HMRC want to ban ALL Tobacco Leaf for everyone

Except for Big Tobacco

A quick post to draw attention to the Government’s consultation on raw tobacco. Responses to the consultation have to be in by 30th Jan 2015!

Nothing2Declare have written about it here:
http://nothing-2-declare.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/hmrc-want-to-ban-all-tobacco-leaf.html

And have also given suggestions as to possible responses here:
http://nothing-2-declare.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/hmrc-consultation-on-control-of-raw.html

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Looking Back, Looking Forward: a New Year Review

After four years of David Cameron’s Coalition Government with the Liberal Democrats, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Labour Party has never been away. Certainly, its spirit of the nanny state has lingered far into Cameron’s term of office.

In April 2015 the display ban for smaller shops comes into force and hard-pressed convenience stores will have their costs increased and inconvenience maximised. There has been no amendment to the smoking ban. In fact, the first shots across the bow have been fired to ban smoking outside, with local councils all too willing to see if they can get some traction with the public.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, wanted to pass a ban not only in parks but in squares in London, such as Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square. I received the press release and, on the eve of his announcement, tweeted to him a link to his appearance on the BBC’s Room 101 where he argued against the smoking ban and also against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban. By lunchtime, he had changed his mind. I do hope by my pointing to his hypocrisy I had a hand in getting him to back down. Do not think this will be the last time the anti smokers will try to ban smoking outside, they had to try long and hard for indoor bans.

However, 2014 has been dominated with plain packaging for cigarette packets. It is certainly the first time since the smoking ban that such an effective campaign has been launched by the pro-choice lobby. Even now, our Government is on the back foot and has yet to announce its decision.

It’s not surprising seeing that since the introduction of plain packaging in Australia youth smoking has risen 36%, smoking rates have remained static, and the black market has increased.

The Australian Government is also under threat of being sued by the tobacco companies.

Under the World Trade Organization rules and the Trade-Related Aspects Of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), Article 20,  it is made quite explicit that “The use of a trademark in the course of trade shall not be unjustifiably encumbered by special requirements, such as use with another trademark, use in a special form or use in a manner detrimental to its capability to distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.”

Australia will have to prove that plain packaging did lead to a reduction in smoking, which is highly unlikely, and estimates for damages are put at £11 billion. We may finally have won an issue.

It has been a busy year for F2C in the media, with a record sixty TV and radio appearances, including a listening audience of 50 million on the BBC World Service. In addition, F2C is increasingly being asked to defend the lifestyle choices of alcohol, salt, sugar and fat. Personally I have also done online gambling and The Sun newspaper’s Page 3, and have had a busy year writing for Breitbart.

In May 2015, we also have the General Election. The only party that so far shows any sympathy for smokers is UKIP, whose latest published policy statement says it “will amend the smoking ban to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms properly ventilated and separated from non-smoking areas” and that it “opposes ‘plain paper packaging’ for tobacco products and minimum pricing of alcohol”. It is thought that UKIP is one of the reasons why the Tories have not announced their decision on plain packaging, and there are rumours that introducing the measure may be delayed until after the election, if at all.

In 2015 F2C are ready to continue the fight for freedom, and Chris Snowdon’s recent paper on the smoking ban and 6,000 pubs closing may finally bring the Coalition to consider amending the ban.

I would like to express my warmest thanks to the members and supporters of Freedom 2 Choose and in particular to its Executive Committee members for all their hard work keeping F2C going and running efficiently. It really is a team game and I cannot express my appreciation too much. I also give a very warm welcome to Chris Garcia to the Executive Committee. He is making a very positive impact already.

May I also take this opportunity to hope you all had a happy Christmas, and to wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I am sure the health nannies will not want you to smoke, drink and eat too much…..

Dave Atherton
Chairman, Freedom 2 Choose

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Nightlife Burning Out

Former Croydon bar infamous for its fingerprinting policy

Most people are aware of the ongoing dramatic rate of pub closures but if you assume this is due to a new generation switching over to late night bars and nightclubs, you’d be wrong.

There was a time, just ten years ago, when going to after hours venues could be a glamorous affair with that risqué feel where those creatures of the night would socialise. You could be at a table with a cool glass of bourbon and coke in one hand and a burning cigarette in the other having all the time you want as you have fun with friends and the opposite sex. Today a typical night is very different. Instead, you’d be holding a drink in some hazy plastic cup with thoughts of whether to go for your next smoke or not, while indoctrinated paranoid security watch you don’t even pick your nose. Eventually you’d decide to find your way outside through endless stairs and corridors to then be reminded to either down your expensive plastic drink or risk leaving it behind with the other cocktail of drinks on some sticky and drenched table. Next thing you know you’re shuffled along a cattle grid in near zero temperatures and coatless due to the cloakroom policy. Your only thoughts now are to finish that cigarette and get back inside. Once back inside if your drink hasn’t been nicked your table definitely has and so has one of your friends who was made to leave for managing to be happy. And so the whole torturous process repeats itself again and again while the whole venue is just one huge sweaty rugby scrub attempting to get in and out.

It is obvious the UK smoking bans never took into consideration the nightlife industry as well as the pub industry and members clubs. To say the ban was implemented in the name of health and safety is in complete contradiction with reality. This has led from the one so called problem of “second hand smoke” being solved only to then create an endless amount of other problems including noise disturbance and violence. Instead of progress coming in the form of ventilation as in other countries, delusional UK local authorities are answering this health and safety disaster with yet more and more legislation, with the responsibility of enforcement being put on the nightlife industry. For quite a while the industry has being playing ball with local authorities putting the state before its customers, but now even the industry is saying they can’t take any more. With more and more demands for more and more security while being made to sell less and less drinks, late night bars and clubs are struggling to make any profit even if they do achieve managing the logistical nightmare handed down to them. It’s no wonder then that most late night bars and clubs are now in serious need of refurbishment with many more simply going under.

If you assume this article reflects the past through rose tinted glasses and the present with exaggerated pessimism, go abroad to more liberal countries and you will notice the difference instantly. While many countries have exemptions for their smoking bans, in many others local authorities have come to their senses in refusing to enforce such an illogical and oppressive policy after a certain time, something our own local authorities should learn from.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/09/council-regulations-nightlife-uk-vibe-bar

musicvenues.org.uk

CG

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Calling On All Politicians

Freedom 2 Choose is strictly non-party political and our members’ political allegiances cover a wide spectrum (including the well-known Apathy Party). However, we have very recently had sight of a political manifesto that goes some way towards meeting our aim of rolling back the smoking ban.

Fresh from their astonishing by-election results, UKIP have just unveiled some of their key manifesto pledges for the 2015 General Election. They can be seen here:

H/T http://www.ukipdaily.com/courant-times-9-october-2014/

Two pledges are of particular interest:

“– UKIP will amend the smoking ban to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms properly ventilated and separated from non-smoking areas.  

– UKIP opposes ‘plain paper packaging’ for tobacco products and minimum pricing of alcohol.”

Sanity at last.

So Messrs. Cameron, Clegg and Milliband, when will you realise the terrible damage that the smoking ban has caused and follow suit? You’ve had plenty of time and opportunity so what is your excuse?

We at F2C estimate that at least 14,000 pubs have closed since the ban came in and the vast majority have done so as a direct result of it. In addition, we estimate around 200,000 jobs have been lost. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimate that they are still closing at an astonishing rate of 31 every week.

Even more serious is the fact that pubs and clubs were the centre of social life for millions of people. People who are now socially isolated in a way that is probably unique in British history.

And don’t say you didn’t know: we told you so here and here and here and here.

Answers on a postcard please. Or on the F2C blog.

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Give Them An Inch

Smoking break

Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile, our illustrious health zealots. Not content with discrimination against minorities who indulge in legitimate lifestyles, they want yet more! They want your employers to dictate your lifestyle choices for you. With open discrimination against smokers gaining ground within the NHS, now Nottinghamshire County Council Public Health is demanding further intrusions into the personal lives of the County’s workforce.

The wannabe Karl Astels of Public Health for Nottinghamshire County Council, and the petty Gauleiters of the Council really intend dictating your lifestyle in exchange for employment. Even with their lies gaining support from the legislators, even with their blackmailing threats of no treatment for smokers, they are not satisfied. These pathetic creatures want your homes, your jobs and your sense of wellbeing. They have no tolerance for  anyone who thinks differently to themselves, no tolerance for those who choose their own lifestyle, no tolerance for anyone but those who agree with their view of life.

Well, Herr/Frau Doktor Astel, Herr or Frau Gauleiter: WE are not Jews from the Weimar republic, WE do not live in the early days of the Third Reich, you do not have any right treating us as such. In fact the time has come for all decent people to put an end to your vile policies: there is no place for you or your kind in the healthcare industry or politics. 60 million human beings died putting your kind down only for you to emulate Hitler and his band of thugs.

It is not acceptable to any decent human being for you to behave in this manner. If we were gay or coloured you would be prosecuted and sent to jail, unlike your mentors who were tried and then executed. You can push people so far before they make a stand, you have pushed far enough: if you really want to end your political careers then carry on. If you really want to be in the front lines of ASH’s war on smokers then there is a price: enough is enough. As John Paul Jones said from the quarterdeck of the Bonhomme Richard when called upon to surrender by HMS Seraphis, “We have not yet begun to fight”.*

 

* In 1812 Great Britain was again at war with the United States of America, During this war, two frigates fought a long battle near Ireland. The ships were the USS Bonhomme Richard and HMS Seraphis. When called upon to surrender Capt. John Paul Jones USN made this quote. It was the only time that the US Navy and the Royal Navy came to fight in war.

 

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Something for Stoptober

I am a smoker: I’ve known love, I’ve known heartache, just like everyone else, yet I am allegedly different.

I am a smoker: I’ve made choices, some good, some bad, just like everyone else, yet I am allegedly different.

I am a smoker: I like animals, and the natural world around me, just like everyone else, yet I’m allegedly different.

I am a smoker: I like the arts, music, cinema, good food, just like everyone else, yet I’m allegedly different.

I am a smoker, I treat all with courtesy and respect until proven unworthy of either, just like most other people, yet I am not afforded the same courtesy.

In October those people who believe they know how I should best live my life will once again try to force me into a lifestyle I do not want against my will, it is not sufficient for them to deny me social access with my peers in safe and comfortable surroundings, they will instead claim I am a danger to society, the same society that I chose to defend at risk of my life, a simple thank you would have sufficed but no, they had to remove the freedoms I defended, the same freedoms my predecessors fought and died for in two great wars.

The use of legislation to impose a lifestyle that is not wanted is governmental abuse, those who support such abuse are no better than a National Socialist government who ruled abusively.  It is clear that those who died fighting National Socialism died in vain, their surviving comrades a significant number of whom are smokers and have been all their lives, the smokers who came after them and now it seems those who choose to vape, or those who are over the prescribed weight or drink a little more than the recommended limits will become subject to National Socialist policies that will force them to change a lifestyle that they enjoy. 

This nation condemned National Socialism. Our judiciary along with the allied nations tried and executed most of those who made the laws, those who enforced those laws, the media who supported those laws, the Doctors who used them for their own ends, mistreating or refusing to treat whole sections of the community; worse still they euthanized those who could not take care of themselves. They punished the Military for their part in this great human tragedy. Rightly so, for they are supposed to defend their own people not assist their government to systematically abuse them.

I stand against any policy that places one group over another, that creates inequality, that places the lives of a minority at risk of abuse, even at risk of their very lives. There is no place for such legislation in any country, there is no place for any organization that promotes inequality or hatred be they within or outside of government. I am but one of a growing minority who grow less tolerant of those politicians, charities, and other organizations that seek to control every facet of our daily lives.

Are you?

JW

Photo credit: AP Photo/Putnam

 

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F2C AGM Saturday 6 September, London

 photo ThePavillionedit_zps2a2d052c.jpg
Freedom2Choose’s AGM will be held this coming Saturday 6 September at the Pavilion End Pub, Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BR. The formal meeting (members only) starts at 2.00pm and will be very short, maybe 10-15 minutes. There will be informal and lively discussions afterwards and friends and supporters are welcome to join us. Do come along and look for us round the pub (or outside if you’re a smoker ) if you can make it – we haven’t bothered to book a room for 10 minutes. The pub closes at 5.00 pm and some of us may then drift elsewhere…

Map here (the nearest tube station on a Saturday is Bank and the pub is 5 minutes walk):
 photo mapPavilionEnd_zpsb8e8e008.jpg

 

 

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Plain Packaging Greek-style

 

I’ve been smiling at the recent discussions in the UK about introducing plain packaging of tobacco products.

Not because I think it’s a good idea:  I think it’s bollocks.
Not because it’s based on decent and honest research:  it’s based on complete tosh.
And certainly not because it will prevent even one 10 year old from trying smoking:  it won’t.

It’s because I’m reminded that every summer Greece’s leading cigarette manufacturer, Karelia, produces a special edition of packets with lovely pictures featuring the best of Greece.  This summer is no exception and amongst the pictures of yachts in the Aegean and ancient temples I have chosen the one above: beautiful bougainvillaea. They’re nice cigarettes as well and I brought back a few hundred for my own personal use.

The health warning in Greek translates as the more familiar: ‘Smoking seriously harms you and those around you’.

For more detailed analysis of the analytical tosh and political machinations behind plain packaging you could do worse than visit Chris Snowden’s posts below, although many excellent bloggers have also written on the subject.

The plain packs meta-lie (part one)

The plain packs meta-lie (part two)

 

 

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Prohibition Fever at the BMA

Al Capone’s Ghost must be smiling and his successors laughing.

On the 24th June this year, the BMA voted to ban the sale of cigarettes (forever) to anyone born after the millennium. So in 2018 it would be illegal for an eighteen year old but legal for a nineteen year old. And with each successive year thereafter, the discrimination would notch up accordingly.

The effect of course would be to progressively drive young and eventually older people into the hands of modern day Al Capones.

Freedom2choose chairman Dave Atherton appeared on BBC radio Wales and Freedom2choose Scotland’s Belinda Cunnison was also allowed a brief slot on BBC radio Scotland.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b047pj88

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b046ppbz

Update:

Unfortunately the links have now died but can be listended to below:

Wales – The case in favour is here:

BBC%20Radio%20Wales%2025%206%202014%20-%201.mp3

Dave Atherton and other’s responses are here:

BBC%20Radio%20Wales%2025%206%202014%20-%202.mp3

Scotland – Introduction:

BBC%20Radio%20Scotland%2025%206%202014%20-%201.mp3

Belinda responds:

BBC%20Radio%20Scotland%2025%206%202014%20-%202.mp3

Additional Comments:

It is much easier to make a false claim than it is to debunk it. This means that in a few minutes on air very few claims can be disputed. So a few comments about some other assertions that various doctors made on these programmes is in order:

  1. One doctor asserted that this proposal would stop young people smoking. He then contradicted himself by noting that most people tried cigarettes at around 13 or 14 years of age. Clearly these would have been bought for them so this crazy notion would make no difference at all.

  2. Others claimed that most smokers started smoking by their early twenties and became addicted young. More on addiction below but the real reason for people starting young is obvious. If you like something then you are likely to continue to do it. If you don’t then you’re unlikely to change your mind as you age.

  3. A doctor claimed that health problems wouldn’t occur until they reached their 30s or 40s. But even Richard Doll’s famous ‘British Doctors Study’ claimed that health issues only began to occur from age 50 onward. Incidentally, the average age at death for lifetime cigarette smokers in this study was 73 years. What’s more, most of those deaths occurred during the 1950s and 60s when life expectancy was less than 65 years.

  4. Addiction:

    If nicotine really was addictive then how come NRT products have a 98.4% failure rate?http://freedom2choose.info/news_viewer.php?id=969

    As to the claim that it is similarly or more addictive than heroin, there is no evidence to support that whatsoever. The nearest thing is the US Surgeon General’s report of 1988 which was the first report claiming that nicotine was addictive. So where did he get his evidence?

    The answer is that it was from a 1984 paper by Jack Henningfield, an advisor to the Surgeon General and also a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. Here are a couple of quotes from the McTear vs ITL court case. The full text is 600 pages long but there is a 60 page summary here: http://boltonsmokersclub.wordpress.com/the-mctear-case-the-analysis/ .

    Please note that this case (from 2005) is the ONLY time that a British court has been asked to consider anti-smoking ‘evidence’. The two top anti-smoking ‘experts’ in the UK were amongst those testifying. James Friend (appointed by the Government to chair the ‘Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health) and Richard Doll both gave evidence under oath.

ITL’s expert witness:

[5.398]…
“Figure 5 showed nine histograms each showing two bars, one for placebo (P) and the other for the “drug” under investigation (D) or simulated gambling (SG). In all nine histograms the D or SG bar was higher than the P bar. Professor Gray said that the significance was said to be that nicotine increased scores on this scale to the same degree as that seen for morphine and amphetamine, for example, and from the way the figure was drawn that appeared to be the case. It has subsequently been pointed out by Warburton, however, that the scales on the vertical axes of each of the histograms were quite different from each other. This was standardly regarded as very poor scientific methodology and should have been pointed out by the referees of the paper at the outset; it was something that graduate students were taught at an early stage not to do. For morphine for example, the P value was below 4 and the D value nearly 10; the same for amphetamine. For nicotine, the P value was 5 and the D value just below 7. But the scales had been set so that the difference between P and D for nicotine appeared to be as large as that for amphetamine and morphine, though this was simply not the case.”

And then the judge’s view:

“[6.206] Professor Gray’s evidence accordingly is consistent with the averment for the pursuer that once individuals such as Mr McTear have started smoking it is difficult for them to wean themselves off the habit. It provides no support for the proposition that tobacco is more addictive than cocaine, or more addictive than heroin for that matter. There is no evidence before me which provides support for the conclusion in USSG 1988 that the pharmacological and behavioural processes that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Indeed, insofar as this relied on Henningfield 1984, it lacked a sound scientific basis.”

The Henningfield paper is here:
http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2057063013-3023.html

See also: http://wings.buffalo.edu/aru/ARUreport03.html

Postscript:

The final consultation on plain packaging has begun so if you haven’t acted yet please be sure to read this.

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Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) which 10 years ago were in their infancy and now seem to ubiquitous with an estimated 2 million users in the UK alone. Whether you see them as potentially as tools to oppress smokers seems to have passed as e-cigs seem to be the new smoking evil. Basically world and national governments want to denormalise and restrict e-cigs as tobacco smokers are.

The European Union (EU) wanted to have them classified as medicines but MEPs voted against but did vote to restrict the nicotine content to 20mg/ml which would probably make them useless for heavy smokers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Federal Drug Administration want to classify them as tobacco and apply the same restrictions on advertising, to be highly taxed and indoor restrictions.  It seems that even the sight of an e-cig “renormalising” smoking is giving them, pun intended, the vapers.

Big Pharma’s fingerprints are probably all over this. The biggest critics include Professor of Engineering Stanton Glantz, John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health America and Tobacco Free Kids all of whom are in receipt of Big Pharma funding.

It is my belief that any e-cig users sniffy towards tobacco smokers will be keeping their council and can see that they are being treated as just as appalling as smokers. Certainly that is the impression I get talking to industry representatives.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy my article in Breitbart I did recently and also on the 25th April I was on BBC Radio Ulster discussing e-cigs with Andy Dougal Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, which Tony has been kind to record.

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/04/25/E-Cigarettes-to-be-Subject-to-Restrictions-Despite-Evidence-They-Help-People-Stop-Smoking

BBC%20Ulster%20ecigs%2025-4-14.mp3

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