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” title=”KPMG tweet on methodology for Australian plain packs.”>KPMG tweet on methodology for Australian plain packs.

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“A ban in homes is not feasible or right” Deborah Arnott of ASH

After the smoking ban in cars with children inside was passed by the House of Commons. To meet the accusation that the home is not the next “logical step ” for tobacco control, Deborah Arnott on the 11th February 2014 said “A ban in homes is not feasible or right”  adding:

“If you ban it a lot of the levers you use to stop uptake you lose. You can’t tax it, you can’t stop under-age sales. What we want to do is to do everything to discourage it.”

Clive Bates, director of anti-smoking group ASH, said in 1998: “This is a scaremongering story by a tobacco industry front group. “No-one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants.”


ASH do not have the best of reputations for honesty but when ASH do call for house bans at least we have it in black and white.



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Dan Hannan tweet on government waste

Daniel Hannan        ✔ @DanHannanMEP


It’s not true that governments waste money idly. They put a great deal of effort into it.

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Toby Perkins Twitter exchange on pub closures


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Tobacco control and free speech

By all accounts last night’s debate in Dublin on tobacco control did not show the tobacco control activists in the best of lights.  Tantrums and tiaras, it was all too much for them, more on the link below. Anyway this is my experience of tobacco control faced with debate.


As the Americans say the anti smoker crowd really did let it all hang out.  I am reminded from 2 years ago I spoke at the British Medical Journal’s “Is smoking a disease or a habit” debate and with other contributors had dinner with Professor Luke Clancy of ASH Ireland.

Before hand we did a run through of our speeches and Clancy kept interrupting me as he wanted to censor what I had written. I was talking about the the junk science of second hand smoke (SHS) in passing.

After he was told to be quiet we then went to dinner. We were having a generally polite conversation, I think he comes from Limerick. I made the point that on the science of SHS and I said many tobacco control activists had not done their research and there are people who have are wilfully and knowingly misleading us.

Clancy exploded. In front of the my fellow diners and 100 people in the restaurant  he shouted out I was a “liar” and proceeded to make a complete spectacle of himself by publicly insulting me at volume 11. The host had to quieten him down.

Then there was my appearance on CNN with Deborah Arnott. After doing the interview, I was literally taking a first sip from a glass of water after returning to the green room and she launched into a tirade into the fact that I was “not an expert.” Spewing vitriol and bile from every orifice. She had turned up with her husband and obviously felt safe that she could give me a piece of her wisdom.

The producer button holed me and said she was not doing her cause any good. That is the polite analysis of what she said.

The hermetically sealed world of Tobacco Control does not deal with honest debate, free speech and evidenced based science too well.

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The British Medical Journal Embraces junk science

The British Medical Journal has just produced this editorial on banning tobacco companies from publishing papers. My response is below.





Firstly any letter which contains the approval of Ruth Malone requires the closest of scrutiny, especially as her journal Tobacco Control journal contains some of the mendaciously biased papers I have ever read.


One assumes that if you are banning tobacco companies means pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma) are to be treated in the same way too?  You only need to look at the “science” that was hyped up  by Big Pharma for the H1NI “epidemic” at the behest of the WHO as investigated and reported in the err, BMJ. (1)


To give you some examples of the tobacco control industry’s questionable practices I give you the example of Professor Linda Bauld of Stirling University wrote this paper (2) where she stated that the smoking ban had “…no clear adverse impact on the hospitality industry.” My essay published by the Institute of Economic affairs (IEA) (3) of which I am reliably informed was peer reviewed,  double blind, shows overwhelming empirical evidence of a four-fold increase in pub closures post ban.  The original source of pub closures supplied by the British Beer and Pub Association is (4). Weekly pub closures four years prior to the smoking ban, were running at 13, 8, 8, 8 a week. Post ban 27, 38, 26, 28.


Professor Jill Pell’s “17% reduction in heart attacks” Scottish miracle also beggars belief too.  Cherry picked data, cherry picked months it was a lesson in manipulating the data to fit a hypothesis.  If you compare (5) all Scottish hospitals one year after  from the start of the smoking ban the reduction was 3.7%. The two previous years were 3.7% and 3.8%.


The Rand Corporation reviewed (6) America’s heart attack incidence and smoking bans. In reviewing 217,000 heart attack deaths, 2 million heart attacks covering all 50 states and 468 counties over an 8 year period they concluded: “In contrast with smaller regional studies, we find that smoking bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases. An analysis simulating smaller studies using subsamples reveals that large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a smoking ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature.


They even refer to Prof Pell’s study as being implausible.  Her study, understandably made the top ten of The Times’ “Worst Junk Stats” of 2007.


What I am most disappointed in is Dr. Godlee’s apparent embracement of junk science and “..the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.”


Was it not in this very parish that the BMJ bravely published Enstrom/Kabat in 2003 Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98. (7) Let me remind what it concluded:  The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.


Let me also remind you that it was largely paid for by anti tobacco money, i.e. Proposition 99 a tax from 1988 by the Californian State Government on cigarettes. After coming up with all the wrong results in 1997 was it paid for by tobacco companies. They were not allowed to see the results until publication.

Would this be disallowed today, especially as the BMJ had it peer reviewed too?


Enstrom/Kabat’s paper is not isolated.  Here is a list (8) of over 80 studies done into SHS and lung cancer. 85% epidemiologically do not state a correlation. While a meta analysis may come up with an RR of 1.25, not only is it questionable of proof, but the major confounder of misclassification, easily explains it away. Misclassification rates are 1%-4% with a mean of 2% as smokers are more likely to mislead on their smoking status than non smokers.  With an RR of 10 for lung cancer and active smoking, the 1.25 figure withers to 1.05.


This paper makes my figures hugely modest. (9) “12 (6.3%) were defined as biochemical smokers and possibly misclassified by self-report. Among 124 never smokers only 5 (4%) were biochemical smokers compared with 7 of 65 (10.8%) self-reported former smokers.”  I make that a mean of 7% fibbing about their smoking status.


I do believe active smoking  does indeed cause lung cancer and early mortality, in which I am at pains to point out in my media appearances. However it is not the slam dunk it is made out to be. While you have the overwhelming epidemiology evidence, try as they may scientists have never been able to replicate lung cancer in smoking animals. When all the evidence was presented to a Scottish Court in McTear vs Imperial Tobacco, (10) Judge Lord Nimmo Smith who is paid to be neutral said: “.. the pursuer’s case fails on every issue..” and that includes the scientific evidence that active smoking causes lung cancer.


However I am persuade that via active smoking the carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene is ingested ultimately in lethal quantities causing a genetic mutation of the P53 cancer protecting gene called a guanine to thymine transversion.


This Editorial is more systematic silencing of debate. If SHS had been omitted from it I would have passed it by, but as when the fox has seen the rabbit, mixing my metaphors it is a car crash not easily gawped at. I believe that the harm of SHS is one of the biggest scientific frauds of the 20th century, that has besmirched one area of humanity that should possess integrity.


In this article I wrote this year (11I quote a paper written in 2005 by Professor Sheldon Ungar and Dr. Dennis Bray  ”Silencing science: partisanship and the career of a publication disputing the dangers of secondhand smoke” partly in response to witch hunt of Enstrom and Kabat and concluded: “The results suggest that the public consensus about the negative effects of passive smoke is so strong that it has become part of a regime of truth that cannot be intelligibly questioned.”


In July this year, Professor Ronald Bayer, the co-director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, Columbia University New York City published a paper where he said, “We conclude that the impetus is the imperative to denormalize smoking as part of a broader public health campaign to reduce tobacco-related illness and death. Although invoking limited evidence (on the harm of SHS) may prove effective in the short run, it is hazardous for public health policy makers, for whom public trust is essential.”


You cannot have it both ways. Alleged junk science from tobacco companies maybe should be banned, but so should Big Pharma and Tobacco Control Activists too.




  1. http://www.thecommentator.com/article/1344/is_the_world_health_organization_its_own_pandemic


  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216319/dh_124959.pdf



  1. http://www.iea.org.uk/blog/is-the-smoking-ban-to-blame-for-the-high-rate-of-pub-closures


  1. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/apr/12/general-election-labour-manifesto-pub-closures


  1. http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/worst-junk-stat-of-2010.html


  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pam.20548/full]


  1. http://www.bmj.com/content/326/7398/1057



  1. http://www.pnlee.co.uk/documents/refs/lee2010B.pdf


  1. http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/ajrccm/145.1.53?journalCode=arrd#.Ul7h4vnksrY


  1. http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2005CSOH69.html



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The Sham Plain Packs Consultation and Andrew Black

I hope you have you have been able to catch my piece in The Commentator on minimum priced alcohol and the plain cigarette packets. If not here it is.


The government is wasting our money; Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP’s Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, amongst others, and Andrew Lansley too. The “something must be done” camp has squandered millions on pounds on eye catching consultations and initiatives – never mind that we are £1trillion in debt.

The first exhibit is minimum priced alcohol (MPA) – a regressive tax on the poor that will have no real effect on consumption, and will simply force problem drinkers to make savings elsewhere, probably by eating less or spending less on utilities. It has been suggested, quite rightly, that it may even lead to an increase in aggressive begging or, at worst, crime.

Cameron said on March 23rd, 2012, “we [need] to get to grips with the problem of super-cheap alcohol that’s fuelling violence on our streets and causing mayhem in our Accident and Emergency Units and damaging the health of the country. And I think this minimum unit pricing is a big part of the answer.”

Similarly, Nicola Sturgeon opined, “The Scottish government believes that minimum pricing will save lives and reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse.”

You may have also spotted that MPA kicked off at 40p and was ratcheted up to 50p before the ink was even dry on the Act. Northern Ireland Executive members and puritans, Michael McGimpsey and Alex Attwood, thought 70p more suitable.


It is interesting that, according to the Home Office, ‘Johnny the Chav’ is forced to pay at least £6.00 for his cider while Cameron and his chums – if they can find it – could get change from a fiver for a bottle of champers.  I also note that the cost of treating alcohol-related diseases was quoted as £2.7 billion, while they fail to mention that receipts in taxation plus VAT are £10.6 billion.

So we’ve had the idea, civil servants have drafted response papers, hours have been spent by the private sector wasting resources in replying and making trips to Parliament to lobby, before more time spent by civil servants drafting the legislation, and by MPs scrutinizing the bill and debating in Parliament. Oh, and let’s not forget private enterprise which has had to implement the lunacy: relabeling bottle prices and ticking more boxes. And for what? Not a speck of difference.

Millions of pounds has been spent on useless and ineffective bureaucracy to keep Sir Humphrey Appleby – Yes Minister’s Machiavellian and manipulative civil servant – and his minions in a job. This is public sector carnage.

Well before the mountain of pulp had started to stack up, Dominic Grieve MP, the Attorney General, warned Cameron that under European Law Articles 34 and 36, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union it was illegal.

Nicola Sturgeon was told as early as December 2011 by The Law Society of Scotland – they even cited the case of European Commission v France, Austria, and Ireland (C197-08, C198/08 and C221/08) where those Member States fixed minimum retail prices for cigarettes. The Court held that the legislation in France, Austria, and Ireland, fixing minimum retail prices for cigarettes, infringed European Union Law. After complaints from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria, MPA is dead in the water.

Arrogance or stupidity? Will there be resignations, apologies, and compensation to private enterprise?

For the second exhibit, we turn to plain packaging for cigarettes.

Sir Humphrey for tobacco at the Department of Health is Programme Manager Andrew Black, an Australian. Despite being a supposedly neutral civil servant, he is an open advocate of the tobacco control industry who has spoken alongside his chums from Action on Smoking such as Professor Robert West – a Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies at UCL – and taxpayer-funded junk scientist extraordinaire, Linda Bauld – who believes the smoking ban did not close any pubs.

PlainPacksNZ tweeted on the September 23rd: “The UK Government intends to schedule plain packaging within 6 months.”

Also on Friday July 13th, Plain Packs Protect listed Health Secretary Andrew Lansley as a supporter. This is a man who was meant to be entirely neutral and who was not meant to have an opinion before the consultation had ended, let alone begun.

The government was badly mauled in the vox pop: 500,000 against plain packs versus 235,000 for. The Programme Manager for Tobacco Control (PMTC) — the only one I know of is Andrew Black — wrote to Simon Clark of Forest on Thursday June 14th asking for “…detailed information about the collection of signatures. Sample questions included:

Did you engage any agencies or contractors to collect signatures?

How many individuals have been engaged to collect signatures?

Where have those collecting signatures been located?

They then go onto suggest that the workers were fraudulently filling in names themselves.

On Tuesday June 19th my “mate”, Australian anti-smoking advocate Professor Simon Chapman tweeted “UK anti #plainpack petition collectors seen filling in screeds of made up names. Laughable amateurs.”

Clark’s letter was not published on the Department of Health website until September 13th. Of course these could be complete coincidence — but a remarkable one, n’est-ce pas?

Of course Sir Humphrey could be blatantly misleading us too and smearing Forest’s campaign. If the PMTC, Andrew Black, is leaking information, then he should resign.

It certainly seems the Antipodes knows more than us. If that is the case the consultation is a biased sham, has no democratic mandate, and is a monstrous waste of public money.

Private enterprise has to spend turnover and profits on Quixote causes. The PMTC says in his letter “I have responsibility for the tobacco packaging consultation… I will also have responsibility for the analysis of the consultation responses and for supporting ministerial decision making on tobacco control policies in the future.”

Yes Sir Humphrey.

David Atherton is Chairman of Freedom2Choose, which seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issues of smoking. Follow him on Twitter: @DaveAtherton20


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