Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Halfwits Of Nottingham

Sometimes you just have to laugh at incompetent public sector clowns like this.
Anti-smoking council has £85m invested in tobacco companies 
It comes after the county council banned all staff from taking cigarette breaks while at work
A bit hypocritical, yes. Although any council who disinvests from tobacco is showing how incredibly stupid they are more than anything else, as I have written before.

But let's go with the retarded premise that they should do so anyway and crucify the returns for their pensioners. So what's their excuse?
[Nottingham County council pensions chief, Nigel Stephenson, said]: A lot of the tobacco companies have moved into smoking alternatives. Companies do realise that the number of people who smoke is decreasing, and they need to help themselves survive by moving into other markets.
Yes, and your council banned them too! No, they really did.
A council has approved plans to ban its thousands of employees from smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes in its buildings, land and in its vehicles. 
Dr Chris Kenny, director of public health at the council, said he hoped the authority would be seen as a "beacon of health".
It's like the daft cocksockets don't even talk to each other, isn't it?

No, Mr Kenny (you are too stupid to merit the title Dr), you won't be seen as a "beacon of health" because since last week you have been shown up to be a cretin.
PHE recommends that e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy.
If you live in Nottingham and have to pay council tax to such morons, you have my sympathy. I wouldn't even employ them to sweep my warehouse, quite frankly. 



Sunday, 23 July 2017

World Class Straw-Clutching

Last week's publication of the Australian government's inquiry into e-cigs was, as I wrote last Saturday, remarkable for the bravery of Aussie vapers in submitting their stories of use in a country where possession of nicotine without a prescription is a crime.

However, as evidence mounts up worldwide as to the benefits of e-cigs, renowned fossilised Sydney moonhowler Simon Chapman continues, Canute-like, to spread as much doubt as he can possibly muster while all around him others slowly back away from his lunacy. His own submission [PDF] to the Aussie inquiry - co-authored by three of the vanishingly tiny number of people he can still find in the world who think on the same kind of anti-vaxxer conspiracy level as him, including some low-grade physiotherapist from Lincoln - is a masterclass in desperate cherry-picking, exemplified by this page.

Click to enlarge
Six citations, carefully selected to endorse his view that e-cigs should remain banned in Australia if they are used with liquid containing nicotine. Can you just imagine the level of irrational hatred of vaping the guy must have to seize on any mild expression of doubt and keep the links for future reference ... sometimes for years.

Take, for example his reference to the British Heart Foundation. It was from their advice dating back to 2014. Now, I know that life comes at you fast in your senior years but their view has softened quite considerably since.
We recognise that e-cigarettes are increasingly being used as a cessation aid. It is therefore important they should be regulated (and responsibly marketed) for this purpose. 
So, therefore, legal as opposed to Chapman's recommendation to the Australian government.

Likewise, Public Health Wales updated their guidance in January, but Chapman omitted this part.
“We recognise that there are a lot of confusing and contradictory messages around e-cigarettes. This is because there isn’t one simple answer – it is different for different groups of the population.  
“In simple terms, if you don’t smoke, don’t vape. But if you are a committed smoker who is unwilling or unable to quit, switching completely to e-cigarettes will be beneficial to your health.”
ASH Scotland also disagree with Chapman's Luddite binary thinking.
We believe that ‘vaping’ will prove to be much less harmful than smoking – but not harmless, as some have suggested. So for a smoker to switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes will bring significant health benefits, and we recommend any smoker to try the various options which might help them to quit tobacco, including e-cigarettes.
Meanwhile, his reference to a bizarre headline-grabbing quote about e-cigs being banned in public from the incoming head of the Royal Society of Public Health ignores the fact that, not only did the RSPH sign in support of PHE's declaration of "a developing public health consensus" surrounding e-cigs, they have also said that "exclusion zones must exempt e-cigarettes" in their 2017 General Election 'manifesto.

Similarly, his cherry-picked quote from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society disregards their overall view that e-cigs are beneficial and, therefore, would probably not agree with Chapman's dinosaur view that they should remain illegal.
"We have expressed concern over possible safety issues of using e-cigarettes, as well as a lack of evidence of their efficacy when used for smoking cessation. Despite this, the organisation recognises they have a potential role to play in helping smokers reduce and stop smoking in the short term, or as a pathway to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)."
All that's left is the BMA, which is a union, and is completely at odds with the Royal College of Physicians, which is not, and states that "e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking" and that "e-cigarettes can act as a gateway from smoking".

This last one is quite important considering Chapman's hilarious hint that the Aussie government should leave him and his oddball clique to carry on making shit decisions about vaping.
With respect, parliamentary committees are not in a position to assess the scientific quality of specialised toxicological research such as that we have highlighted in this submission and in Appendices 1 and 2 . In Australia, that is very obviously and properly the role of expert bodies like the TGA and the NHMRC which can convene and commission independent scientific expertise to advise governments. 
Who do you trust about evidence of there being a gateway into or out of smoking? A world-respected UK college or a bunch of politically-driven unionised doctors? I would suggest that the BMA are "not in a position to assess the scientific quality of specialised toxicological research" as much as the RCP are, and I suspect that the Aussie parliamentary committe might be of the same view once they have stopped laughing at Chapman's contempt towards their work.

Each one of these references is chosen specifically to raise doubt and muddy the waters. His entire 93 page submission is along the same lines, just slinging shit like a baboon and hoping some sticks. For someone who condemns the tobacco industry's "merchants of doubt" tactics back in the 1960s when he still had hair, Chapman does a bloody good impression of the same methodology.

Still, Chappers has a lot to defend; and that is to keep tobacco controllers in work for the future. His chosen policy of keeping e-cigs illegal has only one purpose while other - more-enlightened - juridictions are seeing stunning results from legal vaping. Clive Bates's recent graphic illustrates this starkly.

Since 2013, UK smoking prevalence fell at three times the rate of Australia despite Australia’s plain packs and sharp tax increases. Why might that be?

Chapman's submission is full of such crap doubt-fostering, and offers nothing new to the debate. It's just some old guy who has realised he is in danger of being on the wrong side of history and is desperately clutching at whatever meagre straws he can find, along with his customary piss poor grasp of mathematics.


Fortunately, his desperate last gasp flailing was overwhelmed by the considered responses from hundreds of others (from the 332 in total) who submitted scientific and anecdotal evidence that isolate Chapman as a sadsack outlier who should be told to put down the spade, stop digging, and go sit in the bathchair in the corner to be ignored. You can read many of them by clicking on this tweet and seeing the thread beneath it.


It is quite apt that the Sydney pensioner's career in 'public health' began via his vandalising Marlboro adverts at bus stops, and is now culminating with his daubing inane shit all over his country's policy-making process.



Wednesday, 19 July 2017

"Get Him Off The Island, Export The Problem"


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

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

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



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Order In The Popcorn For The North West


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is this we see in the TCP today?
4. Backing evidence based innovations to support quitting
We are committed to evidence-based policy making, so we aim to: 
• Help people to quit smoking by permitting innovative technologies that minimise the risk of harm.
Maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking
The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products
[...] 
Public Health England has produced guidance for employers and organisations looking to introduce policies around e-cigarettes and vaping in public and recommend such policies to be evidence-based. PHE recommends that e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy
[...] 
PHE will update their evidence report on e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery systems annually until the end of the Parliament in 2022 and will include within quit smoking campaigns messages about the relative safety of e-cigarettes.
Ha! These are your orders, Rajpura, Capewell, Ireland & Ashton. You are now required to include e-cigs in your literature and actively promote vaping, even be nice to vapers too! To borrow a phrase, "the buggers are legal now", so how's them apples, huh?

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

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



Monday, 17 July 2017

Evidence, Did You Say?

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

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



Saturday, 15 July 2017

Cowardice In The Face Of Bravery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Thursday, 6 July 2017

WATCH: Prohibitionists Always Lose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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