Saturday, 16 December 2017

Keep Smoking, Thailand Needs The Cash

The drafts have been piling up here lately due to a hectic pre-Christmas in Puddlecoteville and at Puddlecote Inc, but here's a disturbing story from Thailand last week that deserves comment.
Net Idol arrested for e-cigarette faces 5 years saying police treatment "over the top"
A well known internet celebrity who was arrested in Pattaya at a checkpoint when an e-cigarette and vaping liquid were found has said her treatment at the hands of the local cops was over the top. 
Manutsaya Yaowarat - otherwise known as Fluksri Maneedeng - went on social media after she was filmed being dragged to the cells
It was confirmed that she had just one e-cigarette and one vial of liquid in her possession. No other charges have been mentioned. 
But a top lawyer said that she could still face 5 years in jail and a fine of four times the value of the vaping equipment and fluid that was found hidden in the console of her car. 
Popular online lawyer Kertphon Kaewket reminded the public that the importation of e-cigarettes and vaping fluid was a serious offence that could land people in jail for ten years and command 500,000 baht fines. 
But even possession was serious and could generate a 5 year prison term and from half to four times the value of the goods seized.
Presumably, if she'd have been smoking there wouldn't be a problem. Well yes, because the Thailand tobacco industry is a nationalised monopoly with a clearly stated aim.
Thailand Tobacco Monopoly was established in 1939 according to the Cabinet’s resolution. TTM operates in the tobacco production and distribution business in order to contribute revenue to the State for the country development and plays an important role in the economic system of Thailand.
The girl's 'crime', then, appears to be using something which would reduce tobacco duty income to the Thai state. Interesting way of governing a country, don't you think? 

A fellow jewel robber from the country (yes, there are some) pointed me in the direction of the law that was being enforced here, and it is truly laughable.
Testing by the Scientific Services Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology and by the Department of Disease Prevention, Ministry of Public Health, has found a number of hazardous chemicals detrimental to the body in these products, including propylene glycol, menthol, cyclohexanol, triacetin, benzene derivatives, lead, and cadmium.
Presumably, everything else containing PG and menthol will also be banned? It would make for quite a list.
Testing has also found that smoking with these devices may cause or contribute to the development and spread of diseases such as tuberculosis, colds, influenza, diphtheria, pertussis, and hepatitis B. Use may also lead to other serious diseases of the mouth, since users tend to share the devices among their peer group; a hazardous practice that may, in turn, lead to use of other addictive substances including ecstasy, ketamine, amphetamines, marijuana, or cocaine. 
So anything that can be shared is highly dangerous and could lead to the user becoming a junkie? Riiiight. I wonder what their stance is on kissing?

Anyway, who is to blame for this quite ludicrous state of affairs? Who has facilitated a national government to bring in a law prohibiting a less risky alternative to smoking in order to protect the Thailand tobacco industry?

Why, it's the World Health Organisation, of course!

In November last year I travelled to India for the WHO's COP7 shindig and Thailand was prominent on the group of 'parties' who were desperate that the word "prohibit" was not removed from regulatory options endorsed by the WHO. For two whole nights they were buzzing around trying to gain support, and they were eventually successful. The WHO's final guidance included prohibition and so Thailand can point to the World Health Organisation as a reason they have banned import, manufacture, sale and possession of a threat to their tobacco monopoly, and therefore justification for dragging a girl to the cells for possession of a bottle of e-liquid.

Great work guys at the WHO! The Thailand exchequer thanks you for being their tobacco industry's biggest supporter. 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

A Healthy Dose Of Common Sense

Today I was in Puddlecoteville town centre for some Christmas shopping. Mrs P went into New Look in the shopping mall for some vouchers and - as men do - I hung around outside instead. Sat on a bench outside the shop I took a quick vape on my 18mg 50/50 Lime Zest at 8.9 watts (so no big clouds). Just as I did so a security guard - as wide as he was tall - waddled over to me; the conversation went exactly like this:

"'Ere, fella, you can't do that in here"
"Oh right, so you've changed policy then? Is that why the two vape shops have gone? You kicked them out?
"Well, they left"
"OK, you know it's not illegal don't you?"
"So why has the centre banned vaping?"
"Well, erm, the children" (vaguely waving to where some children had been but now weren't)
"You know that they're not dangerous, don't you?"
"Well, in my book they are far more dangerous than cigarettes"
"You should do some Googling then and get an education"
"I have done, that's how I know they're dangerous"

And you know what? That's not the first time that someone has said that to me. This is the false perception that years of tobacco control lies has fostered in a significant proportion of the public. I've always said that e-cigs had the potential to expose the abhorrent nature of the tobacco control industry, and that conversation shows just how much of a threat they are to the public.

That someone has been convinced of something so comprehensively untrue should make the 'public health' movement utterly ashamed of themselves, but I don't think many care.

The world in 2017 is a place where private innovation and enterprise is leading millions of people into doing what tobacco control has demanded for decades - quitting smoking - yet the main obstacles placed in front of them are the very same people who've been nagging for all that time, and the petty and counterproductive restrictions that have grown up around the incessant 'public health' lying.

Last month, the Freedom to Vape campaign produced a report on policies towards e-cigs in 391 councils up and down the UK. It showed that the attitude of authorities has got worse in the past 12 months instead of better. The steamroller of authoritarian pettiness and control - created and nurtured by disingenuous tobacco controllers - has gained pace rather than receding. So the NNA has launched a campaign entitled "Challenging Prohibition" which I urge you to read and share widely.

Also last month, in front of an audience packed to the gunwales with state-paid 'public health' grandees and activists, Sarah Jakes of the NNA was afforded a very rare (for 'public health' events) opportunity to speak as a consumer about the damage this environment of mendacity is causing, as perfectly illustrated by the ignorant security guard I had the misfortune to meet today. Or, in her words, how 'public health' is "fucking it all up".

It is 20 minutes long but I highly recommend you switch off X Factor Dancing Talent In The Jungle or whatever passes for Saturday night TV these days, pour yourself your most favoured beverage and watch what Simon Clark described as "a masterful speech" (transcript here if you prefer). I couldn't agree with him more.

Friday, 8 December 2017

So Many Questions About Glantz

So ...

Following swiftly on from Chapman being excoriated in the Aussie parliament, let's talk about Mad Stan the aircraft mechanic. Because he's in a bit of a pickle, it seems.
A former UC San Francisco doctoral researcher Wednesday filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by a prominent tobacco control activist and tenured UCSF professor Stanton Glantz that spanned nearly two years. 
The lawsuit also alleges that Glantz retaliated against his former mentee, Eunice Neeley, after she complained about him to the university’s administration by removing Neeley’s name from a research paper. 
Neeley accused Glantz of consistent inappropriate behavior that included staring at her body, making comments directed at Neeley referencing sex, making sexual remarks about other women to Neeley while at the workplace, and making racist remarks about Neeley, who is black. 
Pretty grubby stuff, huh? But this was the kicker for me.
Neeley purports that Glantz used his tenure to intimidate his students from reporting his sexual harassment and emotional abuse. According to the lawsuit, Glantz was known to have told multiple students that as a tenured professor, “You can rape the vice chancellor’s daughter and still have a job.”
Using a position of power to deter complaints about behaviour is quite shocking. If this turns out to be true (and it's important to note that Glantz has denied the charges) it's Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo stuff on steroids!

I suppose only time will reveal more, but I'd like to ask a question. Considering that Kevin Spacey was quickly removed from a film and Netflix cancelled House of Cards at the whiff of impropriety, what will the FDA make of the fact they shovelled Glantz $20m recently?
UC San Francisco will receive a five-year, $20 million grant as part of a first-of-its-kind tobacco science regulatory program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 
The overall aim is to conduct programs of multidisciplinary research that will inform the FDA’s regulation of the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health. 
The UCSF principal investigator is Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. 
“We have identified serious problems in the way that the FDA has done cost-benefit analysis of major tobacco regulations, most notably warning labels on cigarette packages,” Glantz said. “In particular, the FDA underestimated the immediate benefits of smoking prevention and cessation, and based its behavioral assumptions on outmoded ideas. 
“By combining cutting-edge economic research with modern behavior studies, and studies of the immediate effects of smoke exposure on the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, we hope to help the FDA develop more realistic cost-benefit models that will better support sensible regulation.”
It was a grant for a five year project which takes it up to 2018. Neeley was recuited in 2015. Now it's quite feasible that the FDA helped pay her wages while she was allegedly being mistreated in her time there.

But even if not, how can the FDA square giving millions of dollars to Glantz and his team when this might have been going on? Should they not be investigating the affair themselves considering taxpayer funds are tied up in it? Surely they would be ashamed if their funds were being used to indirectly facilitate abuse? If nothing else, their investment surely requires public comment? And what about Amazon? Will they pull his books, of which there are many?

Most importantly, if the allegations are eventually proven true, how can anyone trust the 'science' of someone who has been so manipulative and dishonest in his working life?

It's one to watch, isn't it? 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Does Australia Punish Those Who Mislead Government?

Things have been busy in Puddlecoteville and surrounds, so I'm lagging behind somewhat.

Many will have already seen this, but just in case you haven't, here is Simon Chapman taken to the cleaners by Senator David Leyonhjelm under parliamentary privilege.

The central point the Senator was making is that Chapman was so woeful in his submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into e-cigs that Public Health England took the unprecedented step of writing and correcting him.

The question is whether this was deliberate or not. Leyonhjelm obviously thinks so.

Long term readers will remember that we had a similar case here in 2009 when Lord Darzi misled the House of Lords on the cost to retailers of hiding tobacco behind screens. History has shown that policy to have been completely ineffective - hence why tobacco controllers try not to talk about it very much - but the damage was at least only an entirely unnecessary chunk taken out of the pockets of honest businesses.

However - in the parlance of tobacco controllers themselves - if Chapman's misleading of his government means that smokers are stopped from quitting because e-cigs remain banned following the inquiry, 50% of them will suffer ill-health as a direct result.

Now, Lord Darzi should have been investigated under our laws which treat misleading legislators as a serious offence. He didn't because politics is an ends-driven game. But if the end is to prevent ill-health, and Chapman is shown to have obstructed that, he should surely have to face some pretty serious charges down under.

That is if Australia has laws on misleading parliament like we do here in the Motherland, of course.

Now do you see why I say some in 'public health' deserve jail time? 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Utter Waste Of Public Money

Just a quick one this. Let's lay to rest an inane argument that keeps repeating itself in ignorant comments sections and social media and has done for years.

On Friday, Mark Pawsey MP wrote an article on Con Home to say that vaping should be supported by government. As I was reading it, I just knew that someone would react like this ... and in fact three did in the comments.
"If this is the best thing you have to occupy your thought processes then I feel sorry for you. Its a trivial matter, compared to many big issues where the country is so obviously doing badly." 
"All-Parliamentary Group for e-cigarettes? You couldn't make it up." 
"complete and utter waste of public money wasting time on stuff like this"
Now, these dismissive arguments have cropped up for years when anyone discusses relaxing restrictions or de-regulating on lifestyle issues. For example, in 2010 when David Nuttall presented a ten minute rule bill on amending the smoking ban, the coverage was besieged by those who said he was wasting parliamentary time.

I don't remember anyone saying the same when the Health Bill 2006 was being debated in parliament. The triumphal response afterwards was that this was one of the most amazing and important things ever to have happened to the country, a massive watershed moment. I also don't remember anyone saying that the EU was wasting their time and taxpayers' money by spending two years debating how big the size of an e-liquid bottle should be.

Nor do you see many people ridiculing the government for spending its time on the pressing issue of people enjoying a Coca-Cola, or on debating exactly how far a kebab shop should be from a school. It seems to be vitally important when the ratchet is being tightened. 

But once the rules are in place and you talk about changing them, all of a sudden it's a waste of time. Something serious politicians shouldn't even lower themselves to contemplate.

See, I could agree with those who argue this if they also said that politicians shouldn't even be considering regulations on private choices and laws on what goes on in private property. But they don't. And all the while our elected reps think it's important to tell us what we should and shouldn't consume by way of legislation, it's perfectly bloody reasonable that they should also be considering that the rules could be changed for the better afterwards.

We didn't ask for these things to be included in politics, daft politicians led by the nose by state-funded troughers did that. Therefore these issues are absolutely part of politics. Saying otherwise is just a nonsense. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Plain Failure

Longer term readers here will remember the fiasco of the plain packs campaign in the UK. The often fraudulent abuses of process, democracy and common decency were quite shocking and this article would turn into a mini-book if they were all listed here. But here is a reminder of a few highlights:

Attempting to rig the consultation; producing literature containing bald-faced lies to MPs; enthusiastically encouraging corrupt multiple signatures; and attempting to influence government to exclude any consultation responses they disagreed with and then trying to hide the evidence. Along with inviting two zealous supporters of plain packaging to review the evidence, including a far-left lunatic who simply despises marketing of any product, before producing an impact assessment document which the Regulatory Policy Committee rightly considered shoddy. This without mentioning shovelling taxpayer cash to vested interests to lobby government with, making demonstrably false claims, and blatantly misrepresenting the results of their own research.

Like I say, this is by far an exhaustive list!

It's now five years since Australia first implemented the daft idea, and it will come as no surprise to anyone that it has failed miserably. It hasn't helped the credibility of the country's politicians much either.
59 percent of Australians believe that standardized packaging has been ineffective, 80 percent of them believe the government wouldn’t change or would be reluctant to change a preferred policy even if the evidence were weighted against it.
What's more, as this five minute video from RMIT University Melbourne's Prof Sinclair Davidson shows, the Aussie government has gone to extraordinary lengths in order to hide the failure. 

When such a lot of time and money has been spent on a policy (and the subsequent desperate civil service wriggling) which has had no effect whatsoever - and the public can see it for the red herring it is - it illustrates just how wasteful, gullible and spineless western legislatures have become in the face of state-funded 'public health' troughers, doesn't it?

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Tobacco Control Is Eating Itself

Any tobacco controller worth their inflated and unnecessary salary will tell you that tobacco companies cannot be trusted because they used to tell lies ... about 30 to 60 years ago.

As a result, industry as a whole is now routinely referred to as being "merchants of doubt". It has been a successful tactic because nowadays even the mundane - and generally ubiquitous in every political policy area - criss-cross of debate on legislative proposals is condemned by tobacco controllers as industry trying to lie. Here is a perfect example from Martin McKee in April this year.
This matters, because the struggle against tobacco is not yet won. The tobacco industry continues to produce misleading evidence, most recently in relation to the introduction of standardised packaging. The industry has commissioned reports to cast doubt on what is now recognised as the tremendous success of this measure in Australia, by means of highly selective analysis of the data.
It won't surprise you that the reference for this apparently settled declaration of plain packaging success in Australia was from McKee and some of his mates who - in turn - referenced themselves in that paper too. Incestuous really doesn't describe it fully enough.

The reason I mention this is that instead of the truth - which is that industry is presenting conflicting evidence to the manipulated policy-led bunkum that is now the 'public health' charade's stock-in-trade - McKee and his pals try to pretend that anything that disagrees with their assessment is automatically corrupt instead of evicence-based debate. Now, considering the 'public health' industry are the biggest liars on the planet right now, industry pushback is something which is sorely needed and a functioning democracy depends on it.

The problem for tobacco control is that e-cigs have come along and are ruthlessly exposing them for being disingenuous as we here have always known them to be. And boy is it causing a ruck!

Today, the BMA became the latest 'public health' organisation to realise that sticking to pathetic ideology is just fighting a losing battle, and have issued a cautiously positive position paper on e-cigarettes. In the UK that leaves the Faculty of Public Health as just about the only vaguely credible body that is still waving a club around, grunting from their cave, and pretending that every purchase of vaping equipment comes with a free mythical cancer-breathing dragon. But then, look at the standard of their leadership.

It's been pretty to watch as these institutions - every one of which originally wanted to ban vaping for no fucking reason whatsoever apart from cant and prejudice - slowly come to the realisation that they can't ignore reality any longer. But every one of them that stops talking crap means that there is increased pressure on those that wish to continue doing so. It's a simple equal and opposite reaction thing. To create the same level of doubt towards e-cigs, the increasingly vanishing few left have to get ever more extreme, and Mad Stan the aircraft engineer seems to have gone into overdrive of late.

Here's what he said in comments at a Conversation UK piece - that's the UK version, note, so presumably he sees events deserting him over here - today.

Click to enlarge

E-cigs worse than cigarettes? This is contrary to absolutely every piece of available research into vaping, it is solely something that Glantz believes. It is the very definition of "creating doubt", precisely what tobacco controllers acccuse industry of having done. While the tobacco industry is busy producing proper science, Glantz, an Australian pensioner and a low-grade physio from Lincoln are alone in the world spouting bullshit like some crack-addled loon wandering the high street wearing an A-board declaring that the end is nigh.

It's quite pathetic really. You kinda have to feel for him. With a waist the diameter of one of Saturn's rings he isn't a well man, yet his merchant of doubt workload is increasing in direct proportion to the number of former allies who are jumping ship and admitting that they were wrong about e-cigs. Sadly for him, propaganda posing as science just doesn't cut it anymore, and he is so antiquated that he doesn't know any other way.

So, when fellow tobacco controller Robert West presented this slide at the E-Cig Summit last month, it must have stung like a moody vindaloo!

This is basically Glantz's modus operandi exposed. It is what he has built a career upon, and here was West saying that it really needs to stop. In fact, he said that tobacco control had been "lax in accepting bad science at journals because generally we support the conclusions" and compared Glantz to a "recalcitrant first year grad student". Just imagine the horror of that for the old fella? What is he to do?

Well, create doubt of course! Ten days days later Glantz raked up a row from two years ago which led to demands that a journal be boycotted because Robert West edits it.

As Forbes mentioned earlier this year, what does that remind you of?
The hostility toward e-cigarettes is so great that attempts to sow doubt about the relative risks of vaping versus smoking bear a striking resemblance to the efforts of tobacco companies in the 20th century to mask the true nature of their products.
Yes, except most of the tobacco industry personnel who engaged in those tactics are long dead. People like Glantz are actively trying to create doubt now, and I mean today.

The fallout on social media has been astonishing. I've repeatedly said that e-cigs had potential to sort the ideologues from those who actually do think they're being altruistic, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that the suggestion 'public health' do the right thing would be met with such blatant and hilarious vitriol.

Tobacco control is eating itself in front of our eyes and reputations are being shattered. Buy in the popcorn because this could run and run.