Saturday, 19 August 2017

Farewell Anna Raccoon

Last week I wrote about Anna Raccoon and how she had been badly treated recently while receiving palliative care in a Norwich hospice.

She had been fighting a nasty form of cancer for six years despite doctors saying she would succumb in less than one, but sadly that last fight that she would undertake in her illustrious life ended yesterday morning in the early hours. She passed away peacefully in the beautiful riverside cottage on the Norfolk Broads that she and hubby Mr G had returned to from their previous home in France once the cancer was diagnosed.

Ironically, I heard the sad news just as I was about to set off to the same area in France for a family holiday, but after the long drive the first thing we did on arrival was to raise a toast to her and the marvellous Mr G.

The Blocked Dwarf (aka Jack Ketch) has spoken with Mr G and he is heartbroken but cheered to hear that his wife had so many online friends and admirers. Jack has agreed to pass on any kind messages so do feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments here. 

Anna was most recently in the news bedbound, but I prefer this fantastic picture which is one of two on the wall of the annex G built with great views of the Norfolk wildlife and river boats especially for her. Taken in 1973, it is of a 25 year old Anna smoking Camels with a cup of tea and a slice of Battenberg cake. Beautiful, carefree, and with a world to take on in her future. I think she did exactly that, with integrity and skill.

RIP Anna, it was wonderful knowing you. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Cruel But Sadly Not Unusual

Last week I mentioned having been gadding about Britain for a few days, including a day trip to Norwich. I had driven up there on August 2nd to see fellow blogger Anna Raccoon, about whom I wrote this last year.
Her content has been quite simply awesome. Astute and incredibly rigorous, she has attracted the respect and admiration of journalistic commentators, and regularly put many in the news profession to shame with her attention to detail and almost bloodhound-like determination to verify sources and evidence. 
Although long time readers here will mostly remember her partnering up with Old Holborn to spring Nick Hogan from prison, her articles have often been electric and searing on extremely spiky subjects. Tackling stories such as Savile from a position of accuracy rather than hysteria is not an easy thing to do, and her weaving of personal accounts into her writing - as she has done brutally in recent days - is as brave as it is hypnotically compelling.
Well, as many of you will know from reading her blog, she has been suffering from a rare but virulent form of cancer which has attacked her spine and left her paralysed and bed-bound (though still passionate and determined enough to fight the general election in June).

The Blocked Dwarf at Grandad's place explains this in detail.
Anna’s spine is what doctors refer to as ‘oh dear, not good’. Even without the BIG RED ARROW I put on [the scan picture]; even without being able to identify what is bone, what is muscle and what is nerves you can see that there is something amiss. If not, go to Specsavers. 
The Raccoon explained it thus: her doctors and carers have been puzzled why hoisting her onto the commode had been causing her ‘some discomfort’ (doctor speak for ‘PAIN’). The MRI shows that something has dissolved the ‘knobbly bits’ (doctor speak for, I assume, ‘transverse process’ and ‘arches’) of her verterbrae (T1/T2 I think but I still count on my fingers). Those boney knobbly bits protect the spinal chord which now lies open. Do I need to tell anyone that exposed spinal chord is not a good thing? Long and short the doctors are now puzzled how she has managed to live so long with being turned, manhandled and hoisted daily. 
The slightest movement of her body below the shoulders could kill her.
So at the moment they are giving her doses of an anaesthetic to paralyse her in her sleep at night so she doesn’t toss and turn and wake up dead. She can’t be hoisted on to the commode, nor even have a bed pan shoved under her and so: 
“I literally have to crap in the bed” [sic] 
Don’t forget she is still perfectly lucid, her head is clear and so she can fully enjoy the utter loss of every last scrap of dignity every single time the team of nurses have to come and roll her onto her side, keeping her in position, then clean her down. Of course the fact that the meds and the drugs haven’t destroyed her mind is a good thing but….
Worse still the exposed spinal chord also means she probably won’t be going home anytime too soon, which she desperately wants to do. 
And today G had to bring in the right tools to cut her wedding ring off her finger. The steroids have caused her fingers to swell. Yes it is only a piece of metal,’rose gold’ actually, but that bit of metal means something to her and G, they’re a bit old fashioned.
As you can see, she has already been suffering immensely with her dignity being stripped away by disease, and - since she is, to be blunt, very close to dying - had been confined to a bed in Norwich's Priscilla Bacon Lodge which is where I went to meet her. We had a good chinwag for a few hours, during which she described truly astonishing behaviour by the staff which not only compounded the indignity, but was also unbelievably cruel!

You see, she switched from smoking to vaping three years ago, and had a small Ego CE4 type device. For those who don't know what that is, it looks something like this.

It is not very powerful and gives out a tiny amount of vapour. But - and I think you can guess what is coming next - the hospice told her she couldn't use it. More than that, though, they did it in a way that was condescending and offensive. Here is how she described it by email.
What happened I found out in stages - apparently someone saw me at the week-end refilling the vape from the 'sipped case' - and told them. This evening a nurse walked over to me me and said, 'what a sweet little teddy' and proceeded to play with him - 'Oh do you keep your pen in there, good heavens no its a vape'. It was so odd that I didn't twig at first. Well, I got the rules and regulations read to me in such a patronising tone of voice.  
But it was just the way it was done, pretending to 'find' the vapeur like that, it just added to all the electricians checking plugs, and signing disclaimers for sandwiches, and everything else, I'm not a bloody child, I'm a grown woman whose been more independent than most of them can begin to imagine, and now suddenly I've lost the use of my legs and I'm treated like I'm 3 years old. 
This is apparently how staff at a hospice (run by MacMillan, according to Anna) treat someone in her dying days. Someone who worked at a high level at the Court of Protection for years as a Lord Chancellor's Visitor; has a double first class honours degree in law; is respected by top journalists for her striking writing and attention to detail; and is a Medical Claims Lawyer who has spent the last couple of months appearing regularly in the media using her impending death to campaign for more funding for the NHS.

They even said that they would (taking advantage of her paralysis) put it just out of her reach. How caring, huh? The senior doctor was called, Dr Wilkins, who explained that as there wasn't evidence to prove that e-cigs were safe or unsafe, they were banned on health grounds. On health grounds! For a woman who is days from dying in excruciating pain from cancer.

She is on a regime of intravenous Ketamine - the drug designed to stun a rampaging elephant - and Oxycodeine, but apparently nicotine is not to be tolerated.

Because, you see, they have a policy.

Now, I made enquiries and found out that they also have a dignity policy which should be adhered to in situations like this. Here is part of what it says on the one for Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.
- Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
- Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
I'll leave you to make your minds up as to whether they have followed the dignity policy in this case, but considering the government's Tobacco Control Plan - released last month - stated 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", you'd have thought that in these circumstances their ideological and ignorant smokefree rules could, and should, have been relaxed in favour of preserving Anna's dignity.

It seems a Director of Public Health agreed, and offered to speak to Dr Wilkins to "advise" him seeing as he is woefully ignorant on the subject. So I left that Wednesday having given Anna the DPH's number to pass on - along with a load of Nicoccino and some of my stash of Zyn - safe in the knowledge that some sense would prevail.

Not so though. I visited her again this weekend and she told me that the next day they had dismantled another vape pen that her husband - the awesome Mr G - had brought in for her. They unscrewed the top so she couldn't possibly use it and took it to the property office in this envelope.

Now, either Dr Wilkins didn't bother to ring the DPH - someone who vastly outranks him - or he did ring but decided to completely disregard the advice. You have to both marvel, and be disgusted, at the astonishing arrogance behind that.

Either way, it illustrates the disgraceful nature of the fanatical zealotry that tobacco control has fostered in the war against smoking nicotine. The 'smokefree' mantra has become a shibboleth that drives a coach and horses through tolerance, compassion and common decency.

I often remind you that we are on the side of the angels here and the nanny statists deserve a demonic eternity or even prison time, but when 'caring' professionals think this is the decent way to treat someone with possibly days left to live, they make my argument for me.

I left Anna on Saturday - after sharing glasses of pink champagne sent by one of the many admirers of her work - as the sun sank over the river Yarm and boats sailed past the riverside window of the annex her true hero of a husband had built for her last days. She is as comfortable as it is possible to be in her situation, and at least is now able to vape while she waits for the inevitable. I find it quite incredible that anyone would think it compassionate to deny her that tiny pleasure for the sake of an ignorant and arguably indefensible policy. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

The 11 Day Reprieve

Well, I knew I'd be revisiting this at some point, I just didn't expect it so very soon! Let's pop over the Atlantic again, shall we?

On July 28th, the newly-installed chief of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Scott Gottlieb, "announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve as a multi-year roadmap to better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death". He mentioned freezing regulations on e-cigs and the vaping world went into meltdown.

This was a "huge" announcement apparently, it was described as "momentous" and a "reprieve", some even went as far as to say they had "every confidence" in Gottlieb. I was sceptical to say the least.
The FDA's announcement relents on some e-cig rules but only on the proviso that it might make vaping more attractive to smokers who will be deprived, by force, of nicotine from their combustible cigarettes. That is nothing more than vile coercion and should have no place in a land that claims to be free. 
I cannot possibly cheer the FDA's overall plan and I don't think there is anything particularly concrete to be happy about yet anyway. Smokers are being thrown under a bus but apart from that everything else is up in the air and subject to change.
The critical point for me was that Gottlieb also announced they would be pursuing the criminally insane policy of reducing nicotine in cigarettes to "non-addictive levels" (VLNCs), thereby - simply as a numbers game - creating far more harm than they would foster by embracing e-cigs as a harm reduction tool.

I was kinda dismissed about this point. In all the excitement, this sinister and vile idea was wished away as something which wouldn't actually happen; it was just inserted as a sop to tobacco controllers, apparently. I was told VLNCs was a sideshow, an irrelevance. In the period of the delay to vaping regulations, some advanced the idea that the predicate date would surely be moved and smoking might become a niche habit! Some even said I was so heretical in my view that I surely hadn't even read the statement at all (I did. Every word. Twice)!

Then this happened on Tuesday.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would pursue a strategic, new public health education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) by kids. The agency plans to expand its “The Real Cost” public education campaign to include messaging to teens about the dangers of using these products this fall while developing a full-scale campaign to launch in 2018.
Think of the children, as per usual, but there was more.
The FDA’s recently announced plan puts nicotine and the issue of addiction at the center of the agency’s efforts.
Yes, "nicotine" addiction, not smoking.
The FDA also intends to seek public comment on the role that flavors in tobacco products play in attracting youth. 
Considering that kids and adults tend to like the same kinds of flavours, that applies to just about all of them.
Additionally, the agency plans to explore additional restrictions on the sale and promotion of ENDS, including restrictions on how products may be sold and advertised, to further reduce youth exposure and access to these products.
Advertising bans, in other words. Most significantly, however, was this ...
But, importantly, the approach also continues to focus on the need to reduce the access and appeal of all tobacco products to youth, including e-cigarettes and other ENDS, and maintains all of the existing regulations that currently apply to these products.
So nothing will change, apart from one minor detail. Instead of just destroying e-cigs as before, the FDA is now planning to use children to destroy e-cigs. As someone said on Twitter, that is one hell of a short honeymoon!

I'm not writing this to say 'I told you so', but instead to highlight it was fully expected, and for two reasons.

Firstly, the US tobacco control industry would have been ringing FDA phones off the hook squealing about the very idea of e-cigs being embraced. An inglorious backtrack like this was always on the cards and instead of thinking victory was just on the horizon, vapers should have realised a highly-funded lobby was only going to redouble or retreble its efforts to kill the future threat in its infancy. Tobacco controllers don't get any income from a vaping-based approach to tobacco and nicotine, it doesn't pay salaries you see; mortgages get in arrears; and redundancies due to funding cuts tend to ensue.

Secondly, the dismissal of VLNCs as a policy ignores how very seriously the US tobacco control movement takes the idea. For them, this is not only a game-changer but a chance to lead the world. The US hasn't even got graphic health warnings on tobacco yet due to their constitution, and American anti-smokers are constantly embarrassed by that, plain packs are a distant pipe dream for them just now. They look on with suppressed gloom as other countries (which have ratified the FCTC, unlike the US) forge ahead with prohibitionist rent-seeking, while they are left as the poor relations, the tutting of their fellow joyless brethren ringing in their ears.

But this is their real chance to be the first off the rank; to shine in front of their similarly hideous international colleagues and prove that they, too, can come up with something to bully (and kill) smokers which will spread internationally. Articles like this will only boost their resolve to work every waking hour to drive it through.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to strip cigarettes of their addictive properties has opened a new front in the international campaign to reduce smoking, with health authorities in at least four other countries studying the idea. 
After FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb suggested mandating drastic cuts in nicotine levels, public-health experts in New Zealand last week published an action plan recommending such reductions within five years. Canada and Finland say they’re looking into regulating amounts of the drug in tobacco products, while officials in the U.K.’s Department of Health have discussed the U.S. proposal with FDA representatives, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The sideshow in Gottlieb's announcement wasn't VLNCs, it was his weak 'rind and a promise' blathering about vaping and harm reduction. It was never going to last. I did think it would last longer than 11 days though, I have to admit.

Sorry, America, but you look like you're screwed as far as e-cigs are concerned. As in many other areas, US regulators seem to be shooting off at a tangent to the rest of the world and it would appear that the unique way that tobacco control is funded over there could be leading policy-making.

Make no mistake. If you want to see a relaxation of rules on vaping, the dragon that needs to be slayed is VLNCs and the vile ideology that promotes it. The proposal is far from being a benign threat, and most certainly not something that anyone in the US is driving in order to make e-cigs seem more attractive. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

'Passive Vaping' Bullshit In The Daily Mail

While I've been busy lately, there was an astonishingly shit article popped up in the Daily Mail last week which is a classic of the junk science clickbait genre so beloved of tobacco control.
Scientists have issued a warning on passive vaping because of toxic chemicals in e-cigarette vapour. 
People in bars where vaping is allowed are exposed to unhealthy levels of formaldehyde, which causes cancer, and acrolein, a toxin which irritates the eyes and skin.  
That is the finding of a study based on as few as three people an hour using the devices in a bar.
The word 'scientists', in this context, is used in the very loosest sense, since we are talking about Berkeley University in California. For the uninitiated, they are the same bunch of lunatics who are promoting the ridiculous quackery of 'thirdhand smoke" using grant money from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP). For an example of how that route is simply a way of creating lies with public money, do read this audit trail of how the scam works that I wrote a few years ago.

So, now we know how disingenuous they are, how did they persuade the Mail to publish such a load of nonsense?

Well, it's quite easy really. The study is here and you can see just from the abstract the problems with it.
Contributions from vaping to air pollutant concentrations in the home did not exceed the California OEHHA 8-h reference exposure levels (RELs), except when a high emitting device was used at 4.8 V. In that extreme scenario, the contributions from vaping amounted to as much as 12 μg m–3 formaldehyde and 2.6 μg m–3 acrolein.
Yes, it's the old crank-it-up-to-11-and-measure-the-bad-stuff approach again. Junk scientists cling to this method to produce their lies, even though they know very well that in real life conditions no vaper would ever push their equipment to such absurd extremes. But then, tobacco controllers are not interested in proper science, just convincing vacant journalists to produce a fraudulent headline.

If you want to read more how the power an e-cig to destruction scam works, see this review by Clive Bates including a letter to some of the researchers who were referenced in this latest piss poor study. The research cited by the Daily Mail's 'scientists' has been debunked over and over again, but they keep referring back to it because - despite their knowing it is plain wrong scientifically, so therefore fraudulent- it fits the conclusion they wish to press release to the media.

However, it's even worse than that. For a start, there were no real measurements taken for the study, it was all 'modelled' on data they extracted from elsewhere. So when the Mail article talks about "people in bars where vaping is allowed are exposed" you may be fooled into thinking that this scenario was thoroughly tested in real life by these 'scientists'. Not so, because not a single wisp of vapour was produced during the study, it was just a computer program predicting what might happen under certain scenarios.

So, of course, the frauds who produced this research entered a whole load of garbage into the computer to produce the result that they wanted to come to. Therefore, they predicted extreme e-cig emissions from a high-powered device - which most e-cigs aren't - and ignored the fact that people using those which are would instantly taste the disgusting bad chemicals and stop vaping.
These emission rates were used as inputs to calculate indoor air pollutant concentrations using home and bar scenarios as described in the Supplementary Information.
But ... it's even worse than even that! Their central assumption was that 20-40% of the vapour comes out of a user's mouth without being inhaled and do you know where they got that from?  Well, a study of how much "sidestream" smoke is emitted by smokers when smoking tobacco, naturally. The amount of vapour which escapes before being inhaled has never actually been studied, and these 'scientists' certainly didn't want to be the first ones to do so because it would have fucked up their pre-determined plan. They even admit that it's a shoddy way of doing things themselves in the study text.
It should be noted that puff duration and other topography parameters are different for conventional and electronic cigarettes, and for that reason using [mouth spill] derived from tobacco cigarettes may be a source of bias.
Ya don't say!

Because who uses high-powered e-cig devices? Well, sub-ohmers do, and anyone who knows how sub-ohming works knows that it is a vaping activity that means taking the vapour directly into the lung so - surprise, surprise - results in no vapour at all accidentally spilling out of the mouth before it is inhaled, let alone 30% of the vapour produced by the device.

If you take pretend vapour from a pretend model using a device running at unrealistic levels, and then assume 30% is spilt from the mouth and not inhaled - which is bullshit and never happens - it's very easy to then create a scenario whereby you can get a computer to measure high levels of chemicals which would never occur in the real world.

This, in tobacco control circles, is what they call "science". In all other areas, it is described as "Garbage in, Garbage Out" which - oddly enough - is a fine description of the tobacco control profession as a whole. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Slow Handclap For The TPD

It's been another hectic week for your humble host. Quite apart from business pressures, I've found myself variously in Norwich, Brighton, rural Essex and Shrewsbury in the past few days. I will write about the Norwich leg later in the week but the Shrewsbury jaunt was for a weekend at Vapefest 2017.

It's kinda like this at Vapefest (photo from here)
I stayed in a marvellous three-bedroom house with some friends who will be known to you if you follow on Twitter, and a good time was had by all. But I think it's worth commenting on the remarkable difference between previous events (this was my third) and the 2017 version.

On the journey up the M1, my travelling companion and I had discussed how this year's Vapefest might handle the imposition of the TPD on May 20th this year. When we arrived, it instantly became very clear because it has fundamentally changed the nature of the place.

Previously, vendors would be giving out small free samplers - mostly with no nicotine although sometimes with - but these were noticeably absent this year. The TPD has put paid to that little avenue of pleasure.

There was also very little buzz around stalls selling new hardware. There were mods and new batteries but why would anyone wish to purchase a new piece of kit now the ignorant hysterical fuckspanners in tobacco control have persuaded the EU to demand limiting tank size to a risible 2ml? A lot of focus at Vapefest is sub-ohm devices running at high wattage to maximise flavour at a low nicotine level, which means that 2ml will last about the time it takes to read the stories of any interest in your free local newspaper; you'd be filling the thing every half hour or so.

However, what was most striking is that the stall-holders had almost abandoned selling pre-mixed nicotine-containing e-liquid altogether! Yes, you could buy 10ml TPD-compliant bottles but I didn't see many people doing that. In previous years 30ml, 60ml, and even 100ml bottles of ready-to-vape liquids were available at advantageous festival prices, but - of course - the TPD has ensured that those size bottles are now banned.

So the upshot is that the industry has moved to selling the concentrates (flavours) instead, to be mixed by vapers themselves. Just think about that for a moment. By observing their absurd 'precautionary principle' to supposedly protect vapers and children from the overblown dangers of nicotine in e-liquid, tedious shroud-waving tobacco controllers and their dim weasel-headed EU pals have created a situation whereby liquids are not mixed in a clean environment by professionals, but instead in kitchens up and down the country by vapers buying illicit nicotine base from China ... because you can't get that in anything over 10ml bottles either.

Instead of pharma-grade nicotine being mixed in sterile conditions with professional equipment, it is now being mixed in houses and flats using a Kenwood Chef and nicotine stored in domestic freezers, in whatever bottles are available, by people with varying levels of competence at mixing DIY juice.

Still, regulation is always a good thing, some would say. It's for safety, innit.

The government is looking for easy 'wins' following Brexit, there's one for them, right there in the TPD. What a clusterfuck. 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Very Low Intelligence

Here is another to file in the "how e-cigs expose the hypocrisy and ignorance of tobacco controllers" folder.

There has been a lot written about the announcement on Friday that the FDA in Yankeeland has shifted very slightly on the subject of e-cigs.

Of course, this is very welcome, they have frozen their appalling policy designed - most probably at the behest of pharma lobbying - to take as many competitive vaping products off the market as possible by pricing them out. The policy was daft, ignored prevailing and accumulating science and was clearly unsustainable in the long run. Well, actually, it was sustainable only if the US decided to stay a barking mad outlier to the rest of the enlightened first world (Australia excepted, of course), but you get the idea.

This, for me, was the clunky passage that said they are now reluctantly recognising the concept of vaping as a harm reduction measure.
A key piece of the FDA’s approach is demonstrating a greater awareness that nicotine – while highly addictive – is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes.
Hardly a succinct sound bite, is it?

But, as others have already said, there is nothing to celebrate too wildly because of the other quite disgraceful announcement made at the same time.
The FDA plans to begin a public dialogue about lowering nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels through achievable product standards. 
Yep, this is the first country ever to try the extremely daft idea of reducing nicotine in cigarettes (Very Low Nicotine Cigarettes (VLNC)) to somehow stop people smoking.

There is nothing in that which recognises that nicotine is not the problem. In fact, it cleverly avoids saying that nicotine is benign. Shall we revisit that Michael Russell quote that the tobacco control industry embraced when they were promoting pharmaceutical patches and gum but seem to have completely forgotten since e-cigs emerged?
‘People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar’
That was in 1976, and Russell was seen as a visionary back then, but he also said this in the same paper.
The logic of expecting people who cannot stop smoking to switch to cigarettes that have hardly any nicotine is questionable.
It's not just questionable, it's insane. One can only assume that the people endorsing it are either corrupt or mentally compromised.

The US FDA seems to think this is a great idea though. They will mildly relax regulations (perhaps) around vaping while at the same time taking an innocuous ingredient - nicotine - out of cigarettes but leaving all the other crap in. They couldn't be more crazy if they announced that they were to embark on an expedition to find out where unicorns live.

This is the end result of decades of tobacco control lunatics having the ear of government. Prohibition should have taught America that if you listen to extremist prohibitionists, you destroy society and create black markets, but it seems they are too stupid to learn.

So, why are they doing this with cigarettes? Well, apart from being subject to an almost Calvinist religious cult of a tobacco control industry in the good old US of A, there are also many financial pressures which mean they are reluctant to rock the boat.

What I find absolutely astonishing above all else though, is that US-based tobacco control are even considering this. For years, they have been painting the tobacco industry as animals for producing low tar cigarettes. The fact that this was partly due to legislators forcing them to doesn't seem to matter.

But now the tobacco control industry has had this fantastic idea that reducing nicotine in cigarettes is a brilliant new initiative, what went before seems to have been conveniently forgotten, at least in the USA. Fortunately, we are not subject to as much ignorance in this country.
“The idea of gradually reducing the addictive ingredient of cigarettes, nicotine, looks attractive on the surface,” said Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London. “But unless nicotine is pretty much eliminated quickly and comprehensively in all available tobacco products – which seems unlikely – it runs a serious risk of making things worse as smokers smoke cigarettes harder in order to get the nicotine they need, leading to more exposure to the harmful tar.” 
Linda Bauld, deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and professor of health policy at the University of Stirling agreed that the move could end up exposing smokers to higher levels of toxins.  
“[The FDA] want to shift people to alternative products like vaping, which is good, but there are a number of risks,” she said, pointing out that reducing nicotine levels could also have other unintended consequences including people smokers smoking more cigarettes, or even an increase in black market activity.
Well, duh!

When 'light' cigarettes were introduced, there was an uptick in the amount of cigarettes smoked due to compensatory behaviour. Why the fucking hell do tobacco controllers think this will be different if nicotine is taken out of fags altogether?

Simple to answer really. It's because, yet again, they don't understand smokers. In truth, they never have done. This policy is borne out of non-smoking twats believing their own propaganda that smokers only smoke because they are addicted to nicotine. If they would ever actually talk to the people they are trying to "control" they would know this isn't the be-all and end-all of the matter.

I have many smokers work for me for whom giving up is not even an option. They don't consider themselves addicts, they consider themselves as smokers. They have done for years and it's part of their identity. Nothing will shift them. If you take the nicotine out of their cigs they will just feel the urge to smoke more. What sort of perverted 'public health' movement could come out with a policy which drives people to smoke more? It's the very opposite of harm reduction, it is harm promotion.

Even darker than that though, is the idea that the FDA - by mildly relaxing rules on e-cigs - may be doing something benevolent. No. It is not.

The FDA's announcement relents on some e-cig rules but only on the proviso that it might make vaping more attractive to smokers who will be deprived, by force, of nicotine from their combustible cigarettes. That is nothing more than vile coercion and should have no place in a land that claims to be free.

I cannot possibly cheer the FDA's overall plan and I don't think there is anything particularly concrete to be happy about yet anyway. Smokers are being thrown under a bus but apart from that everything else is up in the air and subject to change.

But at least it still shows I'm right in saying that it's never been about health, so I have that. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

You Too Can Own A Rarity!

I don't half treat you guys sometimes.

Today I have listed an item on eBay so rare that I don't think you will see another one this decade. Rarer even than a first folio Shakespeare!

And yet you can own it. Yes, you really can! What's more, this copy is signed by the author himself in tribute to your humble host, and contains a quote of mine which you can read about in an article I wrote earlier this year.

It is offered with free postage to wherever you are and all proceeds will go to NNA Australia so bid generously. To view this incredible once-in-a-lifetime offer, go to the eBay listing page here for full item description details.

It ends in 10 days, so don't miss out. Good luck!

Oh, and if you happen to win, do let me know what you did with it, eh? 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Pharma Company Values Profits Over Health

It's been a very busy couple of weeks in Puddlecoteville, so like yesterday this is another I've had in my drafts just waiting for a time to write.

You see, I've long believed that e-cigs carry the potential to expose the lies and hypocrisy of tobacco control, but the extent to which they are doing so has exceeded even my wildest hopes. Those vacuously opposed to vaping are screaming like stuck pigs at the moment as they see their mendacious house of cards about to come crashing down, and seem to be happy to throw their integrity down the drain.

But this complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority is a delightful surprise.
1. Johnson & Johnson Ltd, who understood that only factual content was permitted on marketers’ own websites for unlicensed nicotine containing e-cigarettes and their components, challenged whether the claim "small and mighty" was a promotional claim, and therefore in breach of the Code. 
The ASA challenged whether the following content was also promotional, and therefore in breach of the Code: 
2. the video for the Vype Pebble starter kit; 
3. the claim "VYPE PURPLE ePEN STARTER KIT +1 PACK OF PREMIUM CARTRIDGES For £19.98*. *Ends Tuesday 28th March"; and 
4. the claim "Buy 5 Get 1 Free".
This is quite remarkable. Those with long memories will know that J&J have funded anti-smoking campaigns for many years now, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. But, it would seem, this supposed health-focussed company is now doing all in its power to derail what mounting evidence shows is a safer alternative to smoking.

It is nothing but a naked nobbling of the opposition to protect Big Pharma Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT, useless patches and gums handed out at exorbitant cost to the NHS) profits from the huge threat of competing vaping products which the public buys voluntarily.

It is often said by tobacco controllers that tobacco manufacturers should be ignored by legislators because they value profits over health. Here is an example from the WHO.
"effective tobacco control and the commercial success of the tobacco industry are fundamentally incompatible"
Yet, when they move into the WHO's stated goal of harm reduction (article 1(d) of the FCTC),  here we see a large pharmaceutical player blatantly trying to silence a competitor in order to protect their own profits and hang the consequences. And doing so on a technicality in a regulation that their industry lobbied furiously to install.

During the shameful TPD process, tobacco controllers made great play about lobbying by tobacco companies, but they will know very well that MEPs were swarmed by exponentially more pharmaceutical lobbyists desperate to protect their failing products from a new innovative technology. There is little care about health from pharma in this charade, only profits, yet the tobacco control industry is happy to take funding and sponsorship from them.

And here we have J&J (marketers of Nicorette) openly playing games with health and - quite revealing - having to do so in their own name because they are perhaps running out of pliant front groups and other useful idiots to keep their influence in the background.

There are a lot of very scared entrenched people around at the moment, desperately trying to cling onto their fast-disappearing power, so keep up the pressure. They're buckling.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention (if you were of the opinion that J&J's complaint was actually well-meaning instead of appallingly cynical) that these ads were all over the London Underground three years ago. It must really boil their bones that e-cigs are not only still around, but thriving despite their best efforts.

We wait with baited breath for the tobacco control industry's condemnation of J&J prioritising their profits over the harm reduction potential they are trying to kill. 

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 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 ‘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.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 6 July 2017

WATCH: Prohibitionists Always Lose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 3 July 2017

ASH's 10th Anniversary Begging Letter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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