Please, Can We Have Some More?

Now that we’re into the 11th year of the most spiteful and damaging social engineering exercise England has ever seen – otherwise known as the smoking ban – I found myself rather bemused by how innocuous the anniversary was.

I wrote about the impending anniversary ahead of time, planning to write another piece on the day; but as these things go, that never happened. It was unsurprising to see the usual cobblers being spouted by various social media accounts using the hashtag #smokefree10.

As is the norm for these tobacco control lunatics, there wasn’t any new “evidence” – aside from anecdotes on how the ban has “improved the health” of numerous people. Instead, ASH simply released, what can only be termed an analysis, of all the polls they have commissioned (via YouGov) over the years.

As I’ve written about before, any poll via YouGov commissioned by ASH should be treated with a huge pinch of salt, especially as the erstwhile president (up until 2016 that is) is also on the board of Trustees at ASH. It is clear from that he does have a bit of a problem when it comes to eliminating bias and conflict of interest – which, I have to add is one of the core principles of being a charity trusteesomething I’m familiar with being a charity trustee myself.

As noted by my esteemed blogging colleague Dick Puddlecote, the report from ASH is nothing more than a running commentary of how lies, half-truths and misdirection has been used to engineer situations to ASH’s advantage.

The ‘report’ itself is entitled “Smokefree: The First Ten Years” with the strap-line (and this is the amusing part) ‘Tackling the smoking epidemic in England 2007 – 2017: the views of the public’ – the strap-line couldn’t be more of a misnomer if it tried, but then being accurate and truthful really doesn’t suit ASH’s narrative.

You’d think, with all the lobbying power and connections ASH has that the report, and associated “success” of the smoking ban, the news would be awash with egregious stories about how many lives have been “saved”; which as we know is utter bollocks – and it will probably rumble on and on until the lies are fully exposed. Amusingly, the story of “success” only made it to six online papers, and even fewer radio stations – as noted by Simon Clark:

Media interest was relatively lukewarm throughout the week. I did a handful of local radio interviews – BBC Sussex, Suffolk, Kent, Manchester, Newcastle, Three Counties.

The fact that media interest was relatively lukewarm would tend to suggest that the public are either

  1. Not bothered at all by this “milestone”
  2. Have far more important things on their mind

Naturally, there was a handful of folk that were brought to light. Two such individuals were Caroline Flint (former public health minister) and Kevin Barron (former chair of the health select committee). For those who have studied the history of the smoking ban will recognise Kevin Barron as the one who described exemptions for wet-led pubs and clubs, as well as members only clubs as “unfair, inefficient and unworkable”.

Naturally, Caroline Flint had swallowed the ASH propaganda hook, line and sinker. Much of that propaganda is prevalent in the latest bilge from ASH. Again, as note by Dick Puddlecote:

It tells us that ASH have been successful in turning a tolerant public into an intolerant one. This speaks volumes more about the disgusting nature of ASH than it does about the public. Each poll was followed by a further avalanche of trademark tobacco control media manipulation and the public tested again the following year. When the results were not compelling enough, poll questions were changed, and I fully expect junk science ramped up and targeted to bring a more favourable set of figures next time round.

Quite. As you would expect from heavily skewed poll questions, ask them in slightly different, but just as leading ways time and again, you’ll eventually get the kind of results you’re looking for.

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Let’s see, in 2009 not much really happened in terms of anti-smoker legislation, but in 2011 vending machines were banned, and notice the alleged shift in public perceptions. Suddenly, an equal number of people thought the Government were simultaneously not doing enough and doing about right. Then, quelle surprise, as more legislation came in – the display ban in 2012, there was always more that needed to be done. Yet the next law that came in – the ban on smoking in cars carrying children (2015) folk started to believe that the Government were doing enough.

Now ASH have successfully gotten rid of the “glitzy packaging” that entices the yoof to start smoking, there’s yet another swing in the polls. Folk are believing that the Government should be doing more. Yet, what more can they do?

The thing is, ASH are all too happy to review their own polls – as I’ve mentioned before – while studiously ignoring polls of equal provenance that contradict their own findings. The redoubtable Chris Snowdon highlights ASH’s problem:

But ASH are now in a quandary. There hasn’t been a Tobacco Control Plan for England for a year and a half. If there’s no plan, how can ASH support it? And if there’s nothing to support, why is the government giving them so much of our money? What have they been doing with the £250,000 or so that they have been given by the state in the last year and a half?

It is only a matter of time before someone asks these questions. That, I suspect, is why ASH are getting so hot and bothered at the moment.

Indeed. With the incessant whingeing from ASH puppets in Parliament about the next tobacco control plan, which the Government (quite rightly) is delaying (for whatever the reason, though I suspect they’ve probably got more important things to be getting on with then giving in to the illiberal demands of a sockpuppet charity).

This latest review of ASH’s ‘successful’ sockpuppet lobbying, naturally referencing any and all material that supports their view, and their view alone is basically a plea for more funding which screams “look at what we did, give us more cash ‘cos we deserve it!” and Puddlecote’s favourite line “just imagine how much more we could torture smokers if you did!”.

Naturally, ASH need to offer some incentive, in their arrogance, to MPs’ which is rather revealing, as described in the ASH paper regarding plain packs:

Although the policy was principally designed to deter young people from starting smoking, existing smokers’ dislike of the redesigned packs is an additional benefit of the policy.

Actually, the not-so-subtle point of the legislation was to make smokers feel ugly, not the “prevent kids from starting” argument which ASH use in their own briefing paper on the subject:

New customers are primarily children and young people

and

Therefore, new, young smokers are the primary target of industry marketing. Brand imagery is much more important to younger age groups and they respond more effectively to it than older groups.

Of course, the actual evidence related to plain packaging is hilariously thin it’s next to non-existent, but who needs evidence when you have an MP friendly poll eh? Who looks at the disaster of Australia and France with regards to plain packs eh?

Of course, no ASH ‘report’ would be complete without a mention of the authoritarian bed-wetters that enable these sockpuppets to continue spouting such utter bovine excrement:

Smokefree workplaces and public environments have transformed not only the health risks that people face in their everyday lives but also their attitudes to smoking. ‘Denormalisation’ is a clumsy word but it captures the reality of what has happened: a behaviour that used to be taken for granted almost everywhere is now marginalised and can no longer be assumed to be socially acceptable.

In black and white, ASH are particularly proud of the fact that the act of smoking is marginalised and no longer socially acceptable. As Puddlecote rightly points out, denormalisation is a fascist word, and ASH are fascists for thinking it is a decent thing to encourage.

The hideous fans of ASH may be overjoyed at the environment they have helped create where it is nigh on government-approved to take a shit on smokers but it doesn’t make it right.

As many of you will recognise, ASH are illiberal, indecent, authoritarian fuck-knuckles and are the kind of people who would find themselves right at home with the likes of FCTC Golden Boy Rodrigo Duarte. Instead, like the pettifoggers they are, they are encouraged to spread their vicious bile into the minds of the public where it is now normal to smoker-hate.

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Image courtesy of Michael J McFadden

Now that ASH are without an “official” plan of action from the Government (keep delaying it I say), their ‘report’ outlines what they would like to achieve, naturally the pet pollster backs up what they want.

“In the ten years since 2007, smoking prevalence in the adult population in England fell from 21% to 15.5%. This is a major achievement but smoking remains a huge burden on the health of the nation: 6.3 million adults still smoke in England. The following proposals for further action are supported by a majority of the public:

– licensing the sale of tobacco products, supported by 76% of respondents in 2017;
– banning smoking in all cars, supported by 62% of respondents in 2017;
– charging tobacco companies a levy to fund stop smoking services and preventive work with young people, supported by 71% of respondents in 2017.”

So, instead of encouraging a free market alternative (which ASH have repeatedly tried to strangle, and continue to subtly undermine) ASH once again focus on the old tricks of tobacco control – bullying and coercion.

There is a strong case for licensing the sale of tobacco products in order that local authorities and the police can act swiftly against those who abuse current regulations, especially in relation to underage sales.

Funny that. Local authorities and the police already have those powers. A licensing scheme, such as with alcohol, provides the ability to act without any proof of wrongdoing. But, this is ASH where everything they do is based on anecdotal hearsay, so having not proof of wrongdoing is absolutely fine with them if it means they can shutdown retailers they don’t like.

As you can imagine, and as Wales tried to do, there’ll be a financial burden to this kind of scheme, the costs of which won’t just be borne by the retailer; it’ll end up driving up the costs of everything within that store – not just the smokes. Eventually, a number of smaller shops will end up stopping the sale of tobacco because it’ll be too costly to stock, too burdensome in terms of all the regulations associated with it. This won’t benefit anyone other than the large supermarkets that have the buying power. It won’t make the slightest difference in how many packs are sold, they’ll end up being sold in concentrated areas instead.

Having aided in the destruction of local pubs, ASH are now setting their sights on local businesses too. Of course, it’s all about health isn’t it?

They’ve got a precedent for this, after all ASH have unwaveringly supported Article 20 of the TPD which imposes huge costs on vaping businesses, dressed up as “caring for the children” (natch), the legislation for e-cigs as a precedent allows them to demand the same onerous bullshit for another legal product.

But they don’t stop there. Remember the slippery slope warnings given about the smoking in cars (with kids in) legislation?

A ban on smoking in all cars would address this universal risk while also eliminating the risks caused by the distraction of smoking while driving.

No such thing as a slippery slope then is there? Think we can safely say, “told you so” to that.

the risks involved in finding and lighting up cigarettes while driving also need to be addressed.

Utter dross. Most smokers, such as myself back in the day, knew exactly where our smokes were located and had a well-practiced method for lighting up while on the move. As with the mobile phone law, it’s unenforceable and a complete waste of resources. Next you’ll be told you can’t spark up in your own home. Just watch.

Finally, we have the latest attempt of trough filling – a levy on the tobacco industry.

The levy is a relatively new idea and was only tested out in the 2017 ASH Smokefree England survey. Respondents were asked whether they would support or oppose a measure ‘requiring tobacco manufacturers to pay a levy or licence fee to Government for measures to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking’. Overall, 71% of respondents in England supported this measure. Only 9% opposed it (the remainder neither supported nor opposed it). The policy proposal was supported by 75% of non-smokers and 43% of smokers.

This idea has been floated before and was (rightly) dismissed back in 2015, yet the insensate zealots are trying again. Only this time, instead of just trying to embellish the proposal with “more funds for this, that or the other” they’re (again) playing the emotion card – The Children™ – by asking if they supported a measure to grab more cash from the industry to protect the kids.

Not many people opposed the idea (natch) ‘cos “Think of the Children!” – a card that ASH plays on a regular basis. Thing is, such a levy simply won’t work.

Y’see, it is impossible to extract such a levy from producers that aren’t based in the UK and those that are, will be financially hamstrung by such a levy that they’ll just up sticks and move somewhere else. In the current economic climate, the Government would be outrageously stupid to allow such a thing to happen – but then, anything is possible with that lot.

We get to see another glimpse of ASH’s less-than-altruistic reasoning for the levy:

Over the past three years there have been major cuts to English local authority budgets for stop smoking services and tobacco control work. Budgets for stop smoking services, which offer smokers their best chance to quit, were cut in three fifths (59%) of local authorities in 2016/17, following cuts in two fifths (39%) of local authorities the year before. In some areas, specialist stop smoking services have been decommissioned altogether. These budget cuts are principally due to reductions in the public health grant and to wider central government cuts to local authority budgets.

With the smoking rate as low as it is, the fact that stop smoking services are being decommissioned is actually a good thing. The smoking rate dropped far faster since the boom of e-cigs and not, as ASH try to point out, as a result of the smoking ban, nor any other legislation, the simple fact is stop smoking services are largely irrelevant now. Instead ASH don’t quite get the fact that folk are wandering into vape shops instead of utilitarian stop smoking clinics and that public attitudes are changing now that there is a range of viable alternatives.

SmokingPrevalence_Snowdon

(H/T Christopher Snowdon)

Y’see, ASH simply don’t want to see the elephant in the room and that is, their ‘tobacco control policies’ (aside from the tobacco tax escalator) haven’t done in ten years, what e-cigs have done in five.

Not once does ASH acknowledge the role that e-cigs have played in their latest dross. Vaping is completely ignored (so much for being “supportive” eh?) both in the impact it has had since 2010, and the impact they could have – that is, if Article 20 was scrapped – over the next ten years.

While ASH are patting themselves on the back, praising themselves for something they’ve not actually done – aside from trying to derail a free-market alternative that’s actually done their work for them – despite there being around 1.5 million former smokers now exclusively using e-cigs.

It’s all part of a concerted effort to ignore the impact of e-cigs, from Cancer Research UK quoting the 1.9 million figure – without mentioning e-cigarettes or vaping – to Lord Rennard, yet another ASH pet, claiming the “lowest level on record” was a huge achievement and a “testament to the success of the comprehensive approach adopted by previous Governments” in the Queen’s Speech debate.

There is seemingly no end to the praise for the authoritarian (and unsuccessful) tobacco control policies instituted by intolerant, vile people on a segment of society that, frankly, just wants to be left alone.

ASH have wreaked a trail of bile and intolerance throughout the country, and far from being dragged over the coals for inciting hatred, they’ve become ever more shrill in their demands for more funding. As the results of any new policy become naturally more meagre due to the steadily declining rate, their respect for individual liberties, personal property, freedom of choice and truth has exponentially declined.

ASH should be roundly ashamed of this trail of devastation on society, yet they still believe they are thoroughly entitled to more of our cash to continue being obnoxious.

This call for more gratuitous funding should be roundly ignored, and all funding to these sycophants should be cut forthwith. After all, isn’t the government supposed to be saving money?

(image credit Dean Drobot/shutterstock.com)

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