Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Most Corrupt And Anti-Democratic Movement In Post-War History

Further to my piece on Monday about the World Health Organisation's plan to class e-cigs as tobacco products - and consequently subject to crippling taxes, display bans, graphic warnings etc - former ASH supremo Clive Bates has obtained a leaked copy of the minutes which reveal it, and written a comprehensive article on how criminally misguided this approach is.

I would highly recommend you read it in its entirety as Bates lifts the veil on how crooked and unconcerned with health the WHO really is in relation to e-cigs and harm reduction products such as snus.

However, this particular paragraph cuts to the very heart of how the global tobacco control industry has got to where it is today - the most corrupt and anti-democratic movement in post-war history.
Notice that these minutes are leaked, and not simply routinely published as we now expect from 21st Century transparent government.  There is no reason to keep them secret and every reason to publish them – other than how embarrassing they are to the participants.  But then one gets an idea of this institution’s interest in openness in Agenda item 8: para 57-60, where they discuss screening and excluding members of the public who are associated with the tobacco industry – note this isn't about granting ‘observer status’ (the right to sit in the negotiating room and occasionally make statements when invited by the chair), it is about the right to sit in the public gallery, when the public gallery is open. Then they discuss holding closed sessions: why?  This is not a place where anything needs to be secret – no operational security detail are discussed – and the sunlight of public scrutiny is always valuable. The idea that WHO chooses which stakeholders are granted access to a process that may significantly [affect them] is reinforced at para 34-36, where they (correctly) note tobacco growers have a legitimate interest in Article 17 and 18 of the FCTC (economic diversification and environment), but then decide to shut the ITGA (International Tobacco Growers Association) out of the proceedings all the same.  One wonders about the integrity of a process that is so fragile that it cannot tolerate dissenting voices.

In fact, it's not just tobacco growers who are frozen out of the debate. At the last WHO FCTC meeting of this kind in 2012, journalists were banned too, for fear of the media challenging any press releases the pharmaceutical industry backed WHO might come out with after the event.
World Health Agency Evicts Press, Public From Talks on Global Tobacco Tax
According to Drew Johnson, a "waste hunter" with the Newsmax website, the agency's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control began its biennial gathering Monday "on a high note by ratifying an agreement to combat smuggled and pirated tobacco products." 
However, that goodwill quickly evaporated the following day, when delegates of the conference's member nations chose to meet behind closed doors for a discussion about raising taxes to reduce smoking.

Johnson added that attempting to cover this meeting was "frustrating" and "raises some serious questions about an organization that for years has operated largely behind the scenes and without the benefit of much public scrutiny." 
"When is the media more necessary than when an unaccountable, shadowy organization that devours millions of tax dollars each year from people across the world debates getting in the business of issuing global taxes?"
By 'unaccountable', of course, he refers to the fact that the WHO have never been made to suffer the inconvenience of having to attract even a single democratic vote to provide them a mandate. It is so astonishingly totalitarian that even the democracy-light EU was attacked in 2012 for not bowing to its demands [opens in pdf].

Furthermore, the WHO didn't stop at excluding tobacco growers, journalists, or the public. Even international police are not welcome!
Here's an interesting fact about these 'Conference of the Parties (COP)' shindigs. It won't surprise you to hear that the tobacco industry is not invited to participate, but they are apparently not even allowed to observe proceedings from the spectator's gallery. These are—I say again—publicly funded conferences. Refusing to allow the relevant industry to even hear what is being said strikes me as peculiarly paranoid—as if tobacco execs are so powerful that they can transmit pro-tobacco messages by just being in the same room. 
But it gets worse. As if it wasn't crazy enough not to allow the industry to see what goes on in these meetings, the fanatics have now banned Interpol (yes, that Interpol) from attending. Why? Because the tobacco company Philip Morris recently gave Interpol 15 million euros "to support the agency’s global initiative to combat trans-border crime involving illicit goods, including tobacco products". 
This is madness. Is there any organisation these maniacs do not suspect are 'front groups' for Big Backy? The real issue here is not allowing the industry—or Interpol—to engage, it is that no opposing views are allowed whatsoever.
But this is how tobacco control has always worked and why just about everything you have ever heard out of them is either grossly exaggerated or untrue.

Anti-smoking groups like ASH were not demanded by the public; they were created by anti-smoking politicians and staffed at taxpayer expense simply because there was a feeling that the public were not anti-smoking enough, not just in this country but around the world. In short, no-one really cared but were made to.

This is the same scenario from bottom to top. They exist purely to talk to policy-makers (i.e. idiot career politicians) and encourage the silencing of all dissent by way of their own rules (Article 5.3) and by pressuring 'scientific' journals to ban all studies which might come up with a heretical conclusion.

It is a long-standing tactic of the anti-smoking movement to make it impossible for the public to make their own minds up after being presented with both sides of the debate. From smoking bans to plain packaging, they know that their evidence is so incredibly weak that it would be roundly rejected by the public if they were informed properly ... so they pro-actively ensure that you can never be properly informed.

With regard to the WHO's proposals on e-cigs, this is precisely what will be happening again in Moscow when the massed ranks of highly-paid tobacco control executives meet for their latest exercise in truth-avoidance and unaccountability. As Bates explains.
The people involved in the bureau and secretariat are supposed to be neutral civil servants serving the decision makers, who are national governments and ‘state parties’ to the FCTC.  But on this evidence and all that has come before, they are not acting that way, but betraying crude ideological biases of politicised officials with a little self-serving power but no accountability.
To illustrate this, who do you think will be representing the UK's interests as bound signatories to the WHO's FCTC? Well, Deborah Arnott of ASH attended the previous one in South Korea but can't be trusted to object strongly to the WHO I reckon - for a start ASH has changed its focus from smoking to nicotine and, besides, I'm sure being a black sheep at the WHO is probably more than her massively-salaried and uniquely enhanced pensioned job's worth.

That would then leave us beholden to 'neutral civil servants' like Jeremy Mean of the MHRA, an organisation whose forerunner was described in 2003 as having "a stated objective to facilitate the development of the UK pharmaceutical industry"; and which is still "funded entirely by the pharmaceutical industry". So, with his organisation being so far up pharma's backside that he cleans their teeth every morning, there's not much hope of Jeremy objecting there either.

All we can do, then, is to keep on the side of the angels - as we have always been - and carry on pointing out the deeply corrupt nature of the WHO and its preference for pharmaceutical bottom lines over and above what it claims to care for. Because it has certainly never troubled itself with concerns such as democracy or informed choice, and now doesn't even seem to be bothered about health.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Carry On Smoking, Says The BMA's Welsh Secretary

You don't have to be mad to be a health wonk in Wales, but it certainly seems to help.

At the start of the month we heard from Mark Drakeford - the Welsh Health Minister who confirmed it's not about health - and today it's Dr Richard 'Wideload' Lewis.

Dr Richard is the Welsh secretary of the BMA - a provincial version of proven liar Vivienne Nathanson - and he is trying his level best to be as downbeat about e-cigs as is humanly possible.

"I'm a glass half empty kind of guy"
From WalesOnline:
He said: “We welcome some of the specific public health initiatives in the white paper, particularly the ban on e-cigarettes, which is consistent with BMA policy in that the safety of the devices is still unproven but there is also the concern about them normalising smoking."
Y'see, that's the unexplainable aspect of tobacco control, isn't it? Politicians and people like Richard - of which there are many highly-paid thousands in this country - are always banging on about smoking despite it being such an abnormal behaviour. With only 12 million smokers in the UK, you have to camp out for weeks on end in a twitcher's hide in a city centre to spot one ... if you're lucky.

He also says safety of e-cigs is "still unproven" which, of course, also means their danger is still unproven too, but Richard likes to look on the dull side. I bet he's the life and soul at parties.

Still, even so, this would be a valid - albeit totalitarian - argument if he were commenting on an outright ban of e-cigs for those who choose to use them and accept the unproven mild harm/safety gamble. However, the Welsh proposals are only about banning 'not smoking' in enclosed workplaces, and considering there has not - nor ever will be - evidence of harm to bystanders from second-hand vapour, it's entirely irrelevant to the debate.

What's more, Richard's love of the Welsh government's proposals is completely at odds with the recommendations of ASH Wales.
Although safety concerns about the devices exist, and we still lack information about the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes, we should be wary of taking steps that could undermine those who are using them as a means of protecting themselves from the harms attributable to tobacco. 
ASH Wales recommends that premises continue to be allowed to make decisions for themselves on whether or not to permit the use of e-cigarettes, although we recognise that there may be environments where the use of these devices is inappropriate.
I mean, what's the point of the taxpayer coughing up 73% of ASH Wales' income if the Health Minister and the BMA are going to simply ignore them about e-cigs?

Anyway, I digress. Richard continues ...
“While we accept that some smokers are using them to reduce their smoking habit, the products still contain nicotine and are still addictive and the research and the safety aspects of their use are yet to be demonstrated through evidence.”
So carry on smoking, says the BMA's Welsh secretary.
Meanwhile, smoking rates remain stubbornly high, at 23%. 
But many have said that the move to ban e-cigarettes could hinder people’s attempts to quit smoking by taking away a product that may be used as an aid to kick the habit.
Yes, they have. ASH Wales amongst them.
But Dr Lewis said: “We must not encourage use of a new system of nicotine delivery when we are unsure about its safety or efficacy as a means of stopping smoking."
So carry on smoking, says the BMA's Welsh secretary.
“There is some emerging evidence that people who are not cigarette smokers are taking up e-cigarettes and then taking up smoking."
Do you know, proven liar Vivienne said precisely the same thing last year? Not much of an endorsement for our Richard, is it, especially since no-one knows where this emerging evidence is and ASH can't find it either.

Perhaps it's still in the process of being faked, I dunno.
“E-cigarettes are still giving people a nicotine habit which is not good for people’s health in general.”
I suppose he could have said nicotine use on its own is stratospherically safer than smoking, but that isn't on the BMA's agenda at the moment for some unfathomable reason. Instead, the mantra is that you should worry about e-cigs ... a lot. Mind how you go, can't be too careful. Best just stick with the fags.

Eh, Richard?

Monday, 14 April 2014

E-Cigs To Be Classed As Tobacco

It appears that the World Health Organisation has jumped the shark and is now entirely under the control of their pharmaceutical industry paymasters.

Via the Financial Times, I challenge any tobacco controller to say that this is a proportionate response to something which is helping hundreds of thousands of smokers to quit tobacco.
Electronic cigarette users are set to be banished to the pavement alongside their tobacco-smoking cousins – and face similar hefty prices – if the World Health Organisation pushes ahead with plans to regulate e-cigarettes in the same way as normal tobacco. 
Attendees at the meeting, which included representatives from the WHO’s six global regions, said that e-cigarettes “would be considered as tobacco products as per the WHO FCTC” if they contained nicotine made from tobacco leaves, according to the minutes. 
The move would see e-cigarettes face the same advertising bans, public smoking limits and hefty excise duty that apply to normal cigarettes, potentially stymieing the products’ rapid growth.
Conveniently, this is just what the pharmaceutical industry needs to halt a dramatic decline in sales of their useless, but expensive, rival products. What a coincidence, eh? And what's the betting that if this is true, the WHO commission 'science' to justify it from someone like, oh I dunno, mad Stan Glantz?

Now, I hate to crow (actually, I don't) but I saw this coming way back in 2008. It has been written in the public health scriptures that the only supplier of nicotine shall be the pharmaceutical industry, even though they too procure their nicotine from tobacco leaves.

Bravo to e-cigs and vapers everywhere for flushing these charlatans out. Their claimed care for health is merely the front for a charade which often resembles a shilling exercise for Big Pharma. If not, I dare ASH and chums to prove me wrong by objecting to these proposals in the strongest possible terms. In fact, scratch that, I double dare you.

Quite how throwing vapers out into the street is supposed to protect those poor choice-free bar workers from the already mythical secondhand smoke terror, the article doesn't say. Just a hunch, but I'd say bar workers have been used like a cheap whore by a tobacco control industry which has never been about health.

The message this is sending is that you may as well carry on smoking - if anyone tries to put you off, just advise them that the World Health Organisation told you to.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Real Science Is Unwelcome

Now you're finally finished playing in the sunshine, I can heartily recommend a rather fine piece at TVFC comparing Victorian Puritans with the modern day religion of 'public health' which you can read here.

One particular observation is very well drawn.
Since our health is placed on the highest pinnacle in this new religion, those charged with care for that health are not to be challenged even when they step beyond their knowledge. Thus, a doctor's opinion on the packaging of cigarettes is granted more value - because he is a 'priest' - than the opinion of those who understand the role of packaging or have studied its actual effect. 
Those who contest these ideas, who challenge the New Puritians are condemned as the followers of Satan - in thrall to Big Tobacco, The Drinks Industry or Big Sugar.
Indeed they are, as has been illustrated in another article I read this week.

You see, back in August 2012, a real scientist - as opposed to the tobacco control pretend ones - wrote about a study he had conducted into how people view health messages on various tobacco packets. As Snowdon reported at the time, his conclusions were somewhat different to those of faux expert Linda Bauld.
For the record, Dr Tim Holmes, of Royal Holloway (University of London) happens to be an expert in eye-tracking experiments and has no ties to either the tobacco industry or the anti-tobacco industry. When he conducted a similar experiment, his research found...
...the non-smokers looked at the warning messages much less than the other participants, and there was no difference between plain and branded package designs in the amount of time spent looking at the warning message. 
Now, it’s great that the right people are looking more at the warning message, but if this doesn’t result in an increased risk perception then surely the messages aren’t doing their job! Moreover, if removing the brand identity doesn’t change the way people look at the packets then maybe plain packaging, which will be costly to implement, isn’t the best of ideas.
As far as I know, Dr Holmes has yet to publish his research and one can hardly blame him from wanting to avoid the smears and slurs that will inevitably come his way if he does.
Snowdon's suspicions were proven correct, as Dr Holmes has written again about that experiment, along with his future research plans in this area.
When I posted that first blog piece about the student project I’d supervised, I was immediately contacted, and even harassed, for being a scientist and daring to question the efficacy of plain packaging in the war on cigarette consumption.
Sigh, it's so predictable, isn't it?
Anyone who cared to read the blog with an open mind would have seen that my stance was that of a vision scientist who can see that simply removing the branding from a tobacco package will not automatically result in increased attention to the health warnings
Quite. But the tobacco control industry never reads anything with an open mind because if they did they'd have to accept evidence which disagrees with their policy-based orthodoxy, and that just won't do. Hence why they usually get their own non-experts to do the research lest a real scientist comes up with something which might be off-message.

Dr Holmes goes on to explain that he is looking deeper into the subject and has - shock, horror! - accepted funding from Philip Morris to do so.
Now, if you’re a proponent of plain packaging, you have probably already decided what the outcome of that study was, and you have probably dismissed my scientific credibility for even talking to Big Tobacco. If so, Big Tobacco was right, because they warned me that would happen if I decided to accept their offer.  But I wanted to understand the genuine effects of plain packaging on visual attention and as a scientist I do not believe that there has to be a necessary correlation between funding source and research outcome.
Well, there shouldn't be, no. But, of course, when even the BMJ has abandoned its integrity in favour of anti-scientific censorship and an admittance that the peer review process is broken, it's a depressingly common method of avoiding debate.

Dr Holmes finishes with a statement which shouldn't need to be made.
I am not a policy maker, I am a scientist!
Sadly, this is why he will be demonised, smeared and ignored if his research comes up with the 'wrong' results. Real science is unwelcome in the message-correct echo chamber of tobacco control and must be avoided at all costs, it's just too uncontrollable and inconvenient.

You can read Dr Holmes' article in full here.

Friday, 11 April 2014

E-Cigs Ruled Illegal In Australia

Those Aussies sure do have a funny interpretation of the word 'health'.

From Aussie Vapers:
After [] had been running for almost a year and was doing very well (rating on the first page of Google results etc) we suddenly got raided by the Health Department. They arrived at my house in 3 black SUV's and proceeded to execute a search warrant. They searched through my house and proceeded to load all of the hardware I had into several black garbage bags. The search and seizure went on for about an hour and half before they decided they had found and taken enough. They also took photos etc. The whole process was pretty invasive and surreal. They alleged at the time that I and my company had breached section 106a of the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006.
A long process ensued which resulted in the company being acquitted in October 2013.

This made the professional bansturbators of Western Australia mighty mad. They simply cannot contemplate the existence of anything that even resembles a cigarette and fully believed they had just the law to prohibit the devices.
Court defeat fuels move to ban e-cigs
Yep, that's correct. Defeat just made them more determined to try harder next time.
Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry Slevin said it was a legal loophole that needed to be fixed because electronic cigarettes were a growing concern. 
Mr Slevin said the Tobacco Products Control Act was due for a review and could help ban e-cigarettes as well as address issues such as the need to reduce the number of licensed tobacco retailers. 
"This incident of a failed attempt to prosecute points to the fact that the current provisions are not adequate," he said.
As a result, the WA "Health" Department (inverted commas because, as you know, it's nothing to do with health) sprang into action once again (emphases mine).
[T]he Health Department or more particularly Bruce Hawkings of the health department a few weeks later lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court. 
We appeared in the Supreme Court and we and the prosecution made our various arguments. The Judge J Pritchard adjourned the matter for deliberation. Yesterday on the 10 of April 2014 we were summoned to receive the judgement. 
Judge Pritchard found in favour of the Health Department and in her decision expanded her conclusion to determine that in effect any product E-Cig or otherwise that involves a hand to mouth action and results in the expulsion of vapour does in fact resemble a tobacco product and [therefore] falls under section 106a of the Tobacco Products Control Act of 2006.
What does this mean? Well in short it means any model of E-Cig irrespective of its design is now illegal by case law precedent to be sold from within WA. One can only imagine that the other states may now try to follow suit.
And so, by way of judicial precedent, e-cigs are now ruled illegal in Australia.

This is a perfect example of the irrational, and borderline insane, mentality of a tobacco control industry drunk on power and aided by pathetically weak will of idiot politicians. Precisely the same conditions which led the US into prohibition of alcohol nearly a century ago - the damaging reverberations of which are still in evidence today - with precisely the same type of psychotic individuals running amok to the murderous detriment of the public at large.

Anyone who claims to call themselves part of the 'public health' community in Australia should be feeling deeply ashamed of themselves today. But I expect they'll be celebrating instead.

There's a very special place in Hell reserved for each and every one of them.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

"Make Selling Alcohol A Bureaucratic Chore"

Via @TobaccoTacticss, how about a sneak peek at what could be on the horizon if Labour gain power in 2015? Well, if this man gets his way, that is.

Sandals, natch
He is Martin Rathfelder who, as Director of the Socialist Health Association, will be making proposals for future Labour health policy in their ongoing campaign to eradicate all forms of working class pleasure.

Illustrating the left's contempt for the public and freedom of choice, his recommendations include graded prohibition of tobacco, graphic health warnings for fizzy drinks, adding 20% to the price of sugar, and this quite remarkable idea.
5. Anyone selling more than a lethal dose of alcohol to a customer must notify the NHS of the sale and the customer’s name and address. The idea is to make selling alcohol a bureaucratic chore, so retailers could be required to weigh customers in order to calculate their lethal dose.
And, do you know, I think he's serious. Yes, Martin believes that if you wish to buy a bottle of vodka, Sainsbury's should weigh you to calculate if it may represent a 'lethal dose' and then inform an NHS monitoring department.

Quite what purpose this would serve except to interfere in freedom for the sake of it, I just cannot fathom. But I suppose the main thing to remember is that Martin knows what's best for you and it's important that he - and his Labour chums - are allowed to make life as unbearable as possible until you comply with their demands.

You can read, err, Comrade Martin's other nine gems of genius here.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Breaking News From Australia: It Has Never Been About Health

I'm starting to feel embarrassed for the deluded masses who still believe smoking bans had anything to do with health.

From Australia:
MONASH Mayor Geoff Lake and Health Minister David Davis have faced off in the debate about extending state-wide smoking bans to cover outdoor dining areas. 
Waverley Leader reported that Oakleigh restaurateurs had rejected the idea of a smoking ban in outdoor dining areas, saying it would damage business.
The story behind this particular abuse of authority is that a local Aussie Mayor is rather pissed off that businesses - who pay his wages - have objected to a law which would ban outdoor smoking on their premises, despite their paying the Mayor's council for the privilege. You see, the traders are concerned that their customers will cross the border to less fascist jurisdictions, thus avoiding being denormalised. This won't do, of course, hence our unfriendly tosspot of a Mayor demanding state-wide action.

Mafia eat your heart out.

But the reasoning behind it is justification for this blog which I could quite simply not afford to buy.
Monash Council has been campaigning to get the State Government to introduce a Victoria-wide ban on smoking in alfresco dining areas. Cr Stephen Dimopoulos told Waverley Leader in June he had been contacted by seven or eight families in recent months who wanted smoking in outdoor dining areas banned.
And why is it that these seven or eight decide they have the right to dictate to everyone else? Well, the linked article doesn't say. It just mentions that they don't like it. How's that for evidence-based policy, huh?

Commenters to the original piece are very clear though.
Readers have again joined the debate online, overwhelmingly responding to the restaurateurs concerns by saying that smoking bothered them.
It "bothered them". That's it.

So it really isn't about protecting bar staff then? It's only been about a bother? For businesses that it is very easy to avoid if you don't want to be 'bothered'?

And that is enough these days for an ignorant public to dictate to people who have invested their entire life into their businesses?

There is no 'science' or 'evidence' because this Mayor doesn't bother to quote any. Perhaps because even tobacco control gave up on trying to 'prove' second hand smoke outdoors is dangerous a long time ago for the obvious reason that only the most stupid would believe it.

Remember all that agonising back in 2006? You know, the delicate balance between mythical harm to others and free markets, liberties, property rights and all that jazz? It's all a distant memory now, isn't it. These days the effete amongst us are finally admitting it wasn't about health and openly demanding laws to punish something they find a trifle inconvenient.

Smoking bans have never, ever, been about health. They have, however, been a brilliant avenue for driving sympathetic prohibitionist thinking towards bans on alcohol, sugar, fast food, fizzy drinks and many other popular staples which happen to offend pompous middle class superiority complexes.

In the case of e-cigs, of course, it doesn't even matter if the smell isn't there either. Just something that looks like smoke and a self-absorbed anti-social moron is enough. Liberties be damned!

The world on a stick and a unicorn for Christmas now apparently require urgent action and aggressive pursuance by idiot politicians.

H/T Angry Exile

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Cyril Chantler For Prime Minister!

I've shared my initial thoughts on the Chantler policy-led whitewash review into plain packaging and subsequent parliamentary statement this week, but you might be interested in a Twitter exchange with Times journo Alex Ralph from Thursday kindly shared by fellow jewel robber RooBeeDoo.

You see, Cyril Chantler is a paediatrician, we are told. As such, he's not really someone who can be called an 'expert' in assessing the accuracy or otherwise of economic research into illicit trading of tobacco - it's just not something covered in kiddie medical school, for some mad reason.

But he has installed himself as such anyway.

So, move over internationally-respected financial experts KPMG; stand down National Audit Office as your flawed methodologies are no longer required; customs authorities hang your head in shame for not knowing your own area of expertise; and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, go tell your 34 member nations that you are disbanding with immediate effect due to inept embarrassment.

You're all wrong and Cyril the medic is right.

So why the need for all these highly-paid specialists when a humble paediatrician can do the job just as well, eh? Forget convention, let's just have this colossus of global economic brilliance installed as Chief Executive of the DCLG, Financial Conduct Authority, Border Force, Prime Minister, Chairman of the World Trade Organisation, and, heck, why not Pope too?

Unless, of course, his opinion is tarnished by having been, I dunno, got at? Whaddya reckon?

Friday, 4 April 2014

A Seedy End To A Seedy Campaign

I suppose the campaign for plain packaging - riddled throughout as it was with cronyism, corruption and lies - could only possibly end with the same tawdry values being exhibited in the House of Commons itself.

Yesterday's post-statement debate has been well reported and can be read in full here, but a couple of contributions stand out for their jaw-dropping gall. Firstly, Jane Ellison in reply to our Phil.
No one is bringing forward measures to ban smoking; rather, we are all now able to show our support for measures that might have the potential to stop children taking up smoking. I cannot believe that he cannot agree with that. The vast majority of the public are with us, and I fear that in this case he is in danger, very rarely, of being an unpopular populist.
This is, of course, a lie. The government's own consultation document says so [page 31].

And one for the vapers from decrepit Newport anti-smoking/pro-drugs loon Paul Flynn (on Twitter here).
Of course, this is not a Conservative statement, because it is evidence-based, prejudice-free and intelligent. Will the Minister add further lustre to her reputation by starting an investigation into the potential danger of electronic cigarettes normalising smoking?
I think he means that it's not a Conservative statement precisely because the piss poor evidence behind it is policy-based, motivated purely by prejudice, and the statement itself strikingly unConservative and stupid beyond belief (unless the goal was to increase the Ukip vote). But Paul's old, bless 'im, perhaps he just got confused.

Still, on e-cigs he's sharp as a tack, already jumping at the chance to commission more policy-based evidence for the next illiberal and entirely unnecessary assault on the public he is supposed to be serving.

See, this is the main problem with politicians. They're venal and repulsive liars but we're not allowed to shoot them.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

What We Learned From Ellison And Chantler Today

We learned some interesting facts about the way our country is governed today.

We learned that politicians don't listen to honest argument or debate, and that the best way to sway them is to rig consultations and silence the opposition; we learned that people who encourage corrupt practices and make false claims are respected whereas the public is not; we learned that misrepresenting research is considered acceptable behaviour; we learned that MPs lying in parliamentary briefings and hiding meetings from public record is considered to be scrupulous governance; we learned that government lobbying government is spectacularly more likely to succeed than ordinary people expressing their opinion; and, above all, we learned that if you are a member of the electorate paying taxes to the state, you will be ignored, but if you are paid by the state to bully the public, the establishment will hang on your every word.

How else can you describe this ...

... translating into this?
The government is moving forward with plans to ban branding on cigarette packs, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison told MPs.
The commenters at the BBC article aren't conned by this folly - the highest rated are unanimously of the opinion that it is pointless and won't work - yet a spokesman for ASH claimed this evening that the policy enjoys "strong cross-party support in both houses".

Can you see a bit of a disconnect there? You know, perhaps a reason why voter turnouts are at an all-time low; hatred of politicians at an all-time high?

Unsurprisingly, Labour are fully behind the idea - they do so love depriving working class people of their meagre pleasures - but the plan was announced by a Tory minister, for crying out loud, the main coalition party led by a man who once proudly boasted of how "big bossy state interference is coming to an end" and, once elected, promised "no more of a government treating everyone like children", while Deputy Clegg vowed to "roll back the power of the state" and "restore British liberties".

So what compelling new evidence has convinced these fine, upstanding defenders of freedom to abandon their deeply-held beliefs, then? Well, I really haven't a clue. The Chantler review - as Snowdon points out - offers nothing new except an almost child-like trust of policy-led junk research produced by those who imagined, lobbied for, and whose salaries depend upon, hypnotising daft politicians into legislating for plain packs.

Chantler's methodology throughout is to categorically believe everything the tobacco control industry has ever published on the matter - even if, as he admits, much of it has limitations and some hasn't even been finalised or peer-reviewed - while dismissing every opposing item of evidence as "unconvincing" ... and citing tobacco control industry rebuttals as his reason for saying so!

As for the Tory front bench, they seem content to plough on with this despite their own backbenchers and supporters identifying it as bunkum, and without assessing wider issues as Jane Ellison promised in January.

Now, you could almost understand the public being ignored if the evidence being presented was so overwhelming that it merited public opinion being sidelined, but the Chantler review cannot remotely be described as such. Its summary declares that "research cannot prove conclusively" that plain packaging will work, but that Sir Cyril reckons - after having his ear bent by his tobacco control industry pals for four months - that it may have a "modest" effect. Surely, then, the best course of action would be - as was the wise conclusion last year - to wait and see how the real world experiment in Australia pans out ... especially since the British public are significantly opposed to it.

Or - and I know you're going to laugh at this - allowing us poor saps, who have to pay taxes for this shower of professional politicians, to have the casting vote considering the justification for it is so desperately poor and inconclusive.

Instead, it looks like we'll be ignored once again, as always. Not only that, one of Chantler's findings opens a can of worms which you will be seeing again and again as it is going to delight Alcohol Concern, Action on Sugar, and any number of other state-funded prohibitionists.
"The tobacco industry argues that all of its marketing activity, including packaging, aims solely to persuade existing adult smokers to switch brand and never targets children or new smokers. However, in my opinion, whatever their intent, it is not plausible that the effect of branded packaging is only to encourage brand switching amongst adult smokers, and never to encourage non-smokers from taking up smoking. I have heard no coherent argument as to how this purported separation occurs in practice and in my opinion a ‘spillover effect’ is highly plausible whereby packages that are designed to appeal to a young adult, also, albeit inadvertently, appeal to children. It seems to me that children and non-smokers are not, and cannot be, quarantined from seeing tobacco packaging and in my view once they are exposed to this packaging, they are susceptible to its appeal whether it is intended to target them or not. In the light of these and other considerations set out in my report I believe that branded packaging contributes to increased tobacco consumption."
This may as well have been written with other bansturbators in mind. If plain packaging is introduced as a result of Chantler's review, every repulsive prohibitionist the world over will be quoting it and saying - quite rightly - that the same applies to their particular consumer product.

When marketing aimed at adults is described as being impossible because "in practice" it "inadvertently" appeals to children who will be "susceptible to its appeal whether it is intended to target them or not", no marketing at adults will ever be possible and must therefore be banned.

And that is just one more thing we have learned about politicians today. Not only are they supremely incapable of resisting the lure of state-funded single issue lobbyists and contemptuous of the public who pay their wages, they are also astonishingly brilliant at inviting every miserable tax-sponging 'public health' crank to park their tank on the government's lawn.

Well done, Chantler and Ellison. You utter klutzes!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Welsh Minister Confirms It's Never Been About Health

He may, to borrow a phrase, have the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk and the analytical thinking skills of a mackerel, but I suppose I should be thanking this creature today.

A provincial pratt, pictured recently
You see, he has helped to categorically prove my long-held assertion that smoking bans have never, ever, had anything whatsoever to do with health.

From the BBC:
Wales could be the first part of the UK to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places. 
Ministers say they are responding to concern that the devices - which can contain nicotine - normalise smoking and undermine the smoking ban.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford (that's him up there - DP) said the aim was to address some of the nation's major public health challenges. 
"I have concerns about the impact of e-cigarettes on the enforcement of Wales' smoking ban. That's why we are proposing restricting their use in enclosed public places."
Concerns? Have you any proof, Mark, that e-cigs have any impact at all on enforcement? Wouldn't that be a prerequisite for installing illiberal legislation? Because I'm damned if I've ever read an article, anywhere, describing even one instance.
"I am also concerned that their use in enclosed public places could normalise smoking behaviour."
Err, wasn't the smoking ban solely and exclusively to prevent the huge piles of barmaids' bodies piled up in every town centre of a weekend due to second-hand smoke? That is, after all, the only possible justification for stealing private property rights outside of a fascist dictatorship, isn't it? In fact, the only argument which every politician pointed to as he/she ripped the guts out of the British pub trade a few years ago.

Back then, we were told over and over again that it wasn't an attempt to force smokers to quit; not an attempt to interfere in freedom of choice. Oh no, nothing could be further from the truth! This was purely a health matter, and certainly not social engineering or pandering to the selfish, intolerant and anti-social in society.

Has there been a load of debate today about how harmful second-hand e-cig vapour is to pub workers (who have no choice whatsoever but to work in a pub, of course)? Nope, not even a polite nod towards it. Was there even full and frank discussion about how people are dying from using e-cigs themselves? Well what do you think?

This would be because there is no smoking ban in the world which was designed to protect bar workers. Every single one was sold that way, yes, but was purely to bully and cajole smokers into quitting because 'public health' rent-seekers and politicians are nasty little control freaks who think they know what is best for us. Simples.

So thank you, Mark Drakeford, you lovely man, for giving us incontrovertible proof that it's not about health. When a policy is so ludicrous that even ban-friendly Guardian readers variously describe the proposer as muppet, twerp, paranoid, bonkers, idiot, dullard, plank and loon, it's clear that your fallacious reasoning is embarrassingly transparent and that the carefully-constructed lies have been rumbled.

Still, he's doing exactly as the unelected WHO has decreed for e-cigs so there'll probably be a generously-paid cushy job for him in the future. And that - not the public, not liberties and not wise governance - is the only thing which really interests modern politicians, isn't it?

UPDATE: This Drakeford guy is even more stupid than I first thought. Responding to the suggestion that banning vapers from using e-cigs indoors and instead banishing to the smoking area means they will encounter that horrid passive smoke, he came out with this!
"Of all the arguments that could be made against the idea of preventing the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces, I think that would be amongst the weakest I have ever heard. There is no obligation on anybody using an e-cigarette to go and use one next to someone using a conventional cigarette. They can use it anywhere else that they choose to use it. In their own homes, wherever else they might want to use it."
Yes, he really said that, scroll to 1:09:00 at BBC Radio Wales.