Finian McGrath and the House of Cards

It's funny how one thing leads to another.

I was scanning around all the articles about Finian McGrath and his call for a drop of tolerance and reason in a world gone crazy over health. 

One fascinating fact that emerged from all my reading was that according to the Irish Cancer Society, 4,000 lives have been "saved" since 2004.  Now this figure rang a little bell of familiarity so I delved into history.  Sure enough I discovered that back in 2013, 3,726 lives had been saved since 2004.  A remarkably close match?  So either the smoking ban no longer works, or else they are making up the figures?  That couldn't possibly be the case, could it?

I started researching this interesting phenomenon and accidentally put the wrong search terms into the Google thingy and it gushed forth the figures for the numbers killed by passive smoking.  According to the sites I found, 3000 seems to be the favourite figure, be it the old U S of A, France or Czechoslovakia.  I can only assume we are killing 3000 a year here also?

Anyhows, back to McGrath.

The comments naturally were mostly of the "I wish all smokers would burn in hell" type as they a egged each other into a frenzy of smoker hating.  A poll in The Journal says that three quarters of respondents are against ant easing which I suppose is to be expected [I wonder how many of them frequent their pub?].

I have to [almost] admire the Anti-Smokers for their invention of Second Hand Smoke.  It is a stroke of mad genius to be able to turn three quarters of society against the minority on the basis of an imaginary threat?  And the "lives saved" line is equally ingenious as no one can disprove it.  It's akin to my saying I haven't killed ten people today – utterly meaningless but with an underlying hint that I kill ten people every other day? 

One of these days [though I doubt it will be in my lifetime alas], people are going to wake up to the scam.  And when they do, the entire house of cards will come crashing down.  If secondary smoke is harmless then the only argument for the ban is to make people's clothes smell better.

As soon as I heard about it, I knew McGrath's quest for a modicum of tolerance was a waste of breath.  The Anti-Smokers have turned normally rational people into a rabid mob who see smoking as the greatest threat to their precious lives.  They have created an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred and that isn't going to end any time soon, so McGrath might as well save his breath.

But at least he gave me something to write about?



Expanding the debate

I had an interesting conversation yesterday.

It would properly have been called a debate, but it was on Twitter and I quickly discovered that Twitter is fuck all use for debating, as well as everything else.  How the hell can you expand on a topic when you are hamstrung to 140 letters?

It all started when a chap who follows me [and I follow him] posted a Tweet about Finian McGrath and his call for designated smoking areas in pubs and bars.  Unfortunately the article was behind a paywall, but it was soon picked up by the Irish Times

My friend [I’ll call him Bob for the sake of the exercise] said:

"Daft, dangerous and irresponsible".

Now I'm not the argumentative sort and I am absolutely crap at debating but in a fit of madness I replied:

"As distinct from sensible, tolerant and giving adults the right to choose?"

The reply when it came surprised me a bit:

"right to choose what ? Country is better since smoking ban came in. And will be better as smoking eliminated."

Now here is where the limitations of Twitter come into play.  The concept of a whole country being better intrigued me but naturally had to reply in shorthand:

"How is country better? The ban hasn't changed a thing apart from many pub closures and forcing many into isolation?"

Now Bob chose to deflect that slightly but that is his prerogative:

"becomes socially less acceptable to smoke. Leads to less smoking. Name a person who'd EVER want their child to smoke".

Which doesn't really answer why the country should be better off and just raises the question as to why being "less acceptable" should be a good thing.  I was frankly a bit disappointed at the "cheeeldren" card being played so early in the game and decided to ignore it as doubtless it would be played again.  I replied:

"Who determines what is "acceptable"? Smacks of gross intolerance to a minority."

The reply was prompt enough:

"jaysus intolerance to a minority. You can still smoke. You just can't poison other people"

Wow!  I can still smoke?  Yes I can, provided I pay massive taxes and stand out in the rain?  That's akin to saying that immigrants are welcome provided they live in tents on Achill Island.  And as for the "poisoning other people" bit, I could write essays on that, but once again my hands are tied by Twitters limitations.  I decided to throw a wobbler:

"Grew up in an age of tolerance where smoking was rife. No one died from SHS. That's a scam to scare non-smokers."

Again I got a swift response:

"grew up in an age where had to put up with smoking. Glad its over. Lot less first hand smokers now too. Thats also a good thing"

In my early days people didn't "have to put up with" anything.  They hadn't been taught to hate smokers so they accepted it as a perfectly normal thing.  But there is a new question here – why should a non-smoker [I’m taking a wild guess that Bob is a non-smoker?] be "glad it's over"?  Why would he be glad that there are a lot less non-smokers?  Could it be that he is glad that people are being forced into his viewpoint?  Could it be that he is delighted that people who chose a lifestyle different from his should be forced against their will to conform to his ideology?  I decided to address that little question head on:

"Why is it a good thing for me to quit? [for example]"

Sadly he didn't answer that one which is a great pity.  He played he "cheeeldren" card instead:

"have grandkids? Do you want them to smoke ?"

Now that card pisses me off.  They love to use the kids as moral hostages and he still hadn't answered my question so I replied:

"Daughter smokes. Her choice as an adult. Up to her to bring up her kids. Why do you want me to quit?"

The reply:

"I don't really care if you quit. I just don't want other people to start a dangerous addictive habit. Fewer that do the better"

So he is delighted that people are quitting but doesn't care if I do?  I find that a bit strange?  And why does he care?  Why is he so concerned about what other people do?  Why is it any of his business?  I didn't want to be rude so I decided not to ask the last question directy but to hit it in a roundabout way:

"What about other "dangerous" things such as sports? Are they acceptable?"

I was saddened by his reply as it missed the point entirely:

"never seen swimming or tennis as that dangerous"

Before I could reply, I got another:

"and 90% of people begin smoking before they're adults so there's that too"

In fact a lot of people die from drowning each year and while tennis is relatively safe, I would like to know his opinion on Rugby or Boxing for example, but here again I am retrained by Twitter's limitations.  Anyway, we are back on the cheeeldren card again, are we?  I can only assume that Bob's distaste for smoking is to prevent kids from taking it up?  I replied

"But the law already says they are not allowed so what's point of new laws? And sports injuries are a big thing."

He replied:

"because they've brought smoking down from 30% of population to 20% of population since 2003. And thats a good thing."

Now he still doesn't explain why this is a "good thing".  I really wanted to know why he cares so much.  He sneers at the suggestion of intolerance to a minority yet is delighted when that minority is forced into the majority viewpoint.

I had one last shot at reason:

"Smoking was in decline anyway. No law since 2003 has changed the rate of decline."

He never replied so presumably he was getting tired of me.  That was fine by me as I was getting tired of me too.

I would love to have expanded further.  I would love to have debated the Enstrom & Kabat study.  I would loved to have discussed the Nanny State Index, and how the worst nannying has no bearing on smoking rates.  I would love to have asked him how the gubmint would make up the enormous shortfall if they lost all tobacco revenue. 

Most of all though, I would love to know why one person apparently hates smokers so much.

The depraved fighting the deprived

So the torturing of vapers and the introduction of plain packaging has gotten the green light from the EU.

I'm not in the least bit surprised.

The Tobacco Control Industry is a malignant cancer and has reached its tentacles into just about every corner of politics and law.  It is a mindless beast, blinded by its fanatical hatred not of cigarettes, nor even tobacco but of nicotine itself.  It defies logic and reason and the hatred is purely for the sake of hatred.

I'm not that bothered with the e-cigarette thing.  If I want to purchase something of which the EU disapproves then there is always the Interweb.  I'd run the risk of unregulated products and if I poison myself, it's the EU who is to blame.

Nor am I bothered that much about the plain packaging either.  It's just another snide attempt to humiliate smokers but all it will do is make life far more difficult for the tobacconist.  My packaging will be consigned to the bin where it belongs, after [naturally] I have transferred its contents to a more aesthetically pleasing pouch.

There is an interesting footnote to one of the articles –

Around one in five people in Ireland still smokes but the rate is higher in deprived areas.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this.  Are they suggesting that my puffing a pipe is lowering the tone of the area?  Am I single handedly lowering property prices in the neighbourhood?  Has my little neck of the mountain become deprived because of my little pleasures?  Or is this a suggestion that I should quit if I don't want to join the Lower Orders who as we all know are lager swilling louts who spend all their dole money on the horses?  I prefer stout, have a pension and have never backed a horse in my life, so they're on to a loser there.

Does smoking lower the tone of the place, or do people smoke because they live in a deprived area?  Maybe Tobacco Control should use smoking prevalence to discover which areas need investment to raise the standard of living?  At east then they'd be doing something useful.

The TPD is little short of the equivalent of pulling wings off flies.  It's the school bully prodding you with a compass, just because he can.  It doesn't do anyone any good but they do it because they know they can get away with it.

They wil never force me to quit, as it has become a matter of principle.

There is ony one reason I would ever give up the pipe.

That is when I make the decision.


The Deliberately Blinkered Approach

Just a little footnote to yesterday's theme…

So the Royal College of Physicians announces that in their opinion e-cigarettes are a remarkably effective smoking cessation device. 

You would imagine there would be a sigh of relief amongst the various governing bodies?  An unbiased organisation, highly regarded in the medical world has made a pronouncement that should please everybody?

Not so in this backward little country called Ireland.

Oh no.  The RCP could be wrong.  We still don't know if vaping could be harmful in 50 years time.  And there are a lot of people in America and elsewhere who have raised doubts [no matter how ludicrous].

Responding, the Irish cancer charity said that while it recognised e-cigarettes were safer than tobacco, it could not recommend them for use as a smoking cessation device until further research was carried out.

Minister for Children Dr James Reilly said he was “very concerned” about e-cigarettes.

“We didn’t have sufficient information and I didn’t want the ‘perfect’ to get in the way of the ‘good’ in relation to including that in the legislation,” Dr Reilly said.

“But the evidence is starting to pile up now that this is a serious problem.”

Actually the evidence is now saying it isn't a problem, but never mind.  Incidentally, I haven't a clue what the "good" and "perfect" thing is about.

Dr Reilly said he was concerned that e-cigarettes could become a “gateway” to traditional nicotine consumption. “I don’t want to undermine anything we’re doing by not having good, strong evidence, well-researched. I know that there are people in America very concerned about this.”

Er, no.  The report just says that there isn't a "gateway" effect.  And as for the vested interests and lunatic fringe in America…. What can I say?  What about the doctors in the UK who aren't concerned?

So, to paraphrase the Irish attitude –

We think cigarettes are 100% lethal, and while we are told that e-cigarettes are 95% safer, there is still a remote possibility that they are 5% lethal and would therefore prefer people to stick with the 100% lethal ones for a few more decades until we are happy that further research has been carried out.

Or possibly the real truth –

Look, Ireland relies very heavily on Big Pharma as an industry and we wouldn't want to rock the boat.  Also they are very generous in funding qangos so we don't want to offend them in any way.  Therefore we would ask people to ignore the experts and carry on smoking which is, when all is said and done, a huge generator of tax revenue.  And if anyone wants to quit, then ignore those idiots in the UK and rely instead on the useless yokes produced by our pharmaceutical friends.


A Billion Lies

There has been a fair bit of comment on the Royal College of Physicians report on vaping in recent days.

People have been justifiably delighted with the announcement that vaping is officially as safe as they have always claimed it is.  

I have read several views on the report but the one that stood out for me was one written by an anti-smoker – Michael Siegel.  While he is a professional anti-smoker, he at least has the saving grace to be honest about it.  One paragraph in particular stood out for me –

It is also a breath of fresh air that helps to clean out some of the stench we have been getting from the completely non-evidence-based rhetoric and propaganda we have been getting for the past six years from anti-nicotine organizations and researchers in the U.S. and from numerous health agencies and regulatory bodies, including the FDA and the CDC.

Now smokers have known for years that the Tobacco Control Industry can be economical with the truth, but here is a report that not only contradicts the TCI but essentially proves that they have been lying all along.  So having been called out on their lies, just how far back in history to we have to go before we see a bit of honesty in their outpourings?

I would contend that it all started with Godber's statement that they must “foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily”.  Now this wasn't the first lie, but it was a direct call to action to produce "evidence", as is shown by the word "perceived" as distinct from "proved". 

So the lies started then.  We had study after study, where the evidence was manipulated and distorted.  "Good" results were published and "bad" reports were buried.  The Great Lie about second hand smoke had begun.  Having been emboldened by their success they dropped the pretense of using science to back their claims and just stated blatant lies as fact.  How else would you explain such gems as smoke traveling through solid walls and down telephone cables?  How else could they claim that a whisp of smoke in the open air can damage children's health?  Opening a car window blows smoke into the car?

Over the years these lies have become the truth purely by virtue of constant repetition.  How often do we hear of the hundreds of thousands who have "died from second hand smoke" or the thousands of kids who take up smoking because they have seen it in a film?  I am not saying that all anti-smokers know they are lying but those at the top definitely do, unless they are totally deranged.

Then along comes the e-cigarette.

They had no answer to this device which threatened not only their livelihood but also the profits of their masters in Big Pharma.  Their only answer was to spin more lies in the hope that the momentum would carry them over the bump.  E-cigarettes are leading kids into smoking real cigarettes.  E-cigarettes are carcinogenic and are more dangerous than real cigarettes.  E-cigarettes reduce smokers' chances of quitting.  E-cigarettes explode without warning.  The list is long and tedious.

Even after the report was published, we had a desperate attempt at back pedaling from our own Pat Doorley who said that "while e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco products, there are still some concerns around their use, particularly long-term." 

He then goes on to say “The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland recommends that people who need help with smoking cessation speak to their GP or pharmacist to get advice about all treatment options such as nicotine replacement therapies and psychological supports,”  We must keep our paymasters in Big Pharma happy, mustn't we?

They have been called out on their lies in public.

Maybe now people will see they have been lying through their teeth all along?