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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.

Australia reaches peak clownshow

Published on 2022-12-03 12:08:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Congratulations if you had 'doctor gives child cigarettes' on your Australian clown show bingo card. I would have never thought of it myself. Seems too much like satire. Nevertheless, here we are...
Jason* is a general practitioner used to treating those addicted to tobacco, but he is at a loss as to how to help his 14-year-old son quit vaping. ... “I’ve tried talking to my son, warning of the health impacts of vaping and nicotine, and I’ve tried shouting and all of that sort of thing to get him to stop,” Jason said.

“It doesn’t work, because nicotine is highly addictive. We tried giving him nicotine gum but it was a waste of time because the amount of nicotine in gum is so minimal compared to the amount you get from vaping that it did nothing for his cravings.”

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FOBTs: What happened next?

Published on 2022-12-01 13:36:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

 New statistics from the Gambling Commission were published last week and they make for interesting reading. You may recall that the stake limit on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was reduced to £2 in 2019, which amounted to a de facto ban since hardly anybody wants to play them with such a low stake. Advocates of the reform said it would reduce gambling-related harm by making it more difficult for machine gamblers to lose large sums of money. There was also a suggestion that it would reduce the number of problem gamblers. Opponents said that it would lead to the closure of thousands of betting shops and that problem gamblers would switch to other gambling machines and go online.
 The pandemic has made it difficult to make a simple before-and-after comparison because physical gambling venues were closed for long periods between March 2020 and July 2021. The financial year 2020/21 was a write-off and 2021/22 was partially affected by a lockdown. Even 2019/20 was slightly affected, with venues closed for the last 10 days of that year. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence for some obvious changes in the gambling market to be identified. The table below gives an overview of the sector (click to enlarge).

The FOBT reform was introduced in April 2019. Overall Gross Gambling Yield (which basically means revenue: stakes minus prizes) fell slightly in 2018/19 and fell again in 2019/20. Bookmakers were the big losers, with GGY falling from £3.3 billion to £2.4 billion in this period. By contrast, online casino GGY rose from £2.9 billion to £3.2 billion and then shot above £4 billion in the first year of the pandemic. Online betting revenue rose by £300 million in the first year of the FOBT change, having fallen the previous year.
It's difficult to call cause and effect in an evolving market but this data is consistent with the prediction that online gambling would pick up some of the slack from the fall of the FOBTs.

In the betting shop sector, there is clear evidence of a massive switch from FOBTs (formally known as B2 machines) to high jackpot machines (B3 machines). In 2017/18, there were 33,685 B2 machines in bookies and just 31 B3 machines. By 2021/22, there were just seven (!) B2 machines and 24,339 B3 machines.
Over the same period, Gross Gambling Yield from B2 machines fell from £1.7 billion to £110,000 while GGY from B3 machines rose from £158 million to £1.1 billion. Overall gaming machine revenue declined by 42 per cent. It should be remembered that 2021/22 was affected by lockdown. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that betting shops are making significantly less from gambling machines than they were as a result of the disappearance of FOBTs. The other striking change is the number of betting shop closures. 2,300 bookmakers have disappeared since the FOBT reform. There are now 6,219 betting shops in the UK, which is half as many as there were in 1980. And there are more to come if yesterday's announcement from the new owner of William Hill is anything to go by.

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Last Orders with Julia Hartley-Brewer

Published on 2022-11-30 20:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

A new Last Orders dropped this week. We welcomed back friend of the show Julia Hartley-Brewer to discuss the world cup, free speech on campus and how to keep your house warm.

Listen here.

You can send your questions to lastorders@spiked-online.com and we’ll try to answer them in the next episode.

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Great success! Mexico's sugar tax

Published on 2022-11-30 10:51:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

 There's some terrific cognitive dissonance in this article in Frontiers in Public Health. You may fondly recall the Mexican sugar tax which supposedly reduced sugary drink consumption by 6 per cent or 12 per cent, depending on who you get your news from (it actually reduced it by about 3 per cent). It was much talked about in the months before George Osborne inflicted a sugar tax on the UK.

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The SNP's mad plans for alcohol advertising

Published on 2022-11-29 14:30:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday

The Scottish National Party has been fully captured by the temperance lobby. Minimum pricing has crashed and burned, but they are still listening to the alleged experts from the pressure groups whose wages they pay. Banning alcohol advertising was always next on the agenda for the Scottish temperance groups and the Scottish Government has produced a consultation document that reads like it was written by Carrie Nation.

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A swift half with David Zaruk

Published on 2022-11-29 10:06:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Some of you may be familiar with the Risk-Monger, David Zaruk. If not, you can make his acquaintance by watching this week's Swift Half. David has been battling anti-science NGOs in Brussels for many years. We talk about the precautionary principle, Glyphosate, neo-nics and why the Dutch government is closing down farms. Do have a watch.

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When The Comments Section Lets You Down ...

Published on 2022-11-29 00:13:00.
Website: Dick Puddlecote

{Taps microphone} Is this thing still on? 

Well, well. It appears so. Everything from the inside of this looks very different though, a bit snazzy even. I must admit it looks a hell of an improvement, I'm knocking on the walls in a virtual sense to see how robust they are. 

Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. It's been two years since my last blog submission. I shall submit myself to 12 Hail Mary Poppins and see where posting random thoughts gets me for now.

I've still been writing elsewhere though, and noting the ever-growing - and increasingly wild and hysterical - library of tobacco control lies prevalent across the world. It really is quite astonishing.

Which brings me to why I have dusted off this old thing. Well, it's because I'm old enough to remember when blogs were new and raw. They were also quite consistent, and excelled in beating the mainstream media on standards quite often. One of the early adopters was Irish blogger Slugger O'Toole, but sadly the blog has published a load of arrant tripe this weekend. 

An article entitled "Vaping: We're being fooled again" turned up there which is a boilerplate rehash of all the crap that $1bn of Bloomberg cash is intended to promote. Written by a pharmacist from Belfast, it is astonishingly ignorant about the vaping debate. What's more, it is written by someone whose previous blogs rightly ridiculed COVID conspiracy theorists. 

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Banning disposable vapes?

Published on 2022-11-25 13:04:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

A motley collection of environmental and 'public health' groups have joined forces to get disposable vapes banned.  

Environmental groups have called for the sale of single-use e-cigarettes to be banned due their “rapidly escalating threat”.

In an open letter to environment secretary Thérèse Coffey and health secretary Steve Barclay, 18 environment and health groups, including Green Alliance and RSPCA, argue that disposable vapes are “unnecessary electrical items” that contain single use plastic, nicotine and batteries, all of which are “hazardous to the environment and wildlife when littered”.

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A big rise in gambling addiction?

Published on 2022-11-24 13:14:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

There’s an eye-catching claim splashed over the front of The Times today under the headline ‘Big rise in gambling addiction’:

The health service will announce tomorrow that it has opened clinics in Southampton and Stoke, adding to a national network of five commissioned in 2019. Figures seen by The Times show that 599 patients have been referred to the service in the past six months, a 42 per cent increase on the same period last year and up 65 per cent from 2020-21.

The figures come from here. ‘Gambling addictions’ rising by 42 per cent in one year is so unlikely that it is worth asking whether these statistics accurately reflect what is going on.

Astute readers will recall the coronavirus pandemic of 2020-21 and wonder whether the accompanying restrictions, which included the total shutdown of face-to-face gambling support for months, may have led to the figures for these years being lower than they would otherwise have been. It seem almost certain that they did.

2019/20 would be a better baseline to compare the most recent years to, except that a lot of these clinics didn’t even exist for part or all of that year. This significant fact is hiding in plain sight in the paragraph quoted above:

The health service will announce tomorrow that it has opened clinics in Southampton and Stoke, adding to a national network of five commissioned in 2019.

The whole point of these clinics is to give problem gamblers somewhere to go for face-to-face support. When the NHS Northern Gambling Service was opened in September 2019, Dr Matthew Gaskell said:

“I’m delighted to be opening our new clinic in Manchester. This will help make our service more accessible to people in the North West of England where we know there are thousands who need our support.”

As intended, problem gamblers are using these relatively new facilities. When more clinics are opened in Southampton, Stoke and elsewhere, it will presumably lead to even more people attending a gambling clinic. It will disappointing if they don’t, but it will not be evidence of a ‘big rise in gambling addictions’, although perhaps The Times will portray it as such

The aforementioned Dr Gaskell is quoted by The Times

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Vaping proven to be the best way to quit smoking, media look the other way

Published on 2022-11-18 14:43:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The media love stories about vaping so it is odd that only the Daily Mail covered the latest Cochrane Review when it was published yesterday. Cochrane Reviews are at the very top of the evidence pyramid and only include randomised controlled trials (RCTs). 

There is an argument that RCTs are not best way to measure the benefits of vaping for smoking cessation because smokers tend to switch to vaping organically, sometimes gradually, and often without intending to quit. Nevertheless, RCTs have still shown vaping to be more effective than nicotine patches and placebos. The last Cochrane Review in 2020 concluded that there was 'moderate-certainty' evidence that e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers quit.

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Underage gambling: a shaggy dog story?

Published on 2022-11-17 11:02:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

From BBC Wales...  Gambling: Boy, 16, lost thousands after seeing advert

A 16-year-old boy lost thousands of pounds gambling in just a few weeks after seeing adverts at a football game, a support worker has said.

Nick Phillips, from Swansea, said the boy opened an account in his father's name an hour after a match.

 Really? If he opened the account in his father's name, he must have used his father's debit card. How was he expecting to withdraw his winnings? Why didn't his father notice thousands of pounds coming out of his account?
As Matthew Rushton says, it seems more likely that his dad has a gambling problem and blamed it on his son to get a refund. As for being triggered by seeing a gambling advertisement at a football match (more likely a gambling logo), had he never seen a gambling advert before? According to anti-gambling campaigners, people see a dozen gambling ads before breakfast. What was it about this advert that made it such a conveniently specific cause of his woes?
 I'd like to know a lot more about this story, but all we get from the Beeb is the first two sentences slightly rearranged...

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Testing the total consumption model of alcohol

Published on 2022-11-15 11:10:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I have a new peer-reviewed study out in Economic Affairs ($) this month looking at the total consumption model theory as it pertains to alcohol. It builds on some of the research I did for Lockdown Lessons in Health Economics in which I showed that greatly reducing the availability and advertising of alcohol during the pandemic did not lead to fewer alcohol-related deaths (as 'public health' theory would predict). Instead there was a large increase in such deaths.

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Last Orders with Nick Gillespie

Published on 2022-11-14 12:01:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

In the latest episode of Last Orders - which is now coming out every fortnight - Tom and I spoke to Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine about US politics, nicotine-free cigarettes and Twitter. Check it out here, subscribe on iTunes (or whatever) or listen below.

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A swift half with Edward Chancellor

Published on 2022-11-11 16:24:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Remember The Price of Time, the book about interest rates that I reviewed last week? I managed to get  the author to do The Swift Half interview yesterday. Enjoy!

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Food fight

Published on 2022-11-10 15:28:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I spoke at the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine conference in September in front of a surprisingly large crowd of 800 at Spurs' ground in Tottenham. I didn't realise at the time but the Q & A was being filmed. The topic was sugar taxes and other government interventions involving diet.

I haven't watched it back but I recall it getting a bit heated when Tim Spector, who had just given a presentation telling us that everything we knew about food was wrong, insisted that governments were acting with perfect information when they interfere in the food supply.

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Revolver deluxe by The Beatles - a review

Published on 2022-11-09 09:25:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I've reviewed the newly remixed and expanded Revolver for Quillette

A few years ago, I ordered a pint of Stella Artois in Washington, DC. I used to drink Stella quite a lot back in the day, but had fallen out of love with it for reasons I couldn’t quite identify. I ordered it on this occasion because it was the only beer that looked familiar. And oh, what a sensation that first sip was! How the memories came flooding back! It was then that I appreciated something I already knew but had subconsciously ignored. Stella Artois had been reformulated in the UK for tax reasons. The ABV had dropped from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent and later, monstrously, to 4.6 percent. This was done stealthily. We weren’t supposed to notice and in a sense I hadn’t. I had just gradually gone off it until I was reminded of how it was meant to be.

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Burning our money to ASH

Published on 2022-11-08 14:04:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

State-funded prohibitionist pressure group Action on Smoking and Health are advertising an unusual vacancy. NHS Strategic Lead  This a senior role within public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) to engage the NHS in action to tackle smoking.

This leadership role will seek to engage NHS leaders across prevention and health inequalities programmes as part of helping to secure the Government’s vision of smokefree England by 2030. It will develop and galvanise a professional network involved in delivering support and develop tools and resources to support system change.  'Galvanising a professional network to support system change' is blob-speak for getting various arms of the state to lobby the government.

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Of interest

Published on 2022-11-04 10:14:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I've written a review of Edward Chancellor's important book about interest rates, The Price of Time, for The Critic

By slashing interest rates to historic lows, central bankers turned off one of the most important signals in the economy. Since this often required pricing money, quantitative easing became the bedfellow of unnatural interest rates in the new economic orthodoxy. QE began as part of a desperate effort to save the banking system from collapse but, emboldened by the apparent lack of inflation it caused, central banks began using it for lesser crises. The Bank of England had fresh bouts of QE in 2012 to help it reach its inflation target — i.e., to raise inflation — and again in 2016 “to help the economy after the EU referendum”. When the Federal Reserve engaged in its third splurge of QE in 2012, the stated objective was to help the jobs market.

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You can't appease fanatics, part 3,881

Published on 2022-11-03 11:41:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Since the start of last month, it has been illegal in the clown country of Great Britain for supermarkets to put 'junk food' such as marmalade and pain au chocolat at the end of their aisles. This has led to shoppers being unable to find the things they want.

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The Alternative Smoke-Free 2030 Plan

Published on 2022-11-02 10:34:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

The government is working on its Smoke-Free 2030 Plan. Earlier this year, Javed Khan proposed some frankly mental tax-and-ban policies fed to him by the prohibitionist wing of the 'public health' movement. My plan is more realistic, more humane and would be more effective. It includes a simple 12 point plan to encourage smokers to switch to safer alternatives, or at least letting them know that they exist!

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A swift half with Paul North

Published on 2022-10-31 17:11:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Paul North is the director of the drug reform group Volteface. I talked to him face to face at home about the various ways in which cannabis is being legalised around the world. Check it out.

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What if we ditched the sugar tax?

Published on 2022-10-27 13:39:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I'm on the Food Matters Live podcast this week talking about whether the sugar tax worked and if it should be ditched. The other guest is Giles Yeo whom I like but with whom I don't always agree.

Check it out.

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Junk science of the week

Published on 2022-10-26 12:06:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

New science just dropped... Labels encouraging responsible drinking struggle to get the message through

People view labels on alcoholic drinks encouraging responsible consumption as a ploy by the industry to be seen as caring and are unlikely to lead to people drinking less.

 The lead author is Dr Emma Davies whose previous contributions to the scientific literature include  'Connecting through dance: Understanding conscious clubbing event experiences', 'Acceptability of alcohol-free dance in place of traditional alcohol-focused events' and 'Reflection and connection: UK Psychologists’ views and experiences of blogging'. Her new research has been published in the British Journal of Health Psychology. It is a 'qualitative study' which basically means that it was a glorified focus group. 

The new research asked 20 drinkers aged between 21 and 63 for their views on the effectiveness of these labels, and considered whether it is likely that labelling can contribute to reducing people’s alcohol consumption.

 n = 20. Not a lot, is it? All participants were shown three types of labels, one set promoting responsible drinking, one set with positive health messages (drinking less reduces risk) and one set with negative health messages (drinking more increases risk), and asked about their views on the labels and drinking more widely.

The interviews found that the participants viewed responsible drinking messages as a ploy by the alcohol industry to be seen as caring without taking tangible action, and there was little support for the use of labels.

 This strikes me as a strangely politicised take. I don't believe that many drinkers are as obsessed by 'ploys' by 'the industry' as people in public health academia are.  The study itself reports participants having remarkably similar views to a small clique of 'public health' campaigners.
 Perceptions of the alcohol industry seemed to be very strongly linked to perceptions of the tobacco industry. Participants commonly suggested that pictorial messaging analogous to graphic images on tobacco products would be more effective than the text warnings they were shown in the interviews Several participants highlighted that the role of the industry in a capitalist neoliberal society is to make money rather than to provide health information, and thus, they felt that labelling was not an appropriate strategy for alcohol harm reduction. Who among us hasn't highlighted the role of the alcohol industry in a capitalist neoliberal society recently?  Who were these people?! According to the study... 
Participants aged 18 or over were recruited opportunistically via an electronic university research noticeboard and social media from one geographical area in Southern England. 
There seems to have been no attempt to find a group of people who were representative of the general population. Five of them had post-graduate degrees, ten had undergraduate degrees, two were undergraduates at the time of the interview and three had A-levels. None of them were educated below A-level standard. This is hardly surprising given that the opportunity to participate in the focus group was advertised on a university notice board and through the researchers' social media feeds.
 How many of them were acquaintances or students of the researchers? Alas, we are not told, but we are told that "many worked at the host institution" and the lead author often uses her Twitter feed to recruit participants for her 'qualitative research'. 

Age 18-30? Drink alcohol? Complete two surveys & you could win a tablet or vouchers https://t.co/qparlLADU1

— Dr Emma L Davies (@I_am_emma) October 13, 2015

We're recruiting people age 18 and over who drink alcohol. If you complete two surveys you could win a tablet https://t.co/qparlLADU1

— Dr Emma L Davies (@I_am_emma) October 16, 2015

Ever regretted sending a text after a few drinks? Any other drunken regrets? If you are aged 30 or over then we want to know! Confess all in our anonymous survey https://t.co/6lruqtSORb

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Frank’s thoughts from October 2011

Published on 2022-10-26 10:44:19.
Website: Frank Davis

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Russia 1985–1999: TraumaZone - a review

Published on 2022-10-24 08:57:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

I've reviewed Adam Curtis's new documentary Russia 1985–1999: TraumaZone for Quillette. 

What we see is a country where people have been degraded by poverty and tyranny for decades, ruled over by an elite whose power is slipping away. Russia is being looted from within and without. Violence and nihilism reign. Everything is decrepit. Nothing works. Nobody knows what they are doing and nobody is coming to their rescue.

Restricted to the occasional caption and subtitle, Curtis refrains from editorialising. This cannot have been easy for him. I can picture him in the studio desperately resisting the urge to add a little sermon, particularly in the last episode. I couldn’t help wondering what he would say if he did. What does he want us to take away from these miles of videotape? Is it that communism and capitalism are as bad as each other? Or that capitalism requires stronger institutions and less corruption than the former Soviet Union could offer? Is he saying that a gangster like Putin has been able to maintain power for so long because Russians are scarred by their experience of freedom? Or has he simply decided that he is, first and foremost, an archivist?

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Last Orders with Rod Liddle

Published on 2022-10-19 09:58:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

 We've got the perfect Last Orders guest on the show this month. Have a listen.

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A swift half with Marewa Glover

Published on 2022-10-17 09:13:00.
Website: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

After a hiatus of a few weeks, the Swift Half with Snowdon is back. I was delighted to chat to Dr Marewa Glover, a harm reduction advocate from New Zealand, who told me how authoritarian her country is becoming. Saint Jacinda is serious about banning cigarettes very soon and makes no secret of the fact that vaping is next.

Scary stuff. Check it out below.  

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Frank and the Orbital Siphon

Published on 2022-09-20 10:13:32.
Website: Frank Davis

In sorting through Frank’s papers I came across the October 2006 edition of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. On page 368 was a paper titled ‘THE ORBITAL SIPHON: A NEW SPACE ELEVATOR CONCEPT’ which was authored by Frank … Continue reading →

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Frank: July 2012

Published on 2022-08-16 05:41:21.
Website: Frank Davis

Friday, July 27 was a good day….

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Frank from June 2019

Published on 2022-06-29 10:09:12.
Website: Frank Davis

The Pink Floyd comment raises a smile. Some years earlier Frank had been drinking in a pub in Bristol and had been lost in conversation with a guy at the bar. As time wore on, he remembered he was going … Continue reading →

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Debunked: CO2 & "climate change"

Published on 2022-06-06 22:52:00.
Website: Clearing The Air


"global warming" is NOT tied to C02 levels....IE. cannot be blamed on human activity....therefore taxing humans (or worse yet changing human behavior (IE. banning use of fossil fuels), for CO2; which is at an all time low; is a scam that serves no purpose other than enriching politicians

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Cigarette packets

Published on 2022-05-30 14:58:01.
Website: Frank Davis

During the clearing of Frank’s flat I came across a number of cigarette packets that he had designed and made himself. One still with its Marlboro contents. The photograph tells part of the tale.  He had been outraged by tobacco … Continue reading →

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