Tuesday, 31 May 2016

You Scratch Our Back ...

Over the weekend, Simon Clark has been highlighting the pathetic and incestuous obsession that the tobacco control industry has with awards.

From the ASH PR.
Responding to the Minister’s award, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: 
“Despite relentless tobacco industry lobbying the Public Health Minister made sure that the government proceeded with the introduction of standardised ‘plain’ packaging of cigarettes. Her commitment to tackling the harm caused by tobacco is unquestionable and we are delighted that her work has been recognised by the World Health Organisation.”
So, here we have ASH declaring that they are "delighted" that the World Health Organisation - who wish to ban e-cigarettes - is honouring Jane "addiction to nicotine, we would consider harmful" Ellison with an award.


Others honoured by the WHO include French Health Minister Marisol Touraine who wants to ban e-cigs in public; vaper-hating Mike Daube, an anti-smoking lunatic who was denounced by the entire Australian establishment for closing down a production of Carmen because it is set in a tobacco factory ... and then lying about it; and Melanie Wakefield, for producing a review of plain packaging in Australia that the government down there couldn't go on record as endorsing because they know it was incredibly biased bullshit.

This, in 2016, appears to be the best that the tobacco control industry have to offer. Ignoramuses, crooks and liars.

But it shouldn't come as much of a surprise because, as you can see above (and in Clark's blog on Sunday), it's just the same old names being circulated over and over. Instead of being a measure of success, these awards simply prove that the tobacco control trough is populated by a tiny handful of elite extremists for whom rigour and truth are irrelevant. It doesn't matter how shite their output is; how astonishingly inept, transparently biased, or openly mendacious they are; they'll still get a slap on the back from their small clique of chums. An echo chamber within an echo chamber.

Clark also makes an interesting point.
Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't ASH who nominated Ellison for this award. They're pretty good at lobbying government so lobbying WHO to give an award to the minister they lobbied to introduce plain packaging in the UK seems a pretty natural thing to do.
He's only a few degrees off because it was CRUK - another organisation in the tobacco control circle-jerk - who nominated on this occasion, but it's exactly how it works.

Let's dip into the ASH emails again, shall we?

If you're a tobacco controller and you want a bit of adulation, do you wait for gushing praise from your peers? No, of course not, you ask for it (October 2013).

How better to fully utilise a direct line to Andrew Black than by chivvying him along for praise from his boss, eh?

Of course, this doesn't come for free. The Department of Health will obviously want something in return, but that's OK because Deborah is quite happy to provide it (March 2015).

"You scratch my back, Andrew, and I'll scratch yours. Shall we share a bath and a loofah too?"

Yes, I regretted that the moment I wrote it, do feel free to bill me for the mind bleach. {shiver}

So it seems that - judging by how long these things take - another 'award' is on the way for some tobacco control trouser-stuffer to reward their services to the intolerant, anti-social and vile. I wonder who it will be this time? The tobacco control glitterati consists of so few people that they would fit into a single-decker bus if they ever held a global get-together, so I'm sure the name won't be someone we haven't heard of before.

Place your bets.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Yours, Disgusted Of Hatton Garden

From the ASH emails, I thought you'd enjoy this piece of dribbling rust-hearted pecksniffery on a Friday.

Cast your mind back to 2012, and just think of all the things that might have angered the public back then. Flooding in the west country leaving people homeless; the phone tapping scandal and the Leveson inquiry; the UK economy dropping back into recession and national debt rising to over £1 trillion for the first time.

But what was Deborah Arnott of ASH disgusted by?

Yep, "shocked" and "disgusted" that there were not enough no smoking signs around the Olympic Park. So "shocked" and "disgusted", in fact, that it was worth state-funded Debs throwing her weight around and utilising her direct line to Andrew Black of the Department of Health in order to make sure that smokers were suitably bullied.

This, remember, is Deborah "we're not anti-smoker, we're anti-smoking" Arnott, the people's friend.

I swear the urge to become a tobacco controller is a form of mental illness.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Extraordinary Extent Of ASH Lobbying

Last week Guido highlighted what we in this corner of the internet already knew; that ASH lobbies the government with money government, erm, gives to ASH.
Arnott is not averse to using cash to influence government policy – our cash. ASH waged a half-decade campaign, involving top Civil Service officials, to introduce plain packaging. In a string of emails between Arnott, Hunt, the Department of Health’s top ranking official Andrew Black and surprisingly the PM’s Chief of Staff – Ed Llewellyn, the organisation appears to have broken the department’s rule on the use of its grant money. The Department of Health rules, as stated in November last year, prohibit government lobbying at the taxpayers’ expense: 
“Funding applications from voluntary sector organisations are assessed against a number of criteria, but Departmental policy clearly states that grants will not be awarded if there is any indication within the application that some or all of any funding awarded will be used to support political activities, including political lobbying activity.”
Between 2011 and 2015, ASH received a whopping £745,650 in taxpayer funded grants from the Department of Health, their £200,000 grant last year was specifically for assisting the department to implement the “Tobacco Control Plan” (page 22). In that same period, documents seen by Guido highlight 74 separate incidents of lobbying contact, reaching as high as the PM’s office. Taxpayer grants form by far the largest donations given to ASH, and it would appear that they have been used to lobby the government against the Department of Health’s own regulations.
74 different instances of Deborah Arnott using a direct line to the Department of Health to promote plain packaging? Wow! Were those opposed to the policy afforded the same facility? Well of course not, it's just Debs and her buddy Andrew carving up the democratic process.

But that's only scratching the surface! I've been kindly sent the FOI results that Guido was working from and they are quite astonishing. Deborah Arnott contacted Andrew Black (the Department of Health's tobacco lead) so many times that the files had to be split into five volumes. I've spent three days on and off reading them and I'm still only halfway through. There are so very many emails that they would have been better off keeping an open channel on MSN Messenger to save time.

ASH would claim to be independent of government, but on this showing they are acting as a government department and might even have an internal phone line between their offices and the Department of Health as far as we know.

But then, when even government ministers consider Arnott as part of the Department of Health 'team', why should we suspect different.

That's Andrew Black (far left) next to bessie mate and email pen pal Debs
Yet ASH would still deny that they are engaged in the practice of using government money to lobby government (in fact, Arnott denies exactly that to Black explicitly in one email I've read). Quite astonishing.

There is so much info in the files it's a real revelation. ASH have their fingers in so many pies that one day they might be telling Black to order the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to change their policies (yes, really), and the next complaining about signage at sports grounds. There is almost nothing Arnott would not write to Black about. Some of it is daft, almost comical at times, and some of it - in my humble opinion - is borderline illegal.

It's a great insight into the shenanigans of these hideous people and it would be mean of me to keep it to myself ... so I won't. It's the sort of thing that should be exposed to the public who pay for it, so let's start, shall we?

Considering the IEA is holding a debate tomorrow on the damaging (and pointless) provisions in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) towards e-cigs, shall we examine ASH's role in it?

Last week, there was outrage that ASH had attempted to support the indefensible TPD by throwing hundreds of thousands of vapers down the drain.
The needs of more than a quarter of a million people don't matter, according to ASH.  
The ASH survey finds that "only" 9% of the UK's 2.8 million current vapers use strengths above the 20mg/ml limit imposed by the TPD. That in itself is bad enough, however the point which ASH so spectacularly miss, is that this cross sectional survey tells us nothing about what strength people used when first using vaping devices. It is entirely possible, indeed probable, that a much larger proportion of those 2.8 million vapers used high strength liquids when they initiated use and then reduced the strength as they became more experienced and learnt the quite different techniques involved in vaping.
But these emails show that ASH's current position on e-cigs is merely a fallback one of nobbling the devices after being frustrated at not getting them banned entirely.

We already know that in 2010 ASH recommended that the devices should be compelled to be deemed as medical products or banned entirely in an MHRA consultation response. It wasn't until three years later in June 2013 that MHRA advocated exactly that, just as ASH had been badgering them to. Now, I don't know about you, but I think those two things might be related, whaddya reckon?

But then came the TPD which threatened to throw that proposed de facto prohibition in the bin. So what did ASH do? Talk to vapers? Establish their expert opinion? Change their minds and research more? Nope, they held a round-table discussion with the medical community to ask what the hive mind of 'public health' thought of harm reduction. And guess who introduced it and summarised at the end? Yes, Debs did.

Her conclusions were conveyed to Jeremy Hunt in September 2013 (and co-signed by John Britton). She was adamant that recreational use of nicotine was just an industry myth and that vapers used e-cigs for the same reasons as NRT marketed by her friends in the pharmaceutical industry (as with all these images, click to expand).

What's more, there would be no problem with medicines regulation for vaping suppliers because they were earning loads of money, so they were. It was easy peasy!

Regulation won't undermine growth? But will simultaneously entrench existing players? That's some weapons grade goalpost-moving right there isn't it?

But even if it wasn't easy peasy, Arnott wasn't too bothered about medicines regulation putting small companies out of business anyway. In shades of the FDA deeming regulations across the pond, the letter from Arnott and Britton appeared to say "well Big Tobacco will buy these companies anyway in time, so why not just hand them the industry now?".

In correspondence shared with Andrew Black in December 2013, Arnott went even further in her desperate drive to get e-cigs included in the TPD as medicinal products. Writing presumably to the Labour Party or a shadow cabinet researcher (redacted), she exhorted them to support medicines regulation in the TPD and sharpish. Because, you see, without really taking any consumer views into account, Arnott had concluded that where vaping is concerned, making e-cigs available only as drab smoking cessation aids via stifling medical regulations was the "best use for them".

The urgency just leaps off the page, doesn't it? A "priority" to push the TPD through by 22 May 2014 no matter what damaging shit is in it. If that was the approach of ASH - with their open line to government - is it any wonder why Health Minister Anna Soubry, flanked by Arnott's best pal Andrew Black and no doubt accompanied by him in Europe, panicked and voted for something she knew nothing about; arrogantly bypassing parliamentary scrutiny in the process.

The rest is history. No doubt pressured by ASH and other rancid organisations in Europe behind the scenes, the public and the EU Parliament was ignored and the TPD that is now causing havoc in the UK and beyond was formulated in secret and therefore, to no-one's surprise, delivered in February 2014.

With that background in mind, is it any wonder that ASH are now trying to pretend that the TPD isn't really that bad for vapers? They are responsible for the TPD Article 20 and have been since the first time someone rang them up and said "have you seen these odd plastic things that I've heard are being hawked in pubs?" from 2004 onwards.

Corrupt? I'll leave that up to you to decide.

There's tons of this stuff you know, anyone up for more?

Last Call For The #IEAVapeDebate

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, tomorrow night the Institute of Economic Affairs are hosting a debate to discuss the recently-installed provisions in the EU's Tobacco Products Directive and their effect on the vaping free market. Here's the blurb.
In recent years e-cigarettes have flourished in Britain under a free market. Light touch regulation, low barriers to entry and strong competition have resulted in choice, value and innovation. That could all change from May 20th when new EU regulations are introduced. Under Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive, most forms of advertising will be banned and limits on product size, strength and capacity will come into effect. Retailers and manufacturers will be faced with new bureaucracy and restrictions. 
As the dust begins to settle, what will be the effect on vapers and the vaping industry? Join us for a discussion about the practical implications of Article 20 on e-cigarette use in Britain at 6.30pm on May 25th.
Speakers include:
  • Mark Pawsey MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on e-cigarettes
  • Lorien Jollye, New Nicotine Alliance
  • Fraser Cropper, Totally Wicked
  • Ian Green, Southampton Vaping Centre
  • Ian Barber, Advertising Association
  • Christopher Snowdon, IEA head of lifestyle economics (Chair)
If you've never been to a think tank event before, you won't find the IEA intimidating. I expect there will be refreshments, including wine, and down-to-earth fare such as bowls of crisps and stuff (canapes at the posher IEA events have been known to include fish and chips!). The panel discussion will last about an hour and a half, inclusive of the audience Q&A, while the venue also has a pleasant smoking area and is vape-friendly. All are welcome and it is free to attend.

Not much time though as it begins at 6:30pm tomorrow, so if you haven't already registered, fill out the simple form at the bottom of this page and get yourself on the guest list.

If you can't get to London, you can follow the debate on social media via the hashtag #IEAVapeDebate, but if you intend to come along, hope to see you there!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Harm Of Plain Packaging

Along with death and taxes, the one thing you can be certain about in this world - because tobacco controllers routinely lie - is that any anti-smoking policy promoted by tobacco control will be designed for a completely different purpose than the one they pretend it's about when they lobby politicians.

We saw this with the smoking ban where all the talk of protecting bar staff evaporated once the law had been passed; then it became how wonderful it will be to drive down smoking rates. It was nothing about health but all about denormalising and shaming smokers.

Likewise plain packaging. As I've mentioned before, once the law took effect in Australia, all mention of stopping children smoking disappeared in favour of how brilliant this would be for forcing smokers to quit (in fact, the stats on child smoking were deliberately ignored).

Anyone who has ever smoked knows plain packaging won't make a blind bit of difference to smoking uptake; and - as even ultra-local Puddlecoteville radio understands considering the breakfast show presenter was ridiculing the idea on the morning it was announced - that the policy is purely intended to attack the tobacco industry while irritating, shaming and bullying smokers.

Much to their chagrin, someone took to the 'public health' racket's favourite online source on Thursday to criticise this approach.
Why tobacco ‘plain packaging’ could have dangerous unintended consequences
“[P]lain packaging” has been found to create severe feelings of self-blame and disgust which, in turn, cause stigmatisation of smokers
On the one hand, these side effects are not justified because they are not outweighed by other benefits of the new plain packaging rules. The fact that smokers feel motivated to stop is hardly a net gain when they at the same time are subject to emotional harm, and their chances of quitting aren’t strongly improved. 
Worse, though, some studies demonstrate that certain groups of smokers react negatively to shock messages. For some, the feeling of blame and stigmatisation creates an emotional state of disempowerment, which reinforces the belief that it is impossible to stop smoking. In such cases, plain packaging does not only create emotional harm without sufficient justification, it is quite frankly counterproductive. 
Given the lack of behavioural evidence and the serious unintended consequences, the introduction of tobacco plain packaging in the UK is an ill-advised decision, which is most likely not to have a significant impact on one of our biggest public health challenges.
This, of course, is distilled heresy in tobacco control circles where only wild Borg-like enthusiasm is tolerated. One of the world's biggest plain packaging advocates couldn't resist popping up in the comments pretending that this was nonsense, along with other fruitcakes saying things like this.
I dispute whether there is an intention to cause shame - do you have any evidence of such an intention?
Well considering that making smokers ashamed of displaying their packs was celebrated by Aussie tobacco controllers as well as UK ones, I'd say so, wouldn't you?

I'd also suggest that tobacco control campaigns such as "If you smoke, you stink" kinda gave the game away, as did tobacco control industry grandees celebrating smokers being seen as malodourous; litterers; selfish and thoughtless; unattractive and undesirable housemates; uneducated; a social underclass; addicts; excessive users of public health services; and employer liabilities. So it's hardly surprising that government advisers have noticed the effects, all the while tobacco control liars pretend it isn't happening.

The author of the Conversation piece - Thomas Boysen Anker of the University of Glasgow - gamely and astutely countered criticism of his article in the comments, most notably with these observations.
[I]t is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the mandatory use of shock messages on plain packs causes stigmatisation of smokers. I know some studies see this as a positive outcome. To me it is emotional harm. 
[I]f you ask smokers, many feel ashamed of using plain packs because of the shocking health warnings. Intentionally causing feelings of shame is a form of stigmatisation. 
My issue is that - from a purely public health point of view - it is surprising that we invest massive time, effort and money into de-stigmatising mental health problems, homosexuality, etc., but readily accept stigmatisation of smokers. To me, that is an ethical problem.
Indeed it is!

Of course, the tobacco control industry couldn't care less about emotional - or even physical - harm to smokers, as Deborah Arnott proved by arguing in favour of the vile policy of banning smoking in mental health institutions in November. Possibly the most disgraceful smoker bullying you could ever imagine.

Yet the very same Arnott - sporting a straight face - apparently received a hearty round of applause at a Royal Society of Public Health 'debate' in April for saying that her organisation attacks smoking but not smokers!

It is quite ridiculous for any tobacco controller to say that the intention of their policies hasn't been to shame and stigmatise smokers; they know very well that is their deliberate intention. They even tacitly admit it with laughable justifications for outdoor bans being to remove filthy smokers from the view of children. It's not, and they are well aware of what the real reason is; it's to make smokers ashamed of being seen.

But let's take them at their word just for jolly.

Say they really do care about smokers and wouldn't even dream of heaping shame and stigmatisation on them (don't laugh). What does that say about how much they understand smokers? Well it pretty much means they haven't the first clue, doesn't it?

But then, why would they considering they refuse to listen to anything smokers ever say. Empathy, compassion and ethics can go hang when there are grant bucks to chase, eh?

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Real Deal; A Fatal Attraction

There's been a bit of misguided excitement of late about an Early Day Motion on the subject of the negative effect of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) on e-cigs.

I say misguided because EDMs are the laziest possible thing an MP can do, they mean absolutely nothing and will achieve nothing. I have met MPs who have been unaware that they have even signed them because EDMs are such a low-level priority that they leave it up to their staff to handle; the political equivalent of routine filing. So irrelevant, in fact, that many MPs have a policy of refusing to sign them no matter the subject for the understandable reason that they are utterly pointless but could rebound on a politician if something changes in the future and their name is on a document supporting a cause which could harm their career.

They're a relic of the past and mostly now only a tool to appease those who don't know anything about politics and convince them that their MP is really working hard for them (even though he/she isn't). Plus they're notorious for having a negative effect, if signatures are low (and with many MPs excluding themselves that's not difficult) it can be used to say there is no support for the idea. The potential harm far outweighs the non-existent chance that it will do any good.

The particular EDM which has caused the misguided excitement also promotes probably the most egregious example of tobacco control industry junk science (the full Monty, it even cited vape-hating Glantz) I've seen in all my time in the blogosphere. I wrote about it here, and it was also rubbished in the MSM as well as here, here, here, and here. After the furore had died down, the bungling bellend who wrote it and his formerly well-respected employer parted company; you can make of that what you will. Far from supporting such a pointless and absurd motion, I'd be far more inclined to urge my MP not to sign it.

However, yesterday saw the tabling of a completely different motion, and this one is the real deal. A proper stonker which has the potential of delivering something quite extraordinary in modern politics.
†Lord Callanan to move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, laid before the House on 22 April, be annulled on the grounds that its restrictions on product choice and advertising of vaping devices were devised before evidence had accumulated that vaping was enabling many people to quit smoking, run counter to advice from the Royal College of Physicians to promote vaping and are so severe that they could force vapers back to smoking and create a black market with harmful products (SI 2015/507).
The important word here is annulled. This signals that this is a bona fide 'fatal motion' being presented in the Lords. There are others which are regretful or just want to make a note, but the one presented by Lord Callanan today seeks to (as the name implies) kill the Statutory Instrument (SI) behind the entire EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). ECITA has written a good explanation of the process at their site here.

Far from shilly-shallying like an EDM inevitably does, this is an attempt to sling the TPD back in the face of government for having the temerity to even present it. There is no room for compromise, it's a yes/no thing and, if successful, would kill the enabling mechanism in parliament for the TPD to be ratified by the UK.

As things go, this is a very big thing compared with other big things. It's the Daddy of big things!

In practice, it won't be the end of the TPD (sadly) but a vote by the Lords in favour of the fatal motion would force the government to consider re-issuing the SI without the provisions on e-cigarettes. This, of course, is where the politics comes in.

You may have noticed that there is a referendum on the EU coming up soon, there has been the odd article here and there about it. Well, one of the main justifications for leaving is that we are hog-tied by EU legislation with our parliament not able to do anything about it.

This motion can derail the entire TPD so will have to be taken seriously by government, but what can they do? If they remove the provisions on e-cigs they are still going to be caned by the EU for not enforcing compliance on daft rules coming from the EU. Quite delicious, isn't it?

It's also worth mentioning that only 9 member states out of 28 have made moves to implement the TPD. As usual, though, the UK is bending over backwards to hurry through our instruments to be perfect British bulldogs Brussels lap-dogs.

So we have a scenario which is hard to judge. It's quite clear that the mood in Britain is that e-cigs are a good idea, Public Health England (PHE), the body overseeing national Stop Smoking Services and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have all come out in favour of encouraging their use. But being placed in front of the Lords is a SI which contains regulations which do quite the opposite. It's quite natural for them, therefore, to oppose it.

However, it also contains the (equally daft) provisions on tobacco so many Lords will be quite content with defending the SI and would consider e-cigs as collateral damage for the greater good, even if they support the idea of tobacco harm reduction (THR). There is also the tangential concern - again amongst Lords who would agree with vaping and supportive of THR - that if the fatal motion is passed then it would embarrass the government in advance of the EU referendum. The EU might have their hand forced to punish the UK for standing up to principles and endorsing the views of the RCP and PHE. Erm, doesn't look good does it? If you're a Lord who is keen to stay in the EU, you might find that a compelling reason not to vote in favour of the motion even if you agree that e-cigs shouldn't be in the TPD.

On the other hand, there are also reasons why Lords who prefer to remain in the EU might want to vote in favour of the motion. It would help show that the EU is not in charge of the UK's self-determination; that we can still stand up to dictators; and that this would give them ammunition for saying that we still keep a bit of sovereignty. Of course, if the Lord is an advocate of leaving the EU then this is a good chance to refuse to comply with an EU directive that shouldn't have been passed in its current form.

What is absolutely clear, though, is that ideologically-blind and stupid anti-smoking lobbyists along with vacant politicians have contrived to put the UK government in one hell of a pickle. At any time since around 2012 e-cigs could have been excluded from the TPD but instead ignorance and pomposity prevailed, they were told what would happen but smugly ignored it.

Labour MEP Linda McAvan should be a swear word within government circles at the moment, so should political lightweight Anna Soubry who thought so little of the e-cigs debate that she didn't even concern herself with learning about it. Likewise ASH who lobbied forcefully throughout the TPD negotiations to ensure that e-cigs should be part of the TPD and removed from sale unless by prescription. They have all been made to look utterly pathetic and have caused the government a thumping headache with their arrogant stupidity of turning their back on what they were being told by the public.

So what can be done to ensure this motion is taken seriously? Well, for a start sign this petition, at time of writing it was up to 26,000 signatures in just over a day.
This petition is requesting the House of Lords to back Lord Callanan’s motion to stop harsh regulations on e-cigarettes which would force vapers back to smoking. We urge our House of Commons to debate the implications for public health of the Tobacco Products Directive on e-cigarettes.  And we plead with the Prime Minister to use his influence in Brussels to get a British opt-out from Article 20 before the EU referendum so this issue does not affect that vote.
And it will influence the vote, as I've written before. It even commands its own page on the Leave.eu site.

You can also make a noise on social media.

But most of all, write a personal message to your political representative to show that they should be supporting this motion. It doesn't matter what the Lords allegiances are towards the EU, whether they're in favour of remaining or leaving and how it will affect their vote on the fatal motion is something for their own consciences to decide. You don't need to concern yourself with referendum politics in your letter, all you need do is show the strength of opinion opposed to the TPD, and send them the strong message that the only right thing to do is vote with Lord Callanan and send government away to think again (here is the full list of Lords but you could start with these ones who have expressed a previous interest).

As I understand it, the debate must take place by early June, so there isn't a lot of time, and the motion offers a modest chance of success. However, at least it has some chance of succeeding, and your voice could help bring that about. So do something positive today, stand up for our free choice and get stuck in.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Draw A Line Here

Operation Oh My God That's A Lot Of Work is well underway at Puddlecote Inc and it's been all hands to the pumps of late, hence the sparse content here this week.

I did, however, manage to sneak out to attend Forest's Battle of the Brands event at the Churchill War Rooms on Tuesday night accompanied by a couple of regular readers here. And very good it was too.

After the initial reception, one of the dark rooms where Churchill's top level aides planned how to protect Britain from the extremism of a tyrannical dictator was lit up by a short film describing how the extremism of the modern day tyrannical dictatorship - that of self-serving 'public health' tax spongers - is irrelevant, contemptuous of the public, and arguably counterproductive.

The film was followed by speeches by Simon Clark, along with representatives of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance and the British Brands Group. The latter two emphasised the damaging effect on business that plain packaging will have for - as any smoker will be able to tell you - absolutely no benefit whatsoever. It hasn't worked in Australia - predictably, and no matter what junk science tobacco control concoct to try to spin it otherwise - and won't work anywhere else either. It will, though, quite clearly harm businesses.

Not that politicians will listen, though. As we see from Guido Fawkes today (and which I will be writing about soon too), ASH have been caught lobbying the Department of Health with our money directly (something which is contrary to the terms of their government grant) and they couldn't give a flying fuck about businesses failing as long as the tax-funded wonga keeps filling their personal bank accounts. They should be in prison for fraud and economic vandalism but instead the government listens to them while completely ignoring law-abiding businesses big and small.

The last contribution in that film from Mark Littlewood is particularly well noted. It's very clear that all manner of prohibitionist campaigners (aka scum) will be looking at plain packaging of tobacco with envious eyes. In fact, they already have, you only need to search 'Myth 7' at this site to see dozens of examples of grey-faced bottom-feeding 'public health' plankton jockeying for position to apply the same kind of thing to their own particular snooty prejudice.

As Littlewood says, it's time to draw a line here. His argument is that the fact such an absurd, illiberal, and utterly pointless policy as plain packaging has been allowed to be applied to legal businesses, in a supposed free country, should alarm all us.

Well, apart from the repulsive anti-social snobs who infest our society, of course. They're an argument for the reinstatement of transportation.

Monday, 16 May 2016

ASH's Mask Slips Into The Gutter

That didn't take very long, did it?

On Saturday I wrote about how the Lords had identified the TPD as an appalling piece of legislation but that no-one in the tobacco control industry would care, least of all ASH.
Nope. ASH didn't study e-cigs with any degree of objectivity when they first arrived on the scene. In fact, in 2010 they demanded that the devices should be compelled to be deemed as medical products or banned entirely in an MHRA consultation response. This should never be forgotten; ASH sway with the wind so their current supposed "supportive" stance towards vaping is purely a convenient position of least resistance, I wouldn't put it past them to jump to an opposite position the moment they think the wind is changing. They are certainly no credible friend of the vaper. Indeed, I understand that they are cheerleaders for the TPD which was being unanimously ridiculed during this Lords committee. Speaks volumes doesn't it?
Well, whaddya know!
Concerns raised in Parliament [4] about the EU rules are not borne out by the ASH Smokefree GB Adult Survey. Only 9% of vapers report using e-liquid containing 19mg/ml or more of nicotine (the limit set by the EU Tobacco Products Directive is 20mg/ml).  And only 11% of daily vapers use more than 4ml of liquid (the EU limit for tanks and cartridges is 2ml), indicating that few of them are likely to need to refill their device more than twice a day. [3]  The minority of vapers using higher strengths and higher volumes of e-liquid will continue to be able to buy these until 20th May 2017, leaving time for products to evolve to meet their needs.
The reference for "concerns raised in parliament" is a question directed at the Prime Minister at PMQs which, in turn, references the savaging that the TPD was given by the Lords on Tuesday.

Alarmed by {gosh!} such positive messages about vaping and the public monstering by Lords of the appalling dog's breakfast that the TPD represents, ASH sprang into action to defend what we all know to be a corruptly-imagined and drafted directive, as Viscount Ridley described well in the Lords committee that ASH are today so very keen to discredit.
It is the product of big-company lobbying and back-room deals in Brussels. It is legislation which last month the Department of Health admitted, in its impact assessment, risks increasing, not reducing, the amount of smoking. 
Vaping is therefore a public health triumph that the Department of Health has, to its extreme shame, done its utmost to block. In 2010, the department’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, tried to ban vaping devices completely. In 2013, the agency - which is financed largely by the pharmaceutical industry - tried to insist that every e-cigarette should be licensed as a medicine. This would again have amounted to a de facto ban.
All, of course, enthusiastically chivvied along by ASH. Yet they recently said they have been "supportive for quite some time".

That doesn't appear to be true of today, because they have come out on the side of self-serving dogma instead of health, as the NNA notes.
The needs of more than a quarter of a million people don't matter, according to ASH. 
The ASH survey finds that "only" 9% of the UK's 2.8 million current vapers use strengths above the 20mg/ml limit imposed by the TPD. That in itself is bad enough, however the point which ASH so spectacularly miss, is that this cross sectional survey tells us nothing about what strength people used when first using vaping devices. It is entirely possible, indeed probable, that a much larger proportion of those 2.8 million vapers used high strength liquids when they initiated use and then reduced the strength as they became more experienced and learnt the quite different techniques involved in vaping.
Indeed. What ASH are saying here is that they don't give a shit about the most compelling aspect of vaping as far as 'public health' is concerned; that of being a realistic alternative to smoking. That's a jaw-dropping admission!

Most smokers who eventually switch to vaping will have started on strengths of 24mg and above, anything below 20mg will not offer much to attract someone on 20 tabs a day.

It's also quite telling that ASH has sat contentedly silent while vaping bans have been installed up and down the country - which is truly damaging to the perception of vaping amongst the public - yet, with this absurd and ignorant press assault, has bent over backwards to protect a vacuous, illogical, and corrupt TPD which can only deter smokers from moving to e-cigs instead.

I think we know where ASH's priorities lie now, don't we? And it's certainly not with vapers or asserted with health in mind. Their allegiance seems to be firmly with protecting their chums in tobacco control from rightful condemnation rather than being "supportive" of e-cigs and tobacco harm reduction.

Just imagine how vile you have to be to do that, eh?

Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Lords Realise It's Not About Health

It seems that, yet again, e-cigs are having the effect of proving that the tobacco control industry has little regard for health.

This time though, it is the House of Lords whose eyes are being divested of their scales. On Tuesday, a Lords committee saw Lord after Lord stand up and tell the government that the EU's Tobacco Products Directive was variously - and I quote - "nonsense", "absolutely absurd", "madness" and "bonkers".

You can read the whole thing in Hansard here if you haven't already, and I urge you to do so, because this was a government representative - in this case Lord Prior of Brampton - getting a right good kicking for the stupidity of people like Anna Soubry in not speaking up against the TPD when they had the chance.

The quotes of astonishment came thick and fast during a discussion which barely lasted an hour. Here are just a few of them.
Viscount Ridley: 
It is the product of big-company lobbying and back-room deals in Brussels. It is legislation which last month the Department of Health admitted, in its impact assessment, risks increasing, not reducing, the amount of smoking. 
Vaping is therefore a public health triumph that the Department of Health has, to its extreme shame, done its utmost to block. In 2010, the department’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, tried to ban vaping devices completely. In 2013, the agency - which is financed largely by the pharmaceutical industry - tried to insist that every e-cigarette should be licensed as a medicine. This would again have amounted to a de facto ban.
This cuts to the heart of the repulsive truth about 'public health', there is more emphasis on vested interests and ideological fuckwittery than there is about scrutinising if their pre-determined policies will have a beneficial or adverse effect on the public's health. As such, they are happy to indulge in junk science, mendacious policy recommendations and corrupt legislative processes. They have always been like that, it's just it hasn't been so transparent until e-cigs came along. They've been caught not only with their pants down but also, arguably, with their hands in the till.

It's also interesting to note that the 'public health' community, almost to a man, despises big business and industry, yet are so dogmatically driven that they always end up entrenching the industries they despise at the expense of the public's well-being, enjoyment of life and, yes, health.
Lord Callanan
I have to say that we were not particularly helped by Department of Health officials. I tried to speak to Ministers many times to find out who was behind the restrictions and why there was such a campaign against something which so self-evidently provides great public health benefits and harm-reduction measures, but I never got a clear answer. 
Funny that, eh?
I was pointed to a recording of a former public health Minister appearing in front of the European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons. When she was asked why she voted for this directive on behalf of the Government, she turned to her officials and said “I think the e-cigarette provisions were removed from it, weren’t they?” - which showed a worrying lack of understanding of what she was voting for on behalf of the Government.
Yes, and if you haven't seen it before, you can watch it here.

Callanan continued ...
My noble friend Lord Ridley is quite right to point out the somewhat murky role of various pharmaceutical interests in the production of the directive. When I asked questions in the Commission and the Council - it seemed to me self-evident that these devices were brilliant for reducing tobacco smoking, which I thought was what we all wanted - I asked why they were even in the directive in the first place, given that it is called a tobacco products directive and e-cigarettes are not tobacco products in any sense of the word. The answer I received many times was that this was argued for by the pharmaceutical industry, which would have an awful lot to lose if e-cigarettes supplanted or replaced nicotine patches and gum. I do not know the truth of that, but it seems that it was very successful in getting what it wanted.
This is a quite astounding thing for a Lord (and ex-Conservative MEP) to say in a publicly-broadcast committee hearing. It suggests that the TPD was drafted with cronyism front and centre, and he was not shy in publicising it.

This is what the tobacco control industry was backing. A directive designed not on the basis of health, but by pharmaceutical lobbyists. I've said before that many tobacco controllers deserve to do jail time, and this seems to confirm that I'm right. Will there be an investigation into such allegations? Well there very much needs to be, but I'm sure the vile elitist 'public health' cabal will close ranks; have a few words in a few influential ears; and make sure they go unpunished for their actions.
We are certainly not going to give that message [of the relative safety of e-cigs - DP] by banning 90% of advertising, nor by insisting on e-cigarette packaging carrying big health warnings, which is what the Government are asking us to approve in these regulations. The Royal College of Physicians described the imposition of these warnings as “illogical”, bearing in mind that nicotine patch boxes do not have to warn of the dangers of nicotine.
Fancy that!

Callanan deliciously aimed a well-observed swipe at ASH and their industry-centric prejudices during his speech.
The messages that we give really matter. In the complex decisions that smokers make every day about whether to smoke or consume nicotine through much cleaner forms, their perceptions of the relative risks of these products are crucial. The Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England and Action on Smoking and Health have all raised deep concerns about how smokers perceive e-cigarettes to be much more risky than they actually are. It is very interesting that Action on Smoking and Health should now say that, because I recall that that was not the message that it was giving when we dealt with the directive.
Nope. ASH didn't study e-cigs with any degree of objectivity when they first arrived on the scene. In fact, in 2010 they demanded that the devices should be compelled to be deemed as medical products or banned entirely in an MHRA consultation response. This should never be forgotten; ASH sway with the wind so their current supposed "supportive" stance towards vaping is purely a convenient position of least resistance, I wouldn't put it past them to jump to an opposite position the moment they think the wind is changing. They are certainly no credible friend of the vaper. Indeed, I understand that they are cheerleaders for the TPD which was being unanimously ridiculed during this Lords committee. Speaks volumes doesn't it?

Callanan also had a few stiff words to direct at the most appalling "Science Editor" in the world.
Much of the problem stems from media reporting of junk science. The worst example was a headline in the Telegraph in December, which screamed: 
“E-cigarettes are no safer than smoking tobacco”. 
It was a nonsense report based on, as I said, junk science.
It was indeed. He was referring to Sarah Knapton of the Telegraph who wrote an astonishingly stupid article in December which was roundly condemned as being utter garbage. She then doubled down by tweeting her ignorance too.

Her laughable scientific illiteracy is now on record for all time in the official Westminster parliamentary record thanks to Lord Callanan. I'm sure the Telegraph are very proud of her for that.

The objections just kept coming.
Earl Cathcart
Even the Prime Minister, last December, said: 
“We need to be guided by the experts, and we should look at the report from Public Health England, but it is promising that over 1 million people are estimated to have used e-cigarettes to help them quit or have replaced smoking with e-cigarettes completely. We should be making it clear that this a very legitimate path for many people to improve their health and therefore the health of the nation”.—[Official Report, Commons, 16/12/15; col. 1548.] 
Quite so. 
I do not know what my noble friend the Minister is going to say when he responds, but I expect him to support the regulations and the EU directive. There is very little else he can do. Our masters in Brussels have told us to jump and, sadly, the only thing that the British Government can do is jump - until 24 June, of course.
We can but hope.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon
That is almost impossible to believe: that a Government who have been so anti-smoking, and who have themselves brought in so many anti-smoking measures over the years—I have been involved with them for at least 25 years—should now, when we are on the brink of assisting people to give up tobacco smoking, put these very stringent restrictions upon them. Why on earth are they banning the advertising of them if they are a health benefit to people who smoke and the Government think that people ought to give up smoking? To me, that seems to be an absolutely absurd position.
Isn't it just?
The only other thing I have to say is this. I hope that the Government will listen to this debate, although in fact there is not much hope of that because in the past trying to get the Government to listen to reason is like banging your head against a brick wall.
Lord Snape
I fear that if the Treasury acts in the way that it usually acts under any Government, it will be another excuse to tax something as heavily as possible. However, if we are serious—which we are—about weaning people off the demon that is tobacco, then banning alternative products which are proven to be less dangerous is a far from sensible way forward, and I would be interested to hear from both Front Benches why they are apparently supporting this SI.
Ooh, just a guess, but perhaps because it has nothing to do with health?
The Earl of Erroll
The final thing is that wonderful conspiracy theory: that the Treasury gets huge amounts of tax from the smokers but not from the vapers, so the Treasury may rather see us smoking than see vaping take off, and that the Government have a vested interest in making sure that this directive goes through unchanged to prevent vaping. Maybe they should declare that every time they try to promote the directive.
This is a quite fantastic point. The government has signed up to Article 53 of the FCTC which states that the tobacco industry should be excluded from discussions on anything related to tobacco control because they have a financial interest, yet the biggest profiteer from smoking is the government itself, to the tune of £12bn per annum.

It is also arguably true that anti-smoking organisations are part of the tobacco industry too, as MSP Jackson Carlaw highlighted in November.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
The fact is - I speak as president of the RSPH - that some elements in the public health world were prejudiced from the start against e-cigarettes. That clearly influenced the Department of Health and is the reason why it has taken such a mealy-mouthed approach to e-cigarettes, which is simply not based on evidence at all. It is interesting that, if you look at some of the papers produced by public health bodies, there are some weaselly words around this issue: “We still don’t know and we need to be very careful”. They are really trying to find a legitimisation for the initial very negative reaction, which I am afraid has laid the foundations for where we are today, because this is bonkers. It is simply madness. Here we have a product which is clearly of benefit to smokers and there is no evidence whatever that it will be used by non-smokers, which is where all this nonsense has come from. 
I do not understand why [e-cigs] are part of the directive at all or classified in the same way.
Nor do we, sunshine. Nor do we. Though from what Callanan revealed earlier in proceeedings, I think we have some clues.

After such a barrage, when Lord Prior finally rose to give the government's position he looked visibly rocked and distinctly uncomfortable.
My Lords, I do not know whether to thank my noble friend Lord Ridley for bringing this debate here today or not. The arguments that have been put have been very powerful and it would be obtuse of me to say otherwise.
Yes it would, but he's going to have to defend the TPD - which was incompetently and corruptly drafted - anyway.
[T]here are three ways of trying to influence the behaviour of people doing things that do harm: you can punish them; you can hector them; or you can try to offer safer alternatives.
There is a fourth alternative of course. You could consider leaving them alone to make their own decisions, but then what government ever does that?
In the case of tobacco we have tried all three things. We have penalised people through taxation, we have hectored them incessantly for years
Nice of a Conservative to admit that the government is a rancid cesspit of bullies.
What the directive is trying to do, though it may not be doing it well, is to differentiate between smokers and non-smokers, particularly non-smokers under the age of 18. It wants to encourage information being given to smokers but does not want to risk the unintended consequence of normalizing vaping so that people who do not smoke start doing so. That is the purpose behind it.
"Though it may not be doing it well". So kick it into the long grass then. Ignore it. Oh, hold on, you can't can you?
The noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, asked how much money would be spent on public information. If there is evidence that the impact on advertising is such that smokers are not getting the right information about switching to e-cigarettes or vaping then there will be a strong case for a public information campaign to correct that, but we will have to wait and see what impact the directive has.
Brilliant! E-cig companies have been advertising to willing consumers for years and it hasn't cost the taxpayer a penny. So let's ban it and spend sparse tax receipts during a time of austerity on that instead. What a fucking car crash that is.
It would be a massive unintended consequence if, as a result of this directive, fewer people gave up smoking.
It would indeed, but an angry looking Lord Lawson - former Chancellor of the Exchequor - rose to remonstrate on this point.
It may well be unintended. I would not know the intentions of the curious people who devised this measure, but it is certainly an inevitable consequence, and it is the consequence that matters, not the intention.
Quite. And this is the crux of the matter. Will the TPD be beneficial for public health or will it not?

The government, anti-smoking organisations and the EU all know very well that the TPD will have a negative effect, but they really don't care. In fact, just today Clive Bates has written about how the tobacco control industry is totally unconcerned about the adverse consequences their tax-sponging actions will cause.

Tuesday's Lords committee was an example of how poor tobacco control legislation always is. Even the government's spokesman admitted as much, but that his hands were tied because there is nothing he can do about it since it emanates from the EU. The fact that it is counterproductive, corruptly drafted and applied, and detrimental to public health is pretty irrelevant to him and the repellent people behind the TPD. But Lord Prior knows very well that the Lords who stood up to him the other day have no power; the committee is just one of many talking shops which happen in Westminster on a daily basis. All the Lords' concerns will be ignored and the TPD will be installed as UK law without question. It's just the crooked way that our supposed democracy works.

I've said it many times and I'll say it again. This is why I love e-cigs, because they are exposing the plankton who have always been this way, nasty, self-serving, snobby and devoid of care for the public. It's never been about health, as we know, but now there are many Lords who have noticed that too.  

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Brexit The Movie: Sort Of A Review

As mentioned yesterday, I attended the premiere of Brexit The Movie last night along with 1,699 others in a sold out Odeon Leicester Square.

The film has proven to be as divisive as the debate that surrounds it, with reports in just about every news outlet reflecting their previously entrenched views about the referendum. About the only unbiased report I could find today was in the IB Times, although Vice published a fun piece of half-satirical flim flam which captures the pre-screening atmosphere quite well.

We were admitted to the cinema early enough to nab seats in the very back row and conveniently situated for the exit to avoid the post-film crush. It was also a handy placement for stealth-vaping throughout the showing, though I have since heard from a couple of those in the VIP seats at the front that they were using their devices without any complaint.

There has been some controversy (I don't know why) today concerning the fact that the film didn't mention immigration at all (there is an interesting article by Sam Bowman at the ASI today on immigration and the EU by the way). I didn't find this a bug of the film myself, but then my objection to the EU has always been based on the handicapping effect of never-ending regulation that is impossible to avoid from such an institution. If you dedicate a few hectares of a major European city to thousands of highly-paid people whose livelihood depends on dreaming up new regulations, what else are they going to do but regulate?

(Interesting nugget from the movie. "Many EU staff are paid more than the Prime Minister, but how many? 5? 10? No, 10,000!").

But, I hear you say, regulations keep us safe don't they? We need them. Well up to a point yes, but that point passed decades ago in the case of the EU. I've written about EU regulations in my industry before which have absolutely nothing to do with safety whatsoever, but instead impose unnecessary costs on businesses, inhibit employment and push up prices for consumers.

We are well beyond the time where what we actually need is an institution which deregulates, but instead we pay billions to the EU to turn the ratchet further without ever bothering to repeal anything that is unhelpful. Anyone who has kept a close eye on the corrupt shenanigans surrounding the Tobacco Products Directive - particularly towards e-cigs where nothing has been made safer at all, but where innovation and consumer satisfaction has been thrown to the dogs - will attest to that.

The message that Brexit the Movie conveyed wasn't even a new one. It's incontestable that free markets, competition, light regulation and transparency are the most successful drivers of growth, employment, social mobility and betterment of wealth and disposable income. This has always been the case and no amount of governments pretending they "create jobs", by handing back only some of the taxes they take which could have been paid directly to workers, will change that.

Heavy regulation does, though, protect big businesses at the expense of small and medium-sized ones; props up failing business models; inhibits employment; strangles innovation; and raises prices to consumers.

Martin Durkin has made a film which should be pretty uncontroversial, the arguments have all been heard before and the history of trade in the UK is a real life research project that shows that regulations hinder our country more than they help us.

Anyway, I don't know why I'm reviewing the movie because - as I said yesterday - it is available for free online from today so you can judge it for yourself.

Pour yourself your favourite beverage, make yourself comfortable, watch the 71 minutes of it below and see what you think.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Wrong End of the Telescope

Tonight I shall be donning best bib and tucker and attending the premiere of Brexit: The Movie at the Odeon Leicester Square. Red carpet deal, the lot. I'm rather looking forward to it as you can imagine from the teasers.

If you've bought a ticket for tonight I hope I bump into you, but if not you can watch the film on YouTube from tomorrow.

In the meantime, I thought you'd enjoy this article from the BII.
If government wants to relieve the plight of low paid workers then there are a number of things they could do that wouldn’t involve meddling in the labour market at a cost of tens of thousands of jobs; but they’re looking at the problem from the wrong end of the telescope. Legislating to reduce the cost of living is a much more effective way of helping low paid workers than legislating to raise the cost of labour. 
Let’s take as an example the average consumption of an adult in the bottom income bracket who smokes, drives a car and drinks alcohol. According to the Office for National Statistics this average low-income consumer spends £1,746 a year on tobacco taxes; £933 a year on motoring taxes; £278 a year on alcohol taxes; £1,165 on VAT. In all, 36.5% of the disposable income of low-income workers is spent on VAT and sin taxes. Halve sin taxes and reduce VAT to 15% and you could put £35 a week into the pockets of low-earners – and this would stimulate consumption and job creation. Of course, public health meddlers would have a fit if government were to reduce sin taxes – particularly on tobacco or alcohol; and government would have to wean itself off vanity projects and get its finances in order, so don’t expect any change in this direction soon. 
It’s easier for government to bang on about the unhealthy consumption patterns of the poor, rather than admitting that its own taxes impoverishes them. The cost of sin is only going to rise with the introduction of the sugar levy – another measure that will disproportionately affect the poor. Someone needs to turn the telescope round.
He makes a good point, doesn't he?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Gosh, No Idea

Yesterday I saw a tweet which fair astounded me.

Bauld is no doubt referring to those in her industry who like to spread misleading information, junk science and lies about e-cigs, and she is correct to do so.

However, the world's prime promoter of such things - Mad Stan Glantz - has been a star in the tobacco control industry firmament for a very long time. Bauld and the rest of the UK tobacco control community have known he's a weapons grade lie machine for decades, but have been quite happy to let it all go without comment.

Glantz has been falsifying data and producing jaw-dropping junk research (like this, for example) since many of the current crop of career tax-sponging anti-smoking prohibitionists were in nappies, yet not one of these fine upstanding 'experts' and 'scientists' has ever bothered to pull him up on any of it before.

So there is some vague hint there by Bauld that some tobacco controllers like Glantz have been a bit naughty, but that'll be all it is; a vague hint. To make it any more than that would - quite rightly - call their own expertise and impartiality into question.

Of course they can't, they've feasted on his crap for years and actively encouraged him. And that includes Robert West who produces the Smoking Toolkit study that the slide in that tweet is taken from.

The hypocrisy is staggering enough on its own, but let's consider something else. Y'see, for a long time the tobacco control industry has considered bans on the use of tobacco as being a prime tactic in the 'denormalisation' of smoking. Read World Health Organisation documents and public bans are regularly praised as being instrumental in making smoking unacceptable in the eyes of society.

Here's a good explanation of the concept.
Smoking restrictions, in addition to protecting non-smokers from the harms of environmental tobacco smoke, can contribute to denormalisation because they reduce the acceptability of smoking (Albers et al. 2004;Department of Health and Human Services 1991); in fact, some commentators regard smoking restrictions as the most effective way of denormalising tobacco use (Bell et al. 2010a;Brown et al. 2009). Many countries have now adopted legislation that bans smoking in work-places, restaurants and bars (Mackay et al. 2006) and, more recently, bans in outdoor spaces have also been considered (Chapman 2000; Bloch and Shopland 2000; Thomson et al. 2008;Colgrove et al. 2011). 
One mechanisms through which smoking bans can contribute to denormalisation is by reducing the general visibility of smoking. One study finds an association between the frequency with which youth observe smoking in different locations and the perception that smoking is socially acceptable; the authors conclude by recommending smoking bans specifically as a means of reducing the social acceptability of smoking (Alesci et al. 2003). Smoking bans in bars and restaurants also help undermine the association between smoking and exciting life-styles promoted by tobacco marketers (Hammond et al. 2006). Thus, smoking bans help establish non-smoking environments as the ‘norm’ (Brown et al. 2009). 
In addition, introducing smoking bans can in itself express and promote a negative attitude towards smoking and contribute to its denormalisation. As Glantz suggests, ‘clean indoor air legislation reduces smoking because it undercuts the social support network for smoking by implicitly defining smoking as an antisocial act’ (Glantz 1987, my emphasis).
Yes, that's the same Glantz in case you were wondering, 29 years ago!
The ways in which such bans are communicated can contribute further to these effects. For example,Chapman and Freeman emphasise that smoking bans on flights are announced in a way that emphasises that smokers are addicts:
At the start of every airline flight to, from and within Australia passengers are warned via onboard announcements that smoking is banned in-flight and, evoking memories of warnings given to schoolchildren about toilet-block smoking, an added warning is given that they must not smoke in aircraft toilets … When each flight ends, it is then seen as necessary to remind smokers that they cannot light up until they get outside the airport buildings. Again, the subtext of the message is plain: here are desperate addicts counting the seconds until they can smoke. (Chapman and Freeman 2008).
And there is Simple Simon too, presumably one of the people Bauld would blame for the public perception of vaping due to his Luddite attitude towards harm reduction.

Now, consider recent bans on vaping that we have seen. Erm, where was the public condemnation from those tobacco controllers who claim to be "supportive for quite some time" of e-cigs? They all know very well - because they have plotted for years to make it happen - that the smoking ban is the single most important measure for conning convincing the public that smoking is dangerous to bystanders.

Prior to the UK-wide ban there was an avalanche of articles pumping the line that passive smoking was harmful but the public really didn't care. They went about their daily lives watching soap operas, going to football, attending Weight Watchers, avoiding the news like the plague, all the usual stuff, but the vast majority would have barely read past a headline of a passive smoking article, and most just dismissed it anyway. They still went to pubs, met and socialised with smokers and simply weren't concerned.

There's a reason why ASH and the rest of their tobacco control chums were cock-a-hoop about the implementation of smoking bans in the UK ... because all of a sudden the state had legitimised what the tobacco control industry is well aware is a purposely-created myth. Few bothered to listen to them though, until the power of the state sent a loud message that a wisp of smoke is lethal.

Of all people in our society, ASH and the tobacco control industry are the most acutely aware of how damaging vaping bans are to the acceptability of e-cigs; yet they have sat on their hands and said absolutely sod all as ban after ban is installed. In Wales they even "fully welcome" such things and are unapologetic that the ASH Wales logo is on signs that tell the public that vaping has now been deemed a dangerous and abnormal habit which should be hidden from the eyes of children.

So Linda, if you want to know why "these harm perceptions just keep going in the wrong direction", it's very little to do with a few sparsely-read articles and the quotes of a few lunatics, it is far more the public perception which comes with vaping being banned on trains, buses, NHS premises, pubs, restaurants and just about everywhere else while your fellow "supportive" tobacco controllers do nothing about it. See, I'm pretty sure ASH and others know very well that the rantings of an aircraft mechanic from San Francisco will have far less influence on a housewife in Aberdeen than a vaping ban in a car park which, unsurprisingly, ASH Scotland have stayed staunchly silent about.

So why are those graphs going in the wrong direction while vape-friendly tobacco controllers say nothing? Why is public perception of the safety of vaping deteriorating, all the  while what tobacco controllers know very well is the most powerful denormalisation tool is employed against something they claim to support? Gosh, no idea!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Diary Date: Will Regulation Ruin A Free Market?

Regular readers here might have detected my suspicions that the tobacco control movement has absolutely nothing to do with health, but what of other concerns?

While most of the focus on Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive has been about its effect on health, there is also the very real damage that it will do to successful businesses for no valid health reason whatsoever. The industry which has sprung up around e-cigs and vaping has been an almost perfect free market which has driven progress and innovation at a breakneck pace, to the benefit of manufacturers, vendors and consumers alike. The TPD threatens to pull the handbrake up on all of that.

So it's good to see the IEA are to host an event about the subject on Wednesday May 25th. Their website carries the details.
In recent years e-cigarettes have flourished in Britain under a free market. Light touch regulation, low barriers to entry and strong competition have resulted in choice, value and innovation. That could all change from May 20th when new EU regulations are introduced. Under Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive, most forms of advertising will be banned and limits on product size, strength and capacity will come into effect. Retailers and manufacturers will be faced with new bureaucracy and restrictions. 
As the dust begins to settle, what will be the effect on vapers and the vaping industry? Join us for a discussion about the practical implications of Article 20 on e-cigarette use in Britain at 6.30pm on May 25th.
Speakers include:
  • Mark Pawsey MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on e-cigarettes
  • Lorien Jollye, New Nicotine Alliance
  • Fraser Cropper, Totally Wicked
  • Ian Green, Southampton Vaping Centre
  • Christopher Snowdon, IEA head of lifestyle economics (Chair)
As I understand it, other (perhaps surprising) speakers are still being sounded out.

If I know the IEA there will be wine and nibbles before and hopefully after the discussion, so it's a date you should consider for your diary.  I'll be going along on the night and, I expect, on to a local boozer for a bit of post-debate banter afterwards. The event starts at 6:30pm, lasts about an hour and a half, is completely free, and the venue has a pleasant smoking area and is vape-friendly. What's not to like?

If you're interested, just go to this link and fill out the simple registration form at the foot of the page to add yourself to the guest list. I hope to see you there.

Friday, 6 May 2016

"Vaping Is Trending!"

For the past two years I've attended the Global Nicotine Forum (GFN) in Warsaw (I wrote about the 2015 event here), and I'm planning to do so again in June so have been scanning the agenda.

As far as I know, GFN is unique in welcoming attendees from all interested stakeholders, including 'public health', industry, consumers and just about anyone else who is interested. Unlike other conferences we could mention, there are no reporting restrictions and no-one is denied a chance to voice their opinions.

Now, I may be wrong, but I can't think of any other arena where mingling areas can contain for example - within yards of each other - representatives from organisations like ASH, companies like Imperial Tobacco, journalists, vapers, smokers, and erm, me. And no-one throws a paddy about it. How very grown up and civilised, eh?

On such a note, a couple of sessions have jumped out at me already. I mean, how about this?

Click to enlarge
There, on a panel, is a scientist from a tobacco company. But then, so they should be, because whether one likes it or not, tobacco companies make e-cigarettes too and - as Carl Phillips often mentions - arguably perform far more rigorous science than the assorted sociologists, Marxist marketing detractors, career lobbyists and airplane mechanics which make up the tobacco control industry.

An article in Vapor Voice magazine this month by a BAT scientist makes the case for industry researchers to be given a chance to chip in too.
Science students are more likely to end up working for an industrial organization than for a government or university. They can’t all be bad. That is not to say that mistakes have not been made in the past. But surely we can learn from these mistakes and work together to engender a culture of transparency and collaboration—to fulfill our duty of care and to ensure that society benefits from the immeasurable good possible through scientific and technical innovation and expertise. 
It cannot be right to judge an industry based on incidents that happened many decades ago, in a different world, in a different century. Indeed, generations of scientists have passed through the doors of the research laboratories of the tobacco industry since then.
Well yes, but tobacco control dies on its arse if it has to admit that its own methods are now far more packed with lies than those of 'Big Tobacco'. Which is increasingly true, as someone who once taught tobacco controllers in the art often explains.
One thing that used to distinguish the anti-tobacco movement from the tobacco industry is that we always told the truth while the industry often lied. Unfortunately, and ironically, the tables have now turned.
Don't we just know that, eh?

Yet journals such as the BMJ now exclude any science produced by able scientists in the tobacco industry, while simultaneously being perfectly happy about 'public health' professionals knowingly lying on their pages.

The Vapor Voice article continues in the same vein ...
In the past few years, hundreds of millions have been invested by the tobacco industry in e-cigarettes and other next-generation products. These products are now used by millions of consumers. Vaping represents a new subculture, with its own jargon and its own technology. High levels of investment means that this technology is evolving rapidly and is often the topic of conversation, controversy and debate. Almost every day, e-cigarettes appear in the mainstream media. Vaping is trending!
Ain't it just!

Search social media for vaping or e-cigs and you'll be overwhelmed by a rapid turnover of messages that it is difficult to keep up with. News outlets are struggling to keep up too, and publish dozens of articles every single day. It's a big subject that needs plenty of analysis from all corners, to not do that and instead forbid some from commenting while other - arguably more conflicted and mendacious - vested interests are handed a one-sided debate would be quite absurd. It would also be a disservice to the public not to allow all opinions to be heard.

So, as you can imagine, I'm rather looking forward to that particular session. I also hope that the tobacco controllers who are attending are not so petty as to turn their nose up at it because it would be immensely childish if they were to do so.

There is also a section of the Saturday afternoon plenary which a good friend of mine should find attractive enough to board a plane to Poland for.
Are vaping advocates throwing smokers under the bus by making alliances with public health?  Luc Van Daele  (EVUN, Belgium)
I feel sure that my friend would have quite a lot to say on that particular matter considering he's written many a blog article about exactly that scenario in recent months. And, as if I really need to remind him about an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, GFN is also offering a European first screening of A Billion Lives which he has expressed an interest in watching.

Hopefully this will be too irresistible a draw for him to not come share a Żywiec or two over there.

In fact, if anyone else fancies joining me over there in June, go have a look at the GFN site. You'll be buying the first round, obviously, but I always buy back. It's rude not to.