Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Taps Drip, Clocks Tick, Tobacco Controllers Lie

Back when the tax parasites in tobacco control set their sights on plain packaging for tobacco, they were very clear about why the policy was required.

If you live in the south west, you may remember this advertising hoarding at the time, paid for by government to lobby government in early 2012.

There are other examples here and here
In case you can't quite make it out, it says:
"Support plain packaging and protect our children"
Cancer Research UK ran a similar campaign, with an almost identical tagline, complete with video featuring loads of cute kids.
"Support the campaign to protect children from tobacco marketing"
This was emphasised further on its campaign page.
"It doesn’t matter if you’re a smoker or not, this campaign isn’t about telling people to quit, it’s about stopping the next generation from starting in the first place."
Smoker-hating MP Stephen Williams was certain about the reason for the policy.
"I was pleased to help launch Europe's first major campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of glitzy tobacco packaging to children"
As was Fiona Andrews of Smokefree South West (link has since been removed, as has Smokefree South West funnily enough).
"Smoking is an epidemic that affects children and moving tobacco products into standardised, plain packaging is designed to protect them; it is not about current smokers."
Andy Lloyd of Fresh NE went further.
"Plain packaging is not about stopping existing smokers but everything to do with protecting children"
As did Stewart Brock of NHS Somerset.
"Smokers start as children and continue as adults. Smoking is an epidemic that affects children and moving tobacco products into standardised, plain packaging is designed to protect them and is not about current smokers."
Every one of those statements above was a lie to a lesser or greater degree to mendaciously sway public opinion and to hoodwink politicians. Because, as we see from ASH's Amanda Sandford this week, there was only one real reason for plain packaging.
Why is the packaging changing?
Ms Sandford said: "This is to make smoking less appealing
"There is evidence that from the changes that have already been made to packaging that it has made people quit smoking
"And that is because people are faced with very harsh health images every time they pick up a pack of cigarettes."
Pretty unequivocal, I think you'll agree.

There are a few rules in life that will always serve you well. One of them is that if you hear or read anything from a tobacco controller, assume they're not telling you the truth. 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The March Of Progress

Thanks to @taffyjock81 on Twitter for this gem.

Back in 2015, ITV news trumpeted the launch of the first ever "quit shop" in Wales. Its unique selling point was quite interesting (emphasis mine).
Wales's first quit smoking shop has opened its doors in Cwmbran. 
It aims to help people quit smoking altogether, rather than simply switching to e-cigarettes.
With the direction of travel in the UK driving headlong towards non-medical avenues such as vaping, Stop Smoking Wales had decided to buck the trend and ignore what is quite obviously the future. All that was needed, they figured, was a shop instead of a clinic. Brilliant! Then the state-sponsored gum would fly off the shelves! Very smart it looked too!

Communities and forums would soon be created, there would be Patchfest 2015 and, most importantly, Stop Smoking Advisers would save themselves from the dole.

The problem, though - as with all public sector operations - is that they were thinking with someone else's wallet rather than their brains. It's been pretty clear for quite some time where the wise money is going.
A sharp decline in the number of smokers using an NHS support programme to help them quit has been linked to the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes.  
Nationwide figures have shown a similar trend to those in the south west of Scotland.  
In 2013, the Information Services Division reported that the number of attempts to stop smoking had fallen by 13% compared with 2012.
A businessman would conclude that throwing a bigger overhead at a decreasing client base is not a particularly good idea, but where there's a magic money tree there's a way, eh? Or maybe not.
It is a trial by Stop Smoking Wales which, if successful, could result in more 'stop shops' opening across Wales.
It doesn't look to have been that successful as a trailblazer, sadly, since it wasn't long before this scintillating idea was relegated to a trestle table in the shopping centre.

It seems that the shop has since been abandoned entirely as the silly idea that it was, and has now been replaced by something far more suited to make money from exactly the same site. I'm sure you're well ahead of me in guessing what is there now instead.

What delicious irony, huh? God Speed Infinity Mist Cwmbran, and all who sail in her. 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Bans Destroy Businesses, Why Lie About It?

Following on from yesterday's article about attitudes to the smoking ban in Wales, one of the biggest lies (of thousands) that the tobacco control industry has ever told is that hospitality businesses are not affected by smoking bans. In fact, it is laughably claimed that they flourish.

The advance notice of the tens of thousands of pub closures we have now seen due to the smoking ban in the UK were blithely dismissed by Linda Bauld back in 2011 (her 'review' is neatly filleted here). Apparently there was no evidence whatsoever that it had happened, or would happen ... even though there was tons of it at the time which was ignored.
If ASH had the slightest interest in seeking the truth, they could easily have consulted figures from the British Beer and Pub Association which show that over 4,000 pubs have closed since the ban came in.
Or they could have looked at the survey from the British Institute of Innkeeping, which found:
  • The proportion of smoking customers dropped from 54% to 38%;
  • 66% reported that their smoking customers were staying for shorter periods;
  • 75% reported that smokers were visiting less frequently;
  • 47% of businesses had laid off staff, although 5% had recruited additional staff;
  • Income from drinks fell by 9.8%;
  • Income from gaming machines fell by 13.5%.
They didn't do any of this. Would it really hurt them to at least acknowledge that thousands of pubs have closed? Do they really have to deny everything?
Likewise, the collapse of bingo halls which just happened to have occurred after July 1st 2007 was just a sad coincidence.

The same happens in the US with their casinos. Here, for example is one such {cough} thriving establishment in 2015 where a picture tells a thousand words.

But it's never the smoking ban which did it. Oh no sirree!

So it's not a surprise that Harrah's in New Orleans is reporting more of the same.
Caesars Entertainment president and CEO Mark Frissora said Harrah's in New Orleans lost about $70 million in revenue during the two years following the start of the smoking ban in New Orleans in April 2015. He and other executives spoke to the task force Tuesday (March 21) at the Capitol. 
Frissora said the ban makes it difficult to compete with venues in the surrounding area, because it only affects Orleans Parish. 
"It's not fair because everyone else around us doesn't have the smoking ban," Frissora argued.  
Task Force chairman Ronnie Jones pointed out that revenues for neighboring properties were decreasing before the ban, and now the reverse is happening: revenues at the New Orleans' location are decreasing as the neighboring properties are increasing.  
"I'm not a scientist," Jones said. "But I think the smoking ban had an impact."
No shit!

Erm, isn't that whole people-voting-with-their-feet thing supposed to be happening in the opposite direction? Shouldn't grateful gamblers be gravitating towards the Utopia of New Orleans casinos instead of the other way around?

In every jusrisdiction, in every country, in every single case, the hospitality industry suffers smoking bans and is collectively forced to spend fortunes (which is eventually borne by the customer) in order to re-attract some of the customers it has lost.

All to protect against the 'problem' of secondhand smoke which is the biggest lie tobacco control has ever told.

There is something of an irony in the fact that the UK is now seeing vaping bans running like wildfire through the private sector which has been conned by the apparent 'success' of smoking bans; after all, vapers merely have to step outside as smokers were told back in 2007, no biggie is it?

Except that it was a mythical 'success' which was helped along by the aforementioned Linda Bauld who is now a champion of vaping. Be in no doubt that without the confidence trick the smoking ban played on pubs, clubs, bingo halls and sports stadia in the past decades, there would be absolutely no appetite in 2017 for treating customers like shit and excluding them for something as inconsequential as vaping. One of the many architects of the smoking ban is responsible for that and is now valiantly trying to stem the tidal wave of bullshit her 'review' helped to encourage.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I truly wish tobacco controllers had the courage of their convictions to declare that, yes, bans do destroy businesses (which they damn well know), but that they will eventually adapt to something close to what they were before. But sadly tobacco controllers are too timid to try that approach in case they don't get their illiberal legislation bullied through and subsequently lose funding from our taxes. Lying to politicians is their product and one of the biggest porkies they have ever told is that - against all credible evidence - bans benefit businesses. They don't, and some who created that mistaken belief are now finding out how damaging to everyone such deceitful self-interested spin can be.

Perhaps some might be better served admitting that there most certainly is a slippery slope, and they should be very wary about liberally greasing it in case it comes back to claim them one day too. 

The Debate Will Never Be Over

Two sound bites you will regularly hear from those in the tobacco control industry is that, when it comes to smoking bans and secondhand smoke, "the science is settled" and "the debate is over". This is classic political rhetoric designed to sway the public into backing the winner, a natural human psychological tendency.

It was, as Debs Arnott of ASH boasted at the time, "a confidence trick".
It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition. The week before the free vote we made sure the government got the message that we "knew" we were going to win and it would be better for them to be on the winning side.
Of course, part of the reason they like to say the science is settled is because it simply isn't and they'd prefer you didn't look into it too much; and the reason they say the debate is over is that they simply don't want to debate the issue fairly because they know they'd lose. They even have an international treaty article specifically designed to silence all dissent - which they wield at every opportunity and purposely misinterpret - to con politicians into thinking that they are the only voices which should be listened to. This is necessary only because they know damn well that their case is extremely weak, some would say even criminally fraudulent.

The whole thing is a decades old pack of lies based on deliberately manipulated junk science and massive exaggeration of risk, as I mentioned earlier this week.

Sadly for them, though, the very weakness of their case means that however much they propagandise to the media things that they know very well are bald-faced lies, they will always struggle to get away with it.

Via WalesOnline:
A poll has revealed almost 60% of Welsh people want smoking rooms in pubs but nearly 50% want the habit banned on beaches. 
The survey was carried out by pollsters Populus, who asked 1,000 adults in Wales about their views earlier this month. 
It showed 58% backed smoking rooms and 48% backed beach bans - 46% thought people should be allowed to puff on the sand and 6% did not know.
Ten years on from the smoking ban being rolled out in Wales, this shows that the debate is still live, and it's live because there are significant numbers of people who simply don't believe something as benign as a few wisps of smoke warranted the destruction of the hospitality industry in Wales and subsequently the UK. If it was about health - which it wasn't - there were plenty other solutions which could have been considered, but none would have satisfied the vile bullies in tobacco control.

And bullies is the right word. If you have not seen it, and if you can stomach it, you can read in this document how the tobacco control lobby didn't simply present their junk science and hope that a ban would appear. It is a gleeful account from Arnott and Martin Dockrell about how they forced a government to abandon a democratically-accepted manifesto commitment by using division, chaos, propaganda, personal attacks on opponents and, yes, "a confidence trick".

The truth is that when the Health Act 2006 was passed there was absolutely no appetite for the ban we had inflicted on us in the UK. Only 33% of the public favoured an outright ban, as documented by the ONS [pdf] until they stopped asking the question so as to save the Labour government's blushes.

Click to enlarge

It doesn't look like things have changed that much since either. A majority of the sane (only 26% of those polled were smokers) still believe there are better options than the hideous result we now have to suffer.

Even the bansturbators themselves seem confused about what the ban was meant to be about, as the WalesOnline article also shows.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of anti-smoking charity Ash, dismissed the poll. 
“The benefits of smoke-free laws are not a matter of public opinion,” she said.
Hmm, interesting. That doesn't stop her and her freedom-stifling ilk from relying on public opinion when there is no threat to health whatsoever though, does it?
“The reason there is a complete ban on smoking in pubs, and smoking rooms in pubs are forbidden is that they do not protect the workers from the harmful effects of smoke.”
Wow! The bar workers get a look-in again! She must have got her feather duster out to clean that argument up, so long is it that we've heard it. Because once the bans were passed in Wales, Scotland and the UK, the emphasis instantly changed and was all about how the legislation would lead to a reduction in smoking prevalence (which didn't actually happen until e-cigs arrived later).

She is also being disingenuous because she knows very well that the studies corralled and tortured to come up with the paltry and largely irrelevant 24% increased risk in the SCOTH report were based on persistent exposure to smoke indoors over decades. They did not, and never will, measure harm from a "separate, well-ventilated designated smoking room" as was the focus of this poll. There's a reason for that, it's because they know that even their trademark brand of fake science has no chance of establishing any significant credible risk, so they'll not even attempt it.
“In England the Department of Health commissioned a report on the impact of the ban on smoking in public places,” she said. 
“It found bar workers’ health increased considerably after the laws came into force and their respiratory function improved. 
“In the first year there were 1,200 fewer admissions for heart attacks, purely because of the legislation.”
This is Debs at her junk-science toting best. Spouting about the now much-derided heart attack "miracle" scams puts her into the same kind of category as anti-vaxxers and people who believe the moon landings were faked. Quite apart from their being quite impossible, heart attack miracles have been rubbished even by those who think smoking bans are a great idea.

Besides, the Welsh authorities have a different, and undoubtedly more accurate, justification for the bans.
The Welsh Government said the smoking ban “played an important part of our efforts to reduce smoking rates in Wales, with the percentage of adults smoking now at a record low.” 
“Welsh Health Survey 2015 showed 19% of adults reported they currently smoke, down from 26% in 2003-04,” a spokesman said.
Yep, bullying smokers to quit, as if we didn't know it already.

So it looks like the debate isn't over, after all. And much as the richly state-funded sock puppets in the tobacco control industry would like to think the science is settled, it isn't because they have only innuendo, sleight of hand and conniving lobbying on their side. It seems that the public have noticed this and are ensuring that however much the liars in tobacco control lie, this is one subject that will not go away. Nor should it. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Latest EU Health Commissioner Hasn't A Clue Either

A few years ago I wrote about why appointing EU commissioners from low populated states ensured their incompetence.
When England play football against San Marino, what generally happens? Well, they get thrashed of course. In fact, they get thrashed by just about everyone because they're pants. Even Scotland can put a couple past them! 
It's not their fault. It's just that their population is so small that there is very little talent to choose from. Pitting 31,000 San Marinoans - or whatever they're called - against 53 million Englanders is only going to end in one result. 
It's why, in football, San Marino are not given equal privileges with more successful (normally more populated) nations. They are not thrown into competition draws on an equal footing with Germany and Spain because that would be monumentally stupid; would make football a laughing stock; and would result in the game being devalued as a result. 
The situation with the EU is entirely different, though. You see, there are 27 member nations and they are all treated equally, which means that the least populous member - Malta with fewer than 500,000 citizens - is afforded the same importance as Germany (with 81 million) when it comes to allocating EU Commissioners
Worse than that, though, Malta isn't handed something inconsequential which can't harm one billion EU citizens - like pronouncing on treatment of stray ducks, for example - no, they are currently placed in charge of the continent's health!
The EU, however, has corrected this fundamental problem and has since installed a Lithuanian, Vytenis Andriukaitis, to carry the portfolio for half a billion EU citizens. It's a step in the right direction considering the country's population is close to 3 million!

Sadly, not a significant step because the EU health gig is still being handled by an idiot. Here are a few excerpts from his speech to the European Conference on Tobacco or Health (ECToH) in Porto this week.
Some people say smoking is a matter of choice. Is it really? Do you have a choice if you start smoking as a teenager, as most people do, and then get addicted? Addiction is not a choice! 
Do you have a choice if you use a product that can kill you – and you did not know about it?
Where have you been Vytenis? The EU has demanded cigarette packs say "Smoking Kills" in bold font for nearly 15 years now. The dangers of smoking have been pretty well-known for 50 years, the teaching of anti-smoking propaganda in schools is de rigeur in every nation on the planet. Did not know about it? Great advert for the knuckle-dragging nature of your citizens if that's what you believe, chum.
Evidence shows that people are less likely to smoke if packs display these warnings uninterrupted by branding, logos and marketing designs. This is what we call plain packaging.
Evidence shows nothing of the sort, sunshine. We'll presume that you're playing to the crowd with bullshit considering your crowd is trouser-stuffing tax troughers who desperately need to make plain packaging a success, despite no evidence anywhere in the world proving that it is.
One person's freedom to smoke cannot override another person's right not be exposed to carcinogenics! This is a violation of children's rights.
Carcinogenics? (sic)
It comes as no surprise that the countries ranking the highest - in the new Tobacco Control Scale presented earlier - are implementing well some of the measures I have mentioned.
Yep, just a shame that their ranking in the scale has no bearing whatsoever as to how successful they are at reducing smoking prevalence.
In addition, we must follow closely the scientific and market developments regarding electronic cigarettes – these should not become the gateway for new smokers.
Well, Vytenis, if you actually did follow the "scientific developments" you'd know that there is no gateway, it's a manufactured tobacco control wank fantasy, nothing more.
And if e-cigarettes are to be considered as a possible smoking cessation tool, then they need to be authorised as pharmaceuticals and sold in pharmacies.
They're already a cessation tool for millions; for the vast majority specifically because they are not a pharmaceutical product. At this point we need to refer to Lithuania's e-cig policy and, surprise surprise, they're banned.

Nothing much changes, does it? In 2013, we had a Maltese moron who declared that e-cigs are as bad as smoking, now we have another low-intellect Commissioner from a different non-league nation spouting the same execrable bollocks while the clapping seals of ignorant tobacco controllers lap it all up.

I emphasise, again, that this cretin is in charge of the health of half a billion people, while I'm struggling to understand how he manages to cram so much stupid into just the one life.

Remind me, when is it we are allowed to leave the EU? 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

When Is 24% Not 24%?

There's been a lot of oil-spreading today from 'public health' extremists trying to calm waters after a landmark study showed that moderate drinking is better for your health than not drinking at all.
Reduce your chances of having a heart attack by a THIRD with a daily pint or glass of wine 
People who drink in moderation can also slash their risk of dying young by a quarter - even compared to teetotallers
OK, that's The Sun, but it was also widely covered by other news sources. The important bit in this is what The Sun calls "a quarter". The figure, if you look at the source in the BMJ, is an increase in risk of 24% or - in epidemiological terms - a relative risk (RR) of 1.24.

This, strangely enough, is exactly the same RR that the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) - after a generation long campaign of policy-driven cultivated junk science - came up with for your increased chances (not absolute chance) of lung cancer and heart disease from secondhand smoke if you live with a smoker for decades. On the basis of this {cough} incredibly huge risk from about 1 in a thousand to 1.24 in a thousand, property rights were destroyed and smoking banned in every pub, bingo hall, working mens club, office, garage, works van and bus shelter with more than 50% shelter in the whole of the country.

It was compelling; a definite and incontrovertible health threat.

About the time the BMA and ASH were promoting this 24% figure as an Armageddon which has seen the corpses of bar workers piled high in British pubs, the exact same increased RR for heart attacks was dismissed as irrelevant when related to Ibuprofen, as reported by the BBC.
For ibuprofen, the odds increased by almost a quarter (24%), and for diclofenac it rose by over a half (55%). For celecoxib the odds increased by a fifth (21%) and for rofecoxib it rose by a third (32%).
It's very important that people don't panic; hundreds of thousands of arthritis patients take these drugs without problems or side effects 
A spokeswoman from Arthritis Research Campaign
But this translates into a low actual risk.
So what is the reaction by 'public health' to this same RR for teetotalism today? Well, it's kinda a bit meh. They have dismissed it as if it's inconsequential, as if it's not worth even worrying about. The responses have generally been that there are far worse things in life to fuss over, nothing to see here, move on.

As Snowdon notes in Spectator Health, this is the very height of hypocrisy.
If moderate drinking was a pharmaceutical with the same weight of evidence behind it, doctors would be prescribing it. If it was a fruit, wellness gurus would be getting rich off it. But you will never hear anyone from the ‘public health’ lobby telling teetotallers to start drinking. You will seldom even hear them acknowledge the fact that teetotallers die younger. More likely, you will see them resorting to long-debunked arguments to cast doubt on the scientific evidence. They will do almost anything to avoid advising people to drink alcohol. 
On the face of it, this is remarkable. We live in an age in which weak epidemiological associations are used to justify all manner of interventions in people’s lifestyles and yet here is a strong, proven link between the consumption of a product and substantially lower risks of both heart disease and overall mortality, and yet it is treated as a trivial factoid.
How does a 24% relative risk over a very long period indoors translate to "no safe level" of exposure to secondhand smoke even if it's outdoors briefly on a windy day, and lead to liberty-destroying bans and the destruction of the hospitality industry, yet the same 24% when it goes against prohibitionist 'public health' ideology is all of a sudden something to be ignored? When is 24% dangerous in 'public health' communications and when is 24% not?

I think we should be told. I also think we should be told why one 24% figure is used to deliberately decimate pubs and the other one - which would be favourable to pubs - is derided as not very important at all.

It's never been about health, has it? 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

May As Well Smoke Tons, Says Fresh North East

The echo chamber of tobacco control can be a quite remarkable thing at times.

Yesterday, entirely state-funded anti-smoking sock muppets Fresh North East published possibly the worst advice I've ever seen from an organisation of their kind.
Warning to light and social smokers
SMOKERS who've cut down are being warned they are still facing significant risks of cancer and heart disease unless they quit or switch as a campaign launches today. 
But with many smokers cutting down to ten or fewer cigarettes a day, or to hand rolling tobacco, Fresh is warning people not to ignore the substantial risks from smoking only a few cigarettes a day.

As well as record numbers of people quitting in the North East, a survey by Fresh found many smokers have cut down - with 1 in five smokers consuming five or fewer cigarettes a day compared to 1 in 10 smokers in 2009.
This is entirely down to the tobacco control fallacy that smoking one cigarette a month is on a par with smoking 40 a day. It is scientifically preposterous and puts them into the same category as 15th Century knuckle-draggers who opposed Paracelsus's claim that the dose makes the poison.

They don't actually believe that, of course, because most of what the tobacco control industry comes out with is cleverly-worded lies. This is no exception.
[Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said:] "Cost and awareness of the health risks are both factors. If you only smoke a few cigarettes a day, it must be tempting to hope the risks don't apply. However, the evidence is clear that even a few cigarettes a day can cause cancer and heart disease, and change lives forever.
That may or may not be correct, but it most certainly is true that if you smoke a few cigs every now and then the risks will be far lower than if you walk around like a human chimney.

So wedded to the quit or die approach are these idiots that they cannot even contemplate celebrating the fact that smokers are smoking fewer cigarettes and cutting down their exposure.
Prof John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and a consultant in respiratory medicine, said: "Many smokers who are aware of the risks will cut down on how much they smoke, hoping this will reduce the harm."
Well, it will, John, there is absolutely no doubt about that. There might still be a potential for harm, but - just like you have far less chance of being run over by a bus if you run in front of it once instead of 20 times a day - the potential is much reduced if you smoke less. To deny that is right up there with anti-vaccination fuckwittery.

Yet this is the state of corralled anti-scientific groupthink that the government funds these days. Utter garbage presented as sage advice and with unintended consequences written all over it.

It's clear, as usual, that these anti-smoking organisations don't understand smokers even one tiny bit. It's often like they've never actually fucking met one! If you are, or have ever been, a smoker you'd know that there is only one message this sends; don't bother cutting down, the risk is the same so you may as well carry on smoking lots.

For committed smokers who enjoy tobacco - like those studied by Neil McKegany for his Pleasure of Smoking report at Christmas - this is exactly the type of thing they will seize on to explain why they carry on smoking with abandon. Why cut down if there is no benefit, eh? May as well just smoke as many as I like.

There are times when ideology trumps sound thinking, and the tobacco control industry is guilty of that on a daily basis. However, this advice is so pathetic and utterly poor that you have to wonder if it's designed specifically to keep smokers smoking. I can't imagine why a state-funded organisation that relies on there being smokers for its income would go for that approach, of course, but maybe you could enlighten me.

Someone did ask them for more information but there's not been a reply thus far.

I'm sure it will be forthcoming.