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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 Earthquake I Didn’t Notice

Published on 2018-02-18 10:12:48.
Website: Frank Davis


Mirror: Britain hit by EARTHQUAKE as people report ‘violent shaking’ in homes from Cornwall to Blackpool Terrified Britons told of damaged buildings, objects falling off shelves or walls, furniture moving and lights flickering when the strongest tremor in a decade … Continue reading →

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The sugar conspiracy debunked

Published on 2018-02-16 12:06:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


There's been a lot of 'Big Whatever is the new Big Tobacco' rhetoric recently. It's all part of following the anti-smoking playbook which, oddly enough, involves accusing the food/alcohol/soda/gambling industry of following the tobacco industry playbook. It's all so meta, but it's an effective public relations exercise because ad hominem attacks work (read this fascinating study for proof).

The list of businesses that are accused of using 'tobacco industry tactics' is almost endless. Just in the last week, we have seen the booze industry, the baby food industry, the agrochemical industry, the food industry and Facebook all accused of using these mysterious tactics.

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An Electrical Analogue Model of Ice Ages

Published on 2018-02-16 11:04:28.
Website: Frank Davis


I got quite a strong response from the climate (sceptic) community for my Theory Of Ice Ages. Tallbloke reblogged my post on his blog. But quite a few people were having trouble getting their heads round the idea of a … Continue reading →

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The Younger Dryas

Published on 2018-02-15 13:47:10.
Website: Frank Davis


Yesterday, in A Theory of Ice Ages, I argued that when the Earth gets covered with ice, the ice acts as a layer of insulation exactly like the clothing on a human body. The underlying rock heats up,  just like … Continue reading →

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Childhood obesity figures are worthless

Published on 2018-02-15 10:02:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


No news story about obesity in Britain is complete without the factoid about one in three children being overweight or obese. This statistic can easily be found on the Office for National Statistics website, but understanding the methodology behind it requires a little more digging.

I have hesitated to write about this for some time because I thought I must be missing something. I couldn't believe that such important statistics could be estimated in such a ridiculous way.

But they are, and the scale of child obesity in this country has been grossly inflated as a result. Read my article at Spectator Health and all will be explained.

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The WHO Has Finally Lost It

Published on 2018-02-14 20:08:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


It's long been a tactic of fraudulent, debate-phobic, anti-smoking organisations to react to a threat to their propaganda by simply pointing a Neanderthal finger and grunting "ug, Big Tobacco". It's just far easier than ​defending their extremist quackery with reasoned argument, just as their stock-in-trade junk science is easier than actually doing the proper stuff.

The problem for them, though, is that methods which worked to dupe a gullible public with smoking don't help achieve the same confidence trick for the plethora of reduced risk products increasingly coming to the market, and they are too stupid to realise that. So it puts them in a position of often being left with impotent arguments which, quite frankly, make them look extremely silly.

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A Theory Of Ice Ages

Published on 2018-02-14 12:37:24.
Website: Frank Davis


Forty years ago I was in university working on energy conservation in buildings. I worked with an electronic analogue simulation model in which thermal resistance was represented by electrical resistance, temperature by voltage, heat flow by current. My job was … Continue reading →

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Whoever Next?

Published on 2018-02-13 11:51:59.
Website: Frank Davis


Whoever next? Commonwealth is in secret talks to decide whether Prince Charles should take over when Queen, 92, dies Commonwealth not hereditary and unclear who will take over when Queen dies Set up a ‘high level group’ of top figures … Continue reading →

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John Stuart Mill spins in his grave

Published on 2018-02-12 12:38:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Robert H. Frank offered an unusual justification for clamping down on smokers in the New York Times last month. As it touches on some of the themes in Killjoys I want to discuss it.

One the main points in Killjoys is that paternalists are always looking for ways to disguise their paternalism. Even in these puritanical times, it is still not socially acceptable to ask the government to interfere in someone's private life just because you don't like what they're doing.

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Low alcohol drinks lead to more alcohol being drunk, claim cranks

Published on 2018-02-08 12:33:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



In September 2016, a 'public health' academic named Milica Vasiljevic published a study in Tobacco Control claiming that e-cigarette advertising made children start smoking. This was a heroic over-interpretation of the meagre findings from her survey, but it went down well with the hard of thinking...

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Going Places

Published on 2018-02-07 18:37:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have noticed that I've been doing some travelling of late.

This weekend me and my 16 year old boy flew to Rome for the England 6 Nations rugby match at the Stadio Olimpico. It was a whistle stop affair, arriving late Saturday and leaving early Monday, and considering my son had never been there before it was an effort fitting sightseeing in before the 4pm kick off on the Sunday. A fantastic weekend but incredibly draining.

Now, the reason I'm writing about this is that, yet again, being in another country was very revealing as to the amount of freedom we have lost in the UK. I have spoken about it before with regards to Prague, but the state-imposed shackles fell away with every minute spent in Rome too.

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Public Health England

Published on 2018-02-06 12:45:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Public Health England have issued some mostly sensible advice about e-cigarettes in the hope of scotching some of the myths and junk science that has been pouring out of California for the last five years.

Dick and Clarky point out that PHE couldn't resist inserting some anti-smoking authoritarianism into their e-cigarette report. It is also somewhat amusing that they are calling for e-cigarettes to be given out by the NHS on prescription a day after it was announced that the only medically approved e-cigarette has been withdrawn from the market.

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Can We Have Our Money Back, PHE?

Published on 2018-02-06 10:26:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


Public Health England swallows £4.5bn of our taxes each year. It spends it on such frivolity as telling us when the sun is coming out, bending science to pretend we're all drinking too much, and embarking on campaigns that are arguably dangerous, as this video shows.


The one area, though, where they have appeared vaguely sensible has always been with e-cigs, but today they have shown that they haven't the first clue about smokers and vapers at all. Via the BBC:

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Plain packaging in France: another non-event

Published on 2018-02-05 12:57:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Back in 2013, there was a flurry of studies published in the likes of Tobacco Control claiming a dramatic and immediate impact from plain packaging (which had been introduced at the end of 2012). One of them claimed that smokers were more likely to think about quitting if their packs were 'plain'. Another one claimed that there was a rise in the number of calls to quit-lines after plain packaging was introduced.

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Public health versus 'public health'

Published on 2018-02-02 10:44:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Regular readers will know that I put the term 'public health' in speech marks when referring to the morally bankrupt crusade for lifestyle regulation that has co-opted the name.

I explained the distinction between public health and 'public health' in Killjoys:

The case for government action on public health issues is strongest when there is a threat to health that can only be countered by collective action. Collective action does not necessarily mean government action, but if the term ‘public health’ meant anything in Mill’s day, it meant tackling health risks in the shared environment which cannot be controlled by the individual, such as air pollution, or those involving people (or animals) who carry infectious diseases. Factories pumping coal smoke into a congested city and travellers coming home with Ebola pose a clear risk of unavoidable harm to others and are therefore a potential justification for coercion under the harm principle. It is not the scale of the risk nor the number of people affected that turns a health problem into a public health problem. It is the lack of consent from those who are put at risk and their inability to reduce the risk without collective action.

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The consequences of PHE's calorie propaganda

Published on 2018-02-01 11:32:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


When Public Health England started lying about nutrition and setting fictitious limits on snacks and meals, I mentioned an obvious unintended consequence:

People will not come to any harm if they restrict their alcohol consumption to 14 units a week. They will come to harm if they consume 1,600 calories a day. This is totally unscientific and highly irresponsible advice (think of the anorexics, for example). PHE are no longer pretending to be a source of accurate advice. They are in the business of nudging, manipulation and deliberate deceit.

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ASH's Snus Flip Flop

Published on 2018-01-31 18:58:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


Following the revelation last week that the UK Government - despite claiming it wished to "maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking" in its Tobacco Control Plan in July - had defended the EU's ridiculous and damaging ban on snus at the European Court of Justice, I wondered if they had received any input from their favourite state-funded political lobby group, ASH.

It's well known that crass ignorance from ASH during David Simpson's tenure (see Snowdon's trawl though history here) was the prime motivator behind the ban in the UK and, subsequently, a ban across the EU in 1992.

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Two steps back for tobacco harm reduction

Published on 2018-01-31 11:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Last week the FDA was advised to keep it a secret that iQOS is safer than smoking, and the European Court of Justice was advised to keep snus illegal. I've written an article for Spectator Health about the anti-science, freedom-hating prohibitionists responsible.

There seems to be a principal-agent problem when new nicotine products are assessed by people who are steeped in ‘public health’ dogma, especially when those products contain tobacco. Bates argues that ‘panel members have strong ‘virtue signalling’ incentives to oppose tobacco industry innovation, even if highly beneficial to people at greatest risk. They can enter the room, turn up the pedantry dial to maximum, sit back and relax, lob in the odd insincere question and vote down the claims, all the time faking an appearance of trying to do the right thing.’

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What does Islam teach its followers? (muslims)

Published on 2018-01-30 15:47:00.
Website: Clearing The Air


Islam teaches some really nasty, nasty stuff


Here's a way for readers to see how "peaceful" Islam is from the comfort of their own home and learn it's sinister truth www.Quran.com (official Quran domain in Saudi Arabia)
The way to use that website www.Quran.com is to search for the verse you want, here's a couple examples of verses I recommend, just copy each set of verse numbers below into the "search" bar at www.Quran.com

8:39 "fight til all religion is for allah" IE. until all people are Muslim

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The anti-drink lobby's war on reality: Geordie Shore edition

Published on 2018-01-30 11:35:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Some more puritanism dressed up as academia for you, this time from Alcohol and Alcoholism...

Alcohol Content in the ‘Hyper-Reality’ MTV Show ‘Geordie Shore’
Three tax-spongers from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Research (UKCTAS) watched an entire series of the Newcastle-based reality show Geordie Shore and were - as the stars of this show might say - 'proper radge' to find numerous depictions of alcohol use.

All categories of alcohol were present in all episodes. ‘Any alcohol’ content occurred in 78%, ‘actual alcohol use’ in 30%, ‘inferred alcohol use’ in 72%, and all ‘other’ alcohol references occurred in 59% of all coding intervals (ACIs), respectively. Brand appearances occurred in 23% of ACIs. The most frequently observed alcohol brand was Smirnoff which appeared in 43% of all brand appearances. Episodes categorized as suitable for viewing by adolescents below the legal drinking age of 18 years comprised of 61% of all brand appearances. 

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Nick Cohen's dystopia

Published on 2018-01-28 13:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Nick Cohen has gone on a health kick and thinks that his midlife crisis should form the basis of public policy. Previous victims of this delusion include Sarah Vine, David Aaronovitch and, a few days ago, Jenni Russell. After Cohen gave up drinking last year, he wrote a factually inaccurate article calling for more temperance laws. He is now running a half marathon and has decided that the British population must forced to do more exercise.

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Junk alcohol research of the week

Published on 2018-01-26 17:42:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Sometimes the junk science that comes out of the ‘public health’ lobby is so bad you just have to laugh. Take this study, for example, published yesterday in the apparently reputable Journal of Hepatology. As reported by the Irish Times, it found that ‘alcohol consumption even at very low levels early in life may significantly increase the risk of alcoholic liver disease in men’. It was even suggested that drinking guidelines should be lowered to accommodate this emerging evidence.

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My Op-Ed in U.S. News & World Report on the National Academy of Sciences Report on E-Cigarettes

Published on 2018-01-26 02:17:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary


Here is the link to my op-ed on the National Academy of Sciences report.

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A Great Day For Bureaucratic Intransigence

Published on 2018-01-25 21:47:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


On Tuesday I wrote about how this was a big week for tobacco harm reduction. Also, it would appear, it was a big week for intransigent bureaucracy.

Reports from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) where the EU's ban on snus was being challenged were not just disappointing, but also quite astonishing! A number of tweets from Gerry Stimson, who was attending on behalf of the NNA, described how a succession of of bureaucrats outed themselves as being in denial about the evidence base behind snus and willing to blatantly lie to the court about it. Most surprising was that the UK government took it upon itself to actively oppose lifting the ban despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits snus could provide.

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WBUR Interview Regarding National Academy of Sciences E-Cigarette Report

Published on 2018-01-24 17:01:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary


Here is the link to an article on WBUR that includes edited excerpts from an interview I did regarding the new National Academy of Sciences report on electronic cigarettes.

Full article

National Academy of Sciences Report on Electronic Cigarettes Confirms that Vaping is Much Safer than Smoking and Has No Known Long-Term Health Effects

Published on 2018-01-24 12:45:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary


My commentary on the conclusions and implications of the National Academy of Sciences report on electronic cigarettes was just accepted as an op-ed piece in U.S. News & World Report. I expect it to be published tomorrow. For this reason, I have had to take down the original commentary. However, below I have posted the parts of the original blog post that had to be cut from the op-ed because of length concerns. Also, I will post a link to the op-ed as soon as it appears.

The key findings of the report are:

1. "There is substantial evidence that except for nicotine, under typical conditions of use, exposure to potentially toxic substances from e-cigarettes is significantly lower compared with combustible tobacco cigarettes."

Full article

A Big Week For Tobacco Harm Reduction

Published on 2018-01-23 19:31:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


On both sides of the Atlantic, this week is looking to be one of the most important in the history of tobacco harm reduction (THR) so far.

Firstly, in a flurry of acronyms, tomorrow the US Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) will meet to consider Philip Morris International's (PMI) application for a Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) classification for their iQos heated tobacco product. If approved, this could pave the way - if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agrees with the decision - for PMI to claim iQos is less harmful than smoking. This would be the first time the government has allowed a company to make such claims. This is irrelevant if PMI are not permitted to sell iQos, of course, so at the same time an application is pending for a Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) which would allow the products to be sold in America, theoretically from as early as February. But it all depends on what advice the TPSAC gives to the FDA and whether the FDA decides to go with it or not.

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Snus goes to court again

Published on 2018-01-23 11:59:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I was interviewed for the Europeans Podcast recently about the issue of snus. You can listen to it here (iTunes) or here (Android).

The interview was timely because we've just had news out of Norway where Sweden's experience of a mass cross-over from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco has been replicated.

Full article

There Should Be More Smoking On TV, Not Less

Published on 2018-01-22 19:50:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote


I'm afraid pages here have been barren for a while recently. Puddlecote Inc has grown considerably in the past two years so pressure of work is limiting my time, especially since - like most companies - we've had a spike in staff turnover in the new year. This means as well as the regular tasks involved in running a business of this size, there has been staff recruitment to deal with in order to keep our vehicles rolling. Added to this, I have two interesting foreign trips coming up which have required some planning, I'll be sure to let you know about those in due course.


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A junk history of tobacco harm reduction

Published on 2018-01-22 12:55:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


An article in Tobacco Control by a pair of professional anti-smokers from San Francisco asks why the US and UK have such different approaches to e-cigarettes and other reduced-risk nicotine products.

Major British health organisations support tobacco harm reduction for smokers struggling to quit. The USA, in contrast, classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products and leaders are less supportive of tobacco harm reduction.

Full article

Blame the government, not Brexit, for the biscuit rip off

Published on 2018-01-19 20:35:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


McVitie's are reducing their packets of Digestive biscuits from 500g to 400g. This means consumers will be getting seven fewer biscuits in their pack. Parts of the media have been blaming Brexit for this and the company itself has pointed the finger at the weaker pound and rising cost of raw materials.

McVitie's is shrinking the size of a packet of Digestives because of price increases caused by the Brexit drop in the pound, it claims.

Full article

Public Health England vs. the Evening Standard

Published on 2018-01-17 11:45:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


In November, the Evening Standard published an article about the drinking guidelines scandal in which the methodology of Sheffield University's modelling was changed at the eleventh hour after their initial modelling implied that the guidelines should not be lowered. The methodological change had no scientific justification, as the Sheffield team told Public Health England at the time. Nevertheless, PHE ordered the change to be made (for a fee of £7,800) and the research came back with significantly lower implied guidelines.

This story was covered in the Sunday Times in late October and I published a full account on Spectator Health. The Evening Standard reiterated some of this in an article on November 3rd headlined 'Public Health England "tweaked" alcohol research to impose stricter guidelines, report reveals'.

I would link to the article but it was taken down within hours. I don't know if it was ever published in the newspaper. All I have are these screenshots that I took at the time.




Why was this article taken offline? I suspected that Public Health England might have had something to do with it so I sent a Freedom of Information request asking to see all correspondence between them and the Evening Standard at the time of the incident.

Sure enough, I got this e-mail chain starting on 2 November while the journalist was preparing the article...

From: PHE
Sent: 02 November 2017 13:48
To: standard
Subject: PHE response on alcohol guidelines story in Sun Times

XXXX

As promised - our full statement in response to Sun Times:

PHE spokesperson:

“The UK Chief Medical Officers’ alcohol guidelines were based on a comprehensive analysis of the evidence and advice from the Guidelines Development Group of independent experts.

“As part of the secretariat to the group, we commissioned the analysis, as requested by the Guidelines Development Group, from Sheffield University. We categorically refute the claim that PHE in any way attempted to influence or pressure Sheffield University on their research work to inform the alcohol guidelines.”

I will forward our final response to the Spectator as soon as possible

XXXX
The Spectator article was mine. PHE did indeed respond to it and I replied to their points in this article.

PHE then sent the Standard the response that Sheffield had sent the Sunday Times a few days earlier...

From: PHE
Sent: 02 November 2017 14:10
To: Stanfard
Subject: PHE response

XXXX

Below is part of our response to the Spectator Re: Chris Snowden’s article, which gives a more detailed account from Sheffield Uni about the evidence requested from the expert group. The links provide the minutes of the expert groups (GDG) meetings.

Any queries on the expert group’s decision on the evidence are not for PHE to answer – as we were just part of the secretariat to the group along with DH.

Sheffield Uni press office can also provide you with their full response to the Sun Times.

As part of the secretariat to the group, we commissioned the analysis, as requested by the GDG, from Sheffield University. Any emails from PHE to Sheffield commissioning additional modelling and evidence were based on the GDG’s decisions and at their request, as is clearly shown by the publicly available minutes of their meetings.

This has been confirmed by Sheffield University’s Alcohol Research Group, which has said:

“Minutes from the subsequent GDG meeting on 21 January 2015 state that, after hearing Sheffield's presentation of their work, the GDG concluded: ‘A holistic, expert judgement on guideline levels would be needed, taking account of uncertainties and issues not fully modelled’. This demonstrates that the group recognised there was considerable scientific uncertainty present and that no single piece of evidence or modelling decision used in isolation would determine the final guideline.

“As noted in the Royal Statistical Society's consultation response: "This is a contested area of science with considerable uncertainties" (paragraph 1.1). The change to the base case analyses related to a point of scientific uncertainty. The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group were happy with the decision taken whereby the base case analysis was revised but the original modelling assumptions were retained as one of a series of sensitivity analyses.

“Those analyses explored major areas of uncertainty within the underlying evidence and their implications for the Guideline Development Group's work. The group considered those sensitivity analyses in detail and took them into account in their decision-making.”

Regards

XXXX
From: Standard
Sent: 02 November 2017 14:11
To: PHE
Subject: RE: PHE response

XXXX

Thanks so much for getting back to me.

All the best,

XXXX


From: PHE
Date: 2 November 2017 at 14:21:39 GMT To: standard
Subject: RE: PHE response

XXXX

Grateful if you could let me know if you do decide to write something

regards

XXXX
It must be said that neither PHE's response nor that of Sheffield's is entirely consistent with the e-mails sent at the time. PHE's defence throughout this whole affair has been to pass the buck to the guidelines committee. I made it clear from the start that the idea of changing the methodology came from the guidelines committee. However, it is a bit much for PHE to deny that they 'in any way attempted to influence or pressure Sheffield University'. Whether acting on behalf of the committee or not, PHE exerted strong pressure on the Sheffield team, and on page 28 of Sheffield's published report it clearly states:

‘At the request of the commissioners (Public Health England), this threshold effect removed for the base case analysis

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