Friday, 17 November 2017

Nine Years Later ...

Today is the 9th anniversary of this blog.

Still proudly "tabloid guff" (© Ben Goldacre fan-boys 2009), there is less content here in recent years due to the increasing pressures of Puddlecote Inc yet daily page visits are still marginally increasing. For interest, there have been over 5 million of them from almost 3,500 articles here.

Many thanks to all fellow jewel robbers who have popped by since 2008 (over 300,000 of you), I will be toasting you with a fair amount of chilled New Zealand white this evening. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Another Triumph For Repulsive Elitist Snobs

I remember back in 2007 when the English smoking ban came in, the reaction from politicians and health zealots was nauseating.

If it was truly about protecting bar workers' health, they may have said something like "we're really sorry smokers, we realise this is unfair on you but it's something we feel we have to do". But no, Health Secretary of the time Alan Johnson almost punched the air in delight announcing it; Cancer Research UK sent out newsletters to all its donors "rejoicing" in the news; and Deborah Arnott was excited about how smokers had been "exiled to the outdoors". ASH then published a report boasting about how they had connived, cheated and bullied government into abandoning manifesto commitments to accommodate smokers.

Today, we've seen exactly the same thing following this morning's court decision in Scotland to allow minimum alcohol pricing.

The moment it was announced, social media was swamped with arrogant middle class elitists jubilant at how they had stuck it to the working man. It was a landmark decision, a triumph, one 'public health' activist even published a gif of a stick man literally punching the air, while former Scottish CMO - a man I imagine to be quite rich - was said to be over the moon!

Not one of them had any concern for low earning moderate drinkers who will now have to struggle to pay for a meagre pleasure, no fucks were given for them. The ecstatic outpourings were not muted to take into account that innocent people will suffer hardship, far from it, it was more like health campaigners were bathing in the poor's misery.

We saw the same ugly disregard when the sugar tax was passed by doughnut-brained MPs, who can forget the euphoria of super-rich Jamie Oliver dancing like he'd just won the lottery at the pleasure he derived from making people pay more for something that he personally doesn't like.

All those celebrating these new immoral restrictions on liberty, property rights and self-autonomy are nothing but repulsive, elitist snobs.

You see, the smoking ban, sugar tax and minimum pricing all have something in common. They are all restrictions on pleasures that are mostly enjoyed by less prosperous families. The middle classes have been sneering at the enjoyment of the less well off for millennia, mostly by railing against the licentious and ungodly morals of the unwashed. But now they cloak it as some kind of care for health and think they can get away with it, but they can't.

Today's vile show of rapture from a wide array of bigots betrays what their real motives are. They are not sorry about the working guy because - in every 'public health' area - it is precisely that guy they set out to bully.

The smoking ban wasn't about bar staff, it was about making life more difficult for the builder who likes to enjoy a pint and a fag. They didn't temper their jubilation in respect for the fact that his life had just got worse, because they were glad his life got worse.

Jamie Oliver - and the ghastly middle class sheep that hang on his every odious utterance - didn't acknowledge that the sugar tax was effectively stealing pocket money from kids, because he was glad he was stealing pocket money from kids who he detests for choosing to drink something he disagrees with.

Likewise today. Health campaigners know very well that minimum pricing will have no effect whatsoever on harmful drinkers. It won't stop or slow down the consumption of alcohol for the small percentage of the population who drink far too much, it will just push some people into poverty.

But then it's not aimed at harmful drinkers, it is aimed at everyone. And with minimum pricing they have come up with a policy that targets only low earners. For these very well off elitists, this is just about perfect. A policy which turns their repugnant distate for the habits of working families into something that will harm the frightful working class ... but won't intrude on their own liking for a cheeky top of the range Merlot.

If Marie Antoinette had been able to create policy in this day and age, minimum alcohol pricing would be the policy she would have chosen.

And you know what the clincher is to prove that this is exactly the aim? Minimum pricing doesn't even deliver an extra penny to the state. All the cash generated goes straight into the pockets of mostly big businesses such as out-of-town supermarkets which 'public health' camapigners - overwhelmingly a left-leaning profession - usually like to demonise.

I have no axe to grind myself about minimum pricing, I will still buy my New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Peroni at a price that it won't touch, but I know and employ many people for whom it would cause a hardship. The campaigners behind hideous laws like it, though, generally tend to avoid consumers if they can possibly help it. They don't listen to their concerns, they talk at them rather than with them, and they exclude them from policy-making decisions, instead bypassing debate and going straight to government clutching junk science.

Just like the smoking ban and sugar tax before it, minimum alcohol pricing is just a big elitist party zone where the rich get to look down their noses at the poor and stop them doing things that the elite find a bit icky. They don't care that their actions are fundamentally immoral and are not ashamed at celebrating the misery of low earners because they revel in it. Making life less pleasurable for millions of people, predominantly those who don't have much money is exactly the point.

They are repugnant. May some higher being someday make them rot for eternity for being such a sick plague on society.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Clueless Councils - One Year On

Last year, the Freedom Association's Freedom to Vape (FtV) campaign submitted FOI requests to every local council in the UK to ask about their policies on vaping in the workplace. If you have a good memory, you will recall that the responses highlighted that the overwhelming majority of local authorities were imposing rules on their staff from a position of superlative ignorance. I wrote about it here.

But still, back then the subject was quite fresh for them so despite positive reports on vaping having been issued from Public Health England (August 2015), the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (February 2016), and the Royal College of Physicians (April 2016), they could be partly forgiven for being lethargic in applying sane and sympathetic policies for their workers.

Public Health England had only just published their guidance that "e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not be routinely included in the requirements of an organisation's smokefree policy" in July 2016, so the fact that 87% of those who responded admitted doing exactly that was concerning, but would surely change once the rusty cogs of public sector bureaucracy managed to grind their turgid way towards more knowledgeable policy-making, wouldn't it?

Especially since this year's government Tobacco Control Plan specifically stated that it sought to "support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products". And seeing as public health duties have been devolved to local government now, it should also be their duty to take the government's advice and apply it, don't you think?

So with this in mind, FtV followed up last year's efforts by again sending FOIs to all UK councils to see if there had been a change in outlook over the past 12 months. Surely - with all that positive information out there from prime authorities on tobacco control - the average public sector vaping worker's lot would be a happier one, right?


This year's report is now available to read here, and this is truly incredible.
126​ ​councils​ ​(32​ ​per​ ​cent​ ​of​ ​those​ ​who​ ​responded)​ ​require​ ​vapers​ ​to​ ​use designated​ ​smoking​ ​areas​ in all or some circumstances, despite the fact that vapers are not smokers. This​ ​is​ ​an​ ​increase​ ​from​ ​112 councils​ ​in​ ​2016.
Considering PHE's guidance in 2016 said that "it is never acceptable to require vapers to share the same outdoor space with smokers", you have to marvel at the spectacular ignorance and/or rampant snobbery which has led to an increase in councils demanding exactly that. They have, in general, done the exact opposite of what PHE have advised.

The future doesn't look bright either, as the report highlights:
When asked​ ​if​ ​councillors​ ​are​ ​due​ ​to​ ​debate​ ​the​ ​Government’s​ ​Tobacco​ ​Control Plan​ ​and/or PHE’s advice on vaping policies, a​ ​total​ ​of​ ​287​ ​councils​ ​replied​ ​no​. 
When asked if the council's​ ​policy​ ​will​ ​be​ ​reviewed​ ​as​ ​a​ ​result​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Government's Tobacco​ ​Control​ ​Plan​, 150​ ​councils​ ​either​ ​said​ ​yes,​ ​was​ ​scheduled​ ​for​ ​review​ ​later this​ ​year​ ​or​ ​in​ ​2018,​ ​or​ ​that​ ​the  ​policy​ ​was​ ​under​ ​review​ -​ a measly 38%​ ​of​ ​those councils​ ​who​ ​replied.
So basically, almost two-thirds of councils are gonna do diddley-squat about what are largely appalling and thoughtless policies. 

Here are just a few of the more egregious policy snippets from this year's crop of stunning, bone-headed stupidity. 

Despite the wealth of guidance from PHE, the RCP, NCSCT and the TCP, where do you think Glasgow Council went for their advice? Yes, America, obviously!
“Impartial studies such as Harvard reports and US Food and Drug Administration research state that the vapour has been found to contain detectable levels of several known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed. The reports also suggest that by simulating the use of cigarettes, E-Cigarettes might reactivate the habit in ex-smokers.”
Perhaps we can just save our taxes and stop paying all those UK-based health bodies then, let's just devolve our evidence-gathering to a bunch of conflict-riddled alarmists from across the pond. Glasgow's policy was updated in August this year yet - incredibly - they see absolutely nothing wrong with it!

Cumbria's policy is also out of the ark.
“use of e-cigarettes or ENDS in the workplace is currently unregulated. Extensive trials have not been undertaken to establish if they are safe and tests by Trading Standards have shown that some e-cigarettes are in contravention of product safety regulations. Using e-cigarettes simulates smoking behaviour. Allowing use of e-cigarettes can be viewed as condoning smoking. Cumbria County Council, in line with British Medical Association Occupational Medicine Committee and the Board of Science guidance, does not support the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace. It actively supports employees to stop smoking for their health and also supports actions to denormalise smoking. Consequently Cumbria County Council applies the same restrictions to the use of e-cigarettes that apply to smoking tobacco products.”
Just count the errrors in that paragraph. Isn't it astonishing? The policy dates from 2012, that's why. But they have discussed updating it, as their response details:
Vaping has been discussed at the Cumbria Public Health Alliance and at Cumbria Health and Wellbeing Board both of which contain Cumbria County Council elected members. These bodies both endorsed the advice detailed above. There are no planned further discussions or decision expected from elected members.
PHE? Pah! Cumbrian burghers had a chat this year and that's the end of the matter.

The desperate excuses they use to cling to prohibitionist policy are quite revealing too. Many replied that PHE's advice is just that, advice, so they have ignored it. Others, such as East Devon say they are dedicated to denormalising smoking ... so therefore e-cigs are banned. Burnley says vaping is banned because their policy applies to "anything that is smoked", while the comedy of the piece is provided by South Norfolk.
Employees taking their unpaid lunch break off-site may smoke/vape discreetly to limit them being identified as Council workers. This could be achieved by covering identifiable logos or for depot staff by stepping behind a stationary refuse vehicle so they are not visible from the road etc.
And by Fareham, whose comprehensive ban on e-cigs was updated in August and whose response of 11th October stated:
We follow national campaigns when publicised. We do not encourage e-cigarettes as a means of smoking cessation.
Yes, written slap bang in the middle of the national Stoptober campaign featuring adverts on TV which ... encouraged e-cigs as a means of smoking cessation.

I've been helping FtV recently by doing data-checking on the FOIs and - believe me - a staggering number of them are mind-rotting stuff. Anyone with a good understanding of the vaping debate who reads some of the utter garbage I have would, at some point, consider self-harm.

Cumbria wasn't the only council to still think that e-cigs are unregulated, for example. Brighton and Hove was just one of many others. It's almost like the TPD never happened. In fact, on the subject of the TPD, those who have completely ignored it are only matched by those who have used it as a reason to ban vaping.

A perfect bellwether, I think, is Elmbridge Borough Council which accepts that vaping is not covered by the Health Act 2006, but states that:
However, once the EU Tobacco Products Directive comes into effect in Member States in May 2016, electronic cigarettes and refill containers will come under the requirements of the Directive.
So if e-cigs are unregulated, they're banned. But if they are regulated, that's just another reason for them to be, erm, banned. It's almost like it's not about health and you're damn well not allowed to win if local councils can possibly help it. It's the kind of hysterical mindset that makes you understand how medieval witch-hunts occurred, just a bunch of hive-minded ignoramuses who seem to have no care for evidence or knowledge, just a cult-like bovine sense that banning things and sucking satisfaction out of life must be good ... even when aimed at their own colleagues.

It smacks of an environment where banning things is almost compulsory. It only takes a whisper from PHE or the government about salt, sugar, fast food, tobacco or anything else you can think of, and councils are falling over themselves. They rush to create initiatives, throw money like confetti at "raising awareness" days, publish slick promotional material for their latest anti-fun crusade, actually work weekends to promote it too, and use funereal language to demand you heed dire warnings about the tiniest of risk.

But should the government, PHE and a whole host of other organisations produce reams of research and reports saying that e-cigs should be encouraged, not banned, the same eager council employees cock a deaf 'un.

It's what we should expect from regulators, I suppose. The ratchet, as they say, only goes one way. They know - because it turns them on - how to regulate, while "de-regulate" is not even in their vocabulary. It tells me, though, that we obviously require far more cuts to council budgets. If they are so eager to create policies for problems which don't exist, while ideologically resisting guidance which is good for their employees' health, there are obviously far too many of them and they are working inefficiently.

Remember that these very same councils getting something so simple as vaping policy so very very wrong - even when presented with a wealth of good advice from those in their own profession - are the same ones entrusted with making local roads safe, planning how your town develops, and educating your kids. Just let that sink in for a bit.

Do go read the full report here - along with notes on all the FOIs submitted - and see how ignorant your particular council is. Believe me, there are vanishingly few decent ones. 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

ASH In A Glass House, With Stones

Today, ASH has been pathetically throwing stones around in their glass house. This, in the Times, is truly astonishing.
Tobacco firms may face ‘murder’ trials
Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) has begun work on pressing the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to bring charges or to allow a private prosecution. 
[Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, a lawyer at Action on Smoking Health in the US] said: “All of the participants of the Geneva meeting are working towards a case with a charge of manslaughter or murder for the death and disease caused by tobacco.”
The justification for this, apparently, is that smokers have been misled.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash in the UK, said:“In the light of the Dutch action, we are assessing the feasibility of pressing the DPP to prosecute BAT [British American Tobacco], Philip Morris [International], Imperial Brands and JTI, or to win permission for a private prosecution. The lesson from the Netherlands is that the prospect of criminal charges has had a sensational impact. Smokers have been angry to find out low tar cigarettes are no healthier, because smokers inhale more tar and nicotine from low tar cigarettes than the tests show. Sick smokers have come forward in their thousands to take action against the industry.”
I am truly staggered that Arnott has had anything to do with such a vile proposal. One can only asume they are battling against irrelevance and so just see this as something to justify wasting our taxes on.

This from an organisation fully ensconced with an industry currently driving headlong with the batshit crazy idea of removing nicotine from cigarettes altogether, while leaving all the harmful bits in. Bear in mind, too, that the EU once demanded that levels of tar be displayed on the packets. Yes, for a decade the EU ordered tobacco companies to 'mislead' the public.

Anyway, that's by the by. The main point to consider is that if this kind of legal atrocity is allowed, let's talk about 'crimes' committed by ASH, shall we?

They still trumpet that smokeless tobacco is dangerous despite it being hugely less harmful than smoking, thereby deterring many people from switching. We also have ASH to thank for the EU-wide ban on snus ... because it was they who demanded it in the 1980s. And the estimated damage that ASH's actions may have caused as a result are huge.
IF, snus is made available by lifting of the current ban in the EU, AND, truthful public education encourages substitution of snus for cigarettes as in Sweden, around 320,000 premature deaths per year can conceivably be prevented among men 30 years and older in the current EU countries.
ASH, as far as I know, still oppose legalisation of snus.

And what about their opposition to e-cigs? They once lobbied the EU for a maximum nicotine strength of 4mg! This is well before the era of sub-ohm devices. If they had been successful, the vaping market in this country would have been strangled almost at birth.

They still defend the EU's arbitrary and unnecessary restriction of 20mg for liquids though, which Clive Bates condemns accurately here.
There are about 2.2 million vapers in Britain (ONS) (even more now - DP), so nine percent of them amounts to about 200,000 vapers affected.  It doesn’t need too many of these to relapse to smoking or stay as ‘dual users’ rather than going on to quit smoking for the toll of harm to be very high. What advice do those calling for complacency about the Directive have to address the concerns of this ex-smoker and current vaper, for example? 
Big numbers are in fact a lot of individual stories of triumph and adversity – and it is what regulation does to individuals that we should care about.  In the section below, I have put together a “Desk-murder calculator” so we can try out a few assumptions and see what sort of impact might have on those affected with some more precise numbers. 
I don’t want to sound alarmist calling it “desk murder”: but if a bureaucrat, politician or activist presses for a measure and people’s lives are ended prematurely as a result through a foreseeable causal mechanism for which there are no compensating benefits, then what else should one call it? Desk-manslaughter m’lord?
Clive doesn't want to call it desk murder, but considering ASH want to go down that road, shall we calculate how many deaths their evidence-free arbitrary decisions have caused? Because those 'manslaughters' orchestrated from ASH HQ are mounting up like a motherfucker, aren't they?

I would suggest that ASH would be better served putting down the stones they are intending to sling around their glass house, since the murderous intent of their efforts since they first moved to ban snus in 1984 could be counted as unnecessary deaths now into the many millions.

No-one in the UK can posibly not know that smoking carries risks - the packets scream Smoking Kills for crying out loud, and have carried health warnings since the 1960s - but ASH's decades-long drive to ban safer products is less well-known.

They have been misleading the public about safer alternatives for over 30 years, to the extent that if you ask a smoker in your local pub what snus even is, a vast majority won't know. They have also been complicit in perpetuating baseless fear of nicotine strength in e-cigs which has undoubtedly made tens of thousands of smokers continue to smoke, and all based on prejudice, dogma and lies.

So who's going to prison for that then, Debs? 

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Killjoys - How Paternalism Harms The Public

Did you know that the annual budget for Public Health England is now £4bn per annum? That is just one nugget of info I learned tonight from a book that I've just finished reading. Now, assuming it's not a typo, this is a quite incredible amount of money. However, it's far from surprising considering that 'public health' nagging is now a very profitable industry in this country.

You see, last night I went to the lauch of Chris Snowdon's new book, Killjoys, at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square and very good it was too.

The launch was heralded by speeches which amused those assembled while making serious points. The IEA's Jamie Whyte spoke about how he finds nothing wrong with restricting choice for kids because - well, they're kids - but a state that presumes to know our choices better than we do ourselves effectively treats adults like kids. Snowdon himself also pointed out how we seem to be harangued at every turn about harmful life decisions such as smoking and drinking, yet more 'cool' and elitist dangerous pastimes such as mountain climbing or ski-ing are somehow left alone.

It is a theme he also touches on in the book, in fact it is a central one. That being that paternalists of today have barely changed in the past 150 years since J S Mill wrote his seminal thoughts on freedom, On Liberty.

Chris begins by examining Mill's work and notes that back then he was reacting to a fundamental religious morality police who objected to the licentious joys of the commoners. Mill's central thesis was, if you didn't already know:
the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right
The nearest that any paternalist of those days could come to satisfying Mill's harm principle was to say that they objected to alcohol being available because it offended them.

This restrictive way of sneering at the habits of the unwashed was fine for the snobbish paternalist, but Mill argued that only through liberty can an individual maximise his utility (enjoyment) and, consequently benefit the overall well-being of the population. And not much has changed in the intervening period.

The modern 'public health' paternalist would be mocked if they played to religion nowadays, so instead they portray themselves as part of the medical community instead. Yet a doctor can only treat you or advise you with your consent, whereas the new cult of 'public health' doesn't require your consent - or your vote - to curtail your choices and dictate what you are allowed to consume, while they also take your taxes to do so.

Killjoys argues that this is not only contrary to Mill's long-respected principle, but is also actively harming the welfare of the public - because it avoids even considering it - in many different ways, the main one being to view the public's health as our only consideration in life, and discarding absolutely every other measure of well-being that we might hold dear.

Benefits of behaviours and habits are ignored, and blatant downsides of illiberal legislation considered not to exist. 'Science' is perverted, and well-understood consensus on the effect of practices like advertising are denied.

Chris leads the reader through all the varied and shape-shifting tricks that the 'public health' cartel employs to pretend it is helping us instead of the opposite, touching on subjects such as using taxes as a weapon to drive for zero consumption - effectively prohibition - rather than reaching a sweet spot which would maximise the public's enjoyment of life while making adequate compensation for potential harm, real or imagined.

He also illustrates how 'public health' tries to pretend it is adhering to Mill's principles by portraying consumers as victims of industry manipulation instead of having their rights as consumers violated by 'public health'. Industry advertising is deemed to be irresistible, yet 'public health' is quiet about how their own propaganda is so ineffective despite using the same media. A strange occurrence seeing as the same 'public health' consistently says that we all want to ditch the unhealthy behaviour, so it is hard to fathom why we are not queueing up to take their advice unless the messages they are sending are fraudulent.

The books argues, well, that far from increasing awareness about consumer products, the 'public health' crusade actively restricts information, increases market failure that they claim to be correcting, and their policies lead to more harm, more barbaric stigmatisation, along with transferring wealth from the poorest individuals in society to the state and - of course - then onto 'public health' so they can start the whole vicious cycle all over again.

The idea that 'public health' wishes to be honest and cares for our welfare and enjoyment of life is betrayed when Snowdon highlights the outrage that ensued after the US government decided to place a value on consumer surplus - that is, the value of enjoyment lost when illiberal regulations are placed on consumer products. Quantifying the benefits of lifestyle products has been something 'public health' has avoided for decades, simply because it would destroy their entire prohibitionist agenda. Only costs must be counted, benefits must always be ignored.

The reader is also invited to consider that the real damage to the public of unhealthy choices are not the much-vaunted ones on costs to the NHS, which are entirely fictional, but instead those imposed by 'public health'. As I have said many times, if smoking was banned tomorrow, no taxpayer would get any kind of refund or decrease in their taxes, in fact they might even go up. However, shifting resources from traditional public health matters which we have no choice over and instead directing them to areas where we do threatens to take away funding from real healthcare. If you're not getting an operation you really need, that is a real cost to you; it might make you feel warm and fuzzy that some hospital is banning vaping in the car park but you still ain't getting that hip replacement.

Likewise, anyone who is irritated at having to wait another few years till they get their pension might reflect on why there is a multi-billion pound industry fixated on increasing costs to the welfare bill (pensions are the biggest public expenditure) when the only drivers behind 'public health' campaigns are snobbery and self-enrichment.

In short, 'public health' serves not to inform the public and cater for our well-being, but instead to alarm us and cater for the bank accounts of public health professionals, at the expense of the poor, pensioners, and the health system as a whole. It's something legislators might do well to look into.

Chris finishes with some very optimistic policy suggestions in different areas which - although perfectly sound and which would lead to a happier, more prosperous, less costly and better educated Britain, with the public's health not noticeably being any different than it is today - might bring some politicians out in a cold sweat.

I can imagine their horrified faces as they clutch their pearls at the thought of legislating for public well-being rather than morality, but if they truly cared about the good of the country that's exactly what they should be doing.

The book is a cracking read, only 160 pages and will make you think differently about 'public health' from whatever angle you started from. It is available free online from midnight tonight at the IEA website, I heartily recommend you go read it. 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Kerching! 11 More Years Of Failure Please

Yesterday, The Sun wrote of a report on when the England might go 'smokefree' according to tobacco control criteria.
ENGLAND could be smoke-free by 2040, a new study has claimed. 
The goal, which means less than five per cent of adults using cigarettes, is getting closer due to new tech such as e-cigarettes. 
Current quitting rates mean it will take another 23 years to hit that level. 
But the Frontier Economics research funded by tobacco giant Philip Morris Ltd says if an extra 210,000 quit each year the target could be reached as early as 2029.
What is most interesting about this is that it chimes in with something published in the Tobacco Control comic in December.
The glaring omission in the rhetoric is the most obvious alternative for PMI to meaningfully contribute to achieving a combustion-free world: announce a date by which the company will phase out combustible products entirely.
This is a classic straw man. Suggesting an insane policy position, not to mention impossible for many practical and legal reasons, just to knock it down. However, although the year cited by Philip Morris's research isn't exactly when all cigarette production will cease, now we at least have a date when - at least in the UK - it might be a vaguely viable proposition, don't we?

Will the tobacco control industry now change emphasis and support the pretty clear motive behind this then? Of course not, because for them it's not about health. They just don't like industry.

So their reaction, again in the joke that is Tobacco Control, is to just double down on their objection to someone parking the tanks on their smoking cessation lawn.
The surprise announcement by the former head of the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, Derek Yach, that he would head a newly-established organization called the “Foundation for a Smoke-free World” to “accelerate the end of smoking” was met with gut-punched disappointment by those who have worked for decades to achieve that goal. Unmoved by a soft-focus video featuring Yach looking pensively off into the distance from a high-level balcony while smokers at ground level stubbed out Marlboros and discussed how hard it was to quit, leading tobacco control organizations were shocked to hear that the new organization was funded with a $1 billion, twelve-year commitment from tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI). PMI, which has been working for decades to rebrand itself as a “socially responsible” company while continuing to promote sales of its top-branded Marlboro cigarettes and oppose policies that would genuinely reduce their use, clearly believes this investment will further its “harm reduction” agenda, led by its new heat-not-burn product, IQOS.
You won't be surprised to learn that the entire article omitted to mention e-cigs at all. The "gut-punched disappointment" is solely down to the fact that these hideous human beings realise their 'quit or die' brand is in decline and, with it, a whole load of lucrative finger-wagging salaries are direly at risk.

In Sweden, snus has been hugely responsible far the lowest smoking prevalence and lung cancer rates in the world; tobacco control helped to ban it across the EU. In Japan, tobacco sales and smoking prevalence are in freefall due to stunning uptake of heat not burn; tobacco control is fighting against it. And in the UK, e-cigs are demonstrably having a huge effect; tobacco controllers opposed them all the way and - although some have since seen sense - many still do.

You also have to remember that in most of the jurisdictions where tobacco control claims that tobacco companies are promoting smoking, it is because their hysterical screeching about Big Tobacco has meant cigarettes are the only product that is allowed to be sold. Turkey is just the latest country to follow World 'Health' Organisation advice and ban e-cigs, for example. It is difficult for a global company like Philip Morris to cease production of cigaerttes while tobacco control runs around getting any alternatives prohibited, isn't it?

For tobacco controllers, reducing smoking prevalence has long since been kicked to the gutter in favour of destroying tobacco companies. The report that The Sun refers to - out today - shows exactly how harmful, again in their own parlance, their rent-seeking threatens to be.

This graphic tells a story.

To explain, the unprecedented recent decline in smoking prevalence happened not due to tobacco control's inane nannying, but instead after e-cigs went mainstream around 2012. This is quite simply undeniable.

However, instead of welcoming this, the efforts of many dinosaur tobacco controllers have been to focus on destabilising harm reduction; spreading doubt - exactly as they accuse the tobacco industry of doing decades ago - and promoting scare stories and junk science.

Or, as the vacuous Tobacco Control comedians put it, place emphasis on what doesn't work instead of what does.
What is required is leaders who have the humility to work with the movement and policymakers with the backbones of steel needed to stand up to the industry to enact and implement strong tobacco control measures, including high taxes, smokefree laws, effective media campaigns to denormalize both smoking and tobacco companies, and marketing, packaging and retailing regulations to make these deadly products less ubiquitous.
Do you notice how all of those approaches carry a nice juicy payout for tobacco controllers? Whereas the market solving the 'problem' without their interference doesn't? Just follow the money.

Anyway, the upshot is that creating doubt about reduced risk products which are proven statistically to be making a difference can only have one effect, according to the tobacco control industry's own propaganda. Creating doubt - according to the rhetoric they incessantly spout - will kill people, and the difference between welcoming a new approach instead of adhering to policies which lend themselves more to psychopathic bullying and self-interest for tobacco control is another 11 years. Yep, tobacco control would prefer another 11 years of failure than to relinquish their cosy cartel in favour of helping smokers quit using something that works.

You can go read the new report here. When you do, remember that we are on the side of the angels now, tobacco control - by contrast - has sunk to the depths of depravity. For many of them, failed policies which enrich them are preferable to hugely more successful products encouraging smokers away from lit tobacco, simply because industry makes them.

Have I ever told you it's not about health? 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

The Assault On Christmas Begins

I'm often asked why I have a dislike for 'public health', but it's an extremely easy question to answer. It is because they are the most disgustingly anti-social people in society today.

Here is a perfect example from this past week.
Calls have been made to ban the Coca-Cola truck from Liverpool this Christmas amid concerns about obesity levels in the city.
No, it was just one call; from one pretty miserable human being.
Liverpool's Liberal Democrat leader Richard Kemp said the city is "in the grip of an obesity epidemic".  
He believes Coca-Cola's popular festive vehicle promotes a product which is "grossly unhealthy", as first reported in the Liverpool Echo.
The Liverpool Echo, in turn, reported that:
For each of the past five years, the illuminated heavy loader, emblazoned with the red-and-white logo of the famous soft drink all lit up, has attracted thousands of people in the city centre.
Yes, thousands of people turn up every year for this little piece of Christmas magic - and, erm, there is no obligation to drink the bloody product - but this one joyless pinch-lipped Lib Dem wants it banned. I really don't get these 'Liberal' Democrats. Not satisfied with turning their entire party's raison d'etre into trying to overturn a democratic vote on the EU, now this guy thinks he has sole authority over the thousands of people who will vote with their feet when the Coca-Cola truck comes to Liverpool. He seriously believes that his twisted and perverse view of the world trumps the enjoyment of a huge crowd of happy Liverpudlian families and thinks he has the right to usurp parental choice. He has since been denying that he is a Scrooge, which led to this amusing graphic from some mischievous card at the Liverpool Echo.

But then, he's not really to blame, he's just an incredibly gullible twat. The real criminal in all of this is the money-grabbing 'public health' movement who have been whispering junk science into this inadequate man's brain for years.

Take fellow blood-sucking puritan Simon Capewell, who subsequently applauded Cllr Kemp's anti-social extremism.
“We are indeed fighting for sugary drinks to be treated the same as tobacco which means, higher taxes and stricter limits on advertising. 
“The Coke Christmas truck has NO place in our society.”
Speak for yourself sunshine, but the thousands of people who swarm to see it would disagree with you and your vanishingly tiny monomaniacal minority.

Let's for a moment, take it as read that fizzy drinks - despite being a tiny percentage of overall calorie intake - are solely responsible for an obesity problem that is wildly over-exaggerated. Even in that already extreme scenario, the overwhelming majority of people don't drink Coca-Cola incessantly, and it is even more hysterical to try to equate just one annual event where kids get a bit of Xmas magic thrown their way along with a miniature can of Coke as being anything pernicious at all.

It's snobbery, pure and simple. Extreme arrogance from repulsive wastes of DNA, emboldened by a bunch of fib-lipped charlatans, some of whom have recently been exposed as being keen to pervert truth on a whim to promote their signature form of anti-social behaviour.

We should be throwing these people in jail, not handing them half a billion pounds of our taxes each year. Public health is a vile institution which has completely forgotten that it is there to help society, not beat it about the head with a stick and make kids cry.

This, too, is only the start. We are only in early November and already the public health assault on Christmas is in full swing. From here on in, any excitement about the festive period will be tempered by a queue of charmless, bed-wetting, shroud-waving pieces of hysterical 'public health' slug shit trying to guilt trip us all for enjoying what we choose to enjoy, and their reason for doing so is nothing but their own personal gain.

That is why I dislike 'public health', because they are arrogant, ivory tower fun-snipers who derive joy out of nagging others and taking away their pleasures. They are, quite simply, adult bullies so it is perfectly natural to dislike them.

If you fancy seeing what has got this small minority of repulsive snobs so irate, by the way, get your diary out as the schedule for the tour is here. Holidays are coming. 

Friday, 3 November 2017

Vaping Solutions: An Easy Brexit Win

In recent weeks I've written about the ridiculous unintended consequences of the TPD towards vaping.

In August it was noteworthy at Vapefest that vendors were not selling pre-mixed e-liquid, but instead - because no-one wants to buy a whole load of 10ml bottles - were shifting large amounts of flavour concentrates to be mixed at home.
Instead of pharma-grade nicotine being mixed in sterile conditions with professional equipment, it is now being mixed in houses and flats using a Kenwood Chef and nicotine stored in domestic freezers, in whatever bottles are available, by people with varying levels of competence at mixing DIY juice.
And just the other day, I pointed out that the TPD had also led to an explosion in flavours which are free of scrutiny.
My spies at Vape Expo tell me that there has been a noticeable uptick in nic free short fills from countries like the USA and Malaysia where no standards apply and there is absolutely no control on what is in them. So what the fucking morons who devised the TPD have created is a market where vapers are buying black market nicotine from China and mixing in their kitchen, or walking around with a bottle of nicotine and a bottle of flavouring - the contents of which they have no clue about - and mixing themselves when they never wanted to before. Precisely what the myopic cretins in 'public health' wanted to avoid.
It is pretty clear that far from making the market safer, ideological and pathetic meddling by tobacco control - towards a product which they knew the sum total of fuck all about - has led to the potential for more harm rather than less.

The instinct of regulators like the cretinous faux 'experts' in tobacco control will no doubt be to install even more pathetic regulations which, in turn, will inevitably lead to even more unintended consequences. There is a better way though, and it will present itself in March 2019 thanks to Brexit.

Today the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has released a report entitled "Vaping solutions: An easy Brexit win" stating exactly that. I highly recommend you give it a read as it is a beacon of common sense emerging from the carnage of 5 years of retarded interference from tobacco controllers who don't know one end of an atomiser from the other.

As author Chris Snowdon sums up in his report ...
The TPD was a solution looking for a problem that did not exist. The vaping market functioned better under the relatively laissez-faire regime that preceded it than it has since. The sooner it returns to its previous state, the better for the health, prosperity and liberty of the nation.
Indeed. It's important to note that the vacant policy that vaping manufacturers and retailers have to abide by is not only restrictive, anti-competitive and wasteful, it is also damaging to the health of the public.

It is exactly such EU stupidity and over-reach that Brexit should be fixing. Repealing these dangerous and incompetent regulations - created by ideologues and career anti-nicotine hate-preachers - should be one of the first things that we do once we leave the EU.

It is easy to do, doesn't require primary legislation, and is backed by sane politicians and pragmatic health practitioners alike. It will certainly be met with a collective "meh" by the vast majority of the public and the only objections will come from screaming bigots, anti-social snobs and clueless fat Irish professors or Marxist moon-howlers from the north west.

It's an easy post-Brexit win and we should grab it with both hands. Do go read the IEA report here

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Public Health Rogue Traders

Some of you may have caught a segment on The One Show yesterday evening where Matt Allwright visited the Vape Expo event in Birmingham.

It was a surprisingly positive piece from the guy who is known for exposing Rogue Traders, and if you missed it you can watch it here from 41:30 minutes in. It was even complemented at the end with Andrew Marr giving his opinion that vaping is "an entirely good thing". Not bad, huh?

However, I think he missed the real story here.

Yesterday also saw a Westminster Hall debate secured by Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, where he pointed out some of the absurdities of the regulations imposed on us by the EU. You can watch the whole thing here but keep an eye out for the part from 9:25 mins where Johnson tells other MPs about the ridiculous warnings on hardware - which I wrote about last week - that blatantly lie to the public.

Because, you see, the real appalling story that needs publicising about e-cigs and vaping is the disgraceful regulations applied by 'public health', as I touched upon in August.
However, what was most striking is that the stall-holders had almost abandoned selling pre-mixed nicotine-containing e-liquid altogether! Yes, you could buy 10ml TPD-compliant bottles but I didn't see many people doing that. In previous years 30ml, 60ml, and even 100ml bottles of ready-to-vape liquids were available at advantageous festival prices, but - of course - the TPD has ensured that those size bottles are now banned. 
So the upshot is that the industry has moved to selling the concentrates (flavours) instead, to be mixed by vapers themselves. Just think about that for a moment. By observing their absurd 'precautionary principle' to supposedly protect vapers and children from the overblown dangers of nicotine in e-liquid, tedious shroud-waving tobacco controllers and their dim weasel-headed EU pals have created a situation whereby liquids are not mixed in a clean environment by professionals, but instead in kitchens up and down the country by vapers buying illicit nicotine base from China ... because you can't get that in anything over 10ml bottles either. 
Instead of pharma-grade nicotine being mixed in sterile conditions with professional equipment, it is now being mixed in houses and flats using a Kenwood Chef and nicotine stored in domestic freezers, in whatever bottles are available, by people with varying levels of competence at mixing DIY juice.
Now, I've heard the trend at Vape Expo was for "short fills", that is where a 60ml bottle is filled to 50ml with a nicotine free liquid which would then be topped up with a 10ml bottle of "nic shot". This is perfectly understandable. Vapers don't want to buy stupid 10ml bottles - a regulation the EU imposed for no decent reason whatsoever - so the result is a get-around which is perfectly reasonable.

Except that just about the only part of the EU TPD that relates to vaping that anyone can possibly say makes sense is the part demanding that anything containing nicotine must be 'notified' to the MHRA so they know what is in it. This, of course, doesn't apply to liquids that do not contain nicotine. The short fill bottles, being nicotine free, can contain whatever the manufacturer wants them to contain, there is no scrutiny whatsoever!

My spies at Vape Expo tell me that there has been a noticeable uptick in nic free short fills from countries like the USA and Malaysia where no standards apply and there is absolutely no control on what is in them. So what the fucking morons who devised the TPD have created is a market where vapers are buying black market nicotine from China and mixing in their kitchen, or walking around with a bottle of nicotine and a bottle of flavouring - the contents of which they have no clue about - and mixing themselves when they never wanted to before. Precisely what the myopic cretins in 'public health' wanted to avoid.

Far from regulating the industry - which had a good record of regulating itself - the TPD has managed to take a beneficial free market and turn it into the fucking wild west, all because a few tobacco controllers either see their Caribbean holiday evaporating through redundancy or simply just can't bear to see smokers quitting without suffering the hair shirt.

The real story that Matt Allwright missed with his visit to Vape Expo is that 'public health' are the Rogue Traders who need to be humiliated. They are the ones who have screwed everything up and are potentially causing a massive amount of harm. There have been no deaths attributable to vaping so far worldwide, but if we ever see one it will most likely be tobacco control who caused it.

If 'public health' was serious about preventing harm from vaping, they would immediately demand that the regulations on bottle sizes be scrapped. But it's never been about health, so they won't. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Keyboard At The Ready, Vapers

Here's one for those British vapers who like to engage in a bit of advocacy occasionally. Firstly, you might like to watch this video which has just been released (a longer version is available here).

Now, imagine if your local MP were to see that. It might give him/her/it a fresh perspective, don't you think?

Now also imagine they were to see it and were also told about this debate in Westminster Hall tomorrow morning, eh?
9.30 am - 11.00 am - Vaping 
To be moved by Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford
Wouldn't it be good if your representative was tempted to take part in that debate? It may be that it was one that had eluded their attention, so a reminder can't hurt, can it?

Yes, I know it's tight for time but you never know. If nothing else, a message from a constituent (i.e. you) may result in a researcher being sent along to take some notes.

Anyway, if you are minded to, you can contact your MP easily at this link. Good luck. 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Nicotine, Public Health, And The Profit Motive

It's taken me a few days to get round to writing this but there was a BAT Investor Day held in London last week that threw up a small, but vital, nugget of information.

Wells Fargo Securities circulated a summary of the event via email and described the presentation on next generation products (NGPs) as "the highlight". It spoke of how the global NGP category is likely to reach £30bn by 2020 and how both BAT and PMI expect NGPs will represent 30% of their revenue by 2030. Between them, the companies are now operating in 43 markets (PMI 31, BAT 12) after investing literally billions in R&D and roll-out, and both companies have struggled to reach manufacturing capacity to fully satisfy demand.

But this particular piece of info tells a huge story:
"In terms of profitability, BAT expects tobacco heating product (THP) margins will be higher than combustible cigs and sees vapour margins even higher than THP given that vaping taxes are lower."
You have to bear in mind that this is financial information the company is under an obligation to report truthfully to their shareholders, and there are stiff penalties if they mislead them (just look at Tesco recently). It's not the kind of airy-fairy say-the-first-thing-that-comes-into-your-head propaganda more preferred by the tobacco control industry. No, instead BAT have looked at profitability and identified that e-cigs and heat not burn both offer them more potential profit than traditional combustible tobacco, with the highest margin being derived from vaping products.

I've mentioned this before, but if you seriously want to know why the tobacco industry has gone headlong into reduced risk products in the past few years, there is a very simple reason. It's because they will earn more money out of them. Period.

Cigarette profit margins v E-cig profit margins
Cigarette profit margins v Heat not burn profit margins

Now, considering this hierarchy of profit within the industry, you have to wonder at the mentality - and motivation - of tobacco control conspiracy theorists who claim that it's all a plot to keep smokers smoking instead of quitting. Here's an example from one such cretin who still makes this same claim to this day:
Only the most naïve or captured advocates for vaping could fail to acknowledge that the tobacco industry wants people who vape to smoke and vape, not vape instead of smoking.
Erm, why would any company want its customers to continue using its least profitable products when they have more profitable ones to offer? In reality, much of the reason that the tobacco industry isn't bombarding smokers globally with marketing to make them switch to NGPs is because governments - aided and abetted by tobacco control lobbyists fearful of losing their lucrative seat on the gravy train - have banned them! So if they can't sell their most profitable products they are locked into a situation where they can only, by law, sell their less profitable ones.

We are therefore in this bizarre new world where industry is desperate to sell less harmful products because they are more profitable, while 'public health' runs around spreading misleading information and lies to ensure that the more dangerous combustible tobacco is the only product available. It's a simple and classic case of "follow the money".

Many in public health will often condemn industry for putting pursuit of profit ahead of health, yet all over the world now, it is clear that 'public health' is the greatest threat to the public's health when it comes to nicotine. And, in much the same way as we are on the side of the angels here, it is increasingly also clear that it is now industry working to reduce harm, while the tobacco control cartel works furiously to prolong it. 

Friday, 27 October 2017

Travel Advice For Australia Updated For Vapers

Earlier this week I wrote to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to point out that they issued warnings about travelling to Thailand but didn't mention that vapers could be criminalised in Australia too.

Click to enlarge
Well, I've heard back and the page relating to Oz has now been updated with this wording ... immediately after the part about illegal drugs.
The legality of using e-cigarettes in Australia differs between states. Liquid nicotine is classed as a poison and banned from sale nationwide, however some states allow importation for personal use and the use of e-cigarettes without nicotine. You should seek local advice on what restrictions are in place at your destination.
Or, even, just avoid going there to be safe, eh?

It's not as strongly-worded as the warning for Thailand, but then no British tourist has been banged up yet. If/when that happens I guess they'll upgrade the message.

I'm sure the Australian tourist board will be chuffed to bits with the new advice. "Come to Australia, you could be fined or arrested for quitting smoking" isn't the kind of thing you see in their glossy holiday adverts, is it? But I feel certain they're happy that potential tourists to their country are properly informed that they either smoke while they are over there or take a risk with the vape and gamble with their freedom and holiday money.

Bravo FCO!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

'Sensible' Regulation For E-Cigs

Just catching up after an illuminating couple of days in Ireland, I saw this and thought you might be amused.

Isn't that marvellous? The EU has imposed a regulation on all 28 member states which describes a solid inanimate object as containing nicotine when it plainly doesn't. The regulation is so ridiculous that simply by applying it the manufacturer is contravening legislation designed to protect the public from misleading information.

The MHRA then suggests that a way round this is to add qualifying text which corrects the regulation which is contravening legislation designed to protect the public.

But ... this text then contravenes the original EU regulation because it illegally modifies the EU's original demand. 

However, that's OK because the MHRA won't enforce it, probably because it would make them complicit in contravening the EU TPD.

I know it's a hackneyed phrase, but you really couldn't make this kind of absurd EU incompetence up, could you? Can we leave yet? 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Dear Foreign And Commonwealth Office ...

Following recent news about how Thailand has banned smoking on a number of popular beaches under threat of imprisonment, I noticed an anomaly on the Government's website for tourist guidance, so I thought I'd better write to them and point it out.

You see, on their Thailand page, they carry this advice.
Thai authorities have announced that in November they will introduce a smoking ban on beaches in certain tourist areas, including in Koh Samui, Pattaya and in Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces. Those caught smoking in non-designated areas could face a 100,000 baht fine or up to a year in prison. You should follow local guidance. 
You can’t bring vaporisers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) or refills into Thailand. These items are likely to be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. The sale or supply of e-cigarettes and similar devices is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty.
Yes, Thailand is bonkers and fully in the grip of the anti-smoking cult's clutches. However, Australia is similarly afflicted with a nationwide state level infestation of weasel-headed shitgibbons, hence this absurd set of punishments for anyone daring to vape using nicotine.

Click to enlarge
Imprisonment, yes. Three states in Australia think an appropriate penalty for someone stopping smoking by using an e-cig is imprisonment, and all of them think criminalising vapers is the right thing to do. You have to wonder at how very dense their elected representatives have to be, don't you?

Yet here is the corresponding web page advising potential British tourists to Australia. As you can see, there is no warning that visitors could end up in the slammer due to the barking insanity of the fuckspanners who created Australia's science-free e-cigs policies.

It's quite obviously a glaring omission from the FCO so - doing my duty as a loyal and concerned UK citizen - I felt it necessary to write to them to ensure they carry the same important guidance for Australia that they do for the similar basket case stupidity in Thailand.

Here's my letter.
Dear Sir/Madam 
I note that you advise on your local laws and customs pages for Thailand that tourists entering the country can be criminalised and imprisoned for smoking on beaches, or for possession of vaping equipment. This is very good advice. It is important to highlight extremist policies imposed by backward nations that might impact on unwary British travellers.  
However, I think you should also carry the same severe warning on your site for British citizens who intend to travel to Australia. The UK government's recent Tobacco Control Plan stated an intention to support the use of e-cigarettes and Public Health England's Stoptober campaign prominently highlighted vaping as a valid way of quitting smoking. This may give the impression to UK nationals that other countries with a western outlook on life might have the same values as us. However, Australia thinks entirely differently, with every jurisdiction banning possession of e-cigs that are encouraged in the UK, some even threatening imprisonment.  
Click to enlarge
Currently, your page on Australia doesn't mention this. I therefore believe you should be issuing guidance to potential tourists to Australia that if they are vapers they should avoid travelling there as the country is extremely hostile to them. Queensland, for example, even has a 'snitch line' and encourages the public to report sale or possession of e-cigarettes! Just imagine some poor blighter from the UK on a Brisbane beach using the e-cig his local stop smoking service encouraged him to buy, only to be arrested and/or fined on his holiday because someone saw him and called the cops. 
I would like to thank you for continuing to educate our citizens as to the vagaries of legislation in basket case nations like Thailand and Australia and hope you will see fit to update your guidance as a matter of urgency.  
Best regards
Richard Puddlecote (concerned citizen on the side of the angels)
Well, it's only right that travellers are properly informed, don't you think? 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Mugabe: WHO Role Model Of The Month

Only last month we saw a WHO regional director holding up North Korea as a global beacon in 'progressive' health policy by banning e-cigs. However, I think this month they have topped even that.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday appointed President Robert Mugabe as a global health ambassador for Africa to help governments tackle chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease.  
Mugabe, Africa's oldest ruler at 93, will work with national and local politicians to highlight the heavy economic and health burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), United Nations health agency said. 
WHO director-general Tedros Ad-hanom Ghebreyesus said Mugabe's appointment would enable governments to "strengthen our response together" to these "major public health challenges". 
NCDs and injuries are responsible for 43 million deaths each year, according to the WHO - almost 80 percent of all deaths worldwide - but the much of the premature death and disability they cause could be prevented with lifestyle-targeted measures. 
Mugabe's role will be to encourage policies aimed at reducing peoples' exposure to the main risk factors - tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise.
Calling Mugabe a "respected Statesman", the article describes how he is "passionate" about NCDs, presumably because he wants people to live for as long as possible. Which is quite ironic considering he massacred over 20,000 people in the 1980s. Francis Maude had this to say in 2000 following a visit to Zimbabwe.
Two things became clear in the two days I spent in Zimbabwe. First, it is obvious that the general election later this month will not be free or fair. It is being rigged. Any pretence to the contrary is misleading and self-serving. And second, most importantly for the immediate future, people from all walks of life opposed to Mugabe are in danger from violence after - as well as before - the election. 
Voters in many parts of the country have already been cowed by Mugabe's state terrorism. His thugs have kidnapped, tortured and murdered opponents from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party. And these intense and sudden bouts of violence have served as a warning to others. 
Whites and blacks told us how units of Zanu-PF thugs have toured the country setting up mobile re-education units, where peasant farmers are corralled and then bullied or beaten into submission. People made it clear that this violence has been planned and controlled by Mugabe personally.
In 2008, Human Rights Watch was documenting further atrocities.
President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and state security forces have sharply intensified a campaign of organized terror and torture against opposition activists and ordinary Zimbabweans, Human Rights Watch said today. Armed riot police raided the Harare headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on April 25, 2008 and arbitrarily arrested scores of people, including women and children seeking refuge there. 
“We’re seeing a major increase in government-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe right now,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The ruling party has been sending its allies – youth militia and so-called “war veterans” – after people it thinks voted for the opposition in last month’s election. In recent days, the army has been playing a direct role in the repression, and police have arrested people fleeing the violence. Now anyone seen as opposing Mugabe is in danger.” 
Over the past few days, Human Rights Watch has documented a pattern of increasing violence by ZANU-PF militias and the military, both in the number of incidents recorded and the brutality used.
At the same time,  The Telegraph was describing how the "death toll rises in Robert Mugabe's reign of terror before election" while the BBC was giving us "a glimpse of Mugabe terror".

But now, he has been welcomed into the World Health Organisation family by WHO director-general Tedros Ad-hanom Ghebreyesus (who has a few question marks about brutality hanging over his head too, by the way) and is currently in Uruguay as a guest of honour at the WHO's conference on NCDs. Some delegates are very excited about it all too.

As I've said before, from Turkmenistan through the Philippines and all the way to North Korea, it seems there isn't a murderous dictator the WHO doesn't like. Maybe there is something about the unaccountability and corruption such leaders indulge in which appeals to the unelected and dictatorial WHO, who knows?

Anyway, we now have the pleasure of watching on as Mugabe tells the world to stop drinking alcohol, smoking, eating nice foods and drinking fizzy drinks. Because, you see, that's the way to guarantee a long and healthy life ... except, of course, if you live in Zimbabwe. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Drafting An ASA E-Cigs Consultation Response

Tomorrow sees the deadline for a consultation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about regulations placed on ads for e-cigs.

The ASA claim this has come about due to products becoming more reliable, but it's fair to say that their rules have been pretty much overtaken by events. What with the Tobacco Control Plan recently putting emphasis on e-cigs being part of the government's future strategy, and with Stoptober prominently featuring vapers in their ads, the rules as they are currently laid out are quite absurd.  Reason being that the CAP & BCAP rules both prohibit claims which are demonstrably true.

The accompanying consultation document states that the purpose of the rules on e-cigs are to make sure ads are "not misleading". Well, it is not misleading to say that vaping is less harmful than smoking because the same has been said by Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians and it is mentioned in government documents too. It's a bit of a nonsense, therefore, that business can't say such things just because a bunch of idological anti-vaping extremists lobbied dullard MEPs in 2013 to protect the makers of useless pharmaceutical patches and gums.

So the ASA is consulting on bringing the rules back into the realms of reality by relaxing the wording to possibly allow general claims of relative risk. Here is the wording they intend to change ... very slightly.

click to enlarge
The simple deletion of those two words would technically permit an e-cig vendor to put an A-frame outside his shop saying that e-cigs are 95% less harmful than cigarettes (although, to be fair, the ASA were always fighting a losing battle with this because I've seen vendors do it anyway. They can hardly fear a court case when they can safely back the claim). Common sense really, isn't it?

So it's a fairly simple consultation to respond to.
Question 1 
Do you agree with CAP and BCAP’s proposal to remove the prohibition on health claims from unlicensed nicotine-containing e-cigarettes? If not please explain why. Please also provide any relevant evidence not already taken into account by CAP and BCAP in making this proposal.
Well of course.

Remember that the ASA is running a campaign on the tube claiming that they are there to ensure adverts are truthful.

So what could be more appropriate than having rules which allow e-cig business to tell the truth? It's a no-brainer.
Question 2 
Do you agree with CAP and BCAP’s proposed changes to the wording of the rules, as set out above? If not please explain why
Seems fair enough, yes. It removes the blockage and will help counteract much of the fake news put out by certain tobacco control liars which has led to a majority of the public thinking vaping is just as bad as smoking.

The consultation then addresses the confusion in its rules which could feasibly mean health groups couldn't make the same claims in their adverts. The ASA proposes this qualification.

click to enlarge, again
Well, I suppose if it's fair enough that businesses can make those claims, we mustn't be churlish and say that the nannies can't.
Question 3 
Do you agree with CAP’s proposal to add qualifying text to the introductory text of the ecigarette section of its Code as set out above? If not please explain why.
Sigh, I guess so, yes.
Question 4 
Do you agree with the wording proposed? If not, please explain why and provide your suggestions as to how it should be amended.
Yes, it seems straightforward enough.
Question 5 
Do you have any other information or evidence that you think might be relevant to CAP’s consideration of its regulation of public health advertisements which refer to e-cigarettes?
Well, I think some organisations should be prohibited from calling themselves 'public health' groups, but that's a different issue, so no.

Talking of which, in case you're wondering why this consultation is worth taking part in, I think I only have to tell you the groups who have registered their objections to the relaxation of these advertising rules.
1. Blackpool Council
2. British Medical Association
3. Johnson & Johnson Ltd (What a surprise! - DP)
4. Proprietary Association of Great Britain
5. Royal College of Radiologists
6. The Welsh Government
They may be few - and laughably miguided - but the more responses we who are on the side of the angels submit in favour of the rules being changed, the more their pathetic voices are drowned out.

Responses are due in by 5pm on Monday 16th October 2017, that's tomorrow of course, so don't delay. Responses should be submitted as a Word attachment to or by fax to +44(0)20 7404 3404.

Go on, you know you want to. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Signage And The Anti-Vaping Status Quo

In July, the government released its Tobacco Control Plan (TCP). It claimed to be supportive of e-cigarettes, including this part about vaping in public.
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.
As vaping bans sweep up and down the country without a whimper of objection from 'supportive' tobacco control groups we could mention, it doesn't appear that many employers or businesses are taking much notice of the TCP. In fact, it doesn't even appear that NHS Trusts have bothered to read it either, here's a telling picture of two ghastly goons from Chesterfield unveiling their retarded policy to the media earlier this month.

The very next day, Darent Valley Hospital in Kent went one better. They didn't just completely ignore the TCP, they also celebrated the Stoptober campaign ... by banning the products Stoptober said smokers could use instead of tobacco!

Of course, as we have come to expect, these creeping bans on vaping were met with complete silence by those in the tobacco control industry who claim to be onside. 'Twas ever thus.

In the meantime, Transport for London - which, again, is a state-funded arm of government - insists on these signs on all its taxi and private hire vehicles in the capital.

It is the legally-mandated no smoking sign, just with the addition of vaping as if to imply that using e-cigs is against the law - which it is not, of course - but they tweet regularly about how you can be fined by a court anyway. As I understand it, if a vehicle does not carry this sign, it will fail inspection and not be licensed.

Don't you have to wonder about how sincere the TCP and the tobacco control industry is about supporting vaping when these signs are going up without so much as a stern word from anyone in 'public health'?

Recently we have also seen private companies pretending that e-cig use is against the law when it isn't. I wrote last month about London Midland trying to brazen it out when challenged that - despite what their policy says - vaping in public is not a criminal offence. Yet here we have Aldi claiming the same thing.

Greggs, too, either think vaping is against the law, or just like pretending that it is.

Now, in light of this apparent support of vaping recently from 'public health', how can it be that so many organisations - both private and public sector - can be allowed to bastardise the law to insinuate that using e-cigs is a criminal matter rather than just a boneheaded policy decision by lazy and/or stupid people?

Surely making claims, either directly or indirectly, of law-breaking when it is nothing of the sort should be subject to some kind of sanction in a country that supposedly values freedom? Well, apparently not, because you see the government itself has said that this kind of fraud is perfectly OK.

Their update to the The Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations in 2012 states:
"While it remains a legal duty to display at least one legible no-smoking sign in smoke-free premises and vehicles, the owners and managers will have discretion as to the design and location of no- smoking signs."
In other words, you can change the legal no smoking sign however you choose, and many have chosen to include e-cigs in theirs.

How about that for joined-up government, eh? The TCP makes a pledge to support vaping, PHE provides advice saying that policies should distinguish between smoking and vaping, but all the while a government statutory instrument allows a wild west affair whereby just about anything can be described as illegal alongside smoking ... and the same state-funded organisations claiming to be in support of tobacco harm reduction just whistle and look the other way.

A cynic might conclude that seeing as tobacco control gets its grants from advocating tax hikes, bans and pseudo-prohibition, it is quite happy for vaping to be demonised in this way, considering how e-cigs have clearly been far more successful in creating former smokers - without any cost to the taxpayer whatsoever - than anything they have done at huge cost to the public purse.

Every week we see research studies from tobacco control about safety of e-cigs, liquids, views of children on vaping, even social media scrutiny of vapers themselves. I have yet to see a single study, though, which touches on the derogatory effect of vaping bans on smokers switching. It's almost like they are happy with the way things are going and really couldn't care less, isn't it?

The status quo is very profitable for tobacco control, don't expect their 'support' to be anything more than a few words here and there designed to con vapers that they actually care, when they really don't.