Thursday, 30 June 2016

#Brexit Fallout

Life is still weep-inducingly busy at Puddlecote Inc. Building work means we are interviewing prospective staff in our vehicles, while the 19 new bespoke vehicles we ordered are starting to arrive and being kitted out by our fleet guys. Brochures are out to the printers but staff nerves are frayed at such a lot happening all at the same time.

It's exhausting stuff which is why I've had no energy (or inclination sadly) to write anything here since last week. And what a week I've mostly missed!

I'd planned to spend the EU Referendum night at the IEA for an all-nighter but slumped in a sofa around 6:30pm on Thursday with no thought whatsoever of making the trek up to Westminster. However, with nothing on TV I decided at around 9pm to drag myself there just to say hello for an hour or so before getting a kebab on the way home and collapsing.

It didn't quite work out like that though once engaging in conversations ...

... and enjoying the IEA's (in)famous hospitality.

Greeted at the venue with the words "welcome to the wake", a pro-Brexit attendee humorously signalled what those who had voted leave expected to happen. The British public looked set to chicken out and just go with the 'safe' option, to succumb to fear of the unknown and let the EU carry on taking the right royal piss. The markets said so and the bookies - whose price on Brexit had flown out during the day from slight odds against to 20/1 at one stage - said so.

How wrong we all were!

Spending the evening with economists and keen political wonks who have studied all the referendum data to destruction was incredibly interesting. When the first result came in from Gibraltar - a thumping 96% vote for remain - one in the group I was talking to said "that's not actually bad, we were expecting 97%".

Then, when the Newcastle result was announced ("strong student population, should be 56% remain") as a comparatively paltry 50.7% majority for staying in, the astonishment began. One well-connected leave campaigner was confident enough after that declaration to shout "We're going to win! We're going to leave!". And so subsequent results seemed to go the same way; I stood close to one analyst who seemed to have encyclopaedic knowledge of all of the regions, and apart from a few outliers, all the results were exceeding Vote Leave's best hopes. It was gripping stuff and impossible to tear oneself away.

The team who produced Brexit The Movie were obviously more than thrilled at this, it's fair to say they were positively buzzing.

As you can see from the clock behind them in the picture above, I stayed well beyond when I had originally planned. In fact, I ended up nodding off on the morning commuter train and getting home in time to wave the girl P off to wherever the hell it is that teens go once they've finished their GCSEs.

I don't think I've ever been more proud of my country in recent years. The British public had heard a monumental amount of often ludicrous scaremongering and withstood it; ignored it; going instead with an instinct that democracy, sovereignty and self-determination are things this country values highly and always has done.

Then the quite astonishing shit-flinging from butthurt remainers began. Anyone who voted leave was obviously "stupid", "racist" or just plain evil. One alternative comic stated on Twitter - with no hint of irony - that "17m people have voted for Fascism", seemingly ignorant of the fact that denying democratic will of the public is almost a definition of fascism.

Unsurprisingly, the 'public health' community have been front and centre in this mass outpouring of grief that the public has dared to disobey commands, as I obliquely mentioned on Twitter yesterday.

But that's what 'public health' liggers are all about, the pursuit of a perfect echo chamber. Just last month we witnessed exactly this in relation to a debate held in the same room where last Thursday I marvelled at the wisdom of the British public.

Prior to the IEA's debate about the TPD and its effect on the free market surrounding e-cigs, numerous invites were sent out to 'public health' personnel to give their side of the story. The IEA were actively seeking out an opposite viewpoint but for tobacco control, especially, debate is something to be avoided at all costs. All invites were refused. Likewise, in April the RSPH managed to host a 'debate' about vaping in workplaces which was devoid of anyone who has actually run a business.

Now, we are seeing a whole host of 'public health' tax spongers crawling all over social media insulting anyone - even those who generously engage them - and insinuating that they are somehow inferior or ignorant for voting leave. Only someone whose income is guaranteed by the state machine should be allowed to make such decisions about the EU obviously, and if you dared to have weighed up the evidence and come to a different conclusion to aforementioned tax spongers, then you're obviously a retard.

'Public health' has increasingly devoted itself to excluding any input from anyone who disagrees with their world view. When invited to speak, they not only want to know beforehand who else is speaking but often who is in the audience as well. If there is any chance they might meet real people they run away screaming, so is it any wonder at all that they now scream foul when real people have rejected the ideals that they and others in their echo chamber take for granted.

And, as is customary for tobacco control especially, this is evidently proof that those who disagree with them are instantly classed as stupid. They couldn't have made their own decision because their own decision isn't what 'public health' considers to be the right one. Ergo, they must, of course, be ugly and illiterate racists.

It beggars belief, it really does.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the past couple of days we have seen politicians rallying round reality and realising that Brexit is real and that the winning margin - as referendums go - is a thumping one. It was a clear message and it should be respected. Sadiq Khan, who campaigned for remain, has come out and said Brexit could be good for London, the Conservative party has not gone into meltdown but instead admirably embraced the idea and looks to be behind the public's decision. One by one those who were upset by the result are falling in line with the will of the people, as they bloody well should.

So we're increasingly left with just the spoilt, the entitled, the fearful of losing EU funding, and the deliberately intolerant still arguing that the referendum was wrong and should be re-run or even ignored.

Yet again, boys and girls, we are on the side of the angels. And yet again 'public health' are showing themselves up to be selfish, intolerant, and quite disgusting trolls who should be exorcised from civil society. May God rot them all.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Let's Vote Leave, Eh?

So here we are then, EU referendum day.

By now you should have worked out that I intend to vote Leave, but in case you missed it, here is why.
[M]y objection to the EU has always been based on the handicapping effect of never-ending regulation that is impossible to avoid from such an institution. If you dedicate a few hectares of a major European city to thousands of highly-paid people whose livelihood depends on dreaming up new regulations, what else are they going to do but regulate? 
But, I hear you say, regulations keep us safe don't they? We need them. Well up to a point yes, but that point passed decades ago in the case of the EU. I've written about EU regulations in my industry before which have absolutely nothing to do with safety whatsoever, but instead impose unnecessary costs on businesses, inhibit employment and push up prices for consumers. 
We are well beyond the time where what we actually need is an institution which deregulates, but instead we pay billions to the EU to turn the ratchet further without ever bothering to repeal anything that is unhelpful. Anyone who has kept a close eye on the corrupt shenanigans surrounding the Tobacco Products Directive - particularly towards e-cigs where nothing has been made safer at all, but where innovation and consumer satisfaction has been thrown to the dogs - will attest to that. 
The message that Brexit the Movie conveyed wasn't even a new one. It's incontestable that free markets, competition, light regulation and transparency are the most successful drivers of growth, employment, social mobility and betterment of wealth and disposable income. This has always been the case and no amount of governments pretending they "create jobs", by handing back only some of the taxes they take which could have been paid directly to workers, will change that.
Heavy regulation does, though, protect big businesses at the expense of small and medium-sized ones; props up failing business models; inhibits employment; strangles innovation; and raises prices to consumers. 
I was commenting after the first screening of Brexit: The Movie which I now understand has attracted over 3 million views in all formats. If you haven't yet seen it, I can highly recommend you do**, so here it is.

If that doesn't sway you, perhaps this excellent article from Tom Slater at Spiked will.
The EU exists to limit democracy, preferring backroom deals over public contestation, directives over debate. But it is not an imposition from without: it is the creation of our own national elites – the starkest manifestation of a fear and loathing of the masses that is as common in London, Paris and Berlin as it is in Brussels. The EU liberates leaders from their electorates, allowing them to make decisions in spite of us, and shrug their shoulders afterwards. 
This referendum is not about Britain’s deal with Brussels – it is about the chasm between politicians and publics that cuts across Europe. A Brexit would not only be a blow for freedom at home, and wind in the sails of the Eurosceptic masses abroad; it would also be an affirmation of a truly European principle. From English rebellions to German revolutions, French commune experiments to Greek struggles against military dictatorship, for 300 years or more the key European value and the thread that has bound the people of this continent together, has been democracy. If modern European history could be summed up in one line, it would be people saying: ‘Give us more control.’
This is what European elites seek to undermine. The EU as we know it was born in 1992, in the wake of the reunification of Germany, fed by the fear of what Europe’s largest national demos, a country with a dark history now reunited as a free people, might do if left unfettered. Today, that same fear pervades. That Greece, the birthplace of democracy, has, in recent years, been so brutalised by EU-imposed austerity serves as a grim reminder of how, in the name of Europe, the EU has desiccated Europe’s most defining ideal. 
A vote to Leave, we’re told, would be inward-looking, Little Englander, xenophobic. spiked rejects this view. The EU isn’t a wellspring of European-wide solidarity and cooperation – it’s a hiding place for our elites, an alliance of technocrats huddled together in fear of the masses. Real internationalism means believing in all peoples’ capacity for self-determination, for the freedom to carve out their lives as they see fit. A vote to Leave is a vote of confidence in all European publics, not just our own.
A Brexit would not be the solution to the dearth of democracy in Britain, let alone across Europe. But it would be a start. It would clarify the problem of democracy and allow us to begin peeling away the anti-democratic forces that still temper our political passions, from unaccountable quangos to unelected upper chambers to medieval monarchies. And it would be a break with the deadening, technocratic status quo that stifles new ideas for fear of an uncertain future. 
spiked wants a more open and outward-looking Europe. For us that means more trade and cooperation; liberal immigration – both for those within Fortress Europe and without; and a return of intellectual risk-taking and political daring, so that we might rejuvenate democratic debate and steer humanity into a more prosperous, freer future. But democracy comes first. What a post-Brexit Britain will look like is up to us, the demos. And that’s what makes the opportunity we are being presented with on Thursday so radical, so exhilarating, so European.
Hear hear. Removing one level of stultifying bureaucracy and injecting some much needed optimism certainly gets my vote.

Whatever you decide, best of luck and see you on the other side.

** And if you watch it with the subtitles supplied, it might interest you to know they were added by the boy P during his work experience with Martin Durkin earlier this month. Proud? Course I bloody well am!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A Review Of A Billion Lives ... I Didn't Hate It

Last time I wrote about the A Billion Lives film it attracted quite a bit of reaction. In fact it attracted the third most numerous comments in this blog's history.  I was also called all sorts of names by both smokers and vapers, which probably means I wasn't that far wrong in what I was saying.

Well, I finally got to see it as a preamble to the Global Forum on Nicotine conference on the 16th of June in an incredibly dark Warsaw Kinoteca cinema. It's not your usual multiplex, situated as it is in the old communist Palace of Culture building.

In case you were wondering, yes they sell popcorn and Coca-Cola and were heavily promoting Finding Dory as we entered the place. Stalin would spin in his grave and I'm sure it made some of the 'public health' conference attendees tut to themselves as well. Good. 

Having read early reviews of the film I was expecting to hate the thing. This one, for example, appeared to suggest it was mostly an excoriating attack on the tobacco industry which - in my humble opinion - is not the biggest enemy of vaping by a long chalk. 

I was sat next to forthright Fergus who has had his say on it here. I certainly wasn't as enthusiastic as Fergus about the production but I have to say my fears that I'd hate it were thankfully not realised, in fact I thought it was a good film. 

Not that it started out that way. The first 27 minutes (I know because I noted the time) was solely taken up by historic accounts of tobacco industry malfeasance from decades ago - at one point I turned to a fellow attendee and said that I thought the production was about e-cigs not the history of smoking. However it later became clear why this tactic was employed as Director Aaron Biebert tidied it all up at the end, more on that later. 

Once we got to the overarching point of the film - the attack on e-cigs and vaping - the barbs came thick and fast. Astutely identifying the Bootleggers and Baptists coalition which has been behind every moral panic in human history, Biebert did fire his first salvo at the tobacco industry, but only briefly. It's true that companies like Reynolds in the US have tried to close down their smaller competitors in the nascent vaping business, but mostly they've been scrambling to get on the bandwagon themselves so Biebert soon turned to the real villains. 

Being US-centric, he focussed on the appalling intiatives being employed by American states to keep revenue rolling in from the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) of 1998. For those who are not familiar with it, it was a settlement which handed local authorities in the US billions of dollars of funding from the sale of tobacco to spend on just about whatever they chose to. Being politicians they obviously spent it unwisely and some spent it before they'd even received it! This, naturally, leads to a situation where the prospect of a decline in smoking could bankrupt some of them and led to disgraceful campaigns such as California's lie-fest Still Blowing Smoke which Biebert assaulted with venom. 

He also turned extensively on both the pharmaceutical industry and their overt lobbying to destroy e-cigs which are contributing to a disatrous decline in their nicotine replacement therapy products (patches, chewing gum and other abject failures) and also pointed out that the tobacco control industry is a $15 billion movement which sees its future severely threatened by a product which quite simply doesn't need their input unless they forcibly insert their unwanted, unnecessary, mendacious, money-grubbing tentacles into the debate to try to make themselves relevant. Health, after all, can take a back seat when there are careers to save, or as Fergus put it.
Most disturbing of all, though, is the revelation that tobacco control themselves have a lot to lose if smokers switch to vaping en masse. Biebert informs us that tobacco control is far from a handful of dedicated activists scraping by on public donations; it’s a $15 billion industry that gives a lot of people very comfortable salaries. Is it a surprise that they dislike threats to their income and status? Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but the fact that people whose business should be protecting our health are willing to sacrifice it for money is not a comfortable one.
Explains a lot, doesn't it?

Biebert rolled out an impressive roll call of public health voices to prove the points he was making and the credits at the end of the film highlighted those who declined to take part, they being - as you can imagine - generally those who routinely lie about vaping so were probably not keen about doing so in public and on film. 

Overall, I came away thinking that Biebert - contrary to my expectations - had produced a pretty good summary of the vaping debate and the disingenuous people lined up against the concept for reasons that have little to do with health or, indeed, choice. 

If I had any criticisms they were minor. Such as that the sound bites were sometimes far too long and could have been more snappy. By that I mean that there were many occasions where the vox pops lingered beyond which would have been most effective, there were times where a killer line was not at the end of the clip but instead got superseded by something less relevant. Also, I could have done with less of Biebert looking to the side of the camera as if he was an expert himself, it almost seemed at times that he was missing a commentator or two that he wanted to put there so inserted himself instead ... oh hold on, there was that list of those who declined so maybe he did. Other mostly inconsequential stuff too which are hardly worth mentioning. 

I did say that I'd get back to the long-winded beginning detailing the MSA in a lot of depth. Well, we here are well aware of the history but many will have no clue about any of it. It may have seemed tedious and unnecessary but if the film is truly intended for a wider audience it's very much worth highlighting the 1998 settlement in detail and describing how it was enthusiastically hailed as a massive boost to public health, only to subsequently turn out to be just a politician's cash cow. And Biebert did a good job of making sure you remember that in the crucial last round-up of the arguments he had presented.  

As for the "billion lives" stat which causes so much controversy, well I have to say that without being overtly shoved in the face of tobacco control, it was subtlely hinted that this was a 'public health' figure being referenced. Clive Bates (who has written on the factoid here) specifically mentioned that it was the number of lives 'claimed' by tobacco controllers during one of his contributions, so as I've said before can be justified as a film title in my opinion. 

So no, I didn't hate it, in fact I liked it. I think it makes a good contribution to the debate and a positive one. And I really didn't expect that at all.

Tough Times At Puddlecote Inc

I was at the Global Forum on Nicotine at the back end of last week which featured a showing of A Billion Lives. As many readers will remember, I was not enamoured with the the trailer in the slightest last year so I shall be writing a review about it at some point when I get time.

Time being the operative word because the Puddlecote Inc re-organisation/refurbishment is in full flow with a hell of a lot going on at the moment. It was expected that we were going to endure a very tough few months to deliver a necessary office building project and a large new piece of business all at the same time, but needs must and my team is doing incredibly well under some pretty tough conditions.

For those of you not on Twitter, here is a glimpse of the state of our offices at the moment. For example, this is my desk yesterday.

Behind that plank of wood (don't ask me what it's intended for) is a newly-created hole in the wall behind which were a couple of guys using a kango and a 'big breaker' to dig out a channel to serve one of the new toilets being built and installed.

The noise has been unbearable so yesterday - despite being incredibly busy with contract mobilisation efforts - we had no choice but to give the office staff the day off. A couple of key personnel had to work remotely from home to provide a skeleton service but that was about it. After a relatively peaceful day today (just the odd circular saw buzzing away), we have to do the same again tomorrow for one last day of hellish noise.

It also doesn't help that there is no water, what with not having much of a kitchen to speak of ...

... so the only way of providing tea and coffee is by buying in big bottles of mineral water from the Sainsbury's Local round the corner.

And as for the loos, well they're at the rear of the maintenance yard for the next week or so at least.

And all this while the clock is ticking for getting finance, new vehicles, staff recruitment, route schedules, PR materials and more in place in time for the new contract start date.

I've got plenty of things I want to write and only a few hours tonight to get some thoughts down - maybe even publish something else - before the pressure kicks in again in the morning. It's never been more uncomfortable at Puddlecote Inc and also never been busier, but wouldn't we be so bored otherwise, eh?

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Democracy Rules

You may have worked out by now what my stance on the EU referendum is, but if not watch this because I think it's really very good.

Toby Young presents the democratic case for leaving the EU.

You can also read the transcript here to pull out quotes.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

End Of An Error

The Guardian has reported on the departure of the Faculty of Public Health's nagger-in-Chief John Ashton. Staying true to the ethos of 'public health' - and comparing the country's kids to "livestock" - he has marked the occasion by being a pompous sneering prick.
The government should give parents lessons on how to raise their children, according to Britain’s leading public health expert.
I'd say he's going out with a bang but regulars here will remember one of his even more arrogant and condescending moments one Saturday back in 2014.

So as he makes way for someone equally appalling, let's reprise John Ashton's biggest hit.
Last week, the BBC rolled out their latest e-cig 'expert' to regurgitate the fantasies of Big Pharma and the irrational prejudices of rent-seekers - you can listen to his bizarre claims here and here. Said expert - the head of the Faculty of Public Health, no less - was naturally challenged with facts and proper evidence to counter his stark scaremongery such as that e-cigs cause blindness, amongst others. 
He wasn't impressed on Wednesday.
This "abuse" was something of a surprise to vapers on Twitter seeing as the tweets were merely ones questioning his evidence and offering opposing views. It was even more bizarre considering he had pre-blocked a slew of prominent vaping tweeters so couldn't have seen what they said anyway. 
Some discussion ensued but it had moved on by the following day and Ashton was largely forgotten. However, last night, sober thoughtful public health industry spokesman Prof John Ashton unfathomably decided to trawl some of the accounts he had blocked and offer contemptuous replies. It must have taken him a while since he went back six months to find this one!
And nearly three weeks to find this innocent tweet to attack.
But that was just a small indicator of the astonishing meltdown to come. About the time it takes to down a bottle of Merlot later, the unhinged insults began ...

... and continued for a further hour.

In a riveting Saturday night tour de force, Ashton toggled between the astounding ...

... and the truly surreal.
One of his own side tried to get him to tone it down, but to no avail.
You can read the whole article here. How he wasn't sacked for that episode is anyone's guess, but it seems 'public health' have lower morals and standards than the rest of society.

So farewell then John Ashton, waning star in the smug condescending people-hating 'public health' firmament, you will be sorely pissed missed.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

ASH Attempts To Grind Vaping Into The Dirt

I've written a lot recently about how ASH have been furiously lobbying in favour of the restrictions placed on e-cigs by the TPD (see here, here, here, and here).

Their latest huge effort managed to sway Labour into opposing Lord Callanan's fatal motion and downgrade it to one merely expressing regret. You'd think Arnott and her pals would be happy with that, wouldn't you?

Not so, unfortunately, because it seems they won't rest until they see vaping ground into the dirt. Thanks to fellow jewel robber NT by email, you can read what ASH has been sending to MPs in the run up to the (pretty impotent) amended 'regret' motion.
Subject: Potential debates on the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations in both Houses
Thank you for the support you have given for measures to reduce smoking prevalence in general, and for standardised 'plain' packaging of cigarettes in particular. 
We are writing to update you about likely future debates on the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations which include important measures on tobacco regulation as well as on the regulation of electronic cigarettes. 
Lord Callanan's motion to annul the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) has been turned into a regret motion, and there are two other regret motions from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. A date for a debate in the House of Lords on the motions has not yet been tabled and is highly unlikely to be before the referendum recess. 
In the House of Commons the application by Anne Main MP for an emergency commons debate on the TRPR was turned down by the speaker. 
I attach a brief endorsed by ASH, Cancer Research UK, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royals Society of Public Health. All these organisations support the use of electronic cigarettes by smokers as an alternative to smoking. While the regulations will not force the vast majority of the products used by vapers off the market, there are important issues to be discussed with respect to electronic cigarettes which could be discussed in any debate. 
If and when debates are tabled in either House we will be in touch. 
Best wishes.
Deborah Arnott MBA FRCP (Hon)
Chief Executive
Action on Smoking & Health
And here is the brief that was circulated with the e-mail. Pay special attention to points 10 to 16 which show the level of contempt that ASH hold for vapers and their efforts to highlight the dangers of the TPD.

Staggered? You should be.

Remember that it is a specific term of the annual grant ASH receive that they must not use any of the cash to "support activity intended to influence or attempting to influence Parliament, Government or political parties, ... or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action".

I wonder where lobbying MPs in advance of a parliamentary vote and suggesting biased points that they can make during the debate fits in with that premise?

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Blind Fanaticism Of ASH Wales

My ears have just stopped ringing from having a Sikh and a Derryman employing an incredibly loud kango to knock down internal walls at Puddlecote Inc today - for SIX BASTARD HOURS - as part of our reorganisation plans.

Back in the comparative peace of home, I now find that ASH Wales have been up to their old tricks again. You may remember that in March they were thrilled to "fully welcome" an outdoor smoking ban on Little Haven beach in Pembrokeshire which also encompasses e-cigs, so much so that their logo (and that of fellow 'vape-friendly' Cancer Research UK) is proudly displayed on the sign which announces the fascistic and pointless policy to the public.

Well, now they seem just as enthusiastic about a similar Orwellian initiative in mid and west Wales.
A PA system is being launched at hospitals in mid and west Wales to discourage smokers from lighting up. 
Hywel Dda University Health Board is the first in Wales to launch the "Push the Button" system to curb smoking at Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire hospitals. 
It enables people to anonymously push a red button which triggers an announcement reminding them hospitals are smoke-free. 
The policy also includes e-cigarettes.
ASH Wales loved it enough to eagerly retweet it to their slavering smoke-hating followers on Twitter, though.

Can you think of anything more like handing vile playground bullies a knuckle duster and the promise of a gold star from teacher than that? If you read here regularly I've often written about how state-funded anti-smoking organisations actively pander to the most vile, intolerant and anti-social in society, and there is your proof.

A loud-hailer bully button for the prejudiced and hateful in society to express their bigotry without fear of reproach. And this is apparently to be welcomed. Good grief.

Aside from that, to many people who have previously had no opinion either way the conflation of vaping with smoking will be taken as evidence that both are just as dangerous as each other, including outdoors. But, d'you know, I don't think ASH Wales could give a shit about it. In fact I think they know very well that the public might believe that and quite like the idea.

It's also interesting that they felt the need to share screaming junk science research from America on their Twitter timeline just a few hours ago too.

To save you the trouble of reading it, this is a study which comes to the conclusion that youth use of e-cigs means that they are more likely to smoke.

It's cobblers, of course, as most tobacco control 'research' is, but what is fascinating is that it had already been soundly rubbished by other tobacco controllers both here and in the US hours before ASH Wales decided to eagerly tweet it. I'm pretty sure they would have seen the controversy over 'gateway' studies like these too. After all, what else do professional anti-smoking lunatics have to do all day except monitor sources of information in the areas in which they are active?

They happily tweeted it anyway though. Speaks volumes, doesn't it?

On this evidence it doesn't appear to be coincidence that Wales has come closest yet to being subject to a ban on e-cigs in public. ASH Wales are so fanatical about attacking smokers and supporting bans on tobacco use even outdoors - where it is a mere inconvenience only to fruitcakes, fucktards and the insane - that they're willing to sacrifice vaping on their altar of extremist cult zealotry too.

I'd love to hear their lame and transparent excuses this time, because there is no way in the world they can claim any of it is about health.

SEE ALSO: Grandad on the Hywel Dda "Push the Button" plan and our right to tell them where to stick it.

Friday, 10 June 2016

ASH's Deliberate War On Vaping

The other day I told you how ASH tried to destroy vaping by lobbying their Brussels buddies. It wasn't their first attempt by any means, they've wanted to kill off e-cigs for a very long time.

Now, if you've been watching closely, you'd have noticed that there was a fatal motion proposed by Lord Callanan to extinguish the statutory instrument which enabled the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). His motive was to send it back to the Commons so they can think again, as I described last month.
The important word here is annulled. This signals that this is a bona fide 'fatal motion' being presented in the Lords. There are others which are regretful or just want to make a note, but the one presented by Lord Callanan today seeks to (as the name implies) kill the Statutory Instrument (SI) behind the entire EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). 
[T]his is an attempt to sling the TPD back in the face of government for having the temerity to even present it. There is no room for compromise, it's a yes/no thing and, if successful, would kill the enabling mechanism in parliament for the TPD to be ratified by the UK.
And the important bit for this particular article.
In practice, it won't be the end of the TPD (sadly) but a vote by the Lords in favour of the fatal motion would force the government to consider re-issuing the SI without the provisions on e-cigarettes.
I'll say that again. The only option for government would have been to re-issue the SI without the provisions on e-cigs. It's quite important because ASH are shrewd political people and they would have been well aware of this.

Yet they went absolutely crazy trying to destroy Lord Callanan's motion despite knowing very well that the government would never dare to eradicate the TPD in its entirety.

Their contemptuous press release once they were faced with Lords who were alarmed at why government policy jarred so blatantly with opinions from advisers such as the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England was incredibly dismissive and illustrated an extraordinary lack of understanding of how vaping works.

We know that ASH were furiously contacting MPs in an attempt to kill off Lord Callanan's motion, but it wasn't until Labour's shadow health (ha!) spokesperson Heidi Alexander sent out an equally vapid and contemptuous reply to those who had contacted her that we knew how successful their disgusting state-funded lobbying had been.

You can read her slimy response via GlosVaper here and I could fisk every line it's that bad. But the important thing to note is that Labour's top health dog faithfully parroted ASH's ignorant and callous agitprop.

As a result, the fatal motion became dead in the water and was withdrawn through lack of support. This, remember, despite over 50,000 signatures to a petition and every one of the hundreds of Lords being contacted numerous times, many expressing full support by return.

So what, exactly, were Arnott and her vile colleagues protecting?

Well, they know very well how politics works; they know that a fatal motion would merely give the government a chance to re-issue the SI without the clauses which the Lords found toxic. The stupid policies such as banning packs of ten and making sure roll-your-own afficionados could only buy tons of tobacco to smoke instead of a little were never threatened. ASH know this better than anyone because they live in a political environment. Plain packaging wasn't even included in the TPD so they can't cling to that as an excuse either.

No. Killing Lord Callanan's motion was ASH deliberately trying to destroy the vaping market, and nothing else. This is a point that has to be made crystal clear. ASH lobbied hard to oppose the Lords vote not because it would protect their daft smoking curbs (which were never threatened and some of which weren't even covered), but instead solely because they wanted to hamper vaping as much as they possibly could.

Don't ever let them tell you it's about health. Because it isn't.

Monday, 6 June 2016

How ASH Tried To Destroy Vaping

As I understand it, the fatal motion in the Lords to kill the EU TPD is being voted on this week, and ViP has some good advice for those wishing to sway Lords into backing Lord Callanan's proposal.
ASH once again are busy throwing vapers and smokers under a bus, desperate to protect the anti-smoker parts of the new legislation. They are downplaying the effect that the restrictions on e-cigarettes will have on the viability of vaping as an alternative to smoking. Their recent press release emphasised that ‘only’ 9% of the vaping population would be affected by the restrictions on e-liquid strength, calmly ignoring the fact that this translated to 252,000 individuals, many of whom are people just in the process of switching to vaping. ASH are also completely ignoring current and future smokers who may choose to switch. 
Unfortunately Labour are listening to ASH.
This is why we are asking the vape community to write and tweet to Labour MP’s, Shadow Health Team, Labour Lords and a few other key decision makers.
It’s expected that most of the Labour Lords will vote as they are instructed to by the party whips. Let’s make sure the whips are saying the right thing!

Unfortunately, far too many people listen to government sock puppet ASH in my opinion. They wield too much power over the public considering they have been shamelessly scrounging our taxes for so many years.

On the subject of vaping, I've written recently about how their implacable opposition to allowing e-cigs being available as a consumer product has been disingenuous in the extreme, and on how they have staged a sustained campaign in favour of stifling restrictions.

They are currently furiously lobbying parliamentarians in an attempt to stave off Lord Callanan's vote being successful. That's how very much they despise the thought of recreational vaping - the attraction which has encouraged so many people to take up the devices - being allowed to continue. Not about health, is it?

Anyway, as we await news of the vote, I thought you'd like to see how much worse it could have been if ASH had got their way when the wording of the TPD was being discussed. From the ASH emails, we can see that Debs and her colleagues didn't just want medicinal regulations for products which exceeded 4mg/ml ... they wanted med regs for the whole market irrespective of nicotine strength.

In short, they actively worked to get all vaping products to fall under EU Directive 2001/83/EC which regulates "medicinal products for human use". That is, the same heavy regulation that their friends in the pharmaceutical industry are bound by for patches, gum and other lucrative but useless products. Isn't that an incredible coincidence?

You can read their suggested amendments below.

It's little wonder that they're trying so hard to derail Lord Callanan's motion then, is it? Even the strict and pointless regulations under Article 20 of the TPD must come as a big slap in the face for prohibitionists like Debs.

If you haven't already written to support this week's motion, do consider doing so by following ViP's guides here and/or here ... if only because ASH will hate you for it.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Plain Packaging For E-Cigs, WHO Didn't See That Coming?

Just imagine, for a moment, that car manufacturers found that there was a way of making more profit from electric cars than from ones run on fossil fuels. And imagine if environmental campaigners decided that their irrational and psychopathic hatred of the motor industry was far more important than the environment so demanded electric cars be taxed to the hilt, advertising of them banned and the technology which facilitated them crippled.

Or, imagine if energy companies discovered a way of making more money from wind farms than from other electricity-generating methods, but greens were more interested in attacking the industry so demanded that environmental claims in favour of wind farms should be prohibited. That solar panels should be considered just as harmful to the environment as coal-burning power stations and demonised in the same manner.

You'd think that the environmental movement had gone stark staring bonkers and weren't really interested in the environment at all, wouldn't you?

Well, that's exactly what the tobacco control industry appears to be doing yet governments still fail to see it.

Consider this world class cuntbungling muppetry from international NGO The Union (The International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases) this week.
‘We welcome the global momentum behind plain packaging and encourage countries to introduce this powerful measure for reducing tobacco use as soon as they reasonably can,’ said Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of the Department of Tobacco Control at The Union. ‘But we must ensure we properly close this final door on tobacco marketing experts. At present, e-cigarettes offer almost unrestricted opportunities to continue relentless pursuit of their target market – children and young people. Restriction of e-cigarette marketing is at best ad hoc, at worst non-existent. ’ 
‘We welcome the new European Union Tobacco Products Directive which goes some way to limit e-cigarette marketing, and we recommend that other regions take a similar approach. But as with tobacco, a comprehensive package of demand-reduction measures working in tandem is the only effective way to block tobacco companies’ compelling marketing campaigns,’ said Dr Latif. ‘Point-of-sale displays and online advertising campaigns must be banned. Plain packaging for e-cigarettes could be standardised in a similar way to tobacco products – without decoration, branding, or misleading labelling and with relevant health warnings. Product design must also be standardised to reduce attractiveness and to prevent children consuming toxic liquids.’
Yes, you did read that correctly. This swivel-eyed clown wants to see plain packaging for e-cigs and a total blackout of any kind of advertising of them (shurely shome mistake, eh Debs?).

Why? Well, as you can see above, the drive is more about destroying the industry than about health. The guy doesn't really have any concern for health at all. Either that or he is an absurd incompetent and should be fired immediately.

This backward and counterproductive attitude runs like lettering through rock in every tobacco control utterance. Consider, for example, the RCP's otherwise excellent report on e-cigs which carried a bizarre, unsubstantiated load of conspiracy theory nonsense slap bang in the middle of it.
The tobacco industry has become involved in the e-cigarette market and can be expected to try to exploit these products to market tobacco cigarettes, and to undermine wider tobacco control work.
What a load of paranoid crap. If there are big profits in harm reduction, any industry would chase them, but tobacco control really doesn't care anymore, it just wants to attack big business.

In other markets (environmentalism is a good example) the thrust has always been to find ways of encouraging businesses to promote more advantageous products to the cause of the campaigners. An article by J. Robert Branston from (of all places) the University of Bath described the approach very well in February.
But what if the state stopped slapping down the industry and instead shepherded it towards a more desirable future, one where public health improves and cigarette firms stop acting like cornered animals fighting for their existence? Why not fix the market so other less deadly products were more profitable instead? 
In this situation the industry would actually want its consumers to move away from cigarettes because it would make more money from doing so. The changed market environment would present the firms with a powerful reason to escape from their current business. 
Governments have deliberately tilted markets in this fashion before. We switched from leaded to unleaded fuel because governments used a combination of carrot and stick policies to shepherd the auto and fuel industries in the right direction. They are doing it again now by favouring clean forms of energy like wind and solar power, over polluting sources such as the burning of coal and gas. 
Such transformations, however slow, can happen when the economic incentives change. The desired products are given favourable tax treatments, subsidies and advantageous regulations, while products to be phased out are subject to heavy taxes, onerous regulations, and measures directly constraining the profit to be made.
Indeed. In the case of tobacco control and e-cigs, though, government doesn't even need to get involved. All that's required is that they leave the market the hell alone. Tobacco controllers know this very well, the ASH emails show us that quite clearly.

Deborah is pretty damn clear about this, saying "Margins are growing on e-cigarettes as the market grows and evolves; by 2017 margins could be higher than current conventional cigarette margins of around 40%".

If profit margins are higher for reduced risk products, industry big and small will naturally be attracted to them over and above whatever else they sell. This is economics 101 but - instead of using this as a reason for less regulation of e-cigs - ASH has decided to employ it as a reason why more restrictions and burdensome obstacles should placed in their way, and boy are they lobbying hard for them! As I've been illustrating in recent days, all leave is cancelled and they're working in shifts to desperately impose as many burdens on e-cigs as possible.

Do you think they have an agenda which has bugger all to do with health by any chance?

Of course they do, and it is dictated from on high by the unelected and corrupt World Health Organisation. Firstly, if government ever did decide to "shepherd" the tobacco industry "in the right direction" as Branston suggested in his article, they'd have to do so blindly without even talking to the industry about what might be advantageous because the WHO's FCTC article 5.3 demands that meeting industry is not allowed, most especially if it is to do with formulating policy. In this country that manifests itself in occasions like we saw in November where the WHO's faithful tax-sucking lapdog Sheila Duffy attended the Scottish parliament and tried to threaten elected politicians.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine, again, that environmentalists didn't just want improvements in the environment, but that they actively wanted to see all motorised transport and energy production shut down. You think that's daft? Not in tobacco control circles it's not.

The Moscow Declaration issued at COP6 in Moscow in 2014 makes it clear that no nicotine products will be tolerated.
The Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control 
NOTES that: 
tobacco companies are exploring new ways of maintaining dependence and encouraging use, developing new tobacco products and nicotine-delivery systems, making them fashionable, technological and innovative; 
CALLS ON the Parties: 
to monitor new forms of tobacco products and tobacco and nicotine use and take steps to minimize the introduction and proliferation of such products through prohibition or restrictions of manufacturing and promotion and sales as provided for by the WHO FCTC, its guidelines and protocols;
Rather than encourage industry away from products that the WHO despises, they would prefer to destroy any moves to change the status quo (for which tobacco controllers get highly-paid, fancy that).  But it's to be expected because it's a three line whip within tobacco control industry circles that national governments must adhere to the rigid and immovable rules of the FCTC.

And what do the WHO FCTC guidelines and protocols say?
Article 5 General obligations
2. Towards this end, each Party shall, in accordance with its capabilities:
adopt and implement effective legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures and cooperate, as appropriate, with other Parties in developing appropriate policies for preventing and reducing tobacco consumption, nicotine addiction and exposure to tobacco smoke. 
Harm reduction is clearly not part of the global tobacco control industry's agenda. At the next big WHO bash in India in November, it's quite possible that we will see calls to tax e-cigs as tobacco products; more demands for vaping bans; for marketing and advertising bans on vaping products; and, yes, plain packaging.

Especially as the FCTC tweeted support for the Union's e-cig plain packaging lunacy on Wednesday.

Yes, the link was to the Union's Spanish language demand for plain packaging of vaping products.

Perhaps this stupid prehistoric attitude to industry will change at COP7 in India, who knows? Perhaps the FCTC will see the light and stop placing hurdles in front of new technology, but instead embrace it and - just as Branston described has happened in other policy areas - "make the companies actually want to fundamentally change the nature of the products they sell" by setting innovative disruptive technology free of pointless and absurd regulations.

It could well happen, but it will take the FCTC changing its entire approach and altering many of its core mission statements. Fortunately for us, the UK's main representative in India will be vaper-friendly fan of THR deregulation Deborah Arnott ... oh, hold on.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Calm Down Old Chappers

If you haven't already seen it, this 3 minute film from the Property Rights Alliance handily debunks all the wild claims that you may have heard about how brilliant and successful plain packaging has been in Australia.

As we have come to expect from the tobacco control industry, the facade of unbridled triumph is little more than the usual mendacious torturing of statistics and shifting of goalposts, aka just a load of old nonsense. Watch out for the increase in child smoking factoid that was published here and which stung Simple Simon so badly.

It's good to see the real figures getting an airing because from the publicly hysterical celebrations you may have seen from tobacco controllers worldwide, you may have been forgiven for thinking that the policy was an incredible, game-changing success.

For example, Simon Chapman - on July 17th 2014 - jubilantly screamed this:
Plunge in smoking attributed to plain packaging 
Public health experts say the findings of the National Drugs Strategy Household Survey vindicate plain-packaging laws, which tobacco companies recently claimed to have boosted cigarette sales by leading to a price war. 
"It's almost like finding a vaccine that works very well against lung cancer," said Simon Chapman, a professor in public health at the University of Sydney. 
"It's that big. This will give enormous momentum to the international push for plain packaging right around the world."
Yet, via the ASH emails, here is how an Australian tobacco controller privately conveyed the same news to Deborah Arnott, her chum Andrew Black, and other colleagues in Ireland and New Zealand  ... on, erm, July 17th 2014.

"Please note we are being careful not to declare this as proof that plain packaging has worked" did they say? Perhaps Chappers didn't get the memo.

As we see from the video above, it's quite clear that most of the hyperbole has been anything but truthful and that Aussies are privately not that confident of the bold assertions that are being touted publicly. Tobacco controllers being manipulative with data, trumpeting inaccurate claims and subtlely hiding the truth? Fancy that!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

#LordsVapeVote Update And Its Origins

I recently highlighted a 'fatal motion' proposed by Lord Callanan to kick out the Statutory Instrument for a pretty awful EU Directive. The response so far has been very impressive. The petition is approaching 50,000 signatures and all the Lords have received a letter, with almost 40% having been contacted more than once at time of writing (Excel), If you haven't yet contributed, do follow the guide here as to how to go about it, it's surprisingly simple.

On a side note though, via the ASH emails, I'm sure those admirably writing letters to the Lords - otherwise known as "some e-cigarette users" - might like to see why they are having to do so.

Y'see, here's what ASH - in their capacity as lead of the Smokefree Alliance - sent to their supporters in February 2014 while vapers were trying to protect e-cigs from the vacuous and incompetent regulations now imposed by the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

Click to enlarge
As is becoming clear, ASH has lobbied furiously for years - and continues to lobby furiously - in support of restrictions on vaping in the TPD. When, just under a month ago, the Lords rose almost in unison to condemn the TPD as "nonsense", "absolutely absurd", "madness" and "bonkers", it was ASH - who supported the absurd, mad, bonkers madness - who jumped quickest to try to silence the dissent.

There are now moves afoot at EU level by Conservative MEPs to challenge the validity of Article 20 and re-open the debate. On what we've seen so far, I presume we can expect ASH to frantically lobby against that too.

Who would bet against a circular email being sent out by ASH, as we speak, to Smokefree Alliance supporters and MPs urging them to write to the Lords and demand they vote against Lord Callanan's motion? It'd be short odds considering one of ASH's pet Lords - Lord Faulkner of their APPG - has declared his hand already.

Interesting times, huh?

The Lords vote is rumoured to be taking place next week, so if you don't want ASH and Ms Arnott's privileged position in the echelons of government to yet again ride roughshod over the public, do consider writing to your MP and MEP via this simple portal, and add another letter to the Lords like many others have already done by following the simple instructions here.