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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Wind turbines, unsightly, expensive but are they also a health risk?

Wind turbines, unsightly, expensive but are they also a health risk?

I have a small confession to make, I am a bit of a closet Green. My rubbish is carefully sorted out for recycling, I walk and cycle to the shops and the bulldozing of the British countryside for buildings makes me feel uneasy. Not that I have a photograph of Green God George Monbiot next to my torn and faded one of Che Guevara, but I do not like waste. There is a strong case for renewable energy in that it will make us a lot less reliant upon oil from the politically unstable Middle East and who knows the Iraq invasion may not have happened. The UK is the windiest place in Europe and gives the country an unlimited source of energy.

Just before you think I am writing love letters to Caroline Lucas, and one of James Dellingpole’s Watermelons, green on the outside and red on the inside, there is much to detract from wind farming. The costs of generating 1 Megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity is for gas £65 and coal is £62, nuclear £95. Onshore wind £90 and offshore wind an eye watering £150. However, it is possible that like mobile and smartphone batteries, research and development could make them more efficient. As mentioned here by the Montana Environmental Information Center: “Turbines are much larger, growing from an average of 1.2 megawatts to 1.6 megawatts (a 33% increase in average capacity) in just three years. Today’s typical new turbine has a 2.3-megawatt capacity; 7-megawatt turbines will be available soon.”

However a disturbing paper from The King Juan Carlos University found in 2009 that “Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created.”

As I previously mentioned about concreting the countryside wind farms have brought out the NIMBYs. UKIP’s Energy Spokesman Roger Helmer is a leading critic. It has also attracted the opprobrium of the National Trust their Director Of Conservation Peter Nixon, said: “The National Trust position remains unchanged.  We have a duty to protect beautiful places, and believe that any wind energy proposals should be located, designed and on a scale that avoids compromising these.”

Wind power now has a major new headache, pun intended in the shape of the health of the people who live in the vicinity of wind farms. I have been given an exclusive interview with Canadian Professor Carl V Phillips.

Perhaps you could give The Commentator a background to your career so far?

I was a professor of public health for about 15 years, working on a combination of epidemiology, public policy, and environmental health.  Before I went to graduate school, I did some work for the electric power industry.  Currently I run my own university-style research shop, and do economic and epidemiologic consulting.  I have been working on the IWT issue for about 2.5 years.
I understand that there maybe health risks associated with living near wind turbines can you expand on that?
There is a consistent pattern of many people who live near (Industrial Wind Turbines) IWTs suffering from a class of diseases caused by chronic stress reactions:  insomnia, fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate, mood disorders (e.g., depression or being quick to anger), and the like.  It is likely that this reaction creates cardiovascular problems too.  It is not too surprising that this occurs, since some (not all) people will have an ongoing “fight or flight” reaction to certain types of noise, and IWTs produce types of noise (cyclic and low-frequency) that are known to be especially disturbing.

There are other alternatives proposed for the causal pathway, such as non-stress-mediated effects via the ears (both hearing and the balance system), which might explain particular symptoms like balance problems and tinnitus.  But whatever the causal pathway, the effects are quite clear.

In terms of severity, a large portion of the exposed population apparently experiences some of the problems to a bothersome extent, and a few percent experience problems so severe that it basically destroys their lives.  Or it forces them to flee their homes.  Their homes then end up selling at prices well below what they would be worth if there were no nearby IWTs, if they can sell them at all; that loss in value is a good measure of how substantial these negative effects are to people.
What kind of evidence from medical papers that this is the case?
The vast majority of the evidence is not in medical papers, but is in the form of thousands of individual “adverse event reports” — volunteered information by individuals reporting on their own diseases.  This is the type of monitoring that informs us about unexpected drug reactions and anything other adverse reaction to something that was not expected.

Systematic study has been limited because it depends on volunteer work from the community.  Normally we would require that an industry fund independent research into the risks of an exposure they were imposing on people, or the government would fund the studies.  But in this case the government is complicit in the problem and so no one is requiring the energy industry exercise the due diligence that would be demanded for, say, a pharmaceutical or agricultural chemical.  A tiny fraction of the subsidies (paid by us, of course) to the energy industry to support these projects would be enough to do plenty of systematic studies, so no one can claim that there is no money available.  There is just a concerted effort to avoid gathering evidence.

That said, this does not keep us from having very good evidence in this particular case.  The nature of this exposure and the diseases it causes give us a case where adverse event reports are more informative than population surveys and averages.  Individuals are able to “cross over” from being exposed to unexposed (by spending time away from home, or when there is no wind for long periods) and the disease go away.  So a large portion of the adverse event reports include people doing that experiment and discovering that when the exposure is removed, the disease disappears, but when the exposure is resumed the disease recurs.

Such scientific reasoning seems to baffle a lot of people who are only capable of reading the conclusion statement of article abstracts.  But if you ask any real scientist — or a moderately intelligent 12-year-old — to interpret that evidence, and they will immediately recognize that this real-world experimental evidence is more informative about causation than subtle statistical differences between populations.  Apparently some people lose the reasoning ability of 12-year-olds when they are paid to do so.

That said, there is evidence in medical papers and systematic studies.  It confirms what we know from the adverse event reports and their crossover studies.  Indeed, there is enough such evidence that if this were, say, industrial chemical pollution, the environmentalists and public health activists would be demanding bans, and some probably would have already happened.

Does that mean that the evidence is mostly not peer reviewed?

That is correct.  But this does not really matter.  Some who want to deny the scientific evidence do not understand that peer reviewed publication is mostly just a scorekeeping method for professors (while others pretend to not understand because that supports their rhetoric).  The most serious sciences have long sense moved away from this model.  The peer review process in health science is really mostly editorial, not scientific.  Reviewers never see the data or even know most of the methods that were used, and they certainly cannot audit the data collection process to make sure it is accurate.  They see only what you eventually read in a journal, so obviously they cannot provide any more of a review than any reader of the article can.

It would be possible to take the adverse event reports and publish them in a peer reviewed journal, but why?  That would obviously not make them any more or less credible (indeed, I did this with a few of them, just to make that point).  The same is true for any statistics-based study, though these tend to end up in journals so that the authors can get credit for them.  But it does not make them any more likely to be good science.
Is there any evidence that the health risks could be psychosomatic?
This is the claim that the industry and their hirelings have fled to, now that they can no longer get away with claiming that there are no effects.  They blame the victims.  It is a standard ploy.

A favorite claim is to suggest that because there is evidence that some people irrationally fear certain invisible health hazards (“toxic chemicals” and radiation, in particular), and there are a few documented cases of that fear apparently causing groups of people to report symptoms, that this is what is happening with IWTs.  But this just a legalistic ploy, not a scientific claim (compare, for example, the claims made by cigarette companies when they are sued by a lung cancer victim).  To say this might be happening is just a speculative hypothesis, and no one has ever produced a shred of evidence to support it.  If defending against a lawsuit, throwing out a speculative alternative explanation is standard practice, but it should not be taken seriously in making public policy decisions, let alone drawing scientific conclusions.

Moreover, even as speculation this claim is absurd on its fact:  a phenomenon that occasionally causes a self-feeding mass hysteria in a small community could not affect thousands of people who have never communicated in any way; people do not react to a simple observable exposure (noise from a machine waking them up at night) with the vague fear they have about invisible carcinogens.

The evidence clearly shows that the effects do not fit the typical interpretation of “psychosomatic” — that the disease exists only because people think it is exists.  There are a lot of people who were quite sure there was no risk, or who embraced the installation of IWTs, who then found they were suffering from the diseases.

Those who want to deny the science like to play word games, taking advantage of the fact that stress reactions are mediated through the subconscious mind, and suggesting that somehow this means the diseases are not “real”.  But the diseases that do more damage to people’s quality of life than any others — depression and chronic pain — are entirely “in people’s heads”.  The involvement of the mind does not mean that people can just decide to not have the diseases any more than they can decide to not have an infection.  If there were a way to make the diseases stop happening or go away through psychological intervention, that might have some implications for what we should be doing.  But since no such intervention has ever been seriously proposed, let alone demonstrated to work, the whole point is rather moot.

I think that anyone who claims “these problems exist only in people’s heads, so we should not worry about them” should pledge to never take an analgesic and to refuse anesthesia for dentistry or surgery.  After all, the pain sensation is something that exists only in their heads.
What should be done about wind turbines?
The health risks are clearly established by the evidence. What is needed is a complete cost-benefit analysis of this whole endeavor.  There is no analysis out there that shows that installing IWTs makes any sense, all costs considered, and the failure to show that means that this is all just lunacy from the perspective of good public policy.  (I suppose, more precisely, such an analysis has never been reported.  Presumably the industry has done the analysis and would have reported it if they like the results, but decided to suppress it because it looks really bad for them.)  Such an analysis would compare the energy contribution of IWTs (the net contribution, that is, after accounting for the inefficiencies that come from having a power source that “decides” for itself when to turn on) to the costs of production and installation, as well as the health costs and the horrible environmental impact.

It is a potentially valid argument to say, with quantification, “yes, there are costs, and here they are; but here are the benefits justify the costs, including the harms to people’s health”.  In free countries we usually demand very positive net benefits before we inflict harm on innocent victims, but sometimes that is considered justified.  However, given that the IWT industry and proponents do not try to make such an argument, but rather seek to deny that there are any costs (health, environmental, electric grid efficiency loss), and refuses to even quantify the claimed benefits, it is pretty clear that they do not think an honest analysis supports their position.”

One of the proponents for wind farms is none other than my old sparring partner Professor Simon Chapman of Sydney University. In this article he says: “I started collecting examples of health problems some people were attributing to wind turbine exposure. I had noticed a growing number of such claims on the internet and was curious about how many I could find. Within an hour or two I had found nearly 50 and today the number has grown to an astonishing 155.” He certainly has done his research to be fair. Many of the papers are sceptical of the health claims although one Professor Chapman cites from the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council stated that: “Another study of residents living in the vicinity of wind farms in the Netherlands found that annoyance was strongly correlated with a negative attitude toward the visual impact of wind turbines on the landscape. The study also concluded that people who benefit economically from wind turbines were less likely to report noise annoyance, despite exposure to similar sound levels as those people who were not economically benefiting.” At worst they at least acknowledge there appears to be some affected people.

There is some evidence that world temperatures peaked in 1997 and we could even possibly be in for a period of global cooling. Wind farms need to make a case for their economic viability, the sighting of wind farms a matter for local democracy.  Certainly the green agenda should not be economic or cultural Marxism. As one of papers mentioned by Professor Chapman from the  UK’s Health Protection Agency states:  “These included..noise from wind farms.. We accept that these are all subjects that are in need of study, but we were not able to take them into consideration in our work, at least not in detail, due to constraints on time and on the effort available.”

Professor Carl Phillips raises some serious questions on the health of people exposed to wind farms, maybe it is time to have his empirical evidence properly investigated. The politically correct agenda of the greens is no reason to investigate further.











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Five years after the smoking ban we are all smokers now

I hope you are reading The Commentator an online magazine newspaper for which I am an ‘umble writer. Covering politics and economics in the UK, USA and the rest of the Anglo-sphere, it is described as “conservative and libertarian news, opinion and blogs. Established April 2011 by @RobinShepherd1, @RaheemJKassam & @DaneVallejo they have some damn good writers, me excepted.  Here are the Facebook and Twitter links.



So I thought I would post one of my articles and give you a sneak preview of next weeks. Next week’s piece is on the liberalisation of prostitution and gambling.

“Las Vegas …. reluctantly in sympathy with many American States made gambling illegal on October 1st 1910. Not to be outdone inevitably the underground gambling industry flourished and like Alcohol Prohibition a secret password was needed to get in. ”

“Firstly fifty five police forces in the UK took part in operation Pentameter 1 to track down trafficked women working in prostitution. Out of an estimated 80,000 sex workers, 88 or 0.11% were victims.”

Now my article on the smoking ban.


When I was asked to write articles for The Commentator I was determined not to bang on about smoking. However, five years after the ban came in on July 1st 2007, it seems relevant to raise my head above the parapet.

My thesis and hence the title, that flushed with the ‘success’ of smoking restrictions, a tidal wave of non-governmental organisations (many state funded charities), ‘something must be done’ politicians and an all-too-compliant population have opened themselves up to their own version of stigmatisation, vilification and Acts that receive the assent of the Queen.

The ultimate irony is we have the Guardianista, left wing, Islington dinner party set sanctioning state led bigotry against smokers.

In a remarkable paper by Professor Hilary Graham, commissioned by the Department of Health, society’s attitudes toward smokers is reviewed. It makes grim reading. Smokers are now a despised underclass. She does not mince her words in comparing the plight of smokers to racially discriminated immigrants.

“Across the 19th and 20th centuries, poorer communities, including migrant and indigenous groups, were cast as the contaminating other whose habitual behaviours were seen to threaten ways of life that were in contrast presented as normal and desirable.”

The history of public health is scarred by policies which, pursued in the name of health protection and promotion, have served to intensify public vilification and state-sanctioned discrimination against already disadvantaged groups.

The smoking rates between the classes are 14 percent for the middle classes and 28 percent for the working classes and they have also been most affected by pub, bingo hall and Working Men’s CIU club closures and subsequent unemployment. The ban has led to upwards of 10,000 pubs closing which would be trading if smoking was still allowed.

The British pub’s Bible, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, even before the ban was one year old in April 2008 said, “as many as 78,000 full and part-time jobs may have been lost if the survey results replicate the situation across the 50,000 pubs in England and Wales.”

What has been one of the more corrosive aspects of the Tobacco Control Industry is the abuse of science. The heart attack ‘miracles’ invented by Professor Jill Pell of Glasgow University and Professor Anna Gilmore of the University of Bath are a prime example. Pell’s study was awarded top ten status in The Times’ ‘The worst junk science stats of 2007.’

Professor Pell was guilty of selecting the months and hospitals she chose for the study. Professor Anna Gilmore was guilty of describing a methodology in her paper and then appearing to abandon it. Her paper in the British Medical Journal said ‘Conclusion. This study adds to a growing body of evidence that smoke-free legislation leads to reductions in myocardial infarctions.’

The three years preceding the smoking saw drops in acute myocardial infarction of 1.33 percent, 3.1 percent and 5.19 percent. Post ban 3.21 percent and 4.26 percent. Draw your own conclusions.

It would be also be pertinent to comment on the social isolation and dislocation caused by the smoking ban, especially the aged and infirm. Do you really expect an eighty year old pensioner to hobble out on their walking sticks in the middle of January to puff on their pipe? The pub, bingo hall and CIU clubs might have been their only interaction outside their home.

As I infer at the start of the piece, if you do not smoke but like a drink and have love handles, Pastor Niemoller is preaching at your door; the neuro-linguistic programming speak is coming to a place near you.

A leader in the Guardian, from Friday June 29th, was sub titled ‘The smoking ban was far too long in coming – and the next campaign for public health will be harder still to sell.’ (I am sure they will try their best.) And went on to say, “the next campaign for better public health is in a different league. Alcohol and obesity – what we eat and how much we drink – these are the stuff of our very souls.”

The Royal College of Physicians wrote in 2007 “The ‘passive effects’ of alcohol, misuse are catastrophic – rape, sexual assault, domestic and other violence, drunk driving and street disorder – alcohol affects thousands more innocent victims than passive smoking.”

We also have this gem: “Supermarkets are exhibiting the morality of a crack dealer”, House of Commons Select Committee on Health as told by Professor Martin Plant.

In an article by Dennis Gottfried, M.D. entitled ‘Anti-Smoking Tactics Can Squeeze Obesity’ he opines: “When people with whom we are closely associated gain weight, such as a spouse, sibling, neighbor or friend, we are also at an increased risk of gaining weight. For example, if your friend becomes obese, you have a 177 percent increased risk of becoming obese. If your friend’s brother becomes obese, your risk is still increased’

Yes that is passive obesity.

San Francisco has banned free toys with McDonalds Happy meals, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is banning large cups of soda (fizzy drinks) in retail outlets of more than 16 ounces.

Big Pharma in the shape of The Robert Wood Foundation have funded this study, “Soda and Tobacco Industry Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns: How Do They Compare? The conclusions included: “As they did with tobacco, public health advocates need to counter industry CSR with strong denormalization campaigns to educate the public and policymakers about the effects of soda Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns and the social ills caused by sugary beverages.”

Believe you me I am just poking a scalpel underneath the epidermis of the bully state.

Many people find smoking uncomfortable, perhaps in some cases even a little obnoxious. However after coming for the smokers, the bully state. shamelessly embraced by David Cameron, has been rolled out to you.

You too will be a second class citizen. In a phrase first coined by IEA Fellow Chris Snowdon, ‘Utopia is only one ban away.’

David Atherton is Chairman of Freedom2Choose, which seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issues of smoking





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