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Monday, 18 April 2011

Pubs in decline...

...and the Yorkshire Post knows how to halt their demise?


IT is a sad reality of 21st century life that the Great British Pub is becoming something of a threatened species.
Watering holes are closing at the rate of 25 per week, as high alcohol taxes, cheap supermarket drink and the smoking ban continue to hit the takings of struggling landlords the length and breadth of the country.
Notice that the smoking ban comes third in the Yorkshire Post's little daydream. So how do we solve this epoch that has, bizarrely, came into being since 2007 in England and Scotland a year earlier? Oh, and I didn't forget Ireland either.

Well, give them a prize for agreeing to get rid of their best customers, the smoker.

So it is fitting that Welcome to Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Post today launch a search for the region’s finest pub. This, after all, is an industry in desperate need of a boost – and worthy of genuine celebration. From John Smith’s to Black Sheep and Samuel Smith’s, Yorkshire’s ales have long been a vital part of culture and nightlife.
Look, you arshole lickers from the YP, while I was going about my daily life I frequented the local boozer but had one eye on an 'outside the sink estate' pub that pampered me and Mrs Yin with good wholesome food, fine beers and wine, sod the expense, (beers for me and wine for the Mrs.) I gave not a jot that they had 'won a prize' but reveled in our 'time out' from the daily grind in blandland.

When will the masses realise that the smoker was the lifesblood of the great British pub, without their patronage the only way is down.

Pharma, Pharma, Pharma chameleon

Money, money, money.

For some time now I’ve had my suspicions about the Pharmaceutical industry, even though I am a beneficiary of their products, and they are products, products to sell on the ‘open’ market.

I am an ardent smoker who likes a beer or two and have enjoyed rude health most of my life until I fell foul of a skin complaint called Psoriasis. I was first diagnosed as having Eczema some twenty odd years ago but it was only in early 2007 that they, (the ‘health professionals’, after I was hospitalised for a whole damn week,) prodded and poked me to then come down on the side of Psoriasis, (this took over two decades for them to discover.)

The upshot is that I am now on a drug called Azathioprine, a powerful drug used to prevent the rejection of ‘new’ hearts in transplant patients. Is my treatment a bit of overkill? Needless to say I pay nothing for my Azathioprine and am sent to the Glaxo Smith Cline unit every three months for bloods and a talk to my overworked skin specialist, who does a fine job by the way.

As an asides my younger brother has a myriad of  health problems due to an accident at work and has been compensated to the tune of near on 300k (well he does live down 'sarf' and they fling money at any problem they come across) and for that blood money he has to take a basket full of drugs away from his local chemist. He cannot smoke or touch alcohol, or so he is told, and berates me sometimes for being able to do both, but he aint heavy, he’s my brother!

My bro sticks up for big pharma and quotes all the good that they have done with giving the public life saving drugs so is the pharmaceutical industry the benevolent, altruistic body that it appears? A few of my fellow bloggers have something to say on the matter.

Belinda writes:
A startling cautionary note has come from the World Health Organisation, urging smoking prevention activists to bite off the hand that feeds their activities. If not that, to get a respectable distance from other relevant commercial interests in the field. Delivered at a pharmaceutical-industry sponsored conference, it remains to be seen how much difference the acknowledgement of a competing interest in the field will make.
Another blogger of note, Christopher Snowdon, (no relation to the  royal snapper, so I believe,) came across the WHO trying to distance themselves from Big Pharma who’s ever reaching tentacles are…em…ever reaching:
The World Health Organization has warned health professionals working in tobacco control not to become too closely involved with drug companies that produce smoking cessation products.
And Big Pharma’s influence on peoples freedom2choose is not restricted to the UK:
Dr. Fernand Turcotte, a prominent Quebec Public Health Professor who not long ago retired from the Laval University, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, publicly expressed regrets shortly after retiring, about what he taught his students…
He went on to say:
"I realized that the things I had been teaching my students for 35 years were not true. What I thought were the contributions of my specialty to the health and well-being of humanity in fact served to further poison people's lives."
Pretty damning stuff, don’t you agree? But CAGE Canada does not let the good professor of the hook for confessing his sins in an apologetic manner:
A little hard to believe that he’s only now realizing what ordinary citizens such as ourselves have known and have been attempting to bring to the attention of the public and politicians for years. Perhaps he feels that a fault confessed is half redressed? It is doubtful that people will so easily forgive the complicit silence of insiders such as himself, who witnessed the misery and wrong-doing that was and is still being instilled on so many people who are needlessly being medicated with often very dangerous drugs. How many public health practitioners that he taught in the last 35 years are now perpetuating the same pattern exactly the way he taught them and are now teaching others?

What Dr. Turcotte denounces, as you will read from the article linked below, is how the pharmaceutical industry has penetrated public health and is omnipresent in the medical profession and how doctors mostly rely on pharmaceutical representatives who work for their own pockets often peddling medication to people who don’t necessarily need it. He points out that the pharmaceutical industry manufactures ‘’me too’’ drugs that are very similar to their predecessors all in an effort to patent new profitable drugs all the while burdening the healthcare system with ever rising costs. He castigates the pharmaceutical industry that strategically manufactures new diseases to cure, when all some people are actually experiencing through their symptoms is the normal aging process.

Yet it was the same Dr. Turcotte who last year appeared on
French Quebec television to describe smokers as diseased people who ‘’caught’’ a pediatric illness in their early teens and who needed help to overcome it, yet the only type of help he had to offer was ineffective nicotine replacement therapy which has been shown to have a dismal 98,4% long term failure rate! How many other drugs would still be on the market if they showed such a poor performance? And yet he feigned concern for the high cost of such nicotine replacement therapy when bought over the counter and enthusiastically suggested that smokers should get their doctors to prescribe it to them since it would then be covered by the Quebec public healthcare. He right there and then participated actively in motivating people to further burden the healthcare system with the costs of medication he should know is almost totally ineffective. It is also the same Dr. Turcotte who lied to countless Quebec viewers of a popular talk show when he emphatically warned that second hand smoke is more hazardous than mainstream smoke. Obviously the host of the show must had been put to sleep by Dr. Turcotte’s mystical discourse because he never questioned why then aren’t there more passive smokers dying from tobacco induced diseases than smokers themselves.

Now that he’s retired Dr. Fernand Turcotte is putting his ‘’ethicoscope’’ on to show concern over how the public healthcare system has been rendered ethically bankrupt? How much concern was he showing through his deafening silence while he was still enjoying a lucrative career and fringe benefits from the medico/pharmaceutical partnership? What did he do or say in 2003 when as he himself points out the blood-pressure norms were lowered by the U.S. National Institutes of Health instantly creating 45 million new patients deemed to have hypertension?
Let’s see if we can have a demonstration of a little more courage from the younger doctors and scientists still at the service of such a corrupted system. Whistle blowing can take epidemic proportions - the type of epidemic that everyone but the greedy pharmaceutical industry can be thankful for!
The pharmaceutical industry takes a sizable chunk out of your pay-packet/salary and you have a right to ask where that tax money goes, and why! It is your right, before it is taken away, ask this question to your MP/Senator: Who pays the bills around here?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

You’ve gotta be joking?

The UK's esteemed half leader and a man of the people?

To:
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
10, Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

Dear Mr. Cameron, 

Please find below our suggestion for fixing Britain's economy.

Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force.
Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Ten million job openings - unemployment fixed

2) They MUST buy a new British car. Ten million cars ordered - Car Industry fixed
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage -Housing Crisis fixed
4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university - Crime rate fixed

5) They MUST buy £100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week .....
and there's your money back in duty/tax etc

6) Instead of stuffing around with the carbon emissions
trading scheme that makes us pay for the major polluters, tell the greedy bastards to reduce their pollution emissions by 75% within 5 years or we shut them down. It can't get any easier than that!

P.S If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.
If not, please disregard.
Grumpies of the World Unite

Let's put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home. This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.

They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
 
They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education.

Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.

Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.

Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls.
 
There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week.  Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.

Think about this (more points of contention):  
---------------------------------------------------
COWS
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?
And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.
---------------------------------------------
THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION
They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq ... Why don't we just give them ours?

It was drawn up by a lot of really smart guys, it has worked for centuries and we're not using it anymore.
-------------------------------------------------
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS
The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or Parliament, is this -You cannot post 'Thou Shalt Not Steal', 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery' and 'Thou Shall Not Lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians..... It creates a hostile work environment.
----------------------------------------------------
Also;
Think about this ... If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone -- YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!
 
It is time for us grumpy old folk of Britain to speak up! 

The above was sent to TheBigYin by email from Stephen Bell (BT) and I thought it was so funny I just had to share, well, I don't want to be part of the problem, now do I?

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Health scare stories can give you cancer

From the Indie’s commentators section:
If you ask me, the news that alcohol is linked to cancer could not be more timely, as it coincides with the opening of my National Institute of Health Scares, which is situated just off the Holloway Road, opposite the National Institute of Listen, Love, You Have To Die of Something. This is unfortunate, we know, and it isn't easy, particularly as they can often be seen at the window, giving us the finger, but as giving the finger has already been shown to increase the size of tumours in mice, and make rabbits explode up the wall, I think we all know who will be having the last laugh.
My institute, which is entirely devoted to sucking all pleasure out of life, is open daily from 9am to 6pm. During these hours, you may come in to browse any of our literature: a wide and varied collection which includes Salt: It Knows Where You Live, and Cholesterol: It's In A Taxi And On Its Way, or consult any of our experts, all of whom have been fully trained in not scrutinising the evidence closely, if at all, whipping it up disproportionately, and then scaring you witless.
Last week, for example, we were consulted by a woman who said she was fond of knitting, and wondered how this could be killing her.  Delivering bad news is always hard, and no one likes to do it, but we put it to her straight: if you knit indoors, we told her, you may well get vitamin D deficiency, but if you knit outdoors, there is a high risk of melanoma so, on the whole, it's probably better that you don't knit at all.
At all? she queried. I can't even knit in moderation, or perhaps every now and then at parties? No, we had to tell her. Plus, we continued, knitting is one of those gateway crafts that may well lead to quilting, which has been shown to trigger breast cancer in goldfish and may give you heartburn, gout, epilepsy and the terrible feeling you've left the house without turning the iron off.
So, anyway, now you know where we are, we hope to hear from you. Although we do not enter into individual correspondence, as this is associated with raised levels of having to find a pen, you are welcome to visit. Please, though, do try to ignore those at the institute opposite and, if tempted to give them the finger back, you might want to ask yourself this: do I really want to explode up a wall? Also, eating oily fish during pregnancy can turn your nose into an aubergine. This is just something worth knowing, is all.
H/T to the Chas from the F2C forum.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Freedom2Choose Newsletter April 2011



Chairman’s Announcement

Freedom2Choose will be undergoing a 'Strategic Review' over the next few months.

We need to re-assess our strengths and weaknesses, our opportunities and threats.

This will, I assure you, lead to a much more successful working practice.  All paid up members’ views will be sought - independently and anonymously, so it is much in your interest to partake.

I have asked a paid-up F2C member with relevant professional experience to carry out the review, reporting to a small working party, and have been assured that the results will be ready by September and circulated before October’s AGM.

Remember - your responses will shape the F2C that will be most active in the coming months!

Phil Johnson, Chairman
Freedom2Choose


Display Ban and Plain Packaging


Could it be that the media – so often way ahead of politicians and lobby groups in their awareness of public feeling – have realised that the public’s enthusiasm for all things anti-smoking is on the wane?

Coverage of the proposed display ban and plain packaging proposals would certainly indicate that something is afoot. In stark opposition to their stance before the implementation of the smoking ban, many publications have allowed critics of this latest move plenty of scope to vent their spleen, from Simon Clark of Forest on Conservativehome to the packaging industry publication, Packaging News, which tears into proposals they call a “smugglers charter.”

The Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Norwich Evening News, This Is Leicestershire, and This is Business – East Midlands all give ample column inches to the concerns of small businesses who feel that, notwithstanding the exhortations of the anti-smoking lobby that “bans don’t hurt business,” this one definitely will. Even the politically-neutral Bastiat Institute describes the move as a “War on Smokers and Shopkeepers.”

The traditionally Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph describes the move as “puritan”; the political blog Politics.co.uk is self-consciously neutral on the whole issue, giving scope for parties on both sides to say their piece, and both the Independent and the BBC – in the past such enthusiastic supporters of restrictions on smoking - are offering up stories that are, at best, lukewarm in their reporting.

The anti-smoking movement, hitherto used to having their every whim and desire pandered to by those in power, are of course putting on a brave face, but their evident dismay is clear for all to see, with ASH, the BMA and the BHF all admitting to being “disappointed” by the delays in implementation of the display ban and the government’s further dithering on plain packaging.

Disappointed? And just a little bit furious!


The Budget: Penalising the Poorest

Duty on tobacco rose by 2pc above inflation, in line with the previous government’s plans. However, a change in the way tax is to be estimated will see higher price rises for economy brands and rolling tobacco than for premium cigarettes. In a bid to ‘narrow the equality gap’ between rich and poor, the government is heaping pressure on the least advantaged smokers in order to drive down smoking rates.  This policy discriminates against those who can least afford it, especially the elderly and the low paid.

Before and After: Typical  Price Increases

Tobacco
£Old  
£New
Economy brand cigarettes    per20
5.13
5.63
Premium brand cigarettes    per20
6.62
6.95
Hand rolling tobacco       per12.5g
3.12
3.38
Cigars                                  per5
2.06
2.11
Pipe tobacco                      per50g
9.70
9.83

As ever, the proposals are designed to reduce smoking. As ever, the proposals will raise a lot of revenue – in this case an extra £355m a year by 2015.

Combined with the tobacco display ban, it is widely accepted that the real beneficiaries of George Osborne's first budget will be organised crime 
..from the petty criminal, selling 'cheap fags' in the local pub, through to organised crime syndicates who manage the trade through large-scale container fraud.

Reducing, not increasing tobacco taxes, might well boost the Treasury's income while alleviating a burden that falls disproportionately upon the poor. As a bonus it might also produce a decrease in ‘racketeering’ and outsourcing - as countries around the globe are beginning to
discover
.

A Postcard from Prague

The Czech Republic has little appetite for prohibition.  In July 2010, a multiple-choice scheme was introduced that was more about signage than banning things.

Even the doctor who suggested this restaurant smoking ban is not in favour of a blanket smoking ban in bars and clubs.

I did not see any posters campaigning for support for smoke free restaurants, and I was actively looking for them.

Some premises do not display any signs and these are usually smoking. If you can't see through the window go in and have a look. Although some places have the smoking permitted sign, they do not permit pipe or cigar smoking. These are rare and inside you will see a picture of a cigar and pipe with a cross through them.

Although smoking and non-smoking areas are supposed to have a dividing wall, I didn't find any. Some places do have a separate room and some just have either a separate area or a few tables without ash trays.

Not sure how the restricted smoking times is supposed to work but I only saw one of these which was a restaurant.

Premises which permit smoking are in the vast majority. The places I saw which did not permit smoking were all restaurants and all of these had smoking areas outside with tables and seating. Most were covered and some had heating and lighting.


Overall verdict - Great, no change!

White Paper: Stragegy on Tobacco Control in England


For anyone interested in the future of smoking, this new Government White Paper on tobacco control in England is an essential, if joyless, read. Its radical, new approach to ‘driving down tobacco use’ is based upon two core principles: Localism and Behaviour Change.

 
Like all Public Health measures, tobacco control is to be devolved to ‘community’ level. Here, anyone who can make a contribution is invited to hector smokers into self-imposed bans and, although Westminster has no plans for further national bans, communities are free to legislate at local level. For example, Hospital Trusts may impose outdoor bans around hospitals. Such legislation is justified on grounds of behaviour change.
We want all communities  to see a tobacco-free world as the norm and we aim to stop the perpetuation of smoking from one generation to the next.

While the cost effectiveness of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is emphasised, long term NRT use is being seriously considered to ‘help’ stubborn smokers.
the Medicines and Healthcare products regulatory agency granted an extended indication in 2010 for NRT to be used for “harm reduction”, to assist smokers who are unwilling or unable to quit.
(our emphasis)

In the meantime, ongoing research will provide strategies for ‘smokeless tobacco’ cessation. 

Other points of interest
  • Successful ‘quit’ attempts have more or less stalled since 2007.
  • Further restrictions look likely for prisoners and mental health patients.
  • Cost of smoking to NHS is said to be ‘over £50million per week’ – with no word of thanks for the £200million-plus each week in tobacco taxes.
  • The jury is still out on e-cigarettes.
  • The use of cigarette papers as a tobacco marketing device is to be investigated.
  • And much, much more…



Academic Review of Smoking Ban in England


With its lack of data and substantial use of ‘international evidence’, this academic review bears all the hallmarks of being a rushed job.


Three areas are glossed over examined:

Exposure to 'second-hand smoke
(reduced, amazingly)
 
On fairly safe ground here, but the reviewers are hampered by insufficient post-ban data: childhood exposure records are available only to the end of 2007,  and the bar-workers’ study lost almost two-thirds of its participants by the third and final assessment.

Changes in health and behaviour

Health, here, relates solely to hospital admissions for heart attacks.

Two areas of behaviour change are looked at: ‘quit’ rates around the time the ban was implemented and changing attitudes to the ban itself. Both are compromised by lack of data.

Much of the behavioural section relies heavily on a study conducted in 2009.  This study recognised the deleterious effect smoking bans have on ‘some’ people, but thinks similar legislation should be used to tackle other ‘wicked issues’ like alcohol and food. 

Impact on Hospitality Industry

Six sources of information were chosen from which to assess the impact of the ban on hospitality venues:

Literature –  international evidence only
Labour Force Survey – sample size too small for analysis
Tourism figures – limited data
Licensing data – unavailable for England
Annual Business Inquiry – limited data giving mixed results.
Gambling figures – Bingo! Enough data here for clear evidence that Bingo halls began to fail in the direct wake of the ban. Nevertheless, the authors are keen to suggest that the Bingo habit is merely being replaced by the rising popularity of other forms of gambling so nothing to do with the smoking ban, after all.

Despite a lack of sufficient data across all three areas examined, the reviewers confidently conclude:

Results from the studies conducted in England show benefits for health, changes in attitudes and behaviour and no clear adverse impact on the hospitality industry.

Thank You, Nurse

Doctor Helen Evans, a senior nurse and the Director of Nurses for Reform, provides this month's anti antidote.  She has written about her concerns for the 'some' people who find themselves at the receiving end of the denormalisation process.
Stigmatised, marginalised and treated with no sense of proportionality, British smokers are being reduced to the perilous and irrational status that a number of minorities suffered in Germany around 1934 and 5. Today, 23% of Britons are being made to feel guilty for who and what they are and everyone else is being encouraged to ‘un-normalise’ them.
So - THANK YOU Dr. Evans from Freedom2Choose for daring to stick your head above the parapet and reminding us that the NHS was once popularly known as 'The Caring Profession',   Too many of your colleagues appear to have forgotton.

Other News in Brief


Unintended consequences: Richmond College is having to reconsider the wisdom of chucking its students onto the surrounding residential streets for their smoking breaks.

Paramount pictures comes under fire for depicting more than 60 instances of smoking  The film Rango, which is not about smoking, grossed £38million in its opening weekend.


The most newsworthy event of this year’s No Smoking Day was Kate Moss’s Parisian cat-walk cigarette. The audience cheered,  Jan Moir booed.

Labour Shadow Ministers for Health from both sides of the border were busy getting the lifestyle message across last month. Diane Abbott heaped cross-party praise on the coalition’s display ban, while Jackie Baillie celebrated the Scottish ban’s fifth anniversary by admitting that any improvement to Scotland’s health cannot be measured.

Health Experts Jackie Baillie and Diane Abbott - Are They Keeping Up?

Latest BBPA figures show that the rate of pub closures slowed last year from 40 per week to 25 per week. This equates to about 1,300 closures in England and Wales for 2010.  Worth noting is the Daily Mail sub-headline which puts smoking in first place as a cause of pubs closing – a step change since early ban days when it was rarely, if ever, mentioned.

The percentage of Welsh women between the ages of 16 and 44 who smoke is a little over 30%.  Pregnancy appears to boost this figure to 37%. This is  a directional embarrassment for the principality's health providers who are forced to resort to bribery.

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Friday, 8 April 2011

The time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many things…except the smoking ban!

red-tape_1867283c
Mr Osborne said he had put business - "the job creators of Britain" - centre stage of his policies as he launched the "Red Tape Challenge", the Government's latest initiative to encourage more private sector activity.
The coagulation government have opened another website (yawn) for the great unwashed, and business, to vent their spleen on the masses of red tape the Labour lot hammered everyone over the head with during their long, long stab at running the country into the ground.
More than 21,000 regulations have been identified and hundreds will be published over the coming months on an industry by industry basis. The first 130 regulation on the block cover the retail trades, with hospitality industry (My emphasis) and food and drink regulations next in line.
400px-George_Osborne_0437Gorgeous George 
But, of course, for most of the red tape regulations to be amputated before they turn gangrenous, the government, on our behalf, have to face the Mecca that is called the EU with puppy dog eyes before running away with their tail between their legs:
…the Prime Minister has made clear he expects the onus to be on deregulation rather than maintaining the status quo, although European laws and tax red tape are exempt from the exercise.
194This is how much I care about smokers!

And to back up gorgeous George in a double hammy the beleaguered businessman had to listen to Vince Cable  kiss ass while holding the EU dagger behind his back:
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, followed Mr Osborne on to the Church House stage to assure the business audience he was not wasting their time. "We will presume that you are right; we will assume that the regulations should go," he said. "Unless ministers can robustly defend the need to keep an unpopular regulation, departments will get rid of it. We want to be the first government in history to leave office having reduced the overall burden of regulation, not increased it."
Our Vince earlier met a furniture retailer and after listening to the founders tale of woe agreed something should be done but then got a fit of the vapours as he cow towed to his audience of businessmen. And if there was any doubt in my mind that only the MSM (in collusion with fake charities for their headliners)  can change laws and red tape by proxy then Cable’s next paragraph leapt out from my computer screen:
"I thought it sounds very sensible. Then I thought about the headlines: 'Fire in house kills children; minister tries to reduce safety standards'. This is an area where we have to tread carefully."  (My emphasis.)
So what of the infamous smoking ban experiment I hear you cry. Well one business man in the retail industry said, with a straight face, one presumes:
Owen Dunn posted a comment calling for Section 6 of the Health Act 2006 to be reformed.
"
Mandatory 'No Smoking' signs on buildings are no longer necessary," he wrote. "If there was ever an argument for these signs, it was that the smoking ban was new and people needed to know about it, but the ban has bedded in now. It's a pointless cost on the public sector and businesses alike."
The mind bloody boggles.

You can go to the red tape website here and see the article that I’ve written about here.

Monday, 4 April 2011

FROM ASH TO TRASH

Give me your feckin' money, now!

 An F2C Triblogology (Part3)

In parts 1 and 2 of this Triblogology we looked at how ASH was created and how it changed from what was originally intended in 1971 to being a propaganda lobbying group, and we analysed its sources of income over the past five years.

Today we will look at what ASH’s methods and money (over 86% of its income was grants last year, including government grants and therefore our taxes) have achieved.

Policy and consequences

First, ASH achieved the enactment of the Health Act 2006: the total indoor smoking ban in England which started on 1st July 2007. This was achieved by a concerted political lobbying campaign on the back of disputed claims about second hand smoke and protecting the health of bar workers and other staff. ASH even said it was a myth that businesses would suffer.

Business won't suffer, honestly! 

The consequences of this were stark, over 8,000 business losses costing over 100,000 jobs in exchange for not one single life saved! No one can deny that this ill-conceived legislation has played a huge part in the destruction of the hospitality industry. It is of course not the only factor (just as smoking is not the sole alleged causation of cancer, asthma or emphysema as much as ASH would want you to believe that it is so!).

It has also reduced civil liberties, the freedom of association for smokers, and has increased loneliness and depression amongst smokers and non-smokers alike (see our previous Loneliness blogs).

The division of a nation and promoting hatred

Secondly ASH has encouraged discrimination against a substantial minority group (smokers are estimated still to be about 25% of the UK adult population) via questionable research and polls, and by slick public relations. The “trial by press release” and “denormalisation” of smokers has resulted in some sickening comments by those who blindly believe ASH propaganda. At least two murders and several serious assaults including the rapes of a nurse and a student occurred because the current law places smokers at risk of attack by predators.

Here are some of the arguments and vile comments put forward by those who support ASH: some who follow this topic will have seen it before or even like myself experienced it firsthand, and some of you may not even be aware that it is happening in your name (after all, ASH claims to represent both non-smokers and smokers).

Anti-smoking propaganda has also had an effect in the world of computer gaming: a game called Sniper, where the targets are smokers!

ASH’s research, reports and polls

Thirdly, ASH uses research and polls to justify its propaganda. But all pollsters can affect the results by phrasing questions in a particular way that will give a client the answers needed, as Deborah Arnott admitted in her oral evidence to the The House of Commons Health Committee for its report on Smoking in Public Places.

How else can we explain the following?

A poll of 1,000 people in 2004 found that 73% of those polled supported banning smoking in all workplaces, including pubs and restaurants. The poll was conducted by BMRB on behalf of anti-smoking lobby ASH and Cancer Research UK.

However, a poll published in 2003 found that only 17% of people agreed that smoking should be banned in pubs, clubs and restaurants. The poll was also undertaken by BMRB, but this time for the TMA (Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association).

Of equal interest are the polls conducted for ASH by YouGov, whose president serves on ASH’s board of trustees.

The Department of Health gave ASH £191,000 for its Beyond Smoking Kills report (which also found a “high level of public support” for a range of tobacco control measures) and you can see here how the result of the consultation has been manipulated to favour the Department’s original proposals, which included a ban on display and a ban on cigarette vending machines.

ASH’s solutions

Finally, for more than a decade ASH has supported medical intervention, including the use of a variety of pharmaceutical smoking cessation products, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and Zyban. In 2001 its then Director, Clive Bates, wrote to the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline:

“ASH was instrumental in securing greater government commitment to smoking cessation products in the NHS National Plan and we have helped with PR for both Zyban and Niquitin CQ.”

ASH also includes guidance on Chantix on its website: a drug about which many concerns have been expressed and which John Watson wrote about in detail on this blog last month.

Unfortunately, the majority of modern studies show that even with the help of a combination of support groups, counselling, nicotine replacement and drugs the quit rate is very low. The most optimistic results show that at the end of a year it is at best 7% - 8%, and by the end of four years this reduces even further to 5%. This is a failure rate of 95% .

ASH’s final solution, of course, as we noted in Part 1 of this ASH blog, is to push for WHO’s plans , which include vaccination to switch off nicotine receptors and cigarettes becoming available only on prescription. Of course, they still want tobacco to be sold so that anti-tobacco groups like ASH can continue to get almost £1million a year from tobacco taxes.

Conclusion

We have seen just how far ASH is willing to go to achieve its aims: cynical political lobbying, the cosy relationships between ASH and its grant givers, the bias in polls, the drip feeding of scare stories in the media and the frenzied reactions of those who support ASH and this draconian legislation.

It is not the first time the world has witnessed the attempted destruction of a minority group based on fear, junk science and the deliberate removal of civil liberties; it will not be the last. The question is: are you, the people, willing to allow it to happen today?




Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
(Tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)
......................
Writing team for this Triblogology were:
John Watson
Brenda Orsler
Phil Johnson
Carol Cattell
Graphics and edits by John H Baker.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Philip Morris grows a pair…

…and the anti smoking fraternity in Australia don’t like it, not one little bit.
BIG Tobacco is trying to turn smokers into a political force with an under-the-radar campaign encouraging protests against high taxes and bans on smoking in public.
How are they gonna do that then?
The I Deserve to Be Heard campaign involves slipping small cards into cigarette packets directing smokers to a website headlined: “It’s time to tell the government you’ve had enough”. 
I’ll bet the Australian government’s health department, one of the most virulent anti smoking/smoker government departments  ever conceived, does not like that?
The federal government says it will fight the industry’s campaign “tooth and nail”, with a spokeswoman for the Health Minister describing it as “an example of how low Big Tobacco is prepared to go to peddle their killer products.”
Now that’s rich. How low have governments and anti smoking lobbies stooped in their rush to denormalise the smoker and make their enjoyment of tobacco products as arduous and downright dangerous to health?

Talking about anti smoking groups like ASH et al, what do they have to say on the matter?
 Anti-smoking lobby groups are shocked at the new tactic. “Cheeky buggers,” was the reaction of one advocate when told about the campaign.
How very restrained eh.

Dick Puddlecote knows that the UK is in a pissing contest with the rest of the world, especially Australia, to hide tobacco products under the counter and introduce plain packaging of those products.

Are big tobacco different from any other legitimate producer when selling their legal products? Do they not have the right to defend their legitimate product in a climate of hostility by scaremongers and downright liars?
Smokers have been hit with two significant increases in taxes over the past 12 months and the list of places where chuffing in public is allowed is shrinking every year as state government extend smoking bans.

Lighting up is banned across Australia in pubs, clubs, restaurants and workplaces, and many councils have banned, or plan to ban smoking on beaches, pedestrian strips and parks.
Retailers are also angry at new laws which force them to hide cigarettes behind bland plastic casing, another in a series of restrictions on display advertising for tobacco products.
The rush by governments and anti smoker groups to denormalise us to the point of violence is palpable:
DOCTOR FACING FELONY CHARGES FOR ASSAULTING A SMOKER
Unfortunately, this is not an April 1st joke. Years of a taxpayer and pharmaceutical industry funded 'denormalization' campaign against people who smoke has predictably led to worrisome episodes of intolerance. In this case, a doctor seems to have forgotten his Hippocratic oath and faces felony charges for assaulting someone smoking near his car.
I for one welcome this initiative and hope the likes of Philip Morris bring it here to the UK and hopefully shake the smoking enthusiast out of their apathy.

Could BAT grow a pair I wonder?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Backfiring Discrimination!

F2C Scotland (H/T Belinda) have beaten me to it but I give you another slant on the smoker discrimination going on over the other side of the water.
"This policy is expected to spread, we are told by 'experts' (John Banzaf leading the field: this is the organisation of which he is chief executive, you can see him give his tuppence worth about a council's anti-smoking policy in Scotland here). We can see how smokers get the short straw: it reflects the power of the enemies of tobacco in the market place".
Now we all know that Banzaf is a raving lunatic of gigantic proportions when it comes to anti tobacco and he has long advocated that smokers should be denied jobs. Well, let's take this a step further and show you where lunatics like this take us.

Let's think to Libya, Egypt Yemen etc for a minute and just look at the carnage over there as Governments, Rulers, Dictators etc are ousted by the people-because the people are not at all happy. Smoking bans have been implemented, not to long ago, in these countries. (H/T Frank Davis)

Consider the implications of said smoking bans to those who live impoverished lives, those who have nothing to start with, those whose only comfort is a fag! What are 'they' denying these people? For many it will seem that they are denying them their very existence; for many, enough is enough!

Back home, here in good old Blighty, we have a different scenarion as, post war, we built up industries that earned people money, some people lots of money! The common factor was possessions, we all accrued more and more possessions which we guard jealously. The first of many Americanisms crept in the back , viz, "keeping up with the Joneses" as people, some unashamedly, tried to outdo each other with the latest gadgetry or apppliance etc. In other words we left our far east counterparts way behind as they had camels and mud huts (whitewashed!) and we had washing machines and cars.

So, rulers and dictators, adhering to the WHO's requirements have banned smoking and caused themselves all manner of problems.

Now let's suppose that we lost our greed factor, our "I'm alright Jack" persona's and thought about this situation properly. "Smokers should not be employed"  screams Banzaf, Ok then, let's not be employed! It's as simple as that folks. The state has to provide the unemployed with the means to survive, albeit meagerly, but to survive. It is their rules we are playing by not ours. In a country of 63 million people where a certain previous government has already bankrupted us AND sold our gold reserves at a bargain basement price it is not going to take the 25% of the population who do smoke to cease work and relax on the dole. I would think that out of 15.5 million smokers less than 25% of that number can bring this country to its knees bigtime! Let's say that 3.5 million no longer work, added to the already fast approaching 3 million already existing on state benefits and I would think you will have to agree with me that this, and any other government, is totally fucked!

You begin to see now people just how fragile a government really is, it relies on people's avarice, people need to own this, that or the other. on the other side of the world they don't have this, that or the other so they don't miss it! We have become too self indulgent, we crave possessions, we love to laud over others, our class society dictates such.


Marching through Buckinghamsire in 1936. (The Jarrow marchers.)


75 years ago the men from Jarrow marched to London (another one is coming soon) in protest at the lack of jobs in the North East. Well wishers helped them along the way with bread & pennies - would the same happen today in our materialistic society? I doubt it, most people would shrug their shoulders and say 'good luck' to them as they plodded through their town or city. But what if the smokers joined this year? The students are unhappy, the jobless in the north east are unhappy again, the jobless in the North West, the South East and the South West are unhappy too as our industries fade away. The smokers all over the country are unhappy too as are all the ex licensees of their labour behind their respective bars, indeed, one licensee suffered the ignominy of HMP bars for his efforts to object!

So folks, are you beginning to see just how fragile this country really is? Do you not see that protest is workable-a silent protest. No need for yawping and bawling like common yobbo's, a peaceful march, gathering momentum on the way to London is the way to capture the MSM's attentions. All disenchanted factions joining together for once and showing these turkeys in power that they do need to listen to the people because with out the people ( I think I mentioned this before)...they are fucked!

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