Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween: A Time For Witches

As you alternate between watching TV and answering the door to cute fancy-dressed, gruesomely made-up little 'uns bearing sweet-collecting receptacles, how about I recount a proper scary tale for you on this Halloween, eh?
A station manager told in Fargo that a woman identified as Cheryl called into the Y-94 morning program saying that she wanted to make a stand against obesity during Halloween. Her idea? Give children who had extra pounds on them a letter instead of a sweet treat. 
"You (sic) child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season," the letter reads. "My hope is that you will step up as an adult and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits."
No, she really did. Look.

Because, what else is Halloween for if not an opportunity for being a righteous arsehole and upsetting kids?

This is Michelle Obama's model citizen, it would seem, since she decided to spend her time in the White House feeding the prejudices of people like this. It's not that Michelle's policies created Cheryl, it's just that modern politicians around the world have nurtured her natural mean-spirited interfering nature towards others. She has always thought this, but never dared to be so brazen for fear of public disdain, but now the WHO and the public health industry are in charge, Cheryl is a righteous freedom figher and not anymore a disgusting crone which society used to rightly despise.

She is the kind of pinch-nosed witch similarly encouraged by tobacco control industry CEO John Banzhaf back in 2010.

When government and NGOs make the private lives of the population into something that everyone is allowed to comment upon; when they describe your children as everyone's children, this is the deeply anti-social and eagerly sadistic individual they inspire.

The evil walk among us, ladies and gentlemen, and they grow daily stronger, and more disgusting, with every motivational speech uttered by public health-mesmerised political fuckwits.

Happy Halloween, everybody. Don't have nightmares, now will you? The demons are not in your dreams any more.

Mwaha, mwahaha, mwahahahahahahahahahaha, hehehehe, he.

UPDATE: Of course, if you are one of the aforementioned witches, you may want to check out Julia's article for some notes on who to call if direct action isn't your kind of thing.

via Lenore

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Minimum Alcohol Pricing Flops

I think I'm starting to feel a bit sorry for the automatons blindly advocating in favour of minimum alcohol pricing. Because you see, as campaigns go, it has been a bit of a comic failure.

Quite apart from the fact that it is illegal under EU precedent, the whole idea has been hampered from the start as if deliberately so by a higher being.

The Sheffield University report was, in itself, already policy-led rubbish, but when a BBC Panorama episode had to be pulled from iPlayer last year, the incompetence of the temperance lobby's lead researchers was laid brutally open to ridicule.
The School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield has confirmed to Panorama that unfortunately, due to human error, figures they produced specifically for the programme Old, Drunk and Disorderly?  broadcast on 10th September 2012 were incorrect.  The figures are in fact 4-5 times lower than those originally given to Panorama. The University emphasised the human error was wholly on their part and has apologised unreservedly to the BBC.
Then came the news that the level of reduction in consumption predicted by Sheffield is being exceeded by the drinks industry's responsibility deal without any need for regulation.

Support from public health's usual stalwarts then dried up as Left Foot Forward took the unusual step of agreeing with Boris Johnson that evidence for minimum pricing is a nonsense, quickly followed by the lefty New Statesman agreeing that it is a fact that it would have "a disproportionate effect on the poorest".

As if that wasn't enough, Sheffield were then forced to revise their predictions downward in July. Their 2009 report proudly declared a 45p unit price to deliver a 4.3% reduction in consumption, which became a 1.6% reduction once they'd found someone more competent to have their turn with the calculator. This was a bit embarrassing, as you can imagine, hence why the 2009 offering was quietly spirited off of the internet.

By this time, you could probably excuse Sheffield Uni's finest junk scientists for feeling glum, as this leaked photo from their office at the time shows.

Their bad luck just keeps a-coming though. This, from the BBC today.
The world is facing a wine shortage, with global consumer demand already significantly outstripping supply, a report has warned. 
The research by America's Morgan Stanley financial services giant says demand for wine "exceeded supply by 300m cases in 2012". 
The authors say they "expect the current production shortfall to culminate in a significant increase in export demand, and higher prices for exports globally".
Of course there will be higher prices, it's what happens when supply is short and demand is high.

And when the price of even the cheapest bottle of wine moves past the most politically palatable of Sheffield's minimum pricing suggestions - as looks very likely - it will be just one more example of the market taking care of things, and another valid reason to ignore the wowsers entirely.

I dunno, maybe God just hates miserable nannies as much as we do.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

"Going Beyond The New Directive"

A couple of weeks ago, this is what a government spokesman said of e-cigs following the very sensible rejection by the EU of medical licensing.
Earl Howe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Quality), Health; Conservative) 
My Lords, [...] we are disappointed that the Commission’s proposal to regulate nicotine-containing products, including e-cigarettes, as medicines was not supported by the European Parliament. We believe that these products need to be regulated as medicines and we will continue to argue for this during further negotiations. 
It is undoubtedly true that we can never do enough to raise our game on smoking cessation measures, one of them being nicotine-containing products. 
My Lords, our position is clear: e-cigarettes should be regulated as medicines. These products need to be regulated for safety and quality, one of the reasons being that, as medicines, we can more effectively control their sale to children and the way that they are advertised and promoted. 
My noble friend is right. E-cigarettes certainly have the potential for being a force for good in helping smokers to quit. At the same time, we do not want them to become a gateway into smoking.
Just as an aside, this is indeed the same Earl Howe who happily references tobacco control propaganda denying that a single pub has closed because of the smoking ban; who was in favour of plain packaging of tobacco by the end of 2011 with his puppet-master Debs Arnott viewing from the gallery; and who held clandestine meetings with CRUK to discuss plain packs while the {cough} impartial consultation was still ongoing.

In short, he's firmly in the pocket of pharma lobbyists.

Yesterday, new Under-Secretary of State Jane Ellison revealed a little more about the government's approach to the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) including this on e-cigs.
We are currently considering the detailed amendments that the European Parliament would like to make. We were disappointed that the Parliament did not support the regulation of nicotine-containing products as medicines. We believe that the medicines regulatory regime, applied with a light touch, is the best fit for these products. Although I cannot say too much more about that now, we recognise that there is a lively ongoing debate on that subject, and it is one that we are engaged in.
Indeed they are. Because, you see, they didn't think the TPD was dictatorial enough!
We want member states to have the flexibility to make further progress on domestic tobacco control measures in certain key areas, potentially going beyond the new directive, and we have been helping to shape the final text of article 24 to try to achieve that as an objective.
Presumably this means striving to ensure that the MHRA - a body only last year described as "an organisation whose activities are entirely financed by a levy from the pharmaceutical industry" - are free to classify e-cigs as medicines regardless, and for the government to ignore half a million of its electorate (or 64% of those they consulted) by introducing evidence-free plain packaging.

Indeed, preserving this sovereign 'freedom' was precisely what motivated Ellison's predecessor Anna Soubry to usurp democratic parliamentary process by voting on the TPD without consulting the EU Scrutiny Committee as she was supposed to do back in the summer.

It doesn't seem to matter whether you're a smoker or a vaper, Howe, Ellison and their Department of Health chums will do pharma-backed tobacco control's bidding whatever you or the EU think.

It comes to something when our own government is more extreme, unaccountable and undemocratic than the EU, doesn't it?

Monday, 28 October 2013

13 Years On ...

Back in 2000, the Economist reported on a new initiative from the World Health Organisation. We now know it as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

It decided that health was the only concern any citizen (or politician) should care about; that objections should be ignored entirely if from industry; and discarded as merely inconvenient noise if from the public. The debate, they declared, was over.
But critics of the convention charge that the WHO is not concerned with such debate. Rather, it is latching on to tobacco to foist a western agenda on to developing countries, and to advance a campaign of political self-aggrandisement. It is, they point out, spending its scarce resources on tobacco, which kills in later life people who have chosen to smoke, rather than concentrating on the infectious diseases that kill innocents in the developing world in their youth. They warn of “mission creep”, and say that once the WHO has corralled member states into regulating tobacco, then alcohol and fatty foods will be next. 
The WHO denies these charges but has itself noted: “The success or failure of this approach provides a test case for the more active involvement of the public-health community in international law-making.” Would more active involvement of that kind be such a good thing?
Just over a decade later, Chris Snowdon has written at Spiked about how this approach has now morphed into 'the disease of public health'. And yes, mission creep - as predicted - is now a reality.
An abridged list of policies that have been proposed in the name of ‘public health’ in recent months includes: minimum pricing for alcohol, plain packaging for tobacco, a 20 per cent tax on fizzy drinks, a fat tax, a sugar tax, a fine for not being a member of a gym, graphic warnings on bottles of alcohol, a tax on some foods, subsidies on other foods, a ban on the sale of hot food to children before 5pm, a ban on anyone born after the year 2000 ever buying tobacco, a ban on multi-bag packs of crisps, a ban on packed lunches, a complete ban on alcohol advertising, a ban on electronic cigarettes, a ban on menthol cigarettes, a ban on large servings of fizzy drinks, a ban on parents taking their kids to school by car, and a ban on advertising any product whatsoever to children.
I highly recommend you sit down with a beverage of your choice and read the whole thing.

This is the result of allowing health nutters - backed by big industry funders and state sponsorship from idiot politicians - to ignore debate and fill their pockets at the expense of your taxes and liberties.

No-one is immune, you're all smokers now.

Friday, 25 October 2013

New Study Finds No Evidence For Plain Packaging

Well, that's what the study - feverishly tweeted by increasingly barrel-scraping tobacco controllers this week - should have reported, but then that would have ruined the pre-determined outcome.

The University of Surrey - or rather a PhD student they have just taken on - decided to look at cigarette adverts from 1950 to 2003. They concluded that packs have become far more glitzy than the bland boxes of yesteryear so are therefore a sinister plot by the tobacco industry to ensnare new smokers. Surrey Uni's Jane Ogden explains more.
Michaela Dewe - my PhD student at the University of Surrey - has just published an analysis of 240 print adverts randomly selected from the years 1950 to 2000 that appeared in the UK. The findings are pretty clear. Early adverts focused on men, women (even children), fun, health and the outdoors and the box was pretty much absent. 
But in later years as policies began to limit their advertising possibilities the box became more and more present; a dominant feature in the ads. So by the time all they had left was a box, everyone everywhere knew what each hint of colour or flash of word meant and the branding was complete.
Here is a perfect example.

Oh, sorry. I don't know how that got there, because we all know, don't we, that only tobacco companies have changed their advertising methods since the 1950s to better emphasise branding. It hasn't been a shift in the advertising of consumer goods across every industry at all. How silly of me.

Anyhow, Jane carries on:
So can these boxes encourage people to change brands, to smoke more or even to start? We don’t know and have no hard evidence in our favour. But walk round any town centre and see how many people wear the adverts for their favourite brands splashed across their chests or stamped on the side of their trainers. “Gap”, “Superdry”, “Nike”, “Adidas” to name but a few, know that getting their consumers to be branded is far better advertising than a static billboard or a briefly flashed TV advert. Some people are seen as “cool”, “my age”, “at my school” and others will buy into what they buy.
So let's get this straight. Every industry from coffee to chocolate to clothing manufacturers value their brand, and therefore tobacco companies must be stopped from using theirs. Well that's a new one. It's like pointing at magpies and saying that cows should be banned cos they're kinda the same colour.

Still, apart from this Chewbacca defence, we're still no nearer any proper evidence, as Jane has already admitted and confirms later in the piece.
Our research doesn’t show that a branded box changes behaviour.
Which would kinda be the point if you're going to conclude that legislating for plain packaging is essential, doncha think?
But bit of common sense and a quick wander around the streets, while pondering the question “why don’t the tobacco industry want plain packaging”, seems a pretty good indication that plain packaging probably does.
Yes, tobacco companies - just like Nescafe, Bisto, Lynx deodorant and Kelloggs bloody corn flakes - believe that their brands are trusted by consumers and hope their product will be chosen instead of a competing one. That's the entire point of branding, as I tried to explain to Phil Rimmer, ASH's Business Manager (an ironic job title, I thought, considering he seems to know little about how business works) at Stephen Williams's Lib Dem Voice article last month.
Cigarettes are not like bread, just like bread is not like wristwatches and wristwatches are not like torque wrenches. But bread manufacturers will package their bread to attract attention to their bread instead of someone else’s bread; wristwatch makers will make their watches attractive to draw customers to their wristwatches instead of another company’s wristwatches, and torque wrench manufacturers will use innovative design elements to make their torque wrenches the choice of torque wrench users over and above the torque wrenches made by other torque wrench manufacturers. In that, tobacco companies are clearly acting no differently than companies in every other industry on the planet. 
If any other industry was banned from advertising anywhere at all, the only way they would be able to increase market share to satisfy their shareholders would surely be reduced to solely making their product the most innovative/tasty/attractive/flashy/prestigious (delete as applicable) on the market, so that people who buy bread/wristwatches/torque wrenches will buy theirs. It’s hardly surprising, then, that tobacco packs have become more attractive – perversely, it’s because your previous successes have created them. That, and the fact that packaging technology has advanced so rapidly in recent years that *all* packaging in *all* industries is flashier, more ‘glitzy’ even, in recent years. Just as production means that there are now dozens more lines in every market than there were ‘a few years ago’. Did you know you can even get 12 different types of Special K cereal now?
With this in mind, the only way that Surrey Uni's research on the changing face of cigarette adverts could lead to a conclusion that plain packaging should be enforced would be if they found that the packs increased the uptake of smoking.

And what does the study itself say on the matter? Well, after looking at every tiny aspect of tobacco advertising over a 53 year period, the conclusion was unavoidable.
"There is no obvious association between changes in advertising strategy and smoking prevalence"
Indeed, 'ickle Michaela even provided a handy graph to demonstrate this (click to enlarge).

Now, if you can find even a vague correlation between approaches to advertising, whether featuring the box prominently or not, and an increase or decrease in smoking, you're a better gender-neutral human than me Gunga Din.

The stark staringly obvious conclusion from the data exhibited, surely, should be that all these adverts merely shift consumers - that is, people who already smoke - from one product to another. Precisely what the tobacco industry has consistently claimed.

And yes, this is seriously the best these desperate people can contrive. Bizarre indeed, but the wait for proper (as in, not risible) evidence for plain packaging continues.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Today's Candidate For Plain Packaging Is Sugar

Australia has plain packaging for tobacco, but we have been repeatedly told this will not lead to calls for plain packaging of other products. Oh no.

Well, actually, yes. Sadly, it can't be embedded but do go watch the 3 minute news clip here. It's from Australia-which-has-plain-packaging-for-tobacco-but-which-won't-set-a-precedent-for-other-consumer-products. Yes, that very same Australia.

My favourite quote was this:
"Health problems caused by smoking are insignificant in comparison to the health problems caused by the consumption of sugar" 
But, but, the Smokefree Action Coalition said this was nonsense; a myth!
Myth #7: It may be tobacco today but other consumer products will follow 
FACT: Tobacco is not like any other product ... Plain packs for tobacco will not therefore set a precedent for other consumer products.
Another quote from the clip:
"Some people have been discussing, and in my own personal opinion it would be an interesting area to investigate, whether plain packaging of things like soft drinks and [crisps], which we know are high in sugar, would be effective in reducing consumption."
Maybe we're all dreaming then, because this is exactly what Deborah Arnott of ASH said was a "patently false" scenario to imagine.
[T]he “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false.
It certainly looks like dominoes tumbling to me, but then I don't wear tobacco control industry approved bullshit blinkers.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mascot Watch 25: BBC Badgering Edition

It's been a while since the last update on our esteemed mascot, but his contribution to yesterday's Culture Media and Sport Committee grilling of Tony Hall and Chris Patten deserves highlighting.

In early exchanges he broached the subject of the 'shelved' Panorama investigation into right-on charity Comic Relief (from 11:01:40 below) - not a great favourite of this blog - before moving on to questioning the presumed political impartiality of the BBC in general.

Watch (from 12:57:05) as he enquires why the Guardian, with its minor readership, is disproportionately referenced by a majority of the BBC; why right of centre think tanks come with a "health warning" but left of centre ones don't: and why the BBC news team routinely use Labour sound-bites in their political reporting.

Also, and of particular interest here I reckon, he asked why an EU press release on immigration was reproduced without question by Mark Easton despite it being unrepresentative of the report itself. Mark Easton, as you may remember, is the guy who desperately spun - a la Guardian - to deny that pubs were closing in their thousands because of the smoking ban.

We, of course, are very well aware of how the BBC reproduces propaganda without question. Just a few examples this year include Adam Brimelow repeating the 'heart attack miracle' lie without bothering to delve into the stats; unquestioning regurtitation of Ian Gilmore's support for minimum alcohol pricing based on fatally flawed 'evidence'; Nick Triggle celebrating NHS smoking cessation success ... from a 'study' blatantly produced by pharma shills and filleted even by tobacco controllers themselves; and 'exclusive' interviews - for no identifiable reason whatsoever - with two Aussie proponents of plain packs, without the remotest nod to providing balance by way of a differing opinion.

Perhaps, if our Phil stumbles across this 'ere article, he might be nudged into asking questions next time of the BBC's quite appallingly biased adherence to public health industry lies and spin. Including why they saw no reason whatsoever to double and treble check a Panorama episode - unlike in this week's Comic Relief case - which spouted nonsensical statistics they were later forced to apologise for and which led to the iPlayer re-run being pulled (but after millions had been led to believe it).

By contrast, our Phil is a model of impartiality. He doesn't solely target the BBC ... he is equally consistent in monstering Channel 4 too.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Salford Council Is Run By Idiots

See, this is why I love e-cigs. They are increasingly showing up anti-smokers as a rich seam of hilarious farce.

From Manchester Evening News:
A town hall has banned its workers from using electronic cigarettes ‘in public view’. 
Salford council has banned staff from using the devices – which taste and feel like cigarettes without the tar – close to any of its buildings. 
The policy, drawn up by town hall bosses, says: “Where smoking does takes place outside, the location should be out of public view wherever possible and must not be: 
– Directly outside buildings
– Constitute a risk in terms of fire;
– Be adjacent to doors or windows where second hand smoke could enter the building.
E-cigs (which are not alight) constitute a fire risk now? And emit second hand smoke despite not involving anything being burned? Do Salford councillors have extraordinarily large feet, bulbous bright red round noses and a car that falls apart when they slam a door?
A report prepared for a town hall meeting says these rules should also apply to e-cigarettes because they ‘resemble’ normal cigarettes.
Oh, I see, that part was about smoking. Err, but wasn't the policy to tackle fire risks and mythical second hand smoke? But e-cigs 'resemble' things that might - in the far-fetched imagination of a gullible Salford councillor - constitute a fire risk so they have to be banned too. Even if they don't let off wisps of smoke which are dwarfed by carbon monoxide from that fucking great ring road ploughing through Salford.
And the policy, sent to all staff, threatens to fine them - or even take them to court - if they are caught with cigarettes on council property.
Because a court of law will instantly issue a suspended prison sentence or hefty fine for possession of tobacco under the well-known parliamentary, err, Possession of a Legal Product Act. Huh?
It says: “Breaches of the policy will be dealt with in accordance with normal disciplinary procedures and may also be subject to formal action such as fixed penalty notices or a prosecution as detailed in the regulations made under the Health Act 2006.”
You know, that Health Act 2006 which famously banned smoking outside of buildings and the use of e-cigs in public places.

Firstly, have Salford councillors even seen an e-cig? Have they any clue what they entail outside of propaganda spread by their socialist fuckwit chums? Do they understand that court cases rely on laws being real rather than ones that exist only in their fantasies?

This is not a product of Salford's simpletons. This has been drawn up by people who receive money from the city's taxpayers and are apparently trusted to spend it wisely. They are responsible for teaching kids yet seem to be as incapable of independent thought as a decapitated chimp. How scary is that?

Or it could just be that Manchester is pitching for the title of Britain's most pathetic city with Salford as the jewel in its insane lefty crown?

Little wonder the BBC feels so comfy there.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

"Please Keep Smoking" Say ASH Scotland And The BMA

From The Scotsman:
MEDICAL leaders have urged Celtic and Rangers football clubs to reconsider their links with an electronic cigarettes company amid concerns that it will damage efforts to reduce smoking.
Woah! Slow up buttercup, what was that again? A product which is reducing the number of people smoking is damaging efforts to, err, reduce smoking?
In the BMA’s letter, Dr Andrew Thomson, a GP in Angus, said sport was a health activity and clubs such as Celtic and Rangers “should be leading by example to encourage healthy living rather than advertising a smoking product, which contains the addictive substance nicotine”. 
The BMA’s call was welcomed by campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) Scotland. 
Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “There is a real concern that seeing people behaving as if they are smoking by using electronic cigarettes could normalise smoking."
Or, alternatively, seeing people not smoking by using electronic cigarettes instead could normalise, err, not smoking by way of using electronic cigarettes instead.

You know, I'm starting to think that big pharma must have a far greater hold on these tobacco controllers than just the symbiotic flow of cash. Have Pfizer and their chums snapped them during a rubber-clad orgy involving goats and trafficked Lithuanians, or something?

So, Glasgow footie fans, remember to keep smoking the tobacco before and after matches, yeah? Whatever you do, don't let your football club introduce you to an alternative or you might like it. And that just wouldn't help pharma profits or Duffy and Thomson's next pay rise, now would it?*

* Plus you could end up seeing them pictured on the front page of The Scotsman trussed like a turkey while being whipped by lady-boys, which will harm you more than any number of Superkings might!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Reality Makes A Brief Appearance

The Telegraph has produced a number of graphs to show what Britons are buying from retail outlets. This one tells a story which you won't often see mirrored in the media.

That there is your 'epidemic' of cheap supermarket booze and scourge of 'glitzy' tobacco packaging rolled into one rather unscary decline.

Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about, doesn't it?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Stunning Success Of Foodbanks

"More and more are starving!", screamed the usual panic-mongers yesterday.
The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures. 
The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year. 
The Trust is calling for a public enquiry into why so many people are having difficulty feeding themselves. 
A cross-party group of MPs has been set up to investigate the surge in demand.
The Trussell Trust themselves point out one quite important factor.
It admits that one reason for the rise in the numbers is that there are twice as many food banks in existence as last year. 
But the Trust says the number of people using them has still tripled, and that even the well-established food banks are reporting significant rises in their use.
But they forget to highlight another. Their website proudly boasts how many articles have featured them since December 2010. Put it in a graph and it looks a bit like this.

So an increase in supply coupled with significantly increased awareness resulted in a rise in demand? What else did anyone expect would happen?

The only way you could argue that the increases are directly attributable to more food poverty being caused exclusively by government 'cuts' (as has been the general thrust of most media outrage) is if levels of awareness have been constant. This is quite clearly not the case - access to the banks has been made easier, and millions more people have been informed of the existence of food banks in the past couple of years, as have referrers such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, citizens advice volunteers and the police.

Contrary to the opportunistic political rhetoric of recent days, increased uptake is proof of how very successful the scheme has been. More people than ever before are benefiting from an imaginative partnership between businesses, citizen donors and a philanthropic charity initiative. It is society and community at its best.

It's odd that the same people who forever cite availability and publicity as forcing people to buy stuff are now ignoring availability and publicity as factors in more people using a service that is free.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The BMJ Discards Its Integrity

Via SteveVape, it appears that the British Medical Journal has today decided to ban "any study that is partly or wholly funded by the tobacco industry" .

Their justification is quite hilarious.
Critics may argue—as many did when journals stopped publishing cigarette adverts—that publishing such research does not constitute endorsing its findings and that, as long as funding sources are fully disclosed, readers can consider that information and make up their own minds about the quality of the work. Peer review should prevail, goes this line of thinking: it’s not the editor’s job to make these kinds of judgments.
Yes, because 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.
However, this view ignores the growing body of evidence that biases and research misconduct are often impossible to detect5, and that the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways7.
Considering superscripted numbers 5 & 6 refer to research by Mad Stan Glantz - a guy whose bias can be detected by the naked eye by aliens from the farthest galaxies in the universe - this paragraph alone makes one wonder if the BMJ is seeking to reinvent itself as the new Daily Mash.

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.
RW is a director of the NCSCT, undertakes research and consultancy for companies that develop and manufacture smoking cessation medications (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Nabi, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device, and is a trustee of QUIT, a charity that provides stop smoking support;
MW has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device.
EC previously worked at the English Department of Health as the delivery lead for tobacco control policy, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), and receives royalties from a book on smoking cessation and a book on health promotion.
AMcE is a director of the NCSCT, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis), receives payment for providing training to smoking cessation specialists, receives royalties from books on smoking cessation, and has a share in a patent of a nicotine delivery device;
This, of course, is perfectly OK, and will not influence the study outcome in any way whatsoever. Oh no.

Perhaps the BMJ's press release could have been composed more economically. Instead of a 700+ word article, they could have just announced:
"Henceforth, we have abandoned detached editorial objectivity and are now the pharmaceutical industry's official bitch. We are assured that the rubber restraints and ball gag are in the post".
Desperate times for tobacco control and their pharma chums are truly producing some desperate shifting of goal posts, aren't they?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Couldn't Organise A Lollipop Man At A Crossing

No matter how much councils bleat about public sector 'cuts', it's always funny when their officers simply can't help self-declaring that more are needed. This, from Plymouth.
A council spokesperson said: "We take the safety of children very seriously and school crossing patrols exist to make sure children can cross roads as safely as possible. 
"To do this they must hold out the lollipop with one arm and hold their other arm outstretched to signal that all traffic must stop - this is well established signalling that should be understood by all drivers."
Really? Well, I've been driving for 30 years, 23 of them professionally, and it's never really registered what the lollipop person's arms are doing. Probably because I mostly only see a great big yellow and red sign (I reckon those bright colours are chosen for a reason, you know) being moved to the middle of the road - complete with the word "STOP" in hyper-large font and with silhouetted children on it - by a guy in an offensively loud dayglo hi-viz knee-length jacket, and guess that there might be some kids crossing soon. In all my time on the road, the sign-holder's hands have been largely irrelevant.

Interesting, too, the difference between public and private sector here.
Ms Laws said he was "doing the job very well" and following his resignation no-one was patrolling the road.
Y'see, I'd have thought a vital role of this pompous office-based council tit should be to ensure that the crossing is manned for 100% of school operating days. Just as, at Puddlecote Inc, our business depends on providing a service for 100% of the work that our customers pay for, not just when we feel like it. If our pre-planned cover for emergencies is exceeded (the council tit did plan for emergency cover, I take it?)  it is up to us in the office to put the steel-toed boots and donkey jacket on and get out on the road to cover the work as, indeed, I have been doing for the past couple of weeks.

So, if said council tit takes "the safety of children very seriously and school crossing patrols exist to make sure children can cross roads as safely as possible", why is he/she not out with a lollipop and hi-viz in all weathers helping kids to cross the road instead of sitting in his/her office thinking up fake safety concerns which result in services being unavailable - dangerously so too, according to their own stubbornly arrogant excuse. I'd say the tit has far too much time on their hands at our expense and should nominate him/herself for redundancy or a substantial cut in their hours.

Or even, perhaps, nobly offering to save taxpayers even more by offering to resign on the basis that they can't perform their fundamental and incredibly simple duty of keeping a bloody lollipop crossing manned when his/her employers - in this case, the parents - require it.

Monday, 14 October 2013

MEP Carl Schlyter's Strange Definition Of Proof

If you haven't yet read it, do go have a look at Chris Snowdon's transcript of a German TV show which highlights the barely-disguised funding of anti-smoking groups by the pharmaceutical industry.

Despite a flood of pharma cash being diverted to organisations sharing mail boxes with the Smokefree Partnership, and one of their advocates - Florence Berteletti-Kemp -  formerly being on the payroll of one of those organisations, some still believe there is no corruption here.

I found this quote particularly hilarious.
MEP Carl Schlyter (Green Party, Sweden): “According to my internet research I was not able to detect any connection to the pharma industry.”
No proud pharma logos sponsoring their conferences; no openly-admitted cash support; he detected absolutely nothing. He is either a piss poor detective or a very fair guy - perhaps he is so scrupulous that he refuses to call out a tobacco control industry arm as being in the pay of big pharma until he sees an audit trail from payment to bank statement.

Well, that would be believable if it weren't for the appalling tosh he spouts when talking about anyone who opposes the TPD.
But Carl Schlyter MEP, health spokesman for the Greens, called it "a shameful day for the European Parliament, as a centre-right majority, led by the EPP group, has done the bidding of the tobacco industry and voted for weaker rules".
A clue as to whom Schlyter classes as the "tobacco industry" is in his EU group's registry of contacts which you can read here.

Out of 95 communications, only 14 are from what you or I would class a tobacco company. The rest are not tobacco companies in any sense of the word. A large majority were independent e-cig companies who have never sold even part of a single tobacco leaf. The rest were packaging companies, trade mark associations, state approved anti-counterfeiting groups ... and even the Good Clinical Practice Alliance.

Apparently, Schlyter can find no evidence whatsoever that Berteletti-Kemp is a pharma stooge despite the payments being clearly evident ... yet he is absolutely certain - beyond any doubt whatsoever - that anyone who opposed the TPD is motivated purely because of payments by the tobacco industry.

This includes, by the way, Adults For Adults who are condemned for sending this letter to MEPs.
We are a group of intellectuals and artists who observe the measures taken by the EU with growing concern. We ask you: do you really believe that it is the role of politicians to issue health warnings? Given mass poverty in Europe, homelessness, rampant youth unemployment and social radicalisation, do you not think that there are other, far more important, complex and pressing political challenges? 
Do you not think that the patronizing treatment of adults at the hands of politicians can have dangerous and damaging consequences? If you treat responsible adults like children who need to be given health warnings, you might open the door to people actually behaving like children at some point in the future. Do you really want that? Would you prefer timid, obedient and servile subjects to autonomous citizens?  
If the issue you raise is the health costs caused by individuals, the situation might quickly escalate as the public begins to name and shame other costly or no longer productive individuals or groups and considers ways of disposing of them. We have already been there in the previous century. Do you really want to play this dangerous game? If you encourage citizens to perceive others solely as a potential threat, you engage in scaremongering and worsen social divisions, all of which erodes Europe’s social cohesion, already under threat, even further. 
Finally, if you treat Europe’s citizens, who have voted you in, as if they were legally incompetent, you ultimately question your own democratic legitimacy – following this logic, you would have been elected by legally incompetent voters.

They also sent each MEP this glorious visual indication of short-sighted stupidity.

Totally off-message for the Greens and Socialists, so they're shoved into the pigeon hole as tobacco apologists and ignored by criminal citation of FCTC Article 5.3. But, of course, Schlyter finds no similar agenda with the Smokefree Partnership despite pretty clear pharma funding schemes - they are allowed to lobby with as much big pharma cash as they can stuff in their trouser pockets simply because they agree with Schlyter's EU group. Nope, no corruption there, no siree!

It shows just how magnificent the victory for e-cigs was when Greens and Socialists had their ears so atrociously and undemocratically closed to objectors throughout the entire process.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Tobacco Control Proven Wrong Again

This time last year, the tobacco control industry moved swiftly to head off warnings by tobacco companies that levels of illicit and counterfeit tobacco were set to rise.

Cancer Research UK led the way:
Rates of tobacco smuggling into the UK have fallen despite earlier claims from the tobacco industry that tax rises would prompt an increase in the illicit trade, official figures show
An estimated nine per cent of cigarettes consumed in the UK in 2010/11 were illicit, compared with 11 per cent in the previous year, according to HM Revenue & Customs. 
Robin Hewings, Cancer Research UK's tobacco policy manager, commented: "The tobacco industry claims that cigarette smuggling is 'booming', 'set to grow' and that the UK is becoming the European 'hotspot'
"Today's figures show the opposite. This is yet another instance of the tobacco industry making claims that turn out not to be true."
Which of course prompted truth-challenged crusty Mr Chapman to chime in with his usual blundering idiocy.
ASH's Debs Arnott went even further by claiming that basic economics don't apply to tobacco.
She added: "Once again it is clear that there is no reason to believe tobacco industry propaganda about the relationship between illicit trade, tobacco taxes, plain packaging or other tobacco control measures."
As I commented at the time, this was simply the kind of bunco booth scam we have come to expect from anti-smoking fantasists.
I think you can see the problem there, can't you? Yes, the figures are almost two years out of date. 
Since then, we have had two budgets. In 2011, duty was raised by 50p per pack and earlier this year [2012], by a further 37p per pack.
I took a bit of stick from some tobacco controllers (particularly a beardy one from Scotland) who insisted that they would much prefer to see official figures rather than trust claims by the tobacco industry. But - after years of listening to anti-smoking lies and drivel advocacy - it's pretty clear that the tobacco industry is far more honest than their detractors, hence my confidence in the comments at Liberal Vision in May.
I can’t wait till the govt release figures for illicit for 2012/13, I'm noting all these denialists down so we can have some fun in the future as to how the crooks are using 2 year old figures to try to bamboozle MPs.
And today is the day I've been waiting for. From The Times.
Revenue & Customs said the market share of illicit cigarettes rose from 7 per cent to 9 per cent in 2012-13, costing the taxpayer £1.1 billion compared with £900 million the previous year. 
The illegal hand-rolling tobacco market increased by 1 percentage point to 36 per cent, leading to £900 million in lost revenue. 
Recent tobacco industry data has shown an increase in tobacco smuggling.
Indeed it has, and it has been 100% spot on, as shown by this graph from the, err, official HMRC estimates.

Hmm, so when tobacco companies warned illicit trade was "set to grow", they were right and CRUK were wrong.

When they said that hikes in taxes would lead to increases in smuggling, they were correct and Debs Arnott was wrong.

And when Chapman sarcastically asked how tax increases can lead to falls in illegal tobacco use, he was comprehensively conned by his own side's mendacity. It is quite clear that those budget increases in 2011 and 2012 have led to consumers doing exactly what any economist will tell you that they would do. They have sought to avoid the tax. So he was hilariously wrong too.

Will they admit it? Of course not. The best Arnott can do is weakly quibble on the margins.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, the anti-smoking campaign charity, said the latest figures showed that smuggling was “not rising rapidly as the tobacco industry and its front groups routinely claim”.
It's rising though Debs, innit? As tobacco companies correctly predicted, and your side arrogantly and fraudulently dismissed.

At the start of this year, the Independent's Nick Goodway posed an interesting question.
HMRC data shows that tobacco duty raised £9.1bn in 2010, £9.6bn in 2011 and an estimated £9.7bn in 2012. Could 2013 be the first time total tobacco duty raised actually falls?
On the evidence above, the smart money must surely be on the answer being yes.

Link Tank 12/10

Another push for plain packaging – for food

The official evidence showed minimum alcohol pricing doesn't work – I hope you all noticed!

It is people outside sport exhibiting an "increasingly pious regard for safety"

EU decides not to interfere with e-cigarette sales; will the FDA follow suit?

"Women are actually more likely to eat fast food than men"

What a porn parody of the US government shut-down might look like

The evil wooden shisha smoking caterpillar - still plenty to cut in Blackburn

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Vapour Spots?

Last month, I wrote about my submission to the Smoke Spots website which is going to win me a trip to Miami. The promotion ended on 30th September so I expect they're just sorting out my tickets as I write.

Meanwhile, the site is doing a great job of highlighting places which feature decent smoking areas, but you may remember that I also submitted a helpful suggestion.
As an aside, I've dropped the site an e-mail to see if they'd consider adding a tag for 'spots' which are vape-friendly indoors too. If they're forward thinking, I hope they will consider it. I'll relay their reply if I get one.
And reply they have done.
Hi Dick_Puddlecote  
Thanks for submitting a spot and sending your question about vaping through to us. 
Our community’s feedback is key to understanding what is important to smokers and from this we’re constantly looking at ways to improve the site. Vape-friendly e-cig spots is a great idea and something which has been suggested in our forum too. We recognise the growing importance of this area and therefore we’re looking into how best to provide this facility for smokers, either as part of the current Smoke Spots site or as an alternative site. 
Kind regards
The Smoke Spots Team
The "growing importance" bit couldn't be more relevant after the EU ruling this week, so perhaps vapers might want to give them some friendly encouragement to hurry it along via the contact details here.

The idea of vape-friendly pubs is something I feel is also a good indicator of those which don't look down their noses at smokers or vapers alike. It's noteworthy that the winner of this year's Best Smoking Area prize at the Great British Pub Awards also boasts on its website that it sells a range of e-cigs which they are happy for customers to use indoors ... bloody handy in the bitter winter wilds of Fraserburgh, I expect.

It was also pointed out to me by long time fellow jewel robber westcoast2 on the day of the Stony Stratford event back in 2011 that the pub which kindly agreed to host our protest against Herr Bartlett's outdoor smoking ban - The Vaults at the Bull Hotel - proudly sported a "vape-friendly bar" sticker on one of the street facing windows.

If a pub doesn't welcome vapers, it doesn't like smokers and vice versa, so I hope Smoke Spots take up the complementary Vape Spots suggestion with gusto. It would be good to send a message that, when choosing pubs, if they're not on either list, we ain't coming in.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Cliff Edge Perils Of Puddlecote

This was going to be a short parish notice explaining why content may dry up for a while, but it's more serious than the usual run-of-the-mill 'pressure of work' so some may be interested in more detail.

2013 is turning into quite an extraordinary year for Puddlecote Inc which has led to my slipping back to working days of 12 hours plus, something I thought I'd left behind in the late 90s/very early noughties.

It's mostly as a result of winning a far greater amount of work than I'd planned when placing bids for long contracts. The general success rate I budget for is around 20%, so when awards come in at around twice that, there is a hell of a lot to do. Any businessman will tell you that rejecting work will inevitably harm your quality score with the client, making future awards far less likely, so is to be a last resort. Yet already, for cold practical reasons we've had no alternative but (with much tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth, and almost tears from yours truly) to hand back two smallish offers and are desperately struggling now to cover the rest with a competent service until the cavalry arrives.

The juggling this entails with begging overtime from current employees; desperately pursuing swift recruitment; and - most annoyingly - striving to comply with state red tape which seems designed specifically to hinder growth or put us out of business altogether* is a proper headache. But this also comes at a time just after we have opened a new south coast branch which requires special nursing (hence my journey there recently), and also while we are preparing documents and liaising with a client to defend our two stand out biggest contracts when they come up for re-tender, after five years in our care, in March.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, yeah, mostly. But financial concerns then come into play. Finance for new vehicles is front-loaded, and everyday costs for running trucks, paying staff etc have to be incurred well before the 30 or 60 day credit receipts start rolling in. The only way round this is by talking to banks about creative finance arrangements and banks - as you will have read widely in recent years - are extremely careful these days when it comes to lending cash. On any given day in the past month, we've been a couple of days away from running out of liquidity. Big suppliers of parts, tail-lift engineers, and maintenance contractors are being wonderful in accepting subsistence payments, while a fuel card bill which is constantly close to its credit limit has to be serviced almost hourly with part payments to keep the engines running. All while the VAT and HMRC bills sit there with their rigid deadlines saying "fuck you, pay me" like some character out of Goodfellas. No point in trying to negotiate with them, you just end up with an inspection.

So I'm producing cash flow forecasts up to three times a day, and compiling monthly debtor predictions right up to February next year to make the case for extending credit facilities beyond where our bank feels in its comfort zone. It has required forming a new debenture on directors' assets, the creation of an invoice financing draw-down scheme, and an overdraft extension of 60% for the coming 30 days, all of which needs to be approved by the credit management personnel at the bank ... none of whom we will ever meet, and who don't seem to understand the concept of urgency because boy are they leaving their decisions late!

If that great big jigsaw puzzle fits together, we're gonna have a relaxing and happy Christmas and around 10 more people are in employment; if one piece doesn't fit, the whole thing goes bang and Lord knows where that takes us and 107 brilliant current staff.

So ... if you don't see anything on these pages for a day; two days; even more, that is most probably the reason. Actually, scratch that, it is the reason. And if I owe you money, please don't ask till November, at least (cos I can't even bloody pay myself at the moment!).

* Up to 13 weeks (a quarter of a year!) for VOSA to change a single ASC11 character of our O licence, for example. Plus a pointless state regulation which cost us £20,000 to overcome in the past year, £20k we could really do with right now.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Amazing Vapers, How Sweet The Sound

Back in 2010, I reported on a petition e-cig users presented to 10 Downing Street.
You see, e-cigs are a great tool for many who wish to quit smoking. It is also unarguable that they are safer than cigarettes so offer harm reduction potential. Unfortunately, though, they are not - tut, tut -manufactured by public health's chums in the pharmaceutical industry, plus e-cig users look like they're smoking. And that is just too offensive a sight for the righteous. 
Still, e-cig users continue to fight for their right to 'vape' and, on Wednesday, delivered a hefty petition to Downing Street as a reminder that there are many who are quite happy to risk the non-existent dangers. 
I wish them the very best of luck. 
It will be interesting, in this new 'enlightened' era of the coalition, to see if the government are serious about personal liberties and decide to kick this ban proposal into the long grass, or whether they will continue with serially-proven public health policy failures like Labour.
In March 2011, after they bombarded the MHRA consultation into submission, I said that this steamroller would take some stopping.
As user numbers swell, government's enforcers in Whitehall are going to find it increasingly difficult to cut off vapers from an alternative to tobacco which offers massive harm reduction potential, without showing themselves up as vested interest stooges (if they haven't already, natch).
In October the same year, I predicted the e-cig user revolution.
Just as Tom Robinson famously derided gay detractors with the line "the buggers are legal now" when it was clear that the more unbalanced arguments against homosexuality had all but been defeated. For vapers, a tipping point is fast approaching, and it won't be long before they'll be able to give a similarly proud V sign to the intolerant animals who insist on a quit or die approach to the practice of recreational - as opposed to pharmaceutical - nicotine use.
The UK couldn't contain them, so deferred to the greater power of the EU, complete with the most dangerous living European and her desperately flawed pharma salesmanship..

Today, they embarrassed the massed ranks of state-funded prohibitionists in a decision which will send shock waves around the world.
STRASBOURG, France — In a decision likely to resonate in the United States and other countries struggling to get a grip on a galloping market for e-cigarettes, the European Parliament on Tuesday scrapped health officials’ proposals that the nicotine-delivery devices be tightly regulated as medical devices. 
Instead, lawmakers endorsed a more permissive approach to their sale and use, although the products could not be sold to anyone younger than 18.
You simply don't mess with these guys and gals. They are a lobby which no amount of idiot politicians and junk science-touting tobacco control dinosaurs are equipped to handle.

There is much devil in the detail (for example see here for advertising restrictions, plus vapers being described as tobacco lobyists) but e-cigs are here to stay. And Linda McAvan's sad, tired, and desperately defeated face is a joy to behold.

The massively-funded European anti-smoking cartel fought against something which has been proven to reduce smoking ... and lost. We are truly living in historically interesting times.

Bravo vapers, bloody noses don't get better than this.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Public Health Now Further To The Left Than Cuba

MyChoice Australia last month made a very salient observation about the current World Trade Organisation dispute surrounding plain packaging.
Tobacco producing nations, including the Dominican Republic and Cuba, argue that plain packaging laws create illegal obstacles to world trade. 
Yes, Australia’s getting a lesson in free trade courtesy of communists.
Hardly surprising, really. If you were to view the Twitter feeds of Australian tobacco control execs recently, you could be forgiven for thinking that the election of mildly right of centre Tony Abbott as PM was akin to a return to sticking 10 year olds up chimneys and exiling petty criminals to, err, dustbowls on the opposite end of the world.

His crimes, it seems, are opposing carbon taxes and same sex marriage, while also appointing his cabinet on more substantial criteria than if they happen to have a vagina.

Whatever their outward reasoning, though, it's pretty clear that they're mostly just pissed off that a non-lefty government is not likely to shovel cash their way as liberally as they have become accustomed to.

It's a global feature of the health lobby in general. In the UK, for example, we have the likes of Gabriel Scally who advocates "socialism for all"; Sir David Nicholson, former card-carrying member of the Communist Party who now enjoys a comfortable retirement after NHS deaths under his watch and presiding over a culture of suppressing criticism; and Martin McKee who tweets about public health when he has time free from rabble-rousing about globalisation, public sector power, and the evils of capitalism.

Meanwhile, in the freedom-loving USA, public health fanatics are eagerly applauding Cuba for starving their citizens.
A few months ago, we noted a bizarre study in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) that suggested that the famine caused by the repressive Communist Cuban Castro regime was good for people’s health. Harvard’s food-scold-in-residence, Walter Willett, commented positively on the outcome of state-sponsored famine, suggesting the study showed “powerful evidence that a reduction in overweight and obesity would have major population-wide benefits.” 
Now, the study authors (and Willett, presumably) indicated that they didn’t support the dictatorial methods, just the state-controlled outcome. But now Willett has gone a step further. He recently told a Harvard conference that “children are being exploited, same as sweatshops” and declared obesity “a natural consequence of a capitalist food supply.”
Now, agree with their politics or not, all of the above have one thing in common. None of them need to be elected in order to influence at the highest level, just like their Godhead, the WHO. Exactly what dictators throughout history have always aspired to.

Through public health, they've found a way to interfere in the lives of everyone on the planet fiscally, economically and socially without ever having to ask the public for approval. If you object further, or things don't quite go to their master plan, bullying, smears and ad hominem is usually enough to scare politicians into jumping when they're told to.

And tomorrow, an unelected EU Commissioner's Tobacco Products Directive - drafted under a long shadow of corruption and designed to completely ignore any consultation which disagreed with its pre-determined positions - will slime its way past plenary with the help of the socialist bloc(k) vote. Funny, that.

Wherever he is right now, I expect Stalin is applauding in admiration.

UPDATE: Thanks to a fellow jewel robber by e-mail, here's supporting evidence via the Twitter feed of  John Ashton, head of the UK Faculty of Public Health. Wow!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Tragic Tuesday

In light of the EU's upcoming foolishness on Tuesday, this tweet couldn't have been better constructed.

Not just vapers, either. Friends and relatives of vapers - and vaguely interested onlookers - will have been watching the insane campaign against e-cigs with a mixture of astonishment and disbelief at the shameful actions of a tobacco control industry which had previously captured their trust. On Tuesday, their belief will be beggared and that trust will be lost.

Of course, some of us have always seen through these charlatans. Since my first article on e-cigs back in 2008, I've always been intrigued to see how far their adherence to pharma interests would take them before self-respect forced them to salvage their ever-disintegrating integrity.

Y'see, I've always said that e-cigs have immense potential for showing the vast majority of professional anti-smokers up as the evil, degenerate, corrupt, and damaging troughers that they are. But what I didn't expect was that they would be happy to see their reputations - and their claim to be interested in health - flushed down the drain with further weasel words and outright lies.

Consider, for example, this jaw-dropping doublespeak in a letter to the Telegraph yesterday, signed by just about every prominent tobacco-centric public health advocate you could mention.
SIR - In response to the letter (October 3) from Liberal Democrat MEPs opposing medicines regulation for e-cigarettes, we agree that e-cigarettes have significant potential to help smokers who are not otherwise able to quit smoking, by providing them with safer alternatives to smoked tobacco. It is therefore important that regulation does not stifle the growth of this market.
Well, I think we can all agree on that. But how do they plan to do this?
Currently, e-cigarettes come under a range of consumer legislation. However, we believe that some additional safeguards are required to ensure that these products are effective, deliver nicotine safely and are manufactured to a consistent quality; and that the advertising and promotion of these products to non-smokers, including children, can be prevented.
Now, please, somebody tell me how anyone in the known world can possibly not be aware that adding regulations will - without a scintilla of doubt - stifle growth of any market?

E-cigs are delivering massive harm reduction results worldwide - without costing a fraction of a percent of the cost the oleaginous signatories of this letter charge the taxpayer for their time - yet they still insist that they are caring for your health by inflicting burdens on a product which renders their own expensive and damaging brain farts laughable by comparison.

Yet again, the {cough} brilliant minds of tobacco control seem to be getting their ideas of economics from a place where no other economist has ever been before. Quite literally, they seem to be living on another planet.
The permissive medicines regulation ...
A permissive regulation? An oxymoron so historically classic as to be worthy of a plaque on the wall of the British Museum, surely?
... proposed by the British regulator, the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, will achieve this and provides a good model for other EU member states.
Let's leave aside the pathetic call to authority - in this case, others with a close relationship with pharmaceutical interests - as if we didn't see it, OK?

What they seem to be saying here is that a regulation which involves millions of pounds of investment, years of form-filling and tests, and which results in a ban on any company which can't fulfil them, is somehow a good model for "regulation [which] does not stifle the growth of this market".

This would ensure that e-cigarettes are treated in the same way as nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum and patches, and that they would be as widely available as tobacco.
That, my friends, is the whole game in a short paragraph.

Simply so they will not be more attractive than utterly useless pharma-manufactured "gum and patches". The fact that levels of nicotine in e-cigs are necessarily higher for them to be effective matters not to public health advocates ... because, for them, it's never been about health anyway.

To get to the stage of having this remarkable nonsense voted on in Brussels, we have seen some quite incredible stuff. Firstly, it has to be said, it could only work if drafted by someone for whom corruption doesn't seem to be a stranger.

It then required anti-smoking organisations behaving like the type of loon we used to see standing in High Streets, under a sandwich board, declaring that the end of the world was nigh due to some inconsequential ill he had inflated in his tiny mind to apocalyptic proportions. The police would sometimes pop into his newspaper article-papered shed to ensure he wasn't self-harming as he ranted and screamed about child-devouring aliens and giant, industry-financed robotic, curare-armed maggots under his bed.

They'd mop his brow, say 'there, there' and warn him not to keep scaring Mrs Lilyfoot at number 42, or the man with the big needle might pop round again. Before walking away laughing and advising social services to increase the dose next time they called.

But this is the kind of behaviour the tobacco control industry has been feigning in order to make the world believe that massively safer equals harmful; restriction is access; barriers to entry equal growth; regulation is permissive; prohibition is availability; and, of course, failure is success.

There is always the hope that idiot politicians will see through these - struggling for a word here, hmm .. disgusting, yes that's it - disgusting people, but the experience of sci-fi novelist Neal Asher suggests that's a non-starter.

Nope, it's just something which will have to unravel by people slowly realising for themselves that they've been lied to for a very long time. A big stepping stone towards that happens on Tuesday when the tangled web starts strangling those who spun it and millions more work out that it's never been about health.

There'll be a live Facebook chat event with the creeps on Tuesday afternoon if you're interested. Just log in and have your say here from 4:15pm. It's after they've voted, natch, but then they haven't listened to us peasants in the past couple of years anyway so it's at least consistent.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Cash For Control

Back in 1997, Labour got into a bit of a mess with a donation to their party. The £1m they were given by Bernie Ecclestone led to a very public abandonment of their political principles.

Blair's adviser at the time was Alastair Campbell.

He doesn't seem to have changed much in the intervening years. He obviously still believes that lobbing dosh into a party's coffers is a perfectly legitimate way of influencing policy.

Err,  isn't corrupt practice like this frowned upon by Labour? Shouldn't they be appalled at the very idea? And do you think this was the way Ecclestone approached Campbell and Blair all those years ago?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Ireland To Ban Small Boxes

Just when you thought the hare-brained idiots who back plain packaging couldn't get more absurd ...

In January down in Australia, we saw the hilarious response to Boxwraps, a company which created stickers that adult smokers could choose in order to hide sick government wet dream psycho gore porn.
The Australian Medical Association has urged the federal government to step in and ban the stickers, Steve Hambleton, president of the AMA commented: “I would be confident that the government would response very quickly to stop this defeating the intention of their legislation".
Yes, they actually wanted to ban stickers.

I don't know if they got anywhere with that, but fast forward to last week and Irish health minister James O'Reilly is proudly declaring to the world that he is equally loopy.
Dr Reilly stressed any plans by tobacco companies to sell plain permanent boxes so smokers can transfer cigarettes in to them would be tackled.
A ban on small plain boxes, eh? Well, best of luck in drafting that particular legal document, sunshine.

Now, if you'd just arrived at this debate and read back, you'd be forgiven for thinking that these people must have been lying the big one for quite a while. I mean, wasn't the entire point of plain packaging to stop those 'glitzy' packets that look like Lego or Ferraris luring kids, or eradicating colours which prey on how utterly weak and pathetic women are? If so, surely O'Reilly should be ecstatic about the thought of plain boxes replacing them, yes?

Well no, apparently. It's now about stopping adults - who have already made their choice at the shop counter - from exercising their own free will as to what they would like to put their tabs in. Once again, it's not about the chiiildren, and it's not about health, as O'Reilly kindly confirms.
The Health Minister has vowed to win the war against the tobacco industry as he moves to enforce the standardised packaging of cigarettes.
Yep. And that is all the tobacco control industry has ever been interested in, a shameful war against a legal industry. They are in hock to their own favoured nicotine suppliers and will ban anything - legal or not - which interferes with that.

If it means banning e-cigs, so be it. If it means banning stickers, so be it. And if it means banning small rectangular boxes, well, that's just another hoop they will jump through to achieve their goal.

They may be absurd loons who truly believe that banning boxes and stickers doesn't make them appear as wackos and extremists, but that hasn't yet registered with yer average idiot politician. It's like watching on as someone who thinks he is Napoleon engages in serious conversation with Tim Nice But Dim, isn't it?