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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.

The government's obesity app

Published on 2021-10-25 13:35:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The government is going to start trialling a new obesity app in January. Taxpayers are going to be forced to pay people to eat vegetables and go for a walk. I'm against this, as I explain in the Spectator...

There is a good chance that the HeadsUp app will be another government IT disaster and will never be heard of again after the trial ends next summer, but it should never have been given the green light in the first place. Not only is it Orwellian for the state to track your footsteps and monitor your shopping and eating habits, it will create a two-tier society in which those who follow the often dubious advice from public health authorities will be subsidised by those who do not (or indeed cannot). Ludicrously, Health Secretary Sajid Javid is portraying this scheme as part of the ‘levelling up agenda’.

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What most people think

Published on 2021-10-22 10:31:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I really enjoyed talking to the comedian Geoff Norcott on Wednesday about Covid centrism, First Defence, cigarettes and more. Have a listen to the podcast here.

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Child obesity experiment fails spectacularly

Published on 2021-10-21 09:55:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The 'public health' lobby is keen on the 'whole systems approach' to obesity. This is not to be confused with the equally useless 'whole population approach'. The latter involves using blunt policy tools to get everybody to reduce their consumption of salt, alcohol, sugar or whatever whereas the whole systems approach has never been properly defined but involves the whole of society working to reduce obesity in some way.
As I have said before...
The strategy of throwing any old policy into the mix in the hope that some of them will work is known euphemistically in 'public health' as the 'whole systems approach'. It is often illustrated with meaningless graphics and is anti-scientific, illiberal nonsense. Essentially, it gives activists a licence to do whatever they want regardless of the consequences.

At best, this scatter-gun approach can involve various teachers, social workers, charities and 'public health' professionals working face-to-face with people to help them have a healthy diet and control their weight. The one and only success story is Amsterdam where child obesity supposedly fell (a bit) after a whole systems approach was introduced. In practice, it's all too expensive and time-consuming for most governments and 'public health' groups to get behind, but it putatively shows that the government can do something about obesity.

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The public health lobby wants to introduce a ‘meat tax’. Don’t bet against it

Published on 2021-10-19 13:03:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Marco Springmann is in the pages of the Guardian again calling for a meat tax so here's what I wrote about him and his ideas the first time around.

First published by Spectator Health in November 2018

Once you accept that the modern ‘public health’ movement is just the latest incarnation of the puritanism that waxes and wanes throughout history, it is easy to predict its next target. If you further assume – and who can now deny it? – that nanny state campaigners follow a blueprint laid down by the anti-smoking lobby, it becomes easy to guess not only their future targets but also their methods.

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Minimum pricing isn't working

Published on 2021-10-18 15:20:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Promises, promises

More evidence from the minimum pricing evaluation has been published and it seems that the policy has failed to achieve one of its main aims. The infamous Sheffield model predicted that a 50p minimum price would lead to 3,500 fewer crimes in the first year. 

Charlie Peters has the details...

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Published on 2021-10-15 09:27:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

In my City AM column today, I start with Richard Doll's research into smoking before discussing vaccine efficacy and our current obsession with the number of Covid deaths. The common denominator is denominators.

In the late 1940s, Austin Bradford Hill and Richard Doll began interviewing hundreds of hospital patients, half of whom had lung cancer while the other half had various other diseases. Their research, published in 1950, showed that 99.7 per cent of the male lung cancer patients had a history of smoking. Out of 649 patients, only two were nonsmokers. In retrospect, it seems amazing that no one had spotted the link between smoking and lung cancer before, but it is less surprising when you consider that 94.8 per cent of the men who were not in hospital with lung cancer also had a history of smoking. 

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A swift half with Tim Stanley

Published on 2021-10-14 10:32:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

My guest in the latest episode of The Swift Half is the author and columnist Tim Stanley. He has a new book out about tradition and we discussed the principles of conservatism.

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Alcohol-related deaths fall by 23% (sort of)

Published on 2021-10-07 10:29:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The Office for Health Promotion has got off to a flying start by announcing a 23% fall in alcohol-related deaths in England. This was achieved by changing the methodology behind the estimate and it was a piece of work carried out by Public Health England, but I'll take it. 

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Living in an overregulated, overtaxed, brainwashed prison camp

Published on 2021-10-05 14:59:12.
Website: Frank Davis

Delingpole: Oh the contrast with the overregulated, overtaxed, brainwashed prison camp of mostly compliant sheep and grim apparatchiks to which I am now unhappily returned. Boris Johnson’s United Kingdom is much, much closer politically, socially and economically to Tito’s Yugoslavia … Continue reading →

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Anti-alcohol cranks call for academic censorship

Published on 2021-10-04 07:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The psychologist Mark Petticrew has got it into his head that the rather dull health information charity DrinkAware is covertly promoting binge-drinking and drinking while pregnant while also downplaying the risks of alcohol. He has been banging this drum for four years now, producing several studies based on cherry-picking and misrepresentation. Most recently, he resorted to trawling through DrinkAware's Twitter feed crying 'bias' whenever a tweet wasn't as overtly anti-alcohol as those sent by temperance groups. 

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Good Riddance

Published on 2021-10-03 15:38:07.
Website: Frank Davis

Good news. Goodbye and good riddance to Public Health England. All these public health organisations are essentially coercive, for the simple reason that they intrude upon individual autonomy. My health is no longer my concern alone, but the concern of … Continue reading →

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Goodbye Public Health England, hello Office for Health Promotion and Disparities

Published on 2021-10-02 12:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Public Health England is no more. I had to give it one kicking for Spiked...

A whole book could be written about the bottomless incompetence and quixotic delusions of an organisation that swallowed £4 billion a year. This is an agency that decided not to bother testing people for Covid at airports during a pandemic because PHE higher-ups’ limited cognitive abilities led them to believe it wasn’t worth it. It paid academics to fiddle with its computer model to justify lowering the ‘safe’ level for alcohol consumption. It claimed that smokers were 14 times more likely to suffer a bad case of Covid just as evidence was emerging to show that smokers were significantly less likely to catch the virus. Even in the gambling report that turned out to be PHE’s swansong, you can sense the disappointment when it found no link between problem gambling and smoking or obesity.

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Bushcraft Bear

Published on 2021-10-01 15:30:46.
Website: Frank Davis

I’ve been following the volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.  The best reports come from somebody called Bushcraft Bear. Bushcraft Bear is just a guy with a webcam standing on a hill in La … Continue reading →

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Conspiracy theorist sacked by Bristol University

Published on 2021-10-01 15:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

David Miller has finally been sacked by Bristol University. Professor Miller runs two grubby conspiracy websites, SpinWatch and Powerbase, and seems to be rather obsessed with 'Zionists'. See how many times Powerbase's entry on 'neoconservatism' mentions Jews, for example.  
Miller had already been suspended by the Labour Party (and later quit) for accusing Keir Starmer of taking "Zionist money" and he has called Jewish students "pawns" of Israel. 

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How's that war on smoking going?

Published on 2021-10-01 09:25:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World has commissioned a report that gives a comprehensive overview of the state of tobacco harm reduction around the globe. It looks at its potential and its challenges. 
Encouraging smokers to switch away from cigarettes should be a no-brainer in public health, but things are going backwards in many parts of the world thanks to Bloomberg, the WHO and other malevolent entities who are misguided, at best.
You can download it here. Well worth a read. 

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Social Isolation Tyranny

Published on 2021-09-30 14:03:42.
Website: Frank Davis

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/09/28/australia-official-warns-sydney-residents-unvaccinated-will-face-social-isolation-difficult-life/ Unvaccinated residents of Sydney, Australia, will face social isolation and a difficult life should they continue to resist vaccination, says New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Just like smokers. Australia went from a free country to a police state … Continue reading →

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You can't appease fanatics

Published on 2021-09-30 11:20:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Live With Littlewood was back last night, for the first time in a studio with an audience. One of the topics that came up was the Obesity Health Alliance's latest list of demands. This didn't get much attention from the media, which must have upset them, but it really shows what happens when you give fanatics an inch.

The Obesity Health Alliance claim that their long list of demands will 'turn the tide' of obesity. This is a tacit admission that all the policies they spent years campaigning for and which the government has introduced or will soon introduce - the sugar tax, the food advertising ban, reformulation, banning BOGOFs, keeping 'junk food' out of shop entrances and exits, etc. - will not reduce obesity. They are certainly not prepared to wait and find out.

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Smoking, COVID-19 and Mendelian Randomisation

Published on 2021-09-28 11:22:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

It's been interesting to watch how the Guardian has been covering the research into smoking and COVID-19. Like many media outlets, they reported the news last spring that researchers had found an inverse association between smoking status and Covid-related hospitalisations and that work was underway to see if nicotine patches would help people recover from the disease. 

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The Absolute Tyranny of Public Health

Published on 2021-09-27 16:32:46.
Website: Frank Davis

Via Clicky: Australia has fallen.. a man is arrested 200mtrs from his house.. his crime.? Having a cigarette ???? pic.twitter.com/c3l0K28X0b — Pelham (@Resist_05) September 26, 2021 Four or five policemen tackle an Aussie smoker, quite likely injuring him in the … Continue reading →

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Idiotic sugar reduction scheme spreads to Europe

Published on 2021-09-17 09:32:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The UK's hopeless sugar reduction scheme is spreading to Europe thanks to the equally hopeless WHO. 

I've written about it for The Critic...
If you want to know what the new, outlook-looking, post-Brexit, global Britain is all about, the Department of Health dropped a clue this week. In a punch on the nose for embittered Remoaners, it announced that the UK “has been chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO) to lead a new Sugar and Calorie Reduction Network to take global action on sugar and calorie reduction.” In a press release, the Department of Health mentioned twice that the WHO’s EU region “covers around 50 countries” and has “a much wider reach than the European Commission’s remit.” In your face, Eurocrats!

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Lowering the drink-drive limit didn't work in Scotland

Published on 2021-09-16 09:37:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

My City AM column today is about the way governments prefer legislating to governing...

In December 2014, Scotland introduced a new policy modifying its drink-drive limit, to reduce the number of alcohol-fuelled traffic accidents. The legal limit was slashed from 80 to 50mg per 100ml of blood. Now, seven years later, a study published in the Journal of Health Economics has looked at the impact of the policy. The results are perhaps surprising.

Do have a read.

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How a typo tricked the media: half a beer a week won’t harm your health

Published on 2021-09-12 17:53:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

First published in Spectator Health in February 2017

Eggs were on faces yesterday after some astonishingly bad science reporting in sections of the media. In articles that have since been taken offline, the Telegraph and Mirror announced that half a pint of beer a week is sufficient to harden the arteries and cause heart disease. Given the almost homeopathic quantities of alcohol involved — not to mention the fact that moderate drinking is known to reduce heart disease risk — this was a rather surprising finding, but it had supposedly been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association and was therefore considered legit.

Alarm bells started ringing when the Telegraph came up with this eyebrow-raiser:

‘The UK study defined consistent long-term heavy drinking as equivalent to drinking one serving of alcoholic spirit, half a pint of beer or half a glass of wine per week.’
The idea that drinking half a pint of beer once every seven days constitutes ‘long-term heavy drinking’ is patently ludicrous. There are some strange ideas floating around in the world of ‘public health’ these days, but things are not quite that mad. You have to wonder how that sentence got written, let alone approved and printed, without somebody at the Telegraph saying ‘surely that can’t be right’?

The rest of the story hinged on this basic error. The study itself is pretty good. Its authors set out to see whether heavy drinking stiffens people’s arteries, because arterial stiffness is a predictor of cardiovascular disease. They used a database of civil servants stretching back to the 1980s and measured something called pulse wave velocity (PWV) to gauge the state of their arteries. The higher the number, the harder the arteries.

The authors note that previous research has found the relationship between PWV and alcohol consumption to be J-shaped, which is to say it is relatively high for non-drinkers, lower for moderate drinkers and high again for heavy drinkers. This is significant because the relationship between cardiovascular disease and alcohol consumption is also J-shaped, ie moderate drinkers have a lower risk than both those who abstain and those who drink heavily.

The authors set out to test this and succeeded. Defining heavy drinkers as anyone who consumed more than 14 units a week, and measuring in metres per second (m/s), they found PWV levels among men of 8.8 m/s for non-drinkers, 8.3 m/s for moderate drinkers and 8.7 m/s for heavy drinkers. Among women the readings were 8.6 m/s, 7.9 m/s and 8.3 m/s.

Over the years, the PWV levels rose, but it was the non-drinkers and ex-drinkers who saw their levels rise the most. By contrast, the authors note that ‘stable moderate drinkers have the lowest PWV values throughout the study period’.

This seems to confirm the J-curve, but how does it support the claim that drinking half a pint a week gives you heart disease? It doesn’t. The study found the exact opposite of what the Telegraph and Mirror claimed. It showed that moderate drinkers, including those who limit themselves to a swift half once a week (if such people exist), have a lower risk of heart disease than those who never drink at all. So how did the press get it so wrong?

If you are going to rely on reporting science by press release, you have to be confident in the press release. Unfortunately for the fourth estate, this one was a stinker. The study’s authors defined anyone who drank more than 112 grams of alcohol a week as a ‘heavy drinker’. There are eight grams of alcohol in a unit, therefore they were drinking more than 14 units, but when the press release tried to explain this, it all went wrong:

‘Consistent long-term, heavy drinking was defined in this UK study as more than 112 grams (3.9 ounces) of ethanol per week (roughly equivalent to one serving of alcoholic spirit, half a pint of beer, or half a glass of wine); consistent moderate drinking was 1-112 grams of ethanol per week.’
The first part is true and so is the last bit. It is the middle section that’s the problem. 112 grams is by no means ‘roughly equivalent to one serving of alcoholic spirit

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Disruptive innovation webinar - today

Published on 2021-09-09 11:14:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I'll be speaking at a webinar on vaping at 7pm UK time (2pm EST). I'll be mainly talking about how the UK became a success story for tobacco harm reduction by not doing too much. Click here to sign up.

There's a Full article

The envy of the world

Published on 2021-09-08 10:02:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I've got an article in the Daily Mail today about the NHS.

The reality is that it is not normal for a health service in a rich country to have a flu crisis every winter.

We expect to wait months for an operation and are pleasantly surprised if we wait less than several hours in A&E.

We are meant to be impressed by being able to see a GP today, even though we called yesterday. Services that would be substandard in many countries are regarded in Britain as normal, if not excellent.

The fact is that the NHS is a failing system. The UK has 2.5 hospital beds for every 1,000 people, close to half the EU average and less than a third of the number in Germany — or even Bulgaria.

We have 2.8 practising doctors for every thousand people, fewer than any EU country bar Poland and Cyprus and well below the EU average of 3.7 per 1,000.

The UK's cancer survival rates lag behind Italy and France, and more of us die from cancer than do Belgians, the Dutch, Germans, the Japanese and New Zealanders — all countries with a social health insurance system.

Rates of 'avoidable deaths' are even worse.

In 2014, a league table by the Commonwealth Fund found that Britain performed well on 'access', 'equity' and 'care process' but came second-last for 'health care outcomes'.

What does that mean? As the Left-wing Guardian newspaper put it, the 'only serious black mark against the NHS was its poor record on keeping people alive'.

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The gambling epidemic that never grows

Published on 2021-09-07 09:56:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

First published by Spectator Health in February 2016

Doctors prescribe drugs to tackle Britain’s gambling epidemic’ was the top story on the Times‘s front page on Wednesday. ‘The growing toll of problem gambling in Britain,’ it said, ‘is now so serious that the NHS has started prescribing £10,000-a-year drugs for some of the worst addicts.’ The Times echoed calls from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling for a ‘crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which have been dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling’.

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A swift half with Claire Fox

Published on 2021-09-03 09:00:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

My guest on the Swift Half with Snowdon this week is Baroness Fox of Buckley. You may know her better as Claire Fox. 

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Nanny State Index - interview

Published on 2021-09-02 11:59:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I was on GB News last night talking about the Nanny State Index. It was nice to have a bit more time than usual to discuss it, although I had to bite my lip when Aseem Malhotra's name came up.


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Richard Doll, smoking and moderate drinking

Published on 2021-09-01 09:46:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

First published by Spectator Health in January 2016

Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, recently described the belief that moderate alcohol consumption was good for the heart as an ‘old wives’ tale’. This was the culmination of a long-running campaign within a section of the public health lobby to cast doubt on the large body of evidence showing lower rates of heart disease and lower rates of mortality among moderate drinkers. A report from researchers at Sheffield University, released on the same day, claimed that the health benefits of drinking were ‘disputed’ and the subject of ‘substantial debate’.

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Last Orders with Mark Littlewood

Published on 2021-08-29 11:37:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I had a blast recording a new Last Orders episode on Friday with Tom Slater and Mark Littlewood. It's the first time the show has been recorded in person for about eighteen months.

We discussed the Extinction Rebellion cult, smoking and Zero Covid. Listen here.

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A Swift Half with Stuart Ritchie

Published on 2021-08-25 14:55:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The latest Swift Half with Snowdon features Dr Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist at KCL and the author of Science Fictions. We discuss IQ, fraud in psychology and Covid 'sceptics'. 

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The WHO Doubles Down On Its Incompetence

Published on 2020-05-29 17:13:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

You'd think, wouldn't you, that after the damning political and media criticism the World Health Organisation has rightly been subjected to over fucking up the health of every nation on Earth - with their pitiful and incompetent response to the Coronavirus - that they would have learned a lesson on getting their priorities right.

Well, it seems not. This week, they were celebrating the "defeat" of e-cigarettes in Finland, as if this is in any way a good thing.

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It's That Man Again!

Published on 2020-05-21 19:57:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

So, the menthol tobacco ban - mandated by the EU's Tobacco Products Directive from 2014 - came in this week and many smokers will have been completely unaware of it until Wednesday when they found that their usual smokes are never to be seen again.

However, one thing we did see again was the British tobacco control industry's only supporter amongst retail tobacconists. Not surprising since just about every anti-smoking initiative could have the potential - even if it is not designed, which is arguable - to put corner shops and newsagents out of business.

Meet - once again - John McClurey, an anti-smoking newsagent who has had years to stop selling cigarettes in his shop but seemingly without success.

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