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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.

Minimum pricing - what next?

Published on 2015-09-04 03:38:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

It seems likelier than ever that the European Union will prevent Scotland and Ireland introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. The issue remains tied up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a few months yet, but yesterday’s statement from the Advocate General suggests that the writing is on the wall.

As in many lawsuits, the issues are complex, but the main points are as these. The SNP wants to make it illegal to sell a unit of alcohol for less than 50p. Sections of the drinks industry and several national governments believe that this would violate the EU’s common market, specifically Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). For example, if a Portuguese wine company’s unique selling proposition is very low prices, it will effectively be prevented from trading in Scotland.  

The Scotch Whiskey Association, who brought the case to the ECJ, has legal precedent on its side. The EU has previously ruled that minimum pricing is illegal when applied to tobacco and fuel and there is no obvious reason for alcohol to be treated differently (as some of us have been saying for years). The European Commission has explicitly told the Scottish government that the case law is ‘unequivocal to the effect that national legislation imposing minimum pricing in respect of particular products falls within the ambit of the Article 34 TFEU (prohibition on measures having the equivalent effect of impeding imports of products)’.

Despite these warnings, the Scottish government has persisted because it has been persuaded by minimum pricing lobbyists that the EU will make an exemption under Article 36 of the TFEU. This clause creates an exemption for policies that are essential for improving public health. Crucially, however, an exemption will only be made if there is no other way of achieving the government’s health objectives. The European Commission has already said that it believes that increasing the rate of alcohol duty would have the same effect as minimum pricing without interfering with cross-border trade. The SNP disagrees, saying that minimum pricing is uniquely effective in reducing the sale of cheap alcohol.

The outcome of the case therefore hinges on whether the ECJ will prioritise the goals of ‘public health’ groups over the principles of the common market. The ECJ is due to make its ruling later this year. Before it does, it is customary for the Advocate General to give his view. Typically, though not necessarily, his or her view will also be the view of the ECJ, hence the interest in yesterday’s announcement.

The Advocate General’s report has been reported as being the death knell for minimum pricing. I’ve now read it in full and it is more equivocal than that. Nevertheless, it is clear that he is not siding with the SNP. In a characteristically verbose passage, he writes:

‘Articles 34 TFEU and 36 TFEU must be interpreted as meaning that they preclude a Member State, for the purpose of pursuing the objective of combating alcohol abuse, which forms part of the objective of the protection of public health, from choosing rules that impose a minimum retail price of alcoholic beverages that restricts trade within the European Union and distorts competition, rather than increased taxation of those products, unless that Member State shows that the measure chosen has additional advantages or fewer disadvantages than the alternative measure.’
In other words, the Scottish government needs to prove that there’s no other way of ‘combating alcohol abuse’ other than introducing a price floor. And his next sentence was rather interesting

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Saving England by the pint

Published on 2015-09-04 03:01:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

My report on the costs and benefits of alcohol to the government got a lot of news coverage yesterday (eg. here, here and here). Even the BBC gave it a good run on the radio news bulletins.

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Losing Cultural Unity

Published on 2015-09-03 16:33:02.
Website: Frank Davis

Telegraph (my added emphases): Tony Blair has admitted his government made a “mistake” by failing to do enough to ensure that devolution of powers to Scotland did not undermine the United Kingdom’s national identity. The former Prime Minister insisted that he … Continue reading →

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"Fumets passifs" de cannabis au commissariat

Published on 2015-09-03 16:07:18.
Website: Accueil

(ATS)" Policiers incommodés par la marijuana

"L'odeur de marijuana est si forte que nous avons l'impression "d'avoir fumé quelque chose d'illégal", se plaignent des policiers de commissariats espagnols. Ils dénoncent l'accumulation de grandes quantités de cette plante dans leurs locaux après des saisies.

"C'est le cas dans tous les commissariats de Catalogne, à cette époque de l'année", a affirmé jeudi le porte-parole d'un syndicat de police de la Catalogne, Josep Miquel Milagros. Le problème touche en particulier les zones rurales, où les locaux de police sont plus exigus.

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Anatomy Of A Charlatan

Published on 2015-09-03 12:24:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

As a perfect example of how 'public health' can be run on ideological lines with no care about health or misleading the public, here is an interesting recent timeline involving the Faculty of Public Health's screaming lefty Director of Public Policy Simon Capewell.

Last week, the Lancet published an editorial designed to sling mud at Public Health England's positive report on e-cigs, I wrote about it here. Now, there would be no problem with a health publication debating some of the conclusions but The Lancet didn't do that, instead it merely hurled innuendo and ad hominems around which didn't really amount to a hill of beans, as described in the Speccie.

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As E-Cigarettes Re-Normalize Smoking, Adult Smoking Prevalence in 2015 Plummets

Published on 2015-09-03 05:02:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

According to e-cigarette opponents, the advent of e-cigarettes is re-normalizing smoking, reversing the progress that we have seen in reducing smoking rates.

But according to the actual data, smoking is becoming further de-normalized, with adult smoking rates in 2015 plummeting from 17% in 2014 to just over 15%, a much larger decline in smoking than what was observed between 2013 and 2014.

While the potential role of e-cigarettes in the decline in smoking rates is not clear, some believe that at least part of the decline is attributable to the large number of adult smokers who have quit successfully using e-cigarettes.

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How drinkers subsidise teetotallers

Published on 2015-09-03 02:05:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I have a new IEA report today looking at the costs and benefits to the treasury of alcohol consumption. As far as I know, this is the first study of its kind in England (or the UK). This is surprising when you consider that estimates of 'societal' or 'wider economic' costs are invariably reported as being costs to the taxpayer.

So what is the cost to public services? I've used the most recent figures and the best methodology, and it is almost certainly no higher than £3.9 billion per year. That's quite a bit of money, but nowhere near as much as the £10.4 billion paid by English drinkers in alcohol taxes. In other words, drinkers are paying more than their fair share and teetotallers are being subsidised.

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Fill In The Questionnaire

Published on 2015-09-02 16:06:30.
Website: Frank Davis

I’ve been on the UK Conservative party’s mailing list for the past few years, probably as a consequence of emailing my Conservative MP about plain packaging or car smoking bans. Most of the emails have purported to come from one … Continue reading →

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Raucher sind ein Milliardengeschäft für die Allgemeinheit

Published on 2015-09-02 11:31:27.
Website: Netzwerk Rauchen e.V.

Neue Studie zu Kosten des Tabakgenusses„Rauchen ist gut für die Gesellschaft - zumindest finanziell“ lautet der Titel eines aktuellen Beitrags in verschiedenen Medien. Um 400 Milliarden Euro sollen die Raucher einer aktuellen Studie für die Allgemeinheit günstiger sein, was den Autor des Presseartikels offenbar überrascht. Uns beim Netzwerk Rauchen nicht, wir wissen schon lange, dass die These vom Volksschädling Raucher nicht haltbar ist. Über sämtliche Sozialversicherungen usw. gerechnet, entstehen seitens der Raucher weniger Kosten als durch Nichtraucher, übrigens auch dann, wenn die turmhohe Tabaksteuer nicht mitgerechnet wird. Das sehen auch die Forscher hinter der zitieren Studie, Finanzwissenschaftler vom Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, so, die dann noch von immerhin 36 Milliarden „plus“ ausgehen.

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Jamie Oliver bingo

Published on 2015-09-02 08:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Bandwagon-jumping punch-magnet Jamie Oliver will be using his 'charisma' to advance the agenda of Action on Sugar tomorrow night on Channel 4. He's already said what's on his political agenda and anyone who has followed the anti-smoking and anti-drinking movements over the years will be unsurprised to hear that it involves advertising bans and sin taxes.

Oliver is the very definition of a useful idiot so we can expect Jamie's Sugar Rush to involve the usual 'public health' incantations and junk science. But how many evidence-free assertions and misrepresentations will he be able to cram in? I've devised a special bingo card so you can play along at home. Click to engorge.

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Smoking and Non-Smoking Lanes

Published on 2015-09-01 16:56:03.
Website: Frank Davis

Various news items I noticed today, presented without comment. Number one: smoking and non-smoking lanes: Number two: Smokers in Norway ‘like Jews under the Nazis’ A politician from a fringe conservative party in the far north of Norway has compared the … Continue reading →

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We Can Solve The Problem We Caused - Honest!

Published on 2015-09-01 13:07:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Here is some staggering chutzpah from the Irish brand of tobacco control failure. Via the Irish Heart Foundation.
A new levy should be introduced to force tobacco companies enjoying profit margins of up to 60% on cigarette sales in Ireland to pay the cost of helping smokers to quit, a pre-Budget submission by the Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society has urged. Research carried out for the Irish Cancer Society and Irish Heart Foundation by leading UK business economist Dr Rob Branston of the University of Bath shows that tobacco multinationals are making combined annual profits of between €110 million and €150 million from Irish sales. This is gained from profit margins of 60% for Japan Tobacco International, which controls over half the Irish market, 41% for Imperial Tobacco and 24% for British American Tobacco – way higher than the normal profit margins for consumer staple industries of between 12-20%.This "leading UK business economist" seems to be blind to the fact that "normal profit margins for consumer staple industries" are dictated by many different aspects of the market. Most of these are driven by competition in the form of advertising, innovation, new entrants to the market and price wars. Now, I could explain, but I reckon I don't need to. How many of those market mechanisms have been forcibly removed from the tobacco industry?

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New JAMA Article Offers Irresponsible Medical Advice to Physicians About Smoking Cessation

Published on 2015-09-01 05:39:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

An article published yesterday online in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (JAMA Internal Medicine) advises physicians to discourage their patients from trying to quit smoking using electronic cigarettes.

(See: McMillen RC, Gottlieb MA, Winickoff JP. E-Cigarettes -- The roles of regulation and clinicians. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online August 31, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4436.)

Arguing that "e-cigarettes primarily emit a toxic aerosol," and that "the use of e-cigarettes as well as conventional cigarettes may actually frustrate cessation attempts," the article concludes that "counseling patients to use e-cigarettes is a practice that is currently not supported by evidence." The article also argues that counseling patients to quit smoking using e-cigarettes "should be considered off-label advice."

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The Art of Smoking

Published on 2015-08-31 16:37:36.
Website: Frank Davis

A remark by regular non-smoking commenter Wobbler: I cannot fathom out no matter how hard I try how breathing in concentrated smoke directly into the lungs can possibly be good for you. I replied that what I inhale isn’t particularly … Continue reading →

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Vos données médicales intimes semées à tous vents !

Published on 2015-08-31 15:19:30.
Website: Accueil

(ATS) Dossier médical électronique mis en cause

"Le dossier médical électronique a du plomb dans l'aile en Valais. Le préposé cantonal à la protection des données, Sébastien Fanti, recommande au Conseil d'Etat de suspendre le projet, présenté en grande pompe jeudi et prévu pour entrer en vigueur le 1er septembre.

"Sébastien Fanti a confirmé lundi à l'ats l'information révélée par Le Temps en ligne. Avec la Commission de protection des données, M. Fanti est d'avis que le projet doit être suspendu le temps de conduire les audits et les examens de conformité nécessaires.

"Dans une lettre, le Parti pirate suisse
a mis en cause ce week-end le nouveau dossier médical électronique valaisan. Selon lui, le projet présente de graves dysfonctionnements en matière de sécurité informatique."

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Egon Bahr – Rauchen bis zur Bahre

Published on 2015-08-31 13:43:21.
Website: Netzwerk Rauchen e.V.

Nein, das Netzwerk Rauchen bleibt überparteilich und hat keine innige Liebe zur Sozialdemokratie entwickelt, auch wenn nach Willy Brandt und Helmut Schmidt ein drittes SPD-Urgestein an dieser Stelle gewürdigt wird. Egon Bahr, Bundesminister a.D., Freund und Berater Willy Brandts, Architekt der neuen Ostpolitik, starb kürzlich im Alter von 93 Jahren den frühen Rauchertod.

Neben dem Pfeifengenuss war er insbesondere als Zigarettenliebhaber bekannt. Wie Helmut Schmidt setzte er sich über kleinliche Rauchverbote hinweg.
Ganz konnte Bahr (bei „normalerweise zehn bis zwölf“ Zigaretten pro Tag) aber nicht mithalten: „Ich bewundere Helmut Schmidt“, sagte er in einem Interview,
„Der raucht nur noch die Hälfte im Vergleich zu früher: 40 Stück am Tag." Heutzutage beschleicht einen übrigens das Gefühl, dass in der Politik immer
weniger (Pfeife) rauchen, aber immer mehr Pfeifen sind.

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Drafting A Welsh Public Health Bill Consultation Response

Published on 2015-08-31 12:23:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Following swiftly on from Tuesday's post about the TPD2 consultation which finishes on the 3rd, the Public Health Bill in Wales is being conulted upon and that finishes the next day, on the 4th, as in Friday.

Specifically, this is the proposal which plans to ban use of e-cigs in public places because, well, no reason at all really, as the consultation questions make quite clear.

You can find the consultation here, there is an online survey or you can return an online MS Word proforma to SeneddHealth@assembly.wales instead. The survey is slightly different as it reduces many questions to just a multiple choice scenario, so is likely not to be included as a "detailed response". We've seen this tactic to ignore dissent before so I'd advise you to return the proforma by email and will use those questions for our purpose here.

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Anti-Smoking Groups' Campaign of Deception is Working: Inquisitr Article Copies 7 E-Cigarette Myths Almost Verbatim from E-Cigarette Opponents

Published on 2015-08-31 03:34:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

An article published yesterday at Inquisitr purports to present seven reasons why e-cigarettes are "bad."

Here they are:

1. The effects of e-cigarettes are nowhere near as well-documented as cigarettes.
2. E-cigarettes contain plenty of cancerous chemicals. 3. E-cigarettes are just as addictive as smoking tobacco. 4. E-cigarettes have negative effects on lungs. 5. E-cigarettes won’t help you quit.
6. E-cigarettes create the equivalent of secondhand smoke.
7. E-cigarettes are a gateway into tobacco products for youth.  The Rest of the Story The rest of the story is that most of these seven claims are false, all are misleading, all seven points actually demonstrate the public health value of e-cigarettes, and all seven arguments are taken almost verbatim from the propaganda being disseminated by colleagues of mine in the anti-smoking movement, demonstrating that their campaign of deception regarding e-cigarettes is working. While the presence of this misleading information on one internet news site may not be terribly significant, the story is quite significant because it demonstrates that the false and deceptive information being disseminated by anti-smoking groups and health agencies which oppose e-cigarettes (including the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, as well as the American Lung Association) is being accepted at face value by the media and is therefore being spread to the public uncritically. Here is the truth about each of the seven claims: 1. The effects of e-cigarettes are nowhere near as well-documented as cigarettes.

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Stop Pretending

Published on 2015-08-30 18:37:31.
Website: Frank Davis

Writing about the US political scene last night, I started out by saying that the UK smoking ban had changed my outlook on life in all sorts of ways, and moved me from left of centre to right of centre. … Continue reading →

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Link Tank 30/08

Published on 2015-08-30 02:00:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Today's links postponed due to T20 Finals days.

Wacky British idea: Why not tell the truth about e-cigs?

Government grant funding corrupts tobacco research, holds back scientific inquiry

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Günter Ropohl: Tabak – geschätzt und bekämpft

Published on 2015-08-29 13:46:35.
Website: Netzwerk Rauchen e.V.

Der Tabakgenuss ist seit einigen Jahren allenthalben in Verruf geraten. Umso mutiger und bemerkenswerter ist das Buch Tabak und Gesellschaft: Vom braunen Gold zum sozialen Stigma, das Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte dieser umstrittenen Pflanze versammelt. Die Herausgeber Frank Jacob und Gerrit Dworok, Historiker an der City University of New York und an der Universität Würzburg, haben selbstverständlich Recht: Was die Menschen 500 Jahre lang teils gehasst und teils geliebt haben, kann keine „politische Korrektheit“ von heute auf morgen aus dem kollektiven Gedächtnis verbannen – zumal es noch keineswegs gewiss ist, ob den Tabakbekämpfern der beabsichtigte „Endsieg“(1) gelingt.

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La Tribune de Genève: "La pub d’un salon érotique agace les maires genevois"

Published on 2015-08-28 12:30:53.
Website: Accueil

La Tribune de Genève: "Polémique . Pour sa dernière campagne, le salon érotique a démarché directement les mairies. La Ville a refusé ces affiches.

"Ça jase dans les mairies. Les secrétaires ont réceptionné un courrier signé par le salon érotique Venusia et adressé… au Conseil administratif. A l’intérieur, deux affiches: la photo d’un mouchoir souillé collé dans une main, sur fond noir. Et un pantalon taché vers l’entre-jambes. Une inscription: «Venusia, convertisseurs de branleurs». C’est la nouvelle campagne de publicité du grand salon érotique genevois. «Aujourd’hui, de nombreux hommes se masturbent en consommant du porno sur Internet, explique la patronne du salon, Madame Lisa (photo). L’objectif de cette campagne est de les encourager à franchir les portes de Venusia pour expérimenter une vraie relation sexuelle.»

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Their Favourite Trick

Published on 2015-08-28 05:31:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

In their desperation to defame e-cigs, it seems the dinosaur section of the tobacco control industry has stopped scraping the barrel and is now crawling underneath it with the cockroaches instead.

From The Telegraph:
[The Lancet] accused [Public Health England] of falling short of its mission to protect public health. The Lancet revealed that three of the 11 authors of the original study were paid advisors for the e-cigarette industry. The editors of the journal European Addiction Research even issued a warning alongside the article saying there was a ‘potential conflict of interest.Yep, just the usual. The Lancet piece doesn't bother to challenge the evidence itself, merely choosing to sling ad hominems and smears around instead, the prime tactic of bent tobacco controllers everywhere. Except this time they are attacking their own colleagues. It never ceases to amaze me how very low these disgusting rimlickers can get.

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The Lancet's smear campaign

Published on 2015-08-28 04:53:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The Lancet published an embarrassingly bad editorial knocking the Public Health England report on e-cigarettes today. They appear to have given their smear story as an exclusive to the Daily Mail because that's how credible scientific journals work, right?

The hatchet job focuses on the conflicts of interest of two co-authors of one of the many studies cited by PHE in their report. Both were declared at the time and one of them isn't really a conflict of interest.

Regular readers will know that I'm no fan of Public Health England, but this is pathetic. I've written about i

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Smoking ban in prison leads to usual outcome

Published on 2015-08-28 03:24:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

If you could go back in a time machine to the year 2000, let alone the year 1980, what would people make of the following passage from this news story?

Dr Goodwin was on Wednesday asked in Parliament if she would reconsider the smoking ban if it proved to be a key motivation behind the siege.

She said the government would not back down.

"We're not in the business of giving in to the demands of prisoners for things and conceding that a hostage action was appropriate," she said.

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La secret bancaire des Suisses est menacé à son tour !

Published on 2015-08-27 17:46:47.
Website: Accueil

La rapide érosion des libertés personnelles et publiques ne semble bouleverser personne en Suisse car la menace est pratiquement invisible autant qu'elle est sournoise.

Il aura fallu attendre les révélations d'Assange et de Snowden pour comprendre que les États-Unis d'Amérique se livraient depuis des années à des actes d'intrusion inadmissibles jusque dans la comptabilité de nos instituts bancaires qui s'imaginaient protégés grâce au secret bancaire réputé  "non négociable". Cette institution Suisse remontant à 1934 faisait partie de notre patrimoine génétique.

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Aseem Malhotra still doesn't know what he's talking about

Published on 2015-08-27 05:47:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Aseem Malhotra has inexplicably been on television again today spouting his latest scientifically illiterate theories. In recent months he has been lurching ever closer towards the low carb cult and the Atkins diet. He is now telling people to eat a low carb, high fat diet while simultaneously telling them to adopt the Mediterranean diet. The latter has never been properly defined but is certainly not low carb. I can only assume that he has now read more than one diet book.

In the last year or so, Malhotra has done his best to deter people from taking statins, downplay the importance of physical activity, eat more fat and not worry about how many calories they consume - strange behaviour for a cardiologist. Perhaps, as Fergus says, he is trying to recruit new customers.

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Revisiting CAMRA's 'historic victory'

Published on 2015-08-27 03:20:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Last year I wrote a post about what the Campaign for Real Ale described as its 'historic victory' of breaking the beer tie.

This is actually the second time that CAMRA has successfully lobbied to break the beer tie. They first did it in the 1980s when Thatcher forced breweries to sell off thousands of pubs. The unintended, but predictable, consequence was that thousands of pubs were bought up by property management companies.

These companies (pubcos) soon became the new villains in CAMRA mythology and last year they were cut down to size when the government (or, more precisely, the opposition plus the Lib Dems) broke the modern beer tie by banning pubcos from making it a contractual obligation for tenants to buy alcohol from them at a higher-than-market rate. This is known as the Market Rent Only option and tenants of large pubcos now have a legal right to it.

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New data confirm that tobacco sales rose after plain packaging

Published on 2015-08-26 01:28:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

As reported last week by Guido and Catallaxy Files (but no mainstream media outlets that I know of), tobacco sales increased by 0.5 per cent in the first year of plain packaging in Australia. I didn't want to comment until I'd had a change to look at the newly published stats in depth, but I have now done so and the figures in Guido's report are spot on.

21,901,393,720 cigarettes were sold in the twelve months before plain packaging was introduced. In the next twelve months, 22,016,130,420 cigarettes were sold. This is a rise - a small rise but a remarkable one considering that sales had been consistently falling for many years before the policy was introduced.

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Drafting A TPD2 Consultation Response

Published on 2015-08-25 14:39:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

A UK Government consultation on the EU's appalling dog's breakfast Tobacco Products Directive finishes on September 3rd so I thought we might have a bash at it, whaddya reckon?

As most of you are aware, these things are really just an exercise in government pretending it is listening to the public. The vast majority of responses come from state-funded quangos and lobby groups so they are better termed public sector consultations. However, over time we have learned the rules, as I mentioned in June last year.

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The reverse paranoia of 'public health'

Published on 2015-08-25 14:01:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Via Clive Bates on Twitter, I see that Simon Capewell has written an article about 'internet trolls' for his newsletter. I don't follow Capewell on Twitter but I do occasionally see his green ink tweets and, weirdly, he sometimes retweets things I say ironically thinking that I'm being serious.

In recent months the UK Faculty of Public Health, of which Capewell is the president, has called for a ban on vaping in indoor places and a tax on sugar. As you might expect, this has not gone down well with a large section of the public. Some members of the public have told him so on Twitter and that makes them industry-funded trolls in the fantasy world of Public Health (Capewell uses the term 'Big Tobacco' three times in his short article, despite the fact that 'Big Tobacco' has no reason to care about sugar taxes and might be positively upbeat about vaping bans).

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On wowsers

Published on 2015-08-25 02:09:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

This is my submission to Australia's senate inquiry into personal choice and community impacts. I tried to keep it general and concise...

The issue of paternalistic lifestyle regulation is broad, but I would like to make two general points that I hope the committee will bear in mind during its investigation. The first relates to ethics, the second to costs.

A large part of the modern 'public health' agenda involves trying to stop adult consumers from engaging in behaviour that could pose a risk to their health. These activities do not typically pose a threat to the health of other people and, in a free society, the decision to partake in them should be a free choice for the individual, unencumbered by nudges and barriers from government.

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