Sunday, 25 February 2018

Incoming! F1 Enters Alternative Nicotine Debate

Hello Moto! Mock-up of how branding could look courtesy of here
Oh boy, this might irritate some but I have to say it. The influx of new nicotine devices is making so many look naive, and not all of them are tobacco controllers.

For example, isn't this divine?
Philip Morris International and Scuderia Ferrari have announced they have extended their partnership until 2021 and will focus on advancing the cause for “a smoke free world”. 
The partnership will be exclusively focused on promoting scientifically substantiated, less harmful alternatives to cigarettes. 
Philip Morris has partnered with the Formula One team for more than 40 years, but due to a European Union ban on tobacco advertising, the company has not been able to display its brand at any race since 2005, although China and Monaco allowed branding until 2007. 
PMI’s chief executive officer, André Calantzopoulos said: “We want to give the world’s 1.1 billion men and women who smoke the opportunity to make better and informed choices. 
“We are committed to use all available resources, including our motorsports related activities, to accelerate momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of people who smoke, public health and society at large. We deeply appreciate Scuderia Ferrari’s support in this cause.”
So. Your move, tobacco control, what are you gonna do?

The reason this is so very interesting is that the EU's TPD bans any advertising of e-cigs - whether they contain nicotine or not - and snus which is of course banned everywhere except Sweden, but doesn't cover iQos. Additionally, the device itself is allowed to be advertised (as things stand) but not the Heet sticks that go in it.

It's a clusterfuck of regulation driven by a cocktail of tobacco control ideology and utter ignorance.

Now, my guess is that - yet again - the tobacco control industry will double down on its routine insistence on promoting its own cult-like puritanism over and above new products which could reduce risk, and demand that promotion of heat not burn technologies are banned too.

However, it would make sense for tobacco controllers, if they weren't so much up their own pay packets that they are licking their wallets from the inside, to encourage the advertisement of any product which encourages smokers away from tobacco, wouldn't it? But they won't.

This is, as I continually remind you, because the tobacco control arm of 'public health' has never been interested in health, but merely its own seat at the tax trough.

In the meantime, I expect a whole load of angst-ridden PMI/tobacco industry bashing from e-cig industry and supporters, conveniently forgetting that their case is also rooted in the same Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) justification as heated tobacco is.

Of course, instead of bleating, we could all join in and demand of rancid organisations that vaping products, and snus, be permitted on F1 cars and elsewhere too, but many are too busy 'partnering' with our 'public health' people - attached to the same government department which testified against snus at the ECJ last month - and lobbying against other alternatives. It's such a short-term view and must be such a relief to tobacco controllers as they seek to undermine the very idea of THR (remember that the woo-touting conspiracy theorists at Tobacco Tactics tell the world that harm reduction is a concept wholly concocted by 'Big Tobacco').

Everyone involved in selling THR products should be making a huge noise about the right to advertise, but instead some seem to be caught up in premature - and I would argue, pointless - market in-fighting.

Listen guys, get the concept of THR properly understood by politicians first and foremost; let them know that tobacco control has no real drive or desire to consider these disruptive technologies despite stunning success, then argue the toss about whose products work better once you are finally allowed to use marketing to do it.

Not that there would be much cross over anyway, apart from a bit of nibbling at the margins, someone who loves an independently produced e-cig is not going to be anyone who a tobacco company is interested in selling an iQos, a Vype or a pouch of snus to, anymore than a smoker who is happy with a tobacco industry cigalike will be interested in buying components from four different independent websites instead of picking it up at Tesco.

Look, the alternative nicotine delivery industry is still in its adolescence if not infancy, but if it is to succeed and reach full potential there are a whole lot of people who need to wise up. It's not a surprise that tobacco control is hypocritical on the subject - it is in the anti-smoking paranoiacs' DNA, after all - but when did the THR mantra cease to apply when it's not the product that you, personally, would choose? The question many need to ask themselves is "do we believe in THR, or do we not?". 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Let's Talk About Cloud-Chasing

While in Scotland a few weeks ago for the Glasgow School of Vape event, I met up with Dave Dorn, canny lad from the north east who formerly fronted the vaping online show, Vapour Trails TV. I mentioned that I had an article in my head that he wouldn't like - what with him being an avowed fan of cloud-chasing and something of a celebrity amongst those who like to use high-powered equipment (in fact, as we spoke he was approached by quite a few Scots clutching very specialist devices) about the practical problems that big clouds could present.

It was an interesting discussion so I asked if he'd like to write a counterpoint, which I'm pleased to say he agreed to. So, following a few beers in the Drury Street Bar & Kitchen and other fine hostelries in Scotland's second city, I promised to send him this, my thoughts sub-ohming in public. And below is Dave's write-up giving the opposing view.

Stop The Cloud-Chasing Already

On Wednesday 17th January, BBC Radio 5 Live's (very) early morning show, Wake Up To Money, took an unusual turn because BAT's scientific director David O'Reilly was invited to take part. You can hear his very well-argued views on the ever-evolving nicotine market from 33:45 mins in here.

However, earlier in the show, host Mickey Clark described his experience of being "vaped" in Canterbury recently.

Now, he's a decent fella, is Mickey, and not predisposed to anger that I've ever noticed. However, this "unpleasant experience" has probably turned him negative towards vaping.

He won't be alone, either. If you've ever wondered, as I have, why some people seem to be absolutely outraged about vaping - it was described as "breathing your exhaled lung juice" by someone on Twitter recently - I think Clark's observation might have a lot to do with it.

You see, the view I have of vaping is dictated by what I see within the vapers I interact with most, my employees. And I don't know a single one of them who vapes to blow huge clouds. Honestly, I really don't. They all use small second generation 'vape pen' devices or even proprietary cigalikes that they bought from a supermarket, the vapour from which varies from mediocre to negligible.

So where do people get this idea that vaping is selfish - as a letter published in Norfolk at the weekend described it - and solely about massive clouds? Well, it could be the media because they do like to get footage that is spectacular. I remember when the BBC turned up in Stony Stratford for our protest against Herr Bartlett in 2011, the reporter's first request on arrival was about organising a mass smoke cloud from those there. I tried putting her off by acting continually busy but she kept coming back asking again and again. In the end she realised I wasn't going to organise it so went off and did it herself.

The same is true today, as every article on TV about e-cigs homes in on some vape bar or other and encourages the clientele to blow clouds everywhere. The same is also true about the vast majority of news articles. I mean, how many times have you seen images like this even in articles which speak of the benefits of vaping?

Sorry to break it you, cloud-chasers, but that really isn't a good look and you're not helping the cause by doing that in public. As we see from Mickey Clark's observation, every time some ignorant vaper does that where it's not appropriate, he/she is turning a number of people off the concept entirely.

And if you think this is illiberal nonsense, you'd be wrong. I remember attending the launch of the IEA's Lifestyle Economics Unit in Leicester Square a few years ago and a certain pro-choice advocate told me he was 100% behind vaping but "I'm not so sure about those devices that give off huge clouds". Likewise a debate Chris Snowdon had arranged in May 2016 was ruined by some wacko using a dripper and shrouding the room in so much fog that even the IEA attendees - probably some of the most tolerant and liberal individuals in the country - were offended enough to open the windows on what wasn't a particularly warm evening. They were there to understand e-cigs but many would have left with the impression that they're just downright anti-social.

The Adam Smith Institute also recently imposed an office ban in the mistaken belief that vaping was all about big clouds. It has since been rescinded and I understand "considerate vaping welcome" signs are being used instead, but if cloud-chasing scares libertarian types, what chance have we got elsewhere?

I've seen it personally at open air events too, including a cricket match once with a sparse crowd where just one ignorant clown managed to attract disgusted looks from about a dozen other people behind him as his vapour wafted right through them, and they were at least four or five rows away! The ground in question now bans vaping throughout whereas it didn't before.

There are, sadly, very few venues these days that understand the subject astutely enough to produce sensible policies like this one at a friend's pub which is local to me. Instead, the kneejerk reaction - and the easiest option - is to not think about it and just ban all vaping.

And that's without even mentioning how it is such a gift to opponents who like to pretend big clouds are the only products of vaping and use it to give themselves an easy win.

It wouldn't even be so bad if that kind of behaviour was representative of vapers in general, but it's not. The hobbyists who revel in 200 watt devices and max VG stuff are not at all representative, because you'd not notice the vast majority of vapers using their equipment if they were sitting next to you. However, this tiny subset has an incredibly disproportionate effect on how the public views the entire subject, and it's a wholly damaging one. It's a multiplier, every cloud turns a few more people off vaping and leads, inevitably, to bans being inflicted on vapers who are considerate and would prefer not to be noticed. This small exchange under a positive Telegraph article recently illustrates the problem perfectly and is by no means unusual.

It's an etiquette thing. Clouds of vapour might not be harmful (they aren't) but if the general public has been conned into thinking a few wisps of tobacco smoke is, what do they make about something that is 2 or 3 times more visible? Well I guess 2 or 3 times more harmful.

It's all about perception, and I'm sorry but although blowing clouds is fun (I have sub ohm devices and recently acquired a nifty dripper at a knock-down price) it belongs at home or a specialist vaping venue, it's just not practical to claim that it's acceptable everywhere.

For the benefit of vaping in general, just stop it already.

Do Not Give In To Them

By Dave Dorn, NNA trustee and former VTTV presenter

So, this whole “Considerate Vaping” thing and “Cloud Chasers get us all a bad name”. To some degree, I get it.

Yes, you saw that, I said it, but, and this is the thing, the folks that Dick refers to would have nothing whatever to say about the clouds they’re in were they to be at a recording of Pointless, Strictly Come Dancing or any other TV show (Stage show, theatre show) where the producers want you to see the pretty light beams.

Why? I have no idea (Not true, I do, but let’s be patient, shall we?) They are all sat in a great cloud - sometimes quite dense - of exactly the same stuff. It’s all made with PG and VG, the ratios of which, together with distilled water, are varied to vary the density of the cloud. Sound familiar? I wonder why!

Now, not so very long ago, I was sat in the very same venue as Dick, and it was like being in a discotheque (That’s the old fashioned term for “Club”, I believe the modern term is) with shedloads of fog being pumped out so the light beams were visible while people dance to the music. Except there were no pretty lights. Nobody actually gave a toss. Folks were happy and enjoying their time.

My belief is that, no matter how little vapour you give out, some prodnose will have a whinge.

An example, if you’ll allow.

Like Dick, I was at an event in foreign climes, at which the organisers had requested a vape-free policy in the largest of the rooms - the one used for plenaries. In the audience, there was a self-proclaimed supporter of vaping (as a means of quitting smoking, yada yada yada), whose eagle eyes spotted someone - it may have been me, it may not - have a sly stealth vape, as one inevitably does, because one can. Said personage went batshit crazy with the organisers, whinging and bleating about how vapers cannot be trusted to abide by the rules and “something must be done!”.

Now, I’m a biker. I ride motorcycles. I don’t normally do the leather waistcoat, back patch and tattoos thing, but I do frequent so-called “Biker Pubs”. And I’ve noticed that “civilians” (non-bikers) rarely frequent those places. Again, I don’t know why (this time I actually don’t - I just assume we’re scary looking nasty people on noisy smelly things and we’ll kill you if you say “Hello”, or something).

Those same folks probably also hate the idea that they can see what I’ve breathed out, by way of my vapour, in other places. They’re seeing confirmation that the air they’re about to breathe has already been in my lungs. They already knew this (it’s not exactly rocket science) but they ignore the fact, because it’s a bit yucky. They don’t mind the same dense haze in a TV studio or disco, because, they think, it hasn’t already been through a thousand other folks’s lungs. Of course, it has - but they don’t see visual confirmation of that.

The thing is, were you to vape in such a place, no matter how slight the “cloud” was, the very same prodnoses would whinge. They just would. It’s what they do.

So, I think we have to educate people. I do NOT think we should give in to them, else they’ll just keep on keeping on whinging at every opportunity.

I mean, no, don’t go “vaping” folks - covering them in a targeted cloud - cos that is just rude, but do find venues that aren’t going to be complete penises about it, and are truly vape friendly, because they understand that the vapour is as close to harmless as you’ll get.

Set up vape meets in venues, get them some revenue generated, get them wanting you back regularly, and they will, in time, become the vaping equivalent of biker bars. Somewhere the prodnoses won’t feel welcome. My kinda place.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Tobacco Tactics Announces 400 Tobacco Shills Due In Warsaw In June

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The WHO Has Finally Lost It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Going Places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Can We Have Our Money Back, PHE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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