Wednesday, 19 July 2017

"Get Him Off The Island, Export The Problem"


Over the years, I've written a fair amount about John Dalli, the former Maltese EU health commissioner who was sacked over an allegation that he solicited bribes from Swedish Match to overturn the snus ban. The whole affair was very murky (you can read my articles about it here) and was never fully resolved, but the BBC have just aired a programme that investigates the case by talking to Dalli himself.

Along with eventually maintaining the ridiculous and damaging EU ban on snus, Dalli was also reported to have once said that e-cigs are "just as bad as traditional cigarettes" and he makes the same claim briefly at the start of this show. Allegations of crookedness aside, what comes across in this 60 minute film is just how incredibly incompetent the guy is. Yet, before his ignominious dismissal he was entrusted to deliver the TPD for 500 million people and was backed by the European tobacco control industry who never questioned him.

I would heartily recommend you pour yourself your favourite beverage and watch the show, Storyville: The Great European Cigarette Mystery, by clicking here



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Order In The Popcorn For The North West


So, the UK government's tobacco control plan (TCP) was finally published today. I've had a read of it and was going to write a few words about the whole thing but I'd instead direct you to Snowdon for an overall critique, and NNA for a short but sweet viewpoint of the vaping elements.

Instead, let's talk about some people in north west England for whom the TCP must have come as a bit of a nasty pill to swallow.

You see, if you live in Blackpool, you have my sympathy. You may not have heard of him, but these are the expert opinions of your Director of 'Public Health' about vaping.
Arif Rajpura, director of Public Health in Blackpool, said: “I know one view is it’s less harmful and that’s why people have gone down the line of almost promoting them as a harm reduction opportunity".
One view? No, it is the only view because even the most swivel-eyed extremists in tobacco control admit that it is less harmful. This is not a debatable thing, it is fact. How incredible is it that a DPH is unaware of that? Christ! Even his own stop smoking services will be aware of guidance given to them about this, has he even read it?
“I can’t categorically say they are less harmful, because I don’t know what the long-term impact is.”
Jeez, someone paint a clown nose on this fella. With hysterical caution such as this, he may as well advise the public to never exit their front door because there is a tiny risk you may get hit by a bus crashing through the rose bushes. Even he were to put on his most stupid of stupid sceptic hats, he could still confidently say that after almost a decade of vaping, no related health problems have been documented in vapers, and the evidence to date shows that vaping is substantially safer than smoking.

It smacks of someone sitting firmly on the fence, getting a nice salary and being an arse.

But then, perhaps that's why Blackpool under his charge is a bit of a black sheep amongst tobacco controllers.
In 2016, Blackpool remained in the top 10 of local authorities ranked by smoking prevalence, where it has been since 2012. In 2016, there were 22.5% of adults aged 18 and over in Blackpool who currently smoked, a figure that was around 7 percentage points higher than that observed among all adult respondents in the UK.
You stick with your failed nonsense if you like, Arif, but you're becoming an embarrassing outlier.

But remember that the north west is also home to long-time anti-vaping propagandist, Simon Capewell, as well as Robin Ireland and his Healthy Stadia group which - by spreading misinformation and junk science liberally - is responsible for e-cigs being banned inside and outside of every Premier League and Aviva Premiership rugby ground in the country.

Oh, and let's not forget the legendary John Ashton, who - on a memorable Saturday night back in 2014 - got extremely, erm, tired and emotional and went into an extraordinary online trolling session against vapers who were merely trying to counter his execrable, repugnant garbage about e-cigs.

So what is this we see in the TCP today?
4. Backing evidence based innovations to support quitting
We are committed to evidence-based policy making, so we aim to: 
• Help people to quit smoking by permitting innovative technologies that minimise the risk of harm.
Maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking
The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products
[...] 
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
[...] 
PHE will update their evidence report on e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery systems annually until the end of the Parliament in 2022 and will include within quit smoking campaigns messages about the relative safety of e-cigarettes.
Ha! These are your orders, Rajpura, Capewell, Ireland & Ashton. You are now required to include e-cigs in your literature and actively promote vaping, even be nice to vapers too! To borrow a phrase, "the buggers are legal now", so how's them apples, huh?

This is going to go down like a cup of cold sick in the north west, so get the popcorn in. You see, this is the type of thing the collection of vape-denying cocksplats and shitgoblins will have to say from now on.
[T]he evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco. The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products.
No more shit-posting innuendo and lies; no more sly corrupt editorials in the Lancet; no more cherry-picking junk science to tweet in order to undermine trust in vaping. This is government policy now, so be supportive or get out of the industry.

All that's left for vapers to do is pick a bag of sweet or salty, sit back, and enjoy the schadenfreude. 



Monday, 17 July 2017

Evidence, Did You Say?

For curiosity, here's a Guardian article from 2015:
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health, said there was no evidence to support claims that depriving prisoners of tobacco could lead to riots.
Oh really?
Inmates are rioting over a new smoking ban in prisons
Inmates are staging riots over a new Government ban on smoking in prisons, which is seeing tobacco steadily phased out. 
A ban on tobacco cigarettes is now being slowly introduced into prisons, with several jails already having banned them outright. 
Others, meanwhile, are preparing to be completely smoke-free by September. 
One recent inmate of Drake Hall Women’s Prison told Metro.co.uk that she was dismayed to see how the smoking ban had changed the atmosphere in the jail. 
She said: ‘We got all the leaflets about how the ban was going to happen – first the shop would stop selling tobacco, and then the total ban would come in.
‘Within the first week of the shop stopping selling it there was a riot. Loads of prisoners refused to go back to their cells and it was mayhem. 
‘There were women screaming and shouting, sitting on the roofs of blocks. After it calmed down a lot of those involved were transferred, probably to prisons where they can smoke.
Well there is now, Debs. And the ban hasn't even started properly yet!
Former prisoner, academic and blogger Alex Cavendish told Metro.co.uk: ‘Hard core nicotine addicts know that they only need to cause trouble for staff before they are “shipped out” to another establishment. 
The real test, he said, will come when the category B jails go smoke-free.
File Arnott's prisons claim alongside the bullshit that says no pubs closed since the smoking ban.

One day tobacco controllers might embrace the real world so we can live in a better place. Until then, government will continue funding them as they talk crap and harm people. 



Saturday, 15 July 2017

Cowardice In The Face Of Bravery

I have consistently said on these pages - since around 2010 - that e-cigs have the potential to show up the cant and oleaginous hypocrisy of the tobacco control industry. There have been numerous examples of this over the years but a spectacular episode this week in Australia has left all others in the shade.

As Snowdon has remarked, so exasperated are Australia's tobacco control extremists at the relentless advance of vaping, that they have now taken to slandering ordinary vapers and implying they are - every single of them - nothing but shills for the tobacco industry.

It has come about since the Australian government invited submissions to a public inquiry which, quite reasonably, over a hundred vapers accepted and told their stories of how they switched from tobacco to e-cigs (see the inquiry report here). Faced with an avalanche of common sense which threatens to encourage e-cigs to be legalised down under, serial merchant of doubt Simon Chapman started slinging mud and articles such as this emerged in many Australian news organisations.
Exposed: big tobacco's behind-the-scenes 'astroturf' campaign to change vaping laws
World renowned tobacco control expert [sic] Simon Chapman, an emeritus professor at the University of Sydney, said Philip Morris and other interest groups were "astroturfing" - trying to create the illusion of a big grass-roots pro-vaping movement that does not really exist.
This is a quite remarkable direct attack on the public by the geriatric industry-hater. There is absolutely no reason why vapers should not be submitting their stories, in fact it would be exactly what the government would want to see. And, as Terry Barnes points out in the Speccie, public engagement is to be applauded however it comes about.
These people don’t lightly come out of the woodwork, but this is a big thing for them.
Indeed it is. Possession of nicotine is (stupidly) a crime in Australia, so it is incredibly brave of these people to respond in such a way to a consultation such as this. For many, it will have been the very first time they have engaged with the political process, yet Chapman - in an act of cowardice which is in direct contrast to the bravery of the vapers he is attacking - has attempted to slander and demonise them for doing so.
Like me, they share views unpalatable to the public health wowsers: vaping is almost certainly a far lower risk activity than tobacco smoking, the scientific evidence in its favour is mounting, and that if we are serious about harm reduction we should follow Britain, Canada and New Zealand and legalise nicotine vaping on a sensibly regulated basis, not prohibit it as Australia does now.  That they’re prepared to declare themselves should be respected, not denigrated. 
How they became aware of the inquiry is neither here nor there.
Quite.

It is also worth noting that none of the ordinary vapers who responded will have been paid for doing so, yet Chapman has made a career out of being a professional anti-smoker, as have all other gobshites who publish articles which try to tarnish e-cigs. So for him to bandy the term 'astroturf' around is quite astounding.

This is, pathetically, yet another piece of evidence that proves many in the tobacco control industry have no care for health whatsoever. They simply hate the tobacco industry, despise smokers, and are frantic with anger that some have escaped punishment by their hideous and sadistic 'control' methods. If you don't wear the hair shirt and suffer, they will despise you even more than if you carry on smoking.

As Carl Phillips brilliantly identified in 2015, Chapman and his lumpen-brained hangers-on in Australia are nothing but vile, bitter extremists.
The test for anti-tobacco extremism is the answer to the following question: If you could magically change the world so that either (a) there was no use of tobacco products or (b) people could continue to enjoy using tobacco but there was a cheap magic pill that they could take to eliminate any excess disease risk it caused, which would you choose? Anyone who would choose (a) over (b) takes anti-tobacco to its logical extreme, making clear that they object to the behavior, not its effects.
Tobacco control had been reaching increasingly high levels of indecency in the past decade or so, but with this disgusting attack from Chapman, they have raised the bar even further.

He and those who think like him are a real danger to society in more ways than one, so well done to anyone who submitted to the Australian inquiry; we can only hope that the Australian government do the right thing and treat his pathetic smears with the utter contempt that they deserve. 



Thursday, 6 July 2017

WATCH: Prohibitionists Always Lose

Christ! I have so much to write but so little time to do so. My calendar for the next week looks packed so there may be very little on these pages for a while, but here's something I can thoroughly recommend.

While in Warsaw at GFN last month, the keynote speaker was Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. He has worked for a very long time in the field of harm reduction in relation to illicit drugs so his expertise is very much transferable to the tobacco and nicotine debate.

Tobacco controllers have been claiming for years that the idea of THR - tobacco harm reduction - is just a tobacco industry ruse, and that it is a distraction. Don't listen to it, they say, it's all a con. Well no, actually, it is a real area of anthropological research and has been a for a very long time. It's just that tobacco control prohibitionists don't like it because it actively resists prohibition as a proven historical failure.

In Warsaw Nadelmann - an excellent speaker - delivered a 35 minute speech which was passionate and brilliantly engaging.

He talked about the folly of "the smokefree crusade" and how extremists in tobacco control want to (stupidly) make nicotine illegal. He talked about how public health "can sometimes be a totalitarian ideology" and that human rights should also apply to people who choose to consume less than healthy products. He railed against stigma and dehumanisation being used as a tool against the public, and spoke about how harm reduction is the only moral way of dealing with psychoactive substances that the human race has been drawn to for millennia. He touched on the demonisation of drugs, and tobacco, being linked to class snobbery, and how the puritan mentality is a "fascistic quasi-religious" movement which strives to accuse anyone defending the "deviant minority" to be "pro-drug", and "paid by industry" while refusing to recognise proper science and cost/benefit analysis. And lastly, urged that smoking should never, ever be made illegal because - and history proves he is correct - "prohibitionists always lose" and government policies, driven my moral panic, are actually very harmful and are often "killing people".

It should - if they have any care about doing the right thing - have made many of the tired, lazy, unimaginative prohibition-led tobacco controllers in the audience, with thoughts of the tobacco 'endgame' in their heads, shift uneasily in their seats.

So pour yourself your favourite bevvy and sit back for 35 minutes to hear a whole load of common sense. I think you'll enjoy it.





Monday, 3 July 2017

ASH's 10th Anniversary Begging Letter

As others have noted, the 10th anniversary of the most spiteful and damaging social engineering exercise England has ever seen - otherwise known as the smoking ban - slid past with surprisingly little fanfare from the tax-spongers in tobacco control. What there was of it, though, was mendacious cobblers as is to be expected.

What I found most curious, though, was the strange approach taken by ASH. Instead of relying on the reams of execrable and scientifically worthless junk research they and their pals routinely peddle, they chose instead to release a strange report referring to polls they have commissioned over the years from YouGov.

Now, any poll commissioned from YouGov by ASH should be treated with a huge pinch of salt considering its erstwhile President up to 2016 is also a member of ASH's board of trustees. His screaming bias has been on plain view for many years; he chaired ASH's editorial board for their 2008 'Smoking Kills' report, and has written openly to politicians and the public to demand support for prohibitionist laws. So a report packed full of such polls should be approached with extreme caution, as Sir Humphrey once explained.

Nevertheless, ASH's report was very illuminating. I say report, but it could more accurately be described as a commentary on how tobacco control bullshit has been swallowed whole by a largely under-informed public.

It tells us that ASH have been successful in turning a tolerant public into an intolerant one. This speaks volumes more about the disgusting nature of ASH than it does about the public. Each poll was followed by a further avalanche of trademark tobacco control media manipulation and the public tested again the following year. When the results were not compelling enough, poll questions were changed, and I fully expect junk science ramped up and targeted to bring a more favourable set of figures next time round.

ASH's choice of celebratory message is interesting too, why a review of their own polls? (They avoid entirely, of course, polls of equal provenance saying a majority still believe there should be an amendment to the smoking ban to allow separate smoking rooms). Well, the whole thing just reeks of rent-seeking from an organisation which has spent the past year demanding a new 'Tobacco Control Plan' that the government is slow in providing. As Snowdon highlighted last week, this is causing consternation at Misery HQ.
But ASH are now in a quandary. There hasn't been a Tobacco Control Plan for England for a year and a half. If there's no plan, how can ASH support it? And if there's nothing to support, why is the government giving them so much of our money? What have they been doing with the £250,000 or so that they have been given by the state in the last year and a half? 
It is only a matter of time before someone asks these questions. That, I suspect, is why ASH are getting so hot and bothered at the moment.
Indeed. What better way, then, to nudge MPs further than by releasing a résumé of their 'successful' lobbying, referencing their most trusted of biased sources, which screams "look at us and give us money cos we deserve it!" and "just imagine how much more we could could torture smokers if you did!".

With that goal in mind, in their boastful arrogance they have had to go out on a limb to attract MPs' attention, which has been very revealing.

For example, in the section on plain packs.
"Although the policy was principally designed to deter young people from starting smoking, existing smokers’ dislike of the redesigned packs is an additional benefit of the policy."
No, it was the ONLY reason for the policy, as tobacco controllers will admit privately - in fact, ASH do later in their document - but considering politicians were told it was solely to deter young people from smoking, ASH emphasise this to make absolutely sure MPs haven't missed it. If you have a {cough} friendly poll, you don't have to go into the evidence which is far less convincing with plain packs ... for the simple reason that it has been a damp squib where it has been tried before (eh, Australia?) and will continue to be so here in the UK.

There is also a proud shout-out to smoker-hating bullies in parliament, by boasting about how totalitarian ASH are in attacking law-abiding members of the public consuming a legal product.
"‘Denormalisation’ is a clumsy word but it captures the reality of what has happened:"
No, denormalisation is a fascist word, and ASH are fascists for thinking it is a decent thing to encourage. Their hideous fans may be ecstatic at the new environment where it is now almost government-approved to shit on smokers, but it doesn't make it right. It just tells us that ASH are indecent and exactly the kind of people we should ostracise from society well before smokers.

In the absence of a tobacco control plan to tailor their future plans towards, then, their report also sees ASH detail what they would like to do in the next ten years, again backed up by their pet pollster.
"In the ten years since 2007, smoking prevalence in the adult population in England fell from 21% to 15.5%. This is a major achievement but smoking remains a huge burden on the health of the nation: 6.3 million adults still smoke in England. The following proposals for further action are supported by a majority of the public: 
- licensing the sale of tobacco products, supported by 76% of respondents in 2017;
- banning smoking in all cars, supported by 62% of respondents in 2017;
- charging tobacco companies a levy to fund stop smoking services and preventive work with young people, supported by 71% of respondents in 2017."
You'll note that there is no proposal for relaxing the rules on e-cigs which ASH demanded. Only more coercion and bullying. Attacking small businesses; attacking smokers; attacking industry. Absolutely nothing to enhance the free market option which has been the defining success of the past decade, a success which ASH tried their very best to strangle at birth and continue to subtlely undermine.

They, instead, focus on the old, failed, policies of bullying and coercion.
"There is a strong case for licensing the sale of tobacco products in order that local authorities and the police can act swiftly against those who abuse current regulations, especially in relation to underage sales."
They already have powers. All a licensing scheme will do is give powers to the authorities to act without any proof of wrongdoing. As fascist an idea as you can possibly imagine. This would be yet another burden on small retailers, many of whom could go out of business as a result, and it will undoubtedly force others to stop selling tobacco because of the increased overhead. It is a fundamentally nasty idea designed solely to use the bullying of small businesses to restrict supply of a legal product to smokers. No fewer packs will be sold, but it will suit large supermarkets down to the ground.

Having destroyed local communities by taking away their pubs, now ASH want to handicap or destroy their local shops too, and for no health benefit whatsoever.

Side note: ASH have already done the same by supporting article 20 of the TPD which imposes huge costs on vaping businesses. Dressed up as caring for 'the children', their legislation against e-cigs is exactly the same as they are proposing with tobacco licences and they know very well that some e-cigs businesses have gone to the wall because of it, so they will know very well that this proposal will kill off some corner shops too. But they simply don't care.

They also have no care whatsoever about personal liberties.
"A ban on smoking in all cars would address this universal risk while also eliminating the risks caused by the distraction of smoking while driving."
So finally they admit that it wasn't about 'the children' after all.

More bullying, and a complete disregard for personal property rights. If someone pays £20k for a car it should be up to them what happens in it, not ASH. This was another appalling piece of sophistry from ASH, the ban on smoking was never about children, and they only now admit it once they feel their salaries are threatened. What vile people they really are!
"Public support for a ban on smoking in all cars has grown since the policy was first presented to respondents of the ASH Smokefree England survey in 2009. Then, overall support stood at 45%. Ten years later, this had increased to 62%"
This just says to me that 62% of those YouGov surveyed are repulsive, interfering snobs, but ASH are actually proud of it! They have, as I have maintained for a decade now, managed to turn the country from a largely tolerant one, into one which now believes it is legitimate to tell other people what they can and can't do in their own fucking car. ASH has always catered to the most disgusting in society, and this signals that they will continue to do so in the future. Basically, if you're an anti-social hateful bigot, ASH has got your back.

Lastly, the attack on industry.
"The [polluter pays] levy is a relatively new idea and was only tested out in the 2017 ASH Smokefree England survey. Respondents were asked whether they would support or oppose a measure ‘requiring tobacco manufacturers to pay a levy or licence fee to Government for measures to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking’. Overall, 71% of respondents in England supported this measure."
It was tested out in the 2017 poll because ASH had already demanded this levy and were knocked back by the government in 2015. So now they are trying to play the emotional blackmail card by asking a question with "tobacco companies" and "young people" in juxtaposition.

However, there are very good reasons why the idea of a levy is desperate barrel-scraping from ASH. Firstly, it's impossible to extract money out of tobacco companies which are not based in the UK, and secondly those that are would be financially hampered so much that they'd be tempted to move elsewhere. Government would be bonkers to risk losing two of the country's top performing FTSE companies in the middle of an austerity debate when they are under pressure to find funding. Besides, why would they need to? The 2015 budget commentary described why it isn't even remotely necessary anyway.
"Analysis of the responses shows that the impact of a tobacco levy on the tobacco market would be similar to a duty rise, with tobacco manufacturers and importers passing the levy onto consumer prices," the government said in its budget. 
"As tobacco duties have already increased this year and will continue to increase by more than inflation each year in this parliament, the government has decided not to introduce a levy on manufacturers and importers."
Of course, ASH want this money not for altruistic reasons. Rather it is their second attempt at pathetically holding out a begging bowl. Like a tax-gobbling Mr Creosote, they want the levy as they hope it will raise money for them and their mates, irrespective of whether it is good money well spent or not.
"Over the past three years there have been major cuts to English local authority budgets for stop smoking services and tobacco control work. Budgets for stop smoking services, which offer smokers their best chance to quit, were cut in three fifths (59%) of local authorities in 2016/17, following cuts in two fifths (39%) of local authorities the year before. In some areas, specialist stop smoking services have been decommissioned altogether. These budget cuts are principally due to reductions in the public health grant and to wider central government cuts to local authority budgets"
Quite rightly so! Because the use of stop smoking services has plummeted due to the e-cigs phenomenon which ASH would prefer to pretend wasn't happening. If ASH actually cared about health, the answer is not to steal from the tobacco industry to prop up increasingly irrelevant stop smoking services, but to instead acknowledge that the public is changing and are more likely to visit a vape shop than a soulless smoking cessation clinic. That would mean reallocating attention and resources to the promotion of vaping, but then ASH and their pals don't get paid for that, so it's not even on the table.
"An additional levy on the tobacco industry, based on market share, would ensure that smokers who want to quit can access the best means available to do so."
Except that ASH don't mention the best means available to do so in their entire 27 page report. I mean, not even once! E-cigs and vaping are completely ignored, both in the impact they have had on smoking prevalence, and in the impact they could have in the next ten years.

Instead, ASH declare that the decline in smoking prevalence has been a "major achievement" and imply that it is all due to their previous policies. And why wouldn't they? The last thing they want to admit in a begging letter to MPs is the fact that it has been a free market initiative driving the rapid recent decline in smoking rather than the tired, prohibitionist approach which they can get paid for.


ASH are effectively appropriating praise for something which had very little to do with them and it is a disgrace that they are doing so. I disagree entirely with commentators who say that we should be happy tobacco control don't recognise the role of vaping in the decline in prevalence, because - like it or not - it is the tobacco control industry who policy-makers and the public listen to. Go to any comments section and try posting valid science on tobacco issues and you will generally get a reply including a link to CRUK, BHF or any of a number of other disingenuous organisations.

By ignoring e-cigs, ASH are tacitly denying the huge impact vaping has had, and claiming credit for the efforts of a vast number of e-cig advocates up and down the country. Far from being glad they don't acknowledge vaping having a role, we should be absolutely furious about it. They will, for example, be over the moon with tweets such as this suggesting that the ban is entirely responsible for 1.9m fewer smokers (despite there being 1.5 million former smokers now exclusively using e-cigs in the same period)


This is just part of a joint effort by the tobacco control industry this week to airbrush e-cigs out of the public record. Cancer Research UK also quoted the 1.9 million figure without mentioning e-cigarettes or vaping, and Lord Rennard - another of ASH's poodle politicians - claimed "the lowest level on record" of smoking in the UK was a "huge achievement" in the Queen's Speech debate, again completely failing to reference e-cigs at all.

For many people, e-cigs are considered just another form of smoking, ASH are happy for that misconception to continue as long as MPs - who this report will be sent to - continue to feather their nest with taxpayer cash. ASH are putting personal gain above endorsing what is actually working. They are an organisation which has never had any care about health, only their own bank balances.

It is quite staggering that - on the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban - ASH chose to beg for more cash to implement even more pointless coercion and social vandalism, instead of assessing objectively what has been working over the past 10 years and what has not.

They have wreaked a trail of bile and intolerance throughout the country in the past decade, and far from reducing the punishment meted out to everyday people as the smoking rate declines, they have become ever more shrill and socially violent in their pursuit of funding. As results become naturally more meagre due to the lesser numbers of smokers to preach at, their respect for property rights, freedom of choice and truth has exponentially declined. They should be ashamed of themselves or even jailed for the appalling things they have done to society, yet still seem to believe that they are entitled to more of our cash to continue being obnoxious.

We can only hope that this latest report - probably the longest begging letter in history - will be roundly ignored by MPs.