Tuesday, 2 September 2014

It's Not Targeting Kids If WE Do It

Blackpool stop smoking service don't seem to like e-cigs very much. Their Twitter feed seizes upon any negative news as soon as it is spotted so is festooned with scaremongering articles.

They also recently unveiled their new advert.

Or, in other words, "don't use a nicotine inhaler you bought yourself without salaried help ...use one which we are paid by the state to give you for free!".

But, err, haven't they nicked the idea from somewhere?

Well, yes they have, but I'm sure Johnson & Johnson - makers of Nicorette - are no doubt right now compiling cease and desist letters aimed at Blackpool SSS for their blatant plagiarism, eh?

Interestingly, the Amazon page advertising this product offers some usage advice.
Directions: For adults and children 12 years and over.
So with all the 'glitzy' packaging, pretty colours and nice minty flavours which kids love, how better for Blackpool SSS to advertise their services than with cuddly toys and bouncy castles, eh?

Because nicotine isn't dangerous and needn't be hidden away from kids if the state is paying Big Pharma for it.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Another Desperate Throw Of The Plain Packs Dice

In the same week that the WHO came out in the open and admitted that their FCTC is nothing whatsoever to do with health by advocating e-cig bans, it's important to remember that this is not a new phenomenon. The tobacco control industry has done nothing but mislead and connive for decades and is still doing so with the utterly pointless but potentially damaging plain packaging folly.

The campaign in the UK was a master class of obfuscation, corrupt practice and astonishing lies, while the global prohibitionist pursuit of non-existent evidence in favour of the policy consisted of sleights of hand such as deliberately-designed junk science, ignoring the children who are supposed to be 'protected' by plain packs, and declaring triumph because a few people thought about quitting, but was thwarted by even the NHS and the Australian Medical Association admitting that there really isn't any credible evidence to speak of.

And when the most salient statistic of all was produced by the the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - a 36% increase in daily smoking amongst Australian kids - professional tobacco control advocates simply pretended it didn't exist!

So desperate are these charlatans that efforts have now sunk to what publicists would call "playing in the opposition playground"; in other words, discarding positive campaigning and instead trying to discredit the valid arguments of the opposition. This, in PR terms, is as near as dammit to admitting defeat and a tactic which saw the pro-AV campaign in 2011 descend into shambles.

First up was Anna "rent-a-study" Gilmore with a study so weak that even the BBC and Guardian refused to pick it up, so this week has seen them try again with an article in the integrity-free BMJ. You can probably guess what the study (link here) was supposed to report by the declaration of its funding.
This study was supported by Quit Victoria with funding from VicHealth and the Department of Health for the Victorian Smoking and Health annual survey.
But it might surprise you how hilariously pathetic these things can be, even for a blatant piece of policy-led propaganda. You see, it was a telephone poll of (average) 650 people in just one Australian state which attempted to disprove claims that plain packaging will encourage criminal counterfeiters. A very difficult thing to do considering the Sun newspaper collected video evidence in June of an ecstatic Indonesian fake cig manufacturer describing how his business will benefit from plain packaging legislation.

So how did our tobacco control industry professionals manage to create headlines such as this from the perennially gullible BBC?
'Plain' packaging not a boost to illegal tobacco use, study suggests
Well, it's quite simple really, as the NHS Choices website - to its immense credit - pointed out today.
But this study did not investigate whether there had been an increase in the use of counterfeit branded tobacco products. The researchers noted that smokers may be unaware they are smoking counterfeit products.
That's right. They avoided the inconvenient massive increase in counterfeit tobacco detailed in a substantial KPMG report last year by not studying counterfeit tobacco at all! Instead, they only focussed on legal low-cost Asian brands and completely ignored the smuggling of illegal brands.

Branded contraband and counterfeit cigarettes, as well as brands that are produced purely for smuggling, are widely reported to be the largest portion of the black market in tobacco in Australia, which is what the police and HMRC are afraid of being replicated in the UK. So these tobacco control movers and shakers 'disproved' the fears by, err, avoiding addressing them entirely.

This, according to tax-funded anti-smoking (or is it anti-nicotine now) cranks, is what passes for compelling evidence these days.

Still, they got their headline so the truth can go hang as long as the gravy train rolls on a little longer, eh?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dick's Newsround

I'm just back from the south of France after a few days away so have been catching up with some news headlines.

Poroshenko: Ukraine 'close to point of no return'
Baroness Ashton said there was "deep concern" over "direct aggression by Russian forces". She called on Russia to stop the flow of arms, equipment and personnel into Ukraine. 
As she arrived at the talks in Brussels, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Russia was "practically in a war against Europe". 
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the EU faced "a completely unacceptable situation of having Russian troops on Ukrainian soil. Consequences must follow if that situation continues".
French President Francois Hollande said the Ukraine crisis was the biggest since the end of the Cold War. 
He said: "What's happening in Ukraine is so serious that the European Council will be obliged to react by increasing the level of sanctions if things remain as they are."
MH17 crash: John Alder's body identified
Mr Alder, who was 63, died alongside fellow Newcastle fan Liam Sweeney and 296 others when the plane was shot down over Ukraine on 17 July. 
Western politicians suspect the jet was hit by a Russian surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists.
Ukraine overshadows EU summit
EU leaders have been meeting in Brussels to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, threatening to impose fresh sanctions against Russia.
Unelected World Health Organisation officials still proud to hold summit in Russia
Tobacco control industry professionals from around the world are looking forward to their sightseeing tour of Moscow in October. "Russia is a model tobacco control nation and not a basket case at all", says spokesperson.
OK, I may have made the last one up.

Friday, 29 August 2014

The WHO Goes In To Bat For Big Pharma

Well, the World Health Organisation has finally come out of the closet and admitted that its Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the transnational pharmaceutical industry.

We've kinda known this for a while but it has always previously posed as being concerned with health by attacking tobacco. However, once again e-cigs have thrown a huge spanner in the works and the WHO has been forced to reveal its hand in the most shameful of ways.
The World Health Organisation is recommending a ban on using e-cigarettes in public indoor spaces because of fears over second-hand smoke.

It also says e-cigarette solutions with fruit, sweet-like and alcohol-based flavours – which may appeal to children – should be taken off the shelves and vending machines should be removed in almost all locations.

The ban on indoors use should be put in place “until exhaled vapour is proven to be not harmful to bystanders,” the group said.

A variety of flavours which draw users away from the taste of tobacco, and the ability to vape in many locations are the two most attractive qualities of e-cigs which make them viable. Without this there are only two options, either a huge unregulated black market or a mass migration – and I'm talking literally millions of people here – back to smoking tobacco.

This is proof positive – as if we've ever really needed it since the previous evidence-free assault on snus – that the hysterical anti-tobacco movement has never been about health (as many commenters to the linked article seem to be starting to recognise) but is driven in large part by corporatist defence of pharma industry profits from supplying the nicotine market.

Note too the methods being used here. They fabricated fear of the non-existent dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke, but have been unsuccessfully scratching around trying to find something with which to kill e-cigs too. They strove, they searched, they came up blank … so decided just to tell a load of lies again, as Prof Gerry Stimson observed on Tuesday
WHO’s mission is to save lives and prevent disease but once again it is exaggerating the risks of e-cigarettes, while downplaying the huge potential
The WHO position paper appears to have cherry-picked the science, used unnecessary scaremongering and misleading language about the effects of nicotine.

Just the same old same 'ole from tobacco control. Well, it worked last time so what can go wrong, they guess. The difference is that no-one is going to buy it; passive vaping is quite simply a non-starter, even a hypochondriac is going to struggle to find the energy to be mildly perturbed. It's quite simply not a thing, nor ever will be.

And kids, of course, the old staple. Banning fruit flavours because kids like fruit (and adults never do, oh no) but also banning alcohol flavours because even though adults consume alcohol they, err, also attract kids? It's incoherent codswallop and the public will spot it a mile off.

Sadly, the public don't get a look in - fuckwitted politicians do. So we can expect blind, ignorant caution to prevail and bans to appear all over the world. If so, history will judge these people as some of the most hypocritical, avaricious, irresponsible, dangerous and disgusting ever to have walked the Earth.

I've mentioned before that this year's WHO 'COP6' summit in Moscow is endorsing Putin's Russia while the rest of the world is imposing sanctions, but on this evidence the tobacco control industry and the pharma-shilling WHO have chosen the perfect venue location. They're a global disgrace and belong there with the bigoted, the corrupt and the inhumane.

On the plus side, trust in the WHO and their professional tobacco control hordes can only evaporate amongst right-minded people thanks to this incredible development. There's always a silver lining, eh?  

Monday, 25 August 2014

Drafting A Smoking In Cars Consultation Response

Last month I suggested we might have a bash at the consultation on smoking in cars which ends at midnight on Wednesday. Two fellow jewel robbers have already done just that and shared their responses, but if you fancied giving the DoH a piece of your mind as well, full details and the online submission form are at this link.

Much like our contributions to the plain packaging consultation (twice) and the one on minimum alcohol pricing, you may find it helpful to see the questions before you begin. So here they are.
1. The regulations make it an offence to smoke in an enclosed private vehicle when there is more than one person present and a person under the age of 18 is present. This offence would fall on the person smoking regardless of their age. Do you have any comments on this approach?
The obvious comment is that this is just the latest proof that government funded 'charities' and other professional bansturbators are afforded far too much respect. Last I heard there was supposed to be a distaste from this coalition about "government lobbying government" but that is exactly what this is. No-one, but no-one, apart from state-financed organisations and fellow rent-seekers demanded this ban.

What's more, they have done so with some of the most disgraceful junk science the tobacco control industry has ever produced, which is quite an achievement. Only the hilarious nonsense surrounding thirdhand smoke (ha!) comes even close. We've seen smoky cars compared with smokefree bars; deliberate misrepresentation of 24 hour 'hazardous' levels as being applicable for a few minutes exposure; and, of course, blatantly fabricated lies, regurgitated by serial liars which are so appalling they're required the unusual step of quiet retraction. For that alone they should be ignored, but especially when they are trying to implement behaviour controls on privately owned property.

You could also point out that open-topped vehicles would be exempt, but not a car with every window open and a gale blowing through it at 70mph. Apparently, that thin piece of aluminium over the top has magical properties which demand tiny smoke particles disobey the laws of physics. A more silly law it is difficult to imagine.

There are other anomalies which big government will make a balls-up of too. Will a 17 year old smoker be fined for lighting up in their own car with their 18 year old smoking mates? Well, of course they will. Will police be tasked with stopping all cars containing smoking teens to see if one of them is underage so they can fine the driver? Of course they will. Will police be bound to stop cars with tinted windows just to check there are no asphyxiated kids in the back? Who knows? I'll bet the police are going to be over the moon at the confusion which will reign once dozy MPs have engaged their tiny brains and passed this into law.

By Christ, even Nick Clegg can see it's a pitifully pointless idea which hasn't got a chance of working! Why has so much time and taxpayer cash been wasted on it already in straitened times?

Which leads us neatly onto ...
2. Do you have any comments regarding the proposal for the new offences to apply to caravans and motor caravans when they are being used as vehicles but not when they are being used as homes?
Doesn't that just make the entire thing a piece of sublime comedy?

Think about that. It's not dangerous to smoke in a caravan when it is stationary - or the government believe it is none of their business to intervene - but it is extremely dangerous when moving, or the government believe that private property ceases to be so when the wheels are moving. Of course, the same doesn't apply to a car, because the proposals state that even if the car is stationary on a grass verge or in a car park the smoke is still lethal ... err, unlike in a caravan. Got that? The mind boggles (or is it not really about health, whaddya reckon?).

Their wriggling over caravans is, of course, politicians still trying to pretend that they're not imposing on your liberties and that they wouldn't even contemplate banning you from smoking in your own home. Except when they debate in Westminster about doing exactly that.
3. Do you have any comments about the intentions regarding the enforcement of the proposed regulations?
I don't know what the "intentions" are regarding enforcement except to pander to state-funded finger-waggers and advance their illiberal denormalisation campaigns, but if there was any other intention it could well have been to introduce the precedent of the police enforcing public health industry demands for the first time in our history, as I have mentioned here before.

The police, quite simply, should not be burdened by the increased workload of overseeing the career advancement of professional prohibitionist cranks.

It is also scandalous that local council workers are sniffing an opportunity for a new empire to build, presumably attracted by the possibility of more taxpayer funds with which to insert themselves into our lives. So much for public sector austerity and the end of "big bossy state interference", eh?
4. Do you want to draw to our attention to any issues on the practicalities of implementing the regulations as drafted?
What, apart from their being unworkable; unenforceable; laughable; and a slippery slope to banning smoking in all cars, as has been the intention all along? That even the impact assessment admits that it will lead to smokers stopping more often (cars pulling up on the hard shoulder of the M6 on bank holiday weekends, anyone?) and that there is an obvious danger of drivers shifting attention from the road to smoking covertly? I'm wondering if MPs have ever even heard the term "unintended consequences". And for what? A zero improvement in the health of kids but a distinct possibility of handing even more power to anti-social smoke-haters and endorsing righteous road rage. Not to mention the fact that e-cigs will be included fairly soon afterwards - if not in the original drafting - to eradicate 'confusion' and aid enforcement.

The bully state at its most perverse.
5. Do you have any additional evidence that banning smoking in private vehicles when children are present would contribute to reducing health inequalities and/or help us fulfil our duties under the Equality Act 2010?
The usual 'equality' question. Dear God! I remember when laws were assessed for efficacy, value for money, impact on freedom and whether it was really worth it. Now, a Tory-led government is wondering if a pointless law will unfairly affect one protected group over another.

And how banning smoking in private vehicles will reduce health inequalities is anyone's guess, even the impact assessment glosses over it with a sentence that basically says they haven't much of a clue. But then, 'health inequalities' is only a term used by prohibitionists to mask the fact their policy suggestions are almost exclusively regressive and designed to punish working class people. Sounds better than "attacking the choices of the less well off" doesn't it?
6. Do you have any evidence that would inform the consultation-stage impact assessment including any evidence or information which would improve any of the assumptions or estimates we have made in the consultation-stage impact assessment?
The impact assessment is an incredible document which starts with all the aforementioned tobacco control junk science on this issue and simply runs it all through a Casio calculator from Poundland, I recommend you brew a cuppa and read it in its entirety. My personal favourite was the assertion that only 31% of under 18s are able to ask their parents to stop smoking - I wasn't aware that youth incompetence in the UK was so widespread!

I can offer no more advice than to pick out whatever makes you laugh/cry/scream and put that in writing in your response.

If you feel like making a submission, you can do so at the online form or by emailing smokefreevehicles@dh.gsi.gov.uk by midnight Wednesday (which reminds me, I think carriages are covered but not pumpkins).

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Who's Paying WHO?

As we count down the days until the tobacco kontrol klan's next excuse to waste our money - the Sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC (aka COP6) to be held in Moscow later this year - it's been very interesting to look through some of the material which has been placed online in advance.

For the uninitiated, this is a regular event where state-funded anti-smokers from all over the world congregate to think up even more pointless batshit ideas like plain packaging. The last one was in South Korea in 2012, at which topics such as a global tobacco tax and classifying e-cigs as tobacco products were seriously considered.

These two subjects are almost certain to crop up again. In fact, the proposal on e-cigs is a gimme seeing as the WHO has been desperately trying to hide its own documents by sending cease and desist letters to websites which dare to report their plans.

So who pays for this stuff, I hear you ask? Well, you do, mostly. The Framework Convention Alliance (of which ASH is a member, by the way) has produced a budget and workplan in advance of their endorsement of the gay and passenger airline-bashing Russian state.

The document itself charts how the amount spent has more than doubled while funding from VACs - that's supporting governments to you and me - has not. In fact, the sums demanded by the WHO have often been ignored, with 20 countries not having paid a penny. It's good to see from the breakdown that the UK is in arrears by over £300k from a total of around £8m, but if you're from the USA you should thump your chest and sing the star-spangled banner as your government has refused to recognise the FCTC and has therefore paid the princely sum of bugger all. Ever.

This all causes a bit of a problem for the professional anti-smoking community, because dictating to the world - to pay for their cars, holidays and mortgages - comes at a big cost and cannot be restrained by silly concepts like living within their means.

Therefore, they have been forced to raise cash elsewhere, as they describe here.
The FCTC budget has more than doubled over the last seven years, increasing from $8,010,000 for the 2006-2007 biennium to $17,290,000 for 2014-2015
The total amount of Voluntary Assessed Contributions(VACs), however, did not follow this trend. VACs rose by only 12 percent in this period, while the number of Parties increased by over 50 percent. In practical terms, the larger number of Parties led to an expansion of the workplan, for which resources had to be fundraised.
Or, put in a table ...

It does kinda beg the question ... who is paying for that other 47.4% which the WHO euphemistically calls "extrabudgetary funds"? By my reckoning, it amounts to in the region of $8.5 million.

Hmm, I wonder who these phantom donors could be, huh? Sadly, even the FCA don't appear to know.
Detailed information on the fundraising strategy of the Secretariat and its progress is not available.
I'd have thought that such information is pretty darn important when we're talking about a conference which is trying to enforce rules on 176 different jurisdictions without a single vote having been cast in their direction. Because, if you're chipping in that amount of cash, I'd expect you'd demand a certain amount of control over the agenda, wouldn't you? But then, transparency has never been the FCTC's strong point.
Activities related to assistance with FCTC implementation have so far been funded exclusively by extra-budgetary income.
Activities such as proposing global tobacco taxation and classifying e-cigs as tobacco products which would advantage sellers of alternative nicotine delivery systems to tobacco and vaping, do you think they mean?

I suppose we shall have to wait and see, shan't we.