Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Big Scream

A blinkered vaper-hating tobacco controller, pictured Thursday
"In tobacco control we call these reactions ‘the scream test’ of policy potency. We’re amused when the industry supports anodyne, useless campaigns like these. And we know we’re on the right track when they behave as they did over plain packaging." - Simon Chapman, 2013
Every right-minded person's favourite Grandad has written today about the hilarious reaction by Irish anti-tobacco extremist James Reilly to Thursday's positive Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Report on e-cigs.
Oh no. The RCP could be wrong. We still don't know if vaping could be harmful in 50 years time. And there are a lot of people in America and elsewhere who have raised doubts [no matter how ludicrous].
Responding, the Irish cancer charity said that while it recognised e-cigarettes were safer than tobacco, it could not recommend them for use as a smoking cessation device until further research was carried out.
Minister for Children Dr James Reilly said he was “very concerned” about e-cigarettes.
“We didn’t have sufficient information and I didn’t want the ‘perfect’ to get in the way of the ‘good’ in relation to including that in the legislation,” Dr Reilly said.

“But the evidence is starting to pile up now that this is a serious problem.”
Actually the evidence is now saying it isn't a problem, but never mind.
Oh joy. It seems that Reilly - a doctor himself, apparently - has been stung badly by a report written by the UK's leading representative body for those in his own profession. Instead of admitting that he may be wrong on this subject, he obviously knows better so will ignore it (if he even read it at all) and just scream the same old shit he has done before.

Curious crusty Simon Chapman - who is a sociologist, not a doctor - is of the same mind. After FOIs revealed he had been corruptly attempting to undermine August's PHE report, he now appears to be sticking his fingers in his ears and refusing to listen to the RCP's conclusions too.

The link refers to the rapid responses at the BMJ where every absurd butthurt anti-nicotine fruitcake has been lining up to pass their ignorant and often laughable opinions about how the RCP is wrong. From the gynaecologist with a sideline in hypnotherapy who can see his income drying up; through the guy who bizarrely used the recent death of Prince to argue against vaping; to the nutjob whose "laser-like" critique amounted to citing Martin McKee and Simon Crapwell's easily-debunked Lancet article which McKee then lied about in the BMJ.

Then, today, the pièce de résistance. A letter to the editor of The Times which is unintentionally hilarious.

Signed by a diminishing cohort of reality-denying lunatic usual suspects including the aforementioned McKee & Chapman, along with opera-banning liar Mike Daube and German extremist Martina "Mendacious" Pötschke-Langer, the letter is a triumph of deliberately disingenuous brat-like screaming so effortlessly filleted by Clive Bates here, an article which I heartily recommend you read in its entirety.
The worst letter of 2016? It’s definitely an early contender
Three of writers of this letter to The Times (McKee, Chapman and Daube) won my “Worst Letter of 2014” award for a deranged letter they wrote to The Lancet, trying to mock a vaper, Lorien Jollye for having the impertinence to disagree with them based on her actual lived experience (my take on that letter is here - DP). But this is very strong: a real contender for  the 2016 award.
And, of course, no tobacco control industry scream is complete without hysterical comment from Mad Stan the aircraft mechanic, eh?
“These guys, in my view, are going off a cliff,” said Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California who has been outspoken in his criticism of e-cigarettes. “They are taking England into a series of policies that five years from now they all will really regret. They are turning England into this giant experiment on behalf of the tobacco industry.”
Add in random medical morons taking to Twitter and Facebook to exhibit their snobby prejudice and blind ignorance of the huge body of evidence in favour of the benefits of e-cigs, and the dramatic increase of newly chronic asthmatics in comments sections, for whom - shorn by the advent of e-cigs of their recently-endowed permission to sneer at many smokers - apparently now insist that even stepping into a shower could push them into an early death by steam so therefore vaping must be banned despite all evidence to the contrary, and we have one of the world's biggest ever collective screams on our hands.

Who knew that such a benign activity as vaping could flush out so many vile anti-social and intolerant arseholes in one fell swoop, eh? As Simon Chapman has taught us, the scream test has been well and truly failed by these ridiculous flat-earthers so the UK triple-whammy of PHE report, RCP report and NCSCT guidance must surely be on entirely the correct track. Hey, Simple Simon made the rules of this game, who am I to not follow them?

But then, I've always said that e-cigs carried the potential of doing just that. So as well as the first word, I'll leave the last word to Grandad too.
Over the years these lies have become the truth purely by virtue of constant repetition.  How often do we hear of the hundreds of thousands who have "died from second hand smoke" or the thousands of kids who take up smoking because they have seen it in a film?  I am not saying that all anti-smokers know they are lying but those at the top definitely do, unless they are totally deranged. 
Then along comes the e-cigarette. 
They had no answer to this device which threatened not only their livelihood but also the profits of their masters in Big Pharma.  Their only answer was to spin more lies in the hope that the momentum would carry them over the bump.  E-cigarettes are leading kids into smoking real cigarettes.  E-cigarettes are carcinogenic and are more dangerous than real cigarettes.  E-cigarettes reduce smokers' chances of quitting.  E-cigarettes explode without warning.  The list is long and tedious. 
They have been called out on their lies in public.
Maybe now people will see they have been lying through their teeth all along?
Quite. The longer these stubborn, narcissistic and inveterate liars scream, the more the public will hopefully see them as the repellent dishonest moon-howlers they (and their colleagues) have always been.

UPDATE: You'd think this would be a parody tweet, but it really isn't. I think they actually mean it.

The echo chamber seems to be collapsing in on itself in ever-decreasing circles. Long may their absurdity continue.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Majority Schmajority, Who Cares?

Yesterday Simon Clark reported that Swansea Council held a Consultation on Smoke-Free Public Spaces ... and promptly ignored it.
In other words, even though less than 15% of respondents were current smokers there was still a clear majority opposed or strongly opposed to extending smoking bans to public beaches. 
Ignoring that small detail, Swansea Council has gone ahead and introduced a 'voluntary' smoking ban at Caswell Bay with the support (naturally) of ASH Wales and other interfering busybodies. 
The Caswell Bay policy is described as a one-year pilot scheme. I imagine it's what they intended all along. The outcome of the consultation was a minor hiccup.
Indeed, because anti-smoking is a pseudo-religious crusade. It is nothing to do with health and the tobacco control industry has never been remotely interested in the public good. Despite undoubtedly knowing the results of the Swansea Council consultation ASH Wales, for example, couldn't give a badger's tit what the public think.
“We support Swansea Council in implementing their first smokefree beach – only the second of its kind in Wales. 
But then the first, you may remember, was "fully" welcomed by 'vape-friendly' ASH Wales despite (or maybe because) it included vaping. Their logo now sits proudly on signs designed to 'denormalise' e-cigs in the minds of the public. It's pretty clear that the only people ASH Wales really care about are those who derive state-funded salaries from ASH Wales.

Well, actually it's not strictly true that tax-sponging anti-smoking sock puppets always ignore the public. If it suits them they are more than happy to use us as lobbying tools, as we saw in September last year.
Sheila Duffy, from anti-smoking group Ash Scotland, said in a 2014 survey, 73% of Scottish adults agreed smoking around hospitals should be outlawed.
So, if the public want smoking banned, ASH will call for a ban; if the public doesn't want smoking banned, erm, ASH will still call for a ban.

This is, of course, not even close to being the first time all branches of ASH have completely ignored the wishes of the people whose taxes pay their salaries, the same was true with plain packaging and all UK smoking bans to name but two occasions of many.

In short, here is the tobacco control industry's policy towards the public, in full.
"If the public is useful for what we want, great; but if not, fuck 'em"
Along with their loose definition of 'evidence', and their adherence to junk science and blatant lies, this policy should really be quoted prominently at the top of all tobacco control industry headed paper.

It's way past time that these malevolent, dictatorial, insulting genital warts on democracy and decent society were cut off without a penny. George, get to it!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The WHO's Dictatorship World Tour

DG of the WHO Margaret Chan, all of a flutter in Moscow 2014
Following a jolly bash in Putin's gay-hating, airliner-destroying Russia in 2014, it appears the world's anti-smoking industry has found another place where they feel very much amongst friends.
THE Department of Health will send two officials to a nanny state anti-smoking conference in Turkmenistan tomorrow despite the country being run by a mad dictator, The Sun can reveal. 
In recent years the cultist leaders of the former Soviet state have imprisoned thousands of political opponents, banned the foreign press and also banned ballet, beards and even dogs.
To the tobacco control industry, these guys could almost be cousins, so I can see the appeal.
Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov uses the title “Arkadag” or “Protector”.
Whereas Margaret Chan just calls him "my next squeeze".
[The respected Human Rights Watch group say] “The government thoroughly denies freedoms of association, expression, and religion, and the country is closed to independent scrutiny.”
Sounds rather like a World Health Organisation FCTC event, doesn't it?

I wonder where the global anti-smoking Goliath might arrange a beano next? I hear there are some interesting characters in Libya and Iraq whose views on smoking are right up tobacco control's street.

Anyway, despite the UK government describing Turkmenistan's human rights record as "of significant concern", Andrew Black's Department of Health team is delighted to attend and are even touting some plus points.
Last night the Department of Health defended sending their staff to the repressive state, as the tickets and hotel will be paid for by the World Health Organisation. 
“Our officials’ travel, accommodation and subsistence is being paid for by the WHO, at no cost to the British taxpayer.”
At no cost to the taxpayer? What, you mean apart from the £3.6 million of taxpayer cash the DoH has already shovelled to the WHO ... just so they can then use some of it to pay for hotels and travel for a DoH delegation in a basket case nation run by a raving lunatic? Wouldn't that be called money laundering in any other sphere?

Isn't it interesting that whenever tobacco control is mentioned, anywhere in the world, it always involves corruption and someone lying to the public.

UPDATE: Via @AgentAnia, here is a WHO dictatorship tour venue that I missed from last week.

Zimbabwe, eh?

Such a wazzock, isn't he?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Chapman: Accidental Or Deliberate Stupidity?

On Wednesday I wrote about how Australia has appointed a cabal of closed-minded prohibitionist nut jobs to assess the future of e-cigs in their Godawful nanny state nation.

I suggested that the outcome may already be pre-determined.
The fix is in the bag in Australia, isn't it? Tobacco controllers have taken hold of the levers and will no doubt produce a load of bullshit junk to ensure e-cigs are permanently demonised Down Under. Who needs the public and due process when you have vile public-hating prohibitionists like Chappers pulling the strings, eh?
Well, Simple Simon Chapman - the calm, objective soul that he is in advance of his conducting a scientifically-astute assessment of e-cigs and vaping - exhibited his {cough} impartiality recently on Twitter.

This is quite incredible for someone who the Aussie government relies upon for its info, for the simple reason that he completely misunderstands the basic premise of the stats he is tweeting about.

The 16k to 22k figure of those who quit using e-cigs is only those who - crucially - would not have quit at all if e-cigs had not been available, as explained in this article by someone who is not paid for their time, unlike Simple Simon.
891K people used ecigs in their quit attempt in 2014. There aren't enough good data to tell us directly how many of these would have been successful long term (12 months) quitters. We do know (from other studies) that the long term quit rates for both over the counter (OTC) NRT and cold turkey (CT) are 5%, and that ecigs increase the success rate over these for any quit attempt by 50%. So 5% of our 891K ecig quitters would likely quit with OTC NRT or CT if e-cigarettes weren't available and 2.5% would not. 2.5% of 891K is 22K. These are the people who would not have quit if they had bought OTC NRT or gone cold turkey but did so with ecigs. 
In 2014 the medicinal methods 'lost' 330K quit attempts, 250K of which are attributed to people choosing ecigs instead rather than just rejecting the med options. So to account for those we have to deduct them from our 891K ecig quit attempters (because they would have gone the meds route if ecigs were unavailable). So now our starting number is 641K. 2.5% of 641K is 16K. These are the people who would not have quit in 2014 if ecigs were not available.
It's obviously too complicated for a Professor of 'public health' at Sydney University to understand but to condense it for him you, it doesn't mean that "878,000-884,000/900,000 smokers" didn't quit at all using e-cigs - in fact many or even all of them might have done - it just means that 16k to 22k of them would not have done so (or even attempted to) if e-cigs weren't around.

I'd say I'm surprised that someone who is tasked with guiding Australian policy in this area can be so thick as to not understand this but then Simon can't even be trusted to count exclamation marks with any degree of accuracy.

But it kinda brings up a point about Chappers' suitability for the job. You see, he was exposed in FOI responses published here in January to be in cahoots with people who are determined to extinguish the potential of vaping by any means fair or foul. He was also prominent in writing an attack piece in the Lancet (the favoured journal of e-cig denialists) expressing surprise that a part-time waitress from Cornwall should have the temerity to speak the truth.
We were surprised to read in The Lancet (Nov 1, p 1576), Lorien Jollye's criticisms of the public health community for, as she alleges, insulting and ignoring the supporters of electronic cigarettes
Well, considering Simon tends to enjoy describing vapers as "vapid" and routinely blocks anyone who has an opinion on vaping that differs from his own, I'd say that's fair comment.

All in all, the above would probably show that he's hardly going to be the best person to impartially inspect the evidence surrounding e-cigs in Australia, which poses a bit of a problem.

You see, as I've mentioned before, a chronic and publicly exhibited distaste for a subject matter is a conflict of interest which should exclude that person from having any role in decision-making or research.
Non-financial interests can take many different forms, including personal or professional relations with organisations and individuals. We would also want to know about strongly held beliefs where they are relevant to the task in hand.
This is quite important, because the tender document which Chapman would have responded to in order to get the gig asked specifically for such conflicts to be declared.
The Tenderer must disclose in the Tender any actual or potential conflict of interest, any risk of a conflict of interest and any apparent conflict of interest arising through the Tenderer or any member of the Tenderer’s organisation engaging in any activity or obtaining any interest that is likely to conflict with or restrict the performance of the project fairly and independently. As part of this, the Tenderer must disclose whether the Tenderer or any member of the Tenderer’s organisation has ever: 
• publicly advocated for or against, or conducted research and/or published research  and/or opinion pieces on tobacco harm reduction. 
Where a Tenderer has disclosed, under paragraph 35.1 of this RFT, the Tenderer must also propose mechanisms for managing any conflicts of interest if the Tenderer were awarded a contract to provide services under this RFT. 
If at any time prior to entering into a contract for the Services, an actual or potential conflict of interest arises or may arise for any Tenderer, other than that already disclosed, that Tenderer should immediately notify the Department in writing. 
If any actual or potential conflict is notified, or the Department becomes aware of any actual or potential conflict, the Department may, in its absolute discretion: 
• disregard the Tender submitted by such a Tenderer;
• enter into discussions to seek to resolve such conflict of interest; or
• take any other action it considers appropriate.
Now, I believe Simon's latest laughable failure at understanding maths and stats is bad, but we have to assume it's just the usual problem of him being a cretin. For the simple reason that if we attribute him with any intelligence on the matter then clearly he is disseminating false information deliberately. No?

So I suppose you pays your money and makes your choice. Is he really so stupid as to not understand data properly meaning he shouldn't be awarded a contract to study e-cigs because he's a mathematically-challenged idiot? Or is he spreading a pack of lies which means he carries a huge and burdensome conflict of interest which means he should be disqualified from being awarded a contract to study e-cigs because it "is likely to conflict with or restrict the performance of the project fairly and independently"?

Either way, he shouldn't be doing it especially since it is to be held behind closed doors.

Then again, maybe he did disclose this whopper of a conflict of interest and the Aussie government just ignored it, which would be a much bigger story. Is there anyone out there in Oz who fancies putting in a freedom of information request to ask?

Thursday, 21 April 2016

More Fun With Public Health And E-cigs

A debate took place tonight at the Royal Society for Public Health which is quite revealing about the echo chamber that their industry operates in.

Entitled "e-cigarettes and the workplace" what do you think the make-up of the panel would be? Employers maybe, employees, trade union members? That sort of thing? Maybe a tobacco controller or two to add a bit of balance?

Nah, course not. Here it is.

So, erm, it was public health, tobacco control (public health), consumer, medic (public health), public health.

Where was the point of view of the private sector? Or, in fact, anyone who has ever employed anyone outside of the tobacco control/public health sphere? Well nowhere, of course, (except for the consumer who was the only one who seemed bothered to actually consider the subject).

Which makes it all the more funny when you see tweets on the event's hashtag such as this.

Who was controlling the agenda and messages at this 'debate'? There was no tobacco industry voice, no-one from the private sector, and not even anyone from the public sector who could meaningfully be termed an objective employer. But "tobacco corporations" were controlling the messages and agenda? What a farce!

But then this is what we have come to expect from 'public health', they have long since dispensed with engaging in debate which might challenge them, instead choosing the safe space of sterile chats amongst their friends over which they can exercise complete control. Heaven forfend that someone might say something which doesn't fit with the programme, and let's just yell Big Tobacco every now and then, Tourettes-style, for good measure.

As I understand it, those opposed to allowing e-cigs in the workplace were outnumbered on the night but that's because it's common sense. But doesn't it just show how 'public health' has now completely divorced itself from the kind of businesses that make net contributions to tax funds which 'public health' then leech off of when they compile a panel about "e-cigarettes in the workplace" which is entirely made of those who waste our taxes rather than those who contribute to them?

50% of the UK employment market is public sector (far too much IMO) but when the panel tonight consisted of zero percent private sector involvement, you have to wonder what exactly they are afraid of? An alternative voice which doesn't believe health is the be all and end all of doing business, perhaps?

Yes, I think so.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Fix Is In For E-Cigs In Oz

I've consistently said that e-cigs show up tobacco control industry corruption brilliantly, and here is another fine example.

If you've ever doubted that fact, just get a load of this from Australia!
Last year the federal health department, on behalf of the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs – senior bureaucrats advising federal, state and territory ministers on drug issues – commissioned a policy review on the regulation, sale and marketing of e-cigarettes with or without nicotine, and the practice of “vaping”. 
The department determined the tender brief, called for tenders and recommended (that is, chose), the successful tenderer.  It happened to be a consortium of the School of Public Health of the University of Sydney and the New South Wales Cancer Council. 
For nearly a year after the tender was finalised, with no fanfare, the review went underground. Lately, word’s gone quietly went round expert circles confirming consultations are happening.
That's great! We like consultations don't we boys and girls?

Except that we're not allowed to contribute, nor are the citizens of Australia!
The Prevention Research Collaboration at the University of Sydney has secured Australian government commissions to look into policy options to “minimise the risk associated with marketing and use of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems”. They are running a closed consultation with “relevant organisations and technical experts in ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems), tobacco control or public health.” A background paper has been written. 
Note those words. Closed consultation. Minimise the risks of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems. Relevant organisations and technical experts.  The unmistakable message is that vaping is in the dock, and the presumption is that e-cigs with or without nicotine are as risky to health as tobacco products.
And who exactly makes up this 'expert' committee which is accountable to no-one but themselves?

Why, committed anti-vaping lunatics, of course.
Unsurprisingly it mostly comprises public health academics believing in prohibiting and banning and “social marketing”, not kindly disposed to giving new alternatives to tobacco the benefit of the doubt while evidence continues to accumulate. 
Simon Chapman needs no introduction.  The goateed guru of tobacco control, media public health go-to person and spare-time Twitter troll is no friend of harm reduction, being stridently protective of his patch. He has picked fights with, and ridiculed, pro-vaping research, researchers and advocates from the Lancet and British Medical Journal to social media. 
Project lead Becky Freeman is his protégée and self-described “established authority on the potential of the internet to circumvent tobacco advertising laws”.  Blyth O’Hara is an expert on physical activity, nutrition and obesity, who has tweeted enthusiastically in favour of a sugar tax on the poor. 
Scott Walsberger “leads a passionate (NSW Cancer Council) team to reduce the burden of tobacco on the people of NSW”.  Bill Bellew boasts of his “Leadership…in capacity building for evidence-informed policy around the spectrum of public health issues…through tobacco control and other population health strategies”.  Adrian Bauman is a “world-leading” obesity expert with strong World Health Organisation connections. 
And James Kite is NSW president of the Australian Health Promotion Association which, in its submission to the Leyonhjelm Nanny State inquiry, said: “Based on current evidence, it appears as though E-cigarettes are harmful (though not as harmful as tobacco cigarettes), are attractive to younger people, and have more of a ‘gateway’ effect (introducing young people to tobacco smoking) than a quitting effect.”  His views seem pretty decided.
As a wise commenter points out under the piece, "If anyone has difficulty getting their head around the evil of big government, here is your case study".


Now, compare and contrast the UK's consultation on plain packs, which in 2013 didn't just accept contributions from the public (who were overwhelmingly opposed) but also from the Australian government, and even delayed the deadline to ensure their biased views were included!
Anne Milton, then Health Minister, said on July 5 that the Department of Health’s three-month consultation was to be extended until August 10 to “make sure everyone who wants to contribute can”.  
That same day an Australian official in the Department of Health and Ageing wrote to the Department of Health requesting a two-week extension to the July 10 deadline so that Australia’s Minister for Health could sign off the submission.  
“We are currently going through the clearance process for the submission at a time when several of our key ministers are absent on leave or work-related travel, during a break in the parliamentary sitting period,” correspondence released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals. “I am sure that our Health Minister, the Hon Tanya Plibersek, MP, would welcome the opportunity to personally sign off the submission, if at all possible. To achieve this, we will require an extension, due to her short absence.  
“Accordingly, would you or the relevant area responsible for the consultation, be willing to approve a two-week extension until Tuesday 24 July? Alternatively, can you suggest a timeframe that would be acceptable?”  
Later that day, an e-mail was sent by the Department of Health’s tobacco programme manager to the Australian Government, and others, explaining that the deadline had been extended.
Surely, then, the Australian exercise will return the favour and include evidence from UK organisations who have concluded that e-cigs are a pretty good idea like - ooh, I dunno - Public Health England?

Well maybe, but considering Simon Chapman is one of the world's biggest junk propagandists against vaping - and was exposed in FOIs to be fatally conflicted in properly evaluating the PHE report - what do you reckon will happen?

The fix is in the bag in Australia, isn't it? Tobacco controllers have taken hold of the levers and will no doubt produce a load of bullshit junk to ensure e-cigs are permanently demonised Down Under. Who needs the public and due process when you have vile public-hating prohibitionists like Chappers pulling the strings, eh?

This kind of grubby, fraudulent and corrupt modus operandi has been a staple of tobacco control activity for decades, of course. The advent of e-cigs, though, has shone a 1000 watt spotlight under the rocks where these odious parasites operate.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Institutional Snobbery

One of the best and most entertaining political writers ever in my opinion, even while as an elected politician himself, was Tom Harris as I've mentioned a few times before.

Now, however, freed from the shackles he loosely carried as a Scottish Labour MP, his writing just gets better and better. He let rip quite beautifully in the Telegraph yesterday about his party's incredibly stupid decision to ban McDonald's from the Labour Party Conference. Here are some highlights.
Snobbery towards McDonald’s is nothing new on the British Left. You only have to mention their name on Twitter to provoke a deluge of self-righteous comments from people living in London who wouldn’t dream of letting little Marcus or Louisa sink their perfectly aligned incisors into a Big Mac or a McChicken Sandwich.
Snobbery is a perfect description of this kind of thinking, as I've termed it myself when talking about the vile, mega-rich, smug, oleaginous, distended, blown out sweatsock Jamie Oliver and his poor-bashing sugar tax.
Osborne didn't usher in any new success for 'public health' yesterday - for the simple fact that a sugar tax has never worked and, as admitted by those who favour it, never will - but he certainly delivered multiple orgasms to the most deranged and repugnant in our country; the type you would hide behind the sofa to pretend you were out if you saw them park outside your house. If pandering to the vile and intolerant was the purpose, the upper class boy Osborne did exceptionally! He enthralled his fellow pompous and snooty middle class minions and stuck it to the less well off good, so he did.

Or, as Alex Deane succinctly describes it in The Telegraph.
Virtue-signalling politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities feeling tremendously good about themselves because they’ve bossed the rest of us around, and imposed a stealth tax on those least able to afford it.
It's not a step forward for the health of the nation, but instead a triumph for repulsive anti-social snobbery and the most obnoxious human faecal matter we have the abject misfortune to share our everyday lives with.
Yes, it's quite plain that middle class snobbery is at play, and Harris goes on to object to his chosen party trying to pretend it is something to do with health ... which it isn't.
Lastly, there’s the handy, media-friendly excuse for stopping McDonald’s having access to delegates when they meet in September under Labour’s banner in Liverpool: health. That a Big Tasty with bacon and an extra large side of fries followed by a Cadbury’s Caramel McFlurry is not classed as health food will be as big a shock to diners as the revelation that the Pope does not practice the Protestant faith. 
But to defend the existence of McDonald’s in our local High Street is to invite accusations of being an enabler of childhood obesity. It’s not up to poor, ignorant parents to tell their kids “No” when they ask for a Happy Meal; rather, it is up to McDonald’s themselves to offer only non-fried, non-meat-based, non-tasty food, probably in a safe space…
Quite. If you try to inject some semblance of proportion into debates on fast food, fizzy drinks or any other substance which attracts wild exaggerated scaremongering from snooty middle class pricks who just like looking down their nose at their perceived inferiors, you'll inevitably be met with Lovejoy's Law.

This is because, as Harris points out, it is very important for privileged snobs to always divert attention from benefits of the things they are selfishly and pompously trying to demonise.
When a branch of McDonald’s opens up in a local area, particularly in one with few amenities and even less economic activity, the erection of the yellow arches is an unalloyed blessing. New jobs are created, new skills are learned and parents, often harassed after a long day’s work and often with little time to prepare a full family meal, have access to food that – oh, heavenly miracles! – their offspring will actually eat
Such people, the people who work there, who buy food there, who can give the occasional treat to their children for less than a tenner, these are the people Labour is banning from their hallowed precincts. 
Labour can probably live without the attention and affection of former US presidents; it cannot hope to survive if it displays such narrow-minded prejudice against popular high street chains, their customers and their employees.
Nope, but then Labour long since discarded any pretence that they were interested in defending the choices of working families; in practice their policies in the past ten years have focussed entirely on sneering at, restricting, banning and destroying everything which working people - their core support - favour and enjoy.

However good Harris's article is though (do go read it all), it's not a solely Labour fault. We now have a hegemony of political parties all over the world who seem to think that pandering to middle class snobbery by contemptuously shitting on the choices working people make is perfectly acceptable.

In Australia, for example, eye-watering tobacco taxes have been correctly described as "the insatiable greed of governments underpinned by middle class snobbery", leading to "the poor, indigenous, prisoners, and mentally ill, paying for the untargeted spending which is of most benefit to the middle classes", which effectively means "robbing the poor to pay the rich".

Likewise minimum alcohol pricing - considered by David Cameron himself and aggressively pursued by left-of-centre Scottish Nationalists - which even its most ardent supporters admit is a tax on the poor which will not affect the better off one iota.

We are faced with this new political landscape where snobbery about the choices of others has become entrenched as policy by all parties as somehow acceptable. An institutional snobbery at the heart of government policies worldwide and the theft of resources from the less well off endorsed as perfectly fair.

Simon Cooke sums up the vile principle very well here.
People who drink beer (the cheap session beer they sell in working mens' clubs and discount supermarkets), smoke, vape and enjoy fatty burgers or sugary sweets, these are the people who aren't welcome in today's Labour Party. Indeed, it's hard to think of anywhere that these people - millions of them - can find a political place that doesn't treat them like some sort of pariah. It's a sad state of affairs when the persistent lobbying of a few - a tiny few - fanatics has resulted in the lifestyle choices of millions being condemned as unhealthy, unsightly and unfavoured. 
The 'few' dictating to the overwhelming majority of the public who make their choices quite clear by buying the legal products they enjoy. Snobbery as government policy; snobbery institutionalised and encouraged to empower the most disgusting and condescending in society.

I have nothing but contempt for the rancid people who hold views such as this. Anyone who is such a snob that they think it acceptable to dictate to the poor about their choices - and deliberately punish them on that basis - are the lowest of the low and I hope God rots every one of them.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Fat Budgets And Fake Friends

Next time you hear some local authority rubber band-flicker whining about how government 'cuts' are slashing their resources to the bare bones, remind yourself of this.

Via Taking Liberties, it seems that despite 'savage' austerity measures, Aberdeenshire Council still has a budget fat enough to come up with sinister, absurd and utterly pointless new policies like this.
A Scottish council is looking to ban people from smoking in their own vehicles if they are on local authority land. 
Aberdeenshire Council has drafted a revised smoking policy that aims to ensure non-puffers are prevented from inhaling toxic tobacco fumes in car parks. 
Under the proposed new rules, smoking - including electronic vaporizers or 'e-cigs' - will face a blanket ban on any premises or site owned by the council even if someone lights up in a private vehicle.
Now, this isn't a reaction to public demand. Have you heard of any grassroots campaign to prohibit smoking in private vehicles in car parks? No, nor me. I'm pretty sure no-one has ever demanded that anywhere - let alone in Aberdeenshire - so why the need to waste taxpayers' money on such a stupid piece of illiberal and unenforceable garbage? Especially since if there was any call whatsoever for such a policy it would have originated from one of the tax-sponging sock puppet bullies in the bloated, anti-social and entirely wasteful tobacco control industry.

No, this is just a bunch of state-funded troughers sitting around trying to dream up something - anything, however flimsy the justification - to keep themselves on the tax-funded gravy train.

They are quite literally collectively pissing your taxes down the drain and then squealing that government is really mean for making cuts. Well of course cuts are urgently necessary if there is still enough in their coffers to pay for egregious lunacy like this.

And it is lunacy, as I explained early last year regarding a similar proposal.
The move – which has been introduced as part of plan to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034 – also bans patients and staff from smoking in their cars on hospital ­property.
For the education of any bemused alien life forms who might be scanning our internet, these are cars which are allowed on NHS property.

And this is a cigarette - which is banned for polluting the lungs of hospital visitors - being smoked ... in a car. I've highlighted it in red in case you can't see it.

Turn the spaceships round, fellas, we're not worth conquering, believe me.
It's also worth remembering what ASH Scotland's Sheila Duffy said about that policy at the time, too.
Ms Duffy said: “We want people to understand why the policy is there in the first place. At the moment, seeing smokers is a part of life but that is changing. 
“It is not a habit that smokers want for their children. 
“The aim is to put it out of fashion for the next generation and send a clear message that smoking is incompatible with health.”
This is Sheila Duffy, of the supposedly vape-friendly ASH Scotland, by the way. The same ASH Scotland which gave the Press and Journal's version of this story top billing in their daily bulletin today despite e-cigs being included in the 'ban'.

It's interesting that Simon Clark states that he was approached for a quote on Friday, so you'd have to assume Sheila Duffy and ASH Scotland were well aware of the story too. Yet they have been studiously silent on the matter despite it being reported in the Scottish Daily Mail, The Press and Journal, the Evening Express and The Herald. A very strange thing for an organisation solely paid to talking about smoking to do, don't you think?

Just like their equally insipid and manipulative pretend 'vape-friendly' colleagues in ASH London and ASH Wales, they sit idly by as another ban is inflicted on e-cigs. The only difference is that they didn't actively applaud this policy like ASH and their Welsh equivalent did.

So, considering the silence, we must assume that condemning bans on e-cig use is so very difficult for ASH Scotland that they are content with sacrificing vaping for the greater good, and have learned just to stay silent instead.

Or perhaps, to paraphrase Duffy's justification for outdoor smoking bans, she quietly believes e-cigs should be included in bans. Maybe she thinks that:
"We want people to understand why the policy is there in the first place. At the moment, seeing vapers is a part of life but that needs to change.  
“It is not a habit that vapers want for their children. 
"The aim is to put it out of fashion for the next generation and send a clear message that vaping is incompatible with car parks."
Perhaps someone might like to ask ASH Scotland precisely why their claimed support for harm reduction doesn't extend to actually doing anything about it ... rather like ASH and ASH Wales, in fact.

In the meantime, can we have more austerity please George? There is quite clearly still billions of pounds of irrelevant state-funded flab to be cut. As well as socially-damaging - and selectively indolent - sock puppet fake charity tax-spongers, it appears quite a few highly-paid pen-pushers in Aberdeenshire Council are also long overdue their P45s on this showing.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Customer Is A Nuisance, Not Always Right

In the New Statesman, wordy panel show fodder Will Self has been recounting an experience which will be familiar to many people who use e-cigs.
Take the Pizza Express in Langham Place, just south of Broadcasting House and cheek by jowl with a branch of Byron. I’ve taken to eating there on Mondays, because that’s when I get my fundament greased by Doctor Wong of Wimpole Street. The place is a symphony of pale wood and pale wood-laminate, so, as a dynamic media professional (who requires regular fundament-greasing), I’m right at home there. So at home that I think nothing of puffing away gently and discreetly on my electronic cigarette.
The word 'discreetly' is key here, as I shall come to later.
The other lunchtime I was doing just this when the manager appeared and peremptorily informed me: “You’re not allowed to do that here.” I, naturally enough, asked why, and she replied: “It’s company policy.” 
Well, surely, a bullish fellow such as me can be forgiven for reacting to this red flag. “Yes,” I snapped back, “it may well be company policy, but it isn’t against the law, and I’m not at all sure it’s legally enforceable – so why is it company policy?”
He was further reminded of this policy on a subsequent visit by a different manager.
“The thing is,” he pressed on, “it’s against company policy to use electronic cigarettes . . .” 
Again: I’ll save you the repeat-order of dialogue. Once I’d established I wasn’t going to be forcibly exiled from the mozzarella Eden, I engaged more fully with the manager, and he conceded that, no, he had no idea as to the whys and wherefores of this policy.
Nor, I suspect, do the Pizza Express board members who decided to implement it in the first place.

These policies are popping up everywhere now, for no decent reason whatsoever. Here is another which a few have tweeted about recently.

At least in this instance an explanation was offered, even if it is bullshit.

I've written before of outdoor bans on smoking and vaping based on nothing but ideology, prejudice and spite, but these 'policies' are based on something even worse ... laziness and contempt for the customer.

Pizza Express may well have received the odd complaint from precious, bigoted, anti-social arseholes but how lazy is it to react with a blanket ban on all use? Why the need for an arbitrary rule? The only explanation is either that those making the rule are too lazy to think up something acceptable to all, or that they think their staff too stupid to be able to judge circumstances and apply their common sense.

The case of Premier Inns is even worse! They would rather inconvenience all customers than warn them that the smoke alarms are sensitive and to be discreet. And a £100 fine? Why? To recompense for some minimum wage hotel employee having to haul their arse off of a chair for a few minutes to turn off a smoke alarm which - in my experience - is almost definitely not going to be triggered? Well yes, it would appear so.

Nope, these are just excuses. Here is what I suspect the conversation in boardrooms has been in recent times.

Lazy Exec 1: So, I keep hearing about these e-cigarette vapey thingies, lots of people are using them I hear.
Lazy Exec 2: Yes, I read that there are millions of people using them now, so a lot of them will be our customers.
Lazy Exec 3: So what should we do about them?
Lazy Exec 4: Well we could develop a policy which maximises the number of customers who are happy?
Lazy Exec 5: Nah, too much effort, let's just ban them.
Lazy Execs 1,2,3 & 4: Agreed!

Which is probably exactly how the conversations went when hotel chains, for example, steadily phased out smoking rooms despite their being excluded from the smoking ban. It was too much effort to stand up to tobacco control nags and whiny effete hand-waving cretins, and it's only those smokers after all, who cares about them, eh?

Now, it's true that we are talking about private businesses here and they are entitled to make their own rules, but what 'problem' are they trying to solve in the case of vaping? I'd say these are the issues.

1) Some customers might not like it 

I'd venture to suggest that the customers who don't are pretty irritating fuckers anyway, so if a business bends over backwards for them they will only invite further problems for the future. If you pander to intolerant prodnoses, expect to also have to handle numerous other nitpicking grumbles.

Besides which, such anti-social bedwetters are a vanishing minority and vastly outnumbered by people who either use e-cigs themselves or really couldn't give a rat's arse if others do. The gulf between the tiny number of weepy willow shitsacks and the vast majority of those of us who are capable of living in the real world without complaining about petty irrelevances will only increase as e-cig use becomes more common and understood.

2) There is a worry about secondhand vapour in the workplace

Yes, this is the understandable result of the mythical secondhand smoke scare which anti-smoking organisations are well aware they are lying about. Businesses have been terrified that they'll be hauled over the coals and sued into the middle of the dark ages by a non-existent threat. That threat is even more non-existent when it comes to vaping but their execs are obviously too lazy to research it ... or are they?

Because, you see, the vapers' {cough} 'friends' at ASH have produced a briefing paper on vaping in private businesses which sits on the fence so much that whoever wrote it now has B&Q permanently imprinted on their arse. It provides enough corroborating information to back up whichever pre-determined policy decision any business wants to make. They could have saved a lot of time - and therefore taxpayer money that they waste on our behalf - by just publishing "whatever you want to do about vaping is fine by us, ban it if you like, see if we care".

Scan that ASH article for the word 'choice' and you won't find it, by the way, because for prohibitionists it's a dirty word.

3) Clouds

This one is a bit different because I can actually understand the reasoning behind it, and it has the merit that whoever dreamed up a no vaping policy might actually have an inkling of what's happening in the real world.

The media (as happened in Stony Stratford in 2011) are always very keen to portray big clouds of smoke or vapour and smokers/vapers are generally quite happy to oblige. If you've ever seen a report on vaping on TV or in the press, it's almost certain it would be set in a vaping lounge where vapers are billowing out thick white clouds on 100 watt sub-ohm devices and creating a dense fog.

The fact that most vapers - as Will Self describes above - do so discreetly and with respect to their fellow customers is completely lost when the clunking fist of 'company policy' comes crashing down.

Now, we know that even big clouds aren't harmful but the public doesn't; they're mostly daft enough to have been conned into thinking a wisp of smoke is killing them so it's very easy for them to believe that thick vapour might be able to do the same or even worse (this is such a divisive issue recently that I think it might deserve a whole post of its own, which I may do soon).

However, although I can understand a policy written in fear of clouds and can even see the merit of the person who wrote it, it still falls into the category of lazy and is implicitly insulting to the intelligence of the company's staff. A better (and more profitable) policy might look like the one suggested by ECITA when talking of knee-jerk train company bans (as far as a ban is possible with stealthing an option) in November, which I've paraphrased below.
"[T]hose who wish to use electronic cigarettes are reminded to do so discreetly, and to treat their fellow passengers with courtesy and respect, while ... customers who do not wish to use such products [should] expect the products to be used in a minimally invasive or offensive way – and can report any misbehaviour in this regard. We believe that this is the appropriate balance to strike for this type of public environment.
Doesn't that look better, less authoritarian, more respectful of all customers and less likely to create division and enmity? Is it not better to call on the public's natural urge to get on with others by encouraging good etiquette rather than appealing to vile, crass self-interest and rabble-rousing the most hideous and objectionable in society? Of course, but it just takes a bit more thought, which many in this country seem to be sadly lacking.

4) The policy of needing to have a policy

Lastly, why is there a need for a company policy at all? To give an example, Mrs P uses the local Starbucks whose official company policy is to ban vaping entirely, except that a significant proportion of customers at the Puddlecoteville branch vape and the management are quite happy not to rock the boat.

So why does some suited twat in Starbucks HQ think they know better from their plush boardroom what works in every store over and above the person managing it? Again, it's this idea that their staff are obviously too stupid to assess situations and so a policy must be created from on high irrespective of how it might benefit or damage the business.

This is even more acute and insulting when applied to businesses working on a franchise basis. In that scenario the excuse that it is their gaff, their rules doesn't even apply, the policy would be working in direct contravention of the business owner who has invested their time and money into the enterprise.

There should be no need for a company policy on a harmless legal product where there are trusted staff members on the ground with delegated authority. That is, of course, unless the company doesn't trust its staff, but then that should be their problem to sort out, why should the customer - who is always supposed to be right, remember - be arbitrarily punished as a nuisance rather than encouraged to visit more?

These are all just discussion points and you can agree or disagree with as many as you see fit. The one thing I think we can all agree on though is that the people responsible for this mealy-mouthed and ugly rush to create division and hatred where there was once co-operation and tolerance are the repulsive snotbags in 'public health', and well rewarded they have been via our taxes for it too.

As I've mentioned a few times before, they should have a paraphrase of St Francis of Assisi's words laminated above each of their desks as their own organisational policy:
Where there is harmony, may we bring discord. Where there is truth, may we bring error. Where there is faith, may we bring doubt. And where there is hope, may we bring despair.
Maybe they already have, who knows?

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Canonisation Of Clive Bates, Part 3

Last week I posted an article which fit nicely in with this blog's ethos of pro-choice, anti-regulation, free markets and a deep hatred of 'public health'. Unfortunately, it was deemed beyond the pale by Simon Clark of Forest because it featured a fierce anti 'public health' rant from Clive Bates.

This was unacceptable, apparently, because of Bates's past. Much like 'public health' and their quoting of industry documents from the 1960s, unbeknownst to me there is also now a rule on our side which dictates that because Bates was formerly (13 years ago) paid to advocate for ASH, nothing he ever says again can be praised. Even if it involves telling 'public health' to "Just leave us alone! Just get off our backs!", an exhortation which is so close to the attitude I have towards 'public health' that I could even be forgiven (I would have thought) for installing it as the blog's motto!

I did try to explain why I was so enamoured with Bates's rant, but it wasn't good enough. The fact that I even did that apparently meant that my "credibility is shot", that I am now "not one of us anymore", and "just barely containing the urge to spout antismoking slogans", because "[Bates] is not to be trusted by smokers".

So it's curious that a letter to the Times written by Bates was enthusiastically reproduced by Forest Eireann - an offshoot of Simon Clark's Forest - the other day.

What's more, another offshoot of Forest - Action on Consumer Choice - also retweeted Forest Eireann's approval ...

... despite it containing another Bates denouement which, one assumes, won't be well received by many of Simon's  readers.
These products are still very new, so whether they will appeal to smokers is unknown. E-cigarettes are already very popular and a much safer alternative to smoking, but they still only appeal to a minority of Britain's 8.8 million smokers. What if these heated tobacco products persuade more committed smokers to give up the cigarettes? That would be for the market to decide, but it would be very good for public health
Director of Action on Smoking and Health 1997-2003
London SW12. 
Now, I'm happy to follow these unwritten rules but it would be interesting to know when it is acceptable to quote Bates approvingly, and when it's not.

Or maybe canonisation of Bates by Forest-funded organisations is OK, just not from blogs like mine which are written entirely in my spare time on a voluntary basis, I dunno. Not trying to cause a row here, I'm just genuinely confused.

I rather think that there might be some tobacco companies who will be just as confused too, seeing as some are toying with the idea of heat not burn technology, while others are shunning it entirely and focussing on e-cigarettes.

So, is Bates to be blackballed and never to be spoken of in polite pro-choice circles when attacking 'public health' over e-cigarettes, but fine to be applauded for advocating smokers switch to harm reduced products as long as they still contain tobacco?

I think we need to know.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Breaking Eggs To Make Omelettes

After a particularly hectic week at Puddlecote Inc, it's worth my posting a notice to warn that you might be reading very much less on these pages in the near future (stop cheering at the back!). It replaces the usual Saturday links because I simply haven't had much time on the net to gather them this week.

To explain, I'll roll you back to 2008 when this tabloid junk (© Ben Goldacre fanboys) first appeared and the output was prolific. Back then the business was a fairly small operation, from memory only employing around 30/40 people. Our March 2016 payroll was a little more involved with 118 staff members being paid and our turnover having roughly tripled in the intervening time too.

On top of this, I'm waiting on news of the outcome of a significant tender exercise which took around a month to compile; if you've wondered why content here has been pretty sparse of late, well that would be it.

The tender we submitted is in the region of £650k pa for a contractual seven years and would entail significant staff recruitment to cover, as well as vehicles to source in a hurry. It's not something you approach lightly so in advance of this we have undertaken a major business reorganisation. This involved taking on three key professional managerial staff for our office (one more will be necessary if our bid is accepted), renegotiating around 40 staff contracts, and commissioning building work to extend the premises to cope with the added workspace that will be required should we be successful. It has been a process which has been many months in the planning, has been quite costly (and continues to be), unfortunately involved unavoidable redundancies, but gained me three free coffee cups and a load of post-it pads from a grateful Reed Employment.

The purpose of all this - whether we gain the additional business we've just tendered for or not - is to sweep away some of our inefficient practices and better position ourselves for the future. We do, after all, operate in a very competitive sector and I must admit that our competitors are starting to appear rather more of a threat of late, so we had to react to that. With the changes we've made, the likelihood of retaining current contacts at renewal - because we have to compete and not just rely on 40 years of uncontested state handouts like some  - and capacity to expand has been enhanced so the investment will have been worth it whatever happens.

This particular contract award is imminent and there is still lots to be done in preparation so articles will continue to be sporadic at best for a while. Of course, if we do win it then the contingency plans for that go into effect and all hell will break loose! At which point you won't see hide nor hare of me during certain periods I expect.

Cue, I suppose, months of impending hideous 'public health' nonsense which will require comment. Wouldn't that be just typical?

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Sheila Duffy Cheesecake

An article appeared at the Scotsman this morning written by Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland.

You may remember her dictating who elected Scottish MPs should and should not listen to in November where the reaction was her being quite rightly described as "part of the tobacco industry".

Well this morning she was in a philosophical mood. Philosophical but occasionally in the dishonest, economically and scientifically illiterate way that tobacco controllers are, that is.
The problem with talking about smoking as a lifestyle choice is that in most cases it’s not.
Erm, yes it is Sheila. Everyone currently alive in Scotland is well aware that smoking is risky, because groups like ASH Scotland have been paid handsomely by government to tell the public so.

If you're interested how much, it's around 85% of their total revenue.

I think it's fair to say that Sheila's organisation is the archetypal state-funded sock puppet, the type of shameful abusive fake charity which has compelled Westminster to introduce rules on lobbying with taxpayer funding that have so enraged the voluntary sector. In short, a damaging embarrassment to real charities everywhere and a self-enriching waste of your taxes.

Yet here she is seemingly admitting that her organisation is a failure because smokers don't make a choice based on the 'information' her industry lobbies to be plastered everywhere and spouts incessantly, but instead are seduced by some evil spirit floating around on the Scottish air or something.
Certainly there are informed adults who make a proactive choice to smoke and, so long as they cause no harm to others, that is their business.
Well, firstly, no smoker harms others because passive smoking is a fantasy deliberately created by her industry chums over decades. However, it's interesting to see that she accepts smokers smoke by their own informed choice and that they should be left alone to do so.

I might be wrong but I don't remember seeing this before from tobacco control, so let's give a mini-clap for that.

There is always a 'but' though, isn't there?
Yet we have known for some time that most people who smoke started when they were children and that most people who smoke say that they want to stop.
And here we have one of their favourite tricks. The 'stated preference' sound bite illusion so favoured by anti-smokers worldwide. Carl Phillips mentioned this just the other day in a slide from a recent presentation he made to real scientists as opposed to pretend tobacco control ones.

Phillips has also described how this zombie argument is flawed many times before, a perfect example of which is this from 2013.
It is commonly claimed that most smokers want to quit. The surveys that support this are actually quite suspect, since smokers know that they are supposed to say that, and thus often just give that answer as cheap talk. But while this explains a large portion of the responses, there are definitely some people who sincerely assert that they want to not smoke, even as their actions show that they are choosing to smoke. But what can this obvious contradiction possibly mean? It almost certainly means, in most cases, that their second-order preference is to be someone who wants to not smoke, even though the reality is that they are someone who really wants to smoke.
Because, increasingly so, it's a fact that only a small fraction of smokers actually quit smoking each year, and stats on quit attempts are pretty paltry compared with the numbers of people who actually smoke too. The verifiable fact that nowhere near a majority of current smokers who Duffy claims want to quit even bother to attempt it proves that their stated preference is not their actual preference.

As in, most people who smoke do so because they enjoy it. Just imagine that, eh? Phillips expands further ...
There is nothing horrible, or even the slightest bit unusual, about this second-order preference pattern. We all have countless preferences for different preferences. I would prefer to like going to the gym as much as I like playing computer games, and I would prefer to like unsweetened iced tea as much as I like Coke.
Just think about the things you'd prefer to do rather than what you choose to do and you get the idea.

Duffy then moves into this unseen demon theory a bit more deeply.
The more we look into the figures the further we move from the picture of free adults enjoying smoking tobacco. While the smoking rate has reduced to around 20 per cent in the general population it is four times higher in the poorest areas than in the richest. Almost 50 per cent of people with a registered disability, or those who are unemployed and seeking work, smoke tobacco. The rate is nearer three-quarters in the prison population and amongst people with severe mental ill health. In every one of these groups most of those who smoke say that they want to stop. 
With the likelihood of smoking so determined by social and economic situation, this is not a matter of people making free lifestyle choices but instead about responding to their circumstances in a way that is rational and understandable yet ultimately damaging, expensive and regressive.
Now I don't know about you, but this looks very much like "they're poor and not that bright, so they're incapable of making an informed choice". And as for smoking being a "regressive" choice to make, erm, who lobbies for eye-watering taxes to destroy household budgets in the less well off? I'll give you one guess and the answer in Scotland is Duffy-shaped.

Still, I don't want to leave you on a downer because there are odd glimpses of Duffy being almost reasonable.
The clear implication is that we must reject any suggestion of blaming people for their “lifestyle choices”, health or poverty.
Of course we should. Perhaps Duffy and her friends could come out with the odd research or lobbying paper about why people who spew repulsive bile about smokers are disgusting individuals who should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves (and in many cases confined to mental health institutions). I won't hold my breath though considering ASH Scotland's accumulated 'scientific' canon has actively encouraged the most vile and intolerant in society to vent their spleen at law-abiding people consuming a legal product without Duffy or her predecessors lifting a finger to discourage it.
Nor should we abandon people to an unfair distribution of the social and economic pressures which lead some groups to smoke and make it more difficult for them to quit. But we should question why so many vulnerable people are left without more effective, and less damaging, alternatives to reach for.
And is this a hint that smokers should be given a suite of options to choose from instead of being subjected solely to the angry bigoted clunking fist of fascist tobacco control coercion? I think it is, you know.
This analysis may help us resolve the perceived conflict between improving public health and respecting personal liberty – leave the very small number of informed adults who may choose to smoke and address the factors which cause the majority of the smoking population to be drawn from young, unwilling or vulnerable groups.
This also looks like a first for me. A career prohibitionist talking about "respecting personal liberty" and leaving alone those who are informed of the risks of smoking but choose to anyway? Wow! That will be every smoker then considering ASH Scotland is shovelled 85% of their income from the government to inform the Scottish public how risky smoking is.

It's an odd article from Duffy, and almost as eclectic as I've seen from any UK tobacco controller. It was like a political cheesecake. There's the solid base of anti-smoking rhetoric which ASH Scotland are wedded to from years of pumping out crap and science-free sound bites like "most smokers want to quit" and "poor people are addicted and too stupid to make their own choices"; but a fair amount of the softer cheese bit of saying that other options should be available apart from coercion; and, surprisingly, the thin layer of tasty flavoursome coulis topping in the form of admitting that many smokers have made their choice and should not be any concern whatsoever of state-funded harridan groups like ASH Scotland.

Now it's only an optimistic theory, but d'ya reckon Sheila is sensing that the days of just ignorantly bullying smokers and holding the hand out for government cash might be coming to an end? is she realising that tobacco control 'science' is so derided and ridiculed now that she feels the need to try to present something at least resembling thoughtful comment instead of 100% vacuous sound bite-driven bollocks? Has the joyous demise of Smokefree South West focussed a few state-funded minds to consider their potential financial mortality unless they buck up their ideas and live in the real world?

One to watch, isn't it?

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Look What We've Deprived You Of

Chris Snowdon today highlighted some quite astonishing proposals by Health Nazis and others in Australia, it's definitely worth a read. He finishes with a chilling well-being warning.
Australian control freaks are only ever half a step ahead of the British nutters so brace yourself. 
This is true. Globalisation doesn't just apply to big business, you know. The fanatics who derive financial enrichment from destroying people's lives share their insane ideas at global conferences, on social media and via e-mail. If it is happening anywhere in the world, it is likely to happen here - and everywhere else too - before very long.

Australia also mirrors the UK in having a state-funded broadcaster willing to bend over backwards to defend the indefensible if the government is committed to it. In Australia, this means regular eye-watering 12.5% increases in tobacco taxes.

As enthusiastically publicised on Twitter by Simple Simon, here is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation doing its best to deny that there is any problem with them.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott told Liberal Party members in Tasmania that Bill Shorten's Labor Opposition plans to bring in "five new taxes" if elected. 
Mr Abbott identified these potential taxes as a housing tax, a wealth tax, a seniors tax, a carbon tax, as well as characterising Labor's proposed tobacco excise increases as a "workers tax". 
"There'll be a workers tax 'cos he's going to slug smokers," Mr Abbott said on March 4, 2016. 
"And as my grandfather used to say, 'it's the only pleasure I've got left, son'. I don't much like smoking, but nevertheless why single out one particular section of the community for yet another slug?" 
He repeated the claim on March 23, telling Sky News host Paul Murray that Labor's policies include "increased tax on workers having a smoko", which he later called "a tax on every worker having a smoko". 
Is Labor's planned tobacco excise increase really a "workers tax"?
It should be clear to anyone that the point being made is that it is a regressive tax which predominantly harms the less affluent. The oft-referenced 'workers' to whom Labor (and Labour here) always claim to represent.

The ABC goes through lot of theatrical nit-picking to say that tobacco hikes being a "workers tax" is technically incorrect, but can't evade the incontrovertible salient fact which they leave till the end of an intensely statistic-laden article where most people won't see it.
Tobacco taxes represent a greater proportion of a "worker's" income than that of a higher income earner. 
Michelle Scollo of Quit Victoria has acknowledged that "increases in tobacco taxes are most felt among poorer sub-groups" but says that this makes tax increases "an effective preventive tool".
In other words, impoverishing the poor is a deliberate strategy of tobacco controllers, for their own good. A hideous contravention of principles laid down by J S Mill in On Liberty and de facto prohibition.
“Every increase of cost is a prohibition, to those whose means to not come up to the augmented price"
It's important to stress this point, particularly since the overwhelming majority of career 'public health' tax-troughers would describe themselves as left of centre. Yet they are quite happy to inflict policies on the public which actively attack the poor and which don't really affect the rich at all.

As if that isn't bad enough though, once they have impoverished the poor - which causes harm in its own right - those lovely left-leaning, caring, sharing 'public health' bansturbators then revel in boasting about how their policies have made those people poor.

And even love to tease those they have impoverished by waving the goods they now can't afford in front of their faces.

There really isn't anything more vile than an industry which claims to be looking after the less well off, while actively attacking them and then rubbing it in by explaining exactly what has been deliberately put beyond their financial reach. And all just to perpetuate the industry's own existence and to fill its own bank accounts with the proceeds of the taxes they lobbied for.

Remember, we're on the side of the angels here, they on the other hand are just repulsive.