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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.

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’).

Full article

Fast Food

Published on 2020-08-01 13:15:23.
Website: Frank Davis


Tucker Carlson (57.05): If you start to think that it’s okay to inflict group punishment on groups, isn’t that the whole lesson of the twentieth century that that’s wrong, that that’s a cul-de-sac that ends in bloodshed? Of course he … Continue reading →

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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.

Full article

Life and liberty webinar tonight at 6pm

Published on 2020-07-30 10:50:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I'm chairing an online panel discussion today at 6pm to discuss risk, wellbeing, health and wealth. The trade-off between life and liberty has been brought into stark relief by the pandemic. What lessons have we learned?
We have a great line up of speakers, so join us on YouTube at 6pm.

Julian Jessop, IEA Fellow and former IEA Chief Economist
Timandra Harkness, Broadcaster, Mathematician and Author
Professor Robin Dunbar, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Oxford University

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Inevitable Reaction

Published on 2020-07-29 19:32:43.
Website: Frank Davis


Telegraph: We must accept that junk food is the new tobacco The way I see it, this means junk food is good stuff, and I should eat more of it than I already do: But the way I look at … Continue reading →

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Whatever happened to plain packaging?

Published on 2020-07-29 08:47:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


With the government set to introduce all the Theresa May (previously David Cameron) nanny state policies on food, no one in government seems able to predict what success looks like. How much will obesity fall back as a result of these costly interventions? Will the government repeal the laws if obesity hasn't dropped by 2025?
You won't get any answers from MPs or 'public health'. They know and we know that the policies won't make any difference and there will be no desire to seriously evaluate them in the future. As I have said many times, 'public health' is not a results-driven business.

Take plain packaging, for example

Full article

No Pictures Posing With Hats

Published on 2020-07-27 13:16:56.
Website: Frank Davis


No pictures posing with hats??? Whatever next? It’s a new hieroglyphic language: crossed red circles around depictions of prohibited acts. One day the 10 Commandments will be translated into it. Or maybe the 10 Commandments will be replaced by a … Continue reading →

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Compulsory Masks

Published on 2020-07-26 10:59:40.
Website: Frank Davis


James Delingpole: Never mind Brexit. The bitter enmity we saw recently between Leavers and Remainers will be as nothing to the mutual distrust, loathing and contempt we’re going to experience in Britain over the next weeks and months as a … Continue reading →

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A no deal Brexit is no good for smokers

Published on 2020-07-24 16:45:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


An interesting piece at 1828 by Dan Pryor about an issue I had missed.

The UK is facing a tobacco tariff timebomb. Britain’s black market in cigarettes is set to boom if trade talks with the European Union fail to bear fruit by the end of the year.
The damage can be easily avoided easily if the department of international trade makes some minor changes to its post-transition period tariff regime. But so far, there is no sign that politicians are aware of the problem.

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Boris Johnson - is new boss same as the old boss?

Published on 2020-07-24 12:31:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



Rumours abound that Boris Johnson will be making an announcement about the government's obesity strategy on Monday and that it's going to be a case of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'.

I tried to take a positive view of things in this article for the Spectator...

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Shock TV Health Risk

Published on 2020-07-23 13:19:01.
Website: Frank Davis


Health scientists : Adults could minimise their exposure to health risks associated with watching TV if they limit viewing time to two hours a day, new research suggests. Researchers found the lowest overall health risks from diseases including cancers and … Continue reading →

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The Observer's ignorant view of obesity

Published on 2020-07-19 11:36:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Some dog-bites-man news from Britain's least liberal Sunday newspaper, the Observer...
 ‘Junk food is the new tobacco’: experts call for restrictions to tackle obesity Ministers should regulate processed food as heavily as tobacco to tackle the “massive national challenge” of the UK’s obesity crisis, health experts have warned.

They have urged severe restrictions on supermarket promotions of processed foods, and bans on fast food outlets near schools, and TV adverts for pizzas, burgers and similar foods before 9pm. One campaign group even urged the government to consider plain packaging for processed food. No slippery slope there then, eh? The paper also carries an editorial calling for more heavy regulation from government.

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The staggering incompetence of Public Health England

Published on 2020-07-18 12:40:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The list of charges against Public Health England since the pandemic began is long. I am sure I have forgotten some, but off the top of my head, there is...

Rejecting the South Korean model of mass testing

Ending contact tracing in early March

Rejecting private sector laboratories and keeping diagnostic testing within the NHS's limited capacity

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The lost boys

Published on 2020-07-17 09:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I've got an article in the Spectator this week about working class white males and why they are falling behind in school.

...nearly half the children eligible for free school meals in inner London go on to higher education, but in the country outside London as a whole it is just 26 per cent.

Black African British children outperform white children, whereas black Caribbean children tend to do worse. Poor Chinese girls (that is to say, those who qualify for free school meals) do better than rich white children. But, interestingly, the ethnic group least likely to get into university are whites. With the sole exception of Gypsy/Roma, every ethnic group attends university at a higher rate than the white British and, of the white British who do attend, most are middle class and 57 per cent are female.  The least likely group to go on to higher education are poor white boys. Just 13 per cent of them go on to higher education, less than any black or Asian group.

Full article

ASH claims that over a million people have quit smoking

Published on 2020-07-15 10:03:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The clowns at ASH have upped the ante. In May, they claimed that 300,000 people quit smoking because of COVID-19 fears. That was based on wild extrapolations from tiny survey figures.

They have now raised that to over a million. Do they think we were born yesterday?

The BBC fell for it, naturally. As I explain in the thread below, there is no credible evidence for it whatsoever. Will there be a comeuppance for ASH when the figure is comprehensively debunked in time? Almost certainly not.

Full article

Did plain packaging work?

Published on 2020-07-13 09:49:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


We haven't heard much about plain packaging for a while. I assumed that ASH et al. were happy to let everybody forget about this damp squib while they moved onto the next thing. A study published John Britton and his team of anti-smoking zealots in 2018 had to concede that the policy hadn't had the promised effect on tobacco sales:

Conclusions The implementation of standardized packaging legislation in the United Kingdom, which included minimum pack sizes of 20, was associated with significant increases overall in the price of manufactured cigarettes, but no clear deviation in the ongoing downward trend in total volume of cigarette sales.

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Even in a plague year, the idiots are winning

Published on 2020-07-13 08:21:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


When the COVID-19 outbreak began, I expressed cautious optimism that a genuine public health epidemic would put the nanny state crusade that masquerades as a 'public health' movement back in its box for a while.

That seems less and less likely. In Britain, the government has been only too happy to blame obesity for the relatively high death toll and its preparation for the second wave amounts to telling people to lose weight. The Childhood Obesity Strategy has been dusted down for laws to make us do this.

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The Moral Maze, gambling and The Rediscovery of Tobacco

Published on 2020-07-09 09:27:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I was on The Moral Maze last night talking about gambling. It wasn't a bad discussion. I was on at round 24 minutes in.

I've also written a review of Jacob Grier's book The Rediscovery of Tobacco for Spiked.

Jacob Grier doesn’t like cigarettes. He doesn’t smoke cigarettes. He advises people against smoking cigarettes. And yet he believes that adults should be allowed to smoke cigarettes without being harassed, demonised, over-taxed and thrown out of every building in America, including, in some cases, their own home. This view, which was once so uncontroversial as to go without saying, makes him virtually a libertarian provocateur today. In The Rediscovery of Tobacco, Grier explains how this cultural revolution happened.

Full article

The NHS is not the envy of the world

Published on 2020-07-07 16:50:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Brits were encouraged to clap for the NHS on Sunday in what the government hopes will become an annual show of devotion to a below-par health system. I hope it doesn't become a Thing. It would be embarrassing if foreigners found out about it, as I explain in The Critic today...

As the years roll on, it is possible that somebody might notice that the British are paying more than average for a below-average health service, but it is more likely that new excuses and scapegoats will be found. The public are already being primed to blame themselves for the NHS’s failings. If only we weren’t so fat and lazy, goes the message, the system would work. This is the logical conclusion to the thinking – made explicit during lockdown – that it is the public’s duty to protect the NHS rather than the other way round.

Full article

24 hour liberty people

Published on 2020-07-07 10:03:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance & Australian Libertarian Society have put together a wonderfully ambitious 24 hour digital liberty conference which will be held this weekend.

I'll be on a panel at 11 am (UK time) and there are plenty of other speakers you will have heard of. They include Dave Rubin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bryan Caplan, Dan Hannan, Eric Crampton, Kate Andrews, Nick Gillespie, Eamonn Butler and Brendan O'Neill.

Full article

Who is John Stuart Mill?

Published on 2020-07-04 11:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


As you might have guessed if you've read Killjoys, one of my heroes is John Stuart Mill. In the IEA's School of Thought series, I talked to Syed Kamal about why his philosophy is important and urgently needs to be revived.





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Boris, obesity and the nanny state

Published on 2020-07-03 08:37:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


I've written about Boris Johnson's alleged death bed conversion to nanny statism for Spiked, with some background about the 'anti-obesity' policies that have been hanging around Whitehall for five years.

According to the Telegraph, Johnson has a range of measures in mind, including ‘wider use of bariatric surgery’ and ‘increasing access to exercise and healthy eating schemes’. More worryingly, there is talk of ‘banning price promotions such as “buy one, get one free” offers’. Advertising could be restricted and there is talk of a new law to ‘force restaurants, cafés and takeaways to label the calorie content of their food’.

Full article

The truth about tobacco taxes from a surprising source

Published on 2020-07-02 08:56:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Thanks to exorbitant taxes, a pack of twenty cigarettes costs around $35 (£18) in New Zealand. Not quite as ludicrously expensive as in Australia, but enough to have caused an epidemic of robberies from shops.

A PhD student at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, Ben Wamamili, has proposed hiking the price to $50. I assume he has his heart set on getting into the 'public health' racket and thought this would be a good way of making his mark. 

Full article

Let's get back to something approaching normal

Published on 2020-07-01 15:10:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


By the time the pubs reopen on July 4th, Britain will have been under various forms of lockdown for fifteen weeks. In his address to the nation on March 23rd - now more than three months ago - Boris Johnson’s sole justification for locking down was to ‘protect the NHS’. There can be no doubt that this has been achieved, albeit at enormous cost to our economy, children and sanity.


Covid-related deaths in English hospitals have fallen from a peak of over 800 a day on 8th April to less than sixty a day in recent weeks. A third of English hospitals reported no Covid-related deaths last week. The number of ‘excess deaths’ in England and Wales is now below average for this time of year.

Full article

The shamelessly corrupt W.H.O.

Published on 2020-07-01 08:47:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


From the Herald...

WHO praises Scotland's 'promising' minimum alcohol pricing
The World Health Organisation has praised "robust evidence" for minimum unit pricing on alcohol, but said it must be tied to inflation for the benefits to last. 
In a report analysing the links between alcohol pricing and health, the agency said MUP is reduces health inequalities because it "effectively targets the cheap, high-strength products that drive these inequalities"

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Polemics - out now!

Published on 2020-06-30 10:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist



I've spent a bit of my lockdown compiling an anthology of old articles and essays for an e-book. It's called Polemics and it is now available. (You'd think somebody would have already published a book by that name, but apparently not.)

It contains 42 articles published online between 2010 and 2020. Ten of them first appeared as blog posts here. The rest appeared on various websites, not all of which still exist. One of them was never published at all. All have been touched up and improved, often substantially. And I've given each of them an introduction.

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Last Orders with Konstantin Kisin

Published on 2020-06-29 12:17:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


There's a new Last Orders podcast out and it's a good one. This time we're joined by the comedian and Triggernometry host Konstantin Kisin to talk about internet censorship, cancelling, lockdown and the Black Lives Matter protests.

Listen below or on your usual device.


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Australia delays nicotine ban after backlash from vapers

Published on 2020-06-26 09:22:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


Following on from Wednesday's post about the once-in-a-lifetime stockpiling by Australian vapers as they prepare for a ban on personal imports of vape juice, I'm pleased to report some good news...

Greg Hunt has delayed the introduction of a ban on imports of liquid nicotine for vaping by six months, after his unilateral decision prompted widespread backlash on the Coalition backbench.

Full article

The great Australian nicotine airlift

Published on 2020-06-24 11:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist


The stupid Australian government is banning the importation of e-cigarette fluid on July 1st. This has led to a massive, Dunkirk-style effort by vapers to stock up for the rest of their lives.

One retailer in New Zealand had to stop taking orders earlier this week because it couldn't cope. I dare say they were others.

We're extremely sorry we had to take the site offline earlier than planned, and we're keenly aware how devastating this decision will be for those who thought they had more time and didn't make the cut-off. Frankly, we underestimated just how crazy things would get: over 10,000 people placed huge orders in the last 24 hours, and our number one priority has to be making sure that every single parcel gets shipped before the government's ludicrous deadline.

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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.

Full article

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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