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Anti-prohibition news from over the world

Collected live from our allies' blogs.
Note: All opinions expressed below are those of the authors only, not necessarily TICAP's.
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Foto: Pixabay/Anestiev/CC0/

Die umfassenden, diskriminierenden Rauchverbotsgesetze der Bundesländer plagen uns nun schon seit über einem Jahrzehnt. Seitdem in NRW 2013 aber die Daumenschrauben angezogen worden waren (totales Rauchverbot für Gastronomie und Freizeiteinrichtungen, Spielplätze etc.), sind wir von nennenswerten Verschärfungen verschont geblieben. In keinem Bundesland gab es Vorstöße (oder zumindest keine chancenreichen), den Tabakgenuss noch weiter an Ketten zu legen. In der Landespolitik sind Vernünftigere offenbar zur Einsicht gelangt, dass es ihnen an der Wahlurne nichts bringt, noch mehr Unruhe in der Gesellschaft zu stiften, nur um die Agenda von WHO, Pharmakonzernen und Antiraucher-Fanatikern zu erfüllen. Daran hatte auch Netzwerk Rauchen seinen Anteil, u.a. durch die Beteiligung an den Protesten in NRW (Demos usw.).', `date`='2019-05-03 21:49:42', `rssid`=8

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INSERT INTO `rssdata` SET `link`='https://www.netzwerk-rauchen.de/component/content/article/1-aktuelle-nachrichten/995-dieselfahrer-sind-die-neuen-raucher.html', `title`='Dieselfahrer sind die neuen Raucher',`description`='Lungenärzte inkonsequent Nicht nur das Tabakrauchen ist eine zivilisatorische Errungenschaft, sondern auch der Autoverkehr. Da nimmt es nicht Wunder, dass ihre Feinde teils dieselben sind: Antimoderne Volkserzieher wie die Grünen. Hysterisches Motto: „Wir werden alle vergiftet“. Nach sogenannten Umweltzonen rücken nun, wen wundert’s, Dieselfahrverbote in die Städte. Selbstverständlich mit EU-Regulierung begründet, das kennen wir von der Lifestyle-Bevormundung zu Genüge. Mal wieder über die Brüsseler Bande gespielt.
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Tabakbesteuerung Stellung nehmen. Sogar auf Deutsch, das war in der Vergangenheit nicht immer so. Noch bis zum 3. September.


', `date`='2018-08-22 21:33:20', `rssid`=8

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Es ist wieder „World No Tobacco Day“ (Weltnichtrauchertag), und die Massenmedien haben mal wieder nichts Besseres zu tun, als kostenlose Antiraucherpropaganda im Sinne von Staaten und Pharmakonzernen zu verbreiten. Das diesjährige Motto in Deutschland lautet: „Pass auf, an wen du dein Herz verlierst!\" Damit man seine Freiheit nicht die Tabakkontrolle verliert, sollte man sich deren Botschaften nicht zu Herzen nehmen.


', `date`='2018-05-31 12:27:16', `rssid`=8

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INSERT INTO `rssdata` SET `link`='https://www.netzwerk-rauchen.de/component/content/article/1-aktuelle-nachrichten/991-neues-im-spendenshop.html', `title`='Neues im Spendenshop',`description`=' Mousepad, Kaffeebecher, Leinenbeutel Im Netzwerk-Rauchen-Spendenshop sind neue Produkte bestellbar!


Nach dem neuen Schockbilder-Album und dem Flussblick-Poster können Spender nun Kaffeebecher, Beutel und Mousepads erhalten. Als Dankeschön für eine kleine Spende in unterschiedlicher Höhe gibt es Kaffeebecher aus Keramik mit zwei unterschiedlichen Slogans, eine schöne Unterlage für die Computermaus oder auch Tragebeutel, nicht nur für Hipster.', `date`='2018-03-30 18:55:28', `rssid`=8

Data too long for column 'link' at row 1
INSERT INTO `rssdata` SET `link`='https://www.netzwerk-rauchen.de/component/content/article/1-aktuelle-nachrichten/990-internationaler-blog-gestartet.html', `title`='Internationaler Blog gestartet',`description`='Netzwerk Rauchen betreibt SmokingBANditsDer Kampf um den Tabakgenuss wird global geführt. Deshalb hat Netzwerk Rauchen jetzt SmokingBANdits eröffnet, einen internationalen mehrsprachigen Autoren-Blog. Das kleine Wortspiel im Blognamen bezieht sich auf Rauchverbote, aber auch andere Maßnahmen der Tabakbekämpfung wie Steuerexzesse und Ekelbilder finden weltweit Verbreitung. Das Projekt zielt daher darauf ab, den internationalen Informationsfluss zum Thema zu verbessern und einen Austausch zu ermöglichen. „Wir wissen zu wenig über die Verhältnisse im Ausland, umgekehrt verhält es sich genauso“, sagt Michael Löb, Bundesvorsitzender des Netzwerk Rauchen, „das soll sich ändern.“

', `date`='2018-03-23 20:21:29', `rssid`=8

Data too long for column 'link' at row 1
INSERT INTO `rssdata` SET `link`='https://www.netzwerk-rauchen.de/component/content/article/1-aktuelle-nachrichten/989-friedhelm-adolfs-verstorben.html', `title`='Friedhelm Adolfs verstorben',`description`='Netzwerk Rauchen trauert um aufrechten MitstreiterEin „Kult-Raucher“, Deutschlands nach Helmut Schmidt „zweitbekanntester“ oder zuletzt „‚bekanntester Raucher‘“ lebt nicht mehr. Friedhelm Adolfs starb am Montag im Alter von 79 Jahren in Düsseldorf nach einem Herzstillstand. Er war 2013 zum „gerichtsbekannten Raucher“ avanciert, als seine Vermieterin ihn aus der Wohnung klagen wollte. Angeblich habe sein Rauchen andere Mieter belästigt, vermutlich ging es der Eigentümerin wohl darum, die Wohnung teurer gewerblich vermieten zu können.


', `date`='2017-12-21 22:20:13', `rssid`=8

Data too long for column 'link' at row 1
INSERT INTO `rssdata` SET `link`='https://www.netzwerk-rauchen.de/component/content/article/1-aktuelle-nachrichten/988-bescherung-im-spendenshop.html', `title`='Bescherung im Spendenshop',`description`=' Zwei weitere Produkte als Dankeschön Im Netzwerk-Rauchen-Spendenshop gibt es nicht nur seit Kurzem den zweiten Ekelbilder-Sammelband. Pünktlich zur Weihnachtszeit können Sie nun zwei weitere Produkte als Dank für eine kleine Spende erhalten.

Das Poster Flussblick macht sich gut an der Wand. Das Bild zeigt ein Freizeitgelände, auf dem alles erlaubt ist – außer Rauchen, Radfahren, Grillen, Fußballspielen, Skaten, Hunden, Dicken, Essen, Trinken ... Noch ein buntes Werk, aber immer mehr auch graue Realität.', `date`='2017-11-29 22:34:39', `rssid`=8

Data too long for column 'link' at row 1
INSERT INTO `rssdata` SET `link`='https://www.netzwerk-rauchen.de/component/content/article/1-aktuelle-nachrichten/986-neues-album-fuer-schockbilder.html', `title`='Neues Album für Schockbilder',`description`=' Der Schachtelteufel 2 ist fertig, der Nachfolger des erfolgreichen ersten Sammelalbums für Ekelbilder. Die Tabakproduktrichtlinie 2 beglückt uns bekanntlich mit gleich drei Staffeln der kranken Phantasie von EU-Bürokraten entsprungenen „Zigarettensammelbildchen“. Seit Mitte 2017 ist die zweite Garnitur im Umlauf, wieder für ein Jahr. Auch diesmal gilt es, ein Set von 14 verschiedenen Bildern zu ergattern, um das Album zu füllen. Erhältlich ist der Schachtelteufel 2 als Dankeschön für eine kleine Spende von 3 Euro an Netzwerk Rauchen in unserem Spendenshop.

 ', `date`='2017-11-11 22:29:31', `rssid`=8

Data too long for column 'link' at row 1
INSERT INTO `rssdata` SET `link`='https://www.netzwerk-rauchen.de/component/content/article/1-aktuelle-nachrichten/985-ekelbilder-im-wahlkampf.html', `title`='Ekelbilder im Wahlkampf',`description`=' Vor zehn Jahren schon hatte das Netzwerk Rauchen als „Ekelbilder der Woche“ die Antlitze der CDU-Politikerin Dagmar Schimpanski und des SPD-Bundestagsabgeordneten Karl Lauterbach präsentiert. Beide hatten damals Schockbilder auf Tabakpackungen verlangt. Mittlerweile ist der feuchte Traum der Volksbevormunder leider wahr geworden.


', `date`='2017-09-22 20:14:51', `rssid`=8

Optimist Leavers And Pessimist Remainers

Published on 2019-05-19 09:58:50.
Website: Frank Davis


With the EU election days away, I still haven’t received my polling card. Has anyone else got one? I’ve at least found out where the polling stations are. Via Raedwald: In a world where international players dominate economic and geopolitical … Continue reading →

Full article

No Faith In The Law

Published on 2019-05-18 11:09:05.
Website: Frank Davis


Following on from yesterday, I’m reminded that I have very little faith in the law. I have very little faith in lawyers and judges and courts and legislatures. After all, smoking bans are an example of law in action. And … Continue reading →

Full article

Justice In The End

Published on 2019-05-17 10:18:44.
Website: Frank Davis


In a comment this morning under the recent thread about the late Beulah Toombs, evicted from her HUD apartment for smoking in it, Audrey Silk wrote: Third, the logic in preferring to support one affected individual rather than supporting something … Continue reading →

Full article

Hello unintended consequences, my old friend

Published on 2019-05-16 16:27:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Last October, Australia's Northern Territory introduced minimum pricing for alcohol because - according to one 'public health' academic - "evidence shows this works to reduce harm". This measure came on top of the Banned Drinker Register which was introduced in September 2017 and forbids certain individuals from buying alcohol.

Imagine my surprise when I heard that these policies have had perverse consequences which require yet more government action...

Full article

Fake news about inequality

Published on 2019-05-16 12:51:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Imagine if a sports journalist regularly described Sergio Agüero as a Manchester United player and insisted that West Bromwich Albion won the Premier League this season.

Imagine a political correspondent routinely referring to the Liberal Democrats as the ruling party and claiming that the Chancellor was Michael Fabricant.

They wouldn't last very long. Readers and editors take a dim view of hacks who make basic mistakes with easily verifiable information. But when it comes to economic statistics that can be checked in a few seconds, standards are slacker. As a result, the British public have been told for over a decade that income inequality, relative poverty and child poverty are rising (or even 'soaring') when they are not.

Full article

Brazenly Drinking Beer and Smoking Cigarettes

Published on 2019-05-16 10:13:04.
Website: Frank Davis


Continuing on the theme of yesterday’s post, it occurs to me that if Nigel Farage’s beer and cigarettes are what make many people love him, they could equally be what make many people loathe him. After all, if you don’t … Continue reading →

Full article

Junk science + junk reporting = a lie

Published on 2019-05-15 17:19:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


This is truly atrocious reporting from the Daily Mail...

Smoking among children has plummeted by 35% since cigarettes were banned from till points and almost nine in 10 say smoking seems ‘unacceptable’
This claim is based on a study in the low quality journal Tobacco Control conducted by our old friends Gerard Hastings, Linda Bauld, Crawford Moodie and others. It doesn't look at smoking rates at all. It looks at 'smoking susceptibility' which is defined as 'the absence of a firm decision not to smoke'.

Full article

A Smoky Drinky Politician

Published on 2019-05-15 10:07:43.
Website: Frank Davis


This is remarkable for a brand new political party: In a poll conducted by ITV’s Good Morning Britain shared to Express.co.uk, it revealed a third of the nation plans to vote for the Brexit Party in next weeks European parliament … Continue reading →

Full article

Last Orders with Brendan O'Neill

Published on 2019-05-14 09:00:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


There's a new Last Orders podcast out with Brendan O'Neill and me in the UK and Tom Slater down the line from the USA. Plenty to talk about, as always...

Why is TFL spending thousands to censor its own advertising? What’s driving Michael Gove’s plastic politics? Has the war on vaping gone too far? spiked editor Brendan O’Neill joins Chris Snowdon and Tom Slater to discuss all this and more on the latest episode of Last Orders, our nanny-state podcast. Check it out

Full article

Is premature death from heart disease on the rise?

Published on 2019-05-13 10:04:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


As societies become healthier, people are more likely to die from heart disease. If you avoid other causes of death, eventually your heart will pack up. This explains the apparent paradox of smokers being less likely to die of heart disease than nonsmokers.

But whilst you might expect more heart disease deaths overall, you'd expect premature deaths from heart disease to decline.

According to an unreferenced press release from the British Heart Foundation today, that is no longer happening in Britain. The BBC reported is as follows...

Full article

The cronyism of the sockpuppet state

Published on 2019-05-10 11:44:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



The Economic and Social Research Council is funded to the tune of £212 million by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In 2017, it announced the creation of the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP), a £50 million project aimed at developing ‘robust new knowledge which contributes to demonstrable changes in policy and practice’ by ‘working closely with policy makers'.

Full article

The thirdhand smoke gravy train

Published on 2019-05-09 09:35:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


You shouldn't
Now that the ISIS caliphate has fallen, California has regained the number one spot as the place that is more opposed to the Enlightenment than anywhere else in the world. Like ISIS, Beverly Hills is banning the sale of tobacco and has an insanely draconian smoking ban...

Full article

Liberal politician says something liberal, BBC shocked

Published on 2019-05-08 09:53:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


From the BBC...

Norway's newly appointed health minister has caused controversy by saying people should be allowed to eat, smoke and drink "as much as they want".
How depressing that a simple assertion of liberalism should be seen as ‘controversial’, at least to the BBC. She’s a breath of fresh air. More politicians like this, please.

Sylvi Listhaug also said smokers were made to feel like pariahs.
This is inarguable. It is the inevitable consequence of ‘denormalisation’.

Full article

The Scottish sockpuppet racket

Published on 2019-05-07 11:02:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Whenever the SNP proposes new restrictions on the food supply, you can rely on Obesity Action Scotland to (a) applaud it, and (b) call for the government to go further.

When the SNP took an interest in restricting price discounts on so-called 'junk food', Lorraine Tulloch, Obesity Action Scotland's programme lead, told the BBC that they should press ahead:

"We are calling for Scottish government to tackle these price promotions in their forthcoming diet and obesity strategy."

Full article

Forbes interview: the war on alcohol

Published on 2019-05-05 09:27:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I did an interview with Forbes' Joseph Micallef recently which went online this weekend. We discussed the growing war on alcohol and the emerging 'no safe level' narrative.

Fill yer boots.


Full article

Childhood obesity - what actually works?

Published on 2019-05-02 10:40:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The European Congress on Obesity came to an end yesterday after managing to get at least 19 unpublished studies into the news. One hell of media operation.

To be fair, most of them were quite interesting and not as blatantly policy-oriented as usual. I look forward to them being published properly. Two of them particularly stood out.

First, there's this one...

Full article

Wine for Normal People

Published on 2019-05-01 08:41:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I was on the popular, US-based Wine For Normal People podcast recently. We mostly talked about the attempts by the neo-temperance lobby to dismiss the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption and exaggerate the cancer risks in order to treat alcohol like tobacco.

You might enjoy it. Full article

The Nanny State of the Nation

Published on 2019-04-30 08:24:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



The 2019 edition of the Nanny State Index was published today. You can visit the website and download the full 84 page publication.

The Index, which I compile, is the most detailed record of over-regulation in the fields of alcohol, e-cigarettes, food, soft drinks and tobacco in the EU. It uses nearly a thousand pieces of data from 35 categories to produce a score out of 100 for each member state.

Full article

Moving the goalposts for minimum pricing

Published on 2019-04-29 10:36:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Scotland's public health minister, Joe Fitzpatrick, has written about minimum pricing as its first anniversary approaches...


A year after Scotland made history we are a healthier country

The headline is untrue - or, at least, unproven - but, to be fair, he doesn't actually say that. He says:

A year on, minimum pricing is setting a new benchmark in creating the healthier and fairer Scotland we all want to see.
Which doesn't mean very much.

Full article

In denial about childhood 'obesity'

Published on 2019-04-28 09:49:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



The European Congress on Obesity kicks off today. It traditionally produces plenty of media-friendly stories based on unpublished research and eccentric opinions. Last year, for example, one of the speakers recommended that fat people be allowed to start work later than everybody else. It also produces a reliable stream of unreliable obesity forecasts.

Full article

There is no childhood obesity epidemic

Published on 2019-04-25 10:21:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist




There is a heartwarming video on Youtube of Jamie Oliver showing a group of children how chicken nuggets are made in an attempt to deter them from eating them. He blends up a gruesome mix of bones, skin and offal, slaps some flour on it and sticks it in the pan. ‘Now,’ he says triumphantly, ‘who would still eat this?’

The look of disappointment on Oliver’s face when every hand goes up is one of the finest images ever shown on television. It never fails to cheer me up.



After watching it for the umpteenth time, I noticed something. None of the children appears to be obese. In fact, it is difficult to spot many obese kids in any of Oliver’s series involving children. Jamie’s School Dinners was filmed at the height of the childhood obesity ‘epidemic’ and yet there was little sign of it in the cafeteria. Fat kids were also surprisingly rare in Jamie’s Return to School Dinners and Jamie’s Dream School. There were one or two, of course – as there always has been – but at a glance there were far fewer pudgy hands, chubby faces and double chins than one would expect in a country where a third of secondary school children are said to be overweight or obese (supposedly rising to 40 per cent in London).

You may have noticed the same thing if you drop your children off at the school gates or flick through the school news in your local paper. You may even be one of the bemused parents up and down the country who receives a letter from school informing you that your seemingly healthy child is borderline obese.

And yet, one in ten kids are classified as obese when they start primary school and one in five are 'obese' by the time they start secondary school. According to the latest figures, 23 per cent of 11-15 year olds are obese. And that’s before we add those who are merely overweight.

These are shocking statistics and we are reminded about them at every opportunity. Organisations like Public Health England repeat the claim that ‘more than a third of children [are] leaving primary school overweight or obese’ like a mantra whenever they have a new anti-obesity wheeze to push. So where are they all?

You can’t see them because most of them do not exist. They are a statistical invention. The childhood obesity figures in Britain are simply not worth the paper they are printed on. The childhood obesity rate is much lower than 23 per cent. Let me explain.

Obesity in adults is easy enough to measure. Body Mass Index (BMI) is weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in metres. A BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese. In theory, the cut-off of 30 is used because this is roughly the point at which being fat increases the risk of premature death, but it also happens to be a round number. A BMI of 25 or more makes you overweight, but this isn’t really based on anything. It is purely a round number.

There are well known problems with BMI, not least the fact that it does not distinguish between muscle weight and fat weight. It is excess body fat that we are interested in and this is best diagnosed by clinical examination, but when that is not possible (as when estimating figures for an entire nation), the BMI system correctly identifies obesity around 80 per cent of time.

But it doesn’t work with children. Kids are not shaped like adults, do not have the same fat/muscle ratio and are growing. They rarely have a BMI over 30. An obese child can easily have a BMI of less than 25. Moreover, obese girls have different BMIs than obese boys.

To make up for this, clinicians use a chart like the one below which gives bespoke, age-specific and gender-specific BMI cut-offs for children. For example, at the age of six and a half, boys are considered obese if their BMI exceeds 20.2. By the time the boy is eleven, the cut-off has risen to 25.1.


To see how these cut-offs are derived, we need to look at the work of Professor Tim Cole and his colleagues. In 1995, they published a much-cited study upon which the chart above is based. They studied the BMIs of children at different ages and divided them into percentiles. This allowed clinicians to compare the BMI of their patient to that of their peers. For example, if a girl’s BMI was at the 90th percentile, only ten per cent of her peers had a higher BMI while 90 per cent of her peers had a lower BMI.

The data used by Cole et al. were taken from between 1978 and 1990, before the rise in childhood obesity got underway and gave us a reference point from which future changes in obesity could be measured. For example, if obese 11 year old boys in 1990 had a BMI of 26 and were in the 99th (top) percentile, the obesity rate was one per cent in 1990. To update the statistics, we only need to measure today’s 11 year old boys and see how many of them would have been in the 99th percentile in 1990. If four per cent of them have a BMI over 26, they would have been in the 99th percentile and the obesity rate is four per cent.

This system made it possible to estimate child obesity rates nationwide without clinicians having to examine anybody. Detailed figures have been collected by the UK government since 1995 and all the child obesity estimates published by the NHS and Office for National Statistics are based on Cole’s reference curves from 1990.

It seems relatively straightforward. The problem is that we don’t really know how many children were obese in 1990. Cole’s solution was to infer the rate of child obesity from the rate of obesity among young adults. Common sense dictates that the child obesity and adult obesity figures should ‘link up’, which is to say that both systems should produce similar estimates for young adults. Something would be wrong if 17 year olds had an obesity rate of eight per cent while 18 year olds had a rate of one per cent, especially since BMI tends to rise with age.

Cole et al. noticed that the 20 years olds in 1990 who had a BMI of 29 (and were therefore nearly obese) appeared at the 98th percentile, which is to say that the rate of obesity was a little under two per cent. They also noticed that the 20 year olds in the 99.6th percentile (the top 0.4 per cent) had BMIs of at least 32.8. They therefore concluded that:

‘These centiles seem to be reasonable definitions of child obesity and superobesity respectively.’
They came to a similar conclusion when they published further research in 2000. Looking at BMIs in Britain between 1978 and 1993 (‘predating the recent increase in prevalence of obesity’), they found that obese 18 year olds were at the 99th percentile. In other words, only one per cent of people who had recently become adults were obese by the usual adult definition.

They found similarly low rates of obesity for 18 year olds in the Brazil and Singapore over the same time period. The Netherlands had an even lower rate of 0.3 per cent but the USA had a much higher rate of 3.3 per cent for men and 4 per cent for women.

Taken together, this suggested that the obesity rate among young British adults circa 1990 was less than two per cent and that a realistic cut-off point for childhood obesity was somewhere around the 99th percentile. In a later study, Cole and Lobstein concluded that ‘the obesity cut-off is well above the 98th centile’. It was nevertheless decided to use the 98th percentile, perhaps to err on the side of caution. Whatever the reason it was always likely to exaggerate the scale of child obesity.

Clinicians use the 98th percentile and it is the 98th percentile that is shown in the chart shown above. And yet when we measure child obesity nationally, the government uses the 95th percentile.

Why? There is no justification for it in the scientific literature other than that it is 'the convention'. Cole himself says that the methodology is ‘all built on sand.'

The most likely explanation for dropping the cut-off to the 95th percentile – if we exclude the possibility that it was deliberately intended to exaggerate the size of the problem – is that the USA did it first and we copied them. By the end of the 1990s, the USA had started using the 95th percentile as the cut-off for ‘overweight’, with the 85th percentile used to define ‘at risk of overweight’ – terms that would later be changed to ‘obese’ and ‘overweight’. This was not wholly unreasonable. The rise of obesity in America began earlier than it did in Britain and rates of obesity have always been higher. It is likely that around five per cent of American children were at least overweight, if not obese, by the end of the 1980s and would therefore have been above the 95th percentile.

But Britain is not America. Cole’s figures showed that the obesity rate among 18 year olds in Britain was much lower than it was in the USA – at one per cent – and while he recognised the need for a cut-off, he asked the obvious question:


Full article

Transport for London spends £1000s making its own ads compliant with the 'junk food' ban

Published on 2019-04-24 09:09:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Last month Farmdrop, a woke farmer's market on wheels, had an advert rejecting by Transport for London because it included butter, bacon and other 'junk food'.

If you thought this was the most absurd manifestation of the inherent puritanism of Sadiq Khan's policy, you were wrong. A few weeks ago, I sent TfL a Freedom of Information request, asking them to provide details and costs of any work undertaken to make their own adverts compliant with the new rules.

TfL's adverts only promote public transport but they still have to comply. The documents I received are remarkable. To cut a long story short, they spent more than £16,000 doctoring perfectly inoffensive advertisements to remove any trace of 'unhealthy food'. You can't put a price on totally ineffective anti-obesity policies!

Full article

Worms addicted to mango flavoured poison (plus nicotiiiiiiiiiine)

Published on 2019-04-22 23:27:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



Whenever you think the USA's anti-vaping fanatics have reached their limits, they find new depths to plumb. This, from the ironically named and state-funded "Truth Initiative", is something else.

I am lost for words. Just watch the video.

Because they contain heavy metals and residual nicotine, e-cigarettes/pods can qualify as both e-waste and biohazard waste. Definitely not something to toss on the ground, but people do and it’s “sending Earth to hell in a pod-shaped coffin." https://t.co/mMyvBrPv6Q #EarthDay pic.twitter.com/BT4O7e6yAL— Truth Initiative (@truthinitiative) April 22, 2019

Full article

Campaigners push for the most extreme version of bottle deposit scheme

Published on 2019-04-18 10:46:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


It seems that the campaign for a bottle deposit scheme has already reached the reductio ad tobacco stage...

Supermarkets have been warned they will be demonised alongside tobacco and oil firms if they fail to back a deposit and return scheme for plastic drinks bottles and cans.

The Marine Conservation Society, backed by Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden, says only a fully comprehensive scheme covering all sizes of plastic drinks bottle, as well as cans and glass bottles, will tackle waste, litter and pollution.

Full article

Lawsuit Against Juul/Altria Alleging Fraudulent Misinformation Provides Fraudulent Misinformation

Published on 2019-04-17 13:43:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco and Alcohol News Analysis and Commentary


Parents of a Florida teenager who became addicted to Juul have sued Juul, Altria, and Philip Morris USA based on a number of claims, including fraud, negligence, and violation of the RICO statute (the compliant is here). Dr. Stan Glantz and Lauren Lempert provide a nice summary of the reasoning behind the lawsuit and the specific claims being made. The case was filed on Monday in the federal district court for the middle district of Florida.

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A load of old rubbish

Published on 2019-04-15 09:29:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I want to talk to you about bottle deposit schemes.

No, come back. It's more interesting than it sounds. Michael Gove wants us to take our empties to one of 34,000 reverse-vending machines because it will help save the turtles or something. It's not going to save any turtles and it is a fantastically expensive way of achieving very little.

Still, it sounds like a nice idea and so it will probably happen. It seems to have worked quite well in some other countries so there seems no reason not to adopt it in the UK. This is faulty reasoning. The deposit scheme is a classic example of a feel-good policy that fails basic economic analysis.

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Minimum pricing - a brief overview

Published on 2019-04-13 10:36:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I've written an introduction to minimum pricing for Freer.

If a minimum price of 50p is ‘evidence-based’, then what would a minimum price of 60p or 70p be? The Sheffield model suggests that a 70p unit price would be more effective in reducing alcohol-related harm than a 50p unit price. Presumably, a £3 unit price would ‘work’ even better, but nobody is seriously calling for it. Why? Because it would increase the cost of living and make drinking unaffordable for many people. But so does a 50p unit, and it is easy to detect of element of snobbery here. It is deemed acceptable to increase the cost of living for people who tend to buy cheap alcohol, but not for those who can afford more expensive brands. MUP targets off licence beer while leaving the price of champagne untouched. 

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Have the health benefits of drinking been disproved?

Published on 2019-04-10 12:22:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



A study in the Lancet got a lot of media attention last week because it purported to disprove the health benefits of moderate drinking. No single study can do that, of course, but that's how it was reported. It was accompanied by an astonishing editorial calling for readers to 'Unite for a Framework Convention on Alcohol Control' next to the 'no smoking/drinking' image shown above. No slippery slope, eh?

In short, the study looks at a Chinese population and argues that the J-Curve showing lower levels of stroke risk for moderate drinkers is an artifact of genetic differences. Two genotypes - ALDH2-rs671 and ADH1B-rs1229984 - are identified as suspects. The problem is that the former 'is mainly absent among Europeans but is prevalent in populations in East Asia' and the latter 'is found in 19 to 91% of East-Asians and 10 to 70% of West-Asians, but at rates ranging from zero to 10% in other populations'. Since most of the evidence for the J-Curve comes from western countries, it is not at all obvious that this explanation would hold up outside of Asia.

I was in Belgrade for LibertyCon when the study was published and didn't have time to look at it in detail. In any case, I don't pretend to be an expert on Mendelian randomisation, which is what the findings rely on, and its authors aren't likely to win any awards from the Plain English Campaign.  

So here instead is the view of Christopher Oakley who has kindly written a guest post... 


It is clear to anyone who has being paying attention to the shenanigans of the public health industry that the new Holy Grail for this pseudoscience is finding “proof positive” that the protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption are a myth. This is crucial to the more extreme elements that sadly dominate the discourse because, in their minds, it removes the last barrier to treating the alcohol industry as they have the tobacco industry and “denormalising” drinkers the way they have smokers.
Most of the attempts to do this have been exposed as pseudoscientific window dressing for puritanical agendas but last week’s effort involved some real science for once.

A study performed in China looked at people with genetic variants that reduce alcohol consumption. There are two genes involved so nine possible combinations of genotypes with a range of effects from making drinking alcohol very uncomfortable indeed to not having much effect at all. By looking at these groups it is possible to study incidence of stroke and heart disease relative to genotype and therefore ability to consume alcohol. Not a bad idea as it cuts out the reliance on what people say they drink and other confounders that make many epidemiological assertions equivalent to claiming to have split the atom with a bread knife.

The normal process for revealing a novel technique or discovery in science is to rigorously test prior to publishing in the most prestigious journal possible, defend it in peer review, modify if needs be and eventually, perhaps inform the wider public. But public health isn’t science. It has agendas and rushes to publicise anything that supports them, often avoiding prestigious focussed journals by publishing in medical journals with low standards but high media profiles.

So, unfortunately the world was made aware of this novel approach courtesy of uncritical journalism based on a press release issued by The Lancet that begins:

The Lancet: Moderate alcohol consumption does not protect against stroke, study shows
Blood pressure and stroke risk increase steadily with increasing alcohol intake, and previous claims that 1-2 alcoholic drinks a day might protect against stroke are dismissed by new evidence from a genetic study involving 160,000 adults.
Dismissed is a strong word in academia that should have given the journalists a further clue that this was a less then impartial perspective. An even bigger clue comes in the penultimate paragraph, which reads:

Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Tai-Hing Lam and Dr Au Yeung, from the University of Hong Kong

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New Study Finds Vaping is Not Associated with Cardiovascular Disease among Never Smokers; But Tobacco Control Researcher Dismisses Findings

Published on 2019-04-09 23:35:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco and Alcohol News Analysis and Commentary


A new study published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Medicine reports that there is no association between vaping and cardiovascular disease among never smokers.

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Minimum pricing still failing

Published on 2019-04-09 12:25:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



Minimum pricing was supposed to reduce alcohol sales in Scotland by 3.5 per cent in its first year. Politicians and campaigners left us in no doubt that it would reduce consumption. Alas, with nine months of sales data now available, the previously reported increase has been confirmed...

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Freedom is slavery

Published on 2019-04-05 07:58:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The latest hot take from the neo-prohibitionists... 

Smoking is slavery and against human rights, activists say
Smoking is a form of slavery and is completely incompatible with widely recognised human rights, activists against smoking have said.
I beg your pardon?

They also criticised the so-called novel tobacco products for muddying the waters with the claims of being “much less harmful”
 Er, OK. And who are these imbeciles?

“I am absolutely convinced that smoking is slavery and it goes against the human right for life and health

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Don't just sit there and let Hong Kong ban vaping

Published on 2019-04-04 07:49:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


In February, the government of Hong Kong announced the prohibition of e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco products. As CNN reports...

Under the sweeping draft law, which begins its path through the legislature on February 20, anyone who imports, makes, sells or promotes new smoking products could face six months in jail or a HK$50,000 ($6,370) fine.
Imagine jailing people for helping someone give up smoking. Imagine thinking that prohibition works. This is an incredibly stupid and harmful idea. I'm particularly annoyed by it because I would like to visit Hong Kong one day.

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