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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 more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws

Published on 2020-09-29 13:58:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


In an article for CapX, I argue that the government is increasingly being seen a jailer rather than a friend. I can see the wheels falling off before long. Consent is slipping away. 

Bien pensants scoffed at the idea of ‘lockdown fatigue’ because there was no hard evidence that it existed. How could there be? We were in uncharted territory. But, to greatly paraphrase Orwell, only an intellectual could believe that locking people up for months while their jobs evaporate won’t make them lose patience and flout the rules. People went into lockdown more out of fear of the virus than fear of punishment.   

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Posted Without Comment

Published on 2020-09-29 11:46:09.
Website: Frank Davis


Posted without comment. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54328466 The Welsh Government plans to ban smoking in playgrounds by March. Smoking on the touchlines at children’s football matches is being banned by the Football Association of Wales. Health Minister Vaughan Gething praised the ban by … Continue reading →

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Kick Out to Help Out has been a fiasco

Published on 2020-09-28 08:58:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Last Wednesday, I wrote about the new 10pm 'kick out to help out' rule and suggested that it was about signalling more than anything else. There is no evidence that closing pubs early will help – only five per cent of new cases arise in hospitality venues and the policy may simply encourage more house parties – but it might remind the public that the virus is still out there.

As symbolic measures go, it is an expensive one. The full cost to pubs and restaurants will only be known when the bankruptcy and unemployment figures are published, but one publican claims that the new closing time could halve takings. In restaurants, it will mean seating everybody by 8.30pm. After a three-and-a-half-month lockdown, the hospitality industry is so fragile that many of its businesses only need the slightest push to go over the brink.


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Killjoy Moral Crusaders

Published on 2020-09-26 17:43:36.
Website: Frank Davis


Taking :Liberties: A leading Labour-run council has banned staff from smoking at their desks if they are working from home, in what campaigners say is an emerging “moral crusade” by local authorities against tobacco lovers. Hammersmith and Fulham council, which … Continue reading →

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The earnings of smokers - a basic causation problem

Published on 2020-09-26 11:57:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Action on Smoking and Health have spent the last ten years claiming that smoking costs the British economy £13 billion a year. When this figure was conjured up with the help of Policy Exchange in 2010, it was - conveniently - slightly higher than the UK's annual tax revenue from tobacco. ASH immediately used their Big Number to demand higher taxes on Pigouvian grounds, but Pigouvian taxes require externalities and a closer look at their methodology showed that most of the £13 billion consisted of internalised costs, principally lost productivity/lost income. Yesterday, ASH were a pushing a new figure of £14 billion as the annual cost of smoking in lost income alone.  A new analysis by Landman Economics for health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) finds that the collective impact of joblessness and lower earnings for smokers amounts to £14.1bn a year. Over 300,000 smokers over 21 are economically inactive each year, forfeiting £6.9bn in lost earnings, while the 5.05 million in employment earn £7.2bn less than non-smokers. Working smokers have weekly earnings that are on average 6.8 per cent lower than non-smokers; equivalent to £1,424 per smoker. You have probably spotted the problem straight away. On average, smokers earn less than nonsmokers because smoking has become a disproportionately working class activity (it was not always thus). But there isn't a causal relationship between smoking cigarettes and earning less money. (Incidentally, even if there were such a relationship, it would be a personal trade-off and none of the government's business).  People who eat lobster and caviar earn more, on average, than people who don't, but they won't earn less if they decide to stop eating them, nor will you earn more if you start. The report by Landman Economics - the one-man band of a former left-wing think tank employee - only controls for age, education and gender. That doesn't scratch the surface of the differences between the kind of person who smokes in 2020 and the kind of person who doesn't. 

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Driving the economy off a cliff

Published on 2020-09-26 09:31:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



 I've got an article in this week's Spectator about the unbelievably bad state of the British economy and its public finances.  

Future generations will be bewildered that a prosperous country threw its economy off a cliff in a failed attempt to suppress a disease that kills less than 1 per cent of those infected, most of them in their eighties and nineties.  You can read it here.

It doesn't have to be this way. There is an alternative.

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Talking drinking guidelines and related issues

Published on 2020-09-25 09:01:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I was chatting to the guys at the Consumer Choice Center about a few nanny state issues recently. Top of the agenda was the US review of the drinking guidelines which looks to have been captured by temperance interests, just as it was in the UK. Full interview below.



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Little Hitlers

Published on 2020-09-23 15:56:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



 Josie Appleton is always worth reading and she's written an excellent report for FOREST about the anti-smoking authoritarianism of local council busybodies. She made Freedom of Information requests to over 200 councils and found a range of smoking bans for staff and residents, including:

49 councils ban cigarette breaks entirely, even if workers clock off 113 councils currently ban smoking outside council buildings with some requiring employees to leave the site entirely or stand up to 50 metres from a council building to light up 29% of councils who replied had some form of ban on smoking outdoors.

Ipswich Council says that it is not enough to stand outside a council car to smoke - you have to move away from the car.  Leeds Council says:  ‘Leeds City Council employees are role models for our local communities. Employees who are visibly smoking whilst carrying out their duties are not demonstrating behaviour that encourages local communities to stop smoking.’
There is much more of this kind of thing but, as in Josie's fabulous book Officious, the report is at its best when it explains what it all says about the authorities and what they think of us.
 The new restrictions on outdoor smoking are no longer even nominally justified by concrete health risks posed by smokers to other people. Instead, they are part of a new political and moral framework, a smokefree ideology, that is taking hold at all levels of the state structure, particularly regional governments and local authorities. This programme is seeking an end to the sight and presence of smoking in public spaces, not only as a public health goal but as a political and moral good and a means of social transformation. Smokefree beaches, parks, homes and workplaces are being pursued by a state structure strapped for funding and bereft of social or moral ideals. To go smokefree becomes a way in which state authorities can make a positive statement about the improvement of public spaces or of social conditions locally. ‘Smokefree’ becomes the stand-in public good, the stand-in way in which state bodies might claim to have a vision or to affect improvements in society.


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The Forgotten People

Published on 2020-09-22 18:23:12.
Website: Frank Davis


Something Michael Moore said (10:00 minutes): “I can say that from my end of the political spectrum, we don’t forget people. We’re actually about remembering the people who are forgotten, and fighting for them… The real forgotten people, the people … Continue reading →

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Plain packaging doesn't work - new study

Published on 2020-09-22 10:40:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Another 'public health' win!

 A study published in Nature Human Behaviour looks at Australia's experiment with plain packaging for tobacco and comes to a conclusion that will surprise few regular readers... 

Here we examine the effectiveness of Australia’s plain packaging law, which coincided with a change in graphic and text health warnings, by using nationally indicative data 5 years post implementation. We measured the effect of the law on smoking prevalence, tobacco expenditure, expenditure intensity and quantity of tobacco consumed, using New Zealand as a control country in a difference-in-differences research design. We uncover a substitution effect that is robust to different specifications and control countries. In response to the policy, smokers switched from more expensive to cheaper cigarettes and reduced their overall tobacco expenditure and expenditure intensity. However, as smoking became less costly, smokers consumed more cigarettes.


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No, YOU lock down

Published on 2020-09-22 10:13:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I propose a solution to our current predicament at The Critic... 

Since there is no end in sight, lockdown should now become an issue of individual choice. If you want a lockdown, you lock down. You stay at home. You get your shopping delivered. You wait it out. If you are a pensioner, you may be doing this already and you have your pension to keep you going. If you are of working age but have a health condition that puts you at high risk, you may already be on Disability Living Allowance. If not, and if you can’t work from home, we will put you on it for as long as you want to self-isolate. Heck, even if there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re just scared of getting the virus, we’ll let you claim Disability Living Allowance and you can lock yourself down. Your employer will be legally obliged to keep your job open for you for when you return. The government will offer interest-free loans to anybody who wants some extra money. You can pay it back when this is all over. For now, stay at home for as long as you like.

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The Selfish and the Selfless

Published on 2020-09-20 15:43:48.
Website: Frank Davis


I guess that Progressives believe in Progress, and Progress is something that makes the world a better place. They think the world can become a better place. Smoking bans are seen as Progressive. Smoking bans make for a smoke-free world. … Continue reading →

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Belarus, T-Cells and COVID-19

Published on 2020-09-18 16:53:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


There are a couple of interesting articles in the BMJ this week about the old Miley Cyrus, including one involving a rare mention of Belarus. Sweden's relatively laissez-faire attitude towards Covid grabbed the world's attention but Belarus took an even less restrained approach. In Sweden, it's been the epidemiologists calling the shots. In Belarus, it's the dictator. But both have ended up being a sort of control group.

Belarus isn't the most open society, to put it mildly, and its data are questionable. Its daily Covid death count has been suspiciously consistent, nearly always between four and six. No doubt the numbers have been massaged, but Belarus is not such a closed society that word wouldn't get out if its health service was collapsing and people were dying left, right and centre - which is what the likes of Prof Neil Ferguson would have predicted given that it didn't come close to locking down.

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New Scares For Old

Published on 2020-09-17 23:10:18.
Website: Frank Davis


Via Chris Snowdon: Smoking continues to be a problem in multi-unit housing, and while stay-at-home orders have helped to reduce transmission of COVID-19, they have also increased exposure to secondhand smoke from neighbors. My interpretation of this is that, ever … Continue reading →

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The thirdhand smoke grift

Published on 2020-09-17 10:19:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



More essential public health research from California...

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of challenges...
Hasn't it!

...including that many are spending more time at home than ever before. 
Domestic violence, suicide, loneliness, isolation, depression. It is a major problem.

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Plain packaging for e-cigarettes?!?

Published on 2020-09-16 09:57:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The Netherlands is on the brink of introducing plain packaging for e-cigarettes. To my knowledge, the only other country to have gone down that path is Israel. Not many countries have introduced plain packaging for tobacco products, let alone vaping products, because it doesn't work. The Dutch government also plans to ban (non-tobacco) e-cigarette flavours.

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Shameless sockpuppetry in Scotland

Published on 2020-09-15 16:12:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Holyrood, a magazine aimed at politicians in Scotland, has recently given us some nice examples of sockpuppetry in action.

On Friday, it published an article by Sheila Duffy calling on the government to further increase the vilification and extortion of smokers.

We need policy decisions that are bold, and we need to ensure that Scottish Government have the tools and power to make those decisions.
Sheila Duffy is the CEO of ASH Scotland, which gets most of its income from the Scottish government. The article was bought and paid for.

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Drinking in lockdown - what's the story now?

Published on 2020-09-15 10:08:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


This month saw the release of alcohol sales figures for the UK during lockdown. They told a dramatic story. In the 17 weeks to 11 July, the number of alcohol units sold fell by a whopping 35%.

The total volume of alcohol sold during lockdown (the 17 weeks to 11 July 2020) fell to 1.3bn litres, down from 2bn the previous year, data from Nielsen Scantrack and the CGA found, despite value sales through the major retailers rising £1.9bn over the same period.

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Any questions?

Published on 2020-09-11 10:28:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I'll be on Any Questions tonight? Brexit and COVID-19 are bound to come up. If you're not watching Watford vs. Middlesbrough down the pub, tune in. Radio 4. 8pm.

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Thank you, unhealthy commodity industries!

Published on 2020-09-10 11:00:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Last year, I wrote about SPECTRUM, one of the latest nanny state sockpuppets to be funded by the unwitting taxpayer. Given £5.9 million and a ludicrous acronym (it stands for Shaping Public hEalth poliCies To Reduce ineqUalities and harM - I'm not kidding), SPECTRUM promised to focus on 'the commercial determinants of health and health inequalities, considering alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy food'. It is a crony organisation and its list of 'co-investigators' is a Who's Who of the British 'public health' racket.

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The many failings of 'public health' in the Covid era

Published on 2020-09-04 09:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



I've written a report for the IEA looking back on all the failings of Public Health England and the World Health Organisation since COVID-19 emerged. You Had One Job identifies four or five key failings by each agency and offers some proposals for reform. One of them - closing down PHE - was announced while the report was being edited last month. I discuss what to do with the WHO in this article for Cap-X.

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The drinking guidelines fix is in

Published on 2020-09-03 14:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


More drinking guideline news. In December, I reported that Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council had recruited none other than the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group to 'model' the risks and benefits of drinking at different levels.  

This was a bold move on the part of the National Health and Medical Research Council given that the Sheffield team were caught red-handed changing their methodology to allow Public Health England to lower the guidelines, but the Australian 'public health' industry is no more capable of feeling shame than our own.


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Last Orders with Rob Lyons

Published on 2020-08-28 10:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The new Last Orders episode is out, featuring me, Tom Slater and Roby Lyons. This month it's a special 'Everything's Coming Up Snowdon' edition in which we only discuss good news: Public Health England, Turkey Twizzlers, the end of prohibition in South Africa and the success of Sweden. 

Listen here.


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Meaningless graphics

Published on 2020-08-21 11:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


 

Last year I started curating a Twitter thread of meaningless, stupid and pointless graphics, mostly Powerpoint slides from 'public health' conferences. The thread has become difficult to follow so I'm putting them all here and will add to them from time to time.

Thanks to everyone who has submitted entries. Keep them coming.  

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RIP Public Health England. Where next for 'public health'?

Published on 2020-08-19 11:22:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


You may probably heard the news that Public Health England is to be closed down. As you can imagine, I nearly died laughing. It is a rare example of the government acting on a recommendation from an IEA report before the report has been published (coming in September).

But what now? What comes next?

I offer a roadmap in this article for the Spectator.

In his farewell email to staff, PHE’s chief exec Duncan Selbie wrote that the ‘obvious next priority is to secure the right and best future for all those other responsibilities of PHE that are not about health protection’. PHE’s empire building created many well remunerated jobs. Those who are on the low-fat gravy train will be understandably reluctant to get off and will be lobbying hard for a new agency that is Public Health England in all but name. Having set up the National Institute for Health Protection, the government may be tempted to set up a twin organisation, perhaps called the National Institute for Health Improvement (although Nanny State England has more of a ring to it).


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Political pygmies

Published on 2020-08-16 11:06:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The Scottish government is banning music in pubs on the flimsy grounds that people might raise their voice and spread the coronavirus. It is the latest in a series of petty measures from pygmy politicians. I discuss some other articles in this article for the Telegraph

 

None of these policies, not the ban on smoking outdoors, nor the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes, nor the restrictions on food sales, will have the slightest impact on Covid-19 (except, perhaps, negatively). The only thing they have in common is that political pygmies have always quite liked the sound of them.

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Smoking and COVID-19 - the evidence gets stronger

Published on 2020-08-08 12:10:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I've found it impossible to keep up with all the research on smoking and COVID-19 recently. The tireless @phil_w888 has now catalogued over 700 studies of COVID-19 patients that have data on smoking prevalence. 

In the last week, the largest observational study yet conducted found that smokers (in Mexico) were 23 per cent less likely to test positive for COVID-19. This is in line with the results of an ongoing meta-analysis by some researchers who would clearly prefer the hypothesis to be disproved but who nevertheless have found a 26 per cent reduction in infection risk for current smokers. 

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Remain (Inside) vs. Leave (the House) - the faultline in British politics

Published on 2020-08-03 09:18:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


It's not a novel observation to say that the debate about lockdown measures is a rerun of Brexi, with the same people lining up on each side. But why should that be? In this article for the Telegraph, I throw a few theories around...
On the face of it, the two issues have nothing in common. It may be that Brexiteers are less risk averse. No Deal Brexiteers, in particular, embrace risk almost by definition. Remainers, by contrast, feel safer with the status quo, and once lockdown became the status quo, any loosening of it felt like a risk.

Or it could be about settling old scores. Some pro-lockdown campaigners are more or less explicitly anti-Tory activists who oppose any relaxation so they can say ‘I told you so’ in the future when there is a second wave of (hello, ‘Independent SAGE’).

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Alcohol doesn't cause cancer?

Published on 2020-08-01 12:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


There was much excitement in 'public health' circles last year when a study failed to find an association between moderate drinking and lower rates of heart disease. The study used conventional epidemiology and Mendelian Randomisation (MR) to look at a Chinese population in which a gene that is associated with alcohol avoidance is relatively common (it is very uncommon in the West). The authors found a protective effect for heart disease when they used epidemiology but not when they used MR. It was not the first MR study to come to this conclusion.

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E-cigarette regulation - money talks

Published on 2020-07-31 10:25:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


An interesting article in the Economist tells us a lot about e-cigarettes. In China, the world's biggest cigarette market, smokers are increasingly switching to e-cigarettes. The state-owned tobacco monopoly is not happy about it.

Investor optimism derives in large part from the prospect of rapid growth in China, where just 10m people were regular users of e-cigarettes at the end of last year. But dig a little deeper and the outlook darkens. A powerful state-owned cigarette monopoly, China Tobacco, will not cede ground to a rival product without a fight.

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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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