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Seigel: Reward For Highlighting Study Results

4th November 2009.

Michael Siegel has offered a financial incentive to any anti-smoking organisation that is prepared to broadcast the results of a recently published study which shows no significant difference in heart attacks in New Zealand following the implementation of their smoking ban. The details are all in the main story. The New Zealand data differ from data from other places that show no significant change in heart attack rates in Australia, Scotland, England, etc. because the New Zealand data are published in a study – unlike the data from the other places, which are raw hospital admissions/discharge data. It also covers a population base of 4.3 million, and so it is one of the largest studies available. If such a large study shows a nil result, there is no reason to draw a positive inference from any smaller study that shows a positive result. The author is a fervent ban supporter, and declares that the evidence of an improvement in bar workers' respiratory health more than justifies indoor smoking bans. At the time of writing his readers in the comments column (accessible from the main article) have not managed to elicit any evidence from him that demonstrates such an improvement in the lung capacity of bar staff following smoking bans. Dr Seigel however never  misses an opportunity to point out on his blog where the scientific method is abused, and makes a nonsense of tobacco control.     Go To Story

Please Boycott This Tournament!

Belinda Cunnison
26th October 2009.

Largely neglected by the mainstream media (so far) this story was reported yesterday in the Observer. Tennis player Roger Federer has been urged by health specialists to boycott the Basle ATP World Tour. Health specialists calling for the boycott of a sporting event? The only possible explanation is the partial funding of the tournament by tobacco company sponsorship. Why else would health specialists urge a tennis player to forgo an opportunity to play tennis? Switzerland, not being part of the EU, does not confrorm to legislation emanating from Brussels that bans tobacco company sponsorship of sporting and other events. Switzerland nonetheless possesses its anti-smoking group, OxyRomandie, whose spokesman was determined to emphasise the hole rather than the doughnut: Of last year's tournament he said: At the end of the match the young ball boys and ball girls received a medal from Roger Federer in recognition of having served the cause of Davidoff so well. Each medal bore the Davidoff logo in order to make sure that these potential future smokers will know which cigarette brand to choose when they start smoking. He neglected to mention that the medal would remind the young people of their participation in ensuring the smooth operation of an international tennis tournaent. The BMJ has also reported this story and being a non-subscriber I could only read up to where OxyRomandie is trying to get an injunction against the tournament being shown on Swiss television, on the grounds that tobacco advertising is banned on Swiss television, and Davidoff promotion has been prominent on bill boards and clothing in previous Basle tournaments The fact that Swiss law differs from EU law infuriates anti-tobacco campaigners everywhere – in France their threats have derailed Eurosport from broadcasting  coverage of the tournament in France. The Observer claims that both the World Health Organisation and ASH (UK) are furious at the Swiss position. Once again these organisations presume to greater wisdom than Swiss voters by huffing and puffing about Swiss law. Futher pressure has come in the form of UNESCO's refusal of a donation from the Basle tournament's organisers. Apart from withdrawing substantial funding from a major sporting event it is hard to see what such posturing can achieve. Enormous companies with healthy profits will use their profits, whatever the likes of the World Health Organisation thinks about it. it's standard business practice not to waste money on taxes if it can be used for something else. If there is too much advertising at the Basle tournament, this may be partly a result of the advertising ban throughout the rest of Europe. Federer is said not to have answered the health specialists' call for him to boycott the tournament. He may well wonder whether pulling out of the tournament is likely to stop any of the ball boys or ball girls from smoking in the future.   Go To Story

Tobacco Online

7th October 2009.

In this story, health medics lament that tobacco companies have discovered that they can promote tobacco on the Internet far more easily than through print and broadcast media. Not only do tobacco companies promote their product online, but so do their users: Numerous Facebook pages have been created for cigarette brands including Marlboro, Peter Stuyvesant and Lucky Strike - which allow 'fans' to register and post comments - though the extent of any tobacco company involvement or sanction is unclear. So much for display bans being the 'last loophole' in advertising. When will governments stop trying to get the genie back in the bottle by increasing regulation? Tobacco is still one of many remaining valuable investment options. They make profits and they are forbidden to use them in order to advertise through the usual channels. It should surprise nobody that they choose not to save their surplus till the end of the tax year. They prefer to promote their product, and no doubt companies from the mega billion buck advertising/marketing industry woo them with imaginative offers. (Perhaps such companies behave like arms manufacturers and work for both the tobacco companies and its rivals in the phamaceutical world – they could make nice money by advertising both nicotine patches and, say, Marlbrough Lights in different parts of the globe, or in cyberspace. Just an idea.) If tobacco users are indeed so bemused by the recent international assault on tobacco and on their smoking activities that they begin to advertise tobacco by promoting it via Facebook pages, more revenue (in the form of tax revenue from proper marketing companies) is lost. It is mere speculation that if the advertising of tobacco were still legal no one would bother promoting it on the Internet. But expecting the tobacco companies to save their profits for the tax collector is like expecting the sun to move from west to east. They are not allowed to sponsor anything or otherwise attempt to improve their public profile by financing arts, theatre, sports – even though such sponsorship would improve local facilities, and  probably also local tax revenues, healthists cannot cope with the increased kudos that tobacco companies would gain. '"Public health risks are being left behind in a world where our audiences are increasingly taking their cues from online messaging," Prof Olver said. "Monitoring the volume and impact of online health messaging and looking at the potential to regulate alternative forms of advertising being employed by the tobacco industry must be a priority." Very sophisticated. More attempts to regulate. The health lobby struggles to keep up with its powerful enemy, because it refuses to play dead. In most wars resolution has eventually to be sought. But it will be a long time before the health lobby admits any liability for its failure to vanquish tobacco (governments even get touchy when reminded that they are still investing in it!) The path we are on represents an expensive and unsatisfactory stalemate.   Go To Story

Jersey Up In Smokes

Colin Grainger
8th May 2009.

Dammit! We were right. Again. Take a look at this spectacularly short report explaining that the number of smokers on Jersey has RISEN since their ban came into force. Just four short lines. Prior to the ban millions of words were written to tell us all, in no uncertain terms, just how wonderful the ban would be. People would be lining up to quit. Still others would be fighting their way into the now "fresh" smelling bars. The truth, as they say, will out. More smokers, and empty bars. Those are the ONLY things you can guarantee when you use a nailed club instead of a kind word. The smoker bans stopped a decades long successful campaign to get folks to quit smoking. Sometimes we actually think it was a deliberate act to drive up tobacco tax revenues.... Nothing else makes any sense.   Go To Story

Cheap Stocks In Tobacco

8th May 2009.

Not being an economist I can't comment in detail on this. I can only point to it as an interesting feature of modern economics. It relates how British American Tobacco stock is cheap and profitable, in spite of government action against tobacco.  It is outperforming stocks in most other commodities: Over the last 10 years, BAT shareholders have more than trebled their money. What makes that all the more stunning is that if you'd simply left your capital in a FTSE 100 index tracker, you'd have lost a third of it over that time. It is hard to know what to advise the anti smoking lobbies to do in order to destroy tobacco interests. Imperial's outlook also looks healthy. 'Denormalisation' does not appear to hurt tobacco interests or prospects. The phenomenon is such that, in Scotland, Highland Council has been advised by an Advocate that it is not permitted to take ethical considerations into account when making investments of its pension funds (see para 3.8 at link for more details). The money that is in tobacco stocks must stay there. Of course the term 'ethical investments' covers a multitude of sins. Whatever you think of them, the current climate dictates that it makes good sense to stick with good investments when dealing with people's pension funds. But the Hightland Council cannot take pleasure in its partial dependence on tobacco interests. Government, in spite of the rhetoric, has a love–hate relationship with tobacco. It must have.  At the end of the day government must balance the books. Government's health strategy is not doing the economic damage and demoralisation in the tobacco industry that was no doubt hoped for. STOP PRESS The latest suggestion is to remove tobacco from free trade agreements. This (proposed by ASH New Zealand) is a further attempt to denormalise tobacco, since its removal from 'normal' trading is a blueprint to treat it as a drug and restrictions on tobacco trading will not be subject to free trade law.  The impact on share prices and the commodity's suitability (as a listed drug) as an investment for pension companies can only be guessed at.           Go To Story

Nevada Set To Amend Smoker Ban

Colin Grainger
7th May 2009.

Be surprised. Be very surprised. Not at Nevada's decision to amend their smoker ban, but at the source. This is a staggeringly balanced report from the Bee Bee Cee. Twenty-four states in the USA have smoker bans of one description or another. Nevada, brighter than most, obviously, have witnessed tumbling receipts and have decided to take action before the carnage settles in. Nevada, unlike the sheep states, will make history by amending their ban. Others have held off implementing their bans whilst we travel through this recession, notably Texas, and North Carolina. Very sensible. Time to look at some quotes from todays linked report. "Bars and restaurants say they have lost up to a quarter of their takings since the law came into force in 2007". It could have been worse. We lost 180 restaurants in the first 90 days of 2009, and so far, around 800 pubs have shut down since January 1st 2009.   "Bryn Nicholas, 31, is on holiday in Las Vegas from the UK. "You don't even really smell the smoke. It's all air conditioned," he said". That can't be right, can it? Our government said that ventilation doesn't work. Ever. In closing: "In April, the Nevada state senate voted in favour of relaxing the smoking ban. The bill now faces one more vote in the state assembly before it becomes law . "If passed, the change would make Nevada the first of 24 US states where smoking is banned in bars and restaurants to relax the law. So far, no others have shown signs of softening state-wide laws, but some cities have acted alone to relax anti-smoking laws". Go Nevada! You are doing exactly the right thing. Protect yourselves and your industry, and keep the tourists flowing. Good business sense. We support your courage. And you have my mum's support. She goes to Las Vegas every year to enjoy herself and she is over the moon with your relaxed attitude to smoking. Now, if you could just let our pathetic government know that it is possible to amend this stupidity, we would be most grateful.       Go To Story

TICAC-Must See Videos

Colin Grainger
7th May 2009.

This is sheer genius. If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall at one of nanny's gatherings, want no more. Here, TICAC, (The International Coalition Against Choice) are revealed in all their splendour. We link you to Part 1, but be sure to watch Part 2 as well. WARNING: do not sip drinks whilst watching. It just ends up all over your monitor and keyboard. Fantastic stuff. (And a little too close to the truth for nanny's liking....)   Go To Story

Anti-smoking Lobbyist in Top White House Job

6th May 2009.

The Wall Street Journal relates how President Obama has recommended the appointment of WIlliam Corr, a lobbyist for Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, to the No. 2 post at the Department of Health and Human Services. Google 'Obama promises not to appoint lobbyists', and you will find a string of blog posts detailing occasions when this promise has already been broken. Now the appointment of Corr has attracted press attention, from the Wall Street Journal to the regionals. Working as a lobbyist in an anti-smoking organisation, William Corr lobbied for the US Food and Drug Administration (an agency within the HHS) to get authority to regulate tobacco.  The organisation that employed him, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is largely funded by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, itself tied to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical empire, with other pharmaceutical companies also contriubuting to the coffers of CTFK. There is an obvious pay-off to companies who manufacture pharmaceutical treatments in campaigning for increasing restrictions on tobacco use. The case highlights the enormous pharmaceutical interest in smoking bans, especially since reaching the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Assurances that Corr (and Tom Daschle, another influential lobbyist close to the US government) will respect the two-year embargo on working on issues that have featured in their lobbying activities is unlikely to convince the public that the pharmaceutical industry is interested only in their health (the phrase 'health care industry' is used, in clear recognition of its economic interests). More lobbyist appointments described here. The comments on this article make interesting reading.     Go To Story

The Slaughter Continues

Colin Grainger
5th May 2009.

Some interesting but horrifying figures from PriceWaterhouse today, as shown in the linked Morning Advertiser article. Forgive the pun, but we have been hungry for figures relating to restaurants. We haven't really had any hard evidence that the smoker ban has affected them, although we long suspected it. Until today. Now we know for sure. Not content with 40 pubs closing every week, HMG (Her Majesties Gullible), are standing by, like slack-jawed yokels, as 60 restaurants close each month. 180 restaurants closed in the first 90 days of 2009. According to the PWC figures, closures for 2008 were up 80%. The race to insolvency is a fierce one. Not to be outdone, 80 pub companies were interred in the pub cemetery. These are not individual pubs. These are pub co's with 2 or more pubs in the group, so the real numbers could be real scary. They could also be included in the now infamous 40 per week. There is some spin involved in this short article. The headline attempts to soften the blow. It's like being told your uncle has just died, "But hey, don't worry. He died well". We suspect some of the losses are due to the current economic situation, but we firmly believe the vast majority could have avoided closure by reintroducing choice to the market-place. It has also been pointed out to me that many of these restaurants would NOT have closed if pubs had not introduced food as an enticement to replace their lost smoking customers. When we look back on this in a few years time when the ban has been amended, and pubs, restaurants and bingo halls bounce back to life, we will be hunting down those responsible. Blair, Brown, McConnell, Morgan, and the rest, will be stood in the dock. Like Nuremberg, their excuses will not be tolerated. "We were only ordering followers" will not be accepted. Based on current projections, the victims will be multitudinous. At least 12,000 former licensees, their staff, and those other companies that depended on them for a living will, rightly, be baying for blood. You'll find me in the visitors gallery with popcorn, a coke, and a smoke.   Go To Story

Smoke!! (Or Be Fined)

Colin Grainger
4th May 2009.

Well, there's a headline I never expected to write. Simply reading the attached article will cause thousands hundreds dozens of three anti-smoker cultists to keel over dead. So in the interests of humanity, click the link and read it straight away do not click the link. Of course, this story, like all stories about smoking or second hand smoke has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with money. Look:   "The Gong'an county government in Hubei province has ordered its staff to puff their way through 230,000 packs of Hubei-produced cigarette brands a year, the Global Times said. Departments that fail to meet their targets will be fined, according to the report". I have reported this story purely to make the zealots fizz. Their blood pressure will rise and rise and the end result will be some interesting shades of purple. Their lies, their constant lies, cause me to turn some funny colours most days. Payback's a bitch, ain't it? EDIT 05/05/09-In the interests of accurate reporting I need to replace the link below. The announcement caused such an uproar that the order to smoke was rescinded. The link tells you all about it.     Go To Story

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