Friday, 27 February 2015

The Framework Convention On Cake Control?

Today is the tenth anniversary of the formation of the tobacco control industry's preferred method of undemocratic censorship and destruction of freedom of choice, the FCTC.

Congratulations to them for being entirely unelected yet able to demand policies which have massively boosted tobacco industry share prices, while simultaneously imposing laws which restrict the liberty of people and private businesses to make their own decisions in life unhindered. And all while descending into a neurotic totalitarian pit of opaque debate, opulent self-enrichment, suppression of the press and trampling of free speech that would turn any self-respecting fascist green with envy.

This brilliant strategy hasn't gone unnoticed by those who are equally eager to boss us around without the inconvenience of having to seek election.
The health arm of the United Nations does not want companies advertising cake, ice cream, or ice pops to children. 
The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a “European nutrient profile” to be used by countries in order to ban the marketing of desserts.
Erm, but children like cake, ice cream and desserts. It's what children do.
Banned without exception are pastries, croissants, cookies, sponge cakes, wafers, fruit pies, sweet buns, chocolate covered biscuits, cake mixes, and batters. 
The list goes on: “Chocolate and other products containing cocoa; white chocolate; jelly, sweets and boiled sweets; chewing gum and bubble gum; caramels; liquorice sweets; spreadable chocolate and other sweet sandwich toppings; nut spreads, including peanut butter; cereal, granola and muesli bars; marzipan.” 
Advertising for ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice pops, sorbets, and energy drinks would also be banned.
Well, that's ITV bankrupt in a week then.
“The list is not exhaustive and may be added to when used nationally,” the report said.
Not exhaustive? There's not a lot left! Besides, shouldn't it be parents who decide what kids eat and, indeed, watch on TV? It's a radical idea, I know, but just thought I'd put it out there..

But it's OK, there's nothing to see here. Yes, OK, tobacco control only wanted banning of tobacco advertising at first but are now onto plain packaging and eradication of product use in public in case a child sees it, but I'm sure there's no precedent. It's not like it's the same organisation using the same methods or anything.

Oh, hold on.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In Pall Mall

Tuesday night saw a final event in the Hands Off Our Packs campaign entitled Stop The Nonsense which, as you'd expect, I trotted up to London for.

Now, I've driven past the venue - the Institute of Directors building in Pall Mall - quite often, but never knew it was so opulent inside (as always, click to enlarge all pics).

Of course, as a director of a company myself, I had to enquire what the cost was to be a member and all I'll say is that it would be twice as expensive to buy a season ticket at White Hart Lane. I'd be tempted to join but apparently using e-cigs is banned inside - I say apparently because I only know after others told me they had politely been approached and asked to stop, whereas I was left alone throughout. Lucky me, eh?

Anyway, that's all by the by. I arrived fairly early and straightaway met long time reader here - and occasional contributor - Chris Oakley. We were so deep in conversation that when I next looked up, the room had filled out impressively in a very short space of time.

I'd say there were around 200 or so there which is an impressive turnout seeing as it was announced less than two weeks previously, it seems the pernicious nature of stealing a legal industry's intellectual property on a dubious pretext mobilises right-minded people who, like readers here, are on the side of the angels.

Not knowing what to expect, I found the tone of the evening to be more celebratory than any other emotion, probably because the campaign against plain packaging has had a lot of success. It brilliantly exposed the most corrupt and mendacious state-funded lobbying we've ever seen from the tobacco control industry - quite an achievement considering their grubby track record - which only succeeded thanks to the intellectual vacuity of politicians in believing junk science, whilst ignoring an overwhelming majority of the public who objected, and handing a profit boost to criminal gangs.

This is something Simon Clark touched upon in the first speech as he wondered aloud why David Cameron* had "rolled over to Labour", before informing those in attendance who weren't aware that the second 'public' consultation - released after the decision had been taken to proceed - had resulted in 99% of responses being in opposition.

His associate during the campaign, Angela Harbutt, was next up, with what will no doubt turn out to be a vain plea (aimed at vain politicians, how apt) for MPs to "stick to the facts, not fiction, vote no, stop the nonsense".

Further speeches followed from Emily Barley, who said she didn't join the Conservative party for this kind of nanny state bullshit, and John O'Connell of the Taxpayers Alliance who pointed out that choosing to smoke means you choose to pay the accompanying taxes ... but that the costs of plain packaging in loss of duty, increased Border Force wages, and possible billion pound compensation, will cost all taxpayers whether they like it or not. Rory Broomfield of the Freedom Association also chipped in to ask why on Earth the government was interfering in freedom of speech - which packaging arguably is - and gold-plating EU regulations when all main parties are telling us that they'd like less regulation from Europe, not more.

Dr Madsen Pirie was on the money in calling the tobacco control "a faith industry, not based on evidence", and illustrated it by highlighting that a majority of global anti-smoking professionals "say e-cigs lead kids to smoking but can they name three kids who have? No they can't, it's a faith", before Moral Maze's Claire Fox wondered why her nephew had seen dozens of washing up liquid commercials but had never been tempted to robotically wash the dishes in an ad-induced stupor (on Twitter, typically humourless anti-smokers seized on this as not being an evidence-based argument ... no, I'm not kidding).

A statement by former criminal justice minister Damian Green was also read out (the whole text here) where he described plain packs as "a dangerous proposal" which "would make life easier for criminal gangs", while my esteemed ally in this enlightened corner of the internet, Chris Snowdon, stated the obvious - "There is no doubt that this will be studied by those who want to do the same with alcohol, food and sugar" (more on that here tomorrow, stay tuned).

Lastly came a cracker of a speech by Mark Littlewood which I asked those filming on the night to just bung up on YouTube when they had time. Calling plain packaging laws "risible, and ridiculous", he was incredulous that while we have Russian planes flying over Cornwall, a £100bn deficit, Greece causing ructions in the Eurozone and a general election in our imminent future, "the last act of this government is to regulate colour schemes".

As a last comment on a pointless policy, bullied through after a three year campaign backed by disingenuous people using morally bankrupt and overt lying in order to fill their pockets with our taxes, it couldn't have been more apposite.

And when the quickfire speeches finished, the crowd of liberty loving people be like ...

These were just very brief highlights, believe me, so if you weren't there you missed a good evening of plain speaking and rare good sense. There are sure to be plenty more though because - as we well know - the tobacco control and public health beasts need constant feeding at the tax receipts trough and will never stop while they have mortgages and Mercedes Benzes to pay for. We have seen this in the past couple of weeks as they have already seamlessly moved into campaigning for outdoor smoking bans.

Still, I suppose it provides an endless supply of material for your humble 'tabloid junk' host to write about, eh?

UPDATE: Simon Clark has helpfully published a sound file of Mark Littlewood's speech. Go have a listen here.

*An interesting note on David Cameron and his view of plain packs. He came out with a quip during yesterday's PMQs which went something like this - "Now we are committed to plain paper packaging of cigarettes, it will give more space for the opposition to write their policies on". Yep, it looks like David Cameron doesn't have a first clue about the policy he is legislating on! 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dick Out And About: A Test For Democracy

I've written a piece for Totally Wicked's Article 20 legal challenge site, pointing out that the legal system is designed to hold politicians to account when they fail the public ... which is what they've done with much of the EU Tobacco Products Directive.

You can read it here if you so wish. Do also have a look round the rest of the site and sign in support if you haven't already.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Tobacco Control: Fascism's Trojan Horse

Don't lawfully confront the government if you're Irish, will you? Because they don't like that sort of thing.
Don't work for tobacco firms, lawyers urged 
CHILDREN'S Minister James Reilly has said it is not appropriate for legal firm Arthur Cox to represent tobacco firms and state agencies. 
Dr Reilly is currently reviewing the relationship between the State's child and family agency Tulsa and the firm of solicitors representing Japan Tobacco International (JTI), which is threatening legal action against the Government if it introduces plain packaging for cigarettes. 
"I fail to see how we send the right message by employing legal firms that are prepared to represent the tobacco industry, whose history in this area is quite appalling, to be quite frank. 
"Their inability to come out and tell the truth time after time has been quite shocking ..."
Unlike Dr Reilly the eejit liar, of course.
Dr Reilly called on all legal firms to come out and say they would not represent tobacco interests.
This is an astounding thing for any politician to say, it's like lessons of history have completely passed him by.

To even suggest that a perfectly legitimate, taxpaying industry should be denied any and all legal representation by order of the state - and simply because it disagrees with the state - is the very definition of fascism. But to do so by way of implied threats that legal firms will be excluded from government contracts if they include tobacco companies as their clients just makes it even more disgusting.

This is the evil place that tobacco control and its hideous acolytes inhabit. They go through their self-enriching lives viewing everything through the prism of hatred of tobacco, while not recognising the potentially disastrous precedents they are setting. Blacklisting lawyers for representing companies exercising their right - in a supposedly civilised free country - to hold politicians to account through the impartial legal system surely has to be a new low.

This is why I despise tobacco controllers. If they were decent people they'd condemn this fundamental abuse of our long-held adherence to democracy and justice, but they won't. They'll just allow Reilly - who also despises e-cigs remember - and his fascist Trojan Horse to go unchallenged.

I am 100% confident I won't be proven wrong.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Polite Fiction Debunked By E-Cigs

For a Sunday evening dose of good sense, may I direct your attention to an article in the Oregonian by Jacob Grier on the subject of e-cigs bans. Because he articulates very well why I love the advent of vaping for its unerring ability to expose the tobacco control industry as a manipulative and knowingly mendacious movement.
Many of us doubted that the evidence [behind smoking bans] really mattered. As I wrote in The Oregonian/OregonLive at the time, "Protecting workers is simply the polite fiction by which nonsmokers have imposed their will on an increasingly unpopular minority." 
We suspected this, but how could we prove it? What if there were a device that looked like a cigarette and mimicked the effects of smoking, yet emitted a mostly harmless vapor instead of tobacco smoke? If authorities tried to ban that too, without bothering to establish that it endangered anyone, then our suspicions would be vindicated. 
That device exists. It's called an e-cigarette. And sure enough, the Multnomah Board of County Commissioners is voting on whether to ban its use indoors. The Legislature, too, may expand the state's smoking ban to cover vaping. 
The evidence that e-cigarettes cause significant harm to users, much less to bystanders, is weak to non-existent. The county's case against them is that they sort of look like smoking. Vaping indoors, says the Board of Health for Multnomah County, "threatens to undermine compliance with smoking regulations and reverse the progress that has been made in establishing a social norm that smoking is not permitted in public places and places of employment." 
Never mind whether any real person has ever been confused by this. Ask instead why merely keeping up appearances is a matter for the law. If simulated smoking must be banned in bars just to send a healthy message, then my God, think of all the actual drinking going on!
Yep, it's never been about health.
For those of us old enough to remember when smoking ban advocates cited real evidence, the current movement to ban vaping confirms what we suspected all along: That this isn't about protecting people, it's about controlling them, and that empirical research is relevant only to the extent that it helps the political cause. 
The state and county should proceed with sensible plans to restrict sales of e-cigarettes to minors. But we should treat adults as adults, upholding the liberal principle that how they live is up to them, so long as they are not credibly harming others. If the worst that health officials can say about e-cigarettes is that they don't like the way they look, then they ought to learn the public virtue of minding their own business.
And politicians should start ignoring the transparently policy-led bullshit the public health industry increasingly pretends is 'science' or 'evidence'.

Go read Jacob's whole article here. Note too the comments where the usual hideous anti-social types in society - to whom the tobacco control industry panders for their very existence - throw tantrums because someone dares to point out that governments shouldn't exist to pass laws giving the intolerant, bigoted and hateful the world on a stick.

Friday, 20 February 2015

EU Confirms It's Not About Health

Via Clive Bates and the FT, it seems the EU is the latest organisation to prove your humble host correct.

A document has come to light (here) which shows early plans are being made to add excise duty - otherwise known as sin taxes - to e-cigs.
(a) Do you experience problems in your Member State because E-cigarettes and other (new) nicotine containing products are currently not excisable products? 
(b) What are your impressions of the development and size of the market of E-cigarettes and other (new) nicotine containing products? Are there any signs of substitution of the regular tobacco products? 
(c) What do you think of the option to adjust the scope of excisable products by including a nicotine-based category?
In other words, so many people are switching from tobacco to vaping, member states are suffering a drop in income. This, apparently, is deemed to be causing "problems".

Incredible, isn't it? The EU has, for decades, liberally pissed away our cash on nagging, cajoling, hectoring, intervening, regulating, legislating and bullying smokers to quit. But now that many have done exactly that with e-cigs, it's cocking up member state budgets so screw health, it's now all about revenue raising.

Bates fisks their moronic plan into the middle of next week, so do go have a read.

On a personal note, though, thank you to e-cigs for yet again proving the Puddlecote motto correct ... it's never been about health.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

An Unfortunate Day To Write Crap About E-Cigs

The Guardian's eclectic assortment of overthinking  blowhards has just thrown up a guy called Nash Riggins on the subject of e-cigs. Now, there's been a lot of derisory tosh written about them recently, but I think he just raised the bar.
From April, all Scottish health boards (bar one, NHS Lothian) will ban the use of e-cigarettes on NHS premises. The move makes perfect sense 
Only to an imbecile.
Lobbyists have been queuing up for a few years now to push the idea that e-cigs are somehow safer than normal cigarettes. One of the most dangerous aspects of your typical, run-of-the-mill cigarette is the tar-filled smoke you're inhaling with each puff. That tar may contain up to 7,000 different toxins, which are otherwise found in everything from rat poison to nail polish. E-cigs, on the other hand, produce a light, tar-free vapour. But this doesn't necessarily make them any safer.
E-cigs are just as dangerous as smoking? Nurse, bring the meds!
Doctors say a tablespoon of some e-liquids on the market would be enough to kill an adult; half a teaspoon could kill a child. And the worst part is, you don't even need to ingest these liquids to end up in hospital. Mere skin contact with concentrated liquid nicotine is enough to cause symptoms of poisoning, such as dizziness, elevated blood pressure and seizures.
Really? A bottle top popped out when I was refilling my V-Scope last week and 20ml squirted up my arm, the only remotely worrying aspect of the incident was smelling like sherbert lemon for the next hour.
That should scare even the most devout e-cig user
No, Nash, it will just make them laugh.
Every puff you take on an e-cig is a roll of the dice
Oh get over yourself, you dribbling fool.

Anyway, go read the whole steaming pile of nonsense if you're so inclined. It appears to be his first tentative step into CiF, and I'm already embarrassed for him seeing as the comments are a swiftly-mounting orgy of ridicule and derision. Perhaps next time he should write something he knows more than fuck all about.

You see, his article is entitled "Don’t fall for the hype. Nicotine is a poison, no matter how it is delivered" but comes on the same day that a game-changing polar opposite view was published at the Spectator.
Safety concerns were addressed recently. Two analyses reviewed toxicological, laboratory and clinical research on the potential risks. They concluded that e-cigs are by far less harmful than smoking, and that ‘significant health benefits are expected in smokers who switch from tobacco to e-cigs’. 
We need clear, unambiguous messages to smokers about the safety and benefits of e-cigs. An example is the March 2014 statement on the Royal College of Physicians website that ‘the main benefit of e-cigarettes is that they provide inhalable nicotine in a formulation that mimics the behavioural components of smoking but has relatively little risk… Switching completely from tobacco to e-cigarettes achieves much the same in health terms as does quitting smoking and all nicotine use completely. Furthermore… risks associated with passive exposure to e-cigarette vapour are far less than those associated with passive exposure to tobacco smoke.’ (which are non-existent anyway - DP)
The author of the fact-free car crash Guardian piece is some American guy living in Scotland, while the author of the Spectator endorsement of e-cigs is Derek Yach, former head of tobacco control at the WHO.

When even someone like that sides with e-cigs, it makes brainwashed anti-smoking useful idiots like Nash Riggins look even more absurd than we already know they are. Of all days to write utter garbage about e-cigs, Nash chose just about the worst.

Do you reckon he's unlucky at cards too?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Letter To Irish Santa

Please, Santa, let this happen.
"We should retaliate ... the Government should consider some kind of measured response, that if this goes to court they should consider truly punitive taxes on tobacco company profits," he said. 
"Perhaps something like a 99% tax on the profits of tobacco companies, or perhaps something like putting a €1,000 a pack tax on a pack of cigarettes – if the industry tries these kind of antics with us."
A 'measured' response (wtf?) like this would be hilarious.

Wholesale job losses, decimation of pension funds, rampant organised crime and an unstoppable terrorist-led black market would drive Ireland back to being the basket case it used to be before the EU gave them a hefty leg up in the 90s.

Bring it on.

Meanwhile, another anti-smoking Irish politician is trying to paint his government as the poor underpowered underdog in the face of more wealthy and powerful opposition.

Now, remind me. Which side of this fight commands an army and, indeed, can dictate the arbitrary stealing of money from the other without the need of a judge? And which could find themselves vindicated by the legal system but still have their cash stolen by way of retaliation for defending their rights in law?

You're fucked up, Ireland.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Please Forget Australia Exists, Says BBC

So the big 'public health' news today - according to the BBC and just about no-one else - was about plain packaging saving imaginary lives.
All the evidence suggests standardised cigarette packs would save lives by reducing the number of people who start smoking, the journal Addiction reports. 
Its summary of the scientific evidence suggests stopping one in 20 people from taking up the habit would save 2,000 lives in the UK each year.
"All the evidence"? Well not really, no. And to say this is 'scientific' evidence is a bit of an overstatement considering none of it has been produced by anyone who could remotely be called a scientist.

Sociologist, perhaps. Lobbyist, maybe, but no. The studies referred to are, of course, solely produced by people whose job it is to produce studies to support tobacco control legislation.

You see, a real scientist would occasionally produce a study which didn't agree with whatever the political anti-smoking lobby was, err, lobbying government for at any particular time. But in the world of tobacco control 'science', this never happens (because when it does the researcher is bullied, vilified, and drummed out of their profession).

Incredibly, though, today's BBC article was prompted not by a scientific survey of all available evidence (there is plenty that would not even have been considered, as is the usual case), but rather by an opinion piece written by plain packs advocate Ann McNeil and promoted by Robert West, another committed pro-plain packaging advocate. We have become accustomed to the grubby tactic of 'science by press release' from the tobacco control industry, but now it seems we are seeing the introduction of 'pretend science by opinion by press release'.

What's more, West should know better than to descend to this level - he is an admirably staunch advocate of e-cigs so would have no doubt been appalled when the Daily Mail did the same thing with vaping. He was pretty pissed off with the WHO promoting their own brand of selective science too, recently.

As always, the shifty, morally-bankrupt purpose is to get a headline published somewhere prominent, knowing that the vast majority of people read no further than that, and certainly never investigate what lies behind it. But for the record, what does lie behind it is this opinion piece in Addiction.

It references 10 studies exclusively written by tobacco control industry activists including arguably the policy creator Simon Chapman, Simon Chapman's right hand girl, long-standing anti-tobacco professional Crawford Moodie (referenced 80 times in the UK's rigged systematic review), plus a stellar cast of other highly partial dedicated anything-for-a-headline career prohibitionists.

Included in the list is a laughable study I commented on this time last week, one by someone using eye-tracking technology which was criticised by a proper eye-tracking scientist, and one which even argued the tobacco industry's case for them. All researchers, as usual, disingenuously claimed they had no conflict of interests {pfft}, handily forgetting the salary they derive from being paid by our taxes to produce anti-tobacco studies.

But the commentary behind all this chicanery was more laughable still!
Arguably, for an addictive product that kills so many of its users, the tobacco industry should consider itself fortunate that, purely through historical precedent, it is allowed to sell its toxic products at all, let alone try to make them attractive through the packaging.
No, it's not arguable at all. If tobacco was banned, government tax receipts would plummet, the FTSE100 would nosedive, pension funds would be decimated, tens of thousands of jobs would be lost, criminal enterprises would blossom and 'arguably' more kids would smoke because control on who buys tobacco would cease to exist. Anyone who seriously believes differently should probably go and live with these guys.

And as for this ...
As a population level intervention, it is clearly not possible, nor ethical, to mount large scale experiments to assess effect on smoking prevalence.
Of course it's possible and ethical to mount a large scale experiment on the effect of plain packaging on smoking prevalence. It's called Australia.

The best evidence to prove that it quite simply isn't working down under is the fact that people like West keep talking about daft and biased concocted science instead of being able to point out how 'successful' it has been at stopping kids smoking in a country which is running a live, real life trial. In fact, he admits as much in the BBC article.
However, he admitted that it was not possible to know if plain packaging had reduced the number of young smokers in Australia.
Which is kinda - no, actually, it is the entire - point.

Well here's a hint, Robert.

Hmm, I wonder why he didn't mention this?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

An Expert In Stupidity

Snowdon has today written about how an anti-smoking hero has exhibited his idiocy. Do go have a read because it dovetails nicely with this piece. You see, the Pascal Diethelm (pic below) who has shown himself laughably ignorant of scientific method in The Observer today is also woefully ignorant of business and economics too.

"Today, as always, I shall mostly be talking bollocks"
Back in November, I was present at an event at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where Diethelm was enthusiastically introduced by Bubblegum McKee as a 'genius'. It still makes me chuckle to this day.

Diethelm was speaking on the possibility of an 'endgame' for tobacco. Part of his brilliant plan was to impoverish tobacco companies by not buying their shares. It was difficult to keep a straight face as he described - with the cute naivete of a teenager - how this simple strategy would soon bring the tobacco industry to its knees.

It's sad that he was lecturing further education students about this because it is fundamentally flawed stupidity, as I explained in July.
You see, the price of a company's shares is entirely separate to the profitability or true worth of the business. Unless the company concerned is thinking of announcing a rights issue to raise funds - something tobacco companies don't have to do because they are highly profitable - the share price is irrelevant to them as far as income is concerned. 
Profitability and worth are real things, share price is just a measure for those who wish to make money on the back of that profitability and worth by way of yield and dividends. 
Righteous types can sell billions of shares on principle but it doesn't matter one iota to 'Big Tobacco'. The share price may wane but nobody will stop smoking because of it, but whoever buys the shares after that makes a lot more money. 
Tobacco company shares have always been under-valued relative to dividend yield or profits - when compared to other industries - simply because of perceived dangers of the global war against tobacco, so whoever has been clever enough to ignore all that guff has earned very well for a long time now. This is why tobacco shares are almost a constant in being flagged up by proper investment analysts as some of the best that any investor or pension fund can own. 
The only possible result of Dr King's campaign will be that the stocks might be even more under-priced, even more attractive to investors, and therefore offer even more super profits than they already do for people who aren't financially stupid on the back of ignorant teen-like ideology. 
But you don't have to take my word for it, because yesterday a proper expert in investments made the same point writing for the Telegraph.
[T]he tendency for some investors to shun these businesses on ethical grounds can result in them trading below their intrinsic value. An unpopular investment will tend to offer investors a higher yield – and because income is the principal component of total return over time this can lead to investment success. Even if the stocks remain at a valuation discount, they will benefit from the compounding of their high dividends. 
A fund that played to this theme, the Vice Fund, turned $1 into $3.37 between 2002 and 2015, according to the LBS report. That compared with the Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund, an ethical fund, which turned $1 into $2.68 over the same period. 
Tobacco illustrates the potential of investing in sin. Prior to the mid-1960s, before smoking became a sin, tobacco stocks underperformed the market. Once the health issues became well-known, cigarette companies started to outperform and they have been key components in the portfolios of some of the most successful investors 
That was the painful experience of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers), which had a policy of country-level exclusions between 2002 and 2006 that backfired badly. Steering clear of “bad” countries cost its pensioners $400m (£260m)
Which kinda resonates with what I said last summer.
Of course, the superannuation funds which now don't count tobacco stocks amongst their portfolio will be deprived of these super profits, meaning that eventual payouts will be inevitably lower than they could have been if Dr King hadn't embarked on her funny campaign. The only 'blow' here is to the people who will now have to suffer a smaller pension when they retire.
So there you have it. Pascal Diethelm - a tobacco controller whom Martin McKee considers a 'genius' - is as ignorant of science as he is of financial matters. Trusting what he says will render you slightly more stupid and harm your wealth, so perhaps his comical utterances should come with a warning.

On a wider note, if Diethelm is one of tobacco control's top thinkers, it doesn't say much for the rest of them, now does it?

Friday, 13 February 2015

A Valiant Attempt At Curtailing Health Dictatorship

If you're not familiar with Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, prepare for a Friday afternoon enlightenment.

'Jake' (that's him above) is a staunch defender of our liberties who is often present at events held by The Freedom Association that I've attended. Incredibly eloquent and always entertaining, he revels in being described as 'the poshest MP in Westminster' but is more in tune with the general public than many Labour politicos could ever dream of. On Tuesday, he admirably presented an amendment in committee to a very sinister clause of the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill.

In short, parliament is trying to make a core role of the Secretary of State for Health to be to promote "social solidarity" in the NHS. As Rees-Mogg explains, "social solidarity is a relatively flexible term. It is very imprecise and difficult to litigate around because it is essentially a philosophical or theological notion".

Of course, philosophical and/or theological notions must be dictated by someone at the top of the chain, and are entirely arbitrary based on the viewpoint of the person who is in charge. If the person dictating what is good for "social solidarity" deems the burning of catholics something society in its entirety would benefit from, that would then become the state-sanctioned plan. I'm taking it to an extreme by way of example, but this is the purpose of the term - simply put, it's to empower the Secretary of State to dictate how we choose to live our lives, with the NHS as his weapon. It's a green light for state dictatorship of our lifestyle choices.

It is a despicable idea, but what else can we have come to expect out of parliament recently. In fact, Labour's Andrew Gwynne intervened during the debate to give us a glimpse of what the Department of Health really wants to achieve with this bill.
"We are no longer talking about a medical model of the national health service. His own Secretary of State is talking about doing more preventive work and more on public health to prevent people from getting ill in the first place."
Preventive work to prevent people getting ill in the first place is, quite obviously, telling us what we can and cannot choose to consume. This will be news to the vast majority of the public who still believe the NHS should, indeed, be run on a 'medical model', not some ideological dictatorial one.

Rees-Mogg has spotted this and is tabling an amendment to remove that and instead commit the NHS to what we all believed was the point of the damn institution, to act on the basis of "medical necessity". You can read his contribution in full here, but here are some highlights.

He would like to see this added to the bill to water down state powers.
"nothing in this section shall be interpreted as entitling or requiring the Secretary of State to direct people in their personal conduct, nor provide unsolicited advice on diet or behaviour, nor to spend public funds on propaganda, nor to discriminate against specific foodstuffs, nor detrimentally to affect any lawful industry;"
The fact that this will be challenged by MPs is a disgrace, quite frankly. But you just know it will.

Jake lets rip (politely as is his wont) in commendable fashion.
"I am very suspicious of the Government telling me that I should not eat things such as bacon sandwiches, or whatever it is that Labour party members so much enjoy. I want to eat those things without interference from the Government. I have tabled other amendments to make it absolutely clear that I think that the health service is about curing people who are ill, rather than telling us how to live our lives."
Again, this should be uncontested. It shows how awful our government has become that it needs to be explained. Rees-Mogg understands the rancid drive of the modern puritan MP and also notices why it is happening.
"We do not want this rather condescending model of the health service telling people how to lead their lives—how they should eat, exercise and so forth—in this deeply paternalistic way. We want a health service that allows people the maximum amount of freedom in their lives, with liberty to do as they choose rather than saying, “Because the state pays for it, we must determine.”"
When asked about state advice on recognising strokes, and asking if he thinks health education should not be offered at all, he makes an astute distinction between the two. Of course education on strokes is what the NHS should be doing, but ....
"I am less keen ... on the Government spending a lot of money telling people not to smoke if they want to. If people have not worked out the dangers of that by now, they never will. I happen to speak as a non-smoker and, though his predilections may lie in the other direction, he is entitled to do so without being nagged by these paternalistic social assistance types who we have established are really rather disagreeable."
Oh, aren't they just! The honorable gentleman is a fine judge of character too.

On how we are going back to a hideous moral Victorian age, he comments.
"We used to legislate for moral values. We used to legislate that people had to go to church on Sundays and that they would be fined if they did not go. We had legislation on conformity, and legislation on people’s private behaviour behind closed doors. Historically, all sorts of matters were covered by legislation, but we have tended to move away from that approach to a feeling that it is not the duty of the state to tell people  how to lead their lives, and that it is the duty of the state to legislate for basic security of the state and for the institutions that the state has determined to run. That point - that it is a moral value that we are considering - means that putting that moral value in legislation is a rather backwards step."
Describing the absurd statist reasoning behind lifestyle bans, he is also very observant.
"We can see the slippery slope argument advancing: the Government pay for the service; therefore, if someone does x, they may be at risk of y; y will have a cost of z; the Government do not want to pay for z; and therefore one must not do whatever letter it was that I started with—I think it was x. Therefore, if someone does that, they are either to pay or they ought to be penalised for doing it; it ought to be made illegal and there ought to be some punishment."
He then goes to explain why it is necessary (why should MPs not know this already) that the clause describing the obligations of the Secretary of State for Health should include the limiting suffix “as far as is compatible with the liberties of the people of England and without any additional regulatory burden”.

Because MPs do so like to get carried away with their own self-importance and forget the people they are supposed serve, as Jake observes.
"We know only too well that politicians, once in office, are very keen to tell other people what to do. We get very good at it. It is an unfortunate habit of public life that a trend of bossiness comes in."
Tell us about it!
"Surely it is a freedom of a subject of Her Majesty, if he or she so wishes, to go out on a Saturday or a Friday evening and drink more than is good for them, without my hon. Friend the Minister or the Secretary of State telling them that they must not and wagging a governmental finger at them."
Well you'd think, wouldn't you?
"Do we really want the Secretary of State for Health saying to our great figures - people like Winston Churchill - “Cut it out. No more of that. The Secretary of State doesn’t approve. It’ll improve your health. You’ll live to 90 anyway, but you’d better stop drinking”?"
In the surreal days we are currently damned to live, it seems our state really does want that.

On the trendy but miserable moral panic about sugar, Jake says.
"I like a bit of sugar and have a sweet tooth; I particularly like Cadbury’s creme eggs, even with the change in the chocolate—the change is broadly disagreeable but they are still not at all bad. I am not in favour of the anti-sugar brigade. We should allow people to enjoy a bit of sugar - it sweetens them up and makes them better tempered and more good-natured. Sweetness and light spreads across the nation when people have a bit of sugar."

On the joyless but heavily state-funded quangos and fake charities ...
"There are many pressure groups that bang the drum, make a lot of noise and say that it is important that a regulation should be introduced and that a little bit of freedom should be taken away. The pressure is always for increased regulation to be imposed on the British people.
I am calling for Her Majesty’s Government to lead by example and show what shining lights they are in the firmament of politicians who say that health may be improved by doing X or Y. I want the nation at large to believe them because they are such trustworthy and upstanding figures, and because they do it in a way that is embraced by a willing, joyful public who think, “How lucky we are to get such sensible advice”, rather than a downtrodden public who are ordered to do it."
"Without any additional regulatory burden, the Secretary of State would not have the power to increase regulations on the hard-pressed British people. That is a general power being given in clause 1, and I wish to limit it. I wish to restrict it, and to some extent I wish to stop it. I want us to retain our ancient liberties, and I want regulation to be stopped. Government after Government say that they want to get rid of regulation. They want to roll back the regulation that comes out of Ministries and Europe. Government after Government do not do so."
On the money, yet again.
"Under [my] amendment, the Secretary of State would not be entitled or required to provide advice to direct people in their personal conduct. He could still make speeches in the House of Commons saying that people might be better off if they had less sugar, or ate more butter, as we now discover that butter is so good for us, but it would prevent him from giving orders. It is orders that are important."
Quite so.

And on the salami-slicing so beloved of 'public health lobbyists with plain packaging in mind.
"Tobacco is a legal industry, and there are regulations concerning many aspects of it. Tobacco may not be advertised on television, on radio or in newspapers, and tobacco may not sponsor cricket—I remember going to the John Player Special league in the old days when cricket was played on a Sunday. That has all stopped. I remember cigarettes being advertised on the back of parking meters in Westminster. We do not have parking meters any more, and parking meters certainly cannot be used to advertise cigarette manufacturers. I do not object to that because it is a habit that can cause serious diseases—that is very well established—and no one would argue to the contrary, but if the Government wish to make cigarettes illegal, they should simply introduce a Bill and pass a law to make them illegal. They should not cut at the edges; they should determine that smoking is a habit that is so dangerous and so deleterious to health that it should be banned. If the Government decided to do that, we could have the argument full throttle as to whether such a ban is an impingement on people’s liberties, or a reasonable thing to do."
Well, it would be more honest, would it not?

I heartily recommend if you have the time to go read the whole thing, it is a welcome burst of parliamentary common sense which can all be summed up in this gem parked in the middle of his erudite contribution.
"Doctors need to have the right to give advice to their patients, but the patients do not have to follow what their doctor says, and that also applies to the Secretary of State. He is a wise and good man, and I have the highest admiration for him, but I do not want him to be leading my life for me."
Nor any other politician, quite frankly. Thank you, Jake, for representing us in the face of oleaginous politicians who would dictate by law how we scratch our arses given the chance.

Needless to say, I expect the amendment is doomed to fail and the Secretary of State for Health will be installed as a dictator of our choices in the near future. If that doesn't scare you, you're part of the problem.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Seeing The Wood Through The Trees

The lame pun in the title refers to this being about some news from Forest (geddit) stating something obvious which has clearly eluded MPs.

The Taking Liberties blog reports on a Populus poll which reveals the public not to be at all interested in plain packaging.
As you can see, "introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" was the lowest of any of the variables tested with a net importance rating of just 3.51. The closest variable, "regulating the future of the fracking sector", scored 6.10. 
More than half (52%) of the general public awarded "introducing plain packaging for cigarettes" a mean score of 0-3 in terms of importance. Conversely, only one in ten (12%) awarded the issue a score of 7-10. 
Both men (3.14) and women (3.00) expressed low net importance ratings on the issue of plain packaging. 
Likewise workers in both the public (3.04) and private (3.12) sectors attached little importance to the issue. 
Those members of the public who have children awarded it a net importance rating of just 3.88.
The key messages of the poll appear to be: 
The general public simply do not view a vote on the introduction of plain packaging as a priority. 
Plain packaging legislation is all ill-judged sideshow and a distraction from the real challenges the government faces.
If politicians want to know why voters are avoiding them in droves - and the uni-policied main three parties in particular - well there's a perfect example.

Here is a policy which was not in any manifesto; was supported by corrupt and fraudulent campaigning on an industrial scale; and was roundly rejected by the public at consultation stage by a huge margin, yet MPs will apparently move heaven and earth to get it passed before the May election even though the public couldn't care less about it. This also despite no public grassroots call for plain packs, merely one the state itself sponsored by funnelling taxpayer cash to the bloated army of career prodnoses it employs to lobby itself.

That's democracy - by the people, for the people - apparently.

Looking at the bigger picture, it's even more astounding considering we are now in what some term a 'zombie parliament' due to there being a lack of time to get meaningful work done before the government is dissolved for the election. So why are they fannying around with something the country really couldn't give a monkey's grunt about? In fact, anyone who has read any media comments section - from the Daily Mail to the Guardian - will have seen that all but the insane know very well that plain packaging will have no effect on smokers or the uptake of smoking. It's a complete irrelevance.

It's almost like, I dunno, politicians are detached from the realities of everyday life. This is something career politicians are regularly accused of and routinely deny, yet here they are highlighting it in dayglo orange and underlining it, before announcing their detachment through a 500 decibel public address system.

Liberal Vision articulates very well what the right-minded should do about this.
Here is hoping that voters will show Ellison and her ilk the same contempt that they have quite clearly shown the public come May 7th, and that some elected politicians will think twice before voting “aye” to this cynical and ill-conceived piece of politics.
Quite. If your local MP votes in favour of plain packaging, they're a credulous fool who thinks our views matter less than the salary of a highly-paid, tax-funded professional bansturbator. They're also criminally negligent in opening the door to a nasty precedent which already has the out-of-control puritan bandwagon dreaming of uglifying everything from Sprite to e-cigarettes. So if your local MP votes for this, don't vote for them. And if they just happen to knock on your door in the upcoming self-interested frenzy to beg for your support, tell them the reason they won't get it is their crass elitist snobbery and contempt for each and every one of us.

While I'm on Forest news, those of you on their mailing list may have already received this (click to enlarge).

These events are usually open to all and I don't expect this will be any different. So if you're not doing anything on the 24th, get your RSVP in and I'll see you there.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Surprise! Smokers Don't Recognise Plain Packaging Yet

Two professional tobacco control industry lobby groupies have just produced one of the funniest studies in favour of plain packaging ever!
Plain tobacco packaging may reduce the likelihood of smokers seeking to obtain cigarettes by almost 10% compared to branded packs, according to research from the Universities of Exeter and Bristol.
The authors I refer to are committed anti-smoking researchers Marcus Munafo and Olivia Maynard. Their day 'job' being to support anything that the tobacco control industry is lobbying for. The last para just about admits as much.
Co-author Dr Olivia Maynard won an Economic and Social Research Council Impact Prize for her PhD research into plain packaging. Dr Maynard explained: "The current laboratory study tested whether plain packaging might influence tobacco-seeking behaviour. Our previous research in this area has been used to inform tobacco control policies both in the UK and internationally. Our hope is that high quality experimental research of this kind can make a meaningful contribution to important policy debates."
What they don't say is that they are both members of Bristol's Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG). This group's 'research' usually (in fact, always) tends to agree with whatever particular anti-smoking legislation is being promoted to politicians at any particular time.

At the moment, it's plain packaging, so this 'scientific' revelation is hardly a surprise.

Maynard received an award from her mates for an eye-tracking study which was criticised by a real eye-tracking scientist who is not part of TARG, and Munafo - who is also with the politically-motivated UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies - signposted this kind of propaganda in his video of August last year.

So, do you want to see what amazing stuff they found? OK, here you go.
In the experiments, smokers had to choose between pressing a key that might earn cigarettes or a key that might earn chocolate, and were uncertain about which key was most likely to pay off in each trial. Just before participants made each choice, they were presented with either a picture of a branded cigarette pack, a picture of a plain cigarette pack, or nothing. The results showed that whereas branded packs increased the probability of participants making the cigarette choice by 10% compared to when nothing was presented, the plain packs did not. The implication is that plain packs are less effective at prompting smokers to purchase cigarettes compared to branded packs.

Except that, at the moment, no-one has been presented with plain packs in a real life scenario. Therefore the participants will not choose cigarettes in plain packs simply because they don't recognise them as such. Familiar cigarette packs prime smoking seeking and unfamiliar plain packs don't yet? Well blow me down, what a revelation!
"[T]he plain packs promoted no more tobacco choice than when nothing was presented. These findings provide experimental support for the idea that introducing plain packaging might reduce tobacco purchasing or consumption"
No they don't. They just tell us that plain packs were not recognised as being tobacco packs at the moment. Quite understandably. When plain packs are introduced, they will be.

It's such a piss poor study that even the authors themselves seem a bit embarrassed.
However, the researchers also advise caution when interpreting these results. As Professor Marcus Munafo, a co-author of the study from the University of Bristol, explained: "The experimental procedure only modelled the ability of pack stimuli to promote a cigarette-seeking choice. In the natural environment, smoking may be governed by a whole range of factors, including tobacco withdrawal, the presence of other people smoking, time of day, and so on. It is not clear to what extent plain packaging will reduce smoking when these other factors are at play."
Of course. This is as near as you'll ever get to a tobacco controller admitting that they are producing junk science. But it's never been about the 'science', has it? It's just about getting a headline in the press, and you just know that some lazy journalists will fall for it and announce that plain packs will reduce smoking by 10%.

What this study really says is that people make choices based on what they recognise. Well, duh! So once plain packaging is ubiquitous, smokers will recognise it as such and make their choices accordingly. The assertion that plain packs are akin to displaying nothing are correct only in a lab, where nothing equals something they don't understand or recognise as anything too.

So what are the policy implications for this really? Well, it could be used to argue that there will be an instant but short-lived reduction in impulse buying of cigarettes while plain packaging is still unfamiliar. But we know from Australia that this quite simply hasn't happened.

In fact, the fact it hasn't happened has been defended by no more an authority on plain packaging as the doddery self-promoting twanger Simon Chapman himself.
But plain packaging will not instantly cut smoking rates, he cautions. "We're not expecting plain packaging to have much impact on existing smokers. It's a policy about the next generation of kids who are coming through, so we would expect to slowly starve the industry of new customers by de-normalising and de-glamorising their products."
Slowly? Err, but Munafo and Maynard's policy-led study - in a nutshell - implies that the effect will only last so long as plain packs are not associated with actual cigarettes. And if it ain't happened by now with kids in Australia - which it hasn't - it's not likely to in the future, now is it?

Good grief.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

"Walking Smoking"

It's all kicking off in Korea.
The Korean government is in the midst of revising a policy to ban “walking smoking,” or smoking on sidewalks across Seoul. The reasoning is that secondhand smoking is encountered most frequently on the streets, and many citizens have complained about walking behind smokers and inhaling the fumes of the cigarettes. 
Yes, that's right. On sidewalks. Next to streets. In an incredibly busy capital city. With cars. And buses. And lorries.

Sometimes the superlative absurdity of anti-smokers surprises even me.
In response to smoker’s opposition, Congressman Nam said, “I think it’s obvious they will object.” “We need a law to guarantee their smoking rights too.”
Now there's a thought. But I don't reckon Kim Jong Un will go for that. What's that? The wrong Korea, you say?

Well you live and learn, eh?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Press Releases, Pharma And Pet Politicians

Yesterday we saw the latest response to the tobacco control industry's panic-stricken call to arms against e-cigs. Avert your eyes if you're squeamish, because the Guardian reporting of this utter junk austere science is truly terrifying.
E-cigarettes generated just 1% of the amount of free radicals in tobacco smoke, but this still posed a potential health risk, said the researchers. 
“We were surprised by how high that number was, considering that e-cigarettes do not produce combustion products,” said Dr Sussan. “Granted, it’s 100 times lower than cigarette smoke, but it’s still a high number of free radicals that can potentially damage cells.”
Well, that kinda agrees with the claim that vaping is 95%-99% safer than smoking which sends shudders down tobacco controller spines, doesn't it? But do please stay terrified, won't you? Tobacco control industry salaries depend on it.

Of course, it's the tried-and-tested "science by press release" so beloved of anti-smoking fraudsters everywhere - in fact, they, uniquely, invented the concept. Concoct some study or other with a pre-determined conclusion, completely ignore your own study if it produces results you don't like, and press release whatever you fancy to ubiquitously lazy journalists worldwide. The goal, after all, is a headline - the pursuit of scientific integrity can go fuck itself as long as the public believe the lie.

These charlatans have lied for decades in this way about tobacco and have gotten away with it because people want to believe them, but e-cigs - coupled with tobacco control's lack of innovation and blasé trust in the ignorance of their fellow man - are presenting them with a bit of a problem. You see, their 'experts' understand so very little about vaping devices that their nonsense takes a layperson minutes to debunk, as the Redhead has.
The study used a test protocol that anyone with half a grain of common sense would tell you was utter rubbish – they exposed mice to the same level of vaping as a person, according to their own assumptions. Now given that a person weighs in at about 70Kg, and a mouse at about 40g, that’s a comparable increase of 1750 times. Perhaps these retards watched Phil Busardo’s Legal Vape 4000 video, and assumed that was quite a normal way for people to vape? Or perhaps they knew that by overdosing mice they would get more negative effects. It’s a good job that nicotine isn’t as toxic as idiots like these think, or the whole experiment would have ended there. 
Even then, they managed to screw it up – the estimates for number of puffs per days range from 120 to 350, but that clearly wasn’t enough for these animal abusers. They used 1080.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, they used cigalike cartomisers, which they changed weekly. I don’t know what planet they inhabit, but only a complete fucking idiot would expect to be able to get 180 puffs per day out of a cartomiser for a week. Most of what these idiots exposed the mice too wasn’t vapour as we know it, but burning cartomiser fillings. Good job!
Furthermore, actual scientist Leg Iron spotted a major flaw too.
So some mice died from inhaling (undefined concentration) of (some chemical) that might be present in trace amounts in Electrofag steam. Mice have lungs that are smaller than humans and lab mice are bred to be susceptible to all sorts of things – so that those things can be quickly tested. What happens to a lab mouse will take a lot longer to happen to a real-life mouse and a hell of a lot longer to happen to a human. Perhaps longer than a human lifetime. Funny they never mention that. 
Ah but wait, the mice didn’t die from inhaling Electrofag steam. They died of being deliberately infected with nasty things afterwards. The ones dosed with (undefined concentrations) of Electrofag steam chemicals died faster – but then, a mouse lung has a bit less capacity than a human lung. 
To test the amounts human vapers inhale would involve scaling down and dosing the mice with barely detectable – practically homeopathic – concentrations and my money is on… they didn’t do that.
Of course they didn't, it was all about the headline ... and they got it. They should be in jail instead of promoting junk science, but maybe that's something for the future.

Meanwhile, self-professed 'friend of the vaper' ASH (quote marks because they're anything but) still steadfastly say fuck all about their colleagues' duplicitous demonisation of vaping. The end goal of all this fraudulent activity, though, was seen in the Lords on Tuesday as ASH's puppet Earl Howe - whose devotion to ASH and their pals is gimp-like - was keen to cast as many doubts on e-cigs as possible in the five minutes or so afforded to him.

You can read the whole thing here, but the Earl's highlights are below.
"However, we would not wish to see children taking up vaping, as nicotine is a highly addictive substance" 
"Equally, we need to be cautious as regards the long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes. That is why the Chief Medical Officer is currently not able to recommend their use." 
"The Cochrane review concluded that the quality of the evidence overall is low because it is based on only a small number of studies."
And my favourite ...
"There is a question mark over the electrical safety of some products. We cannot make a general statement about products that are currently on sale. Nevertheless, it is right that the European Union has taken this matter in hand."
Because the European Union doesn't already compel us to observe their 2006 batteries directive along with the other 20-odd regulations and directives which already cover vaping paraphernalia.

Following on from the recent absurd formaldehyde nonsense, it's clear where the tobacco control audit trail goes. Junk science leads to headlines leads to pet politicians proposing unnecessary laws. It's just how it has always been, except with e-cigs there are many more people noticing the fraud.

And if you want to know how we got to this absurd point with e-cigs, I highly recommend you read Snowdon's article today tracing a WHO timeline. It's never been about health.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Support A Challenge To The EU

Back in October, Blackburn e-cigs company Totally Wicked won the right to challenge the EU's ridiculous Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive. This is the part which will regulate out of existence a vast array of e-cigs currently on the market, as I've mentioned before.

Totally Wicked's case will be heard later this year, but in the meantime they have launched a website as a source of information, and to raise support, which you can access by clicking here.

From the site, here is a brief summary of why they are doing what they are.
The Challenge (and why we hope you will support us) 
We may have launched this challenge, but it is a challenge we hope all vapers and all of industry can support. We want it to be our challenge – vapers and the electronic cigarette and e-liquid industry, for if the TPD is implemented in its current form we will all lose out. 
We launched this legal challenge to the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive last year, on the grounds that Article 20 of the Directive breaches EU law. 
Specifically, this challenge is based on the view that Article 20 of the TPD represents a disproportionate impediment to the free movement of goods and the free provisions of services, places electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products, fails to comply with the general EU principle of equality, and breaches the fundamental rights of electronic cigarette manufacturers and users.
I'd just add that this is not just for vapers, but anyone who believes in freedom of choice and who resents unwarranted interference and unnecessary regulations.

Do go have a good look around the site, which includes full details of the challenge including the legal documents themselves (something I think Junican will relish). There is an option to sign up in support which I hope many of you will do.

Related reading: For further insight into the Totally Wicked operation, you might like to read about how I followed in Jack Straw's footsteps and wangled an impromptu tour of their premises while visiting a fellow jewel robber in June last year.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bristol's 'Voluntary Ban' On The Weak And Vulnerable

"The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other" - Princess Diana
It's all go at Puddlecote Inc with finance being arranged for a possible premises move and an opportunity of new business which could see us open a third branch in late summer or autumn. This has been made easier thanks to plummeting oil prices contributing to our being quite cash rich at the moment, which is nice. 

Of course, this means I'm incredibly busy so articles here may be sparse for a while. It's a shame as I have a couple of great pieces in mind (about EU-funded bodies bypassing government to promote e-cig bans and a certain state-funded tobacco control industry fake charity's clumsy attempt at blackmail) but they'll have to wait. 

I did note Bristol's "voluntary smoking ban" announced for two public squares yesterday, though, and had the same thoughts on it as Snowdon.
You (Smokefree South West) go ahead and have your pretend ban, the people of Bristol can pretend to obey it, and we'll pretend you're not a parasitic, hateful, puritanical, freedom-hating arm of the government.

Because this comment - echoed by Smokefree South West's hater-in-Chief Fiona Andrews on BBC 5 Live yesterday morning - highlights the nasty nature of these people very well.
“We hope that it ... gives people confidence to ask others to stop if they are smoking.”
As I've always said, smoking bans pander to the most ignorant, anti-social and intolerant in society. The ones who want smoking banned everywhere including places they would never dream of going to; the ones who couldn't really give a platypus fart about the welfare of bar staff, but just like that they can sneer at a group of people they consider 'inferior'; those so crashingly stupid that they can't imagine that technology is available which would adequately solve their personal problem with a whiff of smoke; and the ones who squeal at any mention of an amendment because they know very well that pubs which allowed smoking would be immensely popular. In short, the ones who proudly shout "me. Me! ME!".

And here is Smokefree South West desperately hoping that their 'voluntary ban' - for which there is no valid reason except spite - will empower this type of rancid, self-centred, anti-social tosspot to approach strangers and nag them. 

Or, some of them, at least. Because you know very well how this will work. If you're built like a brick outhouse and ignore the ban, you'll be subjected to a pathetic fake cough in passing and a deliberate avoidance of eye contact just in case you decide to ask what their problem is. Whereas if you're visibly poor, shabbily dressed, a woman - preferably vulnerable and/or pregnant - or an eight stone weakling, your experience of the ban will be a strident hectoring from someone with a superiority complex who would have multiple orgasms if they could make you cry. 

Considering how 'public health' like to talk about protecting the weak and vulnerable, it's ironic that it is the weak and vulnerable who are going to be most bullied by Smokefree South West "giving confidence" to the interfering arseholes in Bristol society. 

Of course, if I'm wrong and one of these judgemental self-installed tobacco policemen decides to impose themselves on someone who can give as good as they get, Bristol's 'ban' invites plenty of scope for violence. Good old tobacco control, eh? Still fostering discord where once there was tolerance and harmony. But what does that matter? Fiona and her pals have to continue to justify getting paid from our taxes somehow.

I've never been to Bristol, never really attracted me. But I quite fancy going there for a smoke at some point in the future now.