Not the usual suspect

There was an incident here in Ireland a couple of days ago.

I'm loath to call it a "tragic" incident simply because it is an overused term constantly employed by our beloved press though it was in fact a tragedy.

Anyhows, an elderly man was being brought to hospital by ambulance when the ambulance exploded.  The patient died in the explosion and the ambulance crew were seriously injured.

The immediate reaction was that a cylinder of oxygen had exploded.  This struck me as strange, as I had always understood that oxygen is an inert nonflammable gas.  Indeed it is necessary for combustion but always in conjunction with something else.  In other words, I cannot get my head around the thought of a cylinder exploding unless there was a fairly intense fire, sufficient to rupture the cylinder where the sudden addition of oxygen would indeed cause an intense flare up.

I was chatting to the daughter last night.  She is a trainee [nearly qualified?] paramedic so naturally the subject of the explosion cropped up.  She too had been having serious doubts as she is very familiar with oxygen cylinders and ambulances.  However this doubt doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone else, as there had been a general alert put out for all ambulance personnel to check their cylinders.

Of course I was waiting for the inevitable.

The family of the dead man have had to go public to state that he wasn't smoking.

Even in the aftermath of a terrible incident, they just have to jump on the anti-smoker bandwaggon.

But if it has been in the papers then it must be true.  A denial by the family will be conveniently ignored.

Doubtless there are people gloating as I scribble this.

Inside the mind of an Anti

I dropped by the Ashtray Blog yesterday.

They posted a series of "most shocking" images put out by our good friends in the Tobacco Control Industry and asked whether they would make us want to quit smoking, have a cigarette or did they have no effect at all.  Of course, like any straw poll I found myself muttering "none of the above".

It is difficult to describe my reaction to those images.  A lot of them are quite clever [such as the bloke apparently hanging himself using smoke] and some are quite disgusting [such as using a dead baby in an ashtray – that is way beyond the bounds of human decency].

I suppose I could sum up my emotions as being a mixture of amusement and disgust.  I am amused because they are so far fetched as to be totally irrelevant. 

A woman shows her hands with apparently [photoshopped?] amputated fingers and I am supposed to recoil in horror at the prospect?  I have been around smokers all my life and have never seen any such amputations.  Or maybe someone forgot to tell her to blow out the match before the flame reaches skin?  Either way it is a nonsense.

A man sits smoking while his leg has apparently become a cigarette and is dropping ash?  What the fuck is that supposed to indicate?  Again, a clever bit of photoshopping but it bears no resemblance to anything in real life.

I am disgusted though at the level to which these pornographers have sunk.  They are actually getting their jollies by implying that smoking is equivalent to oral sex?  Maybe that's their fantasy but it ain't mine.   And what is the point of showing a bloke whose head has apparently been split open by a hatchet?  That is visual porn just for the sake of shock as it has no relevance to smoking whatsoever. 

Of course what these images really represent is a wishlist of things the Tobacco Control Industry would love to see happen to smokers.  They would love to see us with massive growths on our necks, with faces like dried prunes and limbs falling off.  They would love to see us in the gutter frantically injecting ourselves with raw nicotine.  They would love to see our new-born discarded in an ashtray.  This is nothing short of a vivid glimpse into the nasty twisted evil minds of those in the Tobacco Control Industry.  Their hatred knows no bounds.

They really are sick in the head.

Those images say a lot more about the Anti-Smoker, than the smoker.

Grandad the Sage

I received an email the other day.

People write to me for all sorts of reasons but this one was looking for a drop of advice and reassurance.

The mail itself was private so I won't publish it here, but will instead give a general gist of its contents.

Basically a man is worried about his stepson.  Because of a nasty car smash some time ago [involving fatalities] his fifteen year old stepson had developed a nervous tic which apparently was very bad.  The stepson took up smoking a while back and my correspondent noticed that after a cigarette that the tic disappeared.

I'm not quite sure why he wrote to me.  Was he looking for an expert opinion?  Was he looking for reassurance?  He posed his mail as a query – had I heard of smoking reducing tics, but I think there was more to it than that.

I am never quite sure what to say in these circumstances.  I delayed in replying [and even considered not replying, though that would have been taking the easy way out] but wrote a reply today.

First of all I had to lay out my stall. 

I hope you're not crediting me with more knowledge than I actually have.  My attitude to smoking is based on logic and a lifetimes experience rather than any degrees in science.  When I hear all this rubbish about "second hand smoke" I just think back a generation to a time where nearly everyone smoked and no one gave it a second thought, and certainly there were no heart attacks or cancers caused by a whiff of smoke.

Obviously I have redacted some of this –

Nicotine does have many benefits.  Of course these are never mentioned nowadays because nicotine has become the Great Evil.  The benefits are many but one is that nicotine has a calming effect, so […] seems to be feeling that effect.  If he feels better after a cigarette then why not go along with that?  If he feels a benefit, is it right to stop that benefit?

I thought I had better explain a bit further on the whole smoking business.

I neither condone nor condemn smoking.  It is none of my business what other people do and this is my argument all along.  If you […] are happy with […] smoking that that’s all that matters.  The “dangers” are grossly exaggerated and there may [or may not] be a small risk attached.  If the benefits outweigh the risks [and it sounds to me like they certainly do] then that's fine.

There was a bit more to the reply but that's the bare bones of it.

My feeling is one of sadness.  A man has to write to an anonymous old codger looking for advice and information.  He should have been able to chat with a doctor or physician but was obviously afraid to do so, which I find unutterably sad and ethically wrong.  But this is the world that the Anti-smokers have created – one of fear and suppression of information and the truth.

Here is a lad who has found a real and substantial benefit from smoking but will any professional condone that?  Not a chance in hell. 

What has the world come to when a man cannot talk to a doctor about his stepson's wellbeing, and has to approach an old fart up the mountains?

Let your figures do the talking

Modern life is killing our children: Cancer rate in young people is up 40pc.

Talk about a dramatic headline!

They manage to throw scare, cheeeldren and cancer together, so any tabloid would just have to print it!  They even throw in an "our" to make us all feel guilty even if we don't have kids.  Clever!

Now being an avid researcher of "research" and studier of "studies" I just had to read on to see what they are on about.  It must be pretty scary stuff, with cheeeldren dropping like flies?

First of all, I looked to see what period the 40% refers to.  Is it an increase in the last century or maybe over the last year?  This is pretty important stuff.  It transpires that it's over 16 years which is quite a long time.  At least it isn't a 40% increase over one year which would indeed hint that something was a little amiss?  There again they could have avoided the tabloid panic if they stated that the rise was 2.5% per annum, but it just doesn't look as good.

So what kind of numbers are we actually looking at?

Funnily enough they give the answer to that near the top [big mistake – someone might spot it there – should be in the small print as an oblique referral].  10 cases in 100,000 sixteen years ago has risen to a dramatic "nearly" 16 cases now.  Just as an aside – what the fuck is a "nearly"?

Anyhows, let's look at these numbers from a slightly different perspective.  16 years ago, 0.0001% of cases were cheeeldren but that has risen to 0.00016% now.  Wow!  Though I'm surprised they didn't round the figure a bit [who gives a fuck about five decimal places?] and make that 0,0002% which would be a doubling of the number!  They missed a trick there.

I see they have to mention smoking as one of the causes, despite smoking figures falling and cancer cases [nearly?] rising. 

Maybe they should read the studies that show passive smoking in cheeeldren decreases the risks of lung cancer?

Why can't these fuckers just concentrate on finding cures, instead of pumping out these useless lists of "causes"?

What the fuck do they expect us to do?  Avoid the list of "causes" and you're dead from suffocation!

They are just a waste of space.



Extreme denial

A couple of days ago I came across a post by Frank Davis.

Well, it wasn't so much a post as a video about the World's [allegedly] Oldest Man who is [allegedly] 145 years of age.

There is one sequence where the old chap's face is blurred –

Blurred image

Now why have they done that?  The video isn't the best quality anyway and to deliberately blur it seems a bit strange?  But stop the press – is that smoke emanating from the blur?  It couldn't possibly be?  Here is the World's [allegedly] Oldest Man smoking, which means he should have died at least a hundred years ago?

Curiosity got the better of me and I set off on a quest to find a pre-blurred image.  It wasn't easy as they had all been censored but eventually I found one that had been overlooked as it had fallen down behind the filing cabinet.

Clear image

So yes indeed – there he is thoroughly enjoying a grand smoke.

Now who decided this image should be blurred, and why?

Did they look at it and decide that millions of kids would take up smoking?  I doubt that.

Far more likely is that it belies the lie.  Smoking kills, they scream yet here is an old geezer smoking.  Was it such a shock to their religious beliefs that they couldn't bear to look at it?  Or did they just not want the world to see the lie? To them, this must seem like definitive scientific evidence that God doesn't exist.  It is contra to everything that the Tobacco Nazis proclaim, yet there is the proof of their lie staring at them from the screen.  Here is another addition to the long list of the World's Oldest Smokers.

It's just too shocking.

Much better to blur it and pretend it didn't happen.


Do NOT let your children see this

I take back everything I said yesterday.

I read an article today that really is astounding, and vital in its importance to the future of humanity.

I'm glad to say that the world's meeja are picking up on this vital news and flashing it around the globe.  One cannot underestimate the importance of this shocking article, and I hope everyone on the planet gets to see it.

You see, a man was filmed lighting up a cigarette!

Yes – a cigarette!

Actually lighting it!

On a train!

In Australia!

Isn't that absolutely horrific?  The mere thought of it makes my mind bleed.  The video is only ten seconds long, but that's enough. It is ten seconds of sheer horror.  It is seared forever into my retinas and I doubt I will ever sleep again.  It is truly shocking.  Shocking, I tell you.

I really have to ask myself what the world is coming to when a person can actually be seen lighting up a cigarette.  Thank God there was somebody there handy with a camera, because without pictorial evidence I just wouldn't have believed it.  Thank God also that the person with the camera was civic minded enough to share the evidence with the planet.  Where would we be without these selfless photographers?

Next thing they'll be showing videos of fat people eating.  Shudder!  Stomach churning!

Thank you Frank for highlighting this vital item.

I am forever in your debt.


The Reverse Second Hand Effect

Those researchers really are amazing.

They never cease to astound me in their quest for knowledge and the new discoveries they keep revealing.

Take for example the Second Hand phenomenon.

First they invented Second Hand smoke.  It had been around for centuries not harming anyone when suddenly they discovered it was lethal and was causing heart attacks and cancer after only a few seconds exposure.  To turn something harmless into something so deadly was quite an achievement and I really have to hand it to them.

They went on of course to prove that there was second hand alcohol and their astounding discovery of Second Hand Obesity.  The latter is of course the scientific fact that if you hang around with your astonishingly obese friend that you'll become astonishingly obese yourself.  Now I find that hard to swallow [if you’ll pardon the expression] but if the researchers say it is fact, then it has to be true.

But now they have discovered the Reverse Second Hand Effect.  Yes – obese people who dally with non-obese become non-obese themselves.

Now, if I hang around with my morbidly obese friend he is the one who loses the weight because my weight is normal.  It's a sort of Second Hand Normality, or even Second Hand Anorexia.  But the problem is that I have been hanging around with him and therefore I have become obese through the original Second Hand Effect.  So now he's thin and I'm fat.  And now the cycle goes into reverse and he starts putting on weight [catching my obesity] and I start to lose it [catching his normality].  So over the months our weights gently undulate from one extreme to the other.

Presumably this phenomenon will spread to other fields as well [but they haven’t invented it just yet].  They will discover that alcoholics who hang around with teetotalers will become teetotalers themselves.  But in the meantime the teetotalers will have become alcoholics.

And what about smoking?  Will they discover that mixing smokers with non-smokers will cause smokers to quit through the Reverse Second Hand Effect?  Will smokers be forced against their will to smoke in pubs and workplaces so that they catch the non-smoking effect?  Or would all the non-smokers become smokers and the gentle swaying from one state to the other start there too?

Where will this all end?  What else is catching?  I'm becoming quite concerned.

I'm steering well clear of red-heads though.

You can't be too careful these days.

Vending the rules

My great friend Luke Clancy is at it again.

He and his buddy pals in gubmint and Tobacco Control have come up with a whizz on an idea – let's ban cigarette vending machines!

Isn't that a blast?

You see apparently cheeeldren are frequenting our pubs and nightclubs and these insidious machines are positively screaming at them to take up smoking.  “Vending machines by their very presence help to advertise and promote tobacco products.” Good God Almighty!  I suppose the same can be said for condom vending machines?  They are promoting promiscuous sex by their very presence? You'll find them in pubs and nightclubs too?

There is a bit of a problem though.  Since the display ban came in, most shops now have vending machines to dispense the fags.  You ask for a pack, the bloke presses the appropriate brand button and out pops the pack, presumably to see daylight for the first time.  Are they going to ban those too?  If so, then the shopkeepers will have to resort back to doors again, and when those doors are opened and the contents made visible, every child within a ten mile radius instantly becomes hooked.

I notice one thing about the proposal – there is no mention of health.  That's a serious omission on their part, or are they finally admitting that it is fuck all to do with health and is merely another step in their quest to "denormalise" smokers and banish tobacco?

Well, yes.  That's exactly what Clancy said – "It sounds anachronistic to have vending machines when we’re banning point of sale advertising, we’re introducing plain packaging, we’re putting price up and we’re trying to eliminate and de-normalise smoking".

Just another little salami-slice on the way to their puritanical goal.



Relative Risk

There was a bit of a flurry on the Interwebs a couple of days ago.

For example,

Streets where smoking is to be banned

Now this got me thinking.  Are Christopher and Dick maybe being a little precious about smokers?  Is the ban warranted?  Could the hospital be right?

So I got out my vast array of highly technical doo-dads and set to work working out the risks.

Basically there are two main forms of pollution in the area – exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke.  Exhaust fumes are, as we well know, toxic and carcinogenic, but cigarette fumes are lethal to the point of instant annihilation of anyone within sight, and also they make your clothes smell.

I decided to plot the relative levels of these threats in the same area.  I have marked exhaust fumes in yellow, and cigarette fumes in red.

Relative risk

Now the red areas are  little difficult to spot [there is a wee cluster at the main entrance for some reason] but don't be fooled.  These red areas have the potential to reduce everything to rubble in a ten mile radius, whereas the millions of litres of highly concentrated exhaust fumes will harmlessly disperse into the atmosphere, as we all know.  Also we must take into account that even though vehicles are belching vast clouds of fumes, they are traveling quickly [at least five miles an hour in the rush hour?] so they are soon out of the area, whereas those damned smokers are all but stationary and therefore multiplying the effect of their toxic cloud by a factor of at least two.

I don't often disagree with Christopher Snowdon and I rarely disagree with Dick Puddlecote, but on this occasion I think they're wrong.

Those two streets MUST be closed.

We must think of the chiiildren?

Thinking inside the box

I know at this stage this is an old story, but a good one always bears repeating.

Some of you may have missed the story last week and for those, here it is –

Stub you: How a tobacco giant is bypassing packaging rules.

Now I have this image running through my head.  Let's go back a few years to a conference room somewhere.  There are a few miserable grey people sitting around a table.

"Hey lads! I have just had a great idea!"

Heads turn with some scowling, as positive thoughts aren't encouraged normally.

"Let's force Big Tobacco to use exactly the same size box for all their brands!"

"Hmmmm, yes.  That would stop all those fancy boxes and packets they produce!"

"Maybe we could force them to make all the packets look exactly the same with nothing to differentiate between brands?"

Heads are nodding and some are actually cracking a smile for the first time in years.

"We could make them all the same colour too?  Fred – go out and do a survey to find the ugliest colour in the world, and don't forget to bill the government".

Fred departs looking so happy that no one recognises him any more.

"Let's cover the packets with horrible warnings of death and destruction!"

The suggestions are coming thick and fast now.

"Let's cover the packs with gruesome pictures.  It doesn't matter what they're of so long as they look disgusting."

"This is brilliant, lads!  Smokers will be so disgusted that they won't dare buy a pack.  They'll be ashamed to show themselves in public with such ugly boxes.  Genius!  A master stroke!"

Present day.

Same conference room.

"Why so glum, Jack?"

"Have you not heard the latest?"

"No.  What?"

"Those fuckers in Big Tobacco have come up with a new idea – a pack within a pack."

"They can't do that!  Smokers must be forced to read silly messages and look at gruesome images.  They're breaking the law!"

"No.  I checked.  There is nothing in the law to stop them.  Smokers will buy their cigarettes and then just chuck all our hard work in the bin while they go off with their nice shiny packs that were inside."

A air of gloom descends once more.  Some are actually relieved that they don't have to smile any more.

"There is only one thing we can do now."


"More research, lads. More research.  I'll write to the government for more cash."