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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.


Published on 2017-02-27 12:07:06.
Website: Frank Davis

A year or two back, I found out that sunlight exerts a small force on everything it strikes. It’s called radiation pressure. I built it into my orbital simulation model, and using asteroids that weighed one kilogram and were 200 … Continue reading →

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Revealed preferences: a case study

Published on 2017-02-27 10:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

A photo tells a thousand words. This one was taken by Michael F. Cannon at the 'Creating a Culture of Health' conference last week, hosted by billionaire nannies of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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American Heart Association Claims that Vaping Causes Severe Strokes and is More Risky than Smoking

Published on 2017-02-26 16:03:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

In a press release issued last Thursday, the American Heart Association claimed that vaping causes severe strokes and poses a higher risk of severe strokes than smoking.

According to the press release: "E-cigarettes may pose the same or higher risk of stroke severity as tobacco smoke. ... Electronic cigarette (e-cigarettes) vaping may pose just as much or even higher risk as smoking tobacco for worsening a stroke, according to a preliminary study in mice presented at the American Heart Association's International Stroke Conference 2017. ... From a brain health perspective, researchers said, electronic-cigarette vaping is not safer than tobacco smoking, and may pose a similar, if not higher risk for stroke severity."

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More on The Pleasure of Smoking

Published on 2017-02-26 12:06:58.
Website: Frank Davis

Dr Neil McKeganey‘s talk: Among noteworthy various things he said: “When I moved from the arena of research on illegal drugs to legal drugs, I had not imagined the stranglehold that the Public Health perspective would have on the research … Continue reading →

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Peter Hitchens on drugs

Published on 2017-02-25 16:14:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Peter Hitchens has written a blog post titled 'Stupid arguments for drug legalisation examined and refuted'. For the most part, the arguments are not silly and Hitchens hasn't seriously examined, let alone refuted, them. 
I won't respond to all his points because some of them are not really arguments for drug legalisation at all - they are just arguments he has with legalisers from time to time. In particular, he spends a lot of time arguing against people who say 'what about alcohol, tobacco, motorcycles etc?' That line of attack can expose the double standards of some prohibitionists but it cuts no ice with Hitchens because he would happily ban these products too if it were feasible. I shall therefore pass over that argument and address some of his other points.

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The Futile Search for Planet 9

Published on 2017-02-25 12:59:38.
Website: Frank Davis

I got interested in Planet 9 a week or so back. Planet 9 is a theoretical planet, estimated to be 3 or 4 times the size of the Earth, in a highly elliptical 20,000 year orbit around the Sun. And … Continue reading →

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Tobacco tax evasion - what's the story now?

Published on 2017-02-24 12:47:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I have written before about the sketchy guesswork used by the government to estimate the size of the illicit tobacco market. HMRC's current methodology is to...

... estimate how many smokers there are and multiply it by the estimate of how many cigarettes they each smoke. They then subtract the number of recorded sales - plus an estimate of how much is bought legally abroad - from the total and the figure that emerges is the amount of non-duty paid tobacco.
I have suggested that the decline in legal tobacco sales since 2009/10 - when tobacco taxes began to rise well above inflation - has been far greater than the decline in smoking prevalence would predict. In 2009/10, 49 billion cigarettes were sold. By 2014/15, this had fallen to 33 billion, meaning that sales had fallen by a third. Sales of hand-rolling tobacco, meanwhile, had remained the same at around 6.6 million kilograms. The graphs below show legal sales of cigarettes and other tobacco (mainly hand-rolling tobacco) since 1992. Note the big dip in 2000 when cross-border shopping from the EU began in earnest.

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You Do Agree, Don’t You?

Published on 2017-02-24 11:00:43.
Website: Frank Davis

Dick Puddlecote reports on a talk given by Professor  Neil McKegany: To give you a few examples, he began by explaining that he came from a background of talking about illegal drugs and how policies to reduce harm can be … Continue reading →

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A Night At The Pleasure Zone (part 1)

Published on 2017-02-23 21:15:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Last week I advised anyone able to do so that they should consider attending the IEA yesterday for Forest's Pleasure Zone event. I knew it was going to be an enjoyable evening - these things invariably are - but this one exceeded even my optimistic expectations.

I met up for drinks beforehand with good friends including the affable and always entertaining multi-culti mish-mash Afghan Dave, but there were so many excellent people there when we arrived that it would take a few hundred words to name check them all.

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A beer a day keeps the doctor away

Published on 2017-02-23 15:20:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

You may have read this (now deleted) story at the Telegraph yesterday:

Just half a pint of beer a week increases risk of heart disease - new study
It is the sheerest of bollocks. A perfect storm of incompetence, credulity and incomprehension. I wrote about it for Spectator Health. Do have a read.

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If Air Traffic Control was like Tobacco Control

Published on 2017-02-23 12:36:27.
Website: Frank Davis

I came across this in Tobacco Control journal: Recent comments posted on some personal blogs impugn the objectivity of Tobacco Control and its reviewers, questioning our motives and the veracity of peer review. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if … Continue reading →

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Hey! Bloggers, Leave Our Junk Alone!

Published on 2017-02-21 18:04:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

In an unintentionally amusing article yesterday, the Editor of the BMJ's Tobacco Control Comic Journal, Ruth Malone, along with no fewer than six co-authors has expressed irritation at their policy-driven rag being criticised.
As editors of Tobacco Control we are always pleased to see readers thinking critically about what they read in this journal and using the ‘Rapid Response’ forum to engage in constructive academic debate.However, the growing use of personal blogs to criticise published articles has led us to reflect on appropriate ways of engaging in such debate and how we as editors should respond to comments made outside the ‘Rapid Response’ forum.Now, if I've read that right they seem to be saying that criticism of the studies they publish should only take place on their website where it can be subject to posting rules and, presumably if they deem it necessary, censorship.

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Tobacco Control Journal: There Can Be No Legitimate Discussion of Our Articles Without Our Permission

Published on 2017-02-20 21:08:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

In a revelation of the religious-like character of the modern-day tobacco control movement, the journal Tobacco Control has suggested that there can be no legitimate discussion about articles it publishes without its permission; that is, on the Rapid Response forum at the journal's own web site. All other discussion of the scientific validity of journal articles is apparently illegitimate and inappropriate.

In an unprecedented editorial (I've never before seen a journal argue that the only legitimate forum for discussion of its articles is in the journal itself), the journal writes:

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How Tobacco Control 'Science' Works #94

Published on 2017-02-20 19:02:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Earlier this month, I briefly mentioned merchant of doubt Simple Simon's master class in cherry-picking 'evidence' in The Conversation to claim that truths about e-cigs are actually myths.

The comments under the line have since been quite a story in themselves, with Greek scientist Konstantinos Farsalinos revealing that he is embarking on the task of replicating some of the studies which led to garish scare stories in the media.

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Rational alcohol taxation

Published on 2017-02-17 13:44:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

This week I proposed replacing Britain's perverse system of alcohol duty with a flat tax on units of alcohol. A 9p/unit tax would pay for all the external costs of drinking to the government and would change the tax rates on a range of drinks as follows:

As you can see most - but not all - drinks would become cheaper. This is because drinkers are grossly over-taxed at present (ie. the tax revenue greatly exceeds the costs to public services). Cider, by contrast, is somewhat under-taxed.

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People believe poverty has increased because they are misinformed

Published on 2017-02-16 14:28:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The usually sensible John Rentoul has produced a very special sentence for the Independent...

So the solution to the puzzle is that, objectively, poverty hasn’t increased, but that people feel it has, which means that, in a way, it has. 
This could be read as the final, feeble pistol shot of the left after years spent predicting an epidemic of poverty due to 'austerity'/the Tories/the bankers that never appeared. In one line, Rentoul seems to have crystallised the left's preference for emotions over facts.

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The smoking ban miracle hoax

Published on 2017-02-14 12:48:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Jacob Grier has written an excellent article for Slate about the junk science used to justify smoking bans. In particular, he looks at the ludicrous heart attack miracles than supposedly take place whenever people are prevented from smoking in pubs.

When studies sampling larger populations finally appeared, the reported declines in heart attacks began to shrink. A study of the Piedmont region of Italy found a much lower decline of 11 percent, though curiously only for residents under 60 years of age. England, which implemented a smoking ban nationwide, presented the first opportunity to study the matter on a national scale. Researchers there credited the ban with a heart attack reduction of just over 2 percent nationwide.
Critics noted that the rate of heart attacks in England had also been falling in the years prior to the ban and that the reason for the decline was still not clear. Regardless, the data there made it obvious that the miraculous reductions claimed in smaller studies were unrealistically high. Even so, despite acknowledging the wide variation in findings and the admitted methodological limitations of the studies, a 2009 meta-analysis conducted by the Institute of Medicine concluded that the impact of smoking bans on short-term heart attack rates was real and substantial: “Even a small amount of exposure to secondhand smoke

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What Is 'The Best Nicotine Delivery Device in the World'?

Published on 2017-02-13 19:01:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Now there's a question, huh?

If you weren't already aware, there is an event at the IEA on Wednesday 22nd February which will attempt to answer that question via the medium of an entertaining balloon debate. The evening will also feature a short presentation on ‘The Pleasure of Smoking: The Views of Confirmed Smokers’ by Dr Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Substance Use Research, which I wrote about over the Christmas period.

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Kentucky Health Group is Deceiving Public About Risks of Smoking ... and It's Working

Published on 2017-02-13 11:58:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

A Kentucky health group has orchestrated a campaign to deceive the public about the terrible health hazards associated with smoking by downplaying those risks. Sadly, a recent public opinion poll commissioned by the group demonstrated that its campaign of deceit is working. Adults in Kentucky have been completely fooled about the serious health risks of smoking.

According to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky: "Research suggests that e-cigs may be a gateway to using other forms of tobacco, and they can be just as harmful."

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Drafting An EU Tobacco Taxation Consultation Response

Published on 2017-02-12 18:19:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

As regular readers know, we often take part in public consultations here, and there is an important one currently open which ends on Thursday 16th February (yes, this week) which I'd urge you to have a bash at.

The EU is planning to make changes to directive 2011/64/EU which deals with manufactured tobacco products, and one of the proposals is to make e-cigs liable for taxation as a tobacco product category. Obviously this is daft, but there is more than just that in the consultation survey, it also deals with new 'Heat not Burn' products (HnB) along with raw tobacco, cigarillos, cigars, waterpipes and other tobacco category items.

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If in doubt, blame the fat kid

Published on 2017-02-10 12:03:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The NHS is in the depths of its annual winter crisis, with waiting times and demand at record levels, as the Telegraph reports:

The number of people waiting more than two months to start cancer treatment after an urgent referral was 25,157 in 2016 - the highest on record and almost double the 13,191 in 2010.

Official figures for December reveal just 86.2 per cent of A&E patients were seen within four hours - the worst figure on record.
One of the few benefits of the annual NHS crisis is that it focuses people's minds on the reasons why demand for health care is rising. Most of the time, people are happy to blame the usual scapegoats of smokers, drinkers and fatties, but this is rhetoric designed to pursue political objections. Most of the people in the health service know that it is nonsense and that the real cause of rising demand is the rapidly ageing population. When the winter crisis hits, this has to be acknowledged, because you stand no chance of solving a problem until you know what it is.

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Pétition au Grand conseil de Genève

Published on 2017-02-10 08:48:44.
Website: Accueil

À l'approche des élections cantonales à Genève, Les Dissidents de Genève estiment urgent et nécessaire de consolider le suffrage universel, actuellement menacé. En effet les citoyens, qui élisent des députés au Grand conseil, n'ont aucune garantie que ceux-ci ne soient pas rétrogradés en cours de législature au rang de simple députés indépendants, ainsi privés du droit fondamental de siéger dans les commissions parlementaires. Or c'est dans ces commissions consultatives préparatoires que tout se joue. C'est là le véritable creuset des décisions prises ensuite par l'assemblée plénière.

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The BBC And Suspiciously-Timed Snus 'Science'

Published on 2017-02-09 19:01:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Articles on the BBC about snus are about as rare as sightings of Willy Wonka factory tour golden tickets, but just such an occurrence was spotted on Tuesday.

What looks suspiciously like a well-timed piece of trademark tobacco control junk science to muddy the waters in the run-up to a CJEU challenge of the EU snus ban was - as can be expected with a study negative about nicotine - embraced warmly by Nanny Beeb.
Swedes warned snus tobacco raises diabetes riskResearchers in Sweden have issued a warning over snus - the country's favourite nicotine hit - challenging claims it is a risk-free alternative to smoking.Stop right there, BBC.

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Günter Ropohl verstorben

Published on 2017-02-09 18:25:29.
Website: Netzwerk Rauchen e.V.

Netzwerk Rauchen trauert um verdientes Mitglied Das Netzwerk Rauchen hat einen seiner Vordenker verloren. Prof. Dr. Günter Ropohl ist am 28. Januar im Alter von 77 Jahren gestorben. Der 1939 in Köln geborene Ingenieur, Technikphilosoph und -soziologe lehrte bis zu seiner Emeritierung 2004 Allgemeine Technologie an der Universität Frankfurt/Main. Als anerkannter Wissenschaftler hat er bedeutende Forschungsleistungen auf diesem Gebiet vollbracht.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Günter Ropohl 14.06.39 - 28.01.17

Im (Un)Ruhestand widmete sich der in Karlsruhe wohnhafte überzeugte Raucher dem sich intensivierenden Kreuzzug gegen den Tabakgenuss. Sein erster Artikel zum Thema erschien im Juni 2006 in der Tabakzeitung, bereits wenige Monate später veröffentlichte ein Vorläufer von Netzwerk Rauchen seinen Text „Passivrauchen – ein überschätztes Gesundheitsrisiko“ auf der Rückseite eines Flugblattes.

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Anti-vaping junk

Published on 2017-02-09 15:24:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

More anti-vaping propaganda came out of America yesterday via that laughable rag Tobacco Control. I wrote about it for Spectator Health.

Ever since e-cigarettes became mainstream consumer products circa 2012, there has been a steady flow of anti-vaping scare stories. In the last 12 months, it has become a flood. The stories nearly always emerge from the US, usually from California, and focus to three claims: that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as smoking, that they don’t help people quit and that non-smokers who use them are more likely to start using tobacco cigarettes.

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Tobacco Control Study Provides Strong Evidence that Vaping is Not a One-Way Bridge to Smoking

Published on 2017-02-09 13:28:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

I have already shown (post 1; post 2) why the recently published study in Tobacco Control which purported to demonstrate that vaping is a "one-way bridge to cigarette smoking among youth" actually provides no evidence that e-cigarette experimentation is a gateway to smoking.

First, the exposed group consisted of any youth who had even puffed once on an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. Second, the outcome variable was having puffed even once on a cigarette in the past year. Thus, the study cannot document either that the "recent vapers" were actually regular vapers or that the youth who "initiated" smoking were actually smokers. A more likely explanation of the study findings is that youth who engage in e-cigarette experimentation are also more likely to try cigarettes.

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It's A Good Country If It Agrees With Simple Simon

Published on 2017-02-08 19:52:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

Simple Simon Chapman has been heroically doing his Canute impression at The Conversation by employing global cherry-picking on steroids to pretend a bunch of vaping truths are actually myths. Comical stuff like this for example.
9. There’s no good evidence for e-cigarettes being a gateway to smoking in young people Centers for Disease Control data from 2015 demonstrate a concerning sudden cessation and plateau in the previous decline of US high school students smoking tobacco, while e-cigarette use is skyrocketing.Yeah OK, oddball.

Yes, the whole thing is as shit as that. Y'see, Simple Simon is one of the old guard of tobacco control who lied for decades about smoking and saw a bovine public actually believe them. So therefore now think all they have to do is lie outrageously about e-cigs and - hey presto! - they will again be lauded for protecting society from imaginary danger ... instead of hilariously destroying their ill-gotten reputations in favour of a place in history as an ignorant object of eternal ridicule.

The most interesting thing about Simon Chapman's article though - apart from his increasingly isolated battle with reality - was this exchange in the comments.
JennyProf Chapman said; “But 18 nations ban e-cigarettes outright,

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Failure to Disclose Sample Size: A Flaw at Multiple Levels

Published on 2017-02-08 13:12:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

Yesterday, I revealed that a new study published in the journal Tobacco Control which concluded that e-cigarettes are a "one-way bridge" to youth smoking failed to disclose the sample size upon which its major conclusion was based. It turns out that the paper's sweeping conclusion was based on only 4 kids who had tried an e-cigarette at baseline and went on to try a cigarette in the next year. That sample size was not even revealed in the online supplement to the article. I had to calculate it from the raw data. The supplement did reveal that there were only 13 nonsmokers in the study who had vaped in the past month. Thus, I argued that the paper really should have concluded not that vaping is a gateway to smoking but that e-cigarette experimentation among nonsmokers doesn't appear to even be a gateway to regular vaping.

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If you see it, report it

Published on 2017-02-08 10:59:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Last week I posted a version of a complaint I sent to the BBC about their outrageously one-sided coverage of Welsh government proposals to ban smoking outside hospitals. I haven't had a reply from the Beeb yet, but Simon Clark reports that some progress has been made.

Six days after publishing their news report, the BBC has added a quote from FOREST opposing the idea of banning smoking shelters and has extended the accompanying propaganda video to include the same quote.

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New Study Concludes that Vaping is a One-Way Bridge to Cigarette Smoking among Youth

Published on 2017-02-07 15:50:00.
Website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary

A new studypublished online ahead of print in the journal Tobacco Control concludes that vaping is “a one-way bridge to cigarette smoking among youth.”

(See: Miech R, Patrick ME, O’Malley PM, Johnston LD. E-cigarette use as a predictor of cigarette smoking: results from a 1-year follow-up of a national sample of 12th grade students. Tobacco Control. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-0532910).

The study involved a one-year follow-up of 347 high school seniors who were surveyed at baseline in 2014 and at follow-up in 2015. At baseline, they were classified as recent vapers (used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days) or non-vapers. At follow-up, smoking initiation was defined as having smoked a cigarette in the past year.

In the key analysis, smoking initiation (smoking a cigarette in the past year) was compared between recent vapers (used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days) and non-vapers who had never smoked at the time of the baseline survey. The paper reports that the rate of smoking initiation was 31% among the recent vapers and 7% among non-vapers. In an adjusted analysis, recent vapers were 4.8 times more likely than non-vapers to initiate smoking during the follow-up period.

The paper concludes that “vaping is a one-way bridge to cigarette smoking among youth.”

The Rest of the Story

At first glance, this paper appears to demolish the claim that vaping is not a known gateway to youth smoking. The conclusion that is drawn is a sweeping one: e-cigarettes are a one-way bridge to cigarette smoking among youth. If this conclusion is true, then I believe e-cigarettes are not a tenable harm reduction strategy because the benefits of adults quitting using e-cigarettes would be offset by a substantial increase in youth becoming addicted to smoking and possibly suffering life-long health effects, disease, disability, and premature death.

So am I going to renounce my earlier conclusions (that there is no evidence vaping causes kids to start smoking)?
Perhaps, but not without a closer look at the study.
To be a valid conclusion, there must not be a plausible, alternative explanation for the study findings. The paper does not present any alternative explanations. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.
In fact, there is a very plausible (and in fact, highly likely) alternative interpretation of these findings:
Experimenting with e-cigarettes is a sensitive marker of substance-related, risk-taking behavior in general, which strongly predisposes a youth to trying cigarettes.
What could easily explain the observed findings is that youth who experiment with e-cigarettes are also more likely to experiment with other substances, including cigarettes. Therefore, of course you are going to find a higher rate of cigarette experimentation among youth who have already experimented with electronic cigarettes. This should come as a surprise to no one.
The observed relationship between e-cigarette experimentation and cigarette experimentation could well be a spurious one, confounded by an underlying predisposition to substance-related, risk-taking behavior. Importantly, the study did not make any attempt to control for any measures of risk-taking behavior. Moreover, the study did not even control for underlying susceptibility to smoking.
There are two additional and related factors that cast serious doubt on the study’s conclusion.
First, the exposure variable – recent vaping – was defined as having tried even one e-cigarette in the past month. All we know about the baseline “vapers” is that they had taken a puff on an e-cigarette in the past month. We do not know that they were regular vapers. We do not know that they had become addicted to nicotine or to vaping. We don’t even know that they had tried vaping more than once in their entire life! So to conclude that this study demonstrates that vaping is a one-way bridge to smoking is not warranted.
Second, the outcome variable – smoking initiation – was defined as having tried even one cigarette in the past year. All we know about the smoking initiators is that they had taken a puff on a cigarette in the past year. We don’t even know that they had tried more than one cigarette in the past year. So to conclude that vaping is a bridge to smoking based on this definition is not warranted.
The question that arises is why the study did not examine whether frequent vapers were more likely to progress to regular smoking (or at very least, current or established smoking). According to the paper, the sample size was not large enough to allow such an analysis. But that raises the question: If the sample size was not large enough to allow an analysis of frequent vapers, was it large enough to allow an analysis of all vapers? And most critically, how many youths were there who were nonsmoking, recent vapers at baseline who tried a cigarette in the next year? After all, this is the sample upon which the entire conclusion of the study is based.
So I took a closer look at the study – well, not the actual study because the sample size of baseline nonsmokers who had recently vaped is not reported anywhere in the study. You have to go to a separate, online appendixto find this out.
So take a guess: How many youths is the sweeping conclusion of this paper based on? (i.e., how many nonsmoking, recent vapers at baseline progressed to having tried a cigarette at follow-up?)

a. 122
b. 84
c. 42
d. 21
e. 9

If you guessed E (9) ...

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New data on alcohol-related deaths

Published on 2017-02-07 13:16:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Public Health England's alcohol report was based on a false narrative created by activists in the neo-temperance lobby. Its fundamental deceit was to claim that alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths were rising until the duty escalator was introduced in 2008, after which they fell.

The culprits were Nick Sheron and Ian Gilmore of the Alcohol Health Alliance who have repeated this claim again and again and who also claimed that alcohol-related deaths would rise after the beer and wine escalator was scrapped in 2013 and the spirits escalator was scrapped in 2014. The whole point of this charade is to portray price, consumption and mortality as inextricably linked and, therefore, to present endless price rises as the solution.

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British Vapers Leading Europe

Published on 2017-02-06 14:10:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

One of the 'Big Four' accounting firms, Ernst and Young (EY), has today released a report on e-cig use in seven 'core' countries between 2013 and 2016. The results are quite interesting, especially for UK vapers ... take a bow boys and girls.
The British public are switching from traditional cigarettes to vaping devices (e-cigarettes) faster than anyone in Europe. In the last four years, the British have switched to vaping at the rate of one person every four minutes.

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