Sunday, 23 July 2017

World Class Straw-Clutching

Last week's publication of the Australian government's inquiry into e-cigs was, as I wrote last Saturday, remarkable for the bravery of Aussie vapers in submitting their stories of use in a country where possession of nicotine without a prescription is a crime.

However, as evidence mounts up worldwide as to the benefits of e-cigs, renowned fossilised Sydney moonhowler Simon Chapman continues, Canute-like, to spread as much doubt as he can possibly muster while all around him others slowly back away from his lunacy. His own submission [PDF] to the Aussie inquiry - co-authored by three of the vanishingly tiny number of people he can still find in the world who think on the same kind of anti-vaxxer conspiracy level as him, including some low-grade physiotherapist from Lincoln - is a masterclass in desperate cherry-picking, exemplified by this page.

Click to enlarge
Six citations, carefully selected to endorse his view that e-cigs should remain banned in Australia if they are used with liquid containing nicotine. Can you just imagine the level of irrational hatred of vaping the guy must have to seize on any mild expression of doubt and keep the links for future reference ... sometimes for years.

Take, for example his reference to the British Heart Foundation. It was from their advice dating back to 2014. Now, I know that life comes at you fast in your senior years but their view has softened quite considerably since.
We recognise that e-cigarettes are increasingly being used as a cessation aid. It is therefore important they should be regulated (and responsibly marketed) for this purpose. 
So, therefore, legal as opposed to Chapman's recommendation to the Australian government.

Likewise, Public Health Wales updated their guidance in January, but Chapman omitted this part.
“We recognise that there are a lot of confusing and contradictory messages around e-cigarettes. This is because there isn’t one simple answer – it is different for different groups of the population.  
“In simple terms, if you don’t smoke, don’t vape. But if you are a committed smoker who is unwilling or unable to quit, switching completely to e-cigarettes will be beneficial to your health.”
ASH Scotland also disagree with Chapman's Luddite binary thinking.
We believe that ‘vaping’ will prove to be much less harmful than smoking – but not harmless, as some have suggested. So for a smoker to switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes will bring significant health benefits, and we recommend any smoker to try the various options which might help them to quit tobacco, including e-cigarettes.
Meanwhile, his reference to a bizarre headline-grabbing quote about e-cigs being banned in public from the incoming head of the Royal Society of Public Health ignores the fact that, not only did the RSPH sign in support of PHE's declaration of "a developing public health consensus" surrounding e-cigs, they have also said that "exclusion zones must exempt e-cigarettes" in their 2017 General Election 'manifesto.

Similarly, his cherry-picked quote from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society disregards their overall view that e-cigs are beneficial and, therefore, would probably not agree with Chapman's dinosaur view that they should remain illegal.
"We have expressed concern over possible safety issues of using e-cigarettes, as well as a lack of evidence of their efficacy when used for smoking cessation. Despite this, the organisation recognises they have a potential role to play in helping smokers reduce and stop smoking in the short term, or as a pathway to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)."
All that's left is the BMA, which is a union, and is completely at odds with the Royal College of Physicians, which is not, and states that "e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking" and that "e-cigarettes can act as a gateway from smoking".

This last one is quite important considering Chapman's hilarious hint that the Aussie government should leave him and his oddball clique to carry on making shit decisions about vaping.
With respect, parliamentary committees are not in a position to assess the scientific quality of specialised toxicological research such as that we have highlighted in this submission and in Appendices 1 and 2 . In Australia, that is very obviously and properly the role of expert bodies like the TGA and the NHMRC which can convene and commission independent scientific expertise to advise governments. 
Who do you trust about evidence of there being a gateway into or out of smoking? A world-respected UK college or a bunch of politically-driven unionised doctors? I would suggest that the BMA are "not in a position to assess the scientific quality of specialised toxicological research" as much as the RCP are, and I suspect that the Aussie parliamentary committe might be of the same view once they have stopped laughing at Chapman's contempt towards their work.

Each one of these references is chosen specifically to raise doubt and muddy the waters. His entire 93 page submission is along the same lines, just slinging shit like a baboon and hoping some sticks. For someone who condemns the tobacco industry's "merchants of doubt" tactics back in the 1960s when he still had hair, Chapman does a bloody good impression of the same methodology.

Still, Chappers has a lot to defend; and that is to keep tobacco controllers in work for the future. His chosen policy of keeping e-cigs illegal has only one purpose while other - more-enlightened - juridictions are seeing stunning results from legal vaping. Clive Bates's recent graphic illustrates this starkly.

Since 2013, UK smoking prevalence fell at three times the rate of Australia despite Australia’s plain packs and sharp tax increases. Why might that be?

Chapman's submission is full of such crap doubt-fostering, and offers nothing new to the debate. It's just some old guy who has realised he is in danger of being on the wrong side of history and is desperately clutching at whatever meagre straws he can find, along with his customary piss poor grasp of mathematics.

Fortunately, his desperate last gasp flailing was overwhelmed by the considered responses from hundreds of others (from the 332 in total) who submitted scientific and anecdotal evidence that isolate Chapman as a sadsack outlier who should be told to put down the spade, stop digging, and go sit in the bathchair in the corner to be ignored. You can read many of them by clicking on this tweet and seeing the thread beneath it.

It is quite apt that the Sydney pensioner's career in 'public health' began via his vandalising Marlboro adverts at bus stops, and is now culminating with his daubing inane shit all over his country's policy-making process.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

"Get Him Off The Island, Export The Problem"

Over the years, I've written a fair amount about John Dalli, the former Maltese EU health commissioner who was sacked over an allegation that he solicited bribes from Swedish Match to overturn the snus ban. The whole affair was very murky (you can read my articles about it here) and was never fully resolved, but the BBC have just aired a programme that investigates the case by talking to Dalli himself.

Along with eventually maintaining the ridiculous and damaging EU ban on snus, Dalli was also reported to have once said that e-cigs are "just as bad as traditional cigarettes" and he makes the same claim briefly at the start of this show. Allegations of crookedness aside, what comes across in this 60 minute film is just how incredibly incompetent the guy is. Yet, before his ignominious dismissal he was entrusted to deliver the TPD for 500 million people and was backed by the European tobacco control industry who never questioned him.

I would heartily recommend you pour yourself your favourite beverage and watch the show, Storyville: The Great European Cigarette Mystery, by clicking here

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Order In The Popcorn For The North West

So, the UK government's tobacco control plan (TCP) was finally published today. I've had a read of it and was going to write a few words about the whole thing but I'd instead direct you to Snowdon for an overall critique, and NNA for a short but sweet viewpoint of the vaping elements.

Instead, let's talk about some people in north west England for whom the TCP must have come as a bit of a nasty pill to swallow.

You see, if you live in Blackpool, you have my sympathy. You may not have heard of him, but these are the expert opinions of your Director of 'Public Health' about vaping.
Arif Rajpura, director of Public Health in Blackpool, said: “I know one view is it’s less harmful and that’s why people have gone down the line of almost promoting them as a harm reduction opportunity".
One view? No, it is the only view because even the most swivel-eyed extremists in tobacco control admit that it is less harmful. This is not a debatable thing, it is fact. How incredible is it that a DPH is unaware of that? Christ! Even his own stop smoking services will be aware of guidance given to them about this, has he even read it?
“I can’t categorically say they are less harmful, because I don’t know what the long-term impact is.”
Jeez, someone paint a clown nose on this fella. With hysterical caution such as this, he may as well advise the public to never exit their front door because there is a tiny risk you may get hit by a bus crashing through the rose bushes. Even he were to put on his most stupid of stupid sceptic hats, he could still confidently say that after almost a decade of vaping, no related health problems have been documented in vapers, and the evidence to date shows that vaping is substantially safer than smoking.

It smacks of someone sitting firmly on the fence, getting a nice salary and being an arse.

But then, perhaps that's why Blackpool under his charge is a bit of a black sheep amongst tobacco controllers.
In 2016, Blackpool remained in the top 10 of local authorities ranked by smoking prevalence, where it has been since 2012. In 2016, there were 22.5% of adults aged 18 and over in Blackpool who currently smoked, a figure that was around 7 percentage points higher than that observed among all adult respondents in the UK.
You stick with your failed nonsense if you like, Arif, but you're becoming an embarrassing outlier.

But remember that the north west is also home to long-time anti-vaping propagandist, Simon Capewell, as well as Robin Ireland and his Healthy Stadia group which - by spreading misinformation and junk science liberally - is responsible for e-cigs being banned inside and outside of every Premier League and Aviva Premiership rugby ground in the country.

Oh, and let's not forget the legendary John Ashton, who - on a memorable Saturday night back in 2014 - got extremely, erm, tired and emotional and went into an extraordinary online trolling session against vapers who were merely trying to counter his execrable, repugnant garbage about e-cigs.

So what is this we see in the TCP today?
4. Backing evidence based innovations to support quitting
We are committed to evidence-based policy making, so we aim to: 
• Help people to quit smoking by permitting innovative technologies that minimise the risk of harm.
Maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking
The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products
Public Health England has produced guidance for employers and organisations looking to introduce policies around e-cigarettes and vaping in public and recommend such policies to be evidence-based. PHE recommends that e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy
PHE will update their evidence report on e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery systems annually until the end of the Parliament in 2022 and will include within quit smoking campaigns messages about the relative safety of e-cigarettes.
Ha! These are your orders, Rajpura, Capewell, Ireland & Ashton. You are now required to include e-cigs in your literature and actively promote vaping, even be nice to vapers too! To borrow a phrase, "the buggers are legal now", so how's them apples, huh?

This is going to go down like a cup of cold sick in the north west, so get the popcorn in. You see, this is the type of thing the collection of vape-denying cocksplats and shitgoblins will have to say from now on.
[T]he evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco. The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products.
No more shit-posting innuendo and lies; no more sly corrupt editorials in the Lancet; no more cherry-picking junk science to tweet in order to undermine trust in vaping. This is government policy now, so be supportive or get out of the industry.

All that's left for vapers to do is pick a bag of sweet or salty, sit back, and enjoy the schadenfreude. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Evidence, Did You Say?

For curiosity, here's a Guardian article from 2015:
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health, said there was no evidence to support claims that depriving prisoners of tobacco could lead to riots.
Oh really?
Inmates are rioting over a new smoking ban in prisons
Inmates are staging riots over a new Government ban on smoking in prisons, which is seeing tobacco steadily phased out. 
A ban on tobacco cigarettes is now being slowly introduced into prisons, with several jails already having banned them outright. 
Others, meanwhile, are preparing to be completely smoke-free by September. 
One recent inmate of Drake Hall Women’s Prison told that she was dismayed to see how the smoking ban had changed the atmosphere in the jail. 
She said: ‘We got all the leaflets about how the ban was going to happen – first the shop would stop selling tobacco, and then the total ban would come in.
‘Within the first week of the shop stopping selling it there was a riot. Loads of prisoners refused to go back to their cells and it was mayhem. 
‘There were women screaming and shouting, sitting on the roofs of blocks. After it calmed down a lot of those involved were transferred, probably to prisons where they can smoke.
Well there is now, Debs. And the ban hasn't even started properly yet!
Former prisoner, academic and blogger Alex Cavendish told ‘Hard core nicotine addicts know that they only need to cause trouble for staff before they are “shipped out” to another establishment. 
The real test, he said, will come when the category B jails go smoke-free.
File Arnott's prisons claim alongside the bullshit that says no pubs closed since the smoking ban.

One day tobacco controllers might embrace the real world so we can live in a better place. Until then, government will continue funding them as they talk crap and harm people. 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Cowardice In The Face Of Bravery

I have consistently said on these pages - since around 2010 - that e-cigs have the potential to show up the cant and oleaginous hypocrisy of the tobacco control industry. There have been numerous examples of this over the years but a spectacular episode this week in Australia has left all others in the shade.

As Snowdon has remarked, so exasperated are Australia's tobacco control extremists at the relentless advance of vaping, that they have now taken to slandering ordinary vapers and implying they are - every single of them - nothing but shills for the tobacco industry.

It has come about since the Australian government invited submissions to a public inquiry which, quite reasonably, over a hundred vapers accepted and told their stories of how they switched from tobacco to e-cigs (see the inquiry report here). Faced with an avalanche of common sense which threatens to encourage e-cigs to be legalised down under, serial merchant of doubt Simon Chapman started slinging mud and articles such as this emerged in many Australian news organisations.
Exposed: big tobacco's behind-the-scenes 'astroturf' campaign to change vaping laws
World renowned tobacco control expert [sic] Simon Chapman, an emeritus professor at the University of Sydney, said Philip Morris and other interest groups were "astroturfing" - trying to create the illusion of a big grass-roots pro-vaping movement that does not really exist.
This is a quite remarkable direct attack on the public by the geriatric industry-hater. There is absolutely no reason why vapers should not be submitting their stories, in fact it would be exactly what the government would want to see. And, as Terry Barnes points out in the Speccie, public engagement is to be applauded however it comes about.
These people don’t lightly come out of the woodwork, but this is a big thing for them.
Indeed it is. Possession of nicotine is (stupidly) a crime in Australia, so it is incredibly brave of these people to respond in such a way to a consultation such as this. For many, it will have been the very first time they have engaged with the political process, yet Chapman - in an act of cowardice which is in direct contrast to the bravery of the vapers he is attacking - has attempted to slander and demonise them for doing so.
Like me, they share views unpalatable to the public health wowsers: vaping is almost certainly a far lower risk activity than tobacco smoking, the scientific evidence in its favour is mounting, and that if we are serious about harm reduction we should follow Britain, Canada and New Zealand and legalise nicotine vaping on a sensibly regulated basis, not prohibit it as Australia does now.  That they’re prepared to declare themselves should be respected, not denigrated. 
How they became aware of the inquiry is neither here nor there.

It is also worth noting that none of the ordinary vapers who responded will have been paid for doing so, yet Chapman has made a career out of being a professional anti-smoker, as have all other gobshites who publish articles which try to tarnish e-cigs. So for him to bandy the term 'astroturf' around is quite astounding.

This is, pathetically, yet another piece of evidence that proves many in the tobacco control industry have no care for health whatsoever. They simply hate the tobacco industry, despise smokers, and are frantic with anger that some have escaped punishment by their hideous and sadistic 'control' methods. If you don't wear the hair shirt and suffer, they will despise you even more than if you carry on smoking.

As Carl Phillips brilliantly identified in 2015, Chapman and his lumpen-brained hangers-on in Australia are nothing but vile, bitter extremists.
The test for anti-tobacco extremism is the answer to the following question: If you could magically change the world so that either (a) there was no use of tobacco products or (b) people could continue to enjoy using tobacco but there was a cheap magic pill that they could take to eliminate any excess disease risk it caused, which would you choose? Anyone who would choose (a) over (b) takes anti-tobacco to its logical extreme, making clear that they object to the behavior, not its effects.
Tobacco control had been reaching increasingly high levels of indecency in the past decade or so, but with this disgusting attack from Chapman, they have raised the bar even further.

He and those who think like him are a real danger to society in more ways than one, so well done to anyone who submitted to the Australian inquiry; we can only hope that the Australian government do the right thing and treat his pathetic smears with the utter contempt that they deserve. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

WATCH: Prohibitionists Always Lose

Christ! I have so much to write but so little time to do so. My calendar for the next week looks packed so there may be very little on these pages for a while, but here's something I can thoroughly recommend.

While in Warsaw at GFN last month, the keynote speaker was Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. He has worked for a very long time in the field of harm reduction in relation to illicit drugs so his expertise is very much transferable to the tobacco and nicotine debate.

Tobacco controllers have been claiming for years that the idea of THR - tobacco harm reduction - is just a tobacco industry ruse, and that it is a distraction. Don't listen to it, they say, it's all a con. Well no, actually, it is a real area of anthropological research and has been a for a very long time. It's just that tobacco control prohibitionists don't like it because it actively resists prohibition as a proven historical failure.

In Warsaw Nadelmann - an excellent speaker - delivered a 35 minute speech which was passionate and brilliantly engaging.

He talked about the folly of "the smokefree crusade" and how extremists in tobacco control want to (stupidly) make nicotine illegal. He talked about how public health "can sometimes be a totalitarian ideology" and that human rights should also apply to people who choose to consume less than healthy products. He railed against stigma and dehumanisation being used as a tool against the public, and spoke about how harm reduction is the only moral way of dealing with psychoactive substances that the human race has been drawn to for millennia. He touched on the demonisation of drugs, and tobacco, being linked to class snobbery, and how the puritan mentality is a "fascistic quasi-religious" movement which strives to accuse anyone defending the "deviant minority" to be "pro-drug", and "paid by industry" while refusing to recognise proper science and cost/benefit analysis. And lastly, urged that smoking should never, ever be made illegal because - and history proves he is correct - "prohibitionists always lose" and government policies, driven my moral panic, are actually very harmful and are often "killing people".

It should - if they have any care about doing the right thing - have made many of the tired, lazy, unimaginative prohibition-led tobacco controllers in the audience, with thoughts of the tobacco 'endgame' in their heads, shift uneasily in their seats.

So pour yourself your favourite bevvy and sit back for 35 minutes to hear a whole load of common sense. I think you'll enjoy it.

Monday, 3 July 2017

ASH's 10th Anniversary Begging Letter

As others have noted, the 10th anniversary of the most spiteful and damaging social engineering exercise England has ever seen - otherwise known as the smoking ban - slid past with surprisingly little fanfare from the tax-spongers in tobacco control. What there was of it, though, was mendacious cobblers as is to be expected.

What I found most curious, though, was the strange approach taken by ASH. Instead of relying on the reams of execrable and scientifically worthless junk research they and their pals routinely peddle, they chose instead to release a strange report referring to polls they have commissioned over the years from YouGov.

Now, any poll commissioned from YouGov by ASH should be treated with a huge pinch of salt considering its erstwhile President up to 2016 is also a member of ASH's board of trustees. His screaming bias has been on plain view for many years; he chaired ASH's editorial board for their 2008 'Smoking Kills' report, and has written openly to politicians and the public to demand support for prohibitionist laws. So a report packed full of such polls should be approached with extreme caution, as Sir Humphrey once explained.

Nevertheless, ASH's report was very illuminating. I say report, but it could more accurately be described as a commentary on how tobacco control bullshit has been swallowed whole by a largely under-informed public.

It tells us that ASH have been successful in turning a tolerant public into an intolerant one. This speaks volumes more about the disgusting nature of ASH than it does about the public. Each poll was followed by a further avalanche of trademark tobacco control media manipulation and the public tested again the following year. When the results were not compelling enough, poll questions were changed, and I fully expect junk science ramped up and targeted to bring a more favourable set of figures next time round.

ASH's choice of celebratory message is interesting too, why a review of their own polls? (They avoid entirely, of course, polls of equal provenance saying a majority still believe there should be an amendment to the smoking ban to allow separate smoking rooms). Well, the whole thing just reeks of rent-seeking from an organisation which has spent the past year demanding a new 'Tobacco Control Plan' that the government is slow in providing. As Snowdon highlighted last week, this is causing consternation at Misery HQ.
But ASH are now in a quandary. There hasn't been a Tobacco Control Plan for England for a year and a half. If there's no plan, how can ASH support it? And if there's nothing to support, why is the government giving them so much of our money? What have they been doing with the £250,000 or so that they have been given by the state in the last year and a half? 
It is only a matter of time before someone asks these questions. That, I suspect, is why ASH are getting so hot and bothered at the moment.
Indeed. What better way, then, to nudge MPs further than by releasing a résumé of their 'successful' lobbying, referencing their most trusted of biased sources, which screams "look at us and give us money cos we deserve it!" and "just imagine how much more we could could torture smokers if you did!".

With that goal in mind, in their boastful arrogance they have had to go out on a limb to attract MPs' attention, which has been very revealing.

For example, in the section on plain packs.
"Although the policy was principally designed to deter young people from starting smoking, existing smokers’ dislike of the redesigned packs is an additional benefit of the policy."
No, it was the ONLY reason for the policy, as tobacco controllers will admit privately - in fact, ASH do later in their document - but considering politicians were told it was solely to deter young people from smoking, ASH emphasise this to make absolutely sure MPs haven't missed it. If you have a {cough} friendly poll, you don't have to go into the evidence which is far less convincing with plain packs ... for the simple reason that it has been a damp squib where it has been tried before (eh, Australia?) and will continue to be so here in the UK.

There is also a proud shout-out to smoker-hating bullies in parliament, by boasting about how totalitarian ASH are in attacking law-abiding members of the public consuming a legal product.
"‘Denormalisation’ is a clumsy word but it captures the reality of what has happened:"
No, denormalisation is a fascist word, and ASH are fascists for thinking it is a decent thing to encourage. Their hideous fans may be ecstatic at the new environment where it is now almost government-approved to shit on smokers, but it doesn't make it right. It just tells us that ASH are indecent and exactly the kind of people we should ostracise from society well before smokers.

In the absence of a tobacco control plan to tailor their future plans towards, then, their report also sees ASH detail what they would like to do in the next ten years, again backed up by their pet pollster.
"In the ten years since 2007, smoking prevalence in the adult population in England fell from 21% to 15.5%. This is a major achievement but smoking remains a huge burden on the health of the nation: 6.3 million adults still smoke in England. The following proposals for further action are supported by a majority of the public: 
- licensing the sale of tobacco products, supported by 76% of respondents in 2017;
- banning smoking in all cars, supported by 62% of respondents in 2017;
- charging tobacco companies a levy to fund stop smoking services and preventive work with young people, supported by 71% of respondents in 2017."
You'll note that there is no proposal for relaxing the rules on e-cigs which ASH demanded. Only more coercion and bullying. Attacking small businesses; attacking smokers; attacking industry. Absolutely nothing to enhance the free market option which has been the defining success of the past decade, a success which ASH tried their very best to strangle at birth and continue to subtlely undermine.

They, instead, focus on the old, failed, policies of bullying and coercion.
"There is a strong case for licensing the sale of tobacco products in order that local authorities and the police can act swiftly against those who abuse current regulations, especially in relation to underage sales."
They already have powers. All a licensing scheme will do is give powers to the authorities to act without any proof of wrongdoing. As fascist an idea as you can possibly imagine. This would be yet another burden on small retailers, many of whom could go out of business as a result, and it will undoubtedly force others to stop selling tobacco because of the increased overhead. It is a fundamentally nasty idea designed solely to use the bullying of small businesses to restrict supply of a legal product to smokers. No fewer packs will be sold, but it will suit large supermarkets down to the ground.

Having destroyed local communities by taking away their pubs, now ASH want to handicap or destroy their local shops too, and for no health benefit whatsoever.

Side note: ASH have already done the same by supporting article 20 of the TPD which imposes huge costs on vaping businesses. Dressed up as caring for 'the children', their legislation against e-cigs is exactly the same as they are proposing with tobacco licences and they know very well that some e-cigs businesses have gone to the wall because of it, so they will know very well that this proposal will kill off some corner shops too. But they simply don't care.

They also have no care whatsoever about personal liberties.
"A ban on smoking in all cars would address this universal risk while also eliminating the risks caused by the distraction of smoking while driving."
So finally they admit that it wasn't about 'the children' after all.

More bullying, and a complete disregard for personal property rights. If someone pays £20k for a car it should be up to them what happens in it, not ASH. This was another appalling piece of sophistry from ASH, the ban on smoking was never about children, and they only now admit it once they feel their salaries are threatened. What vile people they really are!
"Public support for a ban on smoking in all cars has grown since the policy was first presented to respondents of the ASH Smokefree England survey in 2009. Then, overall support stood at 45%. Ten years later, this had increased to 62%"
This just says to me that 62% of those YouGov surveyed are repulsive, interfering snobs, but ASH are actually proud of it! They have, as I have maintained for a decade now, managed to turn the country from a largely tolerant one, into one which now believes it is legitimate to tell other people what they can and can't do in their own fucking car. ASH has always catered to the most disgusting in society, and this signals that they will continue to do so in the future. Basically, if you're an anti-social hateful bigot, ASH has got your back.

Lastly, the attack on industry.
"The [polluter pays] levy is a relatively new idea and was only tested out in the 2017 ASH Smokefree England survey. Respondents were asked whether they would support or oppose a measure ‘requiring tobacco manufacturers to pay a levy or licence fee to Government for measures to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking’. Overall, 71% of respondents in England supported this measure."
It was tested out in the 2017 poll because ASH had already demanded this levy and were knocked back by the government in 2015. So now they are trying to play the emotional blackmail card by asking a question with "tobacco companies" and "young people" in juxtaposition.

However, there are very good reasons why the idea of a levy is desperate barrel-scraping from ASH. Firstly, it's impossible to extract money out of tobacco companies which are not based in the UK, and secondly those that are would be financially hampered so much that they'd be tempted to move elsewhere. Government would be bonkers to risk losing two of the country's top performing FTSE companies in the middle of an austerity debate when they are under pressure to find funding. Besides, why would they need to? The 2015 budget commentary described why it isn't even remotely necessary anyway.
"Analysis of the responses shows that the impact of a tobacco levy on the tobacco market would be similar to a duty rise, with tobacco manufacturers and importers passing the levy onto consumer prices," the government said in its budget. 
"As tobacco duties have already increased this year and will continue to increase by more than inflation each year in this parliament, the government has decided not to introduce a levy on manufacturers and importers."
Of course, ASH want this money not for altruistic reasons. Rather it is their second attempt at pathetically holding out a begging bowl. Like a tax-gobbling Mr Creosote, they want the levy as they hope it will raise money for them and their mates, irrespective of whether it is good money well spent or not.
"Over the past three years there have been major cuts to English local authority budgets for stop smoking services and tobacco control work. Budgets for stop smoking services, which offer smokers their best chance to quit, were cut in three fifths (59%) of local authorities in 2016/17, following cuts in two fifths (39%) of local authorities the year before. In some areas, specialist stop smoking services have been decommissioned altogether. These budget cuts are principally due to reductions in the public health grant and to wider central government cuts to local authority budgets"
Quite rightly so! Because the use of stop smoking services has plummeted due to the e-cigs phenomenon which ASH would prefer to pretend wasn't happening. If ASH actually cared about health, the answer is not to steal from the tobacco industry to prop up increasingly irrelevant stop smoking services, but to instead acknowledge that the public is changing and are more likely to visit a vape shop than a soulless smoking cessation clinic. That would mean reallocating attention and resources to the promotion of vaping, but then ASH and their pals don't get paid for that, so it's not even on the table.
"An additional levy on the tobacco industry, based on market share, would ensure that smokers who want to quit can access the best means available to do so."
Except that ASH don't mention the best means available to do so in their entire 27 page report. I mean, not even once! E-cigs and vaping are completely ignored, both in the impact they have had on smoking prevalence, and in the impact they could have in the next ten years.

Instead, ASH declare that the decline in smoking prevalence has been a "major achievement" and imply that it is all due to their previous policies. And why wouldn't they? The last thing they want to admit in a begging letter to MPs is the fact that it has been a free market initiative driving the rapid recent decline in smoking rather than the tired, prohibitionist approach which they can get paid for.

ASH are effectively appropriating praise for something which had very little to do with them and it is a disgrace that they are doing so. I disagree entirely with commentators who say that we should be happy tobacco control don't recognise the role of vaping in the decline in prevalence, because - like it or not - it is the tobacco control industry who policy-makers and the public listen to. Go to any comments section and try posting valid science on tobacco issues and you will generally get a reply including a link to CRUK, BHF or any of a number of other disingenuous organisations.

By ignoring e-cigs, ASH are tacitly denying the huge impact vaping has had, and claiming credit for the efforts of a vast number of e-cig advocates up and down the country. Far from being glad they don't acknowledge vaping having a role, we should be absolutely furious about it. They will, for example, be over the moon with tweets such as this suggesting that the ban is entirely responsible for 1.9m fewer smokers (despite there being 1.5 million former smokers now exclusively using e-cigs in the same period)

This is just part of a joint effort by the tobacco control industry this week to airbrush e-cigs out of the public record. Cancer Research UK also quoted the 1.9 million figure without mentioning e-cigarettes or vaping, and Lord Rennard - another of ASH's poodle politicians - claimed "the lowest level on record" of smoking in the UK was a "huge achievement" in the Queen's Speech debate, again completely failing to reference e-cigs at all.

For many people, e-cigs are considered just another form of smoking, ASH are happy for that misconception to continue as long as MPs - who this report will be sent to - continue to feather their nest with taxpayer cash. ASH are putting personal gain above endorsing what is actually working. They are an organisation which has never had any care about health, only their own bank balances.

It is quite staggering that - on the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban - ASH chose to beg for more cash to implement even more pointless coercion and social vandalism, instead of assessing objectively what has been working over the past 10 years and what has not.

They have wreaked a trail of bile and intolerance throughout the country in the past decade, and far from reducing the punishment meted out to everyday people as the smoking rate declines, they have become ever more shrill and socially violent in their pursuit of funding. As results become naturally more meagre due to the lesser numbers of smokers to preach at, their respect for property rights, freedom of choice and truth has exponentially declined. They should be ashamed of themselves or even jailed for the appalling things they have done to society, yet still seem to believe that they are entitled to more of our cash to continue being obnoxious.

We can only hope that this latest report - probably the longest begging letter in history - will be roundly ignored by MPs. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Where Were The Vapers?

I find this truly staggering from ASH. They had a stall this week at The Chartered Trading Standards Institute conference and were giving out information about e-cigs. So who did they invite to do it?

Erm, why didn't they invite some vapers?

Tobacco control, especially ASH, have no real idea about e-cigs whatsoever. The extent of ASH's knowledge is so bloody piss poor that they lobbied ferociously in favour of Article 20 of the TPD which - in their own parlance - will kill hundreds of thousands of people.

Now, I happen to know that ASH know very many perfectly capable vapers who could have given some great insights into e-cigs at this event, far better than anything Breathe2025 could possibly have done.

It would also have been a very good opportunity for Trading Standards Officers to meet vapers first-hand and hear truly expert testimony as to how unduly harsh enforcement of the TRPR could have some dire unintended consequences for both freedom of choice and public health.

So why did ASH not ask the vapers that they know very well, and speak to very often, to come along to this conference? I'm pretty sure they would have jumped at the opportunity.

A bit whiffy, isn't it? 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

"This Lobby Is Impossible To Satisfy"

In 2007, a staff member at Puddlecote Inc who smokes commented on the inception of the smoking ban by saying "ASH may as well pack up now, they have everything they want". I replied that they will never stop because if they did it would threaten the most precious thing to them ... their salary.

You see, their industry can never be satisfied as long as there are grants to be claimed, as our esteemed mascot once expressed perfectly in parliament.
The problem, however, as with all these matters, is that the report panders to the zealots in society who are never satisfied. I guarantee that if all the recommendations were introduced, Committee members would, within a few months at most, come back with further recommendations because the previous ones had not gone far enough. This lobby is impossible to satisfy.
If you needed any further proof, here is a staggering example from New Zealand where the plans for their version of plain packaging of tobacco have just been announced. The ink has not even reached the statute book yet but they are already saying that what is proposed is simply not good enough and discussing what should come next.
Brand and Variant Names 
The Government has missed the opportunity to disallow any new variant names or to limit the market to those brand and variant names that existed when the legislation was first introduced.
Smokers are not allowed to be treated to new brands or blends, obviously. They are there to be bullied and nothing else, how dare an industry try to offer products which their consumers want to buy.
Stick Appearance 
[T]he regulations could have completely standardised stick dimensions, thus eliminating any points of differentiation between brands. They could also have introduced dissuasive sticks featuring unattractive colours or warning graphics, which give rise to unappealing connotations and are highly aversive.
Ah, the idea of Poo Sticks again. I've written about these a couple of times before, they look like this and show how extremely childish the tobacco control industry really is.
This is from one of the world's most insane anti-smoking harridans, Janet Hoek, who also advocates that processed food should be treated like tobacco and thinks it perfectly acceptable to "use cigarette's own packaging against smokers". None of that 'helping', 'supporting' or 'encouraging' smokers. And not a battle against smoking either, nope, against smokers. Vile humans like Hoek believe they are now in some kind of war, it's them against us.
Pack Size and Interior 
[T]he regulations could also have required the drab green-brown colour that will feature on pack exteriors to be used on all internal pack surfaces currently coloured white. Such a change would have been especially important for RYO pouches, as many smokers roll their cigarettes on the clean, white pouch flap.
Shock fucking horror! Smokers might have a surface that doesn't scream at them after they have made their choice to smoke? And there I was thinking the tobacco control cultists were upstanding, honest people who simply wanted the exterior of the packs to be made drab in order to deter children. Surely they wouldn't lie, huh?
The regulations do not apply to the rolling papers and filters used to make cigarettes from RYO tobacco; these should also have been required to adopt standardised packaging, including pictorial warnings. 
Yes, let's have warnings on products that don't, on their own, cause any harm at all, just to send a message saying "down with this sort of thing".

Kinda puts a new perspective on this nonsense, doesn't it?

And the denouement?
The small steps made in NZ’s regulations are important, but much larger leaps are required to achieve the Government’s Smokefree 2025 goal.
Plain packaging is just "small steps". That's odd, because when they speak to legislators prior to any vote it is always described as urgent, vitally important and even "a vaccine against lung cancer". Now it is impending legislation, it doesn't go nearly far enough for the insane grant-gobblers of 'public health' as they start looking at "the next logical step" to extend their time sucking on the public teat.

As Our Philip said back in 2010:
I know for a fact that the moment the proposed measures are introduced, the zealots represented on the Select Committee will be back for more, and back for more again. They are never satisfied. Dr. Taylor said that he wanted the Government to go a little further and do a little more. Unfortunately, he and the people whom he represents always want the Government to go a little further and do a little more.
Indeed. So the best thing for government to do, if it wants a quiet life, is to just ignore these insane people and their bullshit, evidence-free posturing, cut off their funding and pretend they don't exist.

The cost of not doing so is a massive waste of taxpayer resources, and a barrage of insults from the sidelines from hideous prohibitionists anyway. You don't stop a kid from throwing a tantrum by acceding to its demands, nor should politicians let the tax-sponging pecksniffs in 'public health' get away with constantly chasing their own addiction - our money - at the expense of the right of law-abiding citizens to quietly enjoy the things they choose to consume.

There is no more anti-social threat to the public at the moment than the extremists in 'public health', one day governments will, surely, understand this pretty basic concept. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Calling Australian Vapers And Liberty Lovers

I'm sure many of you will know that e-cigs containing nicotine are illegal in Australia, it's almost certainly why the UK's accelerating decline in smoking prevalence means that we just overtook the Aussies whose rate has stalled. Not because of a state-led authoritarian approach - that has been pretty irrelevant in this country - but because of allowing the e-cig market, which smokers choose to purchase from, to be at least a little bit free.

Well, the Australian House of Representatives and Senate are both now holding inquiries into legalising vaping, and a site has been set up to allow members of the Australian public to generate a pro-forma submission to both of them.

This is a great chance to do something to effect legalisation in Australia. If the inquiries recommend against the idea, then it will take years further more before legalisation comes about (because it is inevitable that it will occur one day). I understand that there are some sympathetic noises coming from those on the bipartisan committees, but without public support they can easily be swayed into making the wrong recommendations by hideous anti-vaping lunatics like Sydney pensioner Simple Simon.

So do consider going to and making a submission to your elected representative, and if you are not Australian yourself, share the link widely with friends, family and acquaintances who are. The more responses that are received, the more chance some sanity can be installed Down Under. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Illiberal Ruinous And Pointless Smoking Ban

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban in the UK - otherwise known as "literally a confidence trick" by Debs Arnott - there will be a hell of a lot of unadulterated garbage in the media about how it has ushered in a world of rainbow-coloured unicorns and a national breeze of pixie dust.

So it's good that Forest have today released a report detailing how it has wreaked carnage on businesses, freedom of choice and property rights for no valid good reason whatsoever, you can read the report here.

Written by Rob Lyons, it runs through the major issues with the ban, and is fully referenced including this quote from Lord Lawson which sums up the whole ignorant charade perfectly.
"Passive smoking is an example in which [government] policy demonstrates a disproportionate response to a relatively minor health problem, with insufficient regard to statistical evidence."
Of course, there is no decent evidence whatsoever that passive smoking harms the health of others, however much the massed ranks of state-funded tobacco control industry parasites try to pretend it does. It's simply a pre-determined and long-concocted lie to bully smokers, and is backed up with junk science from soothsayers, mouth-breathers and snake oil salesmen waving shrouds while burying their snouts deeper into the trough of taxpayer cash.

The ban on smoking in private places - yes private, to say it is on public places is just another mendacious tobacco control sound bite - has also, as Lyons points out, never enjoyed popular public approval. There was no demand for it amongst the public, with the ONS data consistently showing that there was little support for the draconian and fascistic blanket ban that the hospitality industry had imposed on it, as I have written about many times before.
Since 1996, they have split the responses between those who approve of an outright ban, those who favoured some restrictions, and the numbers calling for none at all.
The figures up to 2005 were: 
2003: 20%, 70% and 8% respectively.
2004: 31%, 63% and 5%
2005: 33%, 61% and 5%  
Note that the first figure is those in favour of what has now been inflicted on us. The significant majority didn't want it.
Data taken from the ONS here
Lyons also comments on how the ban has had almost no discernible effect on smoking rates - the true reason for its implementation if you talk to any tobacco controller privately, it certainly wasn't about the health of bar workers - with evidence actually showing that, if anything, it slowed the long term decline in smoker prevalence.

He also runs through the barking mad and scientifically impossible 'heart attack miracles' and other trademark tobacco control industry junk science thrown together to try to justify the ban, but his assessment of the damage to the hospitality industry is truly damning!
- The smoking ban has however had a major impact on pub closures that increased significantly following bans in Scotland, England and Wales. 
- Since the introduction of the smoking ban in England in July 2007 over 10,500 pubs have closed, almost 20% of the pub estate a decade ago. In Wales over 860 pubs have closed, approximately 21% of the pub estate in 2007. 
- Pubs hardest hit by the smoking ban were in urban, inner-city or economically deprived communities. 
Far from 'celebrating' the smoking ban in a few days time, we should be appalled that something so illiberal, regressive and incredibly socially damaging was passed without public support - and without any credible scientific evidence to back it up - all at the behest of a small clique of greedy elitist snobs working to continue being in receipt of state cash, or as Lyons put it:
In effect, those who seek to prohibit smoking are placing their own views and prejudices ahead of those who choose to smoke. Not only do anti-smokers have an aversion to smoking – a perfectly reasonable question of taste – they also think other people shouldn’t smoke, that it is wrong to enjoy something they themselves dislike or have weaned themselves off. 
Lyon's Forest report doesn't forget to note the huge role the ban played in greasing the slippery slope, either. Can anyone, for example, imagine that e-cigs would be banned in pubs if it weren't for the fact that cigarettes have been. Yet it is increasingly more difficult to find pubs that allow vaping. As vaping ban after vaping ban is implemented in bars, clubs, hospital car parks, beaches and squares up and down the country, tobacco controllers who claim to be supportive of e-cigs remain totally silent. For them, the jewel in the crown of the smoking ban is too precious for them to lift so much as a finger to protect vapers.

This is why I continue to say that the Health Act 2006 was the most socially destructive legislation the country has ever had to suffer. It wasn't about bar workers, it wasn't about health, it was about a small bunch of prohibitionist fucksticks taking control of civil society and ripping apart the fabric of tolerance and free choice. Lyons make the very same point.
What we are seeing is creeping prohibition driven by the precautionary principle, the idea that if something is potentially harmful it must be regulated out of existence regardless of the evidence or concepts such as choice and individual freedom. Whether we smoke or vape, consume alcohol or sugary drinks, adults must be free to make informed choices for ourselves. Moreover it’s in the interests of non-smokers to support the right to make informed choices because once we establish the principle that governments can intervene to prevent us from doing perfectly normal (albeit potentially ‘unhealthy’) things like smoking we’re on a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to further restrictions on personal choice.

The report ends with a call for a more liberal and sensible policy, and for a properly independent assessment of the damage the ban has caused rather than the disgraceful tobacco control industry whitewashed farce that tried to pass itself off as one.

As Snowdon quite rightly observed yesterday in his article astutely entitled "10 years of lying about the smoking ban":
There is nothing to celebrate in this act of cultural vandalism. We should be having a wake. 
Indeed we should.

Do go read the Road to Ruin report in its entirety by clicking here, it is highly recommended. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Reflections On Warsaw: Pissing On Chips Edition

I thought some here may be interested in a few thoughts on my few days away in Warsaw for the fourth Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) ... which I nearly didn't make at all thanks to a car fire on the motorway on the Wednesday afternoon.

I can faithfully report that watching kids playing football on the carriageway amongst stationary traffic when you have a plane to catch in less than an hour is a deeply depressing experience. As it happens the blockage - a car which had quite literally melted by the time it had been extinguished and dragged to the hard shoulder - was cleared just in time for me to catch the flight with minutes to spare. My gallant cabbie floored it for the rest of the way and, after jumping out at the terminal while he was still travelling (I doubt he got out of second gear), managed to sprint to the gate in time for priority boarding.

As for the conference itself, I detected an atmosphere which was subtlely different this year. In the past there has always seemed to be an undercurrent of mistrust, with industry and NGOs distancing themselves from each other and barbed comments being flung from those who were on panels being afforded the use of a microphone, but if it was there this year I certainly didn't notice it. Everyone appeared far more relaxed as if this type of conference - where both sides of the debate are welcomed without prejudice - is now becoming more normal.

David O'Reilly of BAT was represented on one of the panels and there was no theatrical gayness of a staged walk-out as in previous GFNs, while some 'public health' types even turned up to the welcome night booze up!

It was, I believe, this more enlightened and mature approach which Louise Ross may have been referring to when she offered up what was, for me, the best quote of the conference.

That's not to say there wasn't the occasional frisson of controversy. Clive Bates fired the odd searching question to panellists while the idea that cigarettes should be "phased out" advanced by one 'public health' contributor was met with a brilliantly-delivered put-down from VTTV's David Dorn. Plus, my accommodation-sharer, Fergus Mason, managed to ask the question he had travelled all the way from Germany for.

It was, predictably, dodged with Arnott referring to the whole of the TPD rather than the regulations on e-cigs - which Fergus quite obviously meant - but he tried to correct this later in the lobby by clarifying it and asking the same question again. Arnott's response was to angrily say "why don't you leave me alone?!?" and swiftly vacate the area.

However, credit where it's due, at one point during her presentation, Arnott spoke in almost derogatory terms about Simple Simon Chapman by stating that "even he" had got things wrong about vaping. This was compounded by a plenary session (everyone in the same room) which followed breaking out in laughter when US advocate Cynthia Cabrera placed the name Stanton Glantz and "scientist" in the same sentence ... it was quite revealing to look around the room and see some tobacco control types chuckling along with the rest.

Along with Irish fraud Mountain McKee, it's starting to look like - as scientific evidence piles up against dangerous prohibition of safer products - tobacco control can see the charlatans in their midst over tobacco harm reduction and kinda wish they would shut the fuck up and stop being such dicks.

On a personal level, I spoke with a few on the dark side myself and was decently-received. Had an immensely entertaining discussion with an e-cig researcher from Kent who surprisingly regaled us with tales of her rag and bone man Dad, and found myself next to Linda Bauld at one point, so asked about her recent blocking of me on Twitter when I thought we had an agreement that I like her stance on e-cigs but reserve the right to pull her up on other subjects. To be precise, it went "Oi! You blocked me!", at which she laughed and replied she'd had a bad day that day and promised to unblock, which has now happened, before having a conversation about how my business is going (very well, by the way, thanks for asking).

Oh, that reminds me. Business. Prior to the conference, there was a new departure in the ISonTech day (Thursday) focussing on innovations in harm reduction from industry. Introduced by Hon Lik who brought a replica of his original guy-in-garden-shed 'invention' with him (see below), it was largely occupied by the tobacco industry and I heard a few bemoaning the fact that e-cig businesses hadn't taken the chance to be similarly involved. I hadn't originally planned to turn up to it but Fergus wanted to go along so we did and I'm glad of it as it was very interesting.

Hon Lik's e-cig
PMI exhibited their four platforms of risk reduced products, sadly with prototype platform 2 which I want to try being hermetically-sealed in a perspex box, while BAT educated attendees about their heat not burn product Glo and JTI promoted their expansion of Ploomtech.

My personal favourite on display though was the tobacco free snus which Swedish Match quite literally brought to the table.

Named Zyn, I thought it was a great product and so was extremely happy to find in the pub later that full pods of the Citrus, Mint and Cinnamon flavours had accidentally fallen into my jacket pocket. How lucky was that for the flight home, eh?

The ISonTech part of GFN, I thought, was a brave thing for the conference organisers to arrange, but a worthwhile one. They could have been given a hard time for daring to embrace industry innovation, but hopefully that will not have happened seeing as I witnessed a few well-known 'public health' NGOs there as interested as the rest of us.

As for the rest of the trip, I met fellow jewel robbing commenter Roberto S and also occasional visitor Brian Carter from the US who said he thought I was really funny. Nice to know I'm not regarded as some kind of lifestyle issue Gardener's Weekly or something, I suppose.

All this and I still got to catch the cricket, see Old Town with some immense friends, and enjoy some beer-fuelled late nights before touching down at Heathrow, being whisked home (fortunately without incident) and crashing asleep post-nosebag like a morphine-addled Tom cat after having its knackers removed.

Next stop is Forest's Smoke on the Water boat trip tomorrow, a different crowd entirely where - to borrow a phrase - I also hope no chips will be pissed on. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Where's Martin McKee?

In September 2015 - in the wake of Public Health England throwing their weight behind e-cigs - merchants of doubt, Martin McKee and Simon Capewell, described their stance as being a house built on sand.
So does the available evidence show clearly that e-cigarettes are as effective as established quitting aids, ask McKee and Capewell.
Unfortunately not. For example, a recent Cochrane review, widely cited in the PHE report, concluded the available evidence was of "low or very low quality" by recognised standards.
So where does this leave Martin and his commie sidekick following yesterday's news about new smoking prevalence data from the ONS.

Long story short, smoking prevalence has plummeted since e-cigs took a big hold on the UK, tending to suggest that PHE made an incredibly wise decision in the summer of 2015.

Where is the 'expert' on e-cigs, Martin McKee? He's gone very quiet of late. Seems like a giant vape-shaped cat has got his flabby, ideological, industry-phobic tongue. 
Come on Martin, let's hear you try to fraudulently talk your dogmatic way out of this one. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

The March Of Bigotry

Back in December 2015, The Soviet Republic of Brighton Council dropped plans to ban smoking outdoors on beaches and in parks due to the fact that responses to a public consultation told them to stop being a bunch of puritanical knob-gobblers and go do something worthwhile instead.

They didn't.

 Via The Brighton Argus:
CAFES, restaurants and pubs with outside eating areas will be asked to consider introducing a voluntary smoking ban.
Hopefully, those with outside areas will consider the idea, then politely tell Brighton Council to fuck off.
It follows a consultation run by the council in 2015 asking people for their views about smoking in public spaces outside. 
The majority of all those who responded agreed it was anti-social to smoke where people are eating and drinking.
They may well have done, but it's not any of the council's business until they waive business rates for such venues, buy the stock, maintain the premises, pay the staff, and make investments in things such as - oh I dunno - outdoor smoking areas.

You see, if it was advantageous for cafes, restaurants and pubs to ban smoking in their outdoor areas, they would have done so by now. If, at some time in the future, it becomes advantageous to these businesses to ban smoking outdoors, they will do so. The very last people who should have any input into such a position is a local authority.

Customers vote with their feet, not by responding to public consultations. And, apart from some guy in Leeds who runs a children's playgroup which just happens to sell alcohol, pubs especially know very well that it's not a good idea to turn away 40-50% of your regular customers on the basis of some fantasy bollocks about smoking outdoors being dangerous to others ... which it is not, and will never be.

Besides, there are many things that are anti-social in pub, cafe and restaurant gardens, and the most anti-social of all is screaming bloody kids! If mere irritation is the criteria for a council to come wading in with its size 12s then a ban on kids, I think many would agree, should be top of the target list.
Twelve businesses, including cafés, restaurants and pubs from the North Laine, Brighton Marina and city park areas, were interviewed by officials about the scheme. 
Ten said they supported the concept of the scheme, although two had concerns about potentially losing loyal customers. 
The other businesses did not support the idea, saying smokers were generally conscious of smoking around children.
If I ran one of the businesses which being interviewed I'd be quietly licking my lips, and mentally counting the extra till receipts, at the prospect of others in my industry falling for this kind of virtue-signalling crap; it's not often your competitors voluntarily throw their loyal customers in your direction after all.
David Sewell, who runs Brighton’s Pavilion Gardens café, said: “I’ve never smoked in my life but you have to be aware of what customers want. 
“If there was a blanket ban enforced it would be a lot easier."
Ah, the old level playing field, eh? Of course it would, but it's not illegal and there is no health issue. So it's clear from the fact that businesses allow smoking in their outdoor areas that it is financially profitable for them to do so. And as there is no chance of a mandatory ban, only a voluntary one, let's hope the council gets told to take a long walk off the end of that not so long pier of theirs.

As a side note, isn't it curious that these issues only crop up in the summer when anti-smokers start grumbling about smokers enjoying their habit outdoors? When was the last time you heard one of the fake-coughing, exaggerated hand-waving types complaining that their enjoyment of the icy December air is being polluted by smokers who are stuck out there all year round? You have to be one grotesque human being to object to smokers enjoying one of very few places left for them to smoke, yet check the comments and you will see many having the chutzpah to call smokers "inconsiderate" for not respecting that the world revolves around effete, lily-livered, intolerant, bigoted bedwetters whose life comes crashing down if they have to change seat when they get a whiff of a few wisps of smoke.

If they don't want to be inconvenienced by smoke, they have the inside of every pub, cafe and restaurant in the country to choose from. Perhaps they should get back inside to an atmosphere which ensures that they never have to wash their hair or clothes again, and leave the outdoors in summer to people who have learned the admirable skill of living and letting live.

And, if you are a Brighton resident, congratulations for living in a town where this kind of irrelevant bullying is all your councillors have to contend with. It must be an idyllic place

Monday, 5 June 2017

Everything Changes But ASH

There was a bit of a blast from the past on Twitter today when ASH Wales tweeted this.

"Story" is the operative word here, because - as we have come to expect from tobacco control - it linked to a document containing a succession of fake facts like this, for example.
Some of the industry’s claims, and the facts, used in the campaign include: 
- Standardised packaging (in Australia) has led to an increase in youth smoking 
Data from Australia has been misquoted by the tobacco industry in attempts to substantiate this claim. The data used does not include enough under 18s for the figures to be reliable.
As I have explained before, this is rot. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) did, in fact, describe the data as "considered sufficiently reliable for most purposes".

Still, that's nothing compared with this huge whopper about the cost of tobacco displays
- Shutters to put tobacco out of sight will cost small retailers thousands of pounds 
This is simply untrue and cost-effective covers can be bought for as little as £120.
You'll notice that the link to an ASH London page is a dead one, which is probably for the best because the claim that shutters would only cost £120 is a downright lie which was uncovered by FOI requests in 2009. I wrote about it at the time, as did Chris Snowdon; you can read about how ASH deliberately and grubbily misled politicians in parliament by reading his report, The Dark Market (highly recommended), see the document Lord Darzi used to mislead MPs here, and the email where Debs Arnott was told explicitly that she was misleading legislators here.

Yet here we are eight years later and ASH Wales are still repeating this lie! Shameless stuff.

As it happens, at the time retailer groups told the Evening Standard that a gantry would actually cost around £1,500, and what did it turn out to be? Well, once shops were forced to comply, here was the deal being offered by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents.

Just the fact that the NFRN were offering credit terms to small newsagents should tell you that the £120 figure quoted by ASH - and tweeted again today by their fellow tax-leeching Welsh colleagues - was never even remote true, and they damn well know it.

As a curiosity, the dead link which ASH Wales's reiteration of the £120 fabrication once took you to was an ASH PDF which is still available on the Wayback Machine. The source for ASH wales's £120 is therefore an ASH APPG briefing and was put forward by a retailer from the North East called John McClurey.
During the debate over legislation to end retail displays of cigarettes, I remember seeing lobbying claims from trade bodies claiming that the legislation could cost retailers over £10,000. I’ve just worked out the bill for the curtains I will need to put over my gantry for cigarettes – it comes to only £120.
Isn't it uncanny that he "just worked out the bill" and it came to the exact same false and fraudulent figure that ASH had deceived MPs with, eh?

But then I've written about John McClurey before too. He is the only retailer in the entire country that ASH can find who despises smokers enough to agree with their hideous bullying of tobacconists, hence why they use him for absolutely everything.

In fact, he even turned up today in ASH's timeline too, again bemoaning the fact he has to sell those pesky fags that he makes profit from.
The truth is that selling tobacco for me is a burden not a benefit and one I wish I didn’t have to shoulder. I have to tie up lots of money in stock — money which I could spend more usefully elsewhere, and space which I could put to better use.
Well stop selling them John, you melt, no-one is forcing you! But then, do you think that - just as with the £120 lie he faithfully parroted back in 2009 - someone was putting words in his mouth or, more likely, writing the article for the dozy twat?
I hope the incoming government will continue to prioritise working towards a smokefree future and publish a new strategy to achieve this without delay.
Is this the same 'strategy' that ASH have been screaming about since last summer, by any chance? I think it might be you know.

People say that life moves on and everything changes over time, but perhaps not in the ASH echo chamber. Just as they are still trying to lumber e-cigs with medical registration like they were back in 2010, they are also still using the same useful idiot as they were in 2009 - who is still selling tobacco 8 years on, by the way - to try to pretend that their policies don't hurt newsagents, and are still regurgitating the same £120 gantry lie which was an abuse of the parliamentary process back 8 years ago and has been proven comprehensively to be false in the meantime.

It's astonishing that government is still willing to lavishly fund, with our taxes, such a comprehensively dishonest bunch of self-serving charlatans. 

Friday, 2 June 2017

Rubber Bands For New Zealand Please

The problem with tobacco control is that it is a Goliath industry with very few big ticket items for it to go for any more, but it is still drowning in taxpayer cash.

Once a nation has advertising bans, display bans, smoking bans, graphic warnings and even pointless plain packaging, what else is there for their tobacco controllers to do with their huge salaries? Being greedy bastards, they don't make redundancies and scale back their operation - they're for too dishonest for that - but instead they flail around trying to find something, anything, to do.

Take New Zealand for example. Following a spate of violent robberies and assaults on retailers due to sky high tobacco prices (caused by bored tobacco controllers demanding them), some of the country's tobacco control glitterati came out with this hilarious piece of 'research'.
We undertook a qualitative research study, which involved in-depth interviews with 25 smokefree experts throughout New Zealand, to explore their views about the importance of reducing tobacco retail supply 
Participants believed tobacco retailer licensing was an important short-term step towards the 2025 goal. In the long-term, participants envisaged tobacco only being available at a small number of specialised outlets, either pharmacies or adult-only stores.
So let's get this straight. They questioned 25 professional anti-smoking fanatics and asked them what they thought about how tobacco is sold in New Zealand, and they all said that it should be sold in fewer places?

Someone get on the line to the Nobel Prize Committee pronto!

What's more, it's incredible that their answer to retailers who are suffering badly because of tobacco control policies is to deprive them of much of their livelihoods instead. Do you have to pass a how-to-be-a-cunt course to be a tobacco controller or does it just occur in them naturally?

Look, politicians, it's quite clear these are overpaid and woefully underworked people, and that there are some quite disgusting human beings amongst them into the bargain. It's high time their funding was cut to the bone instead of seeing taxes wasted on such utter garbage. Or, if you really must spunk the public's money down the drain, at least give the tedious Misery McFucks a few rubber bands to flick around the office to distract them from coming up with laughable and damaging 'research' such as this, which is about as much benefit to public welfare as a jar of verrucas.