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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Big Lottery Fund Grants Hard At Work

Back in May of this year, Dick Puddlecote broke the story that ASH Wales received the largest award in Wales from the Big Lottery Fund.  I thought I'd update DP's post and let you know how that £864,881 is being spent. Ready for this?

ASH Wales created two social media accounts on both Facebook and Twitter called "The Filter."  It's mission is to denormalise you to tell the truth.  That's what they say anyway, here on the about page on Facebook
We are here to tell people in Wales the truth about tobacco. We are a part of ASH Wales that is funded by Big Lottery.
Before we see how well they tell the truth, particularly the whole truth, some quick maths on the actual costs of this new Big Lottery Fund venture:

Cost of creating a Facebook page:  £0.00  (Free)

Cost of creating a Twitter account:  £0.00  (Free)

Hiring some hateful dolt a Social Media Expert Officer (Word document) under a three-year contract to denormalise smokers and misinform the public to tweet and update facebook for a 37.5 hours per week:  (salary £28,000 to £30,000 per annum) = £84,000 to £90,000 - this is not inclusive of National Insurance contributions and other taxes.

Cost of a new shiny trade marked PC or Mac that that attracts children more than cigarettes ever would and other items required for denormalising smokers on-line:  £1,000 (estimated based on current market prices).

So, not including tax and national insurance payments and everything else an employer must give to our nanny state government, we're looking at about £85,000 to £91,000, roughly about 10% of the grant received.  Kind of makes you wonder where the rest of that money is going.  Doesn't it?  Actually, I really don't want to know...

OK, let's go back to the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  I saw this Twitter conversation the other day.

So here we have a tweet conversation between The Filter and Daniel Clayton that claims a cigarette contains something from a beaver's arse.  The Filter also said it's "morbidly fascinating" but worse than ambergris because "it's smoked." Dickheads.

But is it true? Do cigarettes contain beaver arse juice and what is this beavery-arse substance?

The substance they refer to is called "castoreum."  It is extracted from a beaver's castor sac, which lies in very close proximity to the beaver's anal glands. These are the sacs that beavers use for scent marking. Castoreum doesn't come from the anal glands, and the castor sacs are not actually glands, they are sacs. So, prima facie the tweet is already untrue, but we know that nobody working at ASH is a scientist or biologist, certainly not the dolts they hire for their social media campaigns.  They obviously found a site that called them anal glands incorrectly and ran with it, because that has a greater shock value.

Should we forgive them their error?  No. We should not cut these bastards any slack.  If they claim their mission is to tell the truth, then their statements should be factual.  Of course, we know that ASH has never cared for actual facts, so no surprise here.

Next, do cigarettes contain castoreum?  Well, some brands of cigarettes may contain castoreum. But certainly not all brands of cigarettes; it depends on how the tobacco is cured and treated. So it's not a fair claim to say that every cigarette has castoreum (let alone calling it anal gland juice). Here's what Wired magazine had to say about it:
Commonly found in the secretions of a beaver's castor glands (located near the animal's genitals), this substance when processed gives your cigarette a sweet odor and smoky flavor. In 1991, Phillip Morris used just 8 pounds of the pungent stuff to make 400 billion cigarettes — proving that a little genital secretion goes a long way.
All we know from this is that at the very least, Philip Morris uses castoreum in at least some of their cigarettes.  Which brands?  Who knows...but The Filter wants you to think that all cigarettes contain this, and that's not true.

So, you might be thinking castoreum is gross, and I could understand that.  But wait, there's more to this. The whole truth is that castoreum is used in lots of every day foods, beverages and products out there. You have very likely consumed it. Perhaps often. It is considered a safe food additive, and it is usually called "Natural Flavouring." (It is natural, after all.)  For instance, one might find castoreum in:

Alcoholic and non-alcholic beverages
Puddings (the American variety of pudding, I imagine)
Vanilla flavourings (ice cream)
Raspberry flavourings

And more... Get the point? Chances are you have eaten beaver secretions at some point in your life. You probably even like it.

Perfumers also use castoreum in their perfumes and colognes. Or it might be added to soaps and shampoos.

And guess who else uses castoreum in their products?  Big Pharma does.  That's right, it's used in medicines and other pharmaceutical products. I have no idea which ones, but wouldn't it be funny if it turned up in NRT gum?  Because castoreum is used in some chewing gums (again, no idea which ones).

Of course, ASH Wales's The Filter won't tell you these things. They put it out there to gross you out, a campaign of hateful misinformation by omission, and they didn't tell you the whole truth. In fact, they embellished it, and not content with misinforming the public the first time around, they feel the need to reiterate it again today.

They know most people are too lazy to look up information for themselves. They know most people will read it and think it's totally true without verifying it for themselves. The tobacco control relies on people's laziness and stupidity and unwillingness to confirm if something is a fact.  "Oh, I heard it from a friend who knows somebody who met this guy who saw it on a website, so it must be true."  That's the level of interest people have in finding out the truth.

But we humans, we're strange creatures. We ingest and consume lots of weird foods and organic substances.  For instance, billions of humans consume this glandular secretion, which contains amino acids, citrate, enzymes, flavins, fructose phosphorylcholine, prostaglandins, vitamin C, acid phosphatase, citric acid, fibrinolysin, proteolytic enzymes, zinc, galactose, mucus, and sialic acid among other things.

What about ... Haggis?  Black Pudding? People love these. It's fucking disgusting to me, but others love it.  Here's a tasty link (warning, click at own risk -- nasty foods):

Here's another list to ten "strange" British foods:

Not satisfied?  Then try following these links graciously provided for your reading pleasure by Stumpy Bear.  (Warning: Maybe wait until after you've eaten dinner. Your call.)

I mean, on this planet, everything is fair game for consumption and or use at some point.  Animal by-products are used for so many useful things -- nothing is ever wasted.  Even torturing single-celled organisms to get their by-products is fair game, and people actually eat it on toast for fuck's sake. Yuck.  Yes, it's Marmite. 

And just to close this post, you do know what goes into medications for athlete's foot. Don't you? It's called urea. Sometimes it's synthetic, sometimes not, but urea is ... urine. That's right. Piss. You can piss on your feet and treat your fungal infection.

Seriously, you can piss on your feet and cure infections (or ease jelly fish stings, I'm told). How awesome is that?

I guess other people's pee will work too (if you're into that sort of thing), but I really don't know...  The point here is that your pee can save you money, and it just might help save the NHS. I can imagine the NHS campaign slogan:

Don't Flush Your Money Down the Toilet. Wee For Our Children's Future.

ASH Wales, however, just takes our money and uses it to misinform people and demonise smokers.  Indeed, the entire tobacco control industry makes their living doing this. Fucking money-flushing pissheads, all of them.

There are much, much worse things than trace amounts of castoreum. Just sayin'.