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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.

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Published on 2021-01-23 15:44:14.
Website: Frank Davis

I keep hearing that the point of the current UK  lockdowns is to “protect the National Health Service.” The worry seems to be that hospitals will be flooded with Covid patients, and unable to cope. I can’t help but think … Continue reading →

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Prohibition still doesn't work

Published on 2021-01-22 10:10:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I see that Australia's policy of charging the thick end of £20 for a pack of cigarettes is going as well as ever... 

The founder of Border Force's illegal tobacco squad says one in five cigarettes smoked in Australia is illegal and demand has spawned a smuggling trade worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year, with a recent record-breaking case in Western Australia.

This week two cousins, Omar and Khaled Hussein, were jailed for four years and 10 months each, with parole, by a Perth District Court after trying to smuggle $8.5 million worth of illegal cigarettes into Fremantle Port on October 31, 2018.

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Things I Don’t Believe In

Published on 2021-01-20 16:13:13.
Website: Frank Davis

I’m ignoring the news. It’s all too awful. I don’t want to know. I don’t believe most of it anyway. Instead I’ve started listing a few Things I Don’t Believe In. Global Warming was top of the list. I don’t … Continue reading →

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Lockdown science, social science and anti-science

Published on 2021-01-19 11:05:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I've written a little something for the Spectator about happiness research and the effect of COVID-19 and lockdowns on wellbeing. Have a read. 

I've also written something longer about the crackpots on the fringes of the lockdown debate who have decided that it's better to pretend that there is no problem than to handle painful trade offs. At Quillette here.

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The Saddest Inauguration Ever

Published on 2021-01-18 20:18:39.
Website: Frank Davis

It’s going to be horrible to watch. https://www.ft.com/content/94db9b9b-243b-4ce8-9e10-452fadc523ec In a couple of days Joe Biden is going to be inaugurated as US president, with 25,000 troops surrounding the capitol, plus fences and barbed wire. They won’t be there to protect … Continue reading →

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Boosted By Bans

Published on 2021-01-17 18:08:19.
Website: Frank Davis

I was listening today to conservative Mark Levin’s Audio Rewind, and noticed an interesting contrast. He started out complaining about how conservative voices like his were increasingly being excluded from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. And then he went … Continue reading →

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No Context

Published on 2021-01-15 16:15:37.
Website: Frank Davis

Right now, as I write, it’s 3 pm GMT 15 January 2021. The date is under the title of this piece. So anyone reading this tomorrow will know that I was writing this yesterday. And anyone reading this a week … Continue reading →

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The World Health Organisation gets tough... on alcohol

Published on 2021-01-14 16:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

There might be pandemic but that's not going to stop the World Health Organisation getting down to what it sees as the real business of lifestyle regulation. 

Late last year, the WHO launched a public consultation on its draft Global Alcohol Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. It is not obvious that the WHO needs to have an alcohol strategy at all, let alone that it should be focusing on one in the middle of a pandemic. National governments are quite capable of deciding how alcoholic drinks are taxed and regulated without pressure from a UN agency. Some countries allow you to buy a beer at any time day or night. Others have total prohibition. The enormous differences in the way governments around the world treat alcohol make it an unlikely candidate for global regulation, but the World Health Organisation wants to have a go anyway.

The WHO has had a Global Alcohol Strategy since 2010. This is the updated version and there is a striking change in tone that reveals a shift towards a temperance mentality. Although the strategy is supposed to be about reducing alcohol-related harm, the approach is more about reducing alcohol consumption per se, with total abstinence portrayed as the ideal.

This should concern the world’s drinkers. The WHO has no regulatory power as such, but its alcohol strategy will eventually be formally endorsed by member states and anti-alcohol activists will use it to pressure governments into honouring their ‘commitments’.

Unlike the current Global Strategy, the working document makes very few references to informal and illicit alcohol, and there is little acknowledgement of the dangers of excessive taxation and regulation in fostering their production. By the WHO’s own estimate, 25 per cent of the world’s alcohol is sourced illicitly or informally. In countries such as Mexico and Russia, more than a third of all alcohol consumed is illicit, and the proportion exceeds 50 per cent in many African countries. This is a major source of criminality and tax evasion, as well as being hazardous to health. Unregulated ‘moonshine’ and surrogate alcohol causes many preventable deaths each year. In Iran, over 700 people died after drinking methanol between February and April 2020. In Punjab, India, 86 people died in July after drinking bootleg alcohol from illegal distilleries. Spates of alcohol poisonings are now commonplace, particularly in India.

By any measure, global consumption of contraband and counterfeit alcohol is unacceptably high. A key aim of policy should be to bring it down to the trivial levels seen in many western countries. Although the WHO claims that there is an ‘inherent contradiction between the interests of alcohol producers and public health’, many parts of the world would benefit from having greater access to regulated alcohol products. Rather than treating the legitimate drinks industry as the enemy, the WHO should want it to increase its market share at the expense of unregulated producers.

The key drivers of illicit alcohol consumption are state corruption, lack of availability (including prohibition) and lack of affordability (typically driven by taxation). Black markets tend to be more common in poorer countries. Supply side measures aimed at raising prices, banning advertising and restricting availability can, by their nature, only hope to deter consumption of legal, regulated alcohol which, in turn, stimulates demand for illegal substitutes.

It is therefore unfortunate that the WHO document contains the crude recommendation that member states ‘raise prices on alcohol through excise taxes and other pricing policies’. Differentials in price between licit and illicit products are among the key drivers of black market activity, and governments will be understandably reluctant to introduce taxes which lose them revenue. Taxes on alcohol should reflect the external costs associated with consumption and no more.

The working paper even raises the spectre of a global alcohol tax, saying: ‘Consideration should be given to an intergovernmental commitment to a global tax on alcohol to support this effort, with the use of the money raised to be governed internationally.’ It is difficult to imagine an inter-governmental organisation being better placed to spend alcohol duty revenues than member states. Alcohol taxes are raised, in part, to meet costs to public services created by excess alcohol consumption. Healthcare, prevention, rehabilitation and other such public services can only be provided at the local or national level. An inter-governmental body would not have the reach or infrastructure to spend tax revenues on the appropriate services.

Blurring the distinction between use and harmful use, the WHO complains that ‘no tangible progress was made in reducing total global alcohol consumption per capita’ between 2010 and 2018, as if that were the relevant metric. The draft strategy includes a target of reducing per capita alcohol consumption by a certain percentage (yet to be decided) by 2025 and 2030. Tellingly, there is no such target for alcohol-related deaths and disease, nor for heavy episodic drinking.

Per capita consumption is irrelevant if harm declines and there is no reason to assume that a reduction in per capita consumption will necessarily lead to a reduction in alcohol-related harm. The WHO should recognise that alcohol can be consumed safely and that moderate consumption has health benefits. The focus should be on alcohol-related harm, not alcohol consumption per se.

Implicit in the suggestion of launching a ‘World No Alcohol Day’ is the idea that zero alcohol consumption is the ideal. The similarity to World No Tobacco Day is probably no coincidence and is one of several examples of the working document conflating the risks of smoking with the risks of drinking. Elsewhere, it raises the prospect of ‘a global normative law on alcohol at the intergovernmental level, modelled on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’. The next draft of the document should make it clear that alcohol is not tobacco and the two should not be regulated in the same way. The WHO has got enough on its plate without becoming a cheerleader for prohibition.

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It's time to go Israeli on the virus

Published on 2021-01-11 16:26:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I wrote for the Sunday Telegraph about how to roll out the vaccine and end the nightmare. 

We cannot afford for the sclerotic NHS and the hopeless Public Health England (PHE) to screw up again. We give 15 million people a flu jab every year. Israel has already vaccinated 60 per cent of its priority groups, despite administering its first jab 11 days after we did. We are not talking about the D-Day landings here, but we should treat it as a military operation none the less.

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Looking forward to 2021?

Published on 2021-01-08 15:31:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Light blogging this week as things are quiet on the nanny state front. That's unusual as early January is normally when they go hell for leather. Be thankful for small mercies.

For now, I'll leave you with a discussion between a few of us at the IEA about what 2021 holds. As always, I am the ray of sunshine.


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'Public health' group sides with the virus

Published on 2021-01-04 13:07:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Brewdog recently announced that it would be allowing some of its bars to be turned into vaccination centres for free. A pretty helpful gesture during a public health crisis, I'm sure you'll agree. More than a gesture, in fact. A tangible and useful action.

However, state-funded legacy 'public health' groups disagree...

A wide range of venues for Covid-19 vaccination will be needed. Vaccination is a vital public health intervention. It’s not a marketing opportunity for alcohol producers. https://t.co/fdBfzLAWIV

— SPECTRUM Research Consortium (@SPECTRUMRes) January 2, 2021
They could have left it at the first two sentences or simply not commented at all, but they couldn't resist. They had to remind us that neo-puritans masquerading as public health experts are not only irrelevant to public health but are actively opposed to public health.
This will not come as news to regular readers, but it's nice of them to get the message out to a wider audience. 
I can't really improve on this response...

Hand sanitiser was a public health good & when there was a national shortage @BrewDogJames turned his distilleries to make it for the NHS instead of contributing sweet fuck-all & having a cheap pop at people who at least try, which appears to be your net contribution. You Twats

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Remember the economy?

Published on 2021-01-02 13:18:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Happy new year!

I've written an article for the Spectator about the dreadful state of the economy in 2021 and what the government can do to avert total catastrophe.

Check it out.

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Last Orders with Simon Evans

Published on 2020-12-30 11:19:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

There's a new end-of-year edition of the Last Orders podcast out. We were delighted to welcome back the great comedian Simon Evans. Check it out. 

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Still ruled by imbeciles

Published on 2020-12-29 11:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The government's first policy announcement since reaching a deal with the EU was to launch a string of regulations that would have been condemned as a petty, illiberal and anti-business if they had come from Brussels. From April 2022, we will restrict promotions on food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar in shops to make healthier choices easier.
Once upon a time, pathetic people complained about sweets and chocolates being displayed at supermarket checkouts. The danger, apparently, was that children would ask their parents to buy them and the parent would have to say no (or yes - it doesn't make much difference in the great scheme of things). Idiotic politicians took the threat of 'pester power' seriously and so did the supermarket owners who, seeing that it was unpopular with Mumsnet and the Daily Mail, stopped doing it.
The idea of banning it nevertheless remained. And it snowballed, as things do when fanatical activists and gullible politicians are involved. The result is an incredibly wide-ranging assault on how retailers will be allowed to do business.
 Supermarkets in England are to be barred from displaying unhealthy food and drinks at checkouts or using them in buy one, get one free offers, as part of a proposed government crackdown on obesity.

..The checkout restrictions will apply to other sales-boosting locations such as the entrances to stores or at the end of aisles. Similar rules will apply for websites, banning sales links to unhealthy foods on places such as homepages, or at checkout or payment pages. Restaurants will no longer be able to offer free refills of sugary drinks.

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Where are all the obese children?

Published on 2020-12-15 12:04:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Spot the fat kid

The Health Survey for England 2019 was published today. As its name suggests, there is a slight lag in the data, but it gives us the obesity figures for last year. For adults, the figure is 28 per cent, similar to the last couple of years. 

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Lockdowns, wellbeing and happiness - the evidence

Published on 2020-12-11 14:19:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I've written a bit about happiness economics over the years. I concluded that trying to measure happiness, wellbeing and life satisfaction is not very useful in forming public policy because nothing much seems to affect them at the aggregate level apart from the obvious (poverty, war, unemployment, etc.) and even those factors don't affect them as much as you might expect.

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Thirdhand smoke - the bogeyman California deserves

Published on 2020-12-11 12:23:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

For a bit of light entertainment, let's see what's happening in California... The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives, turning our homes into offices, classrooms and gyms to protect us from the deadly coronavirus. The pandemic has also disrupted the time-honored real estate rituals of open houses and in-person home tours, and we are now using virtual tours and other “non-touch” experiences to find a new home. Buying a home or renting an apartment based on a virtual tour may be a positive development for the real estate industry, but consumers need to know what they may miss in a virtual-only experience. And what is that?
Most notably, a virtual tour cannot tell us much about hazardous chemical substances in that home: pollutants in the indoor air, in the walls and built-in furniture, and on surfaces. I suppose so. And if I told you that the author is our old friend, Georg Matt, director of the taxpayer-funded Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center, you can probably guess which 'pollutants' are on his mind.
A common source of indoor pollution is contamination from toxic chemicals in tobacco and marijuana smoke and electronic cigarette vapor.  Here comes the science... In a recent study of 220 apartments in San Diego County, we found nicotine residue in every unit, even homes of nonsmokers with strict smoking bans.  Wow! It seems that no one is safe and everyone is at risk. Quick, give Dr Matt some more money!
 In about 10% of homes of nonsmokers, we found levels of toxic tobacco residue as high as levels typically seen in homes of active indoor smokers. Seems unlikely, to be honest. Are sure your equipment's working properly?
 Secondhand smoke contains a mixture of many different chemicals, and while we may no longer be able to detect secondhand smoke in the air after a few hours, its toxic chemicals stick to and linger in carpets, furniture, walls and ventilation systems. Over weeks, months and years of repeated smoking, these chemicals can become embedded in materials and remain in these reservoirs long after smokers have moved out. This chemical residue, also known as thirdhand smoke, includes numerous toxic substances listed under California’s Proposition 65 known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
Probably. Prop 65 is notorious for including so many chemicals that virtually everything has to be labelled with a warning in California. 

With modern technology you can find trace levels of almost anything if you try hard enough. That's why 'toxins' found in tobacco smoke can be found in the homes of people who don't smoke and don't allow smoking. What is always forgotten in screwball states like California is that the dose makes the poison. 

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The war on gambling: phase two

Published on 2020-12-09 16:14:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The Times is strangely puritanical about sugar and gambling. You'd hope that a newspaper so obsessed with these issues would familiarise itself with the basic facts and yet its reporters and columnists have made mistake after mistake from day one. If you relied on The Times for information you would think that the number of problem gamblers doubles every few years, whereas it has remained low and flat for twenty years. 
The Times is far from being alone in misreporting gambling statistics but, along with the Guardian, it seems to have made it a personal mission to get rid of the dreaded fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). 
You know the rhetoric: crack cocaine of gambling, £100 every twenty seconds, casinos on every high street, etc. Well, that all came to an end on April 2019 when the maximum stake was slashed to £2, thereby making games with a 1:1 payout unplayable to most punters.  From the media coverage between 2012 and 2018, you would think that FOBTs were almost the sole cause of problem gambling. Certainly, they were portrayed as the main cause. One of Derek Webb's pressure groups, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, asserted in 2013 that... ‘FOBTs is [sic] the only gambling activity significantly and positively associated with disordered gambling’ Has a de facto ban on this alleged scourge pacified the campaigners who swore on a stack of Bibles that they were 'not anti-gambling'? Has it reduced the number of problem gamblers or significantly reduced the amount of money that is 'lost' to gambling? Reader, it has done none of these things. As I predicted in 2018, it has instead led to open season being declared on gambling, starting with raising the age at which you can play the Lottery as the hors d'oeuvres for a no-holds-barred review of all gambling regulation that has been described as a 'reformers' shopping list'.
 The All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs has become the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm. The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has morphed into Clean Up Gambling, still funded by Derek Webb and fronted by Matt Zarb-Cousin, but with a much wider remit. You will hear no more about FOBTs being the only gambling activity that is 'significantly and positively associated with disordered gambling'.  The Times has also moved swiftly on to the next phase. There is not a hint in today's editorial that the banishing of FOBTs has reduced the amount of gambling-related harm or done any good at all. On the contrary, it suggests that things are getting worse, as they always are when people are looking for new dragons to slay. 
As betting shops close and online gaming takes its place, the old adage that the house always wins is truer than ever.
Is it? Maybe we shouldn't have closed all those betting shops then (1 in 8 have gone since 2017).

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Food fight

Published on 2020-12-07 15:33:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The Adam Smith Institute have set up a campaign to oppose the government's preposterous ban on food advertising. They make a number of salient points on their website, such as...
The proposed ban will have huge ramifications for the food and advertising industries. This is particularly true for small businesses that increasingly rely on online ads and are facing huge pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau found 69% of SMEs use online advertising (both free and paid). Of that, 64% believe digital advertising is now more important to the future of their business in recovering from the pandemic.

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Desperate ASH demand plain packaging for rolling papers and filter tips

Published on 2020-12-04 12:15:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The tax-spongers at Action on Smoking and Health are really scraping the barrel now. Palpably desperate to find new dragons to slay, they want plain packaging for rolling paper and filter tips 

We welcome this report’s recommendations.

The UK Government should apply standardised packaging laws to all tobacco products and accessories, including filters and papers. https://t.co/pzenxfG6mb

— ASH (@ASH_LDN) December 3, 2020  If they weren't such a hateful organisation, you could almost feel sorry for them. 

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Last Orders with Madeline Grant

Published on 2020-12-04 11:16:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

There's a great new episode of Last Orders out with the Telegraph's Madeline Grant. It was recorded last week when I naively thought that having some of the lowest Covid infection rates in England would put my region in Tier 1. 

Listen here.

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Global nicotine prohibition with the WHO

Published on 2020-12-03 10:57:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The useless and corrupt World Health Organisation has published a new Global Youth Tobacco Survey (in 'selected countries of the WHO European region', so not very global). It finds that cigarette smoking among 13-15 year olds has declined in nearly every country studied, but there are some telling remarks in the press release.   New WHO report reveals that while smoking continues to decline among European adolescents, the use of electronic cigarettes by young people is on the rise How can this be when the WHO reckons that vaping is a gateway to smoking? Or could it be that the fall in smoking is partially related to the rise of vaping?  While cigarettes remain the most used form of tobacco products, there is a concerning trend emerging from the use of electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes). According to the latest available data, young people are turning to these products at an alarming rate. The new report reveals that in some countries the rates of e-cigarette use among adolescents were much higher than those for conventional cigarettes. 

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SAGE's tier trick

Published on 2020-12-02 13:26:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

As of today, 99 per cent of the English population will live under tough new Tier 2 or Tier 3 rules. Mixing indoors with people from outside your household will remain illegal in both of these tiers. In Tier 2, you have to buy a ‘substantial meal’ if you want a drink in a pub - and leave when you’ve eaten it, according to the Prime Minister’s spokesman.  In Tier 3, which includes most of the North, all pubs, restaurant and other venues will be closed.

This amounts to carpet-bombing of the hospitality industry by the government and will lead to unprecedented bankruptcies and unemployment in the sector. The affront to civil liberties since March is unlike anything Britain has seen before, even in wartime, and the tier system looks like it will stay in place for at least four more months.

People who went into lockdown in Tier 1 only to come out of it in Tier 3 are understandably perplexed. Lockdown has been working well. On Friday, SAGE finally acknowledged that the rate of infection (R) was below 1. In fact, the number of positive tests reported each day has fallen by 40 per cent since the lockdown began on 5 November and will fall further. So why is Cornwall, which has an infection rate of 45 per 100,000, in Tier 1 when the Cotswolds and Mid-Suffolk, with rates of 41 and 40 per 100,000 respectively, in Tier 2?

The answer is that government scientists have constructed the evidence for the tiered system in a way that ignores the success of lockdown. For a region to be in Tier 2, they want to see (a) low rates, (b) falling rates, and (c) sufficient hospital capacity. The second two of these are a given in most of the country after nearly four weeks of lockdown, so it all depends on the rate of infection being low. A graph published by the government on Thursday suggests that they are looking for the rate to be below 100 per 100,000 people (the places to the left of the line are those where the infection rate has fallen).

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Think of the children, ban all advertising

Published on 2020-12-01 13:20:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

With the government leaving us all to rot until Easter and systematically dismantling the pub trade, the clown show of 'public health' almost offers light relief. 

The nanny state fanatics have yet to get their ban on 'junk food' advertising ban over the line in the UK, but they are already eyeing up the next opportunity to extend their control. They lobbied for the ad ban with the usual 'think of the children' excuse. Earlier this year, the WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission of self-appointed do-gooders, including international quango queen Helen Clark, (self-)published an article in the Lancet titled 'A future for the world's children?' which included a section on marketing.

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What's the evidence for destroying the pub trade?

Published on 2020-11-30 16:21:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

In its efforts to justify carpet-bombing the nation’s pubs, Sage have cobbled together a handful of studies to give it the veneer of science. None of the studies suggest that pubs or bars are uniquely dangerous, many of them don’t mention pubs or bars at all, and most of them involve outbreaks in Asia in the early days of the pandemic when there was little or no social distancing. 

Sage refuse to acknowledge the drop in infections in places like Manchester and Newcastle under the old Tier 2 rules. They do not even attempt to justify the plan to require meals to be served with drinks. This policy alone will lead to the unnecessary closure of thousands of ‘wet pubs’ and other licensed venues, such as snooker halls and casinos. Businesses which could be operating safely will be forced to furlough their workforce and accept government grants to stand idle. Who benefits from such wilful destruction? 

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An awkward study about minimum pricing

Published on 2020-11-26 11:38:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

There's a study about minimum pricing in pre-print at the Lancet looking at the impact of minimum pricing on alcohol-related A & E attendances. A glance at its (many) authors suggests that they were hoping to find a drop in attendances after minimum pricing was introduced.

Alas for them, they didn't.

The study looks at 8,746 people who attended A & E in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Sheffield, the latter two being the control groups. All the subjects were interviewed by nurses and the study looks at the 'changes in the proportion of attendees with alcohol-related attendance in Scotland and England before and after the introduction of the MUP'.   

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Alcohol-related deaths fall in Scotland

Published on 2020-11-25 11:22:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Last week, I reported that Scotland's alcohol-related hospital admissions rose in 2018 and barely moved in 2019. This is noteworthy because minimum pricing was introduced in May 2018 and was supposed to reduce them. 
Yesterday, the National Records of Scotland published the alcohol-related mortality statistics for 2019 and it's better news for minimum pricing advocates. After rising in 2018, the number of deaths fell in 2019, from 1,136 to 1,020. Naturally, the Scottish Government and its pressure groups are chalking this up as a win, and 2019 has been hastily redefined as 'the first year of minimum pricing'.  The decline represents a 9% fall since 2017 or a 10% fall since 2018, depending on how you look at it. This is by no means unprecedented. Numbers fell by 10% in 2006-07 and in 2008-09, and by 15% in 2011-12. Nevertheless, it at least consistent with the view that minimum pricing reduces alcohol-related mortality. If the numbers had risen again, it would have been difficult for the temperance lobby to claim success.

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Silly Sally Davies

Published on 2020-11-23 10:19:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Former Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies reared her head again last week (she ha a book out). She's still obsessed with food portion sizes. I wrote about it for Cap-X... 

Public trust in the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, may have taken a knock during the pandemic, but the Government was fortunate to have a relative unknown in the post when the daily briefings began in March. How much worse it would have been for the credibility of official health advice if his predecessor, Professor Dame Sally Davies, had still been in charge.

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The future of pubs, if they have one

Published on 2020-11-19 12:06:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I'm chairing an online panel discussion tonight about how to get the hospitality industry reopened and how to keep it open. The government seems to have taken the view that COVID-19 is an alcohol-related disease and pubs are the vector. 

The psychotic charlatans at SAGE appear to want a permanent lockdown so Boris Johnson's solemn promise to reopen the economy on 2 December can't be taken too seriously. How many pubs, hotels and restaurants will the government sacrifice in the next months?

We've got a great panel, including Dehenna Davison MP (Conservative Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland), Tim Martin (Chairman, JD Wetherspoon), Dan Mobley (Corporate Relations Director, Diageo) and Kate Nicholls (Chief Executive Officer, UK Hospitality).

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Another minimum pricing fail

Published on 2020-11-17 11:03:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Lockdowns and pub closures are going to play havoc with the minimum pricing evaluation in 2020/21, but we will still have two years of data with which to assess the policy. Today saw the publication of alcohol-related hospital admission figures for 2019/20 in Scotland. As with the previous year's figures, they give supporters of minimum pricing nothing to cheer.  
 The most recent edition of the Sheffield model predicted 1,299 fewer admissions in the first year (a decline of around 4%), rising year-on-year thereafter. 

The prediction for the first year fell flat, with the number of admissions rising from 35,544 to 35,712 between 2017/18 and 2018/19. To be fair, minimum pricing was introduced in May so one of the 2018/19 months was pre-MUP, but the number of admissions rose again - to 35,781 - in 2019/20, so that is no excuse. 

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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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