Monday, 16 April 2018

Forget Your Customers At Your Peril

I've had a busy start to a busy Puddlecote Inc week, so am a bit late on this. Snowdon has already had his say but - as a former loyal customer of Lucozade for decades - I want to chip in something too.

Via The Grocer:
Lucozade Energy has lost £62.6m in value over the past year - the largest loss in the soft drinks category - as consumers turned away from the new lower-sugar formula. 
According to IRI figures, Energy’s value sales were down 18.6% to £273.6m, while volumes fell 18.9% to 162 million litres, after Lucozade changed the recipe last April to avoid the levy.
Good. I'm glad to have been one of those who abandoned them for their cowardly and contemptuous decision to shit on their best customers. I hope they go under.

Meanwhile their rivals are doing rather well.
Conversely, rival Red Bull added £20.5m to sales of its standard variant, taking its value to £279.6m and assuming the title of Britain’s bestselling energy drink.
Assuming the title of bestselling energy drink from ... Lucozade Energy! Forget about sugar, for a very pissed off former customer, could anything be sweeter than that?

Amusingly, the sales director in charge of this huge fall in, erm, sales is thrilled about losing nearly a fifth of revenue in the space of a year.
“We’re proud to have taken a leading stance and believe these steps have ­future-proofed our brands for our customers and their ­consumers,” said sales director Scott Meredith. 
Future-proofed the brand? It's just lost its top ranking spot. What kind of alternative world are these people living in?

The simple reason that Lucozade are - rightly - being deserted by swathes of their former happy customers is that Lucozade completely forgot the very first rule of business; that the customer is always right. Their customers, like me, enjoyed the product as it was. They changed it, not because customers were demanding it as their lame Twitter feed continually bleats, but because their CEO is a snivelling coward.
'Jamie Oliver was beating me up, so were other celebrities, NGOs and the media. They were demonising me as though sugar were the new tobacco,' says Peter Harding
Aww, poor thing. What was Don Jamie "two chins" Oliver doing to terrorise you, Peter? Firing pine nuts at you out of a carbine? Maybe you should go take charge of a jumble sale instead of a multi-million pound company, because the spidey business sense isn't that acute.
“Our retailers and suppliers have been really supportive,” he says, “because they recognised that we were motivated by doing right by the consumer, responding to the demand for more low-sugar and no-sugar drinks.”
And how is that demand working out for you right now, you cretin?
We’re 9pc of the UK soft drinks market. We’re probably not going to change the world ourselves but if we can demonstrate that it’s possible to make these changes and provide a lead for the rest of the food and drink industry and show that it can be done, then maybe other people will come with us.”
I think you're a little less than 9pc now, sunshine. And I hope you continue to fail so you can provide a lead for the rest of the food and drink industry not to be so spineless in the face of adversity as to abandon their core consumers.

Lucozade customers have had their say at the tills for their preferences being dismissed, now we can but hope shareholders will react accordingly to having their hopes of growth and increased dividends dashed on the altar of cowardice and stupidity. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Snus Ban: Let's Leave The EU, Sort It Out Later

As I reported in January, the UK government went in to bat for the EU in favour of upholding the ban on snus everywhere but Sweden when it was challenged in the ECJ.
Reports from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) where the EU's ban on snus was being challenged were not just disappointing, but also quite astonishing! A number of tweets from Gerry Stimson, who was attending on behalf of the NNA, described how a succession of of bureaucrats outed themselves as being in denial about the evidence base behind snus and willing to blatantly lie to the court about it. Most surprising was that the UK government took it upon itself to actively oppose lifting the ban despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits snus could provide.
Overwhelming isn't the word, snus has just about been given a clean bill of health in every aspect. A Lancet review spoke of no evidence of harm from long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” (p 1364).

This doesn't matter to the ECJ though. They delivered their opinion on the court challenge today and they couldn't care less.
The European Union’s ban on the smoking substitute snus can be upheld according to the European Court of Justice's advocate general. In his preliminary opinion, ahead of the court's decision this summer, Henrik Saugmandsgaard said that while the evidence for the ban was not clear cut, the European Parliament had the right to impose the ban in 1992.
Yep, the EU don't need any compelling evidence to ban anything, just a hunch will do.

Now, although this is only an opinion and the judgement is to be decided at a later date, it effectively kills the thing stone dead and probably the safest form of tobacco use - which has led to dramatic declines in smoking in Sweden and Norway in a short space of time - will continue to be banned for the foreseeable future. All over a moral panic led by Edwina Currie in 1984.

This speaks volumes about how much of a regulatory Leviathan the EU is. It simply cannot be countered. The ECJ is one of the pillars of an organisation that piles bureaucracy upon bureaucracy upon bureaucracy and excludes the public entirely. Its role, as this opinion proves, is not to hold the legislature to account for bad behaviour, but merely to rubber-stamp its right to make bad decisions.

Now, the timing of this wasn't great considering Brexit negotiations are ongoing and the UK may have felt that this wasn't the hill to die on right now, but the fact that they argued so strongly against binning this astonishingly unnecessary ban as a result of the treacle of red tape we are tied into just illustrates what a shit-show the EU is and why it's good that we are leaving. If the UK - which, may I remind you unveiled a Tobacco Control Plan in July saying it wants to "maximise" use of alternative nicotine products - feels it necessary to fight for an unjust law which protects the smoking they also claim to want to eradicate, it's well past time that we maximised an alternative to rule from Brussels.

I know many will say that this proves that leaving the EU will make no difference. Except that UK courts have always been far more predisposed to embarrassing the government, most administrations have been taken to the cleaners by courts in the UK. The ECJ, however, is just another regulatory talking shop, as perfectly highlighted by the court admitting there is no evidence to prove snus is dangerous enough to ban but agreeing that the EU can do it anyway.

Who cares about the public and health, eh? The EU's embarrassment must be avoided at all costs.

Besides, let's get out of the EU and then see what happens with this ban once we're out. The system of electing MEPs is proportional representation which basically means they're in for life and have no power to reject any law whatsoever. British MPs can though, and are directly accountable to their electorate, we can kick many of them out very easily.

The hypocrisy on display by civil servants at the ECJ will be more difficult to justify if they are challenged by angry MPs scrambling for every vote to stay in their office at Westminster. And talking of hills to die on, how many British MPs want to be seen to be pinning their majorities to a policy of backing incumbent cigarette manufacturers against a product deemed 100 times safer and which has led to a smoking rate amongst women in Norway of 1%?

Today - and the incredibly long fight against the EU's ridiculous TPD - proves that the people have no say in Brussels, only corporate lobbyists do. Let's get on with getting out of the absurdly impenetrable, bureaucratic, and anti-democratic EU and sort the crap laws out later. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

The Sugar Tax Con Trick

So the sugar tax was introduced on Friday and on social media many are starting to wake from their slumber as to what it all means.

We are already seeing smaller chocolate bars being sold for the same price, popular drinks that have been national favourite for decades being effectively discontinued, and meal deals being wrecked at the altar of 'public health' fantasy.

The public are being screwed out of their cash for no good reason, and - as Mark Littlewood writes today in The Times - it is hypocritical government which is doing the screwing.
[I]nterventions such as the sugar tax undermine the government’s narrative in other key areas. As leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband struck a chord when he campaigned on behalf of the “squeezed middle” and talked of a cost of living crisis. In the early stages of her premiership, Theresa May said she would be a champion of “just about managing” households. With real wages having been obstinately flat for years and house prices staying high, politicians of both stripes have been keen to empathise with families whose modest budgets barely allow them to purchase the essentials of life. 
Consumption taxes, such as the levy on fizzy drinks, have a measurably regressive impact. They chew up a relatively high proportion of the incomes of those least able to afford them. According to the Office for National Statistics, these types of taxes account for nearly a quarter of the disposable income of the poorest 10 per cent in British society, compared with a more manageable 13 per cent for the richest decile. The next time a Tory spokesman sympathises with those who are struggling to get by, the electorate may ask why the government is gearing the tax system to make it more difficult for those on budgets to afford staple products.
If an industry conspired to ramp up prices in an entire sector as this tax does, it would be condemned as a cartel by government and be subject to scandal and heavy scrutiny. We might expect to see price caps and business owners would likely be prosecuted for fraud.

Yet the government is the one doing the price-gouging and impoverishing the poor, so apparently it's OK. It's not OK and is a national scandal that the government should presume it ever has the right to decide what we are allowed to eat and drink!

But what I find most interesting about this whole grubby affair is the huge con trick that has been played on the British public.

For example, we are told that this measure is required due to the spiralling levels of child obesity. Let's look at those from the latest HSCIC figures, shall we?

The increase - if there is one - is minimal and even that is tempered by the fact that the NHS admits the stats up to 2009 were under-estimated. There really isn't a "crisis" in child obesity.

And even if there is, it has nothing to do with sugar.

And certainly nothing to do with soft drinks consumption either considering it has remained flat for over a decade, with low sugar alternatives making up a greater proportion of that in recent years. If, like me, you are a child of the 70s and 80s, you will remember that we drank much more fizzy drinks than kids today and there were far fewer low-sugar options. We had a lot more tooth decay than kids today but we were - according to the health 'experts' - far slimmer. So how can anyone say it's the sugar causing this mythical obesity crisis? It's quite clearly not.

Yet we are told there is enough evidence about the evils of sugar in food and drink to fleece the public to the tune of £240m to £500m, depending on how trusting you are in the power of the coercive state to make predictions.

It's complete arse-biscuits.

Instead, what has happened is that the public has effectively been brainwashed into believing this fantasy, led by 'public health' cranks with an agenda to promote and a bank balance to feed with grants and advocacy salaries.

Which is why we have the bizarre situation where even articles like Littlewood's, which calmly debunks this paranoia and government over-reach, are always followed by comments from people who just can't get their head around how they have been comprehensively conned. And, to be honest, it's because many of them really want to be conned; they are eager for the poppycock they are fed to be true.

They fall into three camps, but all are based on good old-fashioned selfishness, ignorance and class hate.

Firstly, you have the look-at-me virtue-signaller. These are the ones who will boast about how they always cook food from the healthiest ingredients at home, will ban their kids from McDonald's and never have poison like fizzy drinks in the house. Oh no, they are a better class of person, not like those common oiks they see in the High Street. They are so much better than you and can't wait to jump onto radio phone-ins to explain at length how very perfect they are compared to the rest of society. They will often also requisition your kids as their own by saying action is necessary to save "our children". Ironically, these holier-than-thou types were banging on in the 90s about how they give their kids orange juice not Coca-Cola, but will never admit that now that orange juice has been demonsed too.

Secondly, we have the ones who claim their interest is because they are being unduly taxed for the sins of other people. They will scream about the cost to the health service as if this is costing them personally. The cost to the health service argument is shonky at best considering we're told the obese die earlier than those fine, upstanding healthy people thereby saving a fortune in government's biggest expenditure, pensions. But it always amuses me to think there are people around who honestly believe if everyone was slim they'd get a reduction in taxes. Of course they wouldn't. These people are actually arguing that the sugar tax is good because it will cost the NHS less (which it won't) and that might benefit them (which it won't) so are happy to see the government whack taxes on products that they may buy (which definitely will cost them). They should look up Parkinson's Law.

And lastly, we have the type who knows very well that this is a load of bollocks but just like the fact that sin taxes are regressive. They will leap on any old nonsense to justify a tax which punishes the poor, for the simple fact that they hate people who are not like them. They don't care whether the sugar tax will work, they are simply a modern version of a Victorian aristocrat who would sneer at the choices of the poor. It is now considered shameful to advocate an income tax rate for the low-paid which is higher than that for the rich, but positively encouraged by government to support disproportionately gouging the less well off for products which the rich can afford quite nicely, thank you.

It should be repellent that so many people support this assault on their fellow citizens, but politicians have been conned as much as the rest of society has. The facts show that sugar consumption has been falling consistently for decades; that sugary drinks consumption in the UK has been declining; that taxing that consumption - which makes up such a tiny proportion of our diets - will have little effect on what we buy let alone our waistlines; and it has proven to be a failure wherever it has been tried.

But we still try it because ... snobbery, as Alex Deane described at the time it was announced.
Virtue-signalling politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities feeling tremendously good about themselves because they’ve bossed the rest of us around, and imposed a stealth tax on those least able to afford it.
Still, it's only a small imposition isn't it? The government punishing the poor over fizzy drinks will be the end of the matter. Well not really, no, and if you believe that my local pub has a smoking room you can buy at a decent price.

The sugar tax is born out of the same vile and scum-infested middle class base as the smoking ban. The only difference being that back then it was smokers, now it is the overweight. The precedent was set a decade ago, a precedent which gave a green light for the most hideous in society to point fingers, criticise the choices of others, publicly vomit insults, and demand government force be brought to bear on people who they feel offended at seeing. That's all, just seeing!

The sugar tax proves that an entire population can be conned into the most grubby of sentiments purely by the repetition of lies designed to prey upon hidden prejudices. History has seen this before with disastrous consequences. 

Friday, 6 April 2018

More Junk Science From Glantz

There may well come a time where the name Glantz is used as a byword for production of the worst kind of deliberate junk science, such is his expertise in the practice.

A merchant of doubt explains merchants of doubt
Just like we derive the term gerrymandering from the grubby antics of Elbridge Gerry, so we may - nay, should - in future refer to research fraudulently contorted to achieve a preconceived conclusion in any discipline to have been 'Glantzed'.

Brad Rodu has highlighted the latest in a long line of Glantzian chicanery on his blog this week. Publishing in the Paediatrics journal, Glantz once again came up with a conclusion that vaping amongst adolescents drives them towards smoking. Except for one thing, he had discounted prior cigarette consumption altogether.

Erm, I know that tobacco controllers understand smokers less than the general population, but this is a pretty fundamental error. Of course people dabbling with e-cigs are more likely to smoke afterwards if they have smoked before, yet Glantz chooses to completely ignore this vital piece of information.

As Rodu comments:
In their analysis, the authors ignore the fact that their study group consisted entirely of experimental smokers with widely varied experience – one or more puffs but never a whole cigarette, one cigarette, 2-10, 11-20, 21-50 and 51-99 cigarettes.  
It is well established that past smoking (in this case, LCC at Wave 1) predicts future smoking (one year later).  Chaffee, Watkins and Glantz ignored this information in order to claim that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking.  Their study should be retracted. 
Well, yes. In any legitimate area of research, a fundamental flaw such as this would have been discovered during peer review, but then tobacco control has never been a legitimate area of research, it is just political policy-based evidence-making. Why a journal like Paediatrics would continue to allow such a blatantly shonky piece of research to contaminate its pages is anyone's guess.

Rodu reproduced the analysis taking into account prior cigarette use and - lo and behold - the claims made by Glantz entirely disappeared. The data had been comprehensively Glantzed.

This was pointed out in the responses page at Paediatrics by Rodu, and Glantz fiercely defended his study ... by launching an ad hominem attack. Under Dick's Law, this means Rodu has already won. However, the victory is even greater considering Glantz's response admitted that he and his colleagues deliberately treated kids who had smoked only one puff and never a whole cigarette just the same as those who had smoked 99 cigarettes. Only a charlatan would do something like that and, as charlatans go, Glantz is as mendacious and deceitful as they come.

But then tobacco control has long since departed from having anything to do with science, it is in fact anti-science and its journals are increasingly also of the same mindset. It's a cult to which you are either within or without. Glantz is one of the cult leaders so is duty-bound to promote whatever quasi-religious anti-nicotine hegemony that his colleagues wish him to, and at the moment in the US it just happens to be an ignorant and quite absurd dislike for e-cigs based on no reasonable foundation whatsoever.

How ironic is it that someone still banging on about the behaviour of tobacco companies in the 1960s can so brilliantly encapsulate the actions of tobacco control doubt-spreaders in 2018?

The tobacco industry has long since abandoned any pretence that their core product is harmless, but some in tobacco control are employing exactly the same doubt creation methods now towards e-cigs! Glantz has become everything he has spent decades condemning. He propagates ignorance, obscures truth and deliberately creates confusion. And if Paediatrics doesn't retract a blatantly and deliberately false study such as this one, they are complicit in the fraud and their integrity is in the gutter.

As I mentioned earlier this week, there's a very good reason why vapers don't believe a word that tobacco controllers say, and Glantz has just provided them with another prime example.  

Monday, 2 April 2018

None So Blind ...

It's only early April, but we have a contender for the most delusional and ill-judged tweet of the year.
Now, I've always said that new products such as e-cigs had the potential to show up tobacco controllers as the charlatans that they are, but the incompetent behaviour of some in the face of a changing nicotine market has exceeded even my hopeful expectations. That tweet - from an editor of the Tobacco Control comic - says it all.

For the best part of a decade, tobacco controllers have been telling outrageous and blatant lies about e-cigs in order to get them banned. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry has been quietly developing proper science around their products.

Industry has been selling products that consumers like while tobacco control has been issuing junk science study after junk science study which are so lame that they take minutes to see through. 

It takes an incredibly cult-like outlook on life to not understand, then, why vapers trust industry over a bunch of liars who have restricted choice of products in the EU and are still doing their damnedest to either tax e-cigs into oblivion or take them off the shelves globally.

Of course the tobacco industry now has more integrity in the eyes of many vapers than tobacco control, and rightly so.

Incredibly, Ruth "remains mystified" as to why, despite the evidence being all around her, as Mike Siegel wrote in 2014.
When the tobacco industry decided - sometime back around 2000 or so - to stop monitoring tobacco control science and to just let us say anything we wanted to - I thought they had made a poor decision. But in retrospect, I think it may have been brilliant. They apparently knew that before long, without the restraints of having to answer to Big Tobacco's public questioning, our science would deteriorate and we would just start saying anything we wanted to. Unrestrained, the tobacco control movement's scientific rigor would fall to such a low level that we would end up discrediting ourselves and undermining our own credibility. 
Well, we're there. We're officially there.
We are indeed, yet many tobacco controllers just keep digging that hole, oblivious to the harm it is causing them.


Sunday, 1 April 2018

Juvenile Nonsense

It pains me to write this but it's fair game considering I've had the same back the other way in the past.

Simon Clark posted an inane and, sorry to say, embarrassing article yesterday where he tried to insinuate that pro-snus advocates have been lackadaisical in publishing a rebuttal to the stupid scaremongering about snus in football.

According to Simon:
It's not easy, I know, getting your voice heard in these circumstances. You should try however and it's now 48 hours since the Mail published its 'investigation', plenty of time for pro-snus advocates to issue a statement (or statements) of their own.
Simon, of course, is paid to do his job. There are no paid advocates of snus in this country and this was the Easter weekend.

He tweeted at 10ish yesterday and then wrote an article at 2:16pm.

The accusation is that those defending snus are somehow lazy in not being more active in getting a counter-argument out there. As he said here.
Nevertheless, if I was a snus advocate I know what I'd be doing this weekend. I'd be on the phone to a national newspaper offering to write an article that defends not only snus but nicotine in general.
Now, I'm struggling to understand why he didn't send this to the people he is targeting considering he has all of our contact details easily to hand. He certainly has mine, and I know he has many others too.

So why did he take such a juvenile approach? The ban on snus is being challenged at the ECJ so those advancing that opinion should be supported rather than be subject to childish point-scoring.

He's completely wrong anyway because if he'd bothered to contact anyone about it - as in, if he cared about the campaign - they could have told him that things were in hand. He could have even contributed. The NNA published a press release just 45 minutes after he posted his blog and anything published at the NNA site has to be approved by the board. It contained - as he would have noticed - 13 different links to back up a commentary. If the NNA did that on the back of Simon's article they would surely be absolutely superb at reacting quickly. More worthy of praise for amateurs rather than sneering remarks, I'd say.

In answer to a tweet replying to him, he tended to suggest that this PR was only as a result of his tweet and blog, except that it was nonsense. So I told him in the comments on his blog that I'd read a draft of the PR on Friday night so his article was fatally flawed flim flam. His response was "if you say so".

Erm, yes I do say so because I was at the house of a trustee of the NNA on Friday evening and read a draft. I write for recreation about issues such as nicotine, smoking and other assaults on our liberties by the nanny state. It would be a surprise if we didn't talk about the ridiculous moral panic over snus.

Oh yeah, we also wrote an article for Spiked that night. That was nothing to do with Simon either.

Yes, you owe an apology, Simon. Man up and do so. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

First The Pubs, Now For The Corner Shops

I've written about the pathetic and futile tobacco control policy of 'divestment' before. If you've not heard of it, the theory kinda goes something like this:
"If we convince people to stop investing in tobacco companies, Big Tobacco will inevitably fail and victory will be ours! Ours I tell you! Muahahahaha!"
It's the kind of daft policy a ten year old with a very loose grasp of how the world works would think up, but tobacco control apparently seem to think they're onto a winner. Hint: They're not.
As I've explained before, it just goes to further show that tobacco controllers have absolutely no clue about economics and finance.  
The only loser in this sad story are the poor pensioners and future pensioners who are cursed to have lost high performing stocks as a result of stupidity. The tobacco industry couldn't give a toss. 
You see, the price of a company's shares is entirely separate to the profitability or true worth of the business. Unless the company concerned is thinking of announcing a rights issue to raise funds - something tobacco companies don't have to do because they are highly profitable - the share price is irrelevant to them as far as income is concerned. 
Profitability and worth are real things, share price is just a measure for those who wish to make money on the back of that profitability and worth by way of yield and dividends. 
Righteous types can sell billions of shares on principle but it doesn't matter one iota to 'Big Tobacco'. The share price may wane but nobody will stop smoking because of it, but whoever buys the shares after that makes a lot more money.
The sum total of people who will quit smoking as a result of divestment is precisely zero, as Snowdon further emphasised writing for City AM last year
You have to wonder whether campaigners for divestment really understand how the stock market operates. From their rhetoric, you would think that Exxon Mobil and Philip Morris were startup companies looking to raise money by floating on the stock exchange, and that they can be starved of cash if people refuse to buy their shares. 
This is obviously not how it works. Divesting from tobacco stock will have a negligible impact on the share price and will have absolutely no impact on either cigarette sales or company profits. There is no mechanism by which selling shares could deter a single person from smoking.
Yep, it's just further proof that tobacco control has now ceased most of its efforts at helping people to quit smoking, and are now dedicating their time towards pseudo-political posturing against big industry instead. It's not about health anymore, it's just about bashing 'Big Tobacco', as we saw from the laughable and Orwellian WCTOH earlier this month. 

Well, now it seems that Cancer Research UK is hoping to extend this idea to UK corner shops, as this research funded by them illustrates. 
In comparison to other products sold in small retail shops, profit margins from tobacco are low (4–6%). For example, profits (sic) margins on confectionary (sic) sales are estimated at 30%
Well yes, if I compare apples with oranges I could make many stupid claims too. Of course margins on cigarettes are going to be small, probably because of the huge 80% tax that government has slapped on them; margins are larger on confectionery because the Exchequer has not found a credible way of taxing children ... yet. They're still working on that particular piece of hideous state interference. 

Yet again, though, we see tobacco control embarrassing themselves with their knowledge of how businesses work, abjectly failing to understand smokers, and overlooking what their role is supposed to be. Let's, for example, assume that CRUK manage to persuade small retailers to abandon cigarette sales entirely. What public health benefit will accrue? 

Well, nothing, of course. How does a retailer deciding to stop selling cigarettes make anyone quit smoking? 

These cretins seriously believe that corner shops stopping selling cigarettes will inevitably lead to locals smoking less or quitting because of the nuisance. Erm, no, it would more likely mean smokers would buy from supermarkets instead - almost certainly cheaper due to economies of scale - and they'd stock up by buying in bulk rather than as single packs. The only loser here is the local shop who has stupidly forsaken footfall as a main driver of his business, on the advice of tax-sponging no-marks employed in an unproductive industry which is a costly drain on our economy.

Because, you see, the study admits this in its data. This research found that tobacco is important not just because of footfall, but also because of revenue: 90.3% say tobacco sales are important or very important and 80.2% say they rely on tobacco sales for footfall - precisely the mechanism that drives customers to the more lucrative 30% profit margins of other products such as, well, confectionery.

If tobacco controllers weren't such irretrievable morons when it comes to basic economic principles, they might have worked it out for themselves. After all, 250 years ago Adam Smith wrote about how self-interest drives business, not the financially-illiterate, state-led coercive bullshit peddled by cranks and charlatans in 'public health'.
"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."
This is true of any business. I don't run mine to benefit my customers, I run it to make a living. Just like corner shops sell cigarettes because it is helpful to their bottom line; if it wasn't they wouldn't sell them. If I didn't make that living, what's the point? I'm not a charity. Only people who float through life not having to worry about where the next dime is coming from can possibly get this fundamental business principle wrong.

Which is why it is completely alien to tobacco controllers.

Hmm, so let's think how corner shops could better serve their own self-interest and simultaneously benefit health goals without obliterating their footfall, shall we? The authors of this research say that some retailers reported higher margins on e-cigarettes, but make nothing of it. Wouldn't this be a better message to send from a CRUK-funded study than this blunt and flawed insistence that small shops abandon cigarette sales simply because tobacco control hate the tobacco industry and don't give a monkey's chuff about the profits that local retailers need to stay in business?

Well yes, but you won't hear tobacco controllers making that argument. In fact, in Cape Town, one of their finest said the exact opposite in a press conference about e-cigs.
Between 2012 and 2015, the UK phased out the display of cigarettes in shops, and all cigarettes now have to be hidden behind shutters but “as tobacco was removed, e-cigarettes came in and took their place within their displays,” said UK scientist (University of Stirling) Catherine Best.
Yes Catherine, isn't that the entire fucking point? This, by the way, is the same University of Stirling which advised government that no pubs had closed as a result of the smoking ban. Do you see a trend?

There really is no pleasing these people. And let me emphasise once again that this study was funded by CRUK, those fine upstanding champions of e-cigs and harm reduction. Yet their researchers were presented with an open goal here and hoofed the ball into row Z of the upper tier instead. They can advocate for retailers to cease selling fags as much as they like, but the only result will be as many bankrupt and empty corner shops as there now are pubs. Here was an opportunity to offer a positive message but, dagnabbit, they just couldn't shake that addiction to coercion and bullying of honest, hard-working businesses instead.

Christ! What a waste of their time and, more importantly, everyone else's money.  

Thursday, 22 March 2018

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In Sheffield

When people talk of 'austerity' in this country, especially towards funding of public sector organisations and local authorities, it never really rings true to me considering that - daily - we hear of widespread public sector interference which is completely unnecessary.

One perfect example of this is local authority restrictions on vaping in taxis. Transport for London have a shameful policy - which they tweet regularly - saying that vaping is not allowed in a licensed vehicle at any time, even when the driver is alone and/or off-duty.

Considering taxis and private hire vehicles in London are all privately-owned property, what business is that of TfL? Even worse, why the blithering fuck do TfL think they have the authority to fine passengers £50 for vaping in a cab when it is not harmful; isn't against the law; and the vehicle is not TfL's property?

They are forced, sadly, by law to ban smoking but when they ban e-cigs they are making the taxpayer pay for their pure ignorance and spite.

Councils have this power - which they get some perverse kick out of - because of how debilitating it can be for their licensees to be denied a licence. Since the authority it gives them can deprive someone of their livelihood - and there is no competitor to move to if you think their rules are shit - they should exercise their power wisely. But, as we can see from TfL, many don't. Instead they micro-manage issues that they have no right to get involved in. It's a control freak's wet dream.

In your blog host's humble opinion, any authority which spends time and taxpayer resources banning vaping in taxis - for which there is no health or road safety justification - is proving that they have plenty of funding so can stop bloody whining about austerity. If anything it tells us they are too well-funded and that there is plenty of scope for them to be starved of even more cash. The discussion should solely extend to "is it against the law?", "no", "then let's move on".

Of course, that is London where bureaucracy pumped out by Metropolitan elitists is a plague, so it was interesting to see that Freedom to Vape submitted FOI requests to find out taxi policies in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Their report is here and it makes for interesting reading.

In short, 8 out of 27 councils ban e-cigs in taxis so can shut the fuck up about funding cuts, another 2 are considering it so obviously also have plenty of cash spare.

But shining like a beacon out of it all is Sheffield City Council. Their policy is absolutely perfect and puts the rest to shame. It is what a model policy should look like, respecting taxi owners, passengers and taxpayers alike, while respecting property rights and public health into the bargain.
Sheffield City Council, through its Licensing Committee who set the policies for our licensed drivers does not currently have a ban on Vapour cigarettes in Licensed vehicles. The policy is reviewed on a regular basis and this may be part of the consultation in the next review. 
We currently follow the legal guidelines around smoking in public vehicles and as of yet Vapour/E-cigarettes are not covered under the current laws. 
If this changes we will of course enforce the restrictions as strongly as we do the current smoking restrictions on our licensed drivers. Where passengers decide to use the E-cigarettes this would currently be down to individual drivers, and would be for them to ask passengers to refrain from use of the cigarettes in their vehicle if they wished them not to use. 
We would also advise drivers that use these types of machines to refrain from using them whilst passengers are on board, unless they have received permission from the passenger at the time, which should be common courtesy for both the driver and the passenger to ask such a question.
A policy built upon common sense and mutual respect? Well, fancy that!

Sadly, councils are stuffed full of pompous blowhards for whom liberties are just something that get in the way of their own self-importance, and Freedom to Vape is cognisant of that.
I would like to strike a note of caution. Just because a council has said that it doesn't plan to ban vaping in taxis and private hire vehicles, doesn't mean that it won't change its mind tomorrow.
As we all know, the ratchet almost invariably only goes the one way.

None of this, of course, would be anything local authority licensing boards would have bothered about too much before tobacco control embarked on the hysterical denormalisation of smoking, and now, nicotine. We've seen some fine words from them on e-cigs occasionally, but I don't see much by way of missives to councils to stop being monumental dicks towards vaping.

When I see a 'public health' NGO ripping publicly into arrogant, monolithic shitgoblins like TfL about damaging and illiberal bans on vaping in taxis - or anywhere else come to that - I'll start to believe they're not just playing us like fools. Might have to wait a while though.

In the meantime, Bravo Sheffield! Don't let the bastards grind you down. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

++Breaking++: Vape Marketing Discovered At A Vape Marketing Event!

On Sunday I wrote about one of the funniest pieces of anti-vaping 'science' I've seen so far. If you remember, the 'researchers' - I use that description in the very loosest sense - from North Carolina wanted laws to make all e-cigs the same so that it made it easier for the lazy buggers to study them.

You'd think they must be bottom-feeders in the tobacco control community, but it's a field where absurd morons jostle for position with laughable ones. I reckon this, from the Tobacco Control Comic Journal, beats it for stupidity.
World Vapor Expo 2017: e-cigarette marketing tactics
A newly emerging public health issue is the surge of ‘vaping conventions’ for e-cigarette marketing and sales. 
E-cigarette marketing strategies such as those observed at the 2017 World Vapor Expo echo earlier cigarette promotions infamously used by the tobacco industry to attract consumers, most notably teenagers. E-cigarette marketing strategies should be closely monitored to guide policymakers on how to regulate e-cigarette marketing and sales. Further research is needed on vaping events to document the age range of attendees and how social interactions at such events affect e-cigarette risk perceptions, vaping behaviour and perceived norms.
Vape marketing discovered at an age-restricted Vape Expo? Wow! Hold the front page!

Apparently, these two wide-eyed man-children believe this glimpse of reality that has just been revealed to them "may have serious public health implications". I think they may have got those words in the wrong order there. They mean vaping will have serious implications for those who laughingly call themselves 'public health'. After all, who needs parasitic junk scientists spunking public money down the drain like this when e-cigs are making their industry look like an expensive, ineffective and fraudulent disease?

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Our Job Is Difficult, So The World Must Change

We've known for a while that anti-smokers - in fact, any person with a beef about what other people enjoy that they personally dislike - want the world to revolve around them. They want the moon on a stick and a unicorn for Christmas, you see, so they demand that society re-orders itself to fit with their individual likes and dislikes.

The most prominent example is the smoking ban where a system of smoking and non-smoking pubs was not acceptable; anti-smokers wanted them all, without exception. Another, more recent, example is the case of fast food where odious snobs pretend they are worried about the health of working class people while, in reality, they just find other people's choices grubby and, well, common. Just because they wouldn't be seen dead in a McDonald's they want as many restrictions placed a successful business despite often enjoying far more unhealthy 'niche' or 'artisan' food themselves.

However, I've never seen this leaking into 'public health' research before. Well, not until now, anyway. I laughed out loud when I saw this.
Electronic Cigarettes: One Size Does Not Fit All
Electronic cigarettes (EC) have been rapidly growing in popularity among youth and adults in the US over the last decade. This increasing prevalence is partially driven by the ability to customize devices, flavors, and nicotine content and the general notion that EC are harmless, particularly in comparison to conventional cigarettes (CC).
Firstly, I'd argue that there isn't a "general notion" that they are harmless, more's the pity. Especially "in comparison to conventional cigarettes" which is indisputable.

But get this!
The hurdle presented by diverse device designs and [e-liquid] permutations, which contribute to inconsistency of available data, also highlights the need for legislative standardization of EC.
Yes. These idiots from North Carolina are actually of the opinion that their job is made more difficult because there are so many different e-cig product combinations which enthuse and attract smokers to alternatives that will suit them. So they want the law to change what they are studying so it makes it easier for them to do so.

Three lazy spongers who really believe that the world should stop being so diverse because it makes their gathering of junk science for the FDA more difficult.

If I didn't provide the link, you'd have thought I made it up, wouldn't you? Go on, admit it. 

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Plain Packs: The Failure Continues

Yep, about sums it up
Tuesday saw news from Australia and France on the embarrassing failure of plain packaging since it was introduced, but what about here in the UK? For such a much-vaunted and "urgent" tobacco control policy, there has been very little exultation at its effect here, in fact the silence has been deafening.

Well, maybe it's because there is nothing much to shout about. According to Convenience Store magazine [from page 33], it's had no impact whatsoever.
Roger Sraw's tobacco sales have remained steady year on year. "We certainly haven't seen the decline we were initially worried about," he says.  
Manny Patel of manny's in Long Ditton, Surrey has had the same experience. "Tobacco sales are steady in our store. Year on year we've seen no decline, even in January when people tend to try to cut down or quit."
So much for the frenzied rush to Stop Smoking Services predicted by tobacco control lobbyists during the plain packs campaign, eh? It doesn't look like the "300,000 fewer smokers" in the year after plain packaging legislation will be anything to do with the packs, after all.
In fact, a number of stores which have invested in training and robust category management are even reporting a rise in tobacco sales since EUTPD2 came in. Take the Costcutter store at Brunel University, for example. "Unbelievably, our tobacco sales have actually grown since the law was enforced," says store manager Arnaud Leudjou.
At a University? Where young smokers tend to congregate, do you mean? But surely plain packs was specifically designed to scare youth away from smoking, that's what we were told quite categorically by Smokefree South West (RIP) back in 2012.

"The government thought that banning small cigarette packs and RYO pouches would deter people from smoking, but here it seems as though the opposite is happening. 
"Smokers are now buying the larger packs and because they have more cigarettes on them, they are just smoking more. The volume and value of our tobacco sales are both up on this time last year," he adds.
Well fancy that! Something that was obvious would happen, did happen. Of course, it was obvious if you understand smokers, which tobacco control clearly doesn't, and actively refuses to.

But hold on, there's a sliver of hope for the tobacco control morons.
But not all stores share Arnaud's experience, Bipin Harria, owner of Seaford News in East Sussex, says he has noticed a "subtle decline" in tobacco sales since the start of the year. 
Well I suppose that's a straw to clutch, anyway.
"But revenues are up due to the larger pack sizes", he adds. Bipin blames increased price competition, from the illicit trade and also from other high street retailers, for the decline.
Or maybe not.

Now, we knew that plain packaging was a pathetic policy proposal with no chance of success, and it was reinforced by the tobacco control industry quickly turning down their ridiculously overwrought campaign hyperbole once the legislation had been passed. Prior to the vote in the House of Commons, plain packs was heralded as a huge step forward for 'public health', but once the law was assured tobacco controllers were downplaying expectations by saying "it's not a silver bullet". On this evidence, it's not even a bullet.

But smoking prevalence still declines more rapidly than at any time in recent history, and we all know it's because the rise in the use of e-cigs.

In light of this, can you guess what was the focus of the debate by anti-smokers at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) in Cape Town last week? Yes, you got it. More plain packaging, less vaping, as the Tobacco Atlas - unveiled at WCTOH - makes quite clear.
The implementation of key tobacco control demand-reduction measures (e.g., tobacco taxation; smoke-free policies; packaging and labeling provisions; marketing bans; and cessation programs) at the highest levels of achievement accelerated among the WHO FCTC Parties between 2007 and 2014. Effective implementation of these measures is significantly associated with lower smoking prevalence, which typically leads to considerable reductions in tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.
I love the term "demand-reduction measures". They mean forcing smokers to quit. But with what? Well, anything but e-cigs, natch.
Governments must be comprehensive and forceful in their smoke-free policies. For example, some jurisdictions have begun to include water pipes in their ban, or have at least implemented partial bans (e.g., the United Arab Emirates). E-cigarette public bans (including New York City)— not without controversy — have also become more common around the globe. 
The most basic issue is whether these novel nicotine products should be given market access at all. 
Most governments are trying a variety of other approaches to gatekeeping market access, ranging from permissive (e.g., similar to existing tobacco products) to more restrictive (e.g., requiring authorization from health authorities before entry into the market and on an ongoing basis).
It really is quite astonishing how addicted tobacco control is to failure. Their Luddite denial that free market alternatives move consumers away from smoking at an exponentially faster rate than restrictions and bans - or, in the case of plain packaging, infinitely faster because plain packs don't motivate anyone to quit - would make a great thesis for a student of psychology. Of course, I'd say it's simpler than that. They just know that new nicotine delivery products don't generate money for the tobacco control industry scam.

Of course, if tobacco controllers were interested in health, they would happily forgo their own salaries for the greater good of society; but it's not about health, so they don't.

H/T GV on Twitter

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

More Inevitable Plain Packaging Failure

Once celebrated as offering "a vaccine against lung cancer" by an over-excitable Sydney pensioner, reality keeps butting in and pointing out that plain packaging was a laughable policy and a scandalous waste of public money.

Via the Australian yesterday:
$16bn up in smoke as tobacco use rises for first time in decade
Consumption of cigarettes has risen for the first time in more than a decade, adding to concerns about the effectiveness of measures to reduce smoking. 
December saw the biggest annual rise in the seasonally adjusted measure of cigarette and tobacco consumption since 2004. The figures, contained in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest national accounts, emerge amid a debate over the prevailing ban on nicotine use in e-cigs or vaporisers. 
Over the last year, Australians spent just under $16bn on cigarettes and tobacco products.
The Department of Health’s latest review of the national tobacco strategy said targets to reduce the smoking rate to 10 per cent, and halve smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, were unlikely to be met. 
“While smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend, for the first time in more than two decades the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent three-year period,” the 2016 national drug strategy found.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't look much like a vaccine to me.

It's been one long tale of woe for the Aussie government since they introduced plain packs. First there was the 36% increase in smoking amongst 12-17 year olds immediately after implementation - a bit embarrassing since the policy was sold heavily on the premise that it would turn kids off. Following that we have seen nothing but relentless failure - in every Australian state - despite desperate attempts by the Australian government to hide it.

Then, in summer 2017, it was revealed that the Australian smoking prevalence rate had flatlined since 2013, despite plain packs being mandated from December 2012. If that wasn't embarrassing enough, yesterday's news of the first increase in smoking for over a decade, accepted by their government, must surely be classified as extremely humiliating.

Then, today, from France we hear this.
Cigarette price hikes and plain packages fail to stop French sparking up
French people are lighting up as much as ever despite the launch of plain packaging and the rising cost of the habit, new figures reveal. 
Launched in January 2017, it was hoped that plain packaging would decrease the number of French smokers but new figures show that 29 percent of them are still lighting up - a figure that has remained stable in recent years. 
Lung doctor, Bertrand Dautzenberg who had been a staunch defender of the plain packaging reform, admitted that it had not affected sales in an interview with Le Parisien last May, adding that he believed the cost of the habit would need to go up to 10 euros a packet for there to be a drop in the number of smokers. 
Now, when even a "staunch defender" of plain packs admits it is a failure it is not just any old failure, but a monumentally humbling and cringeworthy failure. Saying that it requires tax rises to work merely says that tax rises work, not plain packaging. It's a striking admission of abject defeat.

Worse still, we know from May 2017 that cigarette sales in France increased after plain packaging was introduced. So if there are the same amount of smokers, as the latest data show, it means that plain packaging has actually encouraged smokers to smoke more.

Tobacco control failure simply doesn't get any funnier than that.

Next up to try this utterly pointless policy is New Zealand, where it was implemented today. Why they think they will have any more chance of success than other countries where plain packs have dramatically failed is anyone's guess.

It also calls into question the intellect of the idiots running these countries. All of them seem happy to introduce a controversial policy for which there was absolutely no prior evidence of success - and about which there is now plenty of evidence of failure - despite it necessarily obliterating intellectual property rights and fundamentally intruding on centuries-old concepts of personal and business freedom. Yet when presented with dramatic evidence of the spectacular success of e-cigs and heat not burn harm reduction products in states which have allowed their sale - where the level of success correlates positively with the less they are restricted - politicians just shrug their shoulders and say "we just can't be sure".

Failure is success; success is to be feared. This is the fairy tale that politicians, academics and civil servants tell the public these days. Is it any wonder democratic votes all around the world now routinely reject this kind of arrogant elitist snobbery? 

Monday, 12 March 2018

The Cult-Like Stupidity At #WCTOH2018

As Snowdon has also written, the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) last week was a staggering car crash of an event where the tobacco control industry basically announced to the world that it had abandoned any last remnants of the facade that it cares for health.

The level of lying was off the scale, but it was the sheer unadulterated stupidity and naivety on display which deserves more comment in my opinion.

Firstly, in an era where peace is valued more highly by modern society than war, it's hilarious to see state-funded delegates queue up to talk about waging war on a globally legal industry which provides handsome tax receipts for governments, erm, everywhere! The idea that, for example, the UK Treasury will be shorn of circa £12bn in duty is never going to fly with any legislative body, they are screaming into the void.

We know why they do this, of course, it's because it is political suicide to talk about waging a war on smokers - which the vast majority of sneering arseholes at that conference would much prefer to do - so they deflect the anger towards 'Big Tobacco' which is only servicing the demands of consumers and investors. It's not rocket science.

That this has led them to embark on a stance towards The Foundation for a Smokefree World (FSFW) which could end up comprehensively embarrassing them is pure comedy gold.

See, if I was advising these tobacco control clowns, apart from pointing out that their shoes are far too long, I'd be saying that the odds are better in their favour if they were to fully embrace the idea of FSFW.

Confused? OK, well just consider their reason for objecting to FSFW. It's because they despise 'Big Tobacco' and have a fascist rule to ensure they never have to properly debate article 5.3 to say that the tobacco industry should have no say in policy. They would claim that FSFW breaches that even though there is no evidence that it has or will do. They point to the fact that industry lied 50 years ago so cannot be trusted. But what are they afraid of (and as I wrote last week, they are fucking terrified)?

They are afraid, simply, because the FSFW might deliver positive results. This doesn't bear thinking about for many reasons, one of which is that we'd need fewer tobacco controllers, but also because it would prove that collaborations with industry - as is Derek Yach's stated ethos - might actually work.

It takes away one of their arguments - that industry should never be trusted - but they're playing with fire trying to keep it. Because imagine if what FSW proposes did work, and  governments recognised and accepted that it worked? How bad would it look if the entire tobacco control industry had fought with every sinew to stop it working?

Now, they will say that it's nonsense, it's all a scam as Mike Siegel declared recently. But what if it is? It's still not in the tobacco control industry's interests to oppose it. Why? Because if it is designed to hoodwink everyone then the cretins at WCTOH are playing right into 'Big Tobacco's' hands. Politically the tobacco manufacturers can say that they tried their very best but had to give up because those who are supposed to be in favour of reducing smoking stopped them. What other choice have they got except to go on making cigarettes?

There is no scenario where tobacco control is going to win with the stance they are taking.

Imagine instead that they supported FSFW and it did turn out to be a 'scam'. Well then the industry has a problem because if they have support and are proven to have been playing games again, their reputations are shot for another few generations. As things stand, WCTOH's daft position threatens to shatter tobacco control reputations far more than on the other side.

It's a masterstroke from the industry which could, hopefully, show up the charlatans in tobacco-based 'public health' for what they really are; just a bunch of lying, low intellect blowhards and journeymen with no political nous whatsoever.

What's more, if FSFW does deliver and tobacco control hasn't backed them, there is only one place that the adulation is heading to, and it ain't tobacco controllers.

It's not even as if WCTOH came up with anything radically different than their usual, tax, restrict, ban mantra. Just the same old low-grade, expensive and non-efficacious gravy train-perpetuating nonsense.

Personally, I hope they carry on being utterly stupid about it all and trash their reputations at the same rate as the public appreciate the renewed sincerity of the tobacco industry, it will be pretty to watch.

We are living in a bizarre world where Simon Clark expresses deep mistrust about FSFW, and tobacco controllers, including Debs Arnott of ASH, are of the same view. I mean, doesn't that raise a few alarm bells in the batshit crazy tobacco control Mothership? Their cult - because that it exactly what it is - has become so pervasive in its brain-washing that the vacant, weasel-headed, blovating cocksplats in Cape Town last week can't even see what is good for them. Some might say they are addicted to idiocy, they can't help themselves, and should seek help.

With this whole cult thing going on, you have to wonder why those amongst the tobacco control community who are energised by the promise of reduced risk products - and there were some there - bothered to turn up. To change things from the inside, I guess. But this movement is so utterly indoctrinated by ignorance and powered by hatred that the idea of change from within is absurd. It's like someone in the 1940s popping along to a Nuremberg rally on the premise that "if I could just meet a few of them, I'm sure I can talk them round".

We live in interesting times, don't we?

UPDATE: Via Twitter, it seems I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Sorting The Lies And The Truth At #WCTOH2018

Following on from Wednesday's article here about happenings at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) in Cape Town, I see that proceedings have now wrapped up. The congenital liars delegates are packing their bags as I write and heading to the airport for their state-funded flights back home, filled to the brim with military-style fighting rhetoric against industry but having achieved the grand sum of fuck all for the benefit of public health.

We learned from this conference - if learn is the right word - that the tobacco industry lies about many things. Apparently their insistence - along with accumulated global evidence over centuries - that prohibition doesn't work is nonsense.

We also 'learned' that e-cigs have had nothing to do with the dramatic decline in smoking in the UK since about 2012, in fact it's not even worth mentioning. Nope, tobacco companies saying harm reduction is good and plain packaging has had no effect is just another one of their lies. It's plain packaging - introduced in spring 2017 - which is the main driver.

And we were also educated that there is no downside to high tobacco taxes, because it is just an industry myth that they create black markets.

OK, the percentages on that graph bear little resemblance to those measured by HMRC's latest measuring tax gaps report ...

... but that's just a minor detail because the tobacco control industry is a fine, upstanding bearer of the sword of truth! Whereas 'Big Tobacco' are big fat liars.  It's ridiculous that anyone could ever think high taxes cause illicit trade. You could ramp the duty up to £200 per pack and all that would happen is that revenues would rise and smokers would quit while criminal gangs remained oblivious to the profit potential of a huge global market starved of supply.

We 'learned' too that the tobacco industry's lies about the slippery slope when it comes to sanctions on tobacco are totally unfounded. You may remember Debs Arnott telling us this in 2012.
"The “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false."
Yep, that is blatant tobacco industry propaganda too.

The tobacco controllers at WCTOH this week, however, never lie. They only tell truths.

Truths such as this.
Philanthropist Mike Bloomberg launched a $20 million initiative this morning to fight the “fake science” being spread by tobacco companies. The former New York City mayor announced the new initiative ahead of the 17th World Congress on Tobacco, which gets underway today in Cape Town. It’s dubbed the STOP campaign — Stop Tobacco Organizations and Products — and will fund nonprofit groups and researchers to monitor tobacco companies that are “lobbying governments with false information,” such as the safety of smoke-free products like e-cigs, Bloomberg says. His goal: "STOP is going to fight these practices and tell people what the truth is."
Yes, damn those e-cigs and their much-reduced potential for harm, they're just not "safe" and must be banned. Mikey is so passionate about spreading truth that his words even reached the Guardian.
The tobacco control movement has roundly denounced the [Foundation for a Smokefree World] and accused PMI of duplicity. Michael Bloomberg, now WHO global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases, said it was “an effort by Philip Morris to confuse the public and to misinform them deliberately”.
Yeah, you stick it to them Mike. PMI's unrestricted funding, over which they have no control and to which they are committed no matter what the FSFW finds, is just a way of "misleading" the public into thinking reduced harm products might, erm, reduce harm whereas tobacco control - truthsayers extraordinaire - are valiantly trying to tell the public otherwise.
“I understand the tobacco companies want to protect their business, but to deliberately go out and to misinform people where lives are at stake is just something that I think we should not permit. And so my foundation has committed $20m as a start to explain to people what’s going on.”
So what's going on Michael?
At a briefing, Michael Bloomberg accused the foundation of promoting “fake science as well as fake news”
Well considering the FSFW has not produced a single item of science yet and Mikey is so determined they never will that he's bunged $20m at the 'problem', that's an interesting theory and in no way can be considered "fake news".

See, funding by 'Big Tobacco' must, by definition, result in fake stuff, while tobacco control would never mislead the public and Mike is a stand-up guy so his $20m would never be used to promote propaganda, so completely disregard the statement at the bottom of his article.
The Guardian’s series Tobacco: a deadly business is funded by by support provided, in part, by Vital Strategies with funding by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
See? Now you're better educated. Thank you WCTOH delegates for your astonishing departure from reality sterling defence of the truth this week. Taxes well and truly not spunked up the wall, and no mistake.

Has there ever been a profession so fundamentally dishonest as tobacco control? 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

A Terrified Industry

In September last year Derek Yach, former World Health Organization cabinet director and developer of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) - so basically a tobacco control hero - announced the formation of the Foundation for a Smoke-free World (FSFW). As I wrote at the time, the massed ranks of state and pharma-funded tobacco controllers were outraged at this because it is funded by a tobacco company which has stated that it will have absolutely no input into how the money is spent.

As such, the 'public health' community has expended every possible effort to demonise the FSFW and to intimidate and scare researchers into declining any involvement. Yach is a hero no more, now he is an enemy to be banned from even having an input.

However, in Cape Town today, the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) held a session to discuss the FSFW, and it seems pretty clear they are scared to death of it.

The discussion was very revealing. It wasn't about what the resultant research might look like, or if the research could lead to more people quitting smoking. No, it was solely about what effect it would have on the tobacco control cartel. Here are just a few of the objections, see if you can find a theme.

"It will renormalise industry"

This was something that the delegates felt very uncomfortable about. They have spent decades ensuring that no-one trusts 'Big Tobacco', but now this initiative means that some might see the tobacco industry trying to put its house in order and sell less harmful products. This, apparently, is not acceptable to tobacco control for some reason.

"We haven't got our bans in place yet, it's too early for harm reduction"

Too early for harm reduction? Isn't reducing harm welcome at any time by 'public health'? Well no, because they - in this case tobacco controllers from less well-developed nations - would prefer the policies they have lobbied for take precedence. They'd prefer to bully smokers than smokers be offered something which would render their efforts moot.

"We can't legitimise scientific research"

No, honestly, that's not a typo and I can prove it.

Robyn Koval of the Truth Initiative - described breathlessly as a 'visionary' by some on Twitter - was actually advocating ignoring science because it comes from the wrong people. It doesn't matter how good it might be, they don't even want to consider looking at it. I wonder why that could be? Well ...

"We need to do our own research which helps our side"

Well, well, well. So the tobacco control industry seems to think a lot of research might be coming out the FSFW and they suspect it might not say things that they like. Considering the FCTC and, indeed, the WCTOH conference today, like to downplay the role of THR in favour of legislative bans and restrictions, this might be inconvenient. So they don't want to do responsible, objective science, but instead this American delegate was demanding research which "helps our side". Our own Debs Arnott touched on this too.

"They should pay for tobacco control, we cannot let industry pick and choose what it funds"

Debs is very happy for her and her pals to take 'Big Tobacco' money - just as she is unperturbed about Pfizer being one of the sponsors of WCTOH - she just doesn't want cash being given to researchers in order to seek the truth about THR.  How very dare they? The only research allowed should be by those in her industry who've been peddling junk science - "which helps our own side" - about e-cigs and other harm reduction products for years now.

I feel quite smug for having predicted this back in September.
Rather than welcome a positive initiative from a tobacco industry which ASH and others have painted as irretrievably evil, they have chosen to slam it. This is the same bunch of people who have demanded that 'Big Tobacco' must pay a "polluter pays" levy, it has been a central plank of their demands to government for the past few years. But when just one company does so voluntarily, they jump to condemn it {whisper: could it be that this particular billion is not going to them like the plan they had in mind?}.
There was a brief flicker that THR might be useful, but it was quickly scotched for the most trivial reason.

"THR has a place but industry is making profits from these products"

The horror! So do we take from this that less harmful products are only useful if no-one earns from it? Those with long memories will remember that this is exactly the same reason the TPD's rapporteur Linda McAvan, gave for opposing e-cigs that the likes of Arnott now claim to support.

Then there was the bizarre denial ...

"PMI's data shows iQos doesn't reduce harm"

This was from the irrepressible Glantz. Despite an FDA committee admitting that heat not burn exposed consumers to hugely reduced toxins, and the UK Committee on Toxicity quantifying reduced exposure as between 50% to 90%, the mad mechanic refuses to believe it. And anyway, what does this have to do with the FSFW research? Smacks of desperate obfuscation huh? But the best of all is this.

"The priority of tobacco control is the FCTC, that is harm reduction"

Yep, an organisation which has tried its damnedest to ban e-cigs and advises nations to either ban or strictly regulate them is, somehow, a form of harm reduction.

Now, I did challenge you to find a theme here, did you spot it? Yes! Every one of those convoluted excuses for objecting to research from FSFW had more to do with protecting the tobacco control industry from a loss to their own reputation and funding than any genuine desire to see smokers switching to less risky products.

After decades of producing rotten junk science to order, these parasites are absolutely terrified that someone might be doing proper, dispassionate, scientific research. They bang on about vested interests, but it's clear that whatever comes out of FSFW funding will be the most scrutinised epidemiology the world has ever seen. An entire global prohibitionist industry will be falling over themselves to find fault with it, unlike their own research for which peer review means someone looked at it and checked the authors' names were spelt correctly.

Tobacco control is in panic about what FSFW could reveal. We here know very well that they have lied about tobacco for decades, but the public doesn't. However, their continued insistence on playing fast and loose with the truth on e-cigs and snus could bite them very hard if someone else does science that is actually truthful. They are scared that this would "renormalise" industry because it would show them up as being systematic liars if so. They don't want to "legitimise" what FSFW does - even if it is irrefutably honest - because it could de-legitimise tobacco control. They are jealous that the financial backing they condemn FSFW for taking hasn't been handed to them to fund their lavish salaries and junkets instead (like, I dunno, a shindig in Cape Town paid for by taxpayers) . And they don't like harm reduction anyway because they pay no heed to it and would prefer to use bully boy tactics, so will pretend that THR is a conference which ignores benefits of THR and actively conspires to destroy it.

It goes to prove, yet again, that tobacco control has no care about health at all. To them, it's just a game and a means of feathering their cosy nest with cash. A tobacco company could devote its entire profit to THR and delegates at WCTOH would still criticise. In fact they would criticise more because not only would it destroy their dated ad hom - that they never cease to lazily apply - about industry being untrustworthy, but it would also show that the tobacco control industry would arguably have no further need to exist.

And if all that came to pass, the only people they could blame would be themselves. The only reason FSFW would have need to exist is because the tobacco control industry has been deeply dishonest for far too long. They've peddled fraudulent junk science on important matters so blatantly that they've ceased to be relevant. If they are upset that FSFW has become a threat to their livelihoods, they should scream not at FSFW but at their bathroom mirror.

That's why there were some terrified people in Cape Town today. Because it's never been about health and they are worried their comfortable scam could be in danger of falling apart. 

Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Fact Is, It Works

There's a lot of pseudo-scientific guff and navel-gazing precautionary claptrap spoken about e-cigs, mostly by people whose salary depends on creating doubt (see yesterday).

However, for a more simple and effective message, try watching this one minute film by Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, complete with visual effects by Daniel Pryor.

In a nutshell, this is the whole debate. If anyone you know asks about e-cigs, send them this.

That is all. 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Simon Chapman: Expert Merchant Of Doubt

As the evidence mounts up as to the harmlessness - and even the benefits - of e-cigarettes, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the tiny few denialists still remaining to foretell a future of 'public health' catastrophe as a result of vaping. It might be something to do with the fact that e-cigs have been around for over a decade now and there still hasn't been a single case of death or significant disease, throughout the world, attributable to using vaping equipment as intended.

In Australia, particularly, their backward government is coming under increasing pressure to legalise the use of nicotine in e-cigs while all developed nations around them - most significantly neighbour New Zealand - are realising that the campaign against new nicotine products is mostly vested interest lobbying and hot air.

However, if you're a narcissistic Aussie pensioner who cannot bear to admit you're wrong, the futile struggle still goes on like some Jap soldier still fighting the Second World War. Perhaps sensing that it's inevitable that Australia will have to join the real world and legalise e-cigs with nicotine at some point, Simon Chapman has begun a rearguard action to try to make sure that, if they are, that there will be nowhere to use them ... and his reasoning is hilarious!
Groundhog day as vapers try to talk their way into our smokefree public places 
Over the 30 years between the time we banned smoking in cinemas, buses and trains and when it was finally banned in all public indoor spaces, we saw many truly bizarre attempts to justify its continuation in offices, then in restaurants and finally in the last bastions, pubs and bars.
The last bastion, Simon? Surely that's private homes where mouth-frothing anti-smokers have always demanded that smokers be confined to. Is that campaign on hold now then?
Tobacco industry sponsored “courtesy” campaigns told us that smokers would be considerate and not smoke near others. That worked so well. The it was proposed that the laws of physics did not apply to smoke: it would simply not cross a magic line two metres from the bar so it couldn’t harm bar staff. Breathing it 2.02 metres away for the rest of us was OK, apparently. Secondhand smoke from very wealthy gamblers in high roller rooms where smoking is sometimes still allowed (as when the Barangaroo casino opens) is not harmful to others. It’s only harmful when it comes from ordinary mortals’ cigarettes, apparently.
It's not harmful even then unless you believe the hysteria over passive smoking entirely constructed by tobacco control junk scientists, some of the most accomplished liars the world has ever seen. And Simon knows that very well.

Still, let's set that aside for now and ask instead why the old duffer is going on about smoking when the headline is about vapers. Well, it's to conflate smoking with vaping, of course.
Today we are seeing the same sort of nonsense being rehearsed to twist the arms of state governments to allow vaping in spaces where smoking is banned. 
What, that vaping is harmless to bystanders? How is that nonsense when it is true? Unless Simon has some proper evidence to the contrary, it is absolutely no business of any state or national government to ban their use in public.
Vaping advocates first tried to argue that vape was as benign as exposure to steam in your shower, a sauna or from a kettle. The sometimes massive cumulonimbus-like billows you see blown by vapers consist of yes, water vapour, but also particles and nanoparticles of partially vapourised flavouring chemicals, propylene glycol (PG), nicotine and traces of metals shed from the battery-activated metal heating coil that vapourises this brew. Despite their small mass, such particles may have significant toxicological impact because of their increased propensity for deep penetration into the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.
A lot of scary words there but - and this is quite important - has there been any observable or recorded proof that any of these "particles" and "traces" have or will in the future cause harm to vapers themselves, let alone non-vapers in close proximity (or from a distance considering many jurisdictions ban vaping in the open air!). The answer, of course, is no. And, again, Simon "doubt is my product" Chapman knows this very well too.
Vaping has only been widespread in some nations for 6-8 years. Chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases typically have latency periods of 30 or 40 years between the beginning of exposure to noxious agents and the first clinical signs of disease. So it is far too soon for anyone to be making calls that any apparent absence of health impacts from active or passive vaping means they are either benign or dangerous.
This is regularly trotted out by denialists but simply isn't true. You see, it may have escaped the old geezer's attention but we have advanced technology nowadays and an acute understanding of how chemicals react with the human body. We no longer need 30 or 40 years to observe what will happen because all these elements are well-known and their effect on humans understood. And considering  the volume of the "particles" and "traces" Simon refers to are so vanishingly small that it is only because of advanced technology that their existence can even be noticed, only an imbecile would try to pretend they present a realistic danger. This is why PHE can say with a huge degree of confidence that "there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour and the risks to their health are likely to be extremely low", because it's true.

However, our intrepid tobacco industry useful idiot soldiers bravely on, determined to sow doubt and confusion till his last breath.
The recent 680 page door-stopper report on e-cigarettes from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine repeatedly describes the extent and quality of the evidence about vaping as scant, immature and often of poor quality. However, it noted that “there is conclusive evidence that e-cigarette use increases airborne concentrations of particulate matter and nicotine in indoor environments compared with background levels.”
It would be surprising if they didn't, but Simon has still not come up with anything to say that this increase has any significant effect on health. But then, that isn't the point of the piece, he just wants to sling mud and hope some sticks.

Next up, we see Simon's legendary ignorance about how businesses work.
The Dow chemical company which makes PG advises “Dow does not support or recommend the use of Dow’s glycols where breathing or human eye contact with the spray mists of these products is likely”.
Well of course Dow is not going to put its name to anything like that. Why would they? Any business which did would be run by morons. There is no need for Dow to do so, so why do it? I'm sure privately they'd be very pleased that their products are being used in an emerging market but vaping is pretty niche considering the huge use of their chemicals in other global industries. It's not even worth their while investigating it considering they know others will do so without them having to invest a single dollar.

Note how Chappers has scratched around for something, anything, which agrees with his prejudice against vaping. It's almost like he sees a flicker of hope for his dying campaign and just grabs it, no matter how tendentious it is. While dominoes fall all around him - the UK BMA and the American Cancer Society recently cautiously jumped his ship and made favourable noises about e-cigs - someone should tell Simon about this thing called confirmation bias. Oh hold on ...

Oblivious to his double standard considering he slates climate change deniers for clutching at straws, he then cherry-picks once more by citing the fantastically absurd study - published in the Tobacco Control comic he used to edit - of junk scientists undercover at a vaping convention.
Compared head-to-head, cigarette smoke emits far more of most of these ingredients than does vape from an e-cigarette. But when you get lots of vapers in a room, particle concentrations can build significantly
When researchers counted particles in the air of 4023 cubic meter room at a vaping convention on six occasions with between 59 and 86 people vaping, particle counts were 125-330 times higher than in the same room when it was empty, with concentrations higher than those recorded in bars where cigarette smoking was allowed.
As someone who has spent a career pretending to be a clever 'expert' on epidemiology, Chappers should know that it's not just the prevalence of particles in the air that is important, rather their make-up.

As I have mentioned before, Chapman trying to conflate smoke with vapour - as he is doing here - illustrates a profound ignorance on the subject matter or is a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader.
Still, those numbers are scary aren't they? Well kinda, except that they are talking about particulates as if vapour is the same threat as other airborne pollutants. The Scottish EPA describes 'particulate matter' as "the term used to describe particles of soot (carbon), metals or inorganic salts", while the US Environmental Protection Agency categorises them as "emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.  Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles.". E-cig vapour is an aerosol made up of liquid droplets, which are entirely different chemically and physically. Again, do you think they knew this or are just thick?
You have to ask the same question Australia's most prominent crank, I reckon.

So here we are, halfway through his article, and we still have nothing but innuendo and deliberate misdirection to prove his theory that vaping should be legislatively banned in public places.

But he's only just getting the bullshit wagon into second gear.
E-cigarette advocates like to paint folksy scenes of one or two “considerate” vapers having a quiet and discreet vape in the corner of a pub. But occupational health and clean air regulations are not drafted to accommodate a little bit of asbestos or an occasional excess of carbon monoxide.
Yep, having just made the leap of comparing water droplets with bitumen, he doubles down by suggesting that vapour is on a par with asbestos and carbon monoxide which can kill in a short space of time, despite just having said we won't see any evidence of harm for 30 or 40 years. It's the argument of a 10 year old.
Public policy needs to deal with the diverse densities of patrons who might vape indoors. If vaping were allowed indoors, would any restrictions apply? Would bar staff be required to limit the number of people vaping, or request or order them to be discreet or “considerate” with their exhalations as with the ineffective approaches that were once made to smokers? Will arguments occur about whether a plume is excessive? How might “clouding” be forbidden?  Will airlines allow a maximum of five passengers to vape but not 50? Good luck with all of that.
Well, considering Chapman has not yet proven any evidence of actual harm, it's a bit premature to be talking about the problems that governments might have making policy, don't you think? But then, it is his default setting that there is no role for anything other than the state where his prejudices are concerned.

It is precisely why it is such a nuanced debate that it should be up to the individual property owner to decide these things, not the state. No-one has proven causative harm from passive vaping yet - nor, I suggest, will they ever - and Simon hasn't made any credible case for it either, yet he is leaping forward to talking about what the law might look like. I know the geriatric bore is getting on a bit and his remaining years are limited, but if you are regulating people's lives there really should be a bit more patience before reaching for the statute book.
Vaping advocates also claim that indoor vaping bans will cause former smokers who now vape to go outside, where exposure to sensory cues from exiled cigarette smokers will trigger their relapse back to smoking.  This would be all the fault of non-smokers selfishly putting their own health and comfort ahead of vapers and contributing to their exiled stigmatisation.
For someone who has spent a lifetime telling us all that health trumps absolutely everything else, and that smoking is the most dangerous threat to life in history, this is absolutely hilarious! Now, apparently, the comfort and wild conspiracy theories of a few non-smokers who actually give a fuck about vaping are more important than vapers relapsing to smoking. You seriously couldn't make this up.

He finishes the article with yet more classic Chapmanisms, such as this one straight from his anti-tobacco playbook.
If e-cigarette emissions were really benign, indoor vaping advocates should take courage and call for vaping to be also allowed in classrooms, crèches, operating theatres and neonatal wards. If they know it’s harmless after just a few years of accumulated often poor evidence, why hold back redressing these heinous attacks on freedoms?
This is a rehash of his "if smokers enjoy smoking so much why do they not encourage their children to smoke" fallacy.

Yes, e-cig emissions are definitely benign but Simon, we don't live in a fantasy world like you do. There is absolutely no reason why a teacher shouldn't be allowed to vape occasionally while his students study - they probably wouldn't even notice it and I'm sure many teachers already do. Likewise it's not a threat in any of those other places. New mothers who smoke or used to smoke should also be allowed to vape in neo-natal wards; you might have conflated smoking with vaping in your own mind but you're a dinosaur and many others don't.

But just thinking up as many {gasp} unimaginable places to vape as a scare tactic misses the point, as I expect he intended to do. As policy goes it's not worth vapers demanding those areas are vape-friendly because very few want to vape in them and we live in a real world where snake oil salesmen like Chapman have scared people into thinking vapour is dangerous. Again, why would anyone bother spending their time and resources demanding something which has very little benefit? Only an idiot would suggest they do.
With delightful irony, the 2016 Global Forum on Nicotine held in Warsaw, banned ENDS use by delegates in the conference rooms. The organisers’ plea that delegates in public areas “please be discreet and considerate. Use low powered devices as it helps to keep the amount of vapour created to a minimum” could not have been more revealing.
No Simon, I think you'll find the Polish government banned vaping. The fact that so many 'public health' advocates at the event cared not a jot that people were stealthing proves that such laws are pointless, that you are on the wrong side of history and also a bit of a global embarrassment.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard tweeted over the weekend that NSW would not be allowing vaping where smoking was banned. This is prudent, responsible health policy that will be very welcomed by the 85% of adults who don’t smoke.
Most adults who don't smoke couldn't give a shit. This is like the dafties who claim that people who don't vote automatically would have voted against the party/cause that won. It is impossible that it could ever be true, so to claim 85% of non-smokers will welcome an ignorant policy from a retarded politician is just laughable. In actual fact, the vast majority of non-smokers don't care. If anything, a law like that would be welcomed by a small minority of anti-social snobs and prodnoses who like to interfere in everyone else's life. Fortunately, such people are probably less than 10% of any population.

I am pretty sure that the politician will be changing his tune before too long anyway, because Australia can't go on being a laughing stock amongst developed nations forever.

Of course, the crusty Aussie pensioner can carry on being a dedicated denier pumping out doubt-fostering propaganda as much as he likes alongside the Irish wobble-bottom bubble gum obsessive, the obese Californian alleged sex pest and the journeyman physiotherapist from Lincoln, but I don't see why the state should have to fall in with their tin foil millinery business.