Sunday, 31 May 2015

Glenis Willmott Is A Massive Hypocrite

Crocodile tears don't get any more disgusting than this.

Willmott is an MEP who was a Brussels Labour party representative on the EU ENVI committee which passed the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). By her stubborn dismissal of the thousands who petitioned Labour MEPs to rethink the issue, and her actions in voting in favour of the TPD, she ensured that every e-cig which effectively helps people to switch from smoking will be illegal next year.

Even ASH have recognised the benefits of e-cigs, with their new research estimating that there are now 1.1 million ex-smokers as a result of vaping. Willmott's retarded approach to the issue can only have the effect of ensuring that millions of UK smokers will continue to enjoy tobacco instead of e-cigs. Willmott is staunchly in the quit or die camp when it comes to smoking, with her stated preference being for you to die if you don't bow down and use products made by global pharmaceutical industries. As such, she is the very last person in the world to weep about lung cancer.

It's interesting to note that - for someone whose remit is health and who is a representative of the UK - she chose to copy the virulently anti e-cigarette, junk science spouting American @AshOrg in her tweet rather than the British @ASH_LDN who recognise the potential benefits of e-cigs, isn't it? It speaks volumes.

In case you were wondering, Willmott takes over £80,000 per annum plus expenses and benefits out of your taxes for being a lazy, dogma-driven, and woefully ill-informed dickhead who retches out jaw-dropping hypocrisy on Twitter.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Celebrate #FagDay

The World Harm Organisation has designated Sunday as World No Tobacco Day and this year's theme is the illicit trade, as their press release explains.
"The illicit tobacco trade offers products at lower prices, primarily by avoiding government taxes through smuggling, illegal manufacturing and counterfeiting. Cheaper tobacco encourages younger tobacco users (who generally have lower incomes) and cuts government revenues, reducing the resources available for socioeconomic development, especially in low-income countries that depend heavily on consumption taxes. This money might otherwise be spent on the provision of public services, including health care."
They've got some neck, haven't they, considering the WHO's FCTC has demanded global taxes, bans and restrictions on the legal product which are solely responsible for making tobacco such an increasingly profitable trade for criminals. Good grief.

I'll miss their self-righteous circle jerk on Sunday as (weather permitting) I'll be watching some cricket with - contrary to the WHO's bleating - an e-cig and a fat cigar for the lunch interval. Still, before they embark upon their miserable 'stop-doing-that-cos-I-don't-like-it' Sunday - quite an appropriate day for the new religion of 'public health', I thought - we can all celebrate something far more friendly and genial.

So, why not crack your pack and offer someone a tab today - on #FagDay - in the spirit of admiration and respect for your fellow man. It's a nigh on century long tradition doncha know.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In New South Wales

If you were up early enough this morning, you might have caught a proper liberal preparing to address a baying mob of authoritarian, tiny-minded snobs who seem intent on taking control of everyone's freedom of choice.

Peter Phelps is a government whip in the New South Wales parliament and a very sound beacon of sanity bobbing around in an ocean of proud fascists.

He was tweeting in advance of a debate about restrictions on e-cigs for under 18s which, of course, is never going to be enough for the knuckle-dragging ignoramuses who want to see them banned entirely. Globally we have seen unbelievably stupid politicians installing bans on devices which are actively encouraging hardcore smokers to quit - 1.1 million at last count in the UK - simply because they are too stupid to understand the huge potential societal and public health benefits they are trying to destroy.

An array of nodding dog prohibitionists set their stall out in claiming all kinds of fantasy dangers about e-cigs - along with the usual cherry-picking of 'evidence' and adherence to the word of reactionary tobacco control industry dinosaurs who just can't bear to see their life's work relegated to irrelevance by something they didn't imagine themselves - but Phelps bided his time.

Those opposing him, as is always the case with kneejerk nanny state advocates, had little else in their armoury but insults, smears, innuendo, wild assumptions, and downright lies.

You can read the whole e-cigs debate in two parts at this link but it will take a bit of scrolling. I was minded to pull out a few fab quotes from his speech and reproduce them here but it's far more entertatining if you read everything he said in its entirety, so here it is below.

Watch out for his emphasising the inconvenient truth that healthy people cost an economy more than the 'unhealthy' do (before sin taxes), his lampooning of a Queensland e-cig denialist, and the cunning way he led the parliament - to their shame, and subsequent palpable fury - to admit that they admire lifestyle advice given by the nazis.

Bravo, Dr Phelps, well played Sir!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Another Evidence-Free Ban, This Time In SW1

Does anyone remember secondhand smoke, aka passive smoking?.

For those with short memories, this was a ruse imagined in 1975 by Sir George Godber to promote a policy of “fostering the perception that secondhand smoke is unhealthy for nonsmokers”, after which the tobacco control industry set about creating the junk science to go with it. The first studies - by rabid professional anti-smoking cranks, natch - started to filter through at the start of the 1980s and eventually in 1993 and 2004 respectively, two politically-driven meta-analyses tortured cherry-picked tobacco control 'science' in the US and the UK in order to convince us all that secondhand smoke was dangerous. It mattered little that their conclusions amounted to a tiny and inconsequential relative risk (1.19 & 1.24) which would be dismissed as irrelevant in any other field of research, it was only required to manipulate politicians into passing illiberal and unnecessary bans.

Of course, the charlatans were just chasing headlines so by the time legislation was proposed - the only goal of the whole crusade - many people believed a wisp of smoke was as deadly as napalm, as architect of the UK ban Patricia Hewitt illustrated in 2007.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the ban was a "huge step forward" which would save thousands of people's lives. 
Ms Hewitt said the ban would protect everyone from second-hand smoke, while making it easier for smokers to quit.
"The scientific and medical evidence is clear - second-hand smoke kills, causing a range of serious medical conditions including lung cancer, heart disease, and sudden infant death syndrome," she said.
"This legislation will help to prevent the unnecessary deaths caused every year from second-hand smoke, and recognises that there is absolutely no safe level of exposure."
From rancid twisted conspiracy to bans on freely-chosen behaviour on the back of shonky propaganda, the whole process took 30 years give or take.

But, when the Health Act 2006 was tabled - and we're only talking about eight or nine years ago here - to implement a ban it was imperative that advocates had at least some evidence that smoking would 'harm' someone else, however fraudulent that 'evidence' transparently was. There was still some small recognition of J.S. Mill's harm principle where it relates to rights to self-determination and liberties.

Yet what have we now?
MPs who use e-cigarettes now have to go outside when they want their fix - because vaping has been banned across parliament. 
In a ruling made by the House of Commons Commission, backed by the House of Lords Committee, vaping is banned everywhere in parliament. 
This comes from an official note issued to politicians and staff which declares that "the use of electronic cigarettes is now prohibited across the Parliament Estate except for designated outdoor areas".
We can only guess at the reason behind this, because none is mentioned. Incredibly, where cigarette smoking by staff was allowed just eight short years ago in Westminster offices and bars, now completely harmless e-cigs are banned!

It hasn't taken any junk science, because there has been no credible study worldwide to say that passive vaping is harmful, so we can only assume it's because the parliamentary authorities think vapour looks a bit odd or makes someone feel uncomfortable.

Now, just recap what Patricia Hewitt said in 2007. She claimed that the smoking ban would "save thousands of people's lives" and "[make] it easier for smokers to quit", yet Westminster's ban is doing the polar opposite by punishing smokers who are trying to quit and arguably creating a precedent which will deter others from bothering. In fact, the only similarity this ban has with the 2007 one is that it is, once again, the selfish and intolerant who will benefit as - up and down the country - public sector authorities will cite this as a reason why they too should ban vaping.

Worse than that, this type of myopic and wholly indefensible ban encourages smoking - if I'm being shoved outside anyway, I may as well smoke rather than vape. There are over a million 'dual users' who will be be thinking exactly the same when some authoritarian knob jockey says "you can't use that here, more than my jobsworth" despite no-one except the most objectionable and odious in society giving a shit.

This speaks volumes about the way parliament and Westminster has changed for the worse in a very short time span. A principle of English law used to be that "everything which is not forbidden is allowed" and, by extension, that if you wanted to ban something you'd better have a damn good reason for it. But, in this case, there isn't one - an attempt at justification is not even embarked upon. It's just because they say so.

It doesn't reflect well on ASH in their new pretend role as friend of the vaper either. They have been making some positive noises on the subject of vaping recently, most notably with their latest research which revealed that there are now 1.1 million ex-smokers thanks to e-cigs, an increase of 400,000 in the past year, but their daily news hasn't touched upon the Westminster vaping ban at all, not even a brief reference. A stark contrast with 2009's revelation that delegates to the G20 summit would be provided with smoking lounges for Obama and his pals, when ASH were very quick to condemn the move in order to perpetuate the secondhand smoke golden goose.

Yet, as Westminster staff who vape are - to coin a Deborah Arnott phrase - "exiled to the outdoors" for no reason whatsoever, her organisation remains spinelessly silent despite being front and centre in political circles and fundamentally equipped to intervene if they chose to. Just as they have been equally lethargic - and, as a result, ineffectual - as motiveless e-cig bans run rampant on trains, buses, offices and pubs, as well as outdoors in sports stadia, on windy platforms and in provincial parks. All those potential quitters being herded into smoking areas with all that 'lethal' secondhand smoke, but they say next to nothing by way of condemnation. How many people are 'dying' due to their negligent lack of urgency? Odd, huh?

Still, I suppose it's all more proof that none of these bans has ever had anything to do with health. Secondhand smoke is nothing more now than a totem which has empowered a tiny minority of vile, anti-social, intolerant, self-centred and morally repugnant oafs in our population to object to just about anything which offends their delicate sensibilities.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Down Under Desperation

It's now common knowledge that tobacco controllers lie as a matter of course, but they're getting extraordinarily desperate in Australia.

At the weekend, a public health group in New South Wales joined industry, economists and politicians in recognising that Australia is suffering a recent growing problem with illicit tobacco (emphases mine).
NSW Health has told a review of tobacco laws that its inspectors have detected increased sales of illicit tobacco, which is packaged without health warnings and is sometimes blatantly labelled "illegal tobacco". 
Despite the emerging problem, the health department's powers extend only to photographing and taking samples of illegal tobacco, and inspectors are unable to seize the products. It called for laws to be strengthened.
And yesterday, Australian customs chiefs said that they "recognise this problem".
Figures reveal a huge increase in the importation of ­illegal cigarettes and “chop chop” tobacco via sea and air over the past year. 
The chief executive of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Roman Quaed­vlieg, said authorities were now contending with “more players” in the black market, with increasing numbers of criminals attracted to the ­lucrative business. 
“We recognise this problem,” Mr Quaedvlieg said. “It is a priority and we are dealing with it."
This is all hardly surprising given the pressures that anti-smoking lunatics have heaped on the legal market. A country the size of Australia has porous borders simply because it is so darn big and impossible to enforce, and when your pack of Marlboro is 10 times more expensive than the same product in a neighbouring state while also being riddled with gory anti-smoker wet dreams, the entirely predictable result is a legal industry jockeying for market share with organised crime.

Yet Australian tobacco controllers are still laughably trying to pretend it's not happening. And doing so very badly.

In March, a KPMG report entitled Illicit Tobacco in Australia was released which revealed that the black market had ballooned to 14.5% of all tobacco smoked in the country. But in an article in the Tobacco Control Journal which couldn't have been more badly timed if they tried - published as it was on the same weekend that the left of centre Sydney Morning Herald admitted that illicit tobacco in Australia is a major problem in not one, but two articles - resident tobacco control junk scientists from Cancer Council Victoria attempted to contest this, specifically with reference to plain packaging.

The first thing to make you laugh about their study - which, incidentally, they have presented to the world as "independent" despite the authors being world-renowned anti-smoking professionals - is that they are claiming it is more rigorous than the one conducted by KPMG.

The KPMG study involved the collection of 12,000 discarded cigarette packs across 16 different towns and cities covering 75% of the population. Additionally, the company is recognised as a world expert at this kind of survey with the OECD describing their methodology as “the most authoritative assessment of the level of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes across EU member states” . By contrast, the Tobacco Control study authors are career tobacco control chancers whose only goal is to 'prove' that policies they have badgered the Australian government for are not having the negative consequences that everyone else but them is seeing.

As for their methods, in any other public health sphere self-reported evidence by consumers is ridiculed and lambasted as unreliable. This is particularly problematic when dealing with the issue of illegal tobacco, I mean if someone called you at home and asked if you were participating in an illegal activity, what would you say?

Yet the Tobacco Control study relied solely on this dodgy data. It was merely a telephone survey of 8,679 smokers which covers a far inferior proportion of the population to the KPMG one. It is therefore remarkable that the study authors actually call into question the validity of the methodology used by KPMG in their analysis of the same issue. Specifically the authors’ state “packs discarded in public places are likely to provide a poor representation of the universe of all packs used by smokers”, yet they seem to believe that a telephone survey - complete with all the baggage that self-reported data carries - provides a more accurate representation! These people are well beyond delusional.

And there's more.

If you were a tobacco control shyster and wanted to put together a smokescreen to pretend that plain packaging hadn't increased the illicit market, how would you go about it? Well, one way would be to make sure you studied something which was irrelevant to the country you were studying. For example, it has been established that in Australia a fake illegal brand called Manchester cigarettes has managed to grab 1.4% market share amongst tobacco consumers. These types of products are classified as "cheap whites" which the Guardian describes as "cigarettes that are created by organised crime gangs and have no legitimate market anywhere". So an Australian tobacco controller would obviously prefer to study "cheap whites" which are not common in Australia, thus diluting the size of the problem and making it easier to ignore the volume of the increased illicit trade. Did they do this? Of course they did!

The way they chose to label a brand as a "cheap white" was to use the brands mentioned by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in their 2012 report. These included Jin Ling, made in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova; and Racquel which is made in Cyprus. Now, call this a hunch, but I don't reckon that many packs of those illegal brands make it from Europe to the sandpit on the other side of the globe, do you? Manchester brand however - the "cheap white" most prevalent in Australia - was conveniently not mentioned in the WCO report. Fancy that!

Hang around, because there's more.

Even with all those shenanigans going on, there was still some statistical mendacity to perform before they could pretend that illicit tobacco wasn't on the rise. They did this by misrepresenting the data in the results section of the study. They considered that a measure of what would be classed as smuggled factory made (FM) cigarettes would be "where the reported price paid was 20% or more below the recommended retail price" and came to this conclusion (emphases again mine).
'The prevalence of international brands of FM cigarettes purchased in Australia for 20% or more below the RRP was low in all phases (under 0.5%, unadjusted) and did not increase between pre-PP and PP, nor linearly during PP'.
Very good, except the actual data showed something quite different.

The number on the left is the prevalence of those reporting suspiciously priced brands and the number next to it is the odds ratio (the likelihood of using a suspiciously priced brand). So, what the data states is that the likelihood of someone declaring that they were smoking a suspiciously-priced cigarette doubled after the implementation of plain packaging. I wonder why they chose not to mention such a thing? It's almost as if their livelihoods depended on it.

Other tables came to the same conclusion, oddly enough.

As whitewashes go, you've got to admit it's a piss poor one. But this is the best the Australian tobacco control lie machine can muster. As the scale of illegal tobacco in Australia becomes ever more clear to politicians, the media, industry, border agencies, the public and even public health groups, the anti-smoking community are now isolated as the only people who refuse to admit the truth. It's truly desperate stuff.

Next stop Britain when plain packaging is installed in 2016 with our free borders and massed ranks of criminal enterprises just across the Channel. I simply cannot wait to see what balderdash our own tobacco control fantasists will come up with to explain away the predictable carnage. On past performance, it promises to be hilarious.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Tobacco Control Torturers

Following on from yesterday's piece about how we are expected to now abandon liberties in favour of absolute safety, comes this.
Since July 2008, mental health facilities in England have had indoor smoking bans. However, NICE guidelines recommend that all NHS sites, including psychiatric hospitals become completely smoke-free
It is written by Olivia Maynard, who has carved a lucrative career as a professional anti-smoker. She reviews the 'evidence' surrounding enforcing bans on people with mental health who are locked up for their own good, and finds it hunky-dory.
The evidence presented in this systematic review suggests that complete bans are the most effective at encouraging smoking cessation and that the provision of nicotine dependence treatment, such as NRT or brief advice, is also crucial.
Personally, I disagree.

Because, you see - by Olivia's own admission - the only thing anti-smokers think is important is quitting smoking. Nothing else.
Importantly, none of the studies in this review explored the impact of smoke-free legislation on mental health outcomes.
Overall wellbeing isn't at all important to the tobacco control industry, they don't get paid for that. Torturing mental health patients by targeting them at their most vulnerable and when they have had their rights to self-determination taken away from them - over an issue hyped beyond rationality by career prohibitionists in Maynard's industry - is morally nauseating.

I may be a hopeless believer in personal freedoms, but anyone who would even consider forcing someone to quit smoking when they are at a low ebb and incarcerated is on a par with vile moral Victorians who used to lock up unmarried teen mothers in asylums for making the wrong choices in life.

Those who agree that it's a good idea should be hunted for sport, in my opinion.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Safety Is Everything - A Vile Mentality

Sally Satel has written a marvellous article in National Review about the absurd negative stance taken by some public health professionals towards e-cigs, and I would urge everyone to read it. Entitled 'What’s Driving the War on E-Cigarettes?', she mainly focuses on the malign efforts of the American CDC.
The standoff between the precautionists and the pragmatists essentially boils down to their orientation toward risk — should we aim for none, or much less than there is now — and the moral connotations they attach to it. The contest will not be resolved readily because any vacuum of information leads those with a precautionary temperament to imagine worst-case outcomes, mass-produce reams of nervous commentary, and sanctimoniously call for tight restriction on the freedom to engage in novel practices.  
The CDC falls squarely in the precautionist camp. It gives disproportionate weight to skeptics’ unsubstantiated claims about e-cigarettes as it minimizes their estimable benefit and foments panic. This is bad for smokers who have tried to quit and can’t, bad for the integrity of public health as a field, and bad for the credibility of the CDC, whose tarring of electronic cigarettes is a shameful violation of public trust.
The reason I specifically highlight those couple of paragraphs is because they encapsulate a nauseous aspect of modern life; namely the accelerating restriction - and often eradication - of our liberties in the name of absolute safety.

Another example from today - again on the subject of e-cigs - came courtesy of Robin Ireland commenting on Radio Leicester about the emergence of vaping bars (from 14:50 here). He is "uncomfortable" with bars that allow vaping because ...
"If it is suddenly seen as normal to be using a device inside, surely that's going to encourage copycat behaviour, it's going to encourage people to say 'oh yeah, that looks pretty cool, let's go and try that' and electronic cigarettes have some risk attached to them"
Now, while I'm grateful to him for further illustrating that smoking (and vaping) bans have absolutely nothing to do with protecting bar workers - the only reason MPs voted for the Health Act 2006 which facilitated all this subsequent mass hysteria about smoking and e-cigs - he is effectively saying forget property rights, forget supply and demand, forget the concept of personal responsibility, individual choice and tolerance, everyone's liberties must be curtailed in case someone, somewhere, is exposed to an almost immeasurable amount of risk.

E-cigs have leaped onto the scene so quickly that they have placed a magnifying glass over people who believe in regressive and anti-social policies like Ireland obviously does. But it's not restricted to vaping, the attitude is everywhere and is severely damaging society's quiet enjoyment of everyday life.

As a recent example, the last sporting event I attended (with the boy) was ruined for most of those around me by a horde of stewards armed with petty rules and a hi-viz jacket which entitled them to enliven their sad lives at the weekend by bossing people around. The event was populated by mostly families, dressing up was encouraged and the crowd was cringingly middle class and obedient. Not that this calmed the massed ranks of dayglo-bedecked grumps one iota, mind, they were still eager to throw their weight around. A lesbian mum in front of us (from Brighton, natch) was told (rudely) she couldn't rock her baby to sleep where she was because she was standing briefly on the metre wide steps, oh and while she was at it, her bag was not stowed safely under her seat - he had travelled up 24 steps to do this. Out in the concourse, a squad was summoned by radio when four 11/12 year old boys were throwing a foam ball (sold at extortionate prices in the stadium shops) back and forth from ground level to a first floor staircase. Kids were monitored like vermin while seeking autographs and the whole crowd watched like naughty schoolchildren throughout the match. E-cigs, of course, were banned too and a vaper was moved 6 inches backwards because he was standing under a sign saying "smoking not allowed past this point". Despite the atmosphere being no more threatening than you'd find at a 10 year old's birthday party, you could have been forgiven for thinking the stewards were expecting another Heysel or a napalm attack.

This isn't an isolated incident, it is a daily and endemic facet of 21st century life. And it is vile.

Driven by an army of state-paid regulators, irrational detached politicians, health and safety professionals, public health alarmists, security 'experts' and their useful idiots, the "safety is everything, freedom inconsequential" mantra is applied everywhere to the detriment of society as a whole.

The new UK government is pushing ahead with the vile snoopers charter, civil liberties are regarded as inconvenient to lawmaking, and in the US, a would-be Presidential candidate has even gone so far as to have this 'doctrine' posted front and centre on his campaign page.

We often talk about how many brave lives were lost to protect our liberties; it's incredibly sad that it is costing none of those who are determined to take them away from us one by one in the vain pursuit of unattainable absolute safety. In fact, they are being rewarded for it, often with the taxes we have paid for the dubious privilege.

It's almost like Benjamin Franklin's words have been eradicated from historical record, for shame.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Public Health: The Anglosphere's Global Disease

You gotta laugh at the obsessive puritan mentality sometimes.

The morbidly obese bubblegumphobe is referring to this meme going around 'public health' circles that binge-drinking is uniquely British; that it is a behavioural disease which has now spread to our neighbours across la Manche. So frighteningly swiftly has this happened (despite British drinking culture being thousands of years old) that poor Ministry of Health politicians in Paris have not had time to coin a French word for it, apparently, so have pinched 'le binge-drinking' instead.

He may have a point, you know. The French are renowned throughout history for being crap at wars because they couldn't pitch a tent until they discovered that the English were doing something called 'le camping' - if only Napoleon had known that, eh? Likewise, their poor workers were toiling for seven days a week without respite for centuries until some Gallic traveller visited our shores and dscovered that we enjoyed two days off which we called 'le weekend', and when cars were invented those tortured Frenchies were driving around throughout the day and night before someone told them about the peculiar - but brilliant - British invention of 'le parking'.

Similarly, we Brits had never experienced déjà vu until the French taught us about it; we had no businessmen in this country until a wandering French entrepreneur enlightened us as to how trade was done; women went commando as a matter of course because underwear was only sold on these shores once the French imported lingerie; Britain was devoid of art until our continental neighbours taught us to paint; we couldn't beat eggs without the French teaching us about omelettes; and British people cast no shadows until we'd discovered people in France had seen mysterious things called silhouettes.

It all makes sense now, doesn't it?

Of course, there might be another explanation. You see, the French have always been pretty relaxed about their booze, it's why we like to go there and buy the stuff at dirt cheap prices. Wine is a family thing and is available in supermarché wire baskets at knock-down prices compared to here.

In Britain (and other English-speaking countries), however, we've always had finger-wagging temperance lunatics who like to sneer at the choices of others, and embark on moral panics about the hellfire and eternal damnation that will ensue if you dare to consort with the demon drink. Our history is sadly riddled with the rotten anti-social nerks. And the terminology these puritans create to support their irrational moral crusades necessarily involve terms like 'binge-drinking' to describe something as inconsequential as a couple of pints of Stella on a Sunday afternoon.

The only thing being imported into France is that twisted and illiberal mindset by way of the globalisation of miserabilism, whereby charmless and disloyal grunts like McKee attend international summits and run down his own country in order to spread the dictatorial 'public health' disease to other - previously relaxed - nations so that their people can suffer too.

That's why the French don't have a word for binge-drinking; it's because their own snobby social engineers aren't as imaginative with their self-aggrandising and illiberal vocabulary as the minging, long-practiced, career neo-temperance shitsticks we are cursed with in Britain.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

As If Prohibition Never Happened

While Australian anti-smoking lunatics continue to pat themselves on the back for installing the utterly pointless policy of plain packaging, BAT Australia has announced some astonishing news.
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) is considering launching a Make Your Own (MYO) cigarette brand to try and capture the growing number of illegal chop chop smokers.
'Chop chop' is the colloquial name for bags of loose unbranded tobacco sold on the black market in Australia by criminal gangs.
BATA spokesperson Scott McIntyre said chop chop or illegal loose leaf tobacco now makes up the majority of the illegal black market and we are being forced to compete with organised crime for market share due to the government’s failed excise system. 
“Currently the illegal trade in Australia makes up 14.5 per cent of all tobacco consumed in Australia which is nearly 2.6 million tonnes and a big opportunity for us to steal back consumers,” Mr McIntyre said.
By 'failed excise system', McIntyre is referring to two obscene and irresponsible 12.5% increases in tobacco duty which have hugely distorted the Australian tobacco market.

Governments tend to dislike tobacco, we all know that, but such has the hysteria over smoking been whipped up in Australia that they seem to have abandoned all knowledge of the Laffer curve, the principles of Pigovian taxation, and the wise words of J S Mill on sin taxes.
“Every increase of cost is a prohibition, to those whose means to not come up to the augmented price"
Two crippling 12.5% excise duty rises would make legal tobacco unaffordable for large sections of any population, so it is hardly surprising that the gangs producing chop chop are doing brisk business. It's like the Aussie government is completely oblivious to the effects of Prohibition in 1920s USA.

Of course, their dozy politicians will probably point out that tobacco is still legal, just a little bit more expensive. But, as Mill accurately describes, if you price the less well off out of the legal market where else have they to go but the black one?

Mill also had this to say about the legitimacy of massive tax hikes on such products.
"To tax stimulants for the sole purpose of making them more difficult to be obtained is a measure differing only in degree from their entire prohibition, and would be justifiable only if that were justifiable.”
Now, Australia obviously doesn't believe it justifiable that tobacco be banned outright or they would have the balls to have done so by now. So instead they are witnessing the bizarre situation whereby a legal industry has been railroaded into competing with the criminals that the government have empowered by their hysterical fascist policies. Incredible stuff!

There's more though, because - despite this being an entirely predictable turn of events - anti-smoking lunatics are still trying to pretend that their unsustainable policy wet dreams are not insane in practice.

I've reported before on the stunning stupidity of these people in the UK, and how they consider the laws of economics not to apply to tobacco, but Australia has its own mad denialists too.
Australian Council on Smoking and Health president Mike Daube said it was a desperate and bizarre suggestion. 
"It's also a cynical ploy to get around curbs on cigarette promotion and to appeal to the most vulnerable sectors in the community," he said.
This Mike Daube, of course, is the same geriatric extremist anti-smoker who forced a production of Carmen to close because the 1875 opera is set in a cigarette factory ... and then lied about it; who believes passive smoke is more dangerous than exhaust fumes; who denies the benefits of e-cigs due to his anti-industry obsession; and who is so cowardly as to attack a part-time Cornwall waitress for daring to engage in debate.

He's now apparently worried about "the most vulnerable sectors in the community" - exactly the sectors in Australian community who his policies have forced into buying chop chop from organised criminals who don't care about age restrictions, and are not regulated by government. Blithely ignoring the effects of prohibition by taxation he encourages, and the perils of smokers buying their supplies from an unregulated market, instead he is attacking the legal one for daring to try to reel these people back in. There is a special place in hell reserved for rancid psychopaths like that.

In the meantime, we are actually at that point now where legal businesses are jockeying for position with organised crime for market share. Everyone in Australia who has allowed such a situation to develop should feel deeply ashamed, but then shame takes a back seat while they still have their snouts in the tobacco control trough, eh?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Experiences Of Vaping - Your Views Wanted

Read any article about e-cigs and you'll have seen some tobacco control gobshite talk about how they "just don't know" anything about them. This, of course, is just wild thrashing while they come to terms with an insurgent to their cosy self-enriching world of bullying, bans, restrictions and denormalisation of smokers.

In truth, there are hundreds of studies already released on vaping and literally hundreds more studies being performed, as I write, to populate what was once a void. This is why 'public health' dinosaurs the world over - such as Chappers, Bubblegum and Mad Mechanic Stan - are getting their lies in early before they are overwhelmed by undeniable facts about the benefits of vaping.

Many of the ongoing studies are clinical trials which you might not have access to, but the Centre for Drug Misuse Research in Glasgow has embarked upon an ambitious project which you can take part in. They have produced an online survey to explore perceptions and experiences of using e-cigs and want to receive responses from anyone who has even taken a few puffs of one. The survey is global and is aiming at a target of 10,000 responses or more so do spread the word.

You can take the survey by clicking here, which also gives you the chance (if you choose) of winning one of three iPad Minis just for answering a few questions. A mirror survey is also being handled by the University of Catania's Dr Riccardo Polosa for Italian speakers, which you can access by clicking on this link.

Dr Polosa presenting to Mark Pawsey, and other MP members of the APPG on e-cigs, in March
These kind of initiatives should be supported, in my opinion, because the more information gathered means the more will be known about e-cigs and vaping ... and the less tobacco control liars can pretend that they know nothing.

I submitted my responses earlier today, which took around 10 minutes, so do go to the link and add yours before sharing widely. If you don't use e-cigs yourself, please send the survey to someone you know who does.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Election Reflections

A few days ago I wrote about how the election may affect the cause of vaping and e-cigs based on evidence from the archives here at Puddlecote Towers. Not particularly forensic, but events since make me fairly optimistic about the future.

E-Cigarette Politics has offered a considered view of how the election changes matters, and I would go along with most of it.
How this affects vapers
Surprisingly, Cons are probably the vapers' best bet. [They] voted 19 out of 20 MEPs against the anti-ecig TPD, and this is a good record for honesty and organisational skills. Lab and Greens have a 3-line whip against vaping and will do whatever they can to ban it in order to protect tobacco tax revenues and pharma profits. 
Essentially this means that we can expect a sympathetic ear when the the new TPD is transposed, though for all practical purposes vaping faces some degree of ban in the UK via restrictive regulation. As the law comes from the EU, the most corrupt political structure in the world, nothing else can be expected. We won't know what degree of ban will be imposed until around 2017 - 2018, when the enforcement structure is finally in place and the regulations are fully enforced. As the Dept of Health is owned by pharma and will control enforcement, we can expect that EU regulations will be enforced to the hilt (ain't that the truth - DP). We can also expect that the anti-vaping regs will get tighter over time, as the pain of lost cigarette sales, lost tobacco tax revenue and lost pharmaceutical sales really begins to hurt. 
Unless, of course, legal challenges to the TPD (Article 20) are successful - in which case everything goes on hold for a while.
This is very true, and it is worth remembering that a key campaign promise of the Conservatives was to rein in some of the excesses of the EU by way of renegotiating terms prior to an in/out referendum in 2017. As such, I'd say that a priority for every e-cig user in the UK who lives in a Tory constituency would be to write to your MP - as in, now - and ask them to have Article 20 kicked into the long grass. The Tories are embarking on this renegotiation with a view to persuading the country to vote in favour of staying in the EU, so make it absolutely clear to them that if the de facto ban on e-cigs goes ahead unhindered, you will be voting OUT in the referendum. If you're unsure how to contact your MP locally, use this website to do it.

Speaking more generally about the election, I was invited to a London election night party where, early on, the talk centred around exactly what kind of socialism and spending other people's money the UK would vote for on the day. But then this flashed up on the big screen TVs to audible gasps of surprise.

Of course, we now know this to have been a cautious estimate and that the Tories took 15 more seats and, with them, a clear majority. Since then, a façade seems to have been broken down.

Politically-correct left-leaning social media had created an aura of inevitability whereby public opinion was on a one-way course to 'progressive' utopia. Everyone was agreed that big business was bad, anyone with a few quid had to be punished, and longevity was the entire point of living. In a yes/no quiz of 5 health spokesman on the Daily Politics, all five were boasting about how they were the best party for nudging/shoving/bullying the public - even the UKIP candidate said he was in favour of a ban on smoking in parks!

On Thursday, to the hilarious disbelief of the left, the British public voted against all of it. The Conservatives have been given a mandate to be truly conservative.

Simon Clark wrote on the eve of the election that ...
In terms of tobacco control and other product regulations the only difference between the Conservatives and Labour is the speed with which the parties regulate. The Tories take a little longer but the direction of travel is the same.
But a week, as they say, is a long time in politics and I'm not sure that holds true considering the events of the past few days. Eric Pickles was widely praised for his declaration that sock puppets would no longer be tolerated, and post-election it appears that Oliver Letwin is on the case more fully.
Oliver Letwin, the Tories' policy chief, has spent the campaign in Whitehall drawing up proposals to merge quangos and slash Government regulation. These are likely to form a key part of the spending review.
Now, I happen to know that Letwin has been made acutely aware of how many headaches his party had had to suffer from its funding the likes of ASH and Alcohol Concern, for example, to attack the government and demand illiberal legislation. In a regime of austerity, it is the simplest decision to turn off the tap and relieve those pressures, especially since the decision of the election jury which effectively rejected lefty top-down finger-wagging tosspottery.

Politics is cyclical and can take a while to about-turn, but the message that was sent on May 7th is that this country isn't that happy with mealy-mouthed righteousness after all. UKIP tore more strips from northern Labour heartlands than they harmed the Tory vote in the South; wherever Labour raised its anti-fizzy drinks, anti-alcohol, pro-tobacco levy heads, they were handed a big fat 'meh'. Wherever the illiberal LibDems posted a candidate, they were ruthlessly humilated. They'll have to go away and think long and hard about what that 'liberal' bit means.

The past decade has been one of intolerant and ugly dictating of others' choices by a hideous clique of self-absorbed and self-deluded bien pensants. As they publicly soul search on Twitter and cry about how they thought they had the country in the palm of their hand before the quiet electorate cruelly stole control away from them (to which the only response is, of course, to throw a tantrum and deface memorials), it should be clear to the new government that they can re-discover the concept of the public being allowed to make their own choices. to be tolerant of what the public choose and to just leave us alone for at least a few years.

Freedom is, after all, quite popular.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

E-Cigs And The Election

Granted I haven't been on the radar much this past week or so but I haven't seen much guidance by the usual vaping advocates - that's if there has been any - as to who e-cig users should be thinking of voting for tomorrow. So here are a few nuggets of info gathered from the archives here.

The only party to specifically mention e-cigs in their manifesto for this election has been the Lib Dems
"Carefully monitor the growing evidence base around electronic cigarettes, which appear to be a route by which many people are quitting tobacco, and ensure restrictions on marketing and use are proportionate and evidence-based. For example, we support restrictions on advertising which risks promoting tobacco or targets under 18s, such as those introduced in 2014, but would rule out a statutory ban on ‘vaping’ in public places."
All very touchy-feely, except when you remember that their party stepped aside and allowed Article 20 of the TPD to pass unhindered. Apparently, their political geniuses think that it is somehow workable despite it effectively banning every single device currently on the market in its current form.

It's all very well their promising to "carefully monitor" e-cigs, but when the EU's abomination is ratified in 2016, there will be nothing to bloody advertise, and nothing to 'vape in public places'. 

As for Labour, the experience of vapers who tried to engage with their MEPs during the TPD negotiations cannot be emphasised enough. Firstly, the huge level of voter engagement was dismissed by Labour as merely astroturfing, that's if the MEP concerned could even be bothered to reply. Personally, my reply from my local Labour MEP was to say that they despised smoking and were 100% behind the TPD ... yes, they didn't even understand what was being asked of them! 

The TPD, of course, was led through Brussels by Labour's Linda McAvan, who has links to pharma and who seemed mostly upset that e-cig companies were earning "huge profits". She also believes all of the misinformation about e-cigs being a gateway to smoking, and I fully expect her equally ignorant party colleagues will be of the same opinion, especially since the main detractors in 'public health' are rancid anti-business socialists like McKee, Scally, Capewell etc on whose every mendacious word the Labour party tend to hang. 

I would also expect Labour politicians to believe every word that the doctors union, the BMA, say on the subject. And since the BMA has been caught lying openly on the BBC about e-cigs, that'll be the way they go on the matter. You can also almost guarantee - with a deficit to tackle - that e-cigs will be taxed to the hilt by Labour, as has already been suggested by their fellow lefties in other countries

Lastly, if you want to see how a Labour politician would handle e-cigarettes once granted office and the levers of legislation, you only have to peer over the border to Wales where there is one already in power. Over there, Labour's Mark Drakeford has been furiously trying to demonise e-cigs and using every piece of anti-vaping propaganda he can lay his hands on in doing so. 

If there's one piece of advice every UK vaper should take to the polls tomorrow, it should be that Labour are not to be trusted and that a vote for them is almost certainly a vote for the end of vaping in this country.

On a more optimistic note, the Conservatives promise to be far less condemnatory about e-cigs should they come to power. It was to his credit, for example, that - unlike the LibDems - Conservative MEP Martin Callanan was scathing about the TPD when it was passed back in 2013. 
“This is a perverse decision that risks sending more people back to real, more harmful, cigarettes.

“Refillable e-cigarettes would almost certainly be banned, and only the weakest products will be generally available. As many smokers begin on stronger e-cigs and gradually reduce their dosage, making stronger e-cigs harder to come across will encourage smokers to stay on tobacco.  
“E-cigarettes have helped people give up tobacco. They are not completely safe and they may need regulation but they are a great deal safer than cigarettes and this agreement will make them harder for smokers to obtain."
Now that's someone who truly understands what an appalling piece of legislation the EU's TPD is for e-cigs. Callanan is no longer an MEP but is still active in politics and was recently spotted at the launch of the APPG on E-cigarettes in Westminster. It is also very much worth noting that the APPG is chaired by Conservative Mark Pawsey and populated mostly by Tory MPs as far as I can see. In Wales, too, the main antidote to Mark Drakeford's hogwash on e-cigs has consistently come from Conservative AM Darren Millar

The last variable is UKIP, who we can't judge on their Westminster efforts except to say that their complement of two delivered by voting against plain packaging recently. On that evidence, we can expect the party to be supportive of e-cigs just as they are in the EU despite messing up their TPD voting somewhat

UKIP was involved in the funniest smear story of all time when the Guardian threw mud about their receiving a donation from Totally Wicked ... despite admitting that the party was opposed to regulations against e-cigs and always has been, and Nigel Farage has been seen out and about on the campaign trail this year puffing away on his second generation e-cig. Indeed, he was forthright in his support in this clip from a couple of years ago.

This is alongside issuing unequivocal statements on the stupidity of restricting vaping.
“E-cigarettes have been a lifeline for many people, but this agreement will have the draconian effect of driving more 'vapers' back to full tobacco cigarettes... If the EU was truly interested in people’s health it would be helping to popularise rather than restrict e-cigarettes.” 
I think it might be safe to say, on that evidence, that vapers could vote UKIP with confidence that a stitch-up isn't in the offing.

Apart from that, I suppose it's up to the personal views of your local candidates, though I've not seen any mention in the election coverage so far, so unless one has knocked on your door and it's been raised, that is much of a mystery. If anyone has any personal comments from candidates to add, I'd be most interested.

It's also important to add that just because there is no mention in manifestos of banning e-cigs in public places, for example, or introducing advertising bans or taxation, it doesn't mean that it won't happen if the wrong people get into Westminster. The smoking ban, tobacco display ban, bans on smoking in cars and plain packaging are all examples of laws which are now on the statute book but were never presented to the public as a solid manifesto commitment.

Of course, if you're in Bristol Kingswood or Barnsley East, you've got a dedicated vaping candidate to vote for, so fill your boots.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Sure As Night Follows Day

Oh good, it's all still here.

These pages have been empty for a number of reasons recently. Puddlecote Inc has been dogged by large scale staff sickness, not helped by a further two drivers being called up for jury service in the same week! Your humble host then got smacked out of the park for 6 by a savage flu bug which could have been designed by the Devil himself, all of which was then topped off by a family tragedy over the weekend. There is still some mopping up to do after all that but things will return to normal over time.

In the meantime, there is news out today from Australia about that tobacco black market that was, apparently, just an industry lie during the campaign to install pointless plain packaging.
ILLEGAL tobacco is booming across Australia with a 30 per cent increase in black market trade in the past two years costing taxpayers more than $1.35 billion, a new report has found. 
Illicit tobacco continues to fund international crime syndicates with record tax increases and plain packaging fuelling the demand for cheap counterfeit and contraband cigarettes, according to the report released today.
Considering this is a quite obvious reaction to tax rises and removal of popular branding if you were to talk to any smoker, it shouldn't come as a surprise. But a facet of every tobacco control campaign ever created is to deny the bleeding obvious and pretend it's all just a creation of tobacco industry imaginations. You know, pubs won't close because of smoking bans, there is no shift to black market when you tax tobacco, and smokers will simply carry on buying their fags as normal in plain packs ... except kids who will magically no longer see them, that kind of thing.

Tobacco control sees only policies they want enacted, and require their demands to be backed up by faith in the denial of basic rules of economics and human nature. But then, anti-smokers have never really understood people anyway, and the only numbers they care about are those in their back account.
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) spokesman Scott McIntyre said people were down-trading from legal brands to the black market “in droves”. 
“Illegal tobacco is mainly smuggled into Australia from overseas and sold at much lower prices than legal cigarettes, avoiding tobacco excise tax obligations,” he said. 
“They’re normally under $10 a pack, have no health warnings and aren't plain pack compliant.”
What's not to like? Smokers have long since worked out that government hates them, so why respect the laws government lays down, eh? Smuggling is seen as a victimless crime and those providing the black market operate in an increasingly friendly environment. In Puddlecoteville, for example, the local community is well served by the milkman - he's going to enjoy an even larger customer base once daft politicians have finished their plan of making all boxes gory and beige.

As Snowdon notes today ...
If it does nothing else - and we can be fairly sure it won't reduce legal sales of cigarettes - plain packaging will bring the size of Britain's non-duty paid tobacco market into sharp focus. Any cigarettes that are not in 'standardised' packaging will, by definition, not have had UK duty paid on them. You will see them wherever you see smokers. This observable fact will come too late to prevent the ridiculous policy being introduced, but the reality of plain packaging will make it impossible to deny the reality of Britain's black market. 
The UK's smokers mostly couldn't give a rat's fart about being loyal to the rules of a government that despises them. In fact, there's a certain joy to be had from buying off the radar and depriving the exchequor of a few bob, I always find.

This is precisely what is happening in Australia.
“Smokers are literally walking into their corner store and asking for the cheapest pack available,” Mr McIntyre said.
And if you want to see what that looks like, here's some undercover filming of it happening down under.

There's no reason to believe Australians are any different to the British, so we can fully expect an increase in the black market in Britain too once plain packs comes in, just as the campaign against the stupid idea predicted. Except with a turbo-charge added to the effect thanks to our proximity to Europe with its freedom of cross border purchases.

So once again politicians fix nothing while the black market creates more profits for gangsters and terrorists, and cheaper smokes become available with no control on sales to kids - and all the while, tobacco companies rightly queue up to sue them for theft. Nice job, idiots.