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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Nudge Nudge…

…without the Wink Wink.


We did think, now didn’t we, that the Tories would sweep away 14 years of Labour social engineering? Now we are finding out differently. When it comes to our health and our lifestyle choices the Tories, and Cameron in particular, they have found new buzzwords…Nudge Economics. No, I’d never heard of it ether.
What is the big idea of Richard Thaler, the economist quoted by David Cameron and Barack Obama? It comes down to this: you're not as smart as you think. Humans, he believes, are less rational and more influenced by peer pressure and suggestion than governments and economists reckon.
You don’t have to go far in the UK to find Nudge Economics being put into practice as the coalition are going back on their word on plain packaging of tobacco products and are also going down the route of minimum pricing and tax rises on alcohol to Nudge us “get off your face on strong beer” plebs into drinking the low alcohol stuff. And no, I don’t drink beer stronger than 5%.
Plain packaging of cigarettes:
Tobacco companies could be forced to sell cigarettes in grey or brown plain packaging in an attempt to deter youngsters from taking up smoking.
Ministers are considering switching all brand packs to a standard colour so brightly coloured packages will not lure prospective smokers from a young age.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said colourful packs are widely accepted as the last form of marketing available for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers.
Minimum pricing called for by NICE:
A minimum price for a unit of alcohol should be introduced to help tackle the rise in problem drinking in Britain, says NICE.
One in 4 men and women are currently drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol that are causing, or have the potential to cause, physical and mental damage.
The number of alcohol-related deaths has more than doubled in the past 16 years, with over 8,000 people dying of conditions such as alcohol poisoning and liver cirrhosis every year.
NICE believes that introducing a minimum price for alcohol alongside other measures that make it harder to buy alcohol, like reducing the number of outlets selling alcohol in a given area or the days and hours that it can be purchased, will help to save thousands of lives each year.
Taxing higher strength beers:
The tax on high-strength beer will rise next year, as part of a drive to tackle alcohol abuse which will also see cuts to the duty levied on weak beer.
The new rates for beer containing more than 7.5 per cent alcohol and less than 2.8 per cent alcohol will be set out in the Budget on March 23.
More of a shove than a nudge I'd say.

On Radio4’s The Moral Maze last Wednesday Christopher Snowdon, author of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist and The Spirit Level Delusion, talked about plain packaging as a guest on the show. The show also had columnist James Delingpole amongst others who enlightened the listener with their thoughts on Nudge Economics and is well worth a listen in it’s entirety. Here is a recording of The Moral Maze from Wednesday the 24th of November 2010.

As an aside there is an interesting debate taking place between Christopher Snowdon, Rich White, author of Smoke Screens: The Truth About Tobacco and Frank Davis, blogger extraordinaire.

The debate is called CATCH and the question for debate is “does active smoking cause lung cancer?” The link to Frank’s blog is CATCH 3 but you can scroll down to CATCH 1.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Painters Arms, Drighlington, Bradford.

A post by Phil Johnson, Chairman, Freedom2Choose.

The once proud home of Ray & Jill McHale who successfully ran this lovely little pub for 5 happy years, followed by 3 years of smoke ban misery-which finally forced them out of business.


Ray & Jill refused to accept that the smoking ban was right for it intervened in their own business, forced them to lose business and forced confrontations with the local council EHO’s.

One Saturday Ray informed them (EHO’s) that he told the locals that smoking was illegal within the confines of the pub but refused to go any further than that as neither he nor his wife could bear to watch the elderly & infirm struggle outside in the cold, wet weather to enjoy that which is perfectly legal-a cigarette!

However after 2 years of trying to prosecute the McHale’s and failing to be able to do so, the council finally built a case against them for smoking in their own pub! Even (and just how low can you get) their own customer/s reported them for doing such, which I find absolutely disgusting - but such is the sewer mentality of some anti smokers. Congratulations to them for they have not only ensured the financial boot being well and truly stuck in they have lost a damned fine watering hole!

Enterprise Inns finally ‘pulled the plug’ on the pub as being non-viable, so Ray & Jill were forced to leave their job, their life and their home behind and walk away virtually penniless-after 8 years of hard work.
To add to their burden Ray appeared in court a few days ago and came out with financial penalties of just over £5,000-no job, no prospects & no hope! Can you see the similarity between Ray McHale & Nick Hogan beginning to appear? The council claimed a ridiculous amount in costs-£4,540 immediately awarded. They are supposed to pay at £x per month but now being jobless & homeless, this looks a tall order. Nick Hogan could not pay because all he ‘earned’ each week was ‘job-seekers’ allowance-a state benefit!

These people have fought this law with all they have got and will continue to fight it until choice & fairness wins the day but they need our help, your help as Nick Hogan did. We do not need another landlord imprisoned because he no longer has the means to pay fines/penalties imposed upon him by the very system that took his means of earnings away from him. We need to raise half as much as we did for Nick Hogan earlier this year and , despite Christmas being just around the corner, please think of what sort of Christmas this poor couple are going to endure thanks to their local council being hell bent on revenge. Smokers Justice already has the facility for a regular small monthly donation to help fight injustices, as we did on behalf of our elderly pensioner v Sandwell Council – they soon backed down when faced with the absurdity of the situation!

Smokers Justice has already set up a PayPal account for your kind donations. Nick had to suffer the ignominy of imprisonment before blogosphere got to work to free him-please do not let this happen to Ray & Jill McHale. They face a bleak enough yuletide as it is but with our help we can make it at least enjoyable.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Just leave me alone! Another one bites the dust.

Justice, yeah right!

I pine for this blog when I have some respite from my carer duties, so whenever I can I read those blogs I have a fondness for, and any news items that pertains to the smoking ban whenever I can. Today is such an occasion where I play catch-up. As usual the news was not good and the first smack in the face, news wise, was the humiliation of my friends, husband and wife landlords, the McHales who ran the Painters Arms in Drighlington, Yorkshire. I wrote recently here that they were giving up their beloved pub because of many factors, of which the smoking ban played a big big part.
Jill & RayjpgIn the car park of the Painters Arms. Next to Ray is Godfrey Bloom MEP and next to Jill is Nick Hogan, my friend who has suffered at the hands of the smoking Nazis mentality.
I have good memories of my visits to the Painters, which took me and Mrs Yin an hour and a half's journey by train, not counting the bus ride to the train and from the train at the other end, for which you can add on another hour, but it was well worth it to listen to my friends and guest speakers, speakers like Godfrey Bloom MEP (UKIP,) Nick Hogan, who later became spokesperson for UKIP on the hospitality trade, and Nick’s friend and mentor, Hamish Howitt, to name but a few.

Our ‘local’ meetings were an eye opener and our hosts where at odds with their Pubco bosses (they had the sign above, about Freedom of Choice and smoking, hanging on their frontage before we made it a meeting place and they where “asked” to take it down.)

When we made our meeting place at the Painters we were struck by the fact that we could smoke and chat without fear but we were well aware that we would be the least persons to pay the price of that dissent towards the smoking ban experiment, we were well aware that the publican would bear the brunt of this dissent and we went to some ridiculous attempts to not reveal the location nor the publicans involved while chatting on the F2C forum.

The Painters was visibly split into two sections and the landlords, Ray & Jill, designated them to smoking and non smoking sections, and you could not physically smell smoke coming from one section to the other, even when us “unrepentant smokers” descended upon their premises. It’s not impossible of course (and I’m not even mentioning air extraction, which most pubs have, if not all )but you would need to have the nose of a sniffer dog at Heathrow airport, looking for illicit drugs stuck up your arse, to find any tobacco smoke or tobacco substances in the air that might, just might, flow your anti smoking way.

As for the “dangers” of second, third hand and, when they find a way to tout it, fourth hand smoke, well, I will treat it with the contempt it deserves!

Jill & Ray ran an orderly pub, they knew there customers well and how to best serve (handle) them, they separated the wheat from the chaff, the smoker from the non smoker, the belligerent from the pacifist and the enquirer from the shit stirrer! In short they ran a pub that I want to see around my area, not a plastic shell of a non human pub!!!

But genuine people like Jill and Ray must be stamped out with the most sternest of Jackboots and nothing is forgotten in the smoker wars:
A landlord and landlady were today counting the cost of letting customers smoke at their West Yorkshire pub.
Ray and Gillian McHale were each fined £350 and ordered to pay a combined £4,540 in costs after pleading guilty at Leeds Magistrates' Court to repeated breaches of the law on lighting up in enclosed public places.

The offences occurred while the couple were running the Painters Arms on Bradford Road in Drighlington.
In this country that I was born into, no matter that I am Scottish, I thought of it as an upholder of democracy, the cradle of truth and the common man? I am just as shocked as you, dear readers, to find out that this is not so. I used to be anti business in my younger days when I thought that business was against the common man until I met the likes of Jill and Ray, hard working people that were dealt a cruel hand due to vested interests.

You see I equated hard work with physical graft, and that’s not to say that running a pub is an easy option to physical graft, as any landlord/lady will testify.

One of my friends who was at every meeting we held was Judith Morris, a business women of note who founded York Tutors, has got up a fund to pay off Jill and Ray’s fines. Judith, a cheque is on it’s way to you at 33 Moorland Road, York YO10 4HF.

Meanwhile the hatred of smokers goes on as the anti smoker gets more and more puerile publicity without question and their hatred knows no bounds:
"I will successfully kill someone who
smokes. I encourage any non-smokers who are reading this to go out and kick the shit out of smokers.” (Pat Nurse’s blog.)
Yeah, say that to my face you mother******!

As ever, Dick Puddlecote sees through the flim flam of tobacco control and the (anti smokers) fruitless attempts to denormalise the smoker and get shitheads, like the MOFU above, to further denigrate people who indulge in a legal pastime.

I will not be made to feel guilty for my smoking, end of! Just leave me alone!


You just know you MUST fight!

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Dutch courage. Wiel Maessen

Dutch Reflections

Again I cannot heap enough praise on the Dutch for attacking their smoking ban with a zeal and gusto that puts us Brits to shame. It has shown us Brits to be complete namby-pamby’s when faced with adversity of such magnitude!

Wiel Maessen & 250 cohorts clubbed together to the tune of 250 euro’s apiece to form a fighting fund-a fighting fund to take their own government on!

Similarly our near 60,000 pubs did ....err, nothing, nothing at all. Weil spoke for nearly 2,000 small bar owners who steadfastly left their ashtrays on their tables and risked financial penalties.

Unlike the Dutch our licensees bent over backwards to comply with the new law, due, to a great extent, to the dire financial penalties handed out by the courts to those who fancied taking the ban on! It was obvious from the onset that our Judiciary had bent to the will of the Health Lobby as guilty licensees were slapped with ridiculous fines and costs to stamp out recalcitrance from other would be flouters. It was obvious that the judiciary had unwittingly found a new cash cow to supplement the system. Indeed, Liverpool were the first major city to gleefully announce that they had relieved naughty smokers of more than £100,000 in smoke entrapment offences. Now who in their right mind could be gleeful about such a situation that was hurting people’s pockets and the welfare of our country. Tales of great admiration/ respect and pleasure with the ban have been reported not only in the press but in parliament to boot!

It was also obvious very early on that the immense financial power of the Health Lobby (fully backed by Big Pharma et al) came into play with incessant block advertising on TV, Radio and all readable media; ie, the press. I don’t think we have seen so much propaganda on any subject since Hitler, as we’ve seen for the smoke ban! We have certainly never seen such an all-out attempt of nationwide brainwashing!

Prosecutions took a strange turn as well, for people who didn’t even smoke ignitable cigarettes were prosecuted. Now you may well ask how this could possibly be for we are reputed to have the fairest legal system in the world. Alas, no more it would seem. With very few exceptions, any accused person hauled before the court’s has suffered badly at the hands of the now biased judiciary. Councils, now having the power to claim their ‘expenses’ suddenly seem to have encompassed the costliest legal teams in the country-for the simplest of cases!

Another complete difference between our two countries is the pub/bar ‘set up’ for over in Holland many small bars are single person businesses. Yes, they may be family run enterprises but there is only need for one person to be on duty at any one time whereas here we have a completely different culture.

Even pre-ban there were very few actual pubs that could be classed as ‘one-man-bands’ therefore the Dutch approach would never work here. However, were every pub allowed to have 753q ft of smoker space, if they wanted such, I am totally convinced a sudden upsurge in pub finances would occur!

The point here though is that we still have/had enough small ‘freehouses’ to get together and make a serious impact for reform. But yet again the good old British spirit was lacking as 99.99% simply sat back and tried to feather their own nest sufficiently to survive.

Tenanted pubs and managed pubs were of a totally different faction altogether! Even if the licensees did want to fight this unjust law they couldn’t (publicly) because their owners/bosses had already committed to the smoke free proposals!(Which totally restricts their own freedom of choice). In other words for fear of losing a few pubs the multi’s have lost more than they imagined! The brilliant strategy used, by a warped government of little truth, totally hoodwinked businessmen of many years standing. The ridiculous promise of millions of new drinkers was swallowed hook, line & sinker by ever greedy pubco bosses. What was it that convinced them that, suddenly, non drinking, non smokers were going to immediately start drinking and replenish the regular faces at the bars? Did the lifelong non drinker suddenly, at the government’s whim, become a regular drinker! Did Punch & Enterprise etc really think that share prices would rise with less drinkers drinking? Were they really that stupid as to ignore the requirements of 68% of their regular core business? Do they seriously think that their beloved ‘tied system’ can exist in a world that has seen riches reduced to breadlines, pounds to pennies &regular earnings to pittances? They have cut their own throats simply by failing to think of their best customers first.

 Wiel Maessen

Where can this lead, who knows? We are already faced with 6,500 closures; more are imminent. Do we stay as we are and watch even more of our heritage die before us or do we unite and make a stand against that which is wrong? Not only is this law wrong for it treads all over human rights, civil liberties their business to the best of their ability! This law is also wrong insomuch that we now know the whole sorry bagful is the result of lies, manipulated statistics, fabrications & junk science-most of it tailored by ASH!

They say that the British people will only get off their backsides and fight when they are hungry-well they must be getting pretty hungry by now!

Freedom2choose have always supported unity as have our allies Justice for Licensees.

Together we are growing stronger by the day but we need all smaller groups to unite with us. We must show unanimity in strength for the time has come for those who care to fight back and reclaim our rights

The Dutch have shown the way forward, let us, at last, follow in their footsteps!


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