, joyless tax-spongers who think their Grinch-like view of the world merits taking money from the likes of WH Smiths ... and using it to destroy them.

Will politicians stand up for the public and tax-paying businesses on issues like this, or will they pander to the most intolerant, self-important and anti-social members of our society? Well, what do you think?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Cringeworthy Comedy At The Guardian

Via Timmy, do go read this hilarious claptrap at the Graun.
Nigel Farage's cigarettes are often depicted as one of the most appealing things about him. To date, his deployment of crafty or, occasionally, cheeky ciggies, while all around him conform to public health advice, has been a remarkably well-received token of his libertarian vision. Of course, his constant smoking is, first and foremost, a little guy demonstration that he is nothing like professional politicians – NB E Milband, D Cameron – who rarely invest in anything more than a lager to advertise their human DNA.
Well, yes. That's perhaps why his party is riding so high in the polls, no?

But this is but a poorly-attempted hatchet job - as remarkably well recognised by the derision from Guardian commenters below the line - so could only result in one denouement.
When Farage argues for zero interference by the nanny state, this inevitably makes him an unhealth campaigner – for lung cancer, for obesity and for an epidemic of diabetes, not forgetting his party's enthusiasm for higher speed limits, thereby adding thousands more to Ukip's morbidity targets.
Course it does, dear, because absurd leaps of logic are no longer for immature spotty teens. As Dan Hannan explains adriotly, they are for idiot adults too.
Without intending to, Bob was using the same line that trolls habitually do: “Unless you explicitly say X, we can all assume Y”. Every blogger, every Tweeter, will recognise the tactic.
Not our pitifully poor arroganza, though, she's obviously not aware of anything of the sort. She just motors down that intellectual cul-de-sac without a care whether she has a reverse gear or not.
Why Farage should be 100% in love with easeful death is anyone's guess, but, for pure, cautionary value, he could still be the best thing to happen to the nanny state since the foundation of the NHS.
Presumably why voters are deserting Ukip in droves; why mainstream politicians are enjoying historic levels of popularity; and the nanny state has never been more respected by the public.

Do go read. Watching the desperate furiously scraping barrels can be very funny sometimes.

UPDATE: Simon Cooke has written about this with more of a broadsheet inspection to my tabloid guffaw. Go visit there and read about the "especially unpleasant piece of ad hominem in The Guardian".

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Trust Me, I'm A Tobacco Controller

One of Brussels' more prominent tobacco control industry NGOs has been taking to Twitter this weekend to engage with vapers on the sticky problem of a TPD which includes ridiculous terms.

You can read the threads here, but you must remember that she is on your side, right? We know this because she keeps saying it.

Amongst all the convoluted explanations as to why the EU just can't drop their stupidity and leave us all alone, was this revealing contribution.
Because, you see, at the stroke of a pen smoking would then cease to exist. There is no point in history where prohibition hasn't worked brilliantly and, well, it makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

But worry not. Monika doesn't see e-cigs going far anyway.

Apparently, vapers should take the deal on offer in the Tobacco Products Directive or it's only going to get worse.
Just in case you don't know what that deal is currently:
- Allows only single-use cartridges.  No refillable units or tanks will be permitted
- Allows only flavours already approved for use in NRT
- Limits nicotine density to 20mg/ml maximum with no justification
- Limits nicotine content of any container to just 10mg/unit
- Bans all advertising in press or printed publications (except trade), on radio, TV and other audiovisual services and the internet
- Applies onerous and unnecessary warning, labelling and leaflet requirements that may be impractical and are disproportionate to risk deterring smokers who may wish to switch
- Bans cross border distance sales (internet etc)
- Allows only electronic cigarettes “that cannot be operated or opened by children” – something that does not actually apply to cigarettes and matches!
Those are just selected highlights, by the way, see the full list here, where the author points out:
Make no mistake, if implemented this proposal bans every product on the market today and would severely limit options for future products.
So how e-cigs are supposed to take off is anyone's guess. Under the current proposals, no-one would know they exist, if they were allowed to exist at all.

Monika's insistence that e-cigs should not be removed from the TPD and regulated separately has nothing whatsoever to do with the e-cig section stalling the TPD badly. Nope, and her extensive sympathetic Twitter chats over two days have nothing to do with the fact that vapers have been heavily noticeable on social media either. This process has been three years in the making, but there is nothing suspicious in Monika being best friend of the massed ranks of vapers just 10 days before a pivotal vote. She's on your side, remember?

She revealed something else too.
So smoking bans aren't about protecting bar staff after all then, just a European and global policy designed specifically to force smokers to quit? Glad she finally cleared that up.

There was some pathos on offer though. Please have your hanky ready.
Yes. After years of accusing any member of the public opposed to tobacco control of being a paid stooge of Big Tobacco - a tactic that is still used daily by people she defends elsewhere in her charm offensive - Monika doesn't like it much when the understandable accusations are turned back on her.

Oh per-lease. Cry me a river, lady.

To be fair, she explained a lot about why the EU is so intransigent. In short, they are paid to regulate, and regulate they will do, come hell or high water. Apparently, it's up to us to find a way of not being regulated as odiously as they would prefer.

There were, however, some points made which received no reply. EU NGOs seem to have no answer to what many would consider plain common sense.

Well, quite. Sadly, that's the kind of language Brussels eurocrats will never understand.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Sir Cyril Chantler's Review - What's In And What's Out

It's been very busy here in Puddlecoteville so I've just got round to commenting further (blog mascot intervention aside) on last Thursday's 'urgent question' debate invoked on plain packaging by Labour's Luciana Berger ... who, by the way, is a duplicitous self-shaming smoker herself.

Quisling Luciana says the evidence for plain packaging is "clear for all to see" despite it being drawn up by plain packaging advocates referencing their own junk science and assessed by more plain packaging advocates who were allowed to abandon impartiality by discarding globally recognised protocols, as admitted in the consultation impact assessment [pdf].
The latter two requirements suggested by Hora and van Winterfeldt (impartiality and lack of an economic or personal stake in potential findings) are considered impractical in this area, and so instead we will include a description of the participants’ employment and expertise for transparency.
As for the new review, we can look to the Lords to see how impartial it is likely to be.
Lord Patel (Crossbench)
My Lords, I declare an interest as a fellow of several medical royal colleges, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which have all previously backed, and continue to back, the argument that legislation should be brought forward to make cigarette packaging plain. I have spoken on many occasions in relevant debates under both this Government and the previous one and have tabled amendments to bring in legislation for the plain packaging of cigarettes. I have done so on the basis that the evidence is conclusive, as shown by both the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, that glamorised packaging is used by the industry to recruit young, new smokers. Now we have to wait until the evidence is produced by Sir Cyril Chantler. Disappointed though I am that we cannot legislate now, I can afford to wait a few months because I know that Sir Cyril Chantler, who is a friend, is a man of principle and will look at the evidence as it is.
Which, if we flick channels back the commons, is kinda confirmed by Jane Ellison herself.
"At present, we are strongly minded to introduce regulations under the affirmative procedure." 
"One of the reasons we asked a distinguished paediatrician to conduct the review, rather than someone from a public health background, was that he would be able to bring a fresh mind to it. Sir Cyril will set his own terms, which he will announce in the next few weeks."
This is Sir Cyril, friend of Lord Patel, one of the biggest advocates of plain packaging in either house? Hmm, puts a bit of pressure on the 'terms' to be encompassed, eh?

I know it's a long shot, but maybe he'll take economic, business, consumer and border control issues into account. Not according to Ellison, as apparently they're off limits.
Robert Halfon (Harlow, Conservative) 
I confess that I enjoyed a Henri Wintermans Café Crème after breakfast this morning on the way to work. Does my hon. Friend agree that there are many lawful smokers who want to be sure what they are buying? Has she made any assessment of the effect that plain packaging could have on the black market by making it easier to smuggle counterfeit cigarettes? 
Jane Ellison (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Battersea, Conservative) 
That point came up during the consultation. To be clear, the review that we have asked Sir Cyril to undertake will cover the public health aspects of the policy.
So you're aware of the consultation then, Jane. That's good, because there were half a million people who submitted responses opposing the policy in what was the largest public consultation reaction this country has ever seen. Sir Cyril will surely be taking that into account, yes?
"The review is not a public consultation. The Government ran a full public consultation in 2012 and the responses will be available in full for the review. To maximise transparency, the Department will also publish the substantive responses received as soon as possible."
Well, at least it looks like he will be given the full picture from the consultation, which is encouraging to hear. Interesting, also, that the formal responses will be published too.

The detailed responses were mostly from state-funded departments; fake charities; single interest pressure groups; and other professional 'stakeholders', although we did have a good go at it ourselves, with many of you sharing by e-mail. Once these responses are all out in the open, we can have a good look at how this "evidence" rigging was treated by the tobacco control industry.

It would be nice if Sir Cyril was also told how plain packs advocates encouraged the submission of multiple responses; told bare-faced lies to politicians; and attempted to secretly exclude any public objections to the policy, but I can guess that he will be oblivious to all that.

So, is this a stitch-up, clever politicking or - the rank outsider - a genuine attempt to discover the truth? I'm still none the wiser, whaddya reckon?

Incidentally, fellow jewel robber Tony W helpfully answered my plea for a recording of Ellison misrepresenting the consultation outcome on Radio 5 Live. Here it is.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


Put-down of the week comes from Andrew Griffiths, Tory MP for Burton, in reply to a Labour member's hypocrisy about helping pubs.
"I am always prepared to listen to anything that might support the great British pub, but as the hon. Gentleman is from the party that introduced the hated beer duty escalator and the smoking ban, he needs to think long and hard about what he can do to support British pubs."

Never forget. Never forgive.

More Cameron Quote Fun

Following on from the astonishing claim made on the Conservative Party website about David Cameron's philosophy, Dave Atherton spotted another stunner from 2009.
"In his speech at the Open University in Milton Keynes, Mr Cameron said a 'massive sweeping, radical redistribution of power', including a curb on the power of the Premier, was needed to halt social breakdown.  
He sought to channel what he called the 'terrible but impotent anger' voters feel when confronted by nanny state officials who are 'self-serving, not serving us'." 
"We rage that, as we go about our business, we are picked and poked and bossed around, annoyed and irritated and endlessly harassed by public and private sector officialdom that treats us like children with rules and regulations and directives and laws that no one voted for, no one supports, but no one ever seems to be able to do the slightest thing about.”
Yes, I do believe this is the same David Cameron who now wants to filter the internet, impose minimum alcohol pricing, and is reviewing plain packs.

Fancy that!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

So Who Is Actually In Charge Then?

The Conservative Party website seems to have been hacked.
David Cameron's philosophy has always been making sure people are in control and that politicians are their servants, not their masters. His belief in social responsibility, not state control, as the best way to solve problems is already evident in the decisions he has made since the General Election.
Yes, it really does say that!

If It's Good Enough For Alcohol And Tobacco ...

There really is no end to this once the gate is opened.

Interestingly, this kinda ridicules Debs Arnott's point about advertising in her denial of the obvious plain packs domino theory which we are now seeing in real life.
[...] the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited.
Apart from the many 'signs' regularly hollered by the Royal College of Physicians, the BMA and Alcohol Concern, of course.

When there is a tobacco template in existence, no self-respecting prohibitionist would ever hesitate to follow it. All the more reason why the tobacco control industry should be cut off without a penny for the good of the country's future well-being.

H/T Moonrakin

Monday, 2 December 2013

Mascot Watch #26: Rose Amongst Thorns And Another Gong

The latest update on our esteemed mascot can only be properly served visually. Here is just a small exchange during Thursday's debate on plain packaging  (click to enlarge).

A policy which also encompasses concerns such as effects on UK retailers, international trade, brand recognition, consumer choice, intellectual property, border control, the nature of government lobbying government and corruption in state-funded evidence is apparently not complex to this screaming prohibitionist posing as a 'liberal'.

I will have a lot more to say on this when I get some time, but it's worth highlighting our Phil's pithy contributions to what you can probably imagine was a procession of idiot MPs who all think along similar lines to pillock Pugh.

You'll be delighted to learn that he also got his barbs in first at the start of the debate, before others contrived to retch up the usual policy-led bullshit spoon-fed to them by the tobacco control industry and their equally mendacious pals.
Idiotic, nanny state proposals such as the plain packaging of tobacco are what we expect from the Labour party. What we expect from Conservative Ministers is for them to believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility, and to stand up to the health zealots and nanny state brigade who, if they could, would ban everything and have everything in plain packaging. Will the Minister commit to sticking to those Conservative principles and to ignoring the nanny state brigade of Labour Members?
She didn't, of course.

To be continued.

PS Our Phil also collected his second Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year award last month.
The Parliamentarian of the Year was shared between the fifteen Tories who rebelled against statuary regulation of the press.
Yes, of course he was one of them. I have now duly amended the sidebar.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The First Indoctrinated Vaper?

Via the Economist, it looks like the incessant pharma-defending lies by tobacco control industry dinosaurs and the ignorant, anti-social intolerants they pander to may be having an effect on some vapers.
terrestri Nov 29th, 18:44 
As a vaporer myself, I see no reason not to enjoy them in the terminal, and have never been asked to stop by anyone, although I do get funny looks sometimes. Indeed at DFW and many other airports in the US stores happily sell them to people within the terminal at places like Hudson News and more. 
However, on aircraft, even though it's not really "smoking", some people's e-cigarettes have utterly disgusting "flavors" that are very smelly and annoying, especially when they just keep puffing away endlessly right next to you for hours. 
I do not abuse them, prefer to do it out of the sight of others (like the bathroom) seldomly and with non-flavored stuff so as to not annoy my fellow travelers. 
Unfortunately, the rest of humanity often is not respectful, either willingly or ignorantly. Therefore they will be eventually outright banned, and I can't say I'd protest. Nobody will put up with the mixture of endless smells of cotton candy from the left, red hots from the right, and expired chocolate from behind on an international flight. It's nauseating.
It's an easily recognisable attitude, most recently seen during Radio 5's vox pops of smokers outside a northern hospital when asked about NICE's recommendations for bullying smokers on NHS open spaces last Wednesday (and I quote, from here).
"Why come out for a smoke, why do you need a cigarette that much?"
"Because I'm addicted to smoking" 
"You're on the street outside the hospital, not in a smoking shelter at the moment, why is that?"
"Erm, smoke going back into hospitals, I don't want to be too close"
"But you're inhaling yourself, you obviously need to smoke still"
"Yeah, I'm addicted but nobody else should suffer cos of my addiction"
After swallowing every piece of wildly exaggerated tobacco control propaganda on offer, smokers self-shaming - even when being courteous and avoiding others - is a sad facet of modern life. Quite the opposite of the argument you'll have heard from many a smoke-hater that anyone using tobacco is champing at the bit to smack them in the mouth if asked to be courteous with their smoke.

So now - after the recent whirlwind of hysteria, misinformation and denormalisation tactics towards e-cigs - are we seeing the first ever vaping self-shamer too? Or do you reckon this could be another psycho anti-smoker in disguise?

You decide.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The BMJ Is "Anti-Science"

In October I reported on how the BMJ had discarded its integrity by refusing studies funded by the tobacco industry. I made a couple of observations.
[...] we've always been told how brilliant this peer review thing is, haven't we? Now, though, it is apparently shite - glad you cleared that up for us, BMJ. 
But their assertion that "the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways" is funnier than any comic could ever be seeing as they thought it perfectly acceptable to publish, in July, a study celebrating the astounding success of pharmaceutical products ... written by a panel with pharmaceutical funding interests as long as Peter Crouch's arms.
Interesting, then. that BAT's Chief Scientific Officer has seen fit to comment.
The BMJ’s new policy of banning consideration of scientific studies based on their source of funding is particularly disappointing in the light of the BMJ’s historical policy of encouraging robust scientific discourse independent of ideology. Ten years ago the BMJ was “passionately anti-tobacco” but also “passionately pro-debate and pro-science” and further commented that the type of ban recently instituted “would be anti-science”. Allegations of misconduct by the tobacco industry were cited at that time in support of a proposed ban that the BMJ rightly rejected. 
It is ironic that the BMJ has now revised its prior view.
Isn't it just?
It has been argued that tobacco harm reduction is potentially the world’s greatest public health opportunity today. To have this kind of impact, those with an interest must find pragmatic ways to work together to find solutions based on sound science. For this research to be disseminated widely, it will be important for the science publishing industry to retain an independent, critical, yet open approach.
Harm reduction, of course, includes e-cigs. One of the chief detractors of e-cigs is Mad Stanton Glantz, who was referenced in the BMJ's original statement of their intention to ignore everyone who offers an opinion differing with that of the public health Mafia.

How convenient, then, that this ban should take effect at a time when a global debate is raging about - you guessed it - harm reduction and, in particular, e-cigs. There has never been a time when it is more important to listen to all sides ... unless you're a publication wholly owned by the e-cig hating BMA, of course.
We have also noted statements you have made in relation to the peer-review process currently followed at the BMJ. It appears that the BMJ Editors are concerned with the effectiveness of their peer-review system. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Studies approved through peer review have long been the currency of scientific credibility. The reputation of the BMJ is clearly dependent on this capability functioning properly. Applying selective censorship does not aid in addressing fundamental problem, and separates the BMJ from journals of unassailable scientific integrity and relegates it to the class of journals that politicise science. 
We respectfully invite you to revisit your decision not to consider for publication any scientific studies funded by the tobacco industry on the basis that such a policy is, in the BMJ’s own words, “anti-science”. 
In other words, as I suggested, the BMJ has discarded its integrity and is nothing more now than a partial, rickety rag hopelessly compromised by its acceptance of pharma funded studies without question - while blackballing those funded by others - yet attempting to pretend it still possesses some semblance of calm, unbiased authority.

Such a shame.

You can read the response in full here.

Link Tank 30/11

Such a depressing week.

After cigs, will they ban jazzy designs on fruit pastilles?

New York may ban vaping because it looks like smoking

Why have we criminalised love?

Brand-free packs, brand-obsessed parties

France set to ban coloured tattoo ink

“Simply put, the Xbox One is a gateway for porn of the future”

"Fast casual" Canadian restaurant to serve posh KFC

Don't worry, be happy - because it wards off diseases

Why pirate sites could soon be disappearing all over Europe

The world's most amazing tree houses (pic)

Crustacean invasion

Thursday, 28 November 2013

It's Like Christmas Eve For Nick Clegg

Personally, the news of another review of plain packaging looks like a stitch-up to me.

It is being conducted - in double quick time, we are told - by Sir Cyril Chantler, a paediatrician who is bound to believe all the rigged evidence or else he'll be ostracised by the rest of the public health Mafia. There is also the small matter of "enabling legislation" so that if a green light is given, plain packs can be on your shelves before you can say '20 Benson and Hedges please'.

However, others seem to think it's just a bit of politicking, see here from Simon Clark and here at ConHome. I was also taken to task by a lifelong Tory friend on Facebook, and a fellow jewel robber in Westminster commented via e-mail that "interesting politics are going on here ... pressing ahead just before or after next May's elections would be pretty unwise".

They may have a point, who knows? I suppose it would explain why Andy Burnham has been less than happy today despite Labour's wildest dreams of sticking it to the working classes apparently coming true.

And, it surely can't have escaped the coalition's attention that the public really can't be bothered to get excited about plain packs, as the public consultation showed.

Or maybe it did. Because Health Minister Jane Ellison - following on from Anna Soubry as the DoH's latest Nicola Murray - claimed on Radio 5 this morning (from 2:16:00 here*) that:
"When we did the consultation in the summer, actually, it was more in favour of going ahead"
Utter nonsense, of course, which was contemptuously corrected by the IEA's Mark Littlewood immediately after she'd finished waffling. But it is interesting that, despite the largest response to a public consultation in the history of the UK government, the results should be so badly represented.

What she was restricting her commentary to were the 'detailed responses', rather than mentioning all who had expressed an interest. By that, she meant almost exclusively state-funded departments; fake charities; single interest pressure groups; and other professional 'stakeholders', rather than, you know, the public. The fact that the figures showed a tiny difference between those paid to spend their time writing, as against those of us who sent detailed responses on our own time should send a message to Ellison. If she received it, though, she isn't letting on.

Perhaps someone should point out that there is a 'public' bit in the term public consultation.

Anyway, sod all that, this tabloid guffer can't be doing with trying to analyse why politicians seem so resistant to listening to the public right now.

But perhaps there's a clue in the reaction of Nick Clegg. This was the most telling quote of the day for me (do go watch the video clip).
"We have an open mind as a government on this, and if the evidence from the review emerges in favour of plain packaging, which I hope it will, it's a measure we would then proceed with".
He's like a kid at Christmas, isn't he?

Not "I hope it shows that we don't need to interfere", not "I hope, as a liberal, that more rules will be unnecessary".

Nope, Nick can't wait to get started. He is crossing his fingers and praying that he will be able to take business away from the packaging industry; desperate to see gratuitous gore become a part of everyday life; and almost coming in his pants at the prospect of causing inconvenience to retailers.

If the review were to find that there is no need for legislation, I guess he would be right pissed off. And even if the review found that plain packs harmed kids rather than deterring them, he'd presumably be frustrated and depressed. Because he was so looking forward to banning something, so he was.

This is the same Clegg, remember, who wanted to ""roll back the power of the state" and "restore British liberties" with the Freedom Bill that went nowhere.

What a pathetic mess politicians manage to contrive every day, eh?

* And if anyone cares to record that lie and stick it on Soundcloud or something for posterity, I'd be grateful.