Thursday, 31 December 2015

Jewel Robbing In 2015

As bobble-hatted masochists descend on London to stand around for hours waiting for a 20 minute firework display before taking another few hours to trudge home again, fellow jewel robbers may be interested in a recap of some of what has appeared here in 2015.

January 

The year began with Simple Simon Chappers seeing the death of Joe Cocker as a vile PR opportunity, despite his figures - as always - being incorrect. It was also the month that plain packaging for e-cigs was suggested in Ireland and Scottish politicians admitted they had no valid health reason to ban vaping in public places but would "get away" with it anyway

February

Totally Wicked kicked off their challenge to the EU's article 20, and yours truly wrote a piece for their website. Bristol brought in one of those bizarre "voluntary" bans on smoking in the open air, Nash Riggins wrote some absurd tripe in the Guardian, and the EU talked about taxing e-cigs for no particular reason except kerching. Elsewhere, the WHO launched a war on cream cakes, jelly and ice cream amongst other evil products, and Korea proposed banning "walking smoking"

March

This month saw our esteemed mascot catch ASH with their fingers in the till and trying to urge the government to give them more by way of a tobacco levy. Anti-nanny state David Cameron voted in favour of plain packaging, while both CMO Sally Davies and health minister Jane Ellison spoke utter garbage about e-cigs, and George Rae of the BMA deliberately lied about vaping on the BBC. Meanwhile, over in Puerto Rico they thought it might be a good wheeze to fine parents $800 if they have a fat kid

April

The approach to Easter saw 'cash-strapped' NHS Scottish hospitals taking on extra staff to stop people smoking in car parks, you know, where car exhaust fumes are. It was also revealed that 'binge-drinking' has halved since 2005; West Country lefty Gabriel Scally showed he is more interested in promoting his naive sixth form political views than he is about health; and across the pond Mad Stan descended into a bucket of farce

May

May opened with news of a boom in illegal tobacco in Australia after their plain packaging law and eye-watering tax increases, while in Blighty tobacco controllers were very keen on torturing mental health patients as a means of maintaining their state-funded salaries. On the e-cigs front, Westminster welcomed MPs and staff back after the election by banning vaping for no reason whatsoever, and a rather cool Aussie politician valiantly fought against ignorant muppetry in New South Wales. 

June

Busy month this. It was leaked that ASH had been lying for a long time and really do want smoking banned outdoors and in all cars, with or without children, but then I think we all knew that anyway. They also sat idly by, quiet as a mouse, as more vaping bans were installed. In the US, the smoking ban in New Orleans did what smoking bans always do, cost businesses a fortune, and Mad Stan hilariously produced a study which proved himself wrong. It was also the month when Welsh wassock Mark Drakeford embarked on his ignorance-based policy of banning e-cigs in public, and I took a jolly trip to Warsaw

July

July began with ASH Wales being as limp and insipid in objecting to vaping bans as their English counterparts, while outdoor smoking bans in Australia resulted in food being banned by business owners to comply with the daft law. Result! In France, tobacco shop owners gloriously and defiantly dumped four tonnes of carrots outside the ruling Socialist party's front door in protest at plain packaging, in stark contrast to Tesco in the UK who {cough} bravely appeased health extremists by banning Ribena

August

The summer holiday period saw the Royal Society of Public Health admit that the reason for smoking bans has been a lie all along, while the UK Public Health Network got irritated that the public believe they are entitled to make their own choices. It was also the month when PHE released a report which torpedoed mendacious anti-vaping crazies the world over, and the month when they responded with deflection, smears and lies ... as tobacco controllers always do. 

September

September was just one long desperate smear from e-cig denialists. We found out that Sally Davies and Lardy McKee had shared more correspondence with each other than they do with their families, which perhaps might have had something to do with his vacuous articles appearing in the BMJ packed with conflicts of interest. We also found out that the UK government - despite ASH's, erm, whispering under their breath - refuse to accept e-cigs are a harm reduction device, and that there are 150,000 vile individuals in this country who desperately want to dictate what food and drink you choose to consume. Meanwhile Simple Simon Chappers amused his wife on a European holiday with a thrilling vaper-spotting game

October

This month saw a 'public health' lunatic actually propose declaring war on 80% of the public who like to drink booze, while some repulsive piece of lowlife - encouraged by Aussie anti-smokers - publicly bullied a terrified tourist who lit up a cigarette outdoors in Sydney. Meanwhile ASH were up to their usual trick of using politicians to beg for taxpayer cash, which could explain why these self-declared friends of the vaper are still arse-licking the government over the appaling TPD. Over in Oz, Chappers admitted that Australian tobacco policies are worse than North Korea and I came across a quite disgusting young person at the Battle of Ideas. 

November

Last month saw this blog's 7th birthday and we celebrated it with ASH Scotland's Sheila Duffy being roasted by the Scottish parliament, no such luck in Wales, though, where provincial political lightweights queued up to exhibit their ignorance about e-cigs. The idiocy of the TPD began to emerge and, erm, I wrote a nice uncontroversial piece about a film that's coming out soon. 

December

Scroll on to this month and we caught anti-smokers blatantly luring kids into addiction with cigarette advertising, and the CMO covertly trying to stop tobacco controllers talking avout vaping. Meanwhile, nanny statists got stroppy about being called nany statists, the EU court ruled on something that doesn't exist, and - as a glorious finale - we ended the year with the most pathetic health whinge of 2015.

It's been quite a testing twelve months, hasn't it? 

Happy New Year to all the free-thinking souls who have passed by these pages in 2015, and let's all toast 2016 safe in the knowledge that it is we who are on the side of the angels. 



Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Peddler Of Absurd Health Claims Ridicules Absurd Health Claims

Following swiftly on from the most pathetic nanny state whine of 2015, we have also recently witnessed the most ironic article of the year courtesy of Julia Belluz at Vox.
The most ridiculous health claims of 2015
'Tis the season to reflect on the year that was. So to celebrate, I took a look at the most wildly off-base health claims of 2015.
All well and good, except that this is the same Julia Belluz who has been a poodle of lying anti-vaping lunatics and junk scientists for most of the past twelve months.


Incredibly, that pile of steaming garbage about e-cigs - easily debunked here and here - did not feature in Julia's festive round-up.

Also not in Julia's list is the utter nonsense spouted in 2015 by Californian anti-nicotine moon-howlers using taxpayers' money, probably because Julia thought it all quite believable.
On Sunday, California's public health department went live with an awareness campaign about e-cigarettes on a new website, Still Blowing Smoke. By the time of their official launch on Monday, vaping advocates were already on the offensive with a nearly identical site: Not Blowing Smoke.
Quite right too, because the California website is a quite astounding collection of half-truths and downright lies. Far from being a problem, the reactive website set up by way of retaliation was providing a public service not supplied by the Californian state.

But then, Julia is the kind of hack who believes that evidence-free bullshit should never be challenged. Even going so far as to conflate quoting of verifiable research on the relative safety of e-cigs with actions of the tobacco industry 50 years ago. No, really!
For public health workers, the quick counterattack is reminiscent of early fights over cigarettes.
"The California health department’s Twitter and Facebook pages are clogged with [messages from vaping advocates]," said Stanton Glantz, a University of California, San Francisco–based professor and longtime tobacco-control advocate who has been watching the campaign and counterattacks unfold this week. "It’s making it hard for them to communicate with anybody."
Yes, Julia actually cited Glantz, purveyor of some of the biggest health bullshit of the past year. What's more ...
Martin McKee, one of the Lancet authors and a professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that whenever he or his research students write anything that's critical of e-cigarettes, they become the subject of "very abusive" attacks.
Yup, McKee too. Such is Julia's keen sense for scientific inaccuracy, she has written a piece about daft health claims in 2015 while parroting some of the most mendacious the world has seen ... and referencing the deeply compromised and anti-scientific charlatans - including incompetent prejudiced CMOs - who have spread them.

Also not on Julia's list of absurd health claims is the utter garbage about e-cigs potentially causing 'Popcorn Lung' pumped out by Harvard in early December. Most probably because Julia was conned into reporting on it as plausible.
So do e-cigarettes cause popcorn lung? 
We don't know that yet, in part because there have been no published long-term studies on e-cigarette users.
No, Julia, but considering the entire premise is so wrong as to be simply impossible, shouldn't you - a "health reporter" and "evidence enthusiast" who wishes to "bring science and sense to news about medicine" - have smelt a rat?

And considering these examples above are making you look like a weapons grade gullible tool, why would you not add at least one of them to your list of the most ridiculous health claims of 2015?

Agenda or embarrassment, I expect, you decide. Either way, an article ridiculing the year's absurd health claims, written by someone who has spent 2015 faithfully acting as a useful idiot by spreading absurd health claims herself, is quite a laughable novelty. 



Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Most Pathetic Nanny State Whine Of 2015

We may be approaching the end of 2015, but it wasn't too late for the most pathetic nanny state whining of the year to emerge over the Christmas period. I mean, just get a load of this!
Discount chain sparks fury for 'tempting children to alcohol' with Frozen themed champagne-style drink
Now, on reading the headline I believed that some drinks company had produced a Champagne-style alcoholic treat in Disney packaging. A bit naughty, I thought, so understandable that some might not like it, even though many adults enjoy Disney films too. But no, it isn't that at all!
OUTRAGED campaigners have blasted a Frozen-themed children’s drink in a champagne-style bottle for tempting kids to try booze. 
The non-alcoholic fizzy drink, covered in pictures of the Disney film’s characters, is described as “sophisticated” and “grown-up”. 
But campaigners say the drink should be removed from sale immediately.
That's right, this is a non-alcoholic drink. That is, a non-alcoholic drink aimed at children, packaged with characters which children like. There are actually people around us who worry about stuff like this.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical advisor to charity Drinkaware, warned: “Selling products which not only normalise but glamorise alcohol could increase the risk of young people wanting to experiment with alcohol.”
Hmm, I've got news for Sarah Jarvis, alcohol is already quite normal, you can't normalise something which is already normal, dear, it's kinda impossible. An overwhelming majority in this country see alcohol as a perfectly normal consumer product, anyone who believes differently is in a tiny minority and therefore abnormal, it's that simple.

We also have these normal things called pubs, Sarah dear, where normal kids can be found eating and drinking normal non-alcoholic fizzy drinks while their parents drink normal alcohol out of often the same normal glassware, we look forward to your campaign to ban kids from these normal establishments with interest.

But then this is the same Dr Jarvis whose obnoxious, condescending attitude towards the public and the advice she thinks we should be force-fed with was astutely described by Tom Paine in 2012.
She was a personable lady whom I would be happy to have as my GP and whose advice I would try to take. She simply didn't grasp, in her backed-by-state-force arrogance, that there was a difference between being an advisor and a boss. 
When we nationalised medical services in Britain (a mistake in my view, but that's for another time) we did not give the medical profession a promotion. We still expect them to serve us, not direct us. Nor do we expect them to describe us as a "cost" to the NHS, when the NHS is a cost to us. It may sound a bit Downton Abbey but this woman simply does not know her place.
Quite. And her place is most definitely not wagging her finger and voicing absurd dismal hysteria about an innocent soft drink at Christmas time. Of course, the Scottish state-funded prohibitionists are even worse.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, insisted: “This product should be removed from sale immediately."
No it shouldn't you repulsive crone. These bottles have not broken any laws but have doubtless brought smiles, happiness and joy to thousands of kids this Christmas. That you want to take that away on the basis of some far-fetched theory about something that - as Grandad has pointed out - will almost certainly not happen speaks volumes about what a superlatively miserable and pathetic human being you are.

It also shows that these hideous bottom-feeding shroud-wavers can't even zip their sanctimonious, soulless pinch lips for a few short days, at a time of the year when the rest of us are in a happy mood. I do truly believe it is a form of mental illness and they require psychiatric help.

One thing is for certain, they should never be allowed to voice their abnormal views near politicians or be given cash for their puritannical anti-social extremist theories ... oh hold on!


Thursday, 24 December 2015

European Court Rules On Non-Existent Purpose

Before you all switch off for Christmas, it's worth highlighting one salient point from yesterday's European Court opinion rejecting Totally Wicked's challenge to article 20 of the TPD relating to e-cigs.

You see, it's clear since e-cigs were first included in the process that civil servants and politicians didn't have the first clue about the products they were seeking to regulate. The most obvious marker of this is their approach to liquid. For example, benign though the regulations regarding "leak free refilling mechanisms" are, it is impossible to conclude anything else but that the EU believed they were regulating pure nicotine rather than the massively diluted liquid that vapers use. To set a regulation to avoid accidental spillage - and therefore 'dangerous' contact with the skin - is quite laughable considering the same document also limits nicotine content to a tiny 2% in 10ml bottles; a level so weak that it could be drunk by an able-bodied adult without any ill effects at all. The idea that a fraction of that 10ml being spilled could cause harm if coming into contact with skin is up there with some of the wackiest conspiracy theories of all time.

But it also appears that the European Court hasn't got much of a clue about what it was supposed to be making a judgement on either! The opinion can be read here, but hinges on two main points. Firstly, that the rules are "moderate" and not disproportionate, which fails to recognise why e-cigs are successful at attracting smokers to switch; banning advertising and nicotine content above 2% can only have the effect of driving smokers away from the products rather than towards them, and so are quite definitely disproportionate.

More importantly, though, the second main finding doesn't even address the purpose of the TPD at all! Here's the relevant text.
In addition, it is not manifestly wrong or unreasonable to accept, in adopting internal market harmonisation measures, that e-cigarettes possibly cause risks to human health and that that product could — above all in the case of adolescents and young adults — develop into a gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, traditional tobacco consumption.
This would all be well and good if one of the purposes of Article 20 had been to counteract the fallacious gateway theory. But nothing in it would address that at all. It's quite simply not relevant and should not have even been considered as such by the Advocate General.

Reducing nicotine content; limiting bottle size; restricting advertising; notifications of ingredients in liquid and prohibiting tanks larger than 2ml have nothing whatsoever to do with the gateway conspiracy theory. None of the measures will have any effect on the mythical "gateway to nicotine addiction" even if it was happening ... which all the available evidence so far proves is not.

In fact, if anyone were to be worried about the gateway theory and the renormalisation of cigarette use, they would be going the other way and advocating for Article 20 to be ditched because it makes the gateway more likely, not less.

There is nothing in the terms of it which will worry cigalike manufacturers at all. All cigalike products are already well within the parameters of the legislation as it stands and relatively cheap to buy. Whereas products which look absolutely nothing like a cigarette - and are far more expensive for a child to buy and initiate use - are being hampered by the regulations.

In other words, these - which closely resemble cigarettes - are deemed perfectly fine by Article 20.


Whereas, for example, my own set up - which no-one could ever mistake for a cigarette and which costs three figures to purchase - contravenes the regulations on tank size and probably consistent dosing (no one knows what that means yet), and every liquid I use will be subject to the rigorous reporting regime.


So, if the terms of the TPD would not impact child uptake of e-cig use one iota, why was the Advocate General even taking it into consideration? Your guess is as good as mine, I'm afraid.

But it might be worth mentioning if you plan to write to your MP over the Christmas break, which I do hope you will.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

To Squirt Or Not To Squirt, That Is The Question

I've written recently about some quite astounding EU idiocy contained in the TPD towards e-cigs, specifically on how vaping devices and liquids must be labelled and not advertised from May next year, so it's nice to bring some positive news for a change.

Well, I say that but yesterday's release by the Department of Health of guidelines for refilling mechanisms doesn't seem to have gone down well. There has been an outpouring of consternation - even anger - on social media and I really can't understand why.

Here's what the guidance says:
Requirements for the refill mechanism  
1. Member States shall ensure that refillable electronic cigarettes and refill containers are only placed on the market if the mechanism by which the electronic cigarettes are refilled complies with one of the following conditions: 
(a) it entails the use of a refill container possessing a non-detachable nozzle at least 1cm long, which is narrower than and slots comfortably into the opening of the tank of the electronic cigarette with which it is used and possessing a flow control mechanism that emits no more than 20 drops of refill liquid per minute when placed vertically; 
(b) it operates by means of a docking system which only releases refill liquids when the electronic cigarette and refill container are connected. 
Now, for anyone who isn't familiar with e-cigs there are two ways of refilling a refilable. The first is simply by pouring it in like you would oil into your car, as this pic (shamelessly stolen from YouTube) illustrates.


The other method - in refillables currently being sold - is via a docking system, as described here.
VUSE Port: Liquid tank system that uses a Dock & Lock system to refill the device. The closed system prevents users from opening the top or the tank. To refill, the port and bottle must be locked together.
It would appear to me that - although the entire TPD is overweening and largely unnecessary - at least this part has been handled with a modicum of common sense. There are two refilling methods currently on the market which the EU has decided must be regulated, and they have set out a regulation for both of them. It is not an either/or situation, merely something on paper which sets out how member states should apply the regulations to each refill method. Identifying what is currently being used and applying sensible regulation is exactly what a responsible regulator should be doing.

More importantly, though, it would seem that the biggest worry about the EU's requirement for refill mechanisms to be "leak free" has been avoided. They will not be banned outright as many had feared, including me.
If the e-cigarette is the refillable kind, it is particularly threatened. The refill chamber will be restricted to 2ml maximum, but even if the tank ducks under that arbitrary threshold, it will have to be a leakproof (is anything leakproof?) and have a leakproof filling mechanism. The guidance behind this hasn’t been formulated yet so who really knows what that would entail? If a politician is behind it, you just know that the precautionary principle will apply and refillable tanks will be outlawed entirely just to make sure.
I'm rather happy to have been proven wrong.

In fact, the only real problem is that glass bottles will be effectively outlawed because they come with pipettes instead of a nozzle. Having said that, glass bottles would be permitted if a nozzle could be added and you could squeeze them, but I don't think the laws of physics allow that just yet.

So this really looks like a big nasty potential bullet with vapers' names on it has been dodged. Liquid manufacturers will have to put their products in plastic 10ml bottles with a 1cm nozzle, but many do anyway. It's hardly a business killer in my opinion. Yes it's a bit silly considering e-liquid can only contain up to 2% nicotine so the regs are a form of absurd panic-mongering, but it won't affect consumers too unduly at all.

However, if you feel there's something I've missed please do share. I'd like to know of the demons I'm quite simply not seeing.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

Heads They Win, Tails You Lose

What a difference a few years makes, eh?

2012:
The group claims advances in extractor fan technology would allow pubs and other indoor public places to allow smoking without a causing a health risk to non-smokers. 
But Belinda Cunnison, the convener of Freedom to Choose Scotland, said: "I believe the smoking ban should at least be modified.
   
"The ban was brought in because of the accepted view that passive smoking is impossible to eradicate using ventilation equipment. We don't accept that this is the case." 
The pro-smoking petition appears to have little chance of success.
And it failed.

Scroll on to 2015 though ...
Gage, 43, whose parents died of cancer after smoking, said he was vulnerable to tobacco smoke at Shotts jail and the Scottish government should move him. 
A judge has now ruled there is nothing illegal about his prison conditions. 
The Scottish government contested the action and the court was told that Gage was housed in a relatively modern prison with ventilation systems.
So when the Scottish government want to ban law-abiding citizens from enjoying themselves in establishments with the permission of the owner exercising his/her property rights, ventilation is useless and the myth of secondhand smoke is lethal.

Whereas when defending itself against exactly the same claims of harm to a prisoner, ventilation is all of a sudden miraculous and can mitigate the effects of a non-existent problem. It's almost as if they don't really consider secondhand smoke that dangerous themselves, isn't it? As if it's just an imaginary hobgoblin being employed as a tool for coercion or something.

Do you reckon if a pub chain applied the same argument, the Scottish government would waive any punishment for contravening the smoking ban? Nope, not on your nelly!

Politicians just take the piss, don't they? Every. Day.


Thursday, 17 December 2015

It's A Scandal!

Yesterday we saw a fine example of the dire state of British journalism and politics. There was this scandal at PMQs, doncha know. Well, actually there wasn't; merely the lamest and most laughable smear story since the summer of 2013.

The Mirror brought us this earth-shattering news, you see.
A Tory MP heaped praise on the e-cigarette industry at PMQs today - but didn't mention he'd been treated to a lavish day out by a global vaping giant. 
Conservative Mark Pawsey enjoyed more than £1,600 worth of hospitality at a Rugby World Cup match in September, with Japan Tobacco International (JTI) picking up the tab.
And guess what? David Cameron then cited evidence from a government-funded organisation stating that e-cigs are massively less harmful than smoking, before picking up ASH's statistic of over a million quitters having done so by using e-cigs, and finally delivering his view that e-cigs "are a very legitimate path for many people to improve their health and the health of the nation".

Shocking, isn't it? It's quite clear what happened here I think. While at the rugby, Pawsey was obviously distracted while some evil Big Tobacco kid-killer implanted a solution which turned him into a walking hypno-weapon. 

Hypno-Pawsey, pictured yesterday
One look from Pawsey and the UK's Prime Minister was reduced to a quivering wreck, fit only to endorse a product which is entirely useful, has helped millions of people at no cost to the state, and he did so with nothing but a wealth of solid untarnished evidence to back it up.  

It's a national scandal, I tell ya! Those JTI bastards!

Except for a few things. In September, did you say?
The Rugby MP has become a strong advocate for the e-cigarette industry within Parliament in recent years. In November 2014 he set up an All Party Parliamentary Group on e-cigarettes.
Oh I see, so he's been a firm advocate of e-cigs well before this rugby match in September, then (which he had already declared since that's how the cartoon Mirror hack knew about it)? So couldn't possibly be swayed in favour of e-cigs by one day out? Fancy that!

And this "global vaping giant", are they really talking about JTI? The same JTI who only recently entered the e-cig market after buying E-Lites by way of catch-up, and who would happily admit that they are country miles behind the curve when it comes to effective vaping products. The same JTI who only make cigalikes and whose investment in the e-cig market probably makes up around 0.5% of their total business. The same JTI who would probably breathe a massive sigh of relief if e-cigs were banned tomorrow since their rivals are streets ahead of them and they're struggling not to become another Kodak or Nokia with the advent of the new emphasis on tobacco harm reduction? That JTI?

Therefore, what they did to fix this - apparently - was to give Mark Pawsey a day out at the rugby so that he could go to PMQs, ask a question, and get the PM to legitimise something which threatens just about every incredibly lucrative tobacco product which comprises JTI's core business. All over the world. 

Yes, that kind of "global vaping giant"!

The guy who wrote the Mirror article is quite obviously an unrepentant moon-howling tool who shat the bed on this story, but the reaction of a vacuous Labour MP is even worse!
Labour's Anna Turley MP said: “Mark Pawsey needs to explain why he chose not to declare these relevant interests when asking his question. 
"Parliament urgently needs to rebuild trust with the public and incidents like this make that job all the more difficult.”
No, you female humanoid-shaped toothache, what the public are sick and tired of is politicians playing their childish games in parliament and beyond while forgetting they are there to serve our interests. Here we have an entire article dedicated to political mud-slinging over a Conservative MP who is earnestly trying to make a serious point - about smoking which the left despise, no less - while a lefty MP focusses on whether he ticked the right box instead of commenting on the very real and important issue being discussed. 

It seems that trying to get an opposing MP censured and smearing industry is far more important to Labour and the Mirror than actually indulging in adult debate about an emerging technology which is proving beneficial to millions of people. Most people grew out of that kind of puerile nonsense around about college age, but then others are just too immature to cope with sensible grown-up stuff. 

It's just sad so many of them are in Westminster and writing wibble in online media sites. Now that is what I'd call a scandal.

Pic courtesy of Ordinary Morning



Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Conversation Stopper

Regular readers here may remember an article in September reporting that vape-hating Martin McKee and Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies share monumental levels of correspondence between each other on the subject of e-cigs. So much so that the fellow jewel robber who used the FOI Act to request information over a relatively short period was told it would cost far too much to dig it all out!


As I observed at the time, this is an astounding amount of correspondence, and would explain why Davies is so irrationally opposed to e-cigs on spurious - and sometimes fraudulent - grounds.

Undeterred, our assiduous jewel-robbing ally narrowed the terms of his enquiry and has unearthed an extraordinary exchange between the two in November last year. This was at the time Public Health England was inviting tobacco controllers "to contribute to an online ‘conversation’ based around five draft principles to guide policies and practice. The feedback received will inform PHE’s position and our framework advice to employers and other authorities" on the subject of "vaping in enclosed public places and workplaces." [Word download].

It resulted in this document which included video contributions from people such as Debs Arnott, Gerard Hastings and Robert West.

Hardly controversial, one would think, and precisely what a 'public health' body like PHE should be doing when faced with a new technology on which they are tasked to provide guidance. However, emails between McKee and Davies reveal that the CMO was "appalled" at PHE for even embarking on the project!

Stating to McKee that she had contacted the organisation and "was clear that [PHE] should not go ahead", she then - incredibly - asked if McKee could enlist the help of the Faculty of Public Health to deter PHE from continuing with the idea. McKee, of course, was quite happy to do so and called on now-President of the FPH, John Middleton, to assist.

Further emails show that McKee and the FPH planned to cite Framework Convention on Tobacco Control declarations from COP6 in Moscow to one PHE official in an attempt to stop the project going ahead. In effect, this is using tobacco control industry pronouncements - designed to silence tobacco companies and other supporters - against their own side! The emails also show McKee referring to an account of the E-Cig Summit held the same week and subtlely smearing another PHE official due to his being described as positive towards e-cigs.

Now, this brings up quite a few questions about the CMO. Firstly, why is she taking advice solely from someone so ideologically committed to destroying e-cigs, and not - as you'd expect a CMO to do - based on objective inspection of the available evidence?

Secondly, why is McKee considered such an authority in her eyes that she is willing to attempt to silence members of her own 'public health' profession for holding a differing view? Indeed, she seems to have been hell-bent to suppress anything positive on the matter at all costs.

And lastly, it would seem that she believes that employing rival organisations to undermine the activities of another - as she appears to have done before - is a valid tactic to stop potentially useful information being revealed to the 'public health' community and, indeed, the public.

Is that really what a Chief Medical Officer should be doing? You decide.

H/T AT via email


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Defending The Nanny State

As a Sunday night curiosity, you might like to see some wriggling by health-obsessed finger-waggers in their pitiful attempts to shake off the 'nanny' tag.

Last week, this was tweeted by US food nags, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).


Don't they make themselves sound so kind and cosy? They just want to make your choices easier, d'you see? It's those horrid food companies who are ordering you around. CSPI describes its purpose as being to "advocate government policies" (i.e. demand laws) including, but not limited to, "new policies in some cities and states to remove soda and junk foods from schools" yet doesn't think this amounts to denying choice and encouraging prohibition of certain products.

Instead, food companies are the ones bossing you around and "telling you what to eat and drink"! You know, with laws and stuff ... oh, hold on.

Yes, of course it's bollocks, but this is the weird fantasy world these people live in. They really think that poking their nose into what people freely choose to purchase and consume, and trying to stop it, is being kind and generous, whereas the food industry - who make popular products and advertise them - are somehow twisting your arm and frog-marching you down to the shops to buy them.

It's absurd and a contorted perversion of reality. In the wibbly-wobbly world of the health nag, these evil food barons sit around all day thinking up products to ruin your health for profit, forgetting that no consumer ever bought anything that they didn't think was in their own self-interest to buy. If the public don't like the product on offer, they won't buy it and the business fails, it really is as simple as that; economics and business 101.

No-one ever bought an après-scram brandy solely because they saw an ad for Courvoisier, they were in the market for an après-scram brandy but their choice was perhaps guided to Courvoisier and away from another après-scram brandy. Likewise, no-one ever bought a postprandial McFlurry because Maccy D's bullied them into it with a commercial, they just wanted dessert of some kind after their nosebag and Maccy D's ads may have swayed them into going there instead of Pizza Hut.

As I explained to an ignorant, state-funded, business-hating numpty a while ago in relation to plain packaging.
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?
The problem that nanny statists have - because that is precisely what they are - is that industry really doesn't have to try hard to sell popular products to the public, because they are just that. Popular. Whereas nasty curtain-twitching prohibitionists are not very popular at all! No-one likes a nag, especially when they restrict choice and ban stuff we like by pestering and bullying politicians.

Of course, if the cult of 'public health' truly believed that people are so easily swayed by a few ads, they would simply do the same themselves and we'd all dutifully fall into line, but they don't. And the reason being? Because they demand regulations, legislation and bans on the basis that - wait for it - education is not effective. No really, they do ... at the same time as pretending that education (adverts) from the food industry are somehow miraculously compelling! It would be funny if it wasn't so utterly pathetic.

The upside of all this, of course, is that their attempting to change the meaning of terms like 'nanny' and 'nanny state' simply illustrate how hurtful and damaging the terms are to them. So thank you Iain Macleod for giving us a weapon against these hideous people that they really despise, we will carry on smacking them round their dreary, pinch-lipped chops with it as long as they continue bleating twisted fallacies like the CSPI did last week.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Dick Out And About: Vaping Predictions 2016

Loads happening in and around Puddlecoteville at the moment, hence the sparsity of content this week.

I did, however, send a small contribution last month to the Ashtray Blog for their annual feature on the future of vaping in the New Year. You can read it along with 11 other sets of predictions by clicking here.

It's fair to say I'm not overly optimistic.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

See No Evil Except When We Tell You To

'Public health', 2013:
There was a significant shift from cigarettes being displayed to the cigarette box only. It is argued that the cigarette box has absorbed the meanings associated with smoking and has become an effective vehicle for advertising. It is also argued that this can only be minimised with plain packaging.
The public must be stopped from looking at packaging!

'Public health', 2015:
The drinks industry is facing a dramatic crackdown on advertising that would ban traditional scenes of pub 'craic' and force companies to use just images of the product itself. In a bid to 'de-glamorise' drinking, the legislation is expected to state that the ads can feature only the alcoholic product, the Irish Independent has learned.
The public must be made to look at packaging!

Look guys and gals in the 'public health' racket, it's quite clear that your justifications for regulations restricting choice and liberties are just feeble excuses. So much so that you're not even being consistent or coherent anymore. Can you just cut the crap and admit that your nanny state gravy train - in every policy area where you're active - is dedicated to the achievement of only one goal. Prohibition.

Come clean, eh? You know it makes sense.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Be Proud, Be Loud, Be Heard

If you're at a loose end at any time this week, here's something constructive you could fill a few minutes with.

Via Vapers in Power, a new website has been set up to encourage a letter-writing campaign towards MPs primarily about the appalling Tobacco Products Directive. As I've mentioned recently (see here and here), the consequences for e-cigs of this absurd and irresponsible piece of EU vandalism-posing-as-regulation are only now starting to emerge.  The VIP site, www.writetovape.co.uk, has summarised these in a handy graphic for those who aren't yet aware (click to enlarge).


It also carries a Welsh page to address the quite ludicrous proposal to ban vaping in public places there.

Whether you live in Wales or not, and whether you vape or not, the TPD and Welsh Assembly plans are quite clearly a gross intrusion into freedom of choice, free markets, property rights, and personal responsibility - they also, as always, have very little to do with health - so please do have a look around the site and share it widely.

To send your letter, simply enter your postcode and the site will identify your MP for you, opening up a text box to write what you have to say on the matter. As for the content of your message, this isn't a 38Degrees style clicktivist 'postcard' style drive (which irritate MPs into ignoring, or worse) but a move designed to make MPs aware of real personal feelings on the matter, so I couldn't agree more with VIP's advice.
Please be polite, concise and to the point, a few paragraphs are much more likely to be read with interest than a few pages - most importantly please use your own words.
And if you want to know why interaction with your MP is needed now more than ever, may I refer you again to Con4Lib's words of just a couple of weeks ago.
This is important because MPs always receive letters and emails in favour of restrictions on lifestyle freedoms (mostly from state-funded pressure groups - DP), and fewer in opposition. We believe it is time for the silent majority to find their voices.
Now, it's always been impressive that fellow jewel robbers here are quick to get involved in objecting to illiberal state meddling, so I hope many of you will join me again in writing to your MP via the Write to Vape site. You may also find it interesting as a way of finding out what the views of your MP are, because if you write to them using this site, they will be obliged to not only read it but also reply to you personally as a constituent.

To start, click here or via the sidebar link top right of this page. As always, feel free to share your contributions either in the comments or via email if you wish, they're always great to read.


Friday, 4 December 2015

It's OK When We Do It

Talk to any tobacco controller and they'll tell you that merely seeing a glimpse of a packet of smokes will have kids falling over themselves to light up. It's why advertising has been banned, packs are hidden behind shutters, and even colour schemes on the packets are now being prohibited. Far too dangerous to children!

So just imagine if someone evil decided to post lots of cigarette adverts on Tumblr, a social media network overwhelmingly used by teens and young people. Wouldn't that be wicked?

Yellow is 18-24, red 25-34, teens not supposed to be there but are (from here)
Because that is exactly what one Tumblr account is doing.

There's something for the girls ...


Something for the boys ...


And what kid can possibly resist a cartoon animal, eh?


Shake your fist at those nasty Big Tobacco barons bringing tobacco advertising to a whole new young generation, eh? Evil bastards!

Except it's not. It's the Tumblr run by the University of California, San Francisco's anti-smoking department, home of global anti-tobacco guru Stanton Glantz - trusted by the WHO and CDC - who believes that just seeing someone smoking in a film will addict millions of kids, and that any adverts exhibiting tobacco will get youngsters hooked on smoking in a matter of seconds.

Good that they have their ducks lined up nicely, isn't it? Good grief.

UPDATE: The Tumblr disappeared the next day. How odd?


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Modern Day Follies

folly ˈfɒli/ noun: a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose
Behold the height of government idiocy. Via Mr Cole, this is what vaping areas are going to look like, probably just about everywhere.

Commons bosses have been blasted for wasting taxpayers’ money installing two useless “vaping areas” around parliament that nobody uses, The Sun can reveal. 
The zones were installed in the summer after MPs were banned from puffing on e-cigs indoors, but the ruling is widely flouted by MPs “vaping” in their offices and bars. 
Vaping Tory MP Stephen Metcalfe said: “The ban is so silly that MPs are increasingly ignoring it – which is not a great image for lawmakers.”
Now, Metcalfe is a decent sort, but he's missing the point somewhat. This laughable "solution" is entirely the result of moronic politicians and their adherence to extremists in the tobacco control industry. MPs are ignoring the rules because the rules are utterly ridiculous.

So how did it get to such a situation that Westminster is parodying itself and installing the modern day equivalent of a folly? Well, in 1972 ASH was founded by government officials and staffed by the Department of Health. Also in the 1970s, a raving lunatic decided that it would be a wheeze to pretend that the public are threatened by mythical secondhand smoke. An industry grew up around it and the fantasy that standing next to a smoker indoors would kill you was formed.

Of course, once this happened, even smoking outdoors (which cannot possibly harm anyone so even anti-smoking crazies have given up trying to 'prove' that) is regarded as a threat by HR professionals. Here is what ACAS has to say on the matter.
There may be a concern that preventing the use of E-cigarettes at work may hinder those who use them to stop smoking, particularly if they are required to smoke them in designated smoking areas together with cigarette smokers. Employers may want to consider organising a separate E-cigarette smoking area external to work premises.
And the CIPD says ...
 “[employees] could challenge any disciplinary action arising from using e-cigarettes outside of a designated smoking area. To avoid this risk, employers could assign a separate area for e-cigarette users, well away from the designated smoking area” 
So, the result of government idiocy is, funnily enough, an idiotic solution. As you can see above.

Of course, since there is no threat for anyone from vapers being indoors - as the government's own 'public health' advisory body has stated - they could just let e-cigs be openly used inside. But that would be far too cheap and sensible in a time of 'austerity', now wouldn't it?


Monday, 30 November 2015

They Walk Among Us

In Wales today, the health committee studying Mark Drakeford's dangerous ignorance-based policy-making published a report giving their findings. Trust me, you will struggle to comprehend what some of these political raving moonhowlers actually believe.

The report is 157 pages long and it has to be said that the committee was split on all items relating to e-cigs. In any sensible legislature this should mean that there really is no compelling case to restrict liberties and property rights to such a massive degree. However, we are talking about Wales where some politicians seem to have had their water poisoned with a heavy dose of mercury.

Conservative AM Darren Millar described the plans to ban e-cigs in public places thus.
“Mark Drakeford’s legislation isn’t based on science – it’s Labour nannying at its worst"
He's correct. Incredibly, the proposals don't rest on any science whatsoever, instead they are rooted in nothing more than innuendo and conjecture. Here are some highlights.
Some Members believe that the approach is appropriate given the concerns expressed by some witnesses about the longer term public health impact of e-cigarette use, including whether their use could re-normalise or act as a gateway to tobacco smoking or cause difficulties in enforcing smoke-free legislation.
"Concerns" for which there is not a shred of evidence backing them up. There have been no reports of difficulties in enforcement of the smoking ban due to vaping, and best evidence on e-cigs acting as a "gateway" shows that it simply isn't happening, while successful quitting has been the highest in recent times since e-cigs have been around, so only a moron (or someone very corrupt) could claim that e-cigs "re-normalise" smoking.


Further on ...
A majority of Committee Members share the concerns raised by some stakeholders that allowing the use of e-cigarettes in places where smoking is restricted could potentially lead to the re-normalisation of an activity that is no longer widely socially accepted, particularly as the action of vaping is similar to that of smoking a tobacco cigarette. 
A majority don't like that e-cig use is similar in form to using a cigarette. Erm, that's it.
Some Members were concerned to learn of diverging practice in relation to the display of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes at the point of sale, with e-cigarettes not being subject to any display restrictions, and often seen prominently displayed at point of sale in many outlets. They would wish to see work undertaken by the Welsh and UK Governments to explore options to restrict the display and marketing of e-cigarettes.
A pointless ban on displaying tobacco products - which has had no effect on smoking whatsoever - should be installed for a product which is actually tempting smokers away from tobacco? Who are these people? Gumbys?

Because, you see, they concede the positive aspects of e-cigs later in the report, so can't fail to have noticed.
The Committee notes and welcomes the contribution made by ecigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation, and recognises the role they could play in reducing the harms from tobacco smoking. It acknowledges the evidence stating that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and welcomes the positive health impact that switching to ecigarettes could potentially have on the lives of smokers.
All that "potential", eh? So let's just kill it by hiding e-cigs away where no-one can see them. That was, after all, the point of the tobacco display ban, wasn't it? You know, to stop anyone being tempted? This truly is weapons grade arsebiscuits from inept provincial prats. 

And get yourself on the floor so your jaw doesn't drop too far, because this is a delight.
A majority of Members are unconvinced that the evidence provided is sufficient to substantiate the suggestion that difficulties in distinguishing between e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes makes the enforcement of smoke-free legislation difficult to manage.
No, course it doesn't. Because everyone except deliberately obtuse prodnoses can tell the difference between e-cigs and smoking, which begs the question why they think that quitting using an e-cig can possibly "re-normalise" smoking. It normalises people using e-cigs for crying out loud! There are five year old kids who can grasp this concept, yet some AMs in the Welsh assembly find it too complicated. 

But I have left the best till last. I had to read this two or three times before the stupid properly sunk in. 
A home which is also a workplace
Now I've written about how insane this idea of home workplace bans are before, but I didn't quite appreciate the extent of fuckwittery behind it. Get a load of this!
The Committee notes that Article 8 [of the Human Rights Act] sets out the right to respect for private and family life: 
[T]he Committee notes these rights are not absolute rights. For example, there is no absolute right to respect for private life. Instead, these rights are qualified rights. This means that the state can interfere with these rights, but only when it is in pursuit of one of the legitimate aims set out in the second part of Article 8 and the interference is proportionate to that aim.
Wait for it ...
Five Members conclude that the restriction on using an e-cigarette in the home which is also a workplace is within the Assembly’s margin of appreciation. Similar reasoning applies to that set out for tobacco smoking in paragraph 201 and 202 above, save that the benefit of protecting workers from the harm of e-cigarette vapour does not carry the same weight as the benefit of protecting workers from the harm of tobacco smoke. However, these Members consider that that reduction is compensated by the need to protect against the risk of re-normalisation, the gateway effect and enforcement difficulties. Therefore, these Members conclude that the balance struck in the Bill is within the Assembly’s margin of appreciation.
In other words, based on no evidence whatsoever except bullshit and fabrication, these Members (has there ever been a better description of such tools?) believe that made-up scaremongery, baseless smears and pure fantasy are worthy of binning terms of the Human Rights Act for Welsh citizens!

This is the modern equivalent of pointing at someone you don't like the look of and shouting "Witch! Burn her!". Yet this is actually happening in a legislative committee room. Not in the third world. But in Wales.  

I've seen some daft things in my seven years writing here, but I'm really struggling to think of anything as incredibly silly, blasé and crassly dangerous as that. Congratulations, Welsh AMs, you just took my contempt of politicians to a new level. 

Sadly, the most ignorant, pathetic and anti-social in society will happily go along with these professional political trolls. Screw evidence and health, it's never been about those things anyway.


Commons Sense

I've written a review of Wednesday's event at the House of Commons, you can read it at this link.

Disclaimer: I am distinctly apolitical so this isn't an endorsement of the Conservative party per se (yes, Niamh, I'm talking to you), just an acknowledgement of a job very well done by Con4Lib with the help of some excellent Tory MPs. If Labour (pfft), the Lib Dems or UKIP held similar high profile events in support of individual liberties and personal responsibility with regard to lifestyle choices, I think we jewel robbers would be equally impressed. After today's sugar nonsense and Welsh e-cig insanity, by Christ we need them!




Sunday, 29 November 2015

More EU E-Cig Idiocy: Thou Shalt Not See Adverts

On Friday, I highlighted the stupidity of the e-liquid labelling requirements laid out under the EU's Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), effective in May 2016.
That's a lot of scaremongering nonsense for an e-cig accessory which has accounted for zero deaths amongst the many millions of European vapers over a ten year period, isn't it? 
All that (misleading) info will have to be printed on a label barely 2 cm tall by 6 cm wide, so will be all but illegible anyway. This is what you get when you pay thousands of regulators in Brussels to sit around thinking about what to regulate next to save themselves from the dole.
Well now, via Planet of the Vapes, we can see the equally idiotic legislation surrounding advertising which is being implemented by our elected government who are bound by EU law to do so at the behest of the unelected EU Commission.
The document covers “No advertising of electronic cigarettes in the press etc” – making it an offence not only to publish an advert but also to procure an advert in a publication therefore jointly making the advertiser and the buyer of the advert culpable for any transgression. 
Secondly the article covers “No advertising of electronic cigarettes in information society services” – covering pretty much all electronic media, websites, apps, blogs etc. 
Sponsorship of events etc. - No person may sponsor, with the aim or effect of promoting electronic cigarettes or refill containers”
It is currently unclear as to what the difference is between promotional material and what is informational material.  Could it perhaps be that reviews are also covered by this stringent regulation?
Or, to put it more succinctly, here's a slide from the E-Cig Summit earlier this month.

Click to enlarge
So, the EU - and the British state - want smokers to quit smoking, while prominent UK tobacco controllers and the government's own 'public health' advisory body concede that e-cigs "can help smokers to quit". However, after May 2016, visibility of e-cigs as an alternative to smoking is going to be reduced to near zero thanks to the TPD ensuring that e-cig vendors - and possibly consumers too - will be prohibited from telling smokers about their existence on all widely disseminated media!

It's some of the most unjoined-up political thinking ever witnessed in this country, surely? It truly beggars belief.

Of course, there will still be some who will be allowed to promote e-cigs, albeit boringly, as the PHE statement back in August revealed.
PHE is committed to ensure that smokers have a range of evidence-based, effective tools to help them to quit. We encourage smokers who want to use e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking to seek the support of local stop smoking services.
Stop smoking services? You mean organisations which are currently crying out for information about vaping from consumers because they simply do not understand them? It would seem so.

Therefore, after May 2016, you won't be allowed to see any communications from e-cig manufacturers, vendors and possibly consumers - who all have in-depth knowledge of the products and how they work - but will be perfectly able to receive advice and information from state agencies who wouldn't know one end of an e-cig from the other.

In other words, state capture of a thriving and successful market which will be transformed into an impotent, invisible, and ineffective one because of baseless scaremongery, entrenched industry lobbying, tobacco control industry rent-seeking and EU incompetence.

Yep, that's about standard. Because, y'see, the state - domestic and EU-wide - is utterly incompetent, hypocritical, and certainly not your friend. See how it works yet?


Friday, 27 November 2015

EU E-Cig Idiocy Beginning To Emerge

It's been a busy week hence scarcity of content here these past few days, but a tweeted pic from Wednesday deserves a wider sharing.

As an example of how pointless, absurd, staggeringly stupid and tyrannical state vandalism can be, the proposed format for e-liquid bottle labelling after implementation of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in May next year can't be beaten.

Here, from a screened presentation (hence the low res) is what it will look like.


That's a lot of scaremongering nonsense for an e-cig accessory which has accounted for zero deaths amongst the many millions of European vapers over a ten year period, isn't it? Nice that - in amongst the self-aggrandising bullshit - EU pen-pushers allowed a little blue box for the manufacturer to tell consumers what they're buying though, I suppose.

What's even more insane is where it has to be displayed. Because, y'see, the TPD demands that the maximum bottle size for e-liquid must be 10ml from May 2016. In case you don't know how small that is, here's a 10ml bottle to scale.


All that (misleading) info will have to be printed on a label barely 2 cm tall by 6 cm wide, so will be all but illegible anyway. This is what you get when you pay thousands of regulators in Brussels to sit around thinking about what to regulate next to save themselves from the dole.

I predicted laughable, perverse, and utterly stupid outcomes like this back in 2013, before the TPD had been passed. I wasn't far wrong.
1) It will illustrate - as if it were needed - the wilful disregard the EU has for democracy and balanced debate. 
2) It will show conclusively that the EU is an organisation more interested in self-perpetuating than looking after its citizens in a responsible manner. 
And 3) it will show you how extremist tobacco control bastards operate, because it ain't ever been about health.
So it's not surprising that such a serious political platform as the Leave.EU referendum campaign group sees the TPD as a perfect example of EU over-reach and counterproductive meddling. Worse still, despite the UK being far more enlightened about vaping than other countries, because this is a directive - set in motion by an unelected EU Commission - there is stuff all the Westminster government can do about it, it's happening whether our elected MPs like it or not.

Can we leave yet?