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Friday, 30 November 2012

The Smack-Down of Stephen Williams MP

The House Magazine is quickly becoming one of my favourites.

First, for having the balls to wrap its magazine with an advert opposing plain packaging (although they did kind of apologise for it afterwards, and I think they should not have done so, but it's their business).

Second, for publishing an exchange of correspondence between Stephen Williams MP and Ian Paisley MP in respect of plain packaging, called "The Dialogue: Plain Cigarette Packaging."

And third, for making that correspondence available on-line for all of us to enjoy Ian Paisley's glorious smack-down of Stephen Williams MP, misrepresenting all of those "gullible women and children" of Bristol West.

I do not have permission to post the entire conversation in full in this post, so with huge thanks to HOOPs for tweeting the original link, here are a few choice, tasty excerpts taken from Ian Paisley MP's replies to Stephen Williams:
I don’t know what you were smoking when you wrote this but really you need to stay off it because misleading information actually diminishes any strength your argument might have.

I want to see a health policy in place that is honest and that works. You have no evidence to suggest standardised packaging would actually decrease consumption. Government ought to introduce policy on the basis of evidence not seek evidence on the back of untested and unproven policy.

I see that you appear to be arguing from the preposterous position that you want to standardise cigarette packs for health purposes yet at the same time legalise class B drugs and encourage an unlawful product to be sold legally in the UK. I think your priorities are at odds!

You have emailed me now three times giving ample opportunity to advance one shred of evidence that standardised packets will 1) Prevent children from smoking 2) Reduce overall consumption and 3) Make a significant change to the health of the nation. Clearly you have no evidence. This is just some whimsical and fanciful notion based more on PR than substance. Stephen, you are in Government, it needs to be better than this.
That's a pretty awesome smack-down, Mr Paisley.  You have earned a gold star!

One of things (actually, almost everything) that Stephen Williams MP said is quite alarming (emphasis added):
The brands have glitzy names like “vogue” [...] Packs and cigarettes would be standardised without appealing shapes, designs or names.
Oh, so is it the tobacco control industry's plan to prevent BAT from even using its brand name Vogue?  Sure looks that way.  Or perhaps Stephen Williams MP is merely confused,  as ever?

I have no idea what you just said, but oh, pardon me whilst I scratch my arse. Ah, that's better.
Image source ASH UK (because you all paid for it, so why not?)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Power of Hatred

If you are a smoker in Australia who now believes that the flavour of your chosen brand of cigarettes has changed for the worse since the implementation of plain packaging, then let me help you understand the reasons why you may believe it.  It is because the anti-smokers hate you.  Oh, rest assured that they hate tobacco companies, too.  But the anti-smokers are using you to get at the tobacco companies, and they will go to any extreme to achieve their crusade's goal of prohibition, including propagandising mere anecdotal reports without any basis in fact.

So what about that flavour?  Did it change?  Maybe it has for you, but it's not because of how the external packaging looks. It could be because Australia's plain packaging legislation also dictates how the cigarette can be made, e.g. the type of paper that can be used (it must be white), what the filter can look like, etc.  So there may be some real physical changes to the cigarette that has altered its flavour, or it may be because the manufacturing process has been altered.

Or it could just be all in your head. Mind over matter.  I don't know.  But what I do know is that the anti-smokers love the fact that some of you think the flavour of your machine-made cigarettes has changed, because they also intend to legislate which flavourings and additives can be used during the curing process -- and that will greatly alter the flavour of your tobacco. This is all part of the denormalisation programme, all part of the endgame.  You are but pawns in this game, and you will be sacrificed as the crusade marches on. Count on it.

There are, however, numerous things that can alter the flavour of a cigarette.  The obvious factors are the tobacco blend and the curing processes.  Paper and filter types, too, play a substantial role in taste.  But did you know that the length and diameter of a cigarette also determine the flavour?  It is believed that slim cigarettes generally taste better than king size cigarettes because of the slim cigarette's smaller diameter -- something to do with the airflow through the cigarette, I believe, although I cannot recall exactly why this is so and I'm too lazy to look it up today.  Those who roll their own cigarettes can easily confirm this by rolling a slim cigarette and comparing it to a thicker-rolled one.  You will definitely notice a difference in flavour between the two.

So, I strongly suspect that those in Australia who smoke roll-ups have not noticed any change in flavour.  Because the only difference for them is the imagery on the packaging. They still roll their cigarettes as they've always done, using the same papers and filters.

I don't know whether to believe if four out of ten people who visit a sole Australian shop think the flavour of their chosen brand has changed.  I suppose anything is possible in the New Inquisition.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Damned No Matter What You Do

Remember when the tobacco control industry said smoking bans were vital public health measures to protect people, particularly non-smoking women and children, from second-hand smoke?  Remember that?  I do.

Well, they lied.  But I know that you knew that already.

The ultimate goal for the tobacco control industry is to annihilate every last tobacco company, big and small, so that the only legitimate supplier of "clean" nicotine products is Big Pharma.  But as the battles are waged all over the world, it is we ordinary civilians who are under constant bombardment. The laws passed are designed to have a greater effect on us than they do for tobacco companies. The idea behind the Public Health religion's crusade is to increasingly make it more difficult for Big Tobacco to have willing customers, and one way of achieving that aim is to change the norms of society itself.  In practice, it is a massive effort to denormalise society -- to change something that is absolutely normal for millions and millions of people into a despised and feared activity.  Forcing society to conform to the beliefs and tenets of Public Health, in other words.

And those who do not conform, those who do not convert and accept the gods of prohibition into their hearts and minds, those who fail to spread the gospel accordingly or dare question its legitimacy, are iniquitous heathens who must be tortured and vilified at every opportunity.  This is the New Inquisition.

And this is its mark:

The grand cathedral, the holiest all of the temples of Public Health, is the headquarters of the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. Shielded from public scrutiny, the WHO is where new and ingenious methods for torturing the unconverted are devised.  The WHO is The Source of All Evil.  It is a place where Grand Inquisitors of the New Inquisition lay down roots and tentacles to greedily slurp up the nutrients that sustain them throughout their careers crusading for Public Health. But in this dark and secret place, the WHO Secretariat of the FCTC refines the scriptures for the True Believers in order to keep the faithful on message and to guide them accordingly on their relentless crusade to save everyone from themselves.

So let us have a look at a few recent scriptures prepared by the Convention Secretariat.  By doing so, we will learn what to expect from the New Inquisition over the coming years.  We will see just how evil their intentions are.

Our first document is the Control and prevention of smokeless tobacco products.

With the war on smokers going rather well (i.e. smoking bans under Article 8 (protection from tobacco smoke)), the zealots are most concerned that smokers will seek out alternative sources of nicotine that do not fall under pharmaceutical regulations, e.g. Smokeless Tobacco  Products (SLT), such as snus or dissolvable lozenges. This is unacceptable in their view, so something must be done to stop it, or at least regulate it to make it difficult for any company who wishes to supply SLT to consumers:

Click image to enlargify

In this paragraph, we can glean quite a few insights. However, note the highlighted sentence. If you thought the smoking ban was about protecting people from tobacco smoke, you would be wrong. It's about forcing smokers to quit.  In their minds, if they keep taking away the places where you can smoke, you will eventually be forced to quit.  This is all part of the endgame.  But if you switch to using smokeless tobacco products like snus when you are out and about, you are still a bad person and you are not helping their cause.

But smokeless tobacco products aside, the New Inquisition greatly fears the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), more commonly called e-cigarettes. Let us now look at another document prepared by the Convention Secretariat, Electronic nicotine delivery systems, including electronic cigarettes.

So far, it seems the crusaders know next-to-nothing about these "dirty" and unacceptable alternative nicotine products:

Lack of knowledge aside, something must be done. Because these devices not only frighten them, they are also in direct competition with pharmaceuticals. The only acceptable use of nicotine is "clean" nicotine provided by Big Pharma. Therefore, e-cigarettes must be banned, or barring that, regulated in precisely the same way as tobacco products, e.g. bans on advertising, promotion and prohibiting use in public places.

And the lack of evidence that vaping is potentially harmful to the user or the non-vaping public doesn't matter either. Just ban it.
Why would they do all of this before even looking into these products.  Perhaps these two paragraphs will shed a little light on the matter:

As you can see above, it doesn't even matter if the products contain nicotine or tobacco extracts.  E-cigarettes must be banned because they resemble cigarettes and this undermines that whole denormalisation part of the crusade.  Anything that looks like smoking is harmful and therefore should be given no quarter. Ban it. Ban everything.

And finally, just so you understand Big Pharma's role in all of this, note that nicotine is an "active" pharmaceutical ingredient. 

So, in the coming years, we should expect to see bans on smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes happening in all the places where they are currently available and on sale. This is the territory where the crusade is heading. But other battle fronts remain. There are still many battles to be fought against smokers, namely plain packaging, and bans on smoking in cars and in your homes. These are coming. They will happen.

Yes, I fully expect the Public Health crusade to succeed, and I believe that all of these bans will happen as part of the New Inquisition.  Because the hard-to-swallow truth is that we will let it happen. We will let them do it to us because it's easier to complain about it than it is to take action, to make a stand.  Most of you already believe that even speaking out against it is pointless.  Am I right?

For too long both consumers and tobacco companies have tried to appease the zealots by making concessions, but we have been tricked and deceived by our own sense of fairness. We accepted their denormalisation regime as a matter of course, because many of us wrongly believed that we were harming others, that we were bad people, and we felt ashamed for our habits.

We have already lost every battle because we didn't bother to fight them. We cannot even agree on what should be fought for, because we are presently disunited.

We could, however, change our destiny if we wanted to do so. We could unite. We could find just one thing to agree on (even temporarily, because I know that some of you think it's unimportant and do not care) and make a stand against it, against the True Believers of Public Health.  In the UK, we have the plain packaging battle to fight.  This is not a fight for the tobacco companies -- this is not a fight to protect Big Tobacco's interests or rights.  This is a fight for ourselves, and our way of life. For freedom from the prohibitionists.  This is a battle that we could win if we stand together and speak out against it. We have already partially succeeded, but there is still a bit more work we must do now. The battle is not yet over.

All it takes is a very small amount of your time to write to your MPs -- even if you have already signed a petition, write to your MPs.  Just one letter or e-mail. That's all you have to do.  If you aren't sure how to do that, contact me by e-mail only and I will do everything I can to assist you.  Maybe we win. Maybe we don't. In the eyes of Public Health, we are damned either way. There is no point in making it easy for them. But we cannot win anything at all if we do not even try to fight, we will only lose if we do nothing.

Still, I wonder if even this is asking too much. Perhaps too many people think that someone else is going to do it, and what difference would your letter make anyway?  But if everyone thinks that, then no one will do it. And we will lose for lack of trying. Again and again. Like we have done for years.

As always, it is entirely up to you. Make the choice and do what you like. But please, if you do nothing at all, if you expect others to do it on your behalf, if you believe your voice doesn't matter, then be considerate and spare me your complaints in the future when the New Inquisition has taken everything else from you.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Gross Negligence: Prof John Britton and Stephen Williams MP Should Resign

In this blog post, I aim to make the case that both Professor John Britton and Stephen Williams MP should resign due to both gentlemen evidently exhibiting gross negligence in the course of their duties.  Let's start at the very beginning.

If you haven't read the Hands Off Our Packs blog post by Angela Harbutt, titled FOI reveals arrogance of ASH, please do so now, as it will give you the necessary details of what I am about to cover. 

In the latest HOOPs blog post, we learn that a junior Research Fellow at The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS) at the University of Birmingham sent an e-mail, to numerous unknown parties in tobacco control, that asked colleagues to wantonly cheat the plain packaging consultation by signing multiple charities' petitions in order to falsely inflate the numbers of those who support plain packs.

Who sent the morally-bereft e-mail asking others to sign multiple petitions is hardly the issue here.  No, what we need to concern ourselves with is the person who approved the e-mail to begin with. That man is Professor John Britton, of the University of Birmingham, who is one of the directors of UKCTCS as well as a board member of ASH UK.  

The FOI also reveals that Professor John Britton personally approved the e-mail that was sent to a unknown number of people.  If in fact he did not see one of his junior research fellows asking people to sign multiple plain packaging petitions, that is gross negligence. If, however, he did notice it and said nothing until someone pointed it out, that is also unforgivable and negligent.

The simple fact is this:  Professor John Britton failed to do his job properly. It matters not at all who sent the e-mail, which was seen by untold scores of tobacco controllers and public health workers, people who may or may not have signed multiple petitions as initially directed, believing it was sanctioned by UKCTCS. The only thing that matters is that Britton approved the e-mail the first time around, which was sent out and redistributed.

It is evident then that Professor John Britton, Director of UKCTCS, board member of ASH UK, is to blame for this atrocious breach of the public's trust.  For this reason, Professor Britton must step down from his roles with UKCTCS and ASH immediately.  If the anti-smoking movement is to have any legitimacy, any integrity, it cannot be whilst Britton is at the helm of any tobacco control-related matters.

Britton's resignation from UKCTCS and ASH would be mandatory, however, perhaps Britton should also retire from his role as an educator.  Whether this man has any business influencing the minds of our young adults is certainly a matter for debate, but we would expect Britton to do the right thing and remove himself in order to satiate the public's need for order and trust in Britain's finest educational institutions. We believe that Britton remaining at University of Birmingham as an educator dishonours every British citizen who believes in fair-play, integrity and responsibility as fundamental aspects of our educational systems.  For the sake of Britain's respectability, for the sake of its students past, present and future, Professor John Britton should step down and retire.

* * *

There is also the case of Stephen Williams MP to consider.  Stephen Williams, elected by the good and decent peoples of Bristol, to honourably hold the office of Minister of Parliament and to act on the people's behalf, shamelessly signed off a document created by ASH UK, the secretariat for the APPG on Smoking and Health, that falsely suggested the that Hands Off Our Packs Campaign was complicit in falsifying signatures for its petition against plain packaging.

The covering letter, dated 19 October 2012, signed by Stephen Williams MP
An excerpt of the article in the APPG on Smoking and Health winter bulletin.
To understand the scope of Stephen Williams's gross negligence, it is important to note several things.

First, the covering letter is dated 19 October 2012, signed by Williams and therefore this is a de facto endorsement of the contents of the enclosed bulletin.

Second, as Simon Clark notes in his blog post on this matter, he provided a response to the Department of Health's Andrew Black on 30 August 2012, in which it is written that the signature gatherer acted on his own accord, not at the behest of the Hands Off Our Packs campaign team.  Nearly 50 days had elapsed between Simon Clark's response to the Andrew Black and when Stephen Williams sent out the winter bulletin to members of Parliament.

Third, note the language in the bulletin.  It says "campaigners running a petition against plain packaging cheated to boost their results" in the opening paragraph.  This is untrue. We know that it was only one person. Using the word "campaigners" and displaying the Hands Off Our Pack logo next to the article deceptively implies that many or all of the people working for the Hands Off Our Packs campaign had falsified signatures to boost results. This is most untrue.

And this winter bulletin, signed off by Stephen Williams MP, was subsequently distributed to other MPs in a most false and deceptive ploy to tarnish the good names of hundreds of thousands of British citizens who signed the petition in good faith as well as the HOOPs campaign team

Did Stephen Williams MP seek out to verify the circumstances of the incident at any time over the preceding 50 days before the bulletin was distributed to ministers?  No, he did not. And whilst a young man took it upon himself to add two signatures to the petition, which is completely unacceptable, that is hardly of an order comparable to UKCTCS's actions, where a person knowingly and wilfully told others to falsify signatures on multiple petitions. At no time did Stephen Williams MP seek to understand or clarify the incident with the HOOPs campaign or FOREST before sending out the document to MPs.  Almost 50 days had passed, more than enough time to write the truth in the winter bulletin. It would seem, however, the Stephen Williams MP is not interested in facts or the truth.

Is this the behaviour we should expect from our MPs? To defame honest British citizens working on a campaign and to deliberately mislead fellow MPs?  I put to you that it is not. We should not stand for it, and we expect a much higher standard of those we elect into public office. This is scandalous behaviour.  For distributing the defamatory winter bulletin and endorsing its contents, Stephen Williams MP has disgraced and tarnished every member of the APPG and all of his fellow ministers in Parliament. He should at once apologise for his transgressions to all of the good citizens of Britain.  His only recourse at this time is to immediately and voluntarily resign from his role as the Chairman of the APPG on Smoking and Health.  If Stephen Williams MP had any integrity whatsoever, he would immediately resign as an MP as well. 

It is evident to us that both Professor John Britton and Stephen Williams MP have acted irresponsibly and with gross negligence. They have tarnished the reputations of their colleagues, perhaps irreparably.  We therefore ask both men to do the right and honourable acts of resigning from their positions of enormous influence on the good and decent citizens and young students of Britain.  To do anything less shames all of us and destroys the confidences we have held in our trusted public figures and esteemed educators for centuries.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Black Seoul Days

In these uncertain times of austerity, this dark fiscal age where every taxpayer's penny spent is rightly scrutinised, is it reasonable to ask whether the Department of Health has shown financial prudence by sending not one but two junior civil servants 5,510 miles (8,876 kilometers), as the crow flies, to attend the Fifth Convention of the Parties for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Seoul, Korea?

From London to Seoul -- a really, really long way to travel
According to this document (PDF pg 18) posted up on the WHO's FCTC documents page (site link here), we learn that both Andrew Black, DH Tobacco Programme Manager, and Sarah Restarick, DH Tobacco Policy Manager, are listed as official United Kingdom and Northern Ireland delegates to COP5.  In fact, UK taxpayers have paid for return flights, meals and accommodation of at least five people that we know of at present:

Money well spent? You decide.
So while the NHS has seen its budgets dramatically cut over the past few years under the coalition of Tories and LibDems, and there are real concerns that the standard of care will be reduced as a result, is it really an acceptable expenditure of the public's money to send two Department of Health representatives to Seoul?  Was this really necessary?  And even if we concede that perhaps only one DH employee should be allowed to travel thousands of miles to the heady delights of Seoul, should that person in attendance be a mere junior civil servant or should it be someone a bit higher up in the Department?

These are serious matters.  The DH must be held to account and answer for this clearly frivolous spending of taxpayers' money at a time when the public's money is clearly in short supply to those organisations that desperately need it in order to provide even the most basic services to the citizens of the United Kingdom.

Of course, we don't know yet how much the DH spent on sending Black and Restarick to Seoul.  We don't even know if our government provided money to other NGOs or charities for them to attend COP5, too. One can only suspect that the money must be rolling in hand-over-fist at ASH London, because pictures found on-line show that Deborah Arnott was having a huge laugh in Korea.

Arnott and spouse - Photo credit G.Fong
Photo credit G.Fong
Photo Credit G.Fong
Yep. It was one huge party at COP5, replete with the finest wines and bubbly the taxpayers all over the world can buy.

Cheers! - Photo credit G.Fong
Let's all raise a glass to a relentless campaign of hate against smokers!
Photo credit G.Fong
And finally, I provide one last photo that indicates that those Pictorial Health Warnings (PHWs) are not really up to scratch and the anti-smokers know it.  This is a slide from somebody's presentation that clearly shows that PHWs cease to have much effect shortly after their introduction, which is what we've all been saying all along, but somehow making them larger and larger and introducing plain packaging will magically alter their effects on smokers:

PHWs do not work, but we must press on anyway! Photo Credit G.Fong
Good to know.

There are more documents that I must comb through, so if I find anything else of interest, I will blog about it.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A Joyous Evening of Deception: Dinner at the Chapmans

If having dinner with the Chapmans was on your to-do list, you might want to reconsider and cross that one off of your list. Because The Root of All Evil's guests can expect to be deceived in some sort of misguided experiment designed to prove to like-minded zealots that plain packaging of cigarettes and tobacco is a beautiful thing. I sincerely hope he made this up, because if not, if he truly did this, then it is an incredibly rubbish thing to do to your friends in order to sate your own ego:

Good, honest, decent-minded people do not do things like this to their friends, to the people they love and care about. Believe me, if any of my friends ever did anything like this to me to make a point, they would not be my friend after.  Making your friends look stupid and ignorant, and subsequently embarrassing them publicly on Twitter, is not friendship. If, however, a friend first made it known that we would be taste-testing wines as part of an experiment, that would be a different thing. The deception would be part of the game, the experiment would be fun.

The Root of All Evil needn't have bothered deceiving his friends. There have been studies that show that most wine drinkers are unable to discern any taste differences between expensive and inexpensive wines. And as I have said before, the more expensive something is, the more satisfaction we derive from it.  I do know a little about wines -- body, finish, nose ... all of that good stuff -- and yet I've had table wines that tasted absolutely fantastic and expensive wines that I found unsatisfactory.  But let's face it, by the the time you get to second or third bottles over the course of an evening, generally you are not particularly concerned about the finish of a wine.  None of this proves a thing about plain packs for cigarettes, though.  It is merely a further insight into the mad minds of zealots.

I suppose my point is this:  If Simon Chapman can do crappy things like this to his dinner guests and friends, just imagine what he does to people who aren't his friends, all of the deceptions he uses endlessly for nefarious Public Health purposes.  This man cannot be trusted. Ever. I don't call him The Root of All Evil for nothing, you know.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Ever since the plain packaging consultation began, there have been quite a few curious happenings at the Department of Health's Freedom of Information site.  In case you aren't aware of how the DH typically releases FOIs to the public, it works like this:

Once every three months, the DH quietly posts up a full disclosure log document listing the FOI requests that were received and released to interested parties over a given quarter, for example:  FOI releases to requests made from 1 January to 31 March 2012. 

It's not exactly a "full disclosure."  If you want to know what was released, you have to write to the DH and request copies of the correspondence relating to a particular FOI.  I don't know why they do it this way, but if I had to guess, I'd say it's to make it a lot more difficult for people to be aware of what's going on. How many people in the general public are going to take the time to write to the DH for a particular matter?  The answer is likely to be very few, and I would think that the DH counts on it. What the public doesn't know, and what the press won't tell you, won't hurt the government.  

Because it would be just as easy to dump all of the documents on the site -- to make them all available to all UK citizens at once when they release their disclosure log.  We know that the DH can do it.  They've done it recently.  For some "unknown" reason last September, the DH released all of the documents pertaining to this FOI request:  

FOI release – correspondence about the Government’s consultation on the packaging of tobacco products:

Click to enlargify
Obviously, somebody at the DH believed this particular FOI, as opposed to 1,647 FOIs released over the previous seven months (Jan 2012 - July 2012)  in the typical fashion, was in the greater public interest to provide all of the documents on their server. The question is not necessarily "who did it?" (we may never know the answer to that, but I can of course speculate wildly) but rather "why was this done this way?"  Whose purposes are best suited by publishing the FOI in this manner?  Because the documents released seem to indicate that one signature gatherer for the plain packs opposition was cheating, caught out by none other than the man responsible for the plain packaging public consultation, Mr Andrew Black.

Indeed, "filling in screeds of made up names," said Simon Chapman on Twitter on 20th June 2012, a time before anyone else in the general public had been made aware of Andrew Black's confrontation with a signature gatherer near Waterloo station.  How on earth did Chapman come to know this information? Who shared it with him? And just as important, why did someone in the DH share that knowledge with a man who lives in Sydney, Australia, or at least share it with someone else who later shared it with Chapman?  Again, we need to ask, whose purposes does it suit to do this? 

(And just another curious aside here:  the very first mention anywhere of the FOI release up on the DH's site was by Mr Collins, a volunteer ambassador for CRUK, a man who tirelessly campaigned for plain packaging. Do note, I'm not saying that Collins made the FOI request, but he certainly knew about it before most people. How? Maybe I ought to ask him...)

Another thing to pay careful attention to when noting the curiousness of this release is the length of time it took the DH to publish the data on their web site -- just a few short days over a month.  They sure did not waste any time -- it takes longer than that to post up the disclosure log for previous quarters.  To be fair to the DH's FOI office, they are incredibly efficient when responding to FOIs.  Here's a table of their performance for this year -- it's perfect, even in February when they received a massive 672 requests:

Also in fairness to the DH, it also broke usual form again in posting up another FOI release from someone who had requested documents about the pro-plain packs campaigners, also in just over a month and some change, which was:  FOI release – correspondence about the Government’s consultation on the packaging of tobacco products:

Why they published this request is also a mystery, although we must assume they did it to placate the opposition to plain packaging, to avoid a scandal, perhaps.  "We published both sides' FOIs," they can claim. Regardless, we know that the DH can release the full contents of any FOI request when it suits them. But normally, they just release the disclosure log and (one assumes) quietly hope that nobody notices it and/or bothers to write in for the materials pertaining to any given request.

But what is missing from all of the FOI correspondence the DH has released to date is Simon Clark's response to Andrew Black in respect of the "screeds of made up names" by a lone signature gatherer for the Hands Off Our Packs campaign.  And we must ask the "why question" again.  Why has the DH not released that information?  

Well, we know it fell out of the time period of the first FOI request, so it cannot appear in that batch, obviously, but even so, the public deserves to have all of the information to hand about the plain packs consultation.  The DH has released two FOIs so far.  Surely, the answers to the first FOI are equally important?  Yes?  No?  Apparently not, because there is no more information to be gleaned from the DH's FOI site, and questions raised there remain unanswered. Publicly, at least.

And there is something else -- something that is most unusual and disturbing -- happening on the Department of Health's Freedom of Information page.  As I wrote above, they usually release three-months' worth of FOIs in their full disclosure log, all at one time. Yet all of a sudden -- well, let us have a look at what they've done recently by comparing it to how it used to be done:

Here is how FOIs are typically released on the DH's site.

And here is how they are doing it this month. Spot the difference!
Did you spot the difference? What's changed?  And what's missing?

Well, they've switched from releasing three months' worth of FOIs in one posting, to posting up the months individually.  And can somebody explain what happened to September's posting?  Why, that's curious. It's not there.  Where is September?  Why isn't September posted?

Better question:  What, exactly, is the DH hiding by not releasing the disclosure log for September 2012? Is there something in September's releases that damages the plain packs supporters?

OK, OK, OK, I know.  Let's not jump to conclusions. I gotcha. True, this is all circumstantial. Right?  We have no evidence of any deliberate attempt by the DH, a government body, funded by the taxpayer, to obfuscate the truth by withholding information from the general public. The DH may have a very good reason for not releasing September's disclosure log. Maybe they forgot.  It could happen.

But when you add up all of the circumstances that we already know to date -- that the DH clearly wants to implement plain packaging, and the early release of the plain packaging FOI request, and how Simon Chapman knew about the "screeds of made up names" well before anyone else on this side of the world ("screeds" is certainly a gross exaggeration, but then we come to expect nothing less from the Root of All Evil), and of course the sudden changes to how the DH is presenting their full disclosure logs, and ...

... it stinks.  Something is curiously amiss. Something is going on. I can feel it, balls to bones.

It certainly appears to me as though the DH is desperately trying to influence the opinions of the public and our ministers in Parliament by presenting a wholly-biased view of the facts and by withholding vital information about what happened during the consultation, to deliberately mislead them into believing that those who oppose plain packaging had cheated.  Appears that way to me. But I do not know.

There is, however, one man who certainly does know.  Andrew Black. We must ask our MPs to investigate whether a known tobacco control advocate has any businesses at all presiding over a public consultation that must remain unbiased and fair.  This is scandalous. Yes, scandalous.

And I would wager anything that Stephen Williams MP also knows what is going on, along with the other anti-smoking members of the APPG on Smoking and Health and ASH. But of course I have no proof of collusion, no proof of deliberate obfuscation, and no proof of corruption throughout the Department of Health. But I suspect there might indeed be something in September's FOI release that is going to hurt them. And I suspect that the reason why we aren't seeing it is because they don't want you to know what is happening. Because all things being equal, it is a clear lack of transparency to exclude the disclosure log from September, especially when we are expecting the report on the consultation any week now.

There are many unknowns at present. I would not be surprised if the DH tries to throw out the signatures gathered against plain packaging. It's a likely scenario as any. But if they do not throw out the signatures, then perhaps they will probably ignore the public's will and do what they like. That is equally likely. 

The game is afoot, except this is no game. This is very real for a great number of Britons. The livelihoods of real people, ordinary and hard-working citizens in Britain, are at stake here, and they will indeed by greatly harmed by plain packaging if the government goes against the public's will and proceeds to implement it.  

It's almost time we made our move and put an end to this rampant bullying against a significant percentage of the population.  So stay tuned for more details over the coming days.

UPDATE:  Rather timely, Simon Clark has just posted up his response to Andrew Black regarding the signature gatherer incident at Waterloo station.  You ready for this? The kid that Andrew Black confronted added two signatures!  Two! How the hell does two forged signatures constitute "filling in screeds of made-up names"?  It just proves that the people working in the tobacco control industry are deliberately and maliciously deceiving everyone. And this includes some of our elected representatives in Parliament, like Stephen Williams MP.  Do not trust these people! They are not telling the truth.

UPDATE 2:  Dick Puddlecote shine more light on the corrupt and deceptive practices of the APPG on Smoking and Health, and it's corker!  I really don't want to spoil it for you. ;)

UPDATE 3:  On 22 November 2012, the DH finally released the September 2012 FOI disclosure log.  I cannot be certain that this blog post had anything at all to do with that, but it's a nice thought.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Updates on Patient X, Premature Deaths, and Steve Taylor

I meant to write this post over a month ago, but so much has been happening that I hadn't much time to get around to it.  So here are few updates on some older posts I wrote this year.

Some of you may remember this blog post I wrote back in April about Patient X, who was being denied treatment by the NHS because X was a smoker.  I certainly have not forgotten about it, and every few weeks I try to get an update about the situation. My source, however, is incredibly reluctant to pass any further information about what is going on, for fear of retaliation against X.  Because of this fear, my source refuses to share the letter that the NHS sent to X, even though I've promised to redact it fully to avoid X being identified. It's frustrating that people are genuinely afraid of our socialised health care system -- no, it's absolutely galling and unacceptable. We should not be afraid of our doctors. Nevertheless, I have since given up trying to persuade my source to part with the letter.  I do, however, have a bit more info to share, so I thought it would be good to provide short update.

A short while back, X received another letter from the NHS.  Instead of demanding again that X quit smoking, that letter was an appointment confirmation to book in the care that X requires.  Patient X had not contacted the NHS for any reason -- not to complain or ask for redress -- and X had all along assumed that in order to go ahead with treatment that X had to quit smoking.  But X had not given up smoking.  So it's possible that the letters the NHS is sending out are simply paper tigers -- unenforceable and deceptive ploys designed to deceive you to quit smoking in order to receive NHS services, even though you do not have to quit to receive treatment.  I cannot say with certainty that is what those letters are, but based on X's experience, it seems that way.  Or maybe somebody just ballsed it up and sent the letter out mistakenly. Whatever the reason for the new letter, the NHS is unnecessarily causing patients grief and anguish to promote it's anti-smoker stance.

While I'm on the subject of the NHS, there is yet another public consultation happening right now to propose amendments the to the NHS's Constitution. It's rather lengthy at 58 pages (the PDF, which you can get here, is only 670kb though).  If you have never read the NHS's Constitution, you might find it well interesting. Skip to Annex 4 in the PDF on page number 38 (actual page is 41).

One of the first things I noticed was this logo (note to Lawson: you know what to do):

The NHS belongs to us all, except for smokers and chubby people, perhaps
Does it? Does it really? Even smokers and chubby folk?
You should know that you have certain rights to health care, and these are enumerated for you in Annex 4. Do read them. You also have a right to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion. At item number 53 in section 2 on Page 16 (actual page 19), it reads (emphasis added):
Dignity, respect and compassion

53. Compassionate care should be at the centre of the care and treatment the NHS provides. The NHS Future Forum considers it a core principle that the NHS needs to continue to uphold in all aspects of service delivery. A culture of compassion, dignity and respect is best achieved when the concerns and interests of individuals are prioritised and their basic human rights are safeguarded. To better reflect this we have strengthened the wording in the values’ section of the Constitution. We have also incorporated dignity, respect and compassion into the aims for staff.
The Constitution itself merely says:
Respect, consent and confidentiality:

You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with your human rights.
Well, that's all well and good, I suppose. Still, we already know that the tobacco control industry's decades of denormalisation have clearly resulted in smokers being despised and vilified, a veritable sub-class of humanity, indeed smokers are less than human and undeserving of any basic human right to respect, compassion or dignity, but certainly deserving of dying a painful death if they choose to abandon the gospel of Public Health.  Well, that's my take on it.  I don't know what the brass in the NHS really thinks about smokers.  All I do know is that doctors are supposed to treat people who are ill, regardless of how one became ill.  And I know that too many doctors today don't want to treat smokers because they believe the illnesses are self-inflicted and preventable. In other words, smokers, you are taking time away from those who actually deserve to be treated for their illnesses -- and yes, I actually heard a GP say something very, very close to that.

Oh, and one last thing. Did you know that the NHS has a mandate?  You can read the NHS mandate here.  The very first part of the mandate is "Preventing people from dying prematurely."  I have long wondered what is to be considered a premature death by the anti-smokers and Public Health believers.  At which point do you draw a line under the age at when someone's death is no longer premature?

I pondered this dilemma in my very first blog post, and I still believe that there is no such thing as a premature death.  There are unexpected deaths, and tragic deaths, and drawn-out painful deaths because we have no rights to determine our times of death when we are terminally ill. But premature? It is merely the time of your death, regardless of time spent on this spinning piece of rock. My opinion aside and if the mandate is anything to go by, then it appears that the NHS has drawn the line under the age of 75. 

How does that make you feel knowing the government-sanctioned life expectancy is 75-years-old.  I suppose I am not surprised by this revelation. Make of it what you will.

* * *

Some things do surprise me.  Take for example the blog post I wrote about criminal scum -- er, I mean, serial fraudster Steve Taylor.  Presently, it is the fourth-most popular post on my blog (it was as high as no.2 at one point), and it's got nothing to do with anti-smokers.  Go figure!

When I wrote about Steve Taylor, it was personal interest story.  The guy just pissed me off.  I didn't expect much to come of that post. At the time of writing, I did not fully realise the effect this man has had on hundreds of people.  But I know it now because I get one or two e-mails per week about the things he has done to others, how he harmed them and ruined people's lives. I cannot publish those e-mails, for they are hearsay and some have even begged that I do not mention their name for fear of retaliation. But I thank all of you who have written to me about Taylor. I am truly sorry that Taylor has had a negative impact on your lives.

As it turns out, the title of my post was correct -- it is an incomplete history of Steve Taylor.  I knew that he had been sent to prison for fraud once before, but my I missed finding the actual circumstances of his crime when I had searched for it.  So today, I would like to share what I have since discovered, via an old, archived article at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus web site: 
Gay helpline closes amid funds riddle

Volunteers and workers on a helpline set up to help Keighley gay people have resigned

The move comes after the Keighley-based chairman and committee members of the OUTline organisation complained to police about alleged irregularities in the activities of Steven Paul Taylor, also known as Simon Thorpe.

Mr Taylor, 23, of Raistrick Way, Shipley, and formerly of Garden Lane, Heaton, Brad-ford, is secretary/service manager of OUTline, a helpline set up to help Keighley's 5,000 gay men and women. It also provides free information on a range of issues for the town's gay and bisexual men.

Workers on the helpline have alleged that Taylor has:
  • run up debts of around £20,000
  • signed cheques and purchased goods knowing there were no funds to cover them
  • leased a Rover car knowing funds were not available to pay for it
  • told them he has left a trail of debt across the country believed to be in the region of £150,000
  • Using the name of Simon Thorpe, Taylor told the Keighley News in January that he was the man behind the new 24-hour helpline.


The Keighley News spoke to Steven Taylor who told us that OUTline had now closed. He admitted he had signed cheques knowing there were no funds to cover them.

So there you have it. Sounds a lot like what he did to LACS recently. Once a con-man, always a con-man? I dunno. Well, everybody deserves a fourth or fifth chance. Right?  That said, there is little doubt in my mind that Steve Taylor would be the perfect PR man in the tobacco control industry. So when you get out of prison, Mr Taylor, you may want to put your CV in at the Universities of Bath or Stirling or even at ASH London. They could always use someone with your skill set, and there is always plenty of taxpayers' money for the taking. Good luck to you!

As a final vanity point on the story of Steven Paul Taylor, it's always interesting to see what people searched on to find my blog post about Taylor.  So, for the craic, here's a list of 50 search terms people used that led to Steve Taylor's page (in roughly alphabetical order):
incredibly social steve taylor
lord clark of windermere & steven taylor
more on steve taylor jailed
nannying tyrants steve taylor
stephen taylor coursing
stephen taylor coursing rochdale
stephen taylor fraud league against prison
stephen taylor pr
stephen taylor sentenced
steve taylor
steve taylor arrested
steve taylor corps
steve taylor corps charity
steve taylor corps charity fraud
steve taylor corps court case
steve taylor corps in courts
steve taylor corps jailed
steve taylor corps league
steve taylor corps news
steve taylor corps prison
"steve taylor corps" prison
"steve taylor" prison
steve taylor corps prison charge charity
steve taylor ex league
steve taylor forum on prisoner education
steve taylor fraud 2012
steve taylor fraud september 2012
steve taylor greyhounds
steve taylor guildford court
steve taylor howard league
steve taylor jailed
steve taylor jailed cornwall
steve taylor lacs
steve taylor lacs blog
steve taylor lacs picture
steve taylor lacs uk
steve taylor league against cruel sports
steve taylorcorps
steve taylorcorps fraud
steve taylorcorps twitter
steven paul taylor 16 months imprisonment
steven paul taylor court
steven paul taylor in court
steven paul taylor in prison
steven taylor fraud
steven taylor jailed
steven taylor lacs uk
steven taylor went to prison
steven taylorcorps prison rps
the steve taylor story 

Hmm. I'm sensing a pattern.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

How They Lie and Deceive

In August, I wrote about the use of castoreum, which is a [possible] additive in some cigarettes and tobacco products (along with many common food items and perfumes) and how the tobacco control industry distorts the facts to suit their agenda of hate against consumers of tobacco products and, of course, particularly the tobacco companies.  It's underhanded and false propaganda, which is exactly what we have come to expect from the anti-smokers. 

But the other day, I stumbled upon these two similar images that are currently being distributed through social media sites like Facebook, mainly directed at teenagers and to younger children.

This one comes with handy cut-outs for hours of entertainment for your kids.

These images are both incredibly funny and enormously sad.  Let's start with the funny.

Can you imagine some gormless anti-smoker running around town looking for piles of dog shit to stick one of those signs in to make their anti-smoker point?  Hilarious that imagery, definitely, and we wish you grown-up morons who should know better all of the best of luck in your quest.

But please -- and this hugely important -- do not ask your kids to stick these signs into piles of dog poop, because there really is some nasty bacteria in animal waste that will certainly harm your child if they happen to rub fecal matter into their eyes or ingest it.  Seriously.  Your child could go blind (and that's why we have laws against dog fouling -- hell, it's why we ourselves use toilets rather than defecating in the street).

This campaign of misinformation and hate against smokers is ill-advised and possibly dangerous.  But potential child-harming aside, it is also sad because it's a distortion of the truth -- which is altogether even sadder because the group putting out this information and seemingly hoping to blind your children is an organisation run by the American Legacy Foundation called TRUTH. So the truth is that TRUTH are blatantly deceiving you with bullshit propaganda, trying to make you feel rather than think by linking ammonia with shit, by exploiting your lack of knowledge about chemicals and even the meaning of the word chemical (i.e. that all chemicals are toxic -- they aren't). They even say they love smokers, which is bullshit. They probably don't. In all likelihood, they hate you, and I base that opinion on the bullshit propaganda they put out there.

Ammonia is certainly found in fecal matter, and it's in tobacco as well, sometimes added during the leaf-curing process and also produced naturally during the burning process.  But ammonia is everywhere all the time. It is a naturally-occurring chemical that is vital for life on this planet, and it's even out there in space. It's in the air. It's in the foods you eat. Fish make ammonia, too. Wikipedia states that (emphases added) "[a]mmonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building-block for the synthesis of many pharmaceuticals [...]."  Good enough for Big Pharma, so why isn't it good enough for tobacco?  And hey, guess what?  You produce ammonia in your body, all the time, every day of your life. It's in your breath, it's in your blood. Livers and kidneys.  It's part of your chemical make-up. In large enough quantities, ammonia can be very toxic, and it doesn't smell very nice at all. But in the case of your body's production of ammonia, as well as the amounts found in tobacco and tobacco smoke (or any smoke for that matter), we're talking trace elements that are insufficient to cause anyone harm.

It is wrong to associate a vital chemical for life with the excretions of Sparky, your pet Labrador. We may as well blame oxygen for all of the world's woes. But the tobacco control industry, formed of several groups like ASH, and TRUTH, and FRESH, and CRUK, and even the gloriously taxpayer-funded Department of Health Hate... they are masters of deception and spin. They don't tell you the whole truth about ammonia.  Most of the time, they don't even tell the truth. They will say that tobacco companies add ammonia to create a freebase nicotine, designed to instantly addict you to nicotine. That is theory, and so far it seems to be untrue. You can even read about it on the BBC's web site.

So here's some truth for you. The stuff that is added to tobacco during the curing process is not harmful. The flavours, like chocolate and honey, that are also added to tobacco during the curing process are not designed to hook the next generation of smokers or three-year-olds for that matter.  When tobacco leaves are cured, the chemical properties of the leaf are altered, sometimes for the worse depending on the type of tobacco, so additives and other ingredients are added to restore some of the balance in the taste or flavour. We do this with most of our food, and our wine and beers? Why wouldn't it be done for tobacco, too?

The tobacco control industry is lying to people to promote their agenda of hate against tobacco companies and especially smokers. It's the New Inquisition. They will say and do anything to make people hate smokers, to turn ordinary people into hateful activists, particularly using your children to do their work for them. They will rig consultations in their favour. They will produce studies that have no scientific merit whatsoever to support any and all of the goals. All to make you stop doing something they do not like.

There are definitely possible health risks associated with smoking, and many smokers will also say that there are many possible benefits to smoking. We all know the risks. We have all been adequately informed, and not even plain packaging will increase our awareness level of the risks, no matter what these awful people say. At some point, we all make a choice and ultimately we are responsible for ourselves.  It is not the government's job to teach your children about the risks of smoking -- it is definitely not TRUTH's job, nor is it any charity's responsibility.  It is your job as a parent.

And isn't it about time you started taking ownership of your responsibilities as parents?  Because when we leave it to the government to parent your children or the organisations who have a clear agenda of hate, we all stand to lose a great deal.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The New Inquisition

I was awake last night until 4 a.m. because I had been reading up on the world's greatest (i.e., infamous) dictators and tyrants.  I had one simple question in my mind that I wanted to answer:  What is worse than a Nazi?  Our human history is filled with horrific atrocities perpetrated by individuals and their sheep minion supporters in the name of some misguided righteous and holy quest.  I wondered, idly, as I searched the web, if perhaps we are sometimes too quick refer to the Public Health zealots as fascist Nazis, to make comparisons to the Holocaust, etc.  World War II and Germany's Third Reich is recent history, so it seems reasonable that we would draw on that recent memory to make our associations in present-day events. Despite the horror of that time, the millions of deaths, the unfathomable evilness of it all, and the obvious parallels between Public Health's present-day anti-smoker movement and Hitler's anti-smoker movement, could it be possible that there is something in history that was worse than the Nazis?

When I was young student, I did not care about history. I found it dull and uninspiring. I had better things to think about.  I, like many of my contemporaries, was focused on the future. My future. The past was the past, and back then I failed to see how what had come before had any relevance on what was happening now or would happen later. The folly of youth, perhaps. It is not until I was much older, in my early 30s, at a time when I was writing fiction and editing part-time for a magazine, that I began to find our human history utterly compelling. I suddenly realised that a majority of fictional works were based on events in our past -- the names and places changed, details modified, but the story had been ripped from history and reworked for a modern audience. Now, I understand the benefit of knowing our history, but even so I am playing catch-up and there is a great deal I have not learnt.

So the question -- "What is worse than a Nazi?" -- is what drove me to abandon a reasonable bedtime and seek out history's worst atrocities and those who caused them. But by 4 a.m. I had barely scratched the surface of evildoings, so I left a comment at Leg-Iron's and posed the question to him instead (which I will come to later in this post), and then I went to bed and dreamt of sunshine and bunnies.

bunnies in the sun -- what I dreamt of last night
What dreams may come...
But what inspired me to seek out the answer to my question was this article about Alabama's largest employer refusing to hire anyone who uses any tobacco product.  And it should come as little surprise that this particular employer is in the health-care (read as Public Health) business:
Starting July 1, 2013, all new hires at the University of Alabama Medical Center must be tobacco-free.
"As health-care providers, UAB Medicine and the entities that comprise it should be role models for good health behaviors, and lead by example in the quest for good health,” says UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany, Ph.D.
Prospective new hires will be tested for nicotine use during the pre-employment drug screening. Anyone who tests positive for nicotine use will not be hired.
Whilst I read the article, I began to believe in the possibility that the Public Health movement-cum-religion is much worse than Nazis. These people in Alabama, they are evil. They are promoting a campaign of hate and tyranny that is far more insidious than Hitler's reign of terror.  The University of Alabama Medical Center and its related entities have chosen to not hire people who use any kind of tobacco products, to make an example of out of those who do not conform to their belief system.  That is just indefensibly amoral and cruel. People should be hired based on their skills and qualifications, their ability to do the work, not based on what legal substances they choose to use.  Any person who supports a policy of depriving a person of making a living based on whether they smoke or use other tobacco products is worse than a Nazi.  At least the Nazis, for all of their inexcusable sins, did not try to hide their true agenda of eradication and the perfect race.

So what is worse than a Nazi?  The answer is of course the Public Health movement. But to draw an apt comparison from history, I posed the question to Leg Iron in a comment on his blog.

He repliedThe Inquisition.
The Inquisition cared nothing for where their victims came from or what nationality they were. An accusation was all they needed, no proof required. You would be arrested and you had to prove your innocence but you were not informed who accused you nor what you were accused of. Acquittal was impossible because the Inquisition never arrested the innocent so you were held until you confessed to something. Anything. Nobody went unpunished, if you were lucky it was minor, if not you were burned.

That is the Righteous mindset. The Common Purpose mindset. Nazis is indeed too small a word, but they don’t teach about the Inquisition in schools any more.

It would be a bit of a give-away if they did.
Bloody hell, mate. I think you're on to something here, and thanks for that! I like it, so long as I can get past Mel Brooks's version of it.

So now I am beginning to believe we are in the midst of a New Inquisition, an unholy and evil movement that easily tucks the Nazi anti-smoker mindset under its wing.  Drinkers and eaters, these are targets. Anyone who supports Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol, Big Soda, or even the Big Meat industry is a target.

But it's not limited to just those few groups.  The New Inquisition casts a much wider net -- it is such a great evil that it is inaccurate to compare it only to the Nazis in Germany. The New Inquisition encompasses everything that has the merest potential to cause harm, and even the most minuscule risk must be erased from existence .  It has infiltrated our governments and educational institutions, and it is presently infiltrating both our public and private places of employment.  There is no escape -- it's worldwide and its tentacles slither out into the deepest, darkest corners of human existence. Any person who does not believe in Public Health is a heretic, and will be cast out of society to live out a slow, agonising torturous existence.

This is what we face. A New Inquisition.  And there are Grand Inquisitors the world over (even in Alabama) conspiring with the dark forces of evil to force you to convert to their religion. We must stop them before history repeats itself, before we add yet another great atrocity to our history books, before the damage to the fabric of our societies becomes too great to repair.

They must be stopped.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Further to yesterday's post, here's something I failed to highlight:

Link to tweet
Clearly the man is off his meds.  Meh... trying to stir up an unnecessary and unwanted debate by being an arrogant arsehole is par for the course in Public Health advocacy.  Congrats on being a dick, Root.

Best direct response to the Root of All Evil's tweet goes to Liz:
Well said, Liz

Best tweet of the day in response to The Root's licensing scheme for smokers goes to Lewis:

Perhaps not, Lewis.

On the positive side, if Chapman truly believes this is probably the most important piece he has ever published, it must mean that we can safely ignore everything else he has written as the tripe we've always thought it was. Because let's face facts, the man incessantly talks out of his arse and is a blight on humanity, in my opinion. Perhaps this is his swan song. Perhaps he's going to retire.  Or maybe the men in white coats are coming for him at last. One can only suppose.

For more on this topic, see also:

For a deeper explanation of the enemies we face who masquerade as Public Health advocates, see:

Have a great day!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Mad Minds of Zealots

"Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes."
--Abraham Lincoln

"The laws of chess do not permit a free choice: you have to move whether you like it or not."
--Emanuel Lasker

In a game of chess, a good, strategic player considers and plans moves several turns ahead of the current state of play. The chessboard must be prepared properly in order to execute one's strategy. The pieces must be in the right place at the right time. The player aims to free his attacking pieces whilst maintaining a solid defence to protect his King.  Key sacrifices are made to force an opening through his opponent's lines. Bishop takes pawn. Knight takes Bishop. A diagonal is opened, and the Queen slides out to exploit the vulnerability, preventing the opponent from castling the King. Each turn is considered carefully, and the player is always thinking about the potential state of play several moves ahead and trying to make that happen.  The endgame in chess is a series of moves designed to checkmate an opponent's King.  The endgame is vital. Make a wrong move by being too aggressive too early and the game is stalemated, with no winner, no loser. All of the strategic moves previously played were for nought.

For the tobacco control industry, the endgame consists of a series of moves to implement legislative prohibition by tiny degrees, with checkmate being the total abolition of all tobacco products and the annihilation of the tobacco industry. They know that all-out prohibition will fail. So their game plan has been modified. To succeed, a relentless campaign of denormalisation is executed, with a goal of getting people used to the elements of prohibition already in place: public smoking bans, vending machine bans, display bans, plain packaging.  It's conditioning or softening up the public for the final blow of abolition. Indeed a great number of smokers have been conditioned to feel ashamed about their habit, or they can no longer imagine smoking indoors in restaurants or pubs, and many smokers have come to believe in both the second-hand and third-hand smoke fairy tales. This is all part of the endgame for the tobacco control industry.

It is about compliance. It is about control.  It is socially-engineering the public in small moves towards a temperate and sinless world without pleasure. You are only free to do what they tell you to do.

For years, the tobacco control industry has dominated this game. Their endgame strategy has been working for a few decades.  Public smoking bans and liability litigation opened up the Big Tobacco's line of defence. Display bans are akin to preventing Big Tobacco from castling its King to safety. Plain packaging in Australia is equivalent to taking Big Tobacco's Queen from the game.  That was of course a most decisive blow, but it's not the game-winner; it is not a checkmate, although Big Tobacco is considerably weakened and on the back foot. There are many moves left to be played, however, and if the tobacco control industry is too aggressive too soon, it will result in a stalemate. The difference from chess and the reality here is that a stalemate will suit Big Tobacco just fine.  Indeed, one might say a stalemate is a win for Big Tobacco.

Buoyed and exhilarated by their success of implementing plain packaging in Australia, the tobacco control industry has been careless lately. Like peacocks, their quivering tail feathers are fanned out and their true colours displayed for all to see. Their excitement gets the better of them, though. They believe a checkmate is near, but that belief is misguided, a false hope seen through rose-tinted lenses. They have momentum, certainly, but that does not mean that the game is won. The battle continues.  A wise strategist would understand instinctively that it's important not to telegraph your true intent to your opponent -- a feint here, execute a blow there to your unsuspecting opponent. But more importantly, the strategist knows it's foolish to open up a new battle front before securing the territories won in previous campaigns.

But the tobacco control industry is not particularly wise.  It is filled with egotistical zealots who view themselves as god-like prophets and saviours of humanity -- leaders of a quasi-religious cult called Public Health. One wonders what sort of Napoleonic personality disorders afflict some of these people. Do they have genuine mental disorders? Do they suffer from grandiose delusions and believe that they alone are righteous and holy, protectors of the gullible and vulnerable?  What sort of mental illnesses can cause them to invent the most fantastic confabulations to arrogantly deny the truth in order to achieve a most unrealistic fundamental change to human nature, to achieve a perfectly safe world without sin?  Indeed, if Big Tobacco had ever claimed the world was round, the zealots in Public Health would have denounced that claim as a matter of course and preach instead that the world was flat.

There seems to be something wrong with these cults of personality in Public Health. I don't know precisely what it is, nor do I understand why ordinary people can abandon all rational thought processes and truly believe that a shiny trade mark will get anyone to smoke.  My own limitations and lack of knowledge about brain disorders prevent me from understanding what the causes are, although I can certainly see that something is curiously abnormal.  I am not an expert on mental illnesses, nor a psychologist or psychiatrist. I must defer any medical diagnoses to those whom are qualified to do so.

And all of the foregoing leads me to today's article about forcing smokers to have a licence. Naturally, The Root of All Evil is featured. Why wouldn't he be? It's his idea.  Of course, he's deluded in believing that this is even a remotely good idea or that it will even work as prescribed. He must be unable to see that a forcing smokers to get a licence to smoke is exactly like tattooing prisoners in a concentration camp during World War II. The means and technologies are different; the effects and the applications of powerful controls over human beings, however, are precisely the same.  It's an Us versus Them construct. Righteous versus Sinner.  People against People.

It is clearly an enormously bad play for the tobacco control industry at this time.

So I have to wonder if The Root of All Evil is mentally ill in some way to again put forward the idea of licensing smokers so soon after the implementation of plain packaging in Australia. Has he just embarrassed his anti-smoker movement once again?  Because a licence to smoke is not a tiny move of prohibition that is part of the tobacco control industry's endgame plan.  It is a huge, giant leap into tyranny and evil, no different than imprisoning a segment of society for their religious beliefs. What drives The Root of All Evil to desire to inflict these madnesses upon society and to simultaneously belittle anyone who disagrees with him?  What sort of deranged person seeks to control other human beings' choices of how they live their lives by means of a smoker's licence?  These are all questions I seem unable to answer today.

Perhaps you can.

Image source: