Sunday, 18 February 2018

Tobacco Tactics Announces 400 Tobacco Shills Due In Warsaw In June

CRUK and PHE speaking at a 'tobacco industry front group' in 2017
Only the other day I said that tobacco control had jumped the shark, but they just heroically leaped an even bigger one. Try not to laugh too much - because I think they are actually serious about this?

Many will remember us having fun with my page at the Tobacco Tactics website a few years ago. I was and am immensely proud to have been included (a screenshot of it is my Twitter banner) because if a bunch of routinely mendacious gutter-dwellers scratching around for pathetic smears see fit to fling a few at me, I must be doing something right.

However, for others this vile enterprise could cause real damage. I remember at the time of its launch that one individual mentioned had dog shit pushed through their letter box, and others who are undeservedly included could face consequences which would both harm the cause of public health and damage careers for no reason whatsoever.

There has been a lot of activity on the site recently, and just last week - incredibly - they added a page on the Global Forum on Nicotine. If you ever needed proof that the tobacco control cartel has absolutely no care about the public's health, this is game, set and match. I rest my case M'lud.

GFN has always irritated tobacco control because it commits a number of health nazi no-nos. 1) It dares to invite interested consumers to the event and {gasp} allows them to ask questions! Sometimes even speak on a panel! 2) It is open and transparent, providing its content free online for anyone to view and, crucially, 3) It involves all sides of the debate and refuses to buckle to tobacco control fascists who - as they do in every conference they ever organise themselves - demand that inconvenient voices be silenced.

Tobacco control conferences are designed solely to keep the prohibitionist bandwagon going, be a platform for the TC echo chamber to reinforce their lying agenda, and are never really interested in health. GFN actually is interested in health ... so of course Tobacco Tactics has attacked it.

It is curious because one of the 'crimes' GFN has committed is to set up a scholarship programme, described by TT thus:
The sponsorship programme, which in 2018 awarded 15 scholarships to projects up to the value of US$7,500 each, aimed to: 
- build research capacity in the field of tobacco harm reduction;
- develop the evidence base;
- raise awareness of research and its implications for public health policy;
- enable consumers to make more informed personal health choices; and
- improve the implementation and understanding of tobacco harm reduction
Sounds good doesn't it? Well not for the tobacco control industry, no. Because, you see, they don't really care about decent research being carried out because their focus is on salaries and keeping their truth-free cult vaccinated against heresy. To illustrate the level of totalitarian control this site promotes, the term "tobacco harm reduction" links to a page where it is implied that THR is a concept created by the tobacco industry. It's like HIV prevention, methadone, safe needle exchanges and car safety zones have never existed. The fact that the two main drivers behind the conference are a highly-respected Professor of Public Health recognised for a lifetime of dedication towards reducing harm from drug abuse, and a former Prison Service administrator, who has organised conferences all over the world on drug harm reduction and city health programmes for decades, is irrelevant to the vile maggots behind Tobacco Tactics. Why seek out what will work for reducing smoking when you can just indiscriminately smear people to protect jobs in tobacco control, eh?

But what really grips their shit about this is the scholarships in question are being funded from a grant offered by the Foundation for a Smoke Free World, which tax-sponging tobacco controllers are currently screaming like fuck about and trying their utmost to kill. It threatens their cosy scam so they just hurl ad hominems around due to it being funded without restriction or input by Philip Morris.

This funding - obviously, according to tobacco controllers - means that anyone taking that money is being directed and controlled by 'Big Tobacco'. Yet, for some reason, it's completely different for the Tobacco Tactics site:
The making of TobaccoTactics was funded by by Cancer Research UK Limited and Smokefree South West. These funders have had no input into the research or its conclusions. They are not responsible for any content on or the publication of the wiki, and they do not necessarily endorse any of it.
I'm sorry, but they can't have it both ways. Either you can fund an initiative and it can be entirely impartial, or you can't. Therefore, if PMI are being assumed to be pulling the strings behind FSFW - and therefore, by extension, GFN -  then so must we assume CRUK are doing the same for Tobacco Tactics, yes? There is one less step of separation between CRUK and TT, so tobacco control's logic dictates that CRUK's influence must be far more acute than PMI's over GFN, surely?

Hey, they're not my rules, they are entirely those of Tobacco Tactics. Anything else would be weapons grade hypocrisy from tobacco control.

Which is all quite funny considering a site funded by CRUK is attacking a conference which regularly invites people in receipt of CRUK funding to speak, sometimes even people they describe as CRUK representatives. If GFN is now a tobacco industry front group, as Tobacco Tactics implies, then surely we should soon expect pages designed to highlight their treachery. In fact, since CRUK allow these people to attend, they are obviously in cahoots with GFN so CRUK should have their own page too.

Absurd? Yes, of course, but it's just another day through the looking glass with the morally bankrupt 'public health' Goliath.

Other desperate allegations against GFN are that they "breach FCTC rules", citing Article 5.3. This is a guideline which applies to governments "in accordance with national law". How GFN - a conference organised by a private company (hint to tobacco control: private companies are not governments) - has "breached" something that doesn't apply to it is anyone's guess, but I venture to suggest that it's just Tobacco Tactics fully intending a lie to be accepted as truth, a common tobacco control tactic.

Lastly, the laughable site accuses GFN of the 'crime' of inviting panellists with tobacco company links. They specifically list nine of them. Now, considering in the 5 years that GFN has been going they have invited approximately 150 speakers, any sane individual would conclude that the vast majority of panellists are public health researchers and academics. It's not really looking like much of a tobacco industry front group to me, especially since Simon Clark has criticised it numerous times. As conspiracy theories go, David Icke is looking pretty unremarkable when compared to the woo being peddled by Tobacco Tactics. But hey, that CRUK funding has to be earned, and the only way to do that is to keep simpering back to their masters with new and ever more bizarre 'targets' like a panting Labrador fetching a stick in the park and hurtling back for its reward of a petting session.

Like children who think there are monsters in the wardrobe, anyone who has even interacted with a tobacco company employee is game for this ridiculous website (in one laughable entry, someone who admitted they were bought drinks by a company "and reciprocated" was deserving of a TT page ... yes, just buying rounds in a pub is now on their radar. It really is that pathetic). But now it seems Tobacco Tactics is trying to undermine a conference which is trying to facilitate ways of reducing smoking, and is indirectly incriminating its own side, including representatives of its funders along with academics and NGOs in doing so. I suppose if it means Deborah Arnott - a speaker at every GFN so far - refuses to turn up on principle (because surely she now should or she would deserve her own page too) it will be a win, but what a daft state of affairs.

Around 400 people will be at the GFN event in Warsaw in June, along with over 50 journalists. According to Tobacco Tactics, we can now assume that they are all supporting a tobacco industry front group.

However, the very worst part of this whole farce is why state-funded Bath University (and previously the fortunately now dead Smokefree South West) is wasting taxpayers' money to fund something that is targeting forces for good like GFN? And why is CRUK spending cash donated to research cancer - their ads say that's where it goes, I saw one today - to fund bottom-feeding maggots like those who write absurd entries like the GFN one in Tobacco Tactics?

Ooh, I see Tobacco Tactics has a right to reply page, complete with an email address. I wonder whether they reply to it if contacted? 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The WHO Has Finally Lost It

It's long been a tactic of fraudulent, debate-phobic, anti-smoking organisations to react to a threat to their propaganda by simply pointing a Neanderthal finger and grunting "ug, Big Tobacco". It's just far easier than ​defending their extremist quackery with reasoned argument, just as their stock-in-trade junk science is easier than actually doing the proper stuff.

The problem for them, though, is that methods which worked to dupe a gullible public with smoking don't help achieve the same confidence trick for the plethora of reduced risk products increasingly coming to the market, and they are too stupid to realise that. So it puts them in a position of often being left with impotent arguments which, quite frankly, make them look extremely silly.

Take the World Health Organisation's press release on 9th February for example. Now, either it was written by a 12 year old or the WHO have gone stark staring bonkers.
WHO condemns misleading use of its name in marketing of heated tobacco products 
BAT claims that the vapour formed by the heating the process “contains around 90-95% less toxicants than the smoke in conventional cigarettes.” The company qualifies this claim in a footnote by stating:
This is a comparison between the smoke from combusted tobacco in a standard 3R4F reference cigarette (approximately 9mg tar), and the vapour from heated tobacco in gloTM, in terms of the nine types of harmful components which the World Health Organisation recommends to reduce. These qualities do not necessarily mean this product produces less adverse health effects than other tobacco products
Today, WHO clarifies that it is in no way endorsing BAT’s product nor the company’s claims concerning about the product.
I don't think anyone in their right mind would consider that the low intellect shroud-waving blowhards at the WHO would ever endorse a BAT product, and it's not what BAT would have been hoping for anyway.

You see, these cretins at the WHO are actually condemning BAT for, erm, following WHO guidance on what toxins the WHO demand be reduced in tobacco smoke. Here they are.

So, WHO release guidance of what must be done. BAT do it and find they have reduced the levels of those nine toxicants by 90%-95%. WHO slams BAT for actually taking the increasingly pathetic WHO seriously. Incredible.

They didn't leave it at that, either, moon-howlers never do. So they illustrated their world-class ignorance by screaming it on social media as well.

In their PR, the WHO was also very quick to angrily dismiss any claims about reduced risk for BAT's new heated tobacco product.
Currently, there is no evidence to demonstrate that HTPs are less harmful than conventional tobacco products. Some tobacco industry-funded studies have claimed that there are significant reductions in the formation of and exposure to harmful and potentially harmful constituents relative to standard cigarettes. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that reduced exposure to these chemicals translates to reduced risk in humans. Therefore, additional independent studies will be required to substantiate claims of reduced risk/harm.
Well yes, you fucking supranational idiots. This is why BAT specifically said "These qualities do not necessarily mean this product produces less adverse health effects than other tobacco products" in their publicity. You even quoted it, just scroll up in the thing you just bloody wrote for Chrissakes.

BAT played by your pathetic rules and you didn't like it, did you? Your knuckle-dragging execs just wanted to take aim at a tobacco company but ended up punching themselves in their fucktarded faces with their own misapplied logic. This is car crash stuff. 

And as for "no evidence", what was the point of the WHO advocating for a reduction in toxicants if they are now claiming that, magically, reducing exposure does no good if a tobacco company actually achieves it? Massively reducing exposure to toxins is what the WHO specifically demand as a way of reducing harm, and this is what we would expect, given they are designed to avoid combustion. It seems that once again the WHO is changing the long-established rules of physics and biology because, well, they're just a bunch of industry-hating planks.

Finally, this stance by the WHO is even more astonishing considering The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - the bastard child of the WHO - defines tobacco control as a concept which embraces harm reduction, at Article 1(d).
(d) “tobacco control” means a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke;
Yet when this actually happens, the WHO embarrass themselves in public, throw themselves on the floor, thump their fists into the ground and scream "it's not fair!". I've met 5 year olds who are more mature and intelligent than the incompetent fucknuckles who wrote the 9th Feb press release. Why do we taxpayers have to fund such a laughable parody of a health authority?

The world has turned upside down: the WHO and their tax-gobbling tobacco control chums continually slate 'Big Tobacco' for having lied in the past by claiming some products were safer when they weren't. Now, we have products that actually are safer, and government and NGOs are lying to the public about that, and trying their damnedest to prevent industry from communicating accurately to the population. In short, the WHO are lying to the public and deliberately denying smokers access to products purely because they don't like who makes them, even if the WHO's own guidance is being followed to the letter. Far from governments funding this kind of criminal fraud, whoever comes out with this kind of shit should be in prison.

The WHO is unelected, unaccountable, and entirely unregulated. They can say what they like, however fraudulent, and nothing happens. It's like the Wild West except that exponentially more people are at risk of dying at the hands of the WHO than any badass hired gunslinger could ever hope to imagine.

The WHO has finally completely lost the plot and these deranged histrionics will no doubt be repeated at COP8 in Geneva in October this year. You can bet your mortgage that the FCTC will attempt to have heat not burn products banned throughout the world.

Who's up for a trip to Switzerland? Maybe some of us could pop over there and attempt to point out to them that whatever they think they are doing, it's certainly nothing to do with health. 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Going Places

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have noticed that I've been doing some travelling of late.

This weekend me and my 16 year old boy flew to Rome for the England 6 Nations rugby match at the Stadio Olimpico. It was a whistle stop affair, arriving late Saturday and leaving early Monday, and considering my son had never been there before it was an effort fitting sightseeing in before the 4pm kick off on the Sunday. A fantastic weekend but incredibly draining.

Now, the reason I'm writing about this is that, yet again, being in another country was very revealing as to the amount of freedom we have lost in the UK. I have spoken about it before with regards to Prague, but the state-imposed shackles fell away with every minute spent in Rome too.

For example, on the Saturday night we arrived at the hotel and went to the bar. It was a pretty sparse affair (booking hotels for a 6 Nations matchday is a nightmare, so I took what I could get) and so we decided to get some snacks and drinks and enjoy them in the room where I could vape without a care. Looking at the bar prices I could see my Euros would not last long except for the price of wine. It was just £11 a bottle! So I ordered one and, with the boy next to me, the barmaid asked "with two glasses?". Just like that. No suspicious look at him, nothing. I said no just the one and off we went.

What's more, there was a similar experience next day at the match. The Stadio Olimpico has a chaotic queuing system for drinks. You have to queue in long lines to buy beer vouchers, then join another long queue to exchange the vouchers for drinks. I couldn't be arsed with that so we decided just to go in and find our seats. As we reached our section, there was a bar with almost no-one at it, but it was clear that wouldn't last long so I ordered two beers expecting some kind of comment about age or ID for the boy. Nope, not a word. Just served them up with a smile. Now, on more than one occasion at sports venues here I have had to explain to the person serving me that the boy has his own Powerade in his bag when they tell me they can't serve him because he's too young. None of that in Italy. None of it in the Carrefour supermarket later on either when we'd bussed it back from the match. Buying crisps and a bottle of wine, the cashier didn't even raise an eyebrow when I put them in the boy's backpack.

Oh yeah, and the (very palatable) wine was €1.55 because - as The Nanny State Index points out - there is no duty on wine in Italy.

The experience at the stadium was a revelation too. You see - as I've written before - thanks to the loathsome cheesedicks at Healthy Stadia feeding scaremongering bullshit to sports organisations, you are not allowed to smoke or vape in any ground in the Aviva Premiership and football Premiership either. And that includes outside, on the concourse, in the open air. Not so at the Stadio Olimpico.

There I was, stealth vaping in my seat but it wasn't till half time that I noticed there were smoking areas. Not outside, but within view of the pitch. Complete with comfy chairs and tables. It was such a lovely sight I took a picture of it, but as I did - stood at the top of a staircase - I also noticed that people were smoking there too. Not clandestinely either, they were smoking while talking to the stewards! And you know what? No-one cared.

No-one cared in Brussels either when Chris Snowdon and I visited a pub in the city centre in 2016 which boasted a smoking room. A fully enclosed smoking room so smokers could drink their beer and enjoy their tobacco in the warm.

Now, contrast all that with the barked orders that greet you as you walk outside the terminal building at Glasgow airport, where I went the previous weekend for the Glasgow School of Vape.

Click to enlarge
Yep, no smoking or vaping outdoors anywhere except a shed in the central reservation where the buses pick up. You know, buses that spew out diesel fumes. It was strictly enforced too, with a large guy in a hi-viz jacket booming "Hey! You cannae do that here!" in a thick Scottish accent to anyone who trangressed their stupid and pointless rule.

It's not just Czech Republic, Belgium and Italy, most other countries are far more liberal than the UK where we have now developed into a nasty officious society where one just assumes things are not allowed - because they mostly aren't - and vile jobsworths have been encouraged to wag their finger at you in every place the public gathers, as sadly happened to me at an event in London on the Monday night when I was spotted using an e-cig which gives off almost no vapour whatsoever. Apparently, he said, it would set off the smoke alarm ... which he pointed to on the ceiling about 10 metres above our heads. The idea that a modicum of common sense might be employed is an alien one these days, the whole country has become vindictive, petty and indoctrinated.

We are constantly ripped off in this country by government taxes - on the premise that our behaviour must be controlled - but at the same time we are herded, prodded, cajoled and badgered for just wanting to enjoy the products we pay over the odds to consume. The British are now in a new age of intolerance. Now, I'm sure the anti-fun brigade abroad will be lobbying their own governments for the same kind of panopticon conditions we are fated to suffer over here, but even if they get their rules in place I expect they will be either enforced lightly or ignored (like in Greece).

The UK has experienced, as Brenda O'Neill observed last year:
A shift from a politics concerned with improving people’s living conditions to a politics obsessed with policing people’s behaviour. ‘The politics of behaviour’, as New Labour scarily but aptly called it. It speaks most strikingly to a redefinition of what it means to be left or progressive. Once, that meant ensuring the less well-off had more opportunities, more comfort, more pleasure. Now, as made clear by the mad leftist cheering of the [smoking] ban and other nanny-state initiatives, it means saving people from themselves. It means depriving people of pleasure for their own good. It means using the law to socially re-engineer the masses so that they’re more like ‘us’: fitter, slimmer, smokefree.
It's vile. And the people who have moulded a country which fought so hard for freedom into one of the most restrictive in the world when it comes to lifestyle choices should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Can We Have Our Money Back, PHE?

Public Health England swallows £4.5bn of our taxes each year. It spends it on such frivolity as telling us when the sun is coming out, bending science to pretend we're all drinking too much, and embarking on campaigns that are arguably dangerous, as this video shows.

The one area, though, where they have appeared vaguely sensible has always been with e-cigs, but today they have shown that they haven't the first clue about smokers and vapers at all. Via the BBC:
E-cigarettes should be available on prescription, according to Public Health England (PHE). 
The agency wants them to be prescribed on the NHS within the next few years because of how successful they have been in helping people give up smoking.
Smokers are not sick. They don't need curing. This fundamentally misunderstands the attraction of vaping, it's like PHE have been sleepwalking through the past decade.

People who have stopped smoking by switching to e-cigs have done so precisely because they don't have to attend a clinic and drink weak tea with some dreary stop smoking adviser. They use e-cigs because they made their own decision, spent their own money, and chose their own device. Why PHE think it's beneficial to drag the whole process back in-house so that taxpayers can write cheques to vaping manufacturers is anyone's guess. Medicinal e-cigs is a nonsensical idea and PHE are stupid if they recommend it.

Then there's this arsebiscuitry.
Hospitals should sell e-cigarettes and provide patients with vaping lounges, health officials have said. 
Martin Dockerell (sic), tobacco control lead for PHE, said: "We are saying no smoking anywhere on the grounds [of hospitals], no smoking in the smoking shelter - that shelter becomes a vaping shelter.
Yes, because coercion is stock in trade for tobacco control, they just cannot imagine the concept of people making their own choices. They know a lot about the stick but have never heard of a carrot.

This is the problem with tobacco control, control is the operative word because the industry refuses to accept that smokers - just like all people - like to make decisions for themselves, not be forced into them. All this will do is create enmity between smokers and vapers, it is a pile of donkey cock.

We paid for this. We paid for PHE to exhibit their utter ignorance of smokers and vapers to the world.

Of course, what this really shows is that PHE - no matter how friendly they appear on e-cigs - cannot break the shackles of a 'public health' industry mindset that is wedded to ordering people about instead of advising them. Their report today was a great opportunity to educate the public and recommend e-cigs, but they just had to put a big authoritarian Doc Marten boot through the whole thing and fuck it up.

Let's get that £4.5bn back and put it in the NHS, because it's being thrown down the shitter at the moment by the clowns at PHE.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

ASH's Snus Flip Flop

Following the revelation last week that the UK Government - despite claiming it wished to "maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking" in its Tobacco Control Plan in July - had defended the EU's ridiculous and damaging ban on snus at the European Court of Justice, I wondered if they had received any input from their favourite state-funded political lobby group, ASH.

It's well known that crass ignorance from ASH during David Simpson's tenure (see Snowdon's trawl though history here) was the prime motivator behind the ban in the UK and, subsequently, a ban across the EU in 1992.

However, in the early 2000s, ASH seemed to have changed their tune. In Clive Bates's time in charge, there seemed to be a more enlightened outlook, as Debs Arnott explained herself at a GFN event that I attended at London's Guildhall in May 2012. Her exact words were:
My predecessor, Clive Bates, I remember very clearly one of the first things he said to me "tobacco harm reduction is the most important thing ASH should be doing". And I said "well, actually we're trying to get a ban on smoking in public places and that's going to take a lot of effort." He said "no, you've got to get onto harm reduction. It was going to take so long to do something about it." And he was absolutely right, I have to say.
In fact, in 2006 this seemed to be what was happening, as the BBC reported at the time.
Anti-smoking charity Ash is one of the groups that wants snus to be legalised across the European Union. 
Deborah Arnott, director of Ash, said: "Smokeless tobacco is much less harmful than smoked tobacco. It is smoking something which makes it really dangerous." 
She said other forms of chewing tobacco originating in South Asia were readily and legally available in the UK - and were much more injurious to health. 
"We currently have a situation where the safest form of smokeless tobacco in the EU is banned, and that's the form on sale in Sweden."
Now, this is where it gets interesting. You see, these days ASH claim they are in favour of tobacco harm reduction (THR) yet we heard nothing by way of protest at the UK government doing its damnedest to wreck the case for legalising snus at the ECJ. Arnott was quick to condemn the government defending a UK business in Panama, Venezuela and Laos a few days later, but we heard not a dickie bird about the snus case.

This is most probably because ASH appear to have flip-flopped on snus. In 2010, Snowdon asked the question of which way ASH would go on snus in the EU consultation exercise. We now know that they went for prohibition. This is the consultation question:

And here is ASH's response (page 502):

So when given the opportunity to say the ban on snus should be lifted, ASH swerved it and plumped for the continued prohibition of, in Arnott's own words, "the safest form of smokeless tobacco in the EU".

You have to wonder exactly what happened between 2006 and 2010, because the tumbleweed from ASH after the snus case last week tends to suggest that they haven't changed their position. And considering the Tobacco Control Plan - that ASH spent so long pleading for - advocates maximising options for THR, once again Arnott's own words as quoted in the Guardian on Monday apply here ... "the word hypocrisy hardly does it justice".

So many questions, huh? Why did the enlightened attitude fostered by Clive Bates evaporate? Did Arnott get bored and just yearn for hardline prohibition instead? She certainly did her level best to strangle e-cigs at birth by lobbying relentlessly against them and enthusiastically supporting the TPD's sanctions against vaping at every juncture. And we know in 2010 that any inclination ASH had in 2006 about legalising snus had vanished.

Or is it Arnott's position of influence at the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) which is behind this? The WHO and FCTC are more interested in fighting tobacco companies than doing anything good for health, and seeing as snus is derived from tobacco, that will never do.

The problem is that since Arnott spoke about the importance of THR at the Guildhall in 2012, her organisation has done very little to advance the case for harm reduction and has done much to hinder it. ASH's substantial influence in Whitehall has conspicuously not been used to push for the re-legalisation of snus, which could have motivated the government to either not testify against the ECJ case or even, maybe, support it.

And lastly, I expect ASH's next grant for political lobbying will be described as something like "supporting delivery of the tobacco control plan". If they are going to be absolutely silent on the snus ban, spurn all opportunities to make snus available, and take the WHO/FCTC fingers in ears denial line instead of advocating for THR, why should they get a single penny?

But then maybe ASH just says what they know government wants to hear - they receive lots of money from the state, after all - and if the UK was arguing against legalising snus, well that's just hot damn what ASH is going to do too. Yes it's not about health but those salaries don't grow on trees you know. 

Thursday, 25 January 2018

A Great Day For Bureaucratic Intransigence

On Tuesday I wrote about how this was a big week for tobacco harm reduction. Also, it would appear, it was a big week for intransigent bureaucracy.

Reports from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) where the EU's ban on snus was being challenged were not just disappointing, but also quite astonishing! A number of tweets from Gerry Stimson, who was attending on behalf of the NNA, described how a succession of of bureaucrats outed themselves as being in denial about the evidence base behind snus and willing to blatantly lie to the court about it. Most surprising was that the UK government took it upon itself to actively oppose lifting the ban despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits snus could provide.

So "harmful" is snus that Sweden boasts by far the lowest lung cancer and smoking prevalence rates in the EU. How any UK bureaucrat can come to the ECJ and say that sort of shit with a straight face is beyond me. If any swamps need draining in this country (hint: they do), I hope that they target the Department of Health first.

Especially since they need to be reminded of their own Tobacco Control Plan released in July last year.
Our National Ambitions
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.
How trotting off to Luxembourg to oppose relaxing the ban on snus, which has shown to be wildly successful in a long-term real world experiment, fits in with "maximising the availability of safer alternatives" is anyone's guess.

Meanwhile, Sweden where snus is not banned employed the "I'm all right Jack" approach.

Yes, that's correct. Nothing whatsoever to do with snus, but instead because of the efforts of the same bureaucrats who were giving this 'evidence' to the court. Fancy that!

This is nothing short of blatant lying under oath from these disgusting people, which hopefully the judges will have noted. It stinks of a closing of elitist ranks around a terrible mistake by the EU which they must fear could lead to trouble were the court to rule against their stunning idiocy. The EU Council, Commission and Parliament all also queued up to defend the ban, for a number of spurious reasons, misrepresenting the prevalent science along the way and proving that it is an impenetrable and anti-democratic institution.

Sweden dismissing the incredible results they have enjoyed by insisting on an exemption to the EU's ban before they decided to join in the 90s, and Norway also denying the benefits of snus in the same week that snus users overtook smokers in their country for the first time is laughable. It smacks of a policy of solidarity with an embattled EU and nothing whatsoever to do with health. Or even truth for that matter.

If you voted leave at the referendum, today is a good day to pat yourself on the back because these clowns have proven that you were correct to do so.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) was also coming up with new ways of denying the truth.
The panel concluded that Philip Morris had not proven that iQOS - a sleek, penlike device that heats tobacco rather than burning it - reduces harm compared with cigarettes. 
The panel did conclude that the product exposes users to lower levels of harmful chemicals but said the company had not shown that lowering exposure to those chemicals is reasonably likely to translate into a measurable reduction in disease or death.
So, the very process by which they assess how products could cause harm does not apply when assessing reduction of risk, as one commentator pointed out.

Fortunately, their overly precautious decision is not binding on the FDA, which is handy because it's nonsense. It also calls into question the validity of the TPSAC as an authority considering that snus and iQos have both failed to be able to prove that they are less harmful than smoking. Now, either the US has some pretty damn harmless cigarettes over there or the rules they are working by mean nothing can possibly satisfy the criteria.

And if two large tobacco companies, with all the resources they have at their disposal, can't get this message across, then what's the point? The FDA has said that it is committed to a "risk continuum" approach to nicotine delivery, and Mitch Zeller all but guided the TSPAC in this direction with his pre-inquiry remarks, yet the decision was still no. It kinda undermines everything that the FDA has said about its commitment to harm reduction and isn't in line with agency’s plan for a comprehensive nicotine strategy. If rich companies requesting approval for just one line can be shut out, e-cigs made by mostly independent businesses with hundreds of combinations may as well forget it.

The TSPAC decision on snus was eventually over-ruled by the FDA and today's opinion on iQos should go the same way. Likewise, the ECJ should - if the judges are strong and read the supporting documents properly - have seen through the execrable bullshit that they were fed today by ivory tower European state elitists.

I've always said it's not about health, and today has proved that in spades. If your agenda isn't health, then truth doesn't stand a chance either. 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

A Big Week For Tobacco Harm Reduction

On both sides of the Atlantic, this week is looking to be one of the most important in the history of tobacco harm reduction (THR) so far.

Firstly, in a flurry of acronyms, tomorrow the US Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) will meet to consider Philip Morris International's (PMI) application for a Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) classification for their iQos heated tobacco product. If approved, this could pave the way - if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agrees with the decision - for PMI to claim iQos is less harmful than smoking. This would be the first time the government has allowed a company to make such claims. This is irrelevant if PMI are not permitted to sell iQos, of course, so at the same time an application is pending for a Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) which would allow the products to be sold in America, theoretically from as early as February. But it all depends on what advice the TPSAC gives to the FDA and whether the FDA decides to go with it or not.

The proceedings are scheduled to run over two days, and last night the FDA issued a briefing regarding PMI’s iQos MRTP (still with me?). You can read it here. Yes it's a long old haul (though not as long as the reported two million pages that PMI's evidence ran to) but what will strike you is the huge percentage reductions in harmful substances claimed for iQos both from industry and independent research.

iQos heated tobacco device
The decline in smoking in Japan and Korea - it's basically fallen off a cliff since heated tobacco from PMI and BAT arrived - has been described as "astounding", which it most certainly is, and long-term THR advocate Brad Rodu today predicted that a positive FDA decision would have a "significant downward effect on American cigarette consumption".

The next day (25th) thousands of miles away at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, Swedish Match will continue to pursue their case - joined by the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) - to have the ridiculous and reckless EU ban on snus lifted.

It is almost a year to the day since this case was first heard in the High Court in London where Swedish Match/NNA were successfully granted leave to appeal to the ECJ.

It is worth remembering that the movement to ban snus was prominently driven on by our very own tax-leeching prohibitionists Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) back in the the 80s and 90s (see documents and news reports of the scaremongery ASH employed at the time at Snowdon's place). In their infinite ignorance, they believed it was vital to make sure that smokers would never be able to lay their hands on a product which has led to Sweden boasting the lowest smoking prevalence and lung cancer rates in the EU by a country mile (an effect now being replicated in non-EU Norway where snus is sold legally). 

Snus. Helps smokers quit, so it's banned
As a press release by the NNA's Prof Gerry Stimson pointed out yesterday, the stupidity of ASH and their nanny state collaborators back then has led to more than just a deficit of choice.
“There is compelling evidence that the EU ban has cost hundreds of thousands of lives,” said the Professor. 
Two academic studies have shown that if snus were available in the rest of Europe it could save between 200,000 and 355,000 lives - every year. (Brad Rodu, 2004, Snus Commission Report, 2017) - see table on page 19 of the Snus Commission Report for annual mortality gap in your country.
It is only an accident of history that e-cigs didn't go the same way as snus considering the methods employed are almost identical to those anti-vaping extremists use now. The only difference is that consumers were able to mobilise effectively with the advent of the internet and social media. If anything, snus presents even less risk than e-cigs so the justification for it still being banned is laughable.

And all this on top of a report on e-cigs released today in the US by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine which largely mirrors the recommendations of the UK's Royal College of Physicians. With the exception of just a little too much overly-gracious faith in the junk science of Stanton Glantz, the report is positive about vaping and categorically states that e-cigs are far less risky than smoking, perhaps the first time it has been said with any degree of certainty by any state-funded organisation in the US.

So what a week! Opinions on the fates of heated tobacco, snus and e-cigs all in a matter of days, from North America to Europe. God speed all of those involved in challenging the hideous prohibitionist status quo. 

All these efforts are worth watching closely. The US and EU have been haranguing smokers to quit for decades, but if they continue to over-burden, restrict or even ban products smokers will choose to do exactly as governments claim to want, how can anyone take them remotely seriously?