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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

None so blind

Sad news.

Camra cannot find enough candidates for design prizes as public houses close at record rate

For the first time in more than 25 years, most of the annual Campaign for Real Ale's pub design awards will not be presented today – because in the crisis gripping Britain's pubs there simply aren't enough worthy candidates.

A handsome Victorian gin palace in London, a Wiltshire venue given a gastropub update, and a shiny steel and glass microbrewery in Reading will share the honours - but that's it.

No awards are being made for conversion to pub use, for the conservation prize sponsored by English Heritage, or for the category best loved by Camra members, the best traditional corner pub.

Traditional pub, you say? Is that the kind of pub which was about to reap mega-profits, according to CAMRA chief Mike Benner, just two short, carnage-ridden years ago?

Millions will return to the Pub after Smoking Ban - 20/02/07

CAMRA Chief Executive Mike Benner said: “This survey shows that non-smokers will be attracted to pubs after the ban comes into force, and many of them would like to find a real ale waiting for them when they get there.

“The smoking ban will be a difficult transition for licensees, but it is encouraging that only 3% of people surveyed by CAMRA said they would not visit pubs at all as a result of the ban. The key will be to ensure that other factors such as quality of real ale, food, atmosphere and welcome are all superb. If this is the case then the traditional Community Pub will have a bright and healthy future.”

It's up there with Michael Fish saying that umbrellas won't be needed, isn't it?

The EU, smoking and a step too far!

I reported here on Sunday that the EU was proposing to impliment more stringent amendments to it's "we hate tobacco and it's users" which would make it an offence to smoke in beer gardens or outdoor music festivals etc. But this shower have went too far this time.

I received a phone call from UKIP's Gawain Towler who was livid as the tobacco haters in the EU cranked up their hatred of smokers, led by this harridan, Androulla Vassiliou who says on her website, rather Haughtily:

Good progress has been made in the fight against tobacco, alcohol related harm and obesity.

Gawain sent me over a press release from Godfrey Bloom which says:

EU plans launched today to ban all smoking in public places, including beer gardens, parks festivals and the like were greeted by disbelief and a call to action from Godfrey Bloom MEP,

The EU has called for a ban on smoking in “enclosed public places” but they define this in a quite ridiculous fashion,

“the definition of "public places" should cover all places accessible to the general public or places for collective use, regardless of ownership or right to access. It is further recommended that “indoor” (or “enclosed”) areas be defined to include any space covered by a roof or enclosed by one or more walls or sides, regardless of the type of material used for the roof, wall or sides, and regardless of whether the structure is permanent or temporary”.

“Enough is enough”, said Bloom, “today 6 pubs will close in the UK. Today part of our culture is under threat. Today is the time to say enough is enough. These jumped up puritan dictators must be told where to get off.

Nobody pretends that smoking is a good thing, but it is legal. So why don't they come clean and announce an outright ban? Because they daren't. Making 12 million Britons criminals overnight might be gong a little too far even for them. But making them second class citizens, well it seems that is no problem”.

These bullies seem to have no truck with freedom, liberty or tolerance. Well in that case we shall have to take it back. And if that means a certain level of civil disobedience, well so be it.”

The original quote from Godfrey's email to me can be found here.

I dont know about you but I feel like being disobedient. Ever heard of Flash Smoking?

Update: Remember this?

“the definition of "public places" should cover all places accessible to the general public or places for collective use, regardless of ownership or right to access. It is further recommended that “indoor” (or “enclosed”) areas be defined to include any space covered by a roof or enclosed by one or more walls or sides, regardless of the type of material used for the roof, wall or sides, and regardless of whether the structure is permanent or temporary”

Blows a massive hole in the 50% rule for human beings, doesn't it!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Tobacco warnings as promotional aids?

At the TICAP Conference in Brussels back in January, guest speaker Dr John Luik pointed out the lack of impact that anti-smoking messages on packets actually have. He suggested that if one truly wished to stop kids from taking up smoking, the best message would be ...

Your parents think smoking is cool

It seems that ad men would tend to agree.

Following the new federal legislation signed off by President Obama last week, pressure will focus on forcing manufacturers to include more warnings, and even perhaps to alter packaging drastically, to appease the health nutters.

DJ Stout, an award-winning branding and packaging design expert for Pentagram Global, was asked to come up with some designs should Marlboro seek their services in the future.

Stout suggests that to comply with the crackdown, tobacco companies should embrace the restrictions and make cigarettes look truly dangerous.

“Over the years there has been an onslaught of public awareness messaging about the evils of smoking,” says Stout. “Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 50 years you are very aware that smoking is not only bad for you, it could very likely kill you. All smokers know this for sure but it doesn’t deter them.

“Our marketing advice to cigarette companies in the new heavily regulated era is to fully accept the new aggressive anti-smoking restrictions and wallow in the government’s apocalyptic health warnings. Don’t make excuses or dance around the stepped-up marketing regulations, just transform the whole cigarette pack into a three dimensional warning label.”

Can you spot the one-fingered salute inherent in them?

One would assume that the swivel-eyed US tobacco control lobby would be orgasmic about such packets, completely oblivious (again) to the fact that such warnings have no effect whatsoever ... hence why an advertising expert is proposing them.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

More selfless research

You may remember seeing this picture before.

It was snapped at the Oval during the recent World Cup Twenty20 match between England and the West Indies. I wrote about it here and promised a further happy pic.

In the interests of the pro-choice movement, I endured the penury of a sunny day at the Surrey/Middlesex match on Saturday, complete with copious lashings of Scrumpy Jack, to fulfill my promise to you.

Just in case cricket-lovers aren't able to look up and see the many 'smoking permitted' green ticks screwed to the wall at just over head high, there is a further embracing welcome to their customers available by looking down.

I do hope that you will understand the immense torture I have suffered in gaining this proof that Surrey Cricket Club are all-round good eggs. A further day watching engrossing cricket featuring top-quality talent like England international Owais Shah is a tough ask.

Especially with exceptionally attractive and well-adjusted ladies, adorned in very flimsy attire, being highly in abundance. It was hell, I tell ya.

It was equally horrific that I was forced to travel to the O2 Arena last Saturday to selflessly observe the War of the Worlds 30th Anniversary Live Tour, just to report back to you that a promoter was selling discounted cigarettes to the attendees. A mere £5 for Benson & Hedges, for example, and they were giving away portable ashtrays too.

You see, business actually likes smokers, and why wouldn't they when they make up 22% or more of their income. Much to the chagrin of the pulchritudinally-challenged and truth-restricted souls at ASH, I would imagine.

One can almost hear the angst of Dockrell et al as they feverishly dream up hate campaigns against highly-respected and hugely-funded venues such as these. After all, choice must be stifled at all costs by those taking the Labour government's shilling.

So, can I relax for a bit now? Because I've had one hell of a time. I hope you understand.


Today the Sunday express have totally removed the chains, handcuffs and shackles on the draconian smoking ban.

For to long smokers and there tolerant supporters have scanned the daily newspapers for support and the truth looking for even the smallest article with a crumb of comfort.

No more one line apologetic statements, no more hiding behind Government propaganda statements the Sunday Express have gone for the jugular, be prepared for a seismic shift of gargantuan proportions.

The following appeared in today’s Sunday Express in support of Antony Worrall Thompson , no not tucked away near the obituaries or the free CD instruction this is a MAIN COMMENT, read, digest breathe a sigh of relief you are not alone.


Its Great news that Antony Worrall Thompson is making a stand for common sense on cigarettes. The government ban on smoking is forcing the closure of six pubs a day. Clubs and restaurants are also suffering while the number of smokers shows no decline and the health of the nation is unchanged.

Thompson’s campaign has backing from Mps from the three main parties and the group is fighting for reform when the law is reviewed next year.

They’re asking for rooms in pubs and clubs to be set aside for smokers. It is simple, sensible voluntary move that would improve our right to choose without damaging the health of others.
Full marks to the Sunday Express "go shopping tomorrow and support the Express". Jeremy Clarkson where are you?.

Nails, coffin, EU, British Pubs and the smoker: The next generation!

As if your Pubs & Clubs don't have enough to contend with these days, what with the [failed] Smoking Ban Experiment and beer tax hikes not to mention the [minimal] effects of the so called credit crunch (don't forget that pubs and clubs have always thrived during crisis and economic downturns until, that is, they imposed a smoking ban on them and us.) Our treacherous [all parties] MPs, in cahoots with the anti British EU, have come up with a plan to further denormalise smokers and their watering holes. A smoking ban in beer gardens, outside offices and even open air concerts!

EU zealots will this week demand a ban on smoking OUTSIDE pubs and offices.

No mincing words there then, is there. They DEMAND!

Brussels chiefs want to outlaw beer garden ciggie areas - and even extend the ban to open air concerts like this weekend's Glastonbury festival.

The European Commission says the current bar on smoking in enclosed public places does not go far enough. It says non-smokers in outdoor areas are still in danger from passive smoking.

It comes after a World Health Organisation report said workers such as waiters and door staff are exposed to dangerous levels of smoke outside pubs and restaurants. And the smoke can waft back inside buildings through open doors, windows and vents.

Brussels Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou is expected to announce plans on Tuesday. Her spokesman said: "We want to encourage EU member states to enforce the WHO convention as at the moment it is not binding." The government banned smoking in enclosed public spaces in the UK two years ago.

You see, according to the healthist nutters in Brussels coming within a mile of a smoker is a killer and our own, home grown, healthist nut jobs believe the above crap, hook, line and sinker. I will outline later some facts about SHS, aka Second Hand Smoke and other truths by two respected authors and readers of the F2C forum, Michael J. McFadden, author of Dissecting Anti Smokers' Brains and Christopher Snowdon's much acclaimed book, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, which has just been launched at a FOREST bash.

Out of all this over in the land of sprouts one lone voice coins another phrase that can sit comfortably beside "Nanny State."

The Bully State

The UK Independence Party blasted the plan. Euro MP Godfrey Bloom said: "It's beyond the nanny state. It's the bully state. Do they want to close down the English country pub?"

Some real facts, one) the chemistry and two) the history, by the two authors I mentioned above. First Michael J. McFadden on the myths treated as facts by our anti smoking bullies.

One. The Chemistry of Secondary Smoke by M. J. McFadden

As noted earlier in the chapter on Language, about 90% of secondary smoke is composed of water and ordinary air with a slight excess of carbon dioxide. Another 4% is carbon monoxide, a gas that can act as a poison when in sufficient quantity by reducing the amount of oxygen your red blood cells can carry. The last 6% contains the rest of the 4,000 or so chemicals supposedly to be found in smoke… but found, obviously, in very small quantities (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80).

Most of these chemicals can only be found in quantities measured in nanograms, picograms and femtograms. Many cannot even be detected in these amounts: their presence is simply theorized rather than measured. To bring those quantities into a real world perspective, take a saltshaker and shake out a few grains of salt. A single grain of that salt will weigh in the ballpark of 100 million picograms! (Allen Blackman. Chemistry Magazine 10/08/01).

To refer back to our earlier example of arsenic, a nonsmoker would have to work with a smoker 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, for well over a hundred years to be exposed to a quantity of arsenic equal to one grain of salt. While a lot of waitresses and bartenders may feel as if they’ve worked a hundred years at their jobs, there really aren’t too many who actually have.

And, again as noted earlier, far from all 4,000 of those chemicals are normally labeled as toxic in the first place, with the 1989 Surgeon Generals’ Report only noting that “some” are… without reference to how many or to what amounts would be considered toxic. One of the most basic principles of scientific toxicology is that “The Dose Makes The Poison.”… a fact always ignored by Crusaders.

When speaking of secondary smoke many Antismokers will also refer to the “40 carcinogenic compounds” it supposedly contains. In reality only six of those have in fact been classified as “known human carcinogens” (1989 Report of the Surgeon General. pgs. 86-87). Most of the rest of the 40 compounds have shown insufficient evidence of being human carcinogens and many are commonly found in foods, coffee, and the general environment (Science, 258: 261-265 (1992). The exposure of nonsmokers to the six actual human carcinogens is usually so minuscule as to be almost imaginary in nature and is sometimes far less than other everyday environmental exposures.

Secondary smoke is the mix of all of the smoke that enters the air in a room where someone is smoking, both the smoke exhaled by the smoker and the smoke coming off the tip of the cigarette. You’ve heard the claim that secondary smoke is twice as bad as what the smoker gets? In a way this is true: if you held your nose a quarter inch above the burning end of a cigarette and inhaled a slow deep breath through your nostrils you’d be getting a concentration of smoke and its chemicals twice as great as what the smoker is pulling into his or her mouth.

In the real world no one does that. Even the most hardened of smokers would generally be reduced to paroxysms of coughing from such concentrated inhalation. The secondary smoke that a nonsmoker comes in contact with is usually an extremely diluted mixture of exhaled smoke and the smoke produced directly from the cigarette’s tip.

Something that’s usually forgotten in the rush of concern about the nonsmoker is that the smoker is also breathing all the secondary smoke produced, and, given the closer proximity to the source, the smoker is inhaling it in far greater quantities and concentrations than most nonsmokers ever would! If the concerns about the dangers of secondary smoke were really true it would make perfect sense for a smoker with a smoking guest to insist that the guest go outside to smoke even if they were both smoking at the same time. Indeed, smokers would want to rush outside themselves out of fear of their own secondary smoke!

The exact chemical composition of secondary smoke depends largely upon how many seconds it’s been in the air. Just as happens in the case of most combustion products, the chemicals change and break down very quickly, and some elements will tend to settle toward the floor or deposit themselves on walls or curtains. In pursuit of some arguments Antismokers want to assume from the start that secondary smoke is carcinogenic: this is when they will claim that it’s chemically very similar to mainstream smoke. However, when they want to argue that comparing secondary smoke exposure to “cigarette equivalents” is unfair (This method generally produces very low measures of exposure… sometimes as low as six cigarettes per year even for bartenders), they will claim that it’s chemically very different than mainstream smoke and can’t be compared in that way!

No, I am not kidding… this is an example of the type of doublethink that I call the “Catch 22” argument later on. It’s very useful as an argumentation technique unless the opponent both notices it and has the time available to fully show how both sides of the street are being straddled by the shape-shifting opponent. The later chapter on Fallacious Argumentation looks at this verbal scamming tool in more detail.

In examining what risk there could be to a nonsmoker we need to develop and accept an estimate as to how much smoke a nonsmoker is likely to inhale when around one or more smokers. Rather than go into mathematical detail here, the supporting figures are presented in Appendix B. Those figures will show that, in most reasonably ventilated situations, whether a private home with one or two smokers, or a bar with dozens or hundreds of them, a nonsmoker will usually be exposed to the equivalent of about a thousandth of a cigarette or less per hour.

It could well be argued that anyone concerned at all about secondary smoke shouldn’t be in such a Free-Choice bar or restaurant to begin with, since there are many venues that have already banned smoking on their own; but Crusading activists generally insist that even if 95 out of 100 businesses are “smoke-free” that smokers should not have the right to keep those last five places to themselves and their friends. This is not in any sense an exaggeration or misrepresentation: Antismokers call it “leveling the playing field” and it has served as the basis for many legislated universal bans.

The need for such leveling arises because, despite Crusaders’ claims to the contrary, restaurants and bars that accommodate both smokers and nonsmokers almost invariably do better business than ones with total bans. Nonsmokers want an atmosphere that is comfortable, clean, and well ventilated: they are usually quite happy to accompany their smoking friends to establishments that meet those criteria while allowing those friends to smoke without being forced outside. The only exceptions to this rule occur when an establishment is truly one of the few in its geographic/economic niche that has such a ban: in that case there can often be enough of a specialty demand to make up for other losses.

To return to the chemistry of smoke, let us look at the 6 elements in tobacco smoke that IARC (The International Agency for Research on Cancer) classifies as Class A (Human) carcinogens. One of those is arsenic, which we looked at earlier. You’ll remember that you’d have to sit in a room with a smoker smoking 165,000 cigarettes to be exposed to as much arsenic as you would get from a large glass of water.

What about the other five carcinogens though? Are nonsmokers likely to be exposed to enough of those to have them correctly perceived as threats? While most of them occur in even smaller quantities than arsenic (naphthylamine, aminobi-phenyl, vinyl chloride and chromium average only about fifteen nanograms apiece), let’s look at the one with the largest quantity present so as to clearly make the case that is least favorable to our own argument. This is benzene: a human carcinogen that cigarettes produce in quantities not measured in picograms nor even in nanograms, but in micrograms, a unit that is one million times larger than a picogram, but still only one one-millionth of a single gram (1989 Report of the Surgeon General. p.87)

The average cigarette produces roughly 300 micrograms of benzene (1986 Report of the Surgeon General. p.130). If the estimates of smoke exposure for the average nonsmoker in Appendix B hold true, then such exposure would equal roughly three tenths of a microgram per hour of sharing a space with a reasonable number of smokers in a decently ventilated public indoor setting.

Benzene is normally found in fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, beverages, and eggs. The National Cancer Institute estimates that an individual may safely ingest up to 250 micrograms in their food per day, every single day of the year. Thus, the “safe” exposure to benzene from one day of a normal diet is roughly equal to the exposure experienced by a nonsmoker sharing an airspace with smokers for over 750 hours. Another way of looking at it would be to compare it to the normal work exposure of a waiter in a decently ventilated Free-Choice restaurant: the waiter would have to work there for four months to receive the equivalent benzene dosage ingested in one day of a “safe” diet.

In 1994, the Air Resources Board of California estimated that California vehicles emitted close to 50 million pounds (i.e. about 23 billion grams) of benzene per year into the atmosphere of California. At 300 micrograms per cigarette, it would take 70 trillion cigarettes to produce what California\'s vehicles produce in a single year. Try to imagine all the smokers of the entire world, with each and every one of them smoking well over two hundred cigarettes a day, and all crowded into California, and you’ll have a rough comparison to California’s normal vehicle emissions.

During the course of New York and Philadelphia City Council hearings on vastly enlarging existing smoking bans, Crusaders trotted out the claim that the recently enacted smoking bans in California had reduced the lung cancer rate there by 14%. The claim seemed impressive unless one realized several things. First of all, smoking related lung cancer generally has a time lag of between 20 and 40 years, while the total indoor bans in California were only in place about three years when the claims were being made. Secondly, California has led the country in the past thirty years in reducing vehicle emissions and correcting its air pollution problems. And thirdly, the age composition and immigration patterns for the state have changed enormously over the past few decades.

By picking one particular statistic however, and ignoring all the background variables, confounders, and other scientific factors, testifying Crusaders were able to mount a convincing and seemingly powerful argument to City Councilors in both cities. Of course they also helped their case by not mentioning that they got the figure from a study that ended two years before California’s universal smoking ban was enacted! (Master Plan For a Smoke-Free California: /documents/ TobaccoMasterPlan2003.pdf)

The other four human carcinogens in the smoke from a cigarette, all added together, equal less than a single microgram, thus contributing to an exposure for the average nonsmoker in a smoking environment of roughly one nanogram or one one-billionth of a gram per hour (1986 Report of the Surgeon General p. 130, 1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 87, and Appendix B). Such a level of contact would never be considered as a “risk” for any substance not associated with tobacco smoke.

It’s not just carcinogens that Antismokers worry about though. There’s now a push to put a label on packs that will warn folks that “cigarettes contain formaldehyde, used in preserving corpses.” Now isn’t that a pleasant thought? Of course the Crusaders never want to mention the amount of formaldehyde produced (less than one third of a single thousandth of a gram) or the fact that cooking a healthy vegetarian dinner at a gas stove puts roughly 100 times this amount into the air for your family to breathe (Huber et al. \"Smoke and Mirrors.\" Regulation 16:3:44. 1993).

The situation is the same for almost all the compounds in smoke that the Antismokers point their fingers at. Upon examining the amounts of the substances involved and checking the values of OSHA and EPA safe concentrations for them, you would find that you’d have to be locked up in a small unventilated bar with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of smokers before even approaching levels thought to be unsafe by actual government standards. Appendix B presents a number of examples in a well-formatted table. You’ll note that in the real world significant concentrations of any of the supposedly dangerous elements in secondary smoke would never actually occur.

A lot to take in, I know but very educational none the less.

Two. Christopher Snowden's Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

A unique case?

It is the summer of 2007. A humble council meeting in the Californian town of Belmont has attracted a degree of attention from the world's press to which this quiet suburban community is wholly unaccustomed. Extra security has been ordered after several councillors received death threats. On the internet, a photo of the mayor is being circulated with the image doctored to show her in full Nazi regalia.

Inside the town hall, local politicians debate a bill which, if passed, will ban smoking on every street, park and sidewalk in Belmont, as well as in all apartments and many private homes. Only detached houses will be exempt. Even nonsmokers face possible prosecution; it will be illegal for any citizen to fail to report an infringement to the police.

The debate is heated. The mayor, Coralin Feierbach, raises her voice and waves her arms as she makes her case:

"I'm thinking of the children, that's the most important thing. Not necessarily the restaurants, not necessarily the condos, but the children in the community."

Warming to her theme, she bangs her fist on the table three times as she shouts:

"Children! Children! Children!"(1)

This being California, it goes without saying that it is already illegal to smoke in offices, bars and restaurants. For years, the 'Golden State' has built a reputation for being tough on smoking but even ardent nonsmokers are beginning to wonder whether the anti-smoking campaign has crossed the line between protecting public health and intruding on personal freedom. "I don't know where the boundaries of a truly legally defensible ordinance are," concedes Councillor Dave Warden, a keen supporter of the bill, "I really believe that we're so close to the line that no one can really tell."(2)

As the press gathers in Belmont, the town's councillors are contemplating the most far-reaching anti-smoking law of modern times, but it will not be long before a more extreme ordinance is passed in some other part of the world and the media will move on. Smokers and civil libertarians will continue to complain of discrimination and the public health lobby will continue to devise new ways to stamp out the smoking habit.

None of this is new. The English Puritans who settled in Massachusetts and Connecticut banned smoking in the street in the 17th century. In Russia, Turkey, China and elsewhere smokers were punished with mutilation, torture and death. For five centuries tobacco was besieged on the basis of religious conviction, public morality, fire safety, racial superiority, political doctrine and often - but never exclusively - health. The fascists of Germany viewed smoking as a Communist habit just as the socialists regarded it as suspiciously bourgeois. For Christians, it was a pagan custom; for Muslims, it was a Christian invention. The anti-Semites associated it with the Jews, the teetotallers linked it to the drunks and the chaste linked it to the debauched. Wherever there was a popular cause, there were bands of anti-tobacconists ready to attach themselves to it.

Time and again the anti-smokers gathered momentum only to overreach themselves and tumble into obscurity. The political ideologies with which they allied themselves would fall out of favour, their charismatic leaders would die, their followers would come to be seen as cranks and the myriad diseases they blamed on the hated herb - infertility, blindness, hysteria, herpes and insanity, to name but a few - would be exposed as the products of fevered imaginations.

And then, in the mid-20th century, solid evidence finally surfaced which showed that the latest and most popular tobacco product - the cigarette - did indeed cause some serious diseases and all of a sudden the cranks and the moralists disappeared. No longer did anyone oppose tobacco because it led to drink or debauchery. No longer did anyone condemn it as irreligious. No one fretted about cigarettes causing fires and no one insisted - as they had only a few years earlier - that their consumption would infect the gene pool and wipe out the white race. For the first time since Columbus's first encounter with the weed, the zealots and fanatics of the anti-tobacco leagues simply vanished. In their place came a host of new organisations whose agenda was strikingly similar to that of the tobacco-haters of bygone days but whose members declared themselves to be motivated only by concern for the public health.

By now, however, the smoking public had grown used to ignoring the shrill voices that for generations had fed them tall tales about the devilish herb and so there was an urgent need to educate them about this genuine peril. It started with a warning label. In the 1960s, governments around the world ordered the tobacco industry to label each pack of their extraordinarily lucrative product with a cautionary note to its customers. Soon afterwards, the government brought the curtain down on televised cigarette commercials.

The industry complained that its right to free speech was being trampled on. In the United States, where the right to free expression was enshrined in the Constitution, they may have had a case but it was hard to deny that, as a legal product, cigarettes were unusually dangerous. American politicians remained reluctant to over-regulate business, curtail free speech or challenge the public's right to smoke, but they banned broadcast advertising all the same because cigarettes posed a "unique danger" which required unique policies.

Around the world, taxes on tobacco rose, the warnings became stronger, tobacco advertising was banned in all its forms and the number of places in which smokers could engage in their habit dwindled. Some complained that smokers were being persecuted by joyless puritans set on the outright criminalisation of tobacco. Others warned that the anti-smoking endeavour represented the thin end of a wedge that would ultimately lead to the state dictating what people ate, drank, how much they should exercise and what they should spend their money on. "Today it's cigarettes," announced one cigarette company in 1994, "Will high-fat foods be next?"(3) Such warnings fell on deaf ears, particularly when they came from the discredited tobacco industry. Those who warned that society was sliding down a slippery slope of government intrusion were accused of indulging in hyperbole bordering on paranoia. The cigarette, it was said again, was a unique case - a product that could kill when used as the manufacturer intended - and it was ludicrous to compare eating a steak or drinking a glass of wine with smoking a pack of cigarettes.

The educational campaign against smoking inspired millions of smokers to kick their habit but millions more persisted and, much to the surprise of the anti-smoking groups, millions more took up the habit in full knowledge of the hazards. For those who sought tobacco's destruction, the well of government measures that could be deployed to dissuade individuals from risking their own health was running dry and so a new theory emerged.

The evidence that tobacco smoke was still dangerous at vastly diluted levels in the form of secondhand smoke was scant but the idea was invaluable to those who wanted the anti-smoking campaign to shift up a few gears. With it, the hated, stinking smoke became a menace to all and could be prohibited as a threat to the lives of others. Smokers stubbornly continued to puff away in streets, doorways and in their homes but the end, it seemed, was nigh.

By the time the councillors of Belmont were debating the merits of banning smoking in people's own homes, the battlers for public health had long since expanded their horizons beyond cigarettes and were campaigning for legislation against products which were neither unique nor necessarily dangerous. This, too, began with a warning label. Today, the spokesmen and spokeswomen of the health organisations demand warnings be placed on wine bottles, food packaging, cars, gambling machines, aeroplanes, bottled water and large-sized clothes. Activists of all kinds wrestle with one another for the prize of having their cause seen as "the new smoking."

As before, the warnings serve to identify certain products and forms of behaviour as socially undesirable and, also as before, they are merely a prelude to fresh bans and further legislation. Advertising executives now accept that the days of promoting alcoholic drinks on television are numbered. Commercials for hamburgers, chips, cheese and full-fat milk have begun to disappear from the airwaves in Britain and elsewhere. Politicians are regularly advised to slap 'sin taxes' on food and drink, to issue their citizens with pedometers, to limit the number of drinks that can be served in bars, to deny medical treatment to the overweight, to compel restauranteurs to put warnings on their menus, to ban smokers from adopting children and to prohibit perfume, aftershave and other supposed 'toxins' in the workplace.

Are these pragmatic measures to protect the public health or unwarranted intrusions into private behaviour? Do these new laws represent the next logical step or the slippery slope? These are questions that have been asked for generations. We have been here many times before. To give but one example, the American temperance movement of the 19th century began by condemning heavy drinking and hard liquor. Temperance - as its name suggests - meant moderation, not abolition, but within a few decades the anti-saloon activists were calling for the complete criminalisation of the production and consumption of all forms of alcohol.

Prohibition was achieved in 1919 and one newspaper compared the ranks of victorious teetotallers to "a soldier of fortune after the peace is signed."(4) Suddenly redundant, but with no intention of disbanding, it took the moral crusaders only a matter of weeks before they had set their sights on banning tobacco and were rallying round the banner of 'Nicotine Next.' Seventy-five years later, the vice-president of the country's foremost anti-smoking group, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, was asked what she would do if tobacco should miraculously disappear. Her candid answer was that she would "simply move on to other causes."(5)

This is the story of just one cause, a cause that for many years seemed doomed but which ultimately set the template for the public health campaigns of the present-day. It is a story populated by characters who had little in common beyond a mutual hatred of tobacco, and it is a story that began long before any of the elements that colour our perception of the smoking issue today existed. When Columbus explored the New World there was no tobacco industry and no advertising industry. The link between smoking and cancer was unknown. There was no concept of passive smoking, let alone 'passive drinking' or 'secondhand obesity.' The battle against smoking began without any of this and yet it began all the same, almost from the moment the Spanish lit their first pipes, and it rarely let up in the five hundred years that followed.

As far as this country is concerned I ask only one question. When will the worm turn?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

How Labour in parliament work: Gillian Merron

This exchange in Westminster exhibits both the best and the worst of our elected representatives.

In answer to a friendly question by Ann Coffey (Labour, Stockport), the Minister of State, Gillian Merron (Labour, Lincoln) exhibits some incredible arrogance to a two-pronged spearing from more knowledgeable MPs.

Note the difference in tone, and attitude.

In response to Coffey.

My hon. Friend is a great champion for quitting smoking. I am delighted ... and I congratulate her ...

Compare and contrast the reply to Philip Davies (Conservative, Shipley), who cares about ALL his constituents (as he has shown before), not just some.

Davies: There is nothing to suggest that the ban on tobacco displays will reduce the number of young people taking up smoking; that ban is merely another triumph for the nanny state and for this Government, who are obsessed with headline-grabbing but pointless initiatives. Will the Minister reconsider this decision, given the negative impact that it will have on small shops, which are already struggling through the recession?

Merron: The simple answer is no, and the reason why is that removing tobacco displays is not going to close shops, no matter how much the hon. Gentleman and others in the House spread myths.

Myths? Such as a documented 23 shops closing every week in Ontario, and 12 in Quebec, due to the same unnecessary measure over the Atlantic, for example?

Then, fresh from the launch of, David Clelland, a fellow Labour MP, challenged her loose grasp of reality too.

Clelland: But if the display of tobacco products encourages young people to take up smoking, what influence do the crowds of people whom we see on the streets outside pubs and clubs have on young people? Would it not be better for these smokers to be hidden away—inside the building in a controlled environment, rather than on the streets, where children can see them?

He's got a point, you know.

Merron can't see it though. Unfortunately, she had her fingers in her ears and was singing la-la-la at the time.

Merron: My hon. Friend is, as always, very inventive in making his point.

Apparently, logic and common sense is now classed as 'inventive' by New Labour.

Could this be why no fucker in their right mind votes for them anymore? Just a thought.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Observations on the smoking ban by Frank Davis

I readily admit that I do not have a way with words nor am I a literate blogger but I do try to learn from more seasoned bloggers like Dick Puddlecote, Leg-iron or Old Holborn et al. So it was like a breath of fresh air that I happened across a fellow blogger, new to blogging in his own right. This erudite blogger is Frank Davis.

I feel no shame about reproducing his blog entry entitled Hanging on in Quiet Desperation as he has put into words what I couldn't when refering to this evil smoking ban.

Here is Frank's story:

Hanging on in Quiet Desperation

It wasn't that I encountered nobody who looked forward to the smoking ban. At one bar, when I asked if anyone was looking forward to it, the old man beside me said, "I am." He had, it emerged, been waiting for 60 years, ever since as a soldier he'd had to endure watching films in smoke-filled cinemas in North Africa. But when I left, I realised I'd neglected to ask on which side he'd been fighting.

Nobody at the River wanted a smoking ban. But nobody complained about it either. Most people seemed to see it as just another impending fact of life, just like any other fact of life. It was something to take in one's stride. Some saw it as an opportunity to give up smoking. The landlord of the River was one of these, loudly declaring that he was going to stop smoking when the ban came into force. Magnanimously, he was going to set up a large covered area outside for the smokers.

"It'll be no bother," another customer told me brightly. "You'll just nip outside for a quick fag now and then."

Others were not so sanguine. Some of the older people said they'd stop coming. As for me, I couldn't see myself enjoying any more afternoons of quiet contemplation inside the River, sans cigarettes. But I really didn't know how I'd feel about it.

In the months leading up to the ban, the River's landlord started gradually closing down the large smoking area, and shepherding the smokers into a smaller bar. Evicted from my familar seat, and with too few bar stools for the throng, I started taking my pint outside to a table by the river.

The day the ban came into force was rather unreal. Everyone was outside. And once inside, it felt like I was being watched, and the welcoming landlord and his staff had become law enforcers. The No Smoking signs plastered everywhere may as well have said No Smokers. I felt unwelcome.

"It's not a free country any more," someone said to me outside.

"There's nothing that can be done about it," said another. "Except to wonder what they'll do next."

They. They were the faceless powers to whom there was no appeal. They were the MPs to whom there was no point writing.

"There's no point. Nothing's going to change. They don't listen."

And I started to feel angry. Angry at the ban. But also angry that nobody was revolting. And angry that I was myself so docile.

But what could be done? I think that if it had just been that smokers who flouted the ban were liable to get a £50 fine slapped on them, more would have been encouraged to revolt. Some were certainly angry enough. But the law would also punish landlords in whose pubs smoking was discovered to be fined £2500. An individual smoker who dared to smoke inside would be making his landlord liable to a far heavier fine than he. It was a sort of collective punishment. A bit like punishing partisans by shooting entire villages. Only this wasn't Oradour, but England.

I never had another drink inside the River. On dry and windless or sunny days, I'd buy a pint and sit outside by the river, like one expelled or banished. My sense of being a member of a little pub community began to die. I no longer felt at home inside the pub. I no longer lingered to chat and pick up the local news. I no longer nodded to familiar faces. I'd buy my pint, and head straight outside. The once welcoming pub had become an unwelcoming place. And when winter set in, and it became too cold to sit outside, I ceased to go at all.

Months later I encountered one of the River's non-smoking regulars.

"We never see you at the River," he said. "Have you been away?"

"No. It's just that if I can't have a cigarette with my pint, I don't want to go."

"It's a bad law," he sighed. "They ought to change it. The bar's empty these days. A few nights back, when I went in, I was the only one there."

And I began to encounter strange denials of reality.

One day the following summer, I'd walked into the River, and ordered a pint, but the barrel needed changing, and the barmaid said, "Would you like me to bring it to your table?"

"And where am I sitting?" I enquired.

"Why, where you always sit," she said. "On the table in the corner."

"I haven't sat inside this pub for a year or more," I replied. "I always sit outside now. Had you not noticed?"

One afternoon I encountered some of the regulars sitting outside, and joined them in conversation. They were talking about the numbers of pubs that were closing. They listed five or six pubs that had closed.

"The smoking ban?" I suggested.

"Oh no, " they replied. "It's got nothing to do with that. It's the bad weather. And nobody's got any money. And there's the credit crunch."

I mentioned one pub that I knew was still open.

"That one's doing really well," they said.

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Because it's got a large covered smoking area."

The landlords I spoke to were uniformly upbeat, and strangely oblivious to what was happening in front of their noses. One afternoon I dropped into a little town pub which I knew quite well, and which would usually have had a dozen customers or more on its bar stools and its tables. It was completely empty.

"A bit empty today," I remarked to the landlady as she filled the half pint that I intended to gulp down before leaving.

"It's always been like this at this time of day," she said. "It fills up at night."

No, it's not always been like this, my lips would not say, as I felt for loose change in my pocket.

It was as if all concerned were in complete denial. The pub had always been empty like this, when it had not been. The smoking ban was not the cause of pub closures, but was the reason why some pubs thrived. And I had been sitting at my customary table for an entire year, when I had not been. It was always possible to pop outside for a quick drag, even when it was impossible.

All concerned had just bitten their lips, and tried to make the best of the new situation, about which nothing could be done anyway. The customers had kept soldiering on uncomplainingly, hanging on in quiet desperation. And because their customers weren't complaining, the pub landlords did not complain either. And because the landlords weren't complaining, the pubcos that ran them didn't know what was happening. And they put their catastrophic collapse of sales down to the weather, or the credit crunch, or the fact that nobody had any money. Anything but the smoking ban, which had been declared to be a great success.

When the landlady had said, "It's always been like this," I had bitten my lip and left the truth unsaid, just like everyone else in this strange conspiracy of silence. I had not wanted to shatter her illusions. I had not wanted to break the news to her that the army of non-smokers who were supposed to fill the pubs after the smoking ban were never going to arrive.

Outside the River, the landlord did indeed set up a covered smoking area. It was not large. It was a sort of tent, with seats inside sufficient for about four exiled souls. I never saw anybody sat inside it. A few months after it appeared, it abruptly vanished.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Pat Karney: Righteous idiot. And your taxes pay for him

Any citizen of Manchester will be well aware of the illiberal state-sponsored cock-gobbler, Pat Karney, but he is exceeding even his own high standards of self-righteous, priggish bigotry since a renowned artist suggested law-abiding citizens, enjoying a legal product, be part of a parade.

Coun Karney told the M.E.N.: "It's a family event and there's going to be thousands of children and young people there.

"Featuring smokers makes a mockery of the millions that has been spent on smoking cessation programmes."

No, Pat, what makes a mockery of the millions spent on smoking cessation programmes is the fact that no cessation of smoking has occurred as a result of your spunking taxes up the puritan wall.

Smoking ban fails to curb the habit: Figures reveal men are smoking MORE

The ban on smoking in public has failed to increase the number of people quitting, a report revealed yesterday.

The proportion of men who smoke has actually risen since the ban in July last year while there was no change at all among women.

The figures, coming after years of declining smoking rates, are a massive blow to Labour's public heath policy.

Manchester might be better served by a trained chimp rather than Karney. Remember that he is Director of 'Smokefree Manchester', who collude with other mutual bansturbators to spend 43 million fucking pounds of our taxes every year (and growing) on their pet prejudice.

He's not good at irony, either.

"There's no doubt that kids do see smoking everywhere and that it's a free society but to spend public money in this way would be a complete disgrace and bring shame on Manchester."

Kids do, indeed, see smoking everywhere. Never more so than after the smoking ban which Karney was abso-fucking-lutely ecstatic about.

So, Pat, you tedious helmet, let's get this straight. Your argument is that you wish kids to be shielded from the sight of people smoking ... yet you are fully behind a law which forcibly thrusts smokers into the gaze of minors, against their will? You also object to horrendous waste of public money, yet at the same time, piss it away like water on ill-conceived schemes which result in no benefit whatsoever?

You're a right card, you.

Just a thought, you hideous prick, but wouldn't it be better if you were consistent and advocated smoking pub-goers being kept inside for the sake of the chiiildren? That way, your stance against perfectly upstanding members of the public being paraded in this way might actually hold some water.

And if you truly object to public money being wasted, how about fitting Smokefree Manchester's cheque book with a common sense lock, only to be picked by people who are sensible and reasoned. People unlike yourself, for example.

Pat, just stick to what you do best ... like inviting the re-decorators in on behalf of your fellow Mancunians, cos you thought it was a good idea at the time.

Pat Karney is brought to you courtesy of the Labour Party.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Two non-smokers talk sense about the UK smoking ban: Sense or sensibility?

Is this what it has come to, where non smokers have to stick up for smokers? Do we smokers feel we are that low in the pecking order that we are below the animals that we love and adore?

Do we smokers get a say in this? After all we are 25% of the population, arn't we?

We smokers and landlords can weep all we want, we will not get our fair pubs back whilst we weep into our supermarket beers, sat at home smoking telling ourselves that the Smoking Ban Experiment has NO effect on us, what liars we are to ourselves, we are no better than ASH Et Al, we are liars to ourselves! Until we stand up and say NO FUCKING MORE, I am a human being worthy of respect...and if you think not the...well you can guess the rest!

I am no lamb, no saint but I realise when someone has 'done wrong' should fess up, as I have done, on many an occasion, but having a smoke? FFS, what kind of crime is this?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

To the NHS, you are merely a number

If you've visited your GP recently, you may have seen the NHS 'It's your choice' logo before. Please don't snigger at the irony.

Anyone who chooses to enjoy tobacco (and who doesn't lie to their doctor to avoid the rigmarole) will have endured, at some point, the lectures from their GP when visiting their practice for anything from an in-growing toe-nail to a broken tibia.

The problem is that, to the NHS, you are just a number.

PSA Targets (from the Department of Health Public Service Agreement, 2004):
• Reduce adult smoking rates to 21% or less by 2010 (currently on target nationally)
• Among routine and manual groups to 26% or less by 2010 (currently not on target nationally)

Ever eager to be the bully's best friend, the Lib Dems think we aren't being hectored enough.

The Liberal Democrats have called for an end to the smoking cessation element of the quality framework (QOF).

[Norman Lamb MP] described payment for telling patients to quit smoking as 'crazy'.

'There should be payments when people actually quit, and nothing less,' he insisted.

Really? Like these paid by Warwickshire PCT, for example?

GPs and Pharmacies are reimbursed for service delivery (inflation still to be applied for 09-10):

£10.50 for each client setting a quit date
£40 for each client still quit at 4-week follow-up
£10.50 for each client not quit at 4-week follow-up. No additional payment for those not followed up at 4 weeks.
Pharmacies only - £3 per supply of NRT

So, these paid-for stages, what happens in them then, I hear you ask.

Contact 1: Plan strategy for quitting, including assessment for drug therapy including carbon monoxide test, access to nicotine replacement therapy, Zyban® or Champix®

Contact 2: Possible quit date
Ensure access to NRT, Zyban® or Champix®. Carbon monoxide test

There seems to be a lot of reference to NRT and Champix there. Not much about willpower and Allen Carr, though (note 500+ reviews and a 5 star rating). I wonder why?

Could it be that other PCTs are like Warwickshire?

Joint working with Pfizer around targeting of clinics/drop-ins

Joint working with Pfizer to develop more effective recruitment campaigns in N&B, also targeting health professionals to refer more and more effectively.

If it surprised you to learn that your GP is being paid bonuses for giving you the third degree, perhaps it won't be as astounding to know that Pfizer profit from NRT in general, and are the sole supplier of Champix.

Of course, if you stand your ground and state categorically that you don't wish to quit, there is always the ultimate threat from the healthist lobby.

Well, the smoker prevalence simply MUST come down to that arbitrary 21% ... one way or another.

David Goerlitz on the corruption of tobacco control

David Goerlitz was the "Winston Man" for a tobacco brand in the USA before turning on his bosses and throwing his hand in with the anti tobacco lobby. He soon found out how these rabid zealots would stop at nothing to get their own way, and how! David Goerlitz could smell the hypocrisy more than any amount of second hand smoke.

Here Goerlitz talks to Christopher Snowdon, author of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist. Chris is also a member of Freedom To Choose.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

J'accuse: Parliament of Treason!

One old lady fights for us all.

Friday, 19 June 2009

On top of the world

Remember Henry Allingham, Europe's oldest man, whose birthday we celebrated earlier this month?

Henry Allingham puts the secret of his long life down to cigarettes, whisky, wild women and a healthy sense of humour.

Well, it seems the old carouser has just become the world's oldest man too.

Great War veteran Henry Allingham has become the world's oldest man following the death of the previous holder of the title in Japan, Guinness World Records said.

During his long life, Henry must have encountered a lot of righteous hectors amongst his peers ... and has outlived every last one of them.

Congrats, Henry.

£5bn? Peanuts!

The Croydonian puts a different slant on recent highly-publicised one-sided equations.

Number crunching tobacco tax revenue
From Lords Hansard:

Lord Laird To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they raised in tobacco-related taxes in 2006—07.

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Total tobacco duty received by the Exchequer in 2006-07 was £8,149 million and is published in the National Statistics Tobacco bulletin available (here).

So, £8.1 billion, or a rounded 1.4% of total central government spending. What does that pay for?

Operating costs of the Royal Navy, which I am not going to forego the opportunity to call the Senior Service - £7.6bn. I'm struggling to come up with other suitable puns for other areas of spending, which is a shame.

Or operating costs of the RAF - £7.6bn

Or Policing - £6.7bn plus most of border control - £1.46bn

Or DEFRA and the F&CO (Including Consulates, Embassies and Viceroys...) with £1.1bn left over.

And as Mark Wadsworth points out in the comments, it doesn't end there.

It's £8 billion and then some - don't forget the VAT and the PAYE/corporation tax that tobacco companies and retailers pay as well, so a conservative estimate it more like £12 billion, or possibly £16, to which you can add £12 billion for old-age pensions foregone due to earlier deaths.

The BBC omitted this side of the smoker balance sheet when reporting the British Heart Foundation's dodgy mathematics recently.

Smoking disease costs NHS £5bn

Compared with £24bn-£28bn income from smokers? Peanuts surely.

Perhaps the calculators, which the £4m that government paid the BHF last year to bash smokers might have helped buy, packed up.

It might be worth smokers remembering this before taking part in their annual London to Brighton bike ride. You wouldn't want to raise thousands for them, only for the money to be sloppily accounted for, and any injury you sustained during the ride being portrayed as a drain on the health service, now would you?

Analogically-speaking, of course.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Time gentlemen please: The demise of an English public house

As I run the office for Freedom To Choose I receive many letters from individuals and publicans alike, like Eileen Earnshow, an 82 year old retired BBC librarian forced out onto the cold streets surrounding her local library or Sue Hunter, licencee of the Nag's Head in Leeds who says, "four pubs around her are closing every week."

I am not the only one at F2C who hears from the public at the sharp end of this wretched smoking ban, my colleague Phil Johnson, (Pubs & Clubs liaison Officer for F2C,) relates this story told to him by a relative of the people concerned in the story below. These are real people and real events.

Over to you Phil:

In times gone by there was a thriving hub of the community-the local pub. No surprise there then! For years the pub serviced the needs of the rather large community surrounding the building, Thursday nights saw a steady trickle of newly paid workers, eager to regale each other of the weeks activities workwise-thus far. Fridays were normally a day of arduous toil for these hungover grafters.

Friday night was 'lift off' night as all habituees had been paid, drinks flowed, happiness reigned, cash tills rang constantly and 'Beryl' (identity protected) was oft seen to disappear upstairs to bury another £200 in the safe.

Saturdays was a similar story with the exception that 'Beryl would shut on time but still be open, if you see what I mean ;-) .

'Harold', 'Beryls' other half, was a mountain of a man with not a violent bone in his body but nobody messed with 'big H'. It was an unwritten law of the district, he had the total respect of the local community. Any sort of problems and Harold was the man to talk to, the font of all knowledge, a quiet but very intelligent man of the world.

As a busy community pub on the outskirts of a city it was not uncommon to be turning over £14K-£15K per week. The food side consisted merely of filled cobs & rolls at dinner times and the true benefactors of this very busy pub was the Chinese takeaway over the road. 'Beryl' was quite happy to allow her patrons the luxury of availing themselves of the outside seating to eat their foil wrapped meals whilst enjoying their beer as well. All in all a most convivial hostelry where the licensees knew the value of good customers.

The couple had run the pub for some 20 years, enjoying well deserved holidays abroad or here in Britain, always being welcomed home by their vast army of customers. Life was good. But then something happened that could not have been foreseen, something that ripped the very heart out of this social juggernaut of a hostelry.

The total workplace ban that engulfed the country on July 1st, 2007 made a mockery of this thriving business.

'Beryl', undaunted by this development simply moved the smokers into the back bar where there was always a door to the garden open-for easy escape one can only assume! It was quite noticeable that the front room was somewhat lacking in custom for the majority of the customers smoked.

All signage was prominently displayed as per the law, EHO's made appointments and checked that all was in compliance with this wonderful law, the law that promised millions of new customers to each and every hostelry in the land!

As summer turned to autumn and then to winter, Beryl & Harold saw turnover dropping like a stone in a pond. They decided to put on acts at night, pub quiz night was inaugerated & curry nights started (in a pub that had never bothered with food!). All this endeavour was to no avail. Takings still dropped. Worse was to come.

One of the few non smokers that used the pub informed the Environmental Health dept that smokers were still smoking in the back room of the pub and as an upstanding citizen of the land (and a non smoker!) this blatant lawbreaking must be stopped. The inevitable visits started, with the inevitable threats of pecuniary disembowelment via the courts-warnings were issued. They had no option but to stop the smokers using the back room.

Beryl became pale and drawn. Harold withdrew into himself, still a mountainous man but now terse, short tempered and not a man to be messed with in any way, shape or form.

Now, 15 months into the ban, the pub was struggling to turn over £2K per week; times were bleak but the non smoker who now enjoyed his dinner time ritual of 2 pints in splendid isolation at the bar considered his 'smoke free lot a happy lot'.

The stress became too much for Harold. He became very ill, visited the hospital for routine investigation and never returned having suffered a massive heart attack during the investigative process. Beryl was beside herself with grief and the brewery shut the now failed pub.

Beryl now lives on her own in a tiny council provided bungalow on whatever meagre benefits the state afford her. The pub now stands alone, graffiti adorned boards cover every window and doorway of this once thriving community pub. Redevelopment awaits this once proud monument of our social structure.

As for the hoardes of people who used this once proud establishment, well they have found a new game to play: it's called "garden hopping"!

The rules are very simple. Whoevers turn it is to host the weekend relaxations of drinking and smoking goes to the local ASDA and fills the car up with cheap booze. Many have already constucted drinking shelters (90% enclosed I might add) in their back gardens with tables, chairs and ashtrays in abundance. In fact a couple of them sport the ashtrays from the once vibrant hub of the community!

Every weekend they enjoy themselves the way they have always enjoyed themselves and will continue to enjoy themselves in the time honoured way of the working man.

The government may have changed the rules to suit the anti smoking brigade but what have they actually achieved in doing so? People have adapted to a different way of relaxing with pint & fag. People have shunned the pubs causing great distress to the pubco's-but so what! Had the pubco's had any balls in the first place they would have stood up for themselves against this so called healthism, the healthism that is set to save millions of lives yet certainly cost Harold his!

We had an establishment here that was turning over good money, week in, week out, yet it is now gone forever (as has Harold) just so that the big pharmaceuticals can make even more money on the back of the most carefully crafted piece of propaganda this country has ever witnessed.

The law cannot be proven to have saved one single life but the stress caused by this law has certainly caused a death!

The irony of this sad, but truthful tale, is that the ignorant non smoker is now complaining about his local pub being shut. The good news however, is that he has never been invited to any "garden hopping" events-nor ever will be. He is the new leper within the colony for he is shunned by all that surround him, so in a weird sort of way there is justice in this miserable control freak country of ours!

As told to Phil Johnson, Pubs&Clubs liaison officer for Freedom To Choose.

Earth to planet Arnott

Some are worried north of the border.

Cigs display ban ‘threat to small shops’

Dundee’s small newsagents and corner shops face the threat of closure under Government plans to ban tobacco displays, it was claimed today (writes Alan Wilson).

The Dundee and Angus branch of the Scottish Federation of Small Businesses say they have been approached by local shopkeepers, who fear the move could threaten the viability of their business.

Business experts are concerned.

Alan Mitchell, chief executive of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, said that, while the chamber had not been approached on the issue, any loss of income from cigarettes and tobacco would have an adverse effect on small businesses.

“Clearly it’s going to take some business away from small shops."

Meanwhile, on Planet Arnott.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health said, “All this survey shows is that the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, a tobacco industry-funded body, has managed to frighten small shopkeepers into thinking that putting tobacco out of sight will kill their businesses.

“Yet again the tobacco industry is crying wolf, just as it did with smoke free legislation, which it said would destroy our pubs.”

Yep, cos that didn't happen at all, did it?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Nutty Professor-Saint or Oracle?

Once again the humble smoker is accused of infanticide due to their insistance on lighting up in front of the kiddies, this time it's in your pride and joy, your car.

The President, of the Royal College of Paediatrics, Professor Terence Stephenson is widely reported on the BBC as saying:

Why on earth would you light up in your car whilst your children are sitting quite happily in the back?

On the assumption that you wouldn't pass the packet round and invite the kids to light up, why make them breathe tobacco smoke at all?

Well you wouldn't, would you? Instead make them sit in a tin box, with windows closed, and inhale that lovely coctail while you do the school run.

Diesel exhaust is more carcinogenic than cigarette smoke, but isn't regulated like smoking. Rather, our tax system encourages more diesel use in our cities. So where's the 'Quit' campaign against dirty diesel?

Of course you wont hear the good professor losing sleep over this, nor ASH et al:

Health effects of diesel exhaust

* Coughs and phlegm
* Lightheadedness, nausea
* Increased susceptibility to allergens like dust or pollen
* Irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs
* Inflammation of lungs, and increased asthma attacks
* Respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
* Lowered resistance to respiratory infection
* Macrophages overwhelmed by particles result in immune reactions that cause inflammation and 'sticky' blood, increasing risk of clots and both heart and lung disease
* Mutations in chromosomes and damage to DNA
* For people exposed chronically to 1µg/m3 of diesel exhaust, a rate of lung cancer in the range of 34 to 650 people per million
* Possible cause of multiple chemical sensitisation, leading to changes in red and white blood cells, bleeding, liver damage, and degeneration of the nervous system.

There are two things about diesel exhaust that affect our health: one is the particles and their size; the other is what the particles are made of. Particles are made whenever something is burned – whether wood, petrol, tobacco, gas or diesel. Diesel is popular for fuel economy, but the size, number and composition of the particles in its exhaust make it more toxic than other fuels.

Burning diesel creates fine particles of oily carbon, ash, sulphates, and sulphuric acid that are ejected out the exhaust pipe and into the air. Diesel exhaust is thickest when the engine is old, working hard, or badly tuned, and the fuel has impurities.

While only 10 per cent of cars and trucks run on diesel, they're responsible for around 80 per cent of fine particles from vehicles. Along with road grit, bits of brake lining, tyre rubber, and exhaust from other fuels, they form mostly invisible dust storms in the concrete canyons and suburban savannas of our cities.

The high hazard zone for health is considered to be 150 metres either side of busy roads – particularly within 50 metres. Depending on the number of vehicles trailing plumes of particles in their wake, levels here can be two, three, up to 10 times higher than the usual city background – which is already unhealthily high.

As particle concentrations in the air rise, so do death rates, from a variety of causes. And the impacts add up over a lifetime. At greatest risk are children, with their developing lungs; the elderly, on top of a lifetime of exposure; and people with emphysema, asthma, and chronic heart and lung disease.

Now hear the man say his piece, for the sake of the kiddies of course.

Just a thought, could the fact that the good professor has just been appointed the new head of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health have something to do with his machinations, well...a professor has to get his name up in lights somehow and smoking + children is a guaranteed light flicker to Joe Public, or am I just being a cynical old codger?

Update: Kids ‘at higher risk from traffic pollution particles than previously thought’ TBY

Monday, 15 June 2009

Things you don't often see

Following on from Botswana7's post yesterday, there seems to be a marked difference between football authorities and those entrusted with safeguarding cricket (and many other sports come to that).

Football treats people as children. Cricket (and other sports) assume their customers have a brain.

One might argue that football fans have brought some measures upon themselves. For example, at rugby and cricket, one can enjoy a beer alongside unsegregated fans and there will never be a problem. Those who watch football must be forbidden to drink within sight of the playing area due to past indiscretions.

It may be chicken and egg, but do the football authorities not realise that by allowing their customers more privileges, they might engender a modicum of self-determination and personal responsibility amongst those who choose to attend?

Smokers are prohibited from smoking, not only in the seats at football grounds, but also anywhere within the stadium. In most stadia, there is no option for going outside as re-admittance is not permitted.

The sign above is prevalent all around the concourse at The Oval. It announces that all cricket fans are welcome, and accepts that all have differing needs/wishes during their matchday experience. Smoking is not allowed in the seats, but the ground regulations booklet that accompanies all despatched tickets explains the reasoning in a calm and generous manner.

Smokers don't ask for the world on a stick, just a bit of respect. Cricket offers that in spades, football doesn't.


They have used Flannel, they have not replied, they are stalling for time they are doing everything they can to avoid telling you that it is perfectly legal to smoke on open public ground.

They are not sure who owns public open space, they are sure they know, they know that they know but are undecided because they will not admit it is perfectly legal to smoke on open public grounds.

Aidan Kehoe of the grandly named Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospital trust freely admits that smokefree legislation does not extend to hospital grounds but he is stretching every sinew and adding the spin to stop you smoking on grounds that you own.

Today we bring you a movie clip, even Aidan gets a mention in "Blackpool Trust Goes Bollywood".

Click on the image to view or follow the link at:-

Happy smoking and send a link to your friends especially if they work for Blackpool NHS trust.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Taxpayers pay for the NHS, but administrators 'own' the premises

If you pay national insurance contributions, you might want to read the document below.

Blackpool NHS
As you can see, Blackpool Fylde and Wyre NHS trust are well aware that banning smoking on their grounds is entirely unenforceable by law. They admit that smoking in the open air is legal and that there are no plans by government to change that.

Instead, they have taken to enforcing their own made-up laws on the basis that taxpayers are NOT entitled to set foot on property for which they have paid handsomely.

They threaten legal action if their self-important, righteous rules are contravened. And the reason that they feel this is justified should stagger anyone who has ever believed that the NHS are a service, that we are the ones who pay them for that service, and that therefore we should have some say in the matter.

This is because as the legal owner/occupier of the hospital site the Trust is allowed to impose conditions on the use of its premises.

The legal owners are not those who pay for it, according to the NHS.

They take our money, at pain of fines and imprisonment, and then say that those premises are not legally ours. Instead, an unelected body of administrators have installed themselves as legal 'owners' and are dictating what can or cannot be allowed on property which has been built, maintained, staffed, and equipped with our taxes.

They then go further and state that treatment will be withdrawn from those who disobey.

A patient who refuses to stop smoking outside can be advised that they could be asked to leave the hospital; this would be carried out in accordance with the Trust’s policy on withholding/withdrawing treatment from difficult patients.

See, you thought that by paying national insurance contributions, you were entitled to healthcare. After all, Gordon Brown is always saying that the NHS is free to everyone at the point of delivery.

But you were wrong, it seems. The premises your taxes pay for are not property of the taxpayer, and the treatment you have paid towards for all of your life can be withdrawn on the whim of NHS bureaucrats, without any law saying that what you were doing is illegal.

This is just one of the many ridiculous, wriggling replies that NHS trusts up and down the country have been coming out with to justify making illegal what is perfectly legal under law laid down by government.

It was always assumed that by paying NI contributions (along with those paid by your employer), you were entitled to avail yourself of free healthcare when you need it. Not so. According to this document, your local NHS trust can wipe out your years of contributions and the entitlement which that should entail, for whatever reason they deem fit.

No-one voted these people in, yet they are making up laws that go beyond the ones from parliament. We pay their wages yet they ignore us when we don't like what they are doing. We pay for treatment yet they, unelected, have decreed themselves able to deny us what we have paid for. They revel in spreading vile hatred on national radio too.

If you ever thought that you, the taxpayer, had rights in this country. Think again.

Saturday, 13 June 2009


A few weeks ago Chelsea fans were left scratching their heads after their team were robbed of a place in the Champions league final, by the Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.

The old Shed enders were aggrieved, shouting, swearing but in the face of adversity failed to even spark up a Mayfair light or even a pre rolled old Holborn, the invisible referee was at work.

Referee Tom Ovrebo had denied them victory but who were the invisible referees who had red carded their smoking pleasure, a few clues to start from the football league.

  • Walsall FC stand is sponsored by NHS Txt 6446 are they going to let you smoke and upset their sponsors, like f*u* are they.

  • Oh and NHS Walsall sponsor Walsall shirts are they going to let you smoke and upset their sponsors, bo*lo*ks are they.

  • Preston North End has a stand two-thirds of the stand’s interior is for the use by Preston NHS PCT, are they going to let you smoke and upset the PCT my a*s* will they.

Before reading on lets remind ourselves the stands at the vast majority of Stadiums are not 50 % enclosed and therefore smoking is perfectly within the law, so there are other forces are at work.

  • Quite interestingly the Chairman of the football Leagues working party, Tim Davies of Leicester City seems to be lacking in mathematical skills.Out of a survey of 43,000 football league fans only 50% wanted a total outright ban , yet Tim Davies proudly announced that fans around the country were clearly in favour of going smoke free, since when was 50% a clear mandate for any policy.

  • And interestingly nearly 80% of smoking and non smoking fans in the survey were quite happy with some form of smoke free policy ie separate smoking and non smoking areas or a compromise.

You are probably following the plot, you pay your NI contributions, the government gives it to the NHS, they spend your money on football related projects, football clubs do not want to upset their NHS backers so a*se holes to you. No smoking they have delivered a yellow card.

You have waited patiently who is chief referee delivering the red card in the football league its none other than Nicotinell who are official Nicotine replacement Therapy of the football league.

It gives a whole new meaning to playing on your own patch so go support your local non league team.


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