Thursday, 22 March 2018

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In Sheffield

When people talk of 'austerity' in this country, especially towards funding of public sector organisations and local authorities, it never really rings true to me considering that - daily - we hear of widespread public sector interference which is completely unnecessary.

One perfect example of this is local authority restrictions on vaping in taxis. Transport for London have a shameful policy - which they tweet regularly - saying that vaping is not allowed in a licensed vehicle at any time, even when the driver is alone and/or off-duty.

Considering taxis and private hire vehicles in London are all privately-owned property, what business is that of TfL? Even worse, why the blithering fuck do TfL think they have the authority to fine passengers £50 for vaping in a cab when it is not harmful; isn't against the law; and the vehicle is not TfL's property?

They are forced, sadly, by law to ban smoking but when they ban e-cigs they are making the taxpayer pay for their pure ignorance and spite.

Councils have this power - which they get some perverse kick out of - because of how debilitating it can be for their licensees to be denied a licence. Since the authority it gives them can deprive someone of their livelihood - and there is no competitor to move to if you think their rules are shit - they should exercise their power wisely. But, as we can see from TfL, many don't. Instead they micro-manage issues that they have no right to get involved in. It's a control freak's wet dream.

In your blog host's humble opinion, any authority which spends time and taxpayer resources banning vaping in taxis - for which there is no health or road safety justification - is proving that they have plenty of funding so can stop bloody whining about austerity. If anything it tells us they are too well-funded and that there is plenty of scope for them to be starved of even more cash. The discussion should solely extend to "is it against the law?", "no", "then let's move on".

Of course, that is London where bureaucracy pumped out by Metropolitan elitists is a plague, so it was interesting to see that Freedom to Vape submitted FOI requests to find out taxi policies in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Their report is here and it makes for interesting reading.

In short, 8 out of 27 councils ban e-cigs in taxis so can shut the fuck up about funding cuts, another 2 are considering it so obviously also have plenty of cash spare.

But shining like a beacon out of it all is Sheffield City Council. Their policy is absolutely perfect and puts the rest to shame. It is what a model policy should look like, respecting taxi owners, passengers and taxpayers alike, while respecting property rights and public health into the bargain.
Sheffield City Council, through its Licensing Committee who set the policies for our licensed drivers does not currently have a ban on Vapour cigarettes in Licensed vehicles. The policy is reviewed on a regular basis and this may be part of the consultation in the next review. 
We currently follow the legal guidelines around smoking in public vehicles and as of yet Vapour/E-cigarettes are not covered under the current laws. 
If this changes we will of course enforce the restrictions as strongly as we do the current smoking restrictions on our licensed drivers. Where passengers decide to use the E-cigarettes this would currently be down to individual drivers, and would be for them to ask passengers to refrain from use of the cigarettes in their vehicle if they wished them not to use. 
We would also advise drivers that use these types of machines to refrain from using them whilst passengers are on board, unless they have received permission from the passenger at the time, which should be common courtesy for both the driver and the passenger to ask such a question.
A policy built upon common sense and mutual respect? Well, fancy that!

Sadly, councils are stuffed full of pompous blowhards for whom liberties are just something that get in the way of their own self-importance, and Freedom to Vape is cognisant of that.
I would like to strike a note of caution. Just because a council has said that it doesn't plan to ban vaping in taxis and private hire vehicles, doesn't mean that it won't change its mind tomorrow.
As we all know, the ratchet almost invariably only goes the one way.

None of this, of course, would be anything local authority licensing boards would have bothered about too much before tobacco control embarked on the hysterical denormalisation of smoking, and now, nicotine. We've seen some fine words from them on e-cigs occasionally, but I don't see much by way of missives to councils to stop being monumental dicks towards vaping.

When I see a 'public health' NGO ripping publicly into arrogant, monolithic shitgoblins like TfL about damaging and illiberal bans on vaping in taxis - or anywhere else come to that - I'll start to believe they're not just playing us like fools. Might have to wait a while though.

In the meantime, Bravo Sheffield! Don't let the bastards grind you down. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

++Breaking++: Vape Marketing Discovered At A Vape Marketing Event!

On Sunday I wrote about one of the funniest pieces of anti-vaping 'science' I've seen so far. If you remember, the 'researchers' - I use that description in the very loosest sense - from North Carolina wanted laws to make all e-cigs the same so that it made it easier for the lazy buggers to study them.

You'd think they must be bottom-feeders in the tobacco control community, but it's a field where absurd morons jostle for position with laughable ones. I reckon this, from the Tobacco Control Comic Journal, beats it for stupidity.
World Vapor Expo 2017: e-cigarette marketing tactics
A newly emerging public health issue is the surge of ‘vaping conventions’ for e-cigarette marketing and sales. 
E-cigarette marketing strategies such as those observed at the 2017 World Vapor Expo echo earlier cigarette promotions infamously used by the tobacco industry to attract consumers, most notably teenagers. E-cigarette marketing strategies should be closely monitored to guide policymakers on how to regulate e-cigarette marketing and sales. Further research is needed on vaping events to document the age range of attendees and how social interactions at such events affect e-cigarette risk perceptions, vaping behaviour and perceived norms.
Vape marketing discovered at an age-restricted Vape Expo? Wow! Hold the front page!

Apparently, these two wide-eyed man-children believe this glimpse of reality that has just been revealed to them "may have serious public health implications". I think they may have got those words in the wrong order there. They mean vaping will have serious implications for those who laughingly call themselves 'public health'. After all, who needs parasitic junk scientists spunking public money down the drain like this when e-cigs are making their industry look like an expensive, ineffective and fraudulent disease?

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Our Job Is Difficult, So The World Must Change

We've known for a while that anti-smokers - in fact, any person with a beef about what other people enjoy that they personally dislike - want the world to revolve around them. They want the moon on a stick and a unicorn for Christmas, you see, so they demand that society re-orders itself to fit with their individual likes and dislikes.

The most prominent example is the smoking ban where a system of smoking and non-smoking pubs was not acceptable; anti-smokers wanted them all, without exception. Another, more recent, example is the case of fast food where odious snobs pretend they are worried about the health of working class people while, in reality, they just find other people's choices grubby and, well, common. Just because they wouldn't be seen dead in a McDonald's they want as many restrictions placed a successful business despite often enjoying far more unhealthy 'niche' or 'artisan' food themselves.

However, I've never seen this leaking into 'public health' research before. Well, not until now, anyway. I laughed out loud when I saw this.
Electronic Cigarettes: One Size Does Not Fit All
Electronic cigarettes (EC) have been rapidly growing in popularity among youth and adults in the US over the last decade. This increasing prevalence is partially driven by the ability to customize devices, flavors, and nicotine content and the general notion that EC are harmless, particularly in comparison to conventional cigarettes (CC).
Firstly, I'd argue that there isn't a "general notion" that they are harmless, more's the pity. Especially "in comparison to conventional cigarettes" which is indisputable.

But get this!
The hurdle presented by diverse device designs and [e-liquid] permutations, which contribute to inconsistency of available data, also highlights the need for legislative standardization of EC.
Yes. These idiots from North Carolina are actually of the opinion that their job is made more difficult because there are so many different e-cig product combinations which enthuse and attract smokers to alternatives that will suit them. So they want the law to change what they are studying so it makes it easier for them to do so.

Three lazy spongers who really believe that the world should stop being so diverse because it makes their gathering of junk science for the FDA more difficult.

If I didn't provide the link, you'd have thought I made it up, wouldn't you? Go on, admit it. 

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Plain Packs: The Failure Continues

Yep, about sums it up
Tuesday saw news from Australia and France on the embarrassing failure of plain packaging since it was introduced, but what about here in the UK? For such a much-vaunted and "urgent" tobacco control policy, there has been very little exultation at its effect here, in fact the silence has been deafening.

Well, maybe it's because there is nothing much to shout about. According to Convenience Store magazine [from page 33], it's had no impact whatsoever.
Roger Sraw's tobacco sales have remained steady year on year. "We certainly haven't seen the decline we were initially worried about," he says.  
Manny Patel of manny's in Long Ditton, Surrey has had the same experience. "Tobacco sales are steady in our store. Year on year we've seen no decline, even in January when people tend to try to cut down or quit."
So much for the frenzied rush to Stop Smoking Services predicted by tobacco control lobbyists during the plain packs campaign, eh? It doesn't look like the "300,000 fewer smokers" in the year after plain packaging legislation will be anything to do with the packs, after all.
In fact, a number of stores which have invested in training and robust category management are even reporting a rise in tobacco sales since EUTPD2 came in. Take the Costcutter store at Brunel University, for example. "Unbelievably, our tobacco sales have actually grown since the law was enforced," says store manager Arnaud Leudjou.
At a University? Where young smokers tend to congregate, do you mean? But surely plain packs was specifically designed to scare youth away from smoking, that's what we were told quite categorically by Smokefree South West (RIP) back in 2012.

"The government thought that banning small cigarette packs and RYO pouches would deter people from smoking, but here it seems as though the opposite is happening. 
"Smokers are now buying the larger packs and because they have more cigarettes on them, they are just smoking more. The volume and value of our tobacco sales are both up on this time last year," he adds.
Well fancy that! Something that was obvious would happen, did happen. Of course, it was obvious if you understand smokers, which tobacco control clearly doesn't, and actively refuses to.

But hold on, there's a sliver of hope for the tobacco control morons.
But not all stores share Arnaud's experience, Bipin Harria, owner of Seaford News in East Sussex, says he has noticed a "subtle decline" in tobacco sales since the start of the year. 
Well I suppose that's a straw to clutch, anyway.
"But revenues are up due to the larger pack sizes", he adds. Bipin blames increased price competition, from the illicit trade and also from other high street retailers, for the decline.
Or maybe not.

Now, we knew that plain packaging was a pathetic policy proposal with no chance of success, and it was reinforced by the tobacco control industry quickly turning down their ridiculously overwrought campaign hyperbole once the legislation had been passed. Prior to the vote in the House of Commons, plain packs was heralded as a huge step forward for 'public health', but once the law was assured tobacco controllers were downplaying expectations by saying "it's not a silver bullet". On this evidence, it's not even a bullet.

But smoking prevalence still declines more rapidly than at any time in recent history, and we all know it's because the rise in the use of e-cigs.

In light of this, can you guess what was the focus of the debate by anti-smokers at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) in Cape Town last week? Yes, you got it. More plain packaging, less vaping, as the Tobacco Atlas - unveiled at WCTOH - makes quite clear.
The implementation of key tobacco control demand-reduction measures (e.g., tobacco taxation; smoke-free policies; packaging and labeling provisions; marketing bans; and cessation programs) at the highest levels of achievement accelerated among the WHO FCTC Parties between 2007 and 2014. Effective implementation of these measures is significantly associated with lower smoking prevalence, which typically leads to considerable reductions in tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.
I love the term "demand-reduction measures". They mean forcing smokers to quit. But with what? Well, anything but e-cigs, natch.
Governments must be comprehensive and forceful in their smoke-free policies. For example, some jurisdictions have begun to include water pipes in their ban, or have at least implemented partial bans (e.g., the United Arab Emirates). E-cigarette public bans (including New York City)— not without controversy — have also become more common around the globe. 
The most basic issue is whether these novel nicotine products should be given market access at all. 
Most governments are trying a variety of other approaches to gatekeeping market access, ranging from permissive (e.g., similar to existing tobacco products) to more restrictive (e.g., requiring authorization from health authorities before entry into the market and on an ongoing basis).
It really is quite astonishing how addicted tobacco control is to failure. Their Luddite denial that free market alternatives move consumers away from smoking at an exponentially faster rate than restrictions and bans - or, in the case of plain packaging, infinitely faster because plain packs don't motivate anyone to quit - would make a great thesis for a student of psychology. Of course, I'd say it's simpler than that. They just know that new nicotine delivery products don't generate money for the tobacco control industry scam.

Of course, if tobacco controllers were interested in health, they would happily forgo their own salaries for the greater good of society; but it's not about health, so they don't.

H/T GV on Twitter

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

More Inevitable Plain Packaging Failure

Once celebrated as offering "a vaccine against lung cancer" by an over-excitable Sydney pensioner, reality keeps butting in and pointing out that plain packaging was a laughable policy and a scandalous waste of public money.

Via the Australian yesterday:
$16bn up in smoke as tobacco use rises for first time in decade
Consumption of cigarettes has risen for the first time in more than a decade, adding to concerns about the effectiveness of measures to reduce smoking. 
December saw the biggest annual rise in the seasonally adjusted measure of cigarette and tobacco consumption since 2004. The figures, contained in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest national accounts, emerge amid a debate over the prevailing ban on nicotine use in e-cigs or vaporisers. 
Over the last year, Australians spent just under $16bn on cigarettes and tobacco products.
The Department of Health’s latest review of the national tobacco strategy said targets to reduce the smoking rate to 10 per cent, and halve smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, were unlikely to be met. 
“While smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend, for the first time in more than two decades the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent three-year period,” the 2016 national drug strategy found.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't look much like a vaccine to me.

It's been one long tale of woe for the Aussie government since they introduced plain packs. First there was the 36% increase in smoking amongst 12-17 year olds immediately after implementation - a bit embarrassing since the policy was sold heavily on the premise that it would turn kids off. Following that we have seen nothing but relentless failure - in every Australian state - despite desperate attempts by the Australian government to hide it.

Then, in summer 2017, it was revealed that the Australian smoking prevalence rate had flatlined since 2013, despite plain packs being mandated from December 2012. If that wasn't embarrassing enough, yesterday's news of the first increase in smoking for over a decade, accepted by their government, must surely be classified as extremely humiliating.

Then, today, from France we hear this.
Cigarette price hikes and plain packages fail to stop French sparking up
French people are lighting up as much as ever despite the launch of plain packaging and the rising cost of the habit, new figures reveal. 
Launched in January 2017, it was hoped that plain packaging would decrease the number of French smokers but new figures show that 29 percent of them are still lighting up - a figure that has remained stable in recent years. 
Lung doctor, Bertrand Dautzenberg who had been a staunch defender of the plain packaging reform, admitted that it had not affected sales in an interview with Le Parisien last May, adding that he believed the cost of the habit would need to go up to 10 euros a packet for there to be a drop in the number of smokers. 
Now, when even a "staunch defender" of plain packs admits it is a failure it is not just any old failure, but a monumentally humbling and cringeworthy failure. Saying that it requires tax rises to work merely says that tax rises work, not plain packaging. It's a striking admission of abject defeat.

Worse still, we know from May 2017 that cigarette sales in France increased after plain packaging was introduced. So if there are the same amount of smokers, as the latest data show, it means that plain packaging has actually encouraged smokers to smoke more.

Tobacco control failure simply doesn't get any funnier than that.

Next up to try this utterly pointless policy is New Zealand, where it was implemented today. Why they think they will have any more chance of success than other countries where plain packs have dramatically failed is anyone's guess.

It also calls into question the intellect of the idiots running these countries. All of them seem happy to introduce a controversial policy for which there was absolutely no prior evidence of success - and about which there is now plenty of evidence of failure - despite it necessarily obliterating intellectual property rights and fundamentally intruding on centuries-old concepts of personal and business freedom. Yet when presented with dramatic evidence of the spectacular success of e-cigs and heat not burn harm reduction products in states which have allowed their sale - where the level of success correlates positively with the less they are restricted - politicians just shrug their shoulders and say "we just can't be sure".

Failure is success; success is to be feared. This is the fairy tale that politicians, academics and civil servants tell the public these days. Is it any wonder democratic votes all around the world now routinely reject this kind of arrogant elitist snobbery? 

Monday, 12 March 2018

The Cult-Like Stupidity At #WCTOH2018

As Snowdon has also written, the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) last week was a staggering car crash of an event where the tobacco control industry basically announced to the world that it had abandoned any last remnants of the facade that it cares for health.

The level of lying was off the scale, but it was the sheer unadulterated stupidity and naivety on display which deserves more comment in my opinion.

Firstly, in an era where peace is valued more highly by modern society than war, it's hilarious to see state-funded delegates queue up to talk about waging war on a globally legal industry which provides handsome tax receipts for governments, erm, everywhere! The idea that, for example, the UK Treasury will be shorn of circa £12bn in duty is never going to fly with any legislative body, they are screaming into the void.

We know why they do this, of course, it's because it is political suicide to talk about waging a war on smokers - which the vast majority of sneering arseholes at that conference would much prefer to do - so they deflect the anger towards 'Big Tobacco' which is only servicing the demands of consumers and investors. It's not rocket science.

That this has led them to embark on a stance towards The Foundation for a Smokefree World (FSFW) which could end up comprehensively embarrassing them is pure comedy gold.

See, if I was advising these tobacco control clowns, apart from pointing out that their shoes are far too long, I'd be saying that the odds are better in their favour if they were to fully embrace the idea of FSFW.

Confused? OK, well just consider their reason for objecting to FSFW. It's because they despise 'Big Tobacco' and have a fascist rule to ensure they never have to properly debate article 5.3 to say that the tobacco industry should have no say in policy. They would claim that FSFW breaches that even though there is no evidence that it has or will do. They point to the fact that industry lied 50 years ago so cannot be trusted. But what are they afraid of (and as I wrote last week, they are fucking terrified)?

They are afraid, simply, because the FSFW might deliver positive results. This doesn't bear thinking about for many reasons, one of which is that we'd need fewer tobacco controllers, but also because it would prove that collaborations with industry - as is Derek Yach's stated ethos - might actually work.

It takes away one of their arguments - that industry should never be trusted - but they're playing with fire trying to keep it. Because imagine if what FSW proposes did work, and  governments recognised and accepted that it worked? How bad would it look if the entire tobacco control industry had fought with every sinew to stop it working?

Now, they will say that it's nonsense, it's all a scam as Mike Siegel declared recently. But what if it is? It's still not in the tobacco control industry's interests to oppose it. Why? Because if it is designed to hoodwink everyone then the cretins at WCTOH are playing right into 'Big Tobacco's' hands. Politically the tobacco manufacturers can say that they tried their very best but had to give up because those who are supposed to be in favour of reducing smoking stopped them. What other choice have they got except to go on making cigarettes?

There is no scenario where tobacco control is going to win with the stance they are taking.

Imagine instead that they supported FSFW and it did turn out to be a 'scam'. Well then the industry has a problem because if they have support and are proven to have been playing games again, their reputations are shot for another few generations. As things stand, WCTOH's daft position threatens to shatter tobacco control reputations far more than on the other side.

It's a masterstroke from the industry which could, hopefully, show up the charlatans in tobacco-based 'public health' for what they really are; just a bunch of lying, low intellect blowhards and journeymen with no political nous whatsoever.

What's more, if FSFW does deliver and tobacco control hasn't backed them, there is only one place that the adulation is heading to, and it ain't tobacco controllers.

It's not even as if WCTOH came up with anything radically different than their usual, tax, restrict, ban mantra. Just the same old low-grade, expensive and non-efficacious gravy train-perpetuating nonsense.

Personally, I hope they carry on being utterly stupid about it all and trash their reputations at the same rate as the public appreciate the renewed sincerity of the tobacco industry, it will be pretty to watch.

We are living in a bizarre world where Simon Clark expresses deep mistrust about FSFW, and tobacco controllers, including Debs Arnott of ASH, are of the same view. I mean, doesn't that raise a few alarm bells in the batshit crazy tobacco control Mothership? Their cult - because that it exactly what it is - has become so pervasive in its brain-washing that the vacant, weasel-headed, blovating cocksplats in Cape Town last week can't even see what is good for them. Some might say they are addicted to idiocy, they can't help themselves, and should seek help.

With this whole cult thing going on, you have to wonder why those amongst the tobacco control community who are energised by the promise of reduced risk products - and there were some there - bothered to turn up. To change things from the inside, I guess. But this movement is so utterly indoctrinated by ignorance and powered by hatred that the idea of change from within is absurd. It's like someone in the 1940s popping along to a Nuremberg rally on the premise that "if I could just meet a few of them, I'm sure I can talk them round".

We live in interesting times, don't we?

UPDATE: Via Twitter, it seems I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Sorting The Lies And The Truth At #WCTOH2018

Following on from Wednesday's article here about happenings at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) in Cape Town, I see that proceedings have now wrapped up. The congenital liars delegates are packing their bags as I write and heading to the airport for their state-funded flights back home, filled to the brim with military-style fighting rhetoric against industry but having achieved the grand sum of fuck all for the benefit of public health.

We learned from this conference - if learn is the right word - that the tobacco industry lies about many things. Apparently their insistence - along with accumulated global evidence over centuries - that prohibition doesn't work is nonsense.

We also 'learned' that e-cigs have had nothing to do with the dramatic decline in smoking in the UK since about 2012, in fact it's not even worth mentioning. Nope, tobacco companies saying harm reduction is good and plain packaging has had no effect is just another one of their lies. It's plain packaging - introduced in spring 2017 - which is the main driver.

And we were also educated that there is no downside to high tobacco taxes, because it is just an industry myth that they create black markets.

OK, the percentages on that graph bear little resemblance to those measured by HMRC's latest measuring tax gaps report ...

... but that's just a minor detail because the tobacco control industry is a fine, upstanding bearer of the sword of truth! Whereas 'Big Tobacco' are big fat liars.  It's ridiculous that anyone could ever think high taxes cause illicit trade. You could ramp the duty up to £200 per pack and all that would happen is that revenues would rise and smokers would quit while criminal gangs remained oblivious to the profit potential of a huge global market starved of supply.

We 'learned' too that the tobacco industry's lies about the slippery slope when it comes to sanctions on tobacco are totally unfounded. You may remember Debs Arnott telling us this in 2012.
"The “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false."
Yep, that is blatant tobacco industry propaganda too.

The tobacco controllers at WCTOH this week, however, never lie. They only tell truths.

Truths such as this.
Philanthropist Mike Bloomberg launched a $20 million initiative this morning to fight the “fake science” being spread by tobacco companies. The former New York City mayor announced the new initiative ahead of the 17th World Congress on Tobacco, which gets underway today in Cape Town. It’s dubbed the STOP campaign — Stop Tobacco Organizations and Products — and will fund nonprofit groups and researchers to monitor tobacco companies that are “lobbying governments with false information,” such as the safety of smoke-free products like e-cigs, Bloomberg says. His goal: "STOP is going to fight these practices and tell people what the truth is."
Yes, damn those e-cigs and their much-reduced potential for harm, they're just not "safe" and must be banned. Mikey is so passionate about spreading truth that his words even reached the Guardian.
The tobacco control movement has roundly denounced the [Foundation for a Smokefree World] and accused PMI of duplicity. Michael Bloomberg, now WHO global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases, said it was “an effort by Philip Morris to confuse the public and to misinform them deliberately”.
Yeah, you stick it to them Mike. PMI's unrestricted funding, over which they have no control and to which they are committed no matter what the FSFW finds, is just a way of "misleading" the public into thinking reduced harm products might, erm, reduce harm whereas tobacco control - truthsayers extraordinaire - are valiantly trying to tell the public otherwise.
“I understand the tobacco companies want to protect their business, but to deliberately go out and to misinform people where lives are at stake is just something that I think we should not permit. And so my foundation has committed $20m as a start to explain to people what’s going on.”
So what's going on Michael?
At a briefing, Michael Bloomberg accused the foundation of promoting “fake science as well as fake news”
Well considering the FSFW has not produced a single item of science yet and Mikey is so determined they never will that he's bunged $20m at the 'problem', that's an interesting theory and in no way can be considered "fake news".

See, funding by 'Big Tobacco' must, by definition, result in fake stuff, while tobacco control would never mislead the public and Mike is a stand-up guy so his $20m would never be used to promote propaganda, so completely disregard the statement at the bottom of his article.
The Guardian’s series Tobacco: a deadly business is funded by by support provided, in part, by Vital Strategies with funding by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
See? Now you're better educated. Thank you WCTOH delegates for your astonishing departure from reality sterling defence of the truth this week. Taxes well and truly not spunked up the wall, and no mistake.

Has there ever been a profession so fundamentally dishonest as tobacco control?