Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Tobacco Control's Retarded Understanding of Economics

Things have been hectic at Puddlecote Inc recently hence the lack of content here, but some of that busy-ness is down to something quite momentous which could be on the horizon. The drafts have been piling up but I'll get round to them sometime.

Starting with this. Oh boy!

Next time any tobacco controller tries to tell you they understand everything about how the world works - because they always claim to - simply point them at this hilarious nonsense.


This is in response to a crash in Altria shares following less than expected growth in the iQos HnB platform. Yes, growth, because sales are still on an upward trajectory, just less dramatic than was forecast.

Previous to this, sales of iQos in Japan have been phenomenal, wildly better than any tobacco control initiative in history. According to the Financial Times ...
Shipments of traditional cigarettes fell more than 7 per cent, following an 11.5 per cent decline in the first quarter of 2017, while shipments of alternative “heated units” rose to 6.4bn from 1.2bn in the same quarter last year. 
During the quarter, almost 9 per cent of Philip Morris’s worldwide revenues came from “reduced risk products”, compared with 1.8 per cent a year earlier, with much of this shift occurring in Japan.
This is quite simply unprecedented. The biggest sea change in shifting smokers away from lit tobacco in the world. Ever.

As CNBC reports, the correction to stock prices was just a market reaction to growth - yes growth - slowing.
Philip Morris International shares plummeted 16 percent in the company's worst day since it spun off from Altria in 2008, after PMI posted mixed first-quarter results and said growth of iQOS, its heat-not-burn tobacco product, slowed in Japan.
However, in the cult-like battle that tobacco control is waging against tobacco companies, this was a straw that had to be clutched. So the {cough} wise and knowledgeable 'experts' in the tobacco control industry duly did so, retweeting this hilariously ignorant article with knuckle-dragging enthusiasm.

How stunning success in Japan which has dramatically reduced the sales of cigarettes can be described as "no-one wants" these products anymore is anyone's guess. But then, tobacco control has lived in its own wibbly-wobbly world of mendacious woo for so long that it must be difficult, after a while, for them to work out what is real and what is not. It's not like they're that bright to begin with, after all.

What is actually happening here is that the tobacco control industry is embarrassed that after decades of sucking on the taxpayer teat to the tune of hundreds billions of pounds, they have never once been able to produce results anywhere near as dramatic as this.

Graph pinched from this article, do go read it

And nor will they ever. Because they're morons who have completely abandoned any fig leaf that they are interested in helping smokers and improving public health. As we saw in Cape Town recently, they don't care what smokers do, they only care about bashing industry.

And if they have to support vacuous and incorrigibly retarded articles written by people who have about as much business savvy as a three year old, then that'll do for them, Tommy.

It's quite scary that governments listen to cretins like that, isn't it? 



Monday, 16 April 2018

Forget Your Customers At Your Peril

I've had a busy start to a busy Puddlecote Inc week, so am a bit late on this. Snowdon has already had his say but - as a former loyal customer of Lucozade for decades - I want to chip in something too.

Via The Grocer:
Lucozade Energy has lost £62.6m in value over the past year - the largest loss in the soft drinks category - as consumers turned away from the new lower-sugar formula. 
According to IRI figures, Energy’s value sales were down 18.6% to £273.6m, while volumes fell 18.9% to 162 million litres, after Lucozade changed the recipe last April to avoid the levy.
Good. I'm glad to have been one of those who abandoned them for their cowardly and contemptuous decision to shit on their best customers. I hope they go under.

Meanwhile their rivals are doing rather well.
Conversely, rival Red Bull added £20.5m to sales of its standard variant, taking its value to £279.6m and assuming the title of Britain’s bestselling energy drink.
Assuming the title of bestselling energy drink from ... Lucozade Energy! Forget about sugar, for a very pissed off former customer, could anything be sweeter than that?

Amusingly, the sales director in charge of this huge fall in, erm, sales is thrilled about losing nearly a fifth of revenue in the space of a year.
“We’re proud to have taken a leading stance and believe these steps have ­future-proofed our brands for our customers and their ­consumers,” said sales director Scott Meredith. 
Future-proofed the brand? It's just lost its top ranking spot. What kind of alternative world are these people living in?

The simple reason that Lucozade are - rightly - being deserted by swathes of their former happy customers is that Lucozade completely forgot the very first rule of business; that the customer is always right. Their customers, like me, enjoyed the product as it was. They changed it, not because customers were demanding it as their lame Twitter feed continually bleats, but because their CEO is a snivelling coward.
'Jamie Oliver was beating me up, so were other celebrities, NGOs and the media. They were demonising me as though sugar were the new tobacco,' says Peter Harding
Aww, poor thing. What was Don Jamie "two chins" Oliver doing to terrorise you, Peter? Firing pine nuts at you out of a carbine? Maybe you should go take charge of a jumble sale instead of a multi-million pound company, because the spidey business sense isn't that acute.
“Our retailers and suppliers have been really supportive,” he says, “because they recognised that we were motivated by doing right by the consumer, responding to the demand for more low-sugar and no-sugar drinks.”
And how is that demand working out for you right now, you cretin?
We’re 9pc of the UK soft drinks market. We’re probably not going to change the world ourselves but if we can demonstrate that it’s possible to make these changes and provide a lead for the rest of the food and drink industry and show that it can be done, then maybe other people will come with us.”
I think you're a little less than 9pc now, sunshine. And I hope you continue to fail so you can provide a lead for the rest of the food and drink industry not to be so spineless in the face of adversity as to abandon their core consumers.

Lucozade customers have had their say at the tills for their preferences being dismissed, now we can but hope shareholders will react accordingly to having their hopes of growth and increased dividends dashed on the altar of cowardice and stupidity. 



Thursday, 12 April 2018

Snus Ban: Let's Leave The EU, Sort It Out Later

As I reported in January, the UK government went in to bat for the EU in favour of upholding the ban on snus everywhere but Sweden when it was challenged in the ECJ.
Reports from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) where the EU's ban on snus was being challenged were not just disappointing, but also quite astonishing! A number of tweets from Gerry Stimson, who was attending on behalf of the NNA, described how a succession of of bureaucrats outed themselves as being in denial about the evidence base behind snus and willing to blatantly lie to the court about it. Most surprising was that the UK government took it upon itself to actively oppose lifting the ban despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits snus could provide.
Overwhelming isn't the word, snus has just about been given a clean bill of health in every aspect. A Lancet review spoke of no evidence of harm from long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” (p 1364).

This doesn't matter to the ECJ though. They delivered their opinion on the court challenge today and they couldn't care less.
The European Union’s ban on the smoking substitute snus can be upheld according to the European Court of Justice's advocate general. In his preliminary opinion, ahead of the court's decision this summer, Henrik Saugmandsgaard said that while the evidence for the ban was not clear cut, the European Parliament had the right to impose the ban in 1992.
Yep, the EU don't need any compelling evidence to ban anything, just a hunch will do.

Now, although this is only an opinion and the judgement is to be decided at a later date, it effectively kills the thing stone dead and probably the safest form of tobacco use - which has led to dramatic declines in smoking in Sweden and Norway in a short space of time - will continue to be banned for the foreseeable future. All over a moral panic led by Edwina Currie in 1984.

This speaks volumes about how much of a regulatory Leviathan the EU is. It simply cannot be countered. The ECJ is one of the pillars of an organisation that piles bureaucracy upon bureaucracy upon bureaucracy and excludes the public entirely. Its role, as this opinion proves, is not to hold the legislature to account for bad behaviour, but merely to rubber-stamp its right to make bad decisions.

Now, the timing of this wasn't great considering Brexit negotiations are ongoing and the UK may have felt that this wasn't the hill to die on right now, but the fact that they argued so strongly against binning this astonishingly unnecessary ban as a result of the treacle of red tape we are tied into just illustrates what a shit-show the EU is and why it's good that we are leaving. If the UK - which, may I remind you unveiled a Tobacco Control Plan in July saying it wants to "maximise" use of alternative nicotine products - feels it necessary to fight for an unjust law which protects the smoking they also claim to want to eradicate, it's well past time that we maximised an alternative to rule from Brussels.

I know many will say that this proves that leaving the EU will make no difference. Except that UK courts have always been far more predisposed to embarrassing the government, most administrations have been taken to the cleaners by courts in the UK. The ECJ, however, is just another regulatory talking shop, as perfectly highlighted by the court admitting there is no evidence to prove snus is dangerous enough to ban but agreeing that the EU can do it anyway.

Who cares about the public and health, eh? The EU's embarrassment must be avoided at all costs.

Besides, let's get out of the EU and then see what happens with this ban once we're out. The system of electing MEPs is proportional representation which basically means they're in for life and have no power to reject any law whatsoever. British MPs can though, and are directly accountable to their electorate, we can kick many of them out very easily.

The hypocrisy on display by civil servants at the ECJ will be more difficult to justify if they are challenged by angry MPs scrambling for every vote to stay in their office at Westminster. And talking of hills to die on, how many British MPs want to be seen to be pinning their majorities to a policy of backing incumbent cigarette manufacturers against a product deemed 100 times safer and which has led to a smoking rate amongst women in Norway of 1%?

Today - and the incredibly long fight against the EU's ridiculous TPD - proves that the people have no say in Brussels, only corporate lobbyists do. Let's get on with getting out of the absurdly impenetrable, bureaucratic, and anti-democratic EU and sort the crap laws out later. 



Monday, 9 April 2018

The Sugar Tax Con Trick

So the sugar tax was introduced on Friday and on social media many are starting to wake from their slumber as to what it all means.

We are already seeing smaller chocolate bars being sold for the same price, popular drinks that have been national favourite for decades being effectively discontinued, and meal deals being wrecked at the altar of 'public health' fantasy.

The public are being screwed out of their cash for no good reason, and - as Mark Littlewood writes today in The Times - it is hypocritical government which is doing the screwing.
[I]nterventions such as the sugar tax undermine the government’s narrative in other key areas. As leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband struck a chord when he campaigned on behalf of the “squeezed middle” and talked of a cost of living crisis. In the early stages of her premiership, Theresa May said she would be a champion of “just about managing” households. With real wages having been obstinately flat for years and house prices staying high, politicians of both stripes have been keen to empathise with families whose modest budgets barely allow them to purchase the essentials of life. 
Consumption taxes, such as the levy on fizzy drinks, have a measurably regressive impact. They chew up a relatively high proportion of the incomes of those least able to afford them. According to the Office for National Statistics, these types of taxes account for nearly a quarter of the disposable income of the poorest 10 per cent in British society, compared with a more manageable 13 per cent for the richest decile. The next time a Tory spokesman sympathises with those who are struggling to get by, the electorate may ask why the government is gearing the tax system to make it more difficult for those on budgets to afford staple products.
If an industry conspired to ramp up prices in an entire sector as this tax does, it would be condemned as a cartel by government and be subject to scandal and heavy scrutiny. We might expect to see price caps and business owners would likely be prosecuted for fraud.

Yet the government is the one doing the price-gouging and impoverishing the poor, so apparently it's OK. It's not OK and is a national scandal that the government should presume it ever has the right to decide what we are allowed to eat and drink!

But what I find most interesting about this whole grubby affair is the huge con trick that has been played on the British public.

For example, we are told that this measure is required due to the spiralling levels of child obesity. Let's look at those from the latest HSCIC figures, shall we?


The increase - if there is one - is minimal and even that is tempered by the fact that the NHS admits the stats up to 2009 were under-estimated. There really isn't a "crisis" in child obesity.

And even if there is, it has nothing to do with sugar.


And certainly nothing to do with soft drinks consumption either considering it has remained flat for over a decade, with low sugar alternatives making up a greater proportion of that in recent years. If, like me, you are a child of the 70s and 80s, you will remember that we drank much more fizzy drinks than kids today and there were far fewer low-sugar options. We had a lot more tooth decay than kids today but we were - according to the health 'experts' - far slimmer. So how can anyone say it's the sugar causing this mythical obesity crisis? It's quite clearly not.

Yet we are told there is enough evidence about the evils of sugar in food and drink to fleece the public to the tune of £240m to £500m, depending on how trusting you are in the power of the coercive state to make predictions.

It's complete arse-biscuits.

Instead, what has happened is that the public has effectively been brainwashed into believing this fantasy, led by 'public health' cranks with an agenda to promote and a bank balance to feed with grants and advocacy salaries.

Which is why we have the bizarre situation where even articles like Littlewood's, which calmly debunks this paranoia and government over-reach, are always followed by comments from people who just can't get their head around how they have been comprehensively conned. And, to be honest, it's because many of them really want to be conned; they are eager for the poppycock they are fed to be true.

They fall into three camps, but all are based on good old-fashioned selfishness, ignorance and class hate.

Firstly, you have the look-at-me virtue-signaller. These are the ones who will boast about how they always cook food from the healthiest ingredients at home, will ban their kids from McDonald's and never have poison like fizzy drinks in the house. Oh no, they are a better class of person, not like those common oiks they see in the High Street. They are so much better than you and can't wait to jump onto radio phone-ins to explain at length how very perfect they are compared to the rest of society. They will often also requisition your kids as their own by saying action is necessary to save "our children". Ironically, these holier-than-thou types were banging on in the 90s about how they give their kids orange juice not Coca-Cola, but will never admit that now that orange juice has been demonsed too.

Secondly, we have the ones who claim their interest is because they are being unduly taxed for the sins of other people. They will scream about the cost to the health service as if this is costing them personally. The cost to the health service argument is shonky at best considering we're told the obese die earlier than those fine, upstanding healthy people thereby saving a fortune in government's biggest expenditure, pensions. But it always amuses me to think there are people around who honestly believe if everyone was slim they'd get a reduction in taxes. Of course they wouldn't. These people are actually arguing that the sugar tax is good because it will cost the NHS less (which it won't) and that might benefit them (which it won't) so are happy to see the government whack taxes on products that they may buy (which definitely will cost them). They should look up Parkinson's Law.

And lastly, we have the type who knows very well that this is a load of bollocks but just like the fact that sin taxes are regressive. They will leap on any old nonsense to justify a tax which punishes the poor, for the simple fact that they hate people who are not like them. They don't care whether the sugar tax will work, they are simply a modern version of a Victorian aristocrat who would sneer at the choices of the poor. It is now considered shameful to advocate an income tax rate for the low-paid which is higher than that for the rich, but positively encouraged by government to support disproportionately gouging the less well off for products which the rich can afford quite nicely, thank you.

It should be repellent that so many people support this assault on their fellow citizens, but politicians have been conned as much as the rest of society has. The facts show that sugar consumption has been falling consistently for decades; that sugary drinks consumption in the UK has been declining; that taxing that consumption - which makes up such a tiny proportion of our diets - will have little effect on what we buy let alone our waistlines; and it has proven to be a failure wherever it has been tried.

But we still try it because ... snobbery, as Alex Deane described at the time it was announced.
Virtue-signalling politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities feeling tremendously good about themselves because they’ve bossed the rest of us around, and imposed a stealth tax on those least able to afford it.
Still, it's only a small imposition isn't it? The government punishing the poor over fizzy drinks will be the end of the matter. Well not really, no, and if you believe that my local pub has a smoking room you can buy at a decent price.

The sugar tax is born out of the same vile and scum-infested middle class base as the smoking ban. The only difference being that back then it was smokers, now it is the overweight. The precedent was set a decade ago, a precedent which gave a green light for the most hideous in society to point fingers, criticise the choices of others, publicly vomit insults, and demand government force be brought to bear on people who they feel offended at seeing. That's all, just seeing!

The sugar tax proves that an entire population can be conned into the most grubby of sentiments purely by the repetition of lies designed to prey upon hidden prejudices. History has seen this before with disastrous consequences. 



Friday, 6 April 2018

More Junk Science From Glantz

There may well come a time where the name Glantz is used as a byword for production of the worst kind of deliberate junk science, such is his expertise in the practice.

A merchant of doubt explains merchants of doubt
Just like we derive the term gerrymandering from the grubby antics of Elbridge Gerry, so we may - nay, should - in future refer to research fraudulently contorted to achieve a preconceived conclusion in any discipline to have been 'Glantzed'.

Brad Rodu has highlighted the latest in a long line of Glantzian chicanery on his blog this week. Publishing in the Paediatrics journal, Glantz once again came up with a conclusion that vaping amongst adolescents drives them towards smoking. Except for one thing, he had discounted prior cigarette consumption altogether.

Erm, I know that tobacco controllers understand smokers less than the general population, but this is a pretty fundamental error. Of course people dabbling with e-cigs are more likely to smoke afterwards if they have smoked before, yet Glantz chooses to completely ignore this vital piece of information.

As Rodu comments:
In their analysis, the authors ignore the fact that their study group consisted entirely of experimental smokers with widely varied experience – one or more puffs but never a whole cigarette, one cigarette, 2-10, 11-20, 21-50 and 51-99 cigarettes.  
It is well established that past smoking (in this case, LCC at Wave 1) predicts future smoking (one year later).  Chaffee, Watkins and Glantz ignored this information in order to claim that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking.  Their study should be retracted. 
Well, yes. In any legitimate area of research, a fundamental flaw such as this would have been discovered during peer review, but then tobacco control has never been a legitimate area of research, it is just political policy-based evidence-making. Why a journal like Paediatrics would continue to allow such a blatantly shonky piece of research to contaminate its pages is anyone's guess.

Rodu reproduced the analysis taking into account prior cigarette use and - lo and behold - the claims made by Glantz entirely disappeared. The data had been comprehensively Glantzed.

This was pointed out in the responses page at Paediatrics by Rodu, and Glantz fiercely defended his study ... by launching an ad hominem attack. Under Dick's Law, this means Rodu has already won. However, the victory is even greater considering Glantz's response admitted that he and his colleagues deliberately treated kids who had smoked only one puff and never a whole cigarette just the same as those who had smoked 99 cigarettes. Only a charlatan would do something like that and, as charlatans go, Glantz is as mendacious and deceitful as they come.

But then tobacco control has long since departed from having anything to do with science, it is in fact anti-science and its journals are increasingly also of the same mindset. It's a cult to which you are either within or without. Glantz is one of the cult leaders so is duty-bound to promote whatever quasi-religious anti-nicotine hegemony that his colleagues wish him to, and at the moment in the US it just happens to be an ignorant and quite absurd dislike for e-cigs based on no reasonable foundation whatsoever.

How ironic is it that someone still banging on about the behaviour of tobacco companies in the 1960s can so brilliantly encapsulate the actions of tobacco control doubt-spreaders in 2018?

The tobacco industry has long since abandoned any pretence that their core product is harmless, but some in tobacco control are employing exactly the same doubt creation methods now towards e-cigs! Glantz has become everything he has spent decades condemning. He propagates ignorance, obscures truth and deliberately creates confusion. And if Paediatrics doesn't retract a blatantly and deliberately false study such as this one, they are complicit in the fraud and their integrity is in the gutter.

As I mentioned earlier this week, there's a very good reason why vapers don't believe a word that tobacco controllers say, and Glantz has just provided them with another prime example.  



Monday, 2 April 2018

None So Blind ...

It's only early April, but we have a contender for the most delusional and ill-judged tweet of the year.
Now, I've always said that new products such as e-cigs had the potential to show up tobacco controllers as the charlatans that they are, but the incompetent behaviour of some in the face of a changing nicotine market has exceeded even my hopeful expectations. That tweet - from an editor of the Tobacco Control comic - says it all.

For the best part of a decade, tobacco controllers have been telling outrageous and blatant lies about e-cigs in order to get them banned. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry has been quietly developing proper science around their products.

Industry has been selling products that consumers like while tobacco control has been issuing junk science study after junk science study which are so lame that they take minutes to see through. 

It takes an incredibly cult-like outlook on life to not understand, then, why vapers trust industry over a bunch of liars who have restricted choice of products in the EU and are still doing their damnedest to either tax e-cigs into oblivion or take them off the shelves globally.

Of course the tobacco industry now has more integrity in the eyes of many vapers than tobacco control, and rightly so.

Incredibly, Ruth "remains mystified" as to why, despite the evidence being all around her, as Mike Siegel wrote in 2014.
When the tobacco industry decided - sometime back around 2000 or so - to stop monitoring tobacco control science and to just let us say anything we wanted to - I thought they had made a poor decision. But in retrospect, I think it may have been brilliant. They apparently knew that before long, without the restraints of having to answer to Big Tobacco's public questioning, our science would deteriorate and we would just start saying anything we wanted to. Unrestrained, the tobacco control movement's scientific rigor would fall to such a low level that we would end up discrediting ourselves and undermining our own credibility. 
Well, we're there. We're officially there.
We are indeed, yet many tobacco controllers just keep digging that hole, oblivious to the harm it is causing them.

Hilarious!  



Sunday, 1 April 2018

Juvenile Nonsense

It pains me to write this but it's fair game considering I've had the same back the other way in the past.

Simon Clark posted an inane and, sorry to say, embarrassing article yesterday where he tried to insinuate that pro-snus advocates have been lackadaisical in publishing a rebuttal to the stupid scaremongering about snus in football.

According to Simon:
It's not easy, I know, getting your voice heard in these circumstances. You should try however and it's now 48 hours since the Mail published its 'investigation', plenty of time for pro-snus advocates to issue a statement (or statements) of their own.
Simon, of course, is paid to do his job. There are no paid advocates of snus in this country and this was the Easter weekend.

He tweeted at 10ish yesterday and then wrote an article at 2:16pm.

The accusation is that those defending snus are somehow lazy in not being more active in getting a counter-argument out there. As he said here.
Nevertheless, if I was a snus advocate I know what I'd be doing this weekend. I'd be on the phone to a national newspaper offering to write an article that defends not only snus but nicotine in general.
Now, I'm struggling to understand why he didn't send this to the people he is targeting considering he has all of our contact details easily to hand. He certainly has mine, and I know he has many others too.

So why did he take such a juvenile approach? The ban on snus is being challenged at the ECJ so those advancing that opinion should be supported rather than be subject to childish point-scoring.

He's completely wrong anyway because if he'd bothered to contact anyone about it - as in, if he cared about the campaign - they could have told him that things were in hand. He could have even contributed. The NNA published a press release just 45 minutes after he posted his blog and anything published at the NNA site has to be approved by the board. It contained - as he would have noticed - 13 different links to back up a commentary. If the NNA did that on the back of Simon's article they would surely be absolutely superb at reacting quickly. More worthy of praise for amateurs rather than sneering remarks, I'd say.

In answer to a tweet replying to him, he tended to suggest that this PR was only as a result of his tweet and blog, except that it was nonsense. So I told him in the comments on his blog that I'd read a draft of the PR on Friday night so his article was fatally flawed flim flam. His response was "if you say so".

Erm, yes I do say so because I was at the house of a trustee of the NNA on Friday evening and read a draft. I write for recreation about issues such as nicotine, smoking and other assaults on our liberties by the nanny state. It would be a surprise if we didn't talk about the ridiculous moral panic over snus.

Oh yeah, we also wrote an article for Spiked that night. That was nothing to do with Simon either.


Yes, you owe an apology, Simon. Man up and do so.