Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dick Out And About: Letter From America

About a month ago I was politely emailed by an author of a US vape vendor blog asking if I'd be willing to do a short Q&A.

It's not the kind of thing I normally do but the questions showed good knowledge of this place, were quite interesting, and the vendor is based in Anaheim California which seems to me to be a pretty disastrously unlucky accident of location. So I took some time out to clunk the keys and produce a few responses.

I expected them to adapt it into an article but, no, they published the lot unedited. So if you want to read what happens when I'm asked for my opinion - during a post-New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc relaxed buzz - on tobacco and vaping regulation in the UK; current and future trends; vaping myths; pleasure, etiquette and the EU, then do click here and have a look.

In case you're wondering, I didn't get any offer of freebies or anything (I so envy those beer bloggers!) but I bloody love this graphic they used on publishing the piece so it has been duly pinched as payment.




Sunday, 21 August 2016

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In Ireland

Once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented, you are putting your own rights in jeopardy - quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody's rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can't tell the water where to go. - Thomas Sowell, 2010
Yes I know Sunday night is bath night, but you might find an article published today in the Irish Independent equally soothing. You see, I've read opinion pieces before which I've thought make good points, but I can't recall a time where I've agreed with absolutely every word!
Will we always be shackled by the killjoys, the bullies and the eternal-life fantasists of the health lobby? 
In the last few years, they have managed to effectively criminalise smoking in all but the most narrowly defined places. 
The damage done to pubs was immense - and whether our overlords want to admit it or not, pubs still provide the life blood of Irish society. We've also seen increased onslaughts on drinkers in a drive which seems to be partly motivated by smug, messianic zeal and partly just because they can.
It's a great introduction isn't it? O'Doherty has hit the nail on the head. As I have written many many times before, we are not living through some ground-breaking era of health enlightenment - for the simple reason that intrusive and dictatorial nanny state policies of the past decade have had very little to do with health - but instead a second wind of Victorian prudish snobbery driven by the selfish financial needs of anti-social, state-funded trolls, as O'Doherty touches upon.
Let me state that this is not about smoking. It was never about smoking. Since the smoking ban all those years ago, both sides of the debate have made the mistake of assuming it was only about cigarettes. 
In fact, it has always been about so much more than that. 
Smoking was just the Trojan horse the bullies could use to get inside the citadel and start dictating the terms of everything else to everyone else.
This is so true! Once you have managed - after 40 years of lies - to convince a gullible public that a whiff of tobacco smoke is instantly lethal, then it's open season on just about everything else.

Obesity is the new smoking? Course it is. Sugar is a toxin which must be almost eradicated? Well those experts were right about homeopathic smoke weren't they, so they must be right about that too. And with a public shorn of people to legitimately despise now political correctness has decimated the field, smokers who have been portrayed as filthy, and who 'stink' - along with fatties and those chav fizzy drink-chugging kids you see in the less salubrious parts of town - are perfect outlets for the repellent in society to publicly vent their bile at ... with the seal of government approval, no less!
If we had managed to stop them at the gates, and had successfully fought the ban then, we'd be living in a more hassle-free environment now. 
That wouldn't be because people were allowed to have a fag with their pint. No, we would live in a less stressful environment because the professional health lobby, which has to come up with new moral panics to justify its tax funding, wouldn't have been so emboldened.
Quite so. Would e-cigs be banned in the open air if it wasn't for the smoking ban? Of course not, no-one would care and the public would be laughing at any nanny state tax sponger who tried to pretend that vapour was somehow a threat. But the insatiable drive for more eye-catching - and increasingly absurd - policy objectives in order to keep 'public health' charlatans on the grant gravy train has led us to place where the public actually believes Lucozade is killing kids rather than mildly 'aiding recovery'.
We now seem to live in a climate where simply disapproving of something is enough to want to ban it. Cigarettes, alcohol, the 'wrong' food. The proposed sugar tax.
Indeed. Prior to smoking bans there was little talk about how McDonald's Happy Meals were evil and how Coca-Cola sponsoring the Olympics was shocking. No-one cared that James Bond drank alcohol, politicians didn't compete as to who despised chocolate oranges the most, and we sure as shit didn't think anything wrong with Tony the Tiger on Frosties packs and a cereal being called Sugar Puffs (now renamed thanks to health Nazi-created hysteria).

The smoking ban was rammed through with the support of people who simply didn't care for the smell of smoke. It was sold on the basis that thousands of barmaids were being saved from a horrible death but do you really think anyone who loves the ban gives a toss about the staff? Well there may have been a tiny few but considering the most prevalent reason for liking it was that clothes and hair didn't need to be washed anymore, I'd say not.

It instead cultivated a society of the intolerant and self-absorbed being celebrated and encouraged by professional prohibitionists and single issue hobby horse floggers.

As O'Doherty brilliantly observes.
The common thread running through all of them is this astonishing arrogance which leads them to believe that they know more about your life than you do and are more qualified to make your choices than you are. 
It's an astounding degree of hubris, but when you think you're better than everyone else, it's not such a giant leap. 
We are surrounded and assailed on all sides by people who think they know more than you do. 
Very much so. Who remembers the image of health - Diane Abbott - sneering about the choices of working people back in 2014?
We're surrounded by busybodies who used to be known as cranks, but who are now called health experts.
And this is the crux of it. Government listens to the cranks now instead of sending them on their way with a patronising pat on the head. Hence why we have a quite absurd political situation so brilliantly described by Brendan O'Neill in 2013.
To appreciate just how bizarre it is to have a well-known politician kick off a new year by declaring war on fried chicken, try to imagine if a minister or shadow minister did something like this a few decades ago. Cast your minds back before New Labour; before the emergence of what Labour MP Frank Field christened "the politics of behaviour"; before all the major parties made nannying and nudging the centrepieces of their political programmes; back to a time when politics was a more serious business concerned with class, power, wealth – imagine if, back then, a minister announced that she (or more likely, he) would wage war against chippies, or pie shops perhaps, in the name of helping the masses see the error of their gluttonous ways. People would be bamboozled. They'd think the minister was mad. They'd certainly ask why he or she was banging on about chips when such serious problems as poverty, homelessness and inequality were rife. It is testament to the extraordinary shrinking of the political imagination, to the shift from a politics concerned with changing the world to a politics obsessed with changing the habits and waistlines of the people who live in that world, that Ms Abbott's anti-chicken rant could be nodded through without so much as a "Whaaat?"
Do go read O'Doherty's dose of Sunday night common sense in its glorious fullness here, and remember that there is nothing new in this world. J S Mill warned of the dangers in allowing hideous lifestyle fascists to take the reins of power 150 years ago in On Liberty.
All errors which [a citizen] is likely to commit against advice and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem his good
So bravo to O'Doherty for publicly adding his voice to the growing disdain for smug, out-of-touch elitism and commenting on the anti-social nature of faux health 'experts' who are more interested in their own power and bank accounts than our well-being.

There are only a vanishing few of them in their fake health charity and tax-draining echo chamber, but many millions of us who are not odious, bottom-feeding, curtain-twitching shitsacks who like to pompously look down their nose on the choices of others.

The more commentators who wake up to the threat of nanny state extremism to society, the more politicians will start to realise that their bread might be better buttered allowing the public to make their own choices for fear of getting kicked in the nuts at the ballot box for being out of touch ... again.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

ASH Scotland Update: E-Cigs Still Banned Outdoors

In June last year I wrote about a daft and unnecessary outdoor ban on smoking and vaping at Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in London which was endorsed by ASH on Twitter.


As I commented at the time ...
Yes, that's the 'vaper's friend', ASH, gleefully telling the world about how vapers are to be told to get orff the land they have paid taxes to build, maintain and run, by people whose salaries they fund. Along with the smokers who have already been deemed sub-human by repulsive ASH-driven policies. 
Still, I'm sure the 'vaper's friend' will be behind the scenes working hard to get this ban lifted. Won't they? Well actually, no.
Even though I say so myself, it appears that was rather prescient of me. You see, ASH Scotland gave us something of an update to the story in their daily bulletin yesterday.


Not only has that ignorant and contrived totalitarian ban not been lifted (for reasons we are well aware of), but as from September it will be extended to a nearby university too.
King's College London will ban smoking on its Guy's Campus at London Bridge from Monday 5 September, bringing the college into line with neighbouring Guy's Hospital. 
E-cigarettes will be permitted outdoors on land owned by King's College London but will continue to be banned on the hospital site.
So that's all right then, eh?

Only last month, Public Health England's guidance on e-cig use in public places advised that vaping "should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy", and the Royal College of Physicians urged that e-cig use be encouraged.

It appears that Guy's and St Thomas' are ignoring that advice completely despite the {cough} vociferous lobbying from the vaper's friends at ASH (their policy hasn't changed since June, I checked), while King's College has taken it to mean that e-cigs should still absolutely be banned, just not in as many places.

Remember when they used to pretend it was all about the harm of secondhand smoke to bystanders?

I could have sworn that I read somewhere that ASH & ASH Scotland were "supportive" of e-cigs. Presumably that means 'support' as in the support a noose gives to a dying person's neck.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Snobs, Fanatics, Extremists and Trolls

There is a very good reason that I have utter contempt for health nazis, as I have described a few times before
To the vast majority of us MacGregor is a crank who makes shit up about his personal irrational prejudice about a pretty minor problem because he's a revolting, froth-mouthed cocksnorter of biblical proportion, but when heard by fellow gut-wrenchingly repellent snobs, it's an invitation to be the most vile they can be.
The MacGregor referred to is a certifiable lunatic who used to run Campaign for Action on Salt and now runs Action on Sugar. His campaigns rely on the bigotry of the most odious in society and are based on nothing more than snobbery, as I described when I wrote that piece about Osborne's announcement of a sugar tax.
Osborne didn't usher in any new success for 'public health' yesterday - for the simple fact that a sugar tax has never worked and, as admitted by those who favour it, never will - but he certainly delivered multiple orgasms to the most deranged and repugnant in our country; the type you would hide behind the sofa to pretend you were out if you saw them park outside your house. If pandering to the vile and intolerant was the purpose, the upper class boy Osborne did exceptionally! He enthralled his fellow pompous and snooty middle class minions and stuck it to the less well off good, so he did.
This latent food snobbery was evident in April too when the awesome Tom Harris ripped into Labour for banning McDonald's from its party conference. 
Snobbery towards McDonald’s is nothing new on the British Left. You only have to mention their name on Twitter to provoke a deluge of self-righteous comments from people living in London who wouldn’t dream of letting little Marcus or Louisa sink their perfectly aligned incisors into a Big Mac or a McChicken Sandwich.
Yes, because snobbery is the only driver behind the disgust for McDonald's. Their menu is far healthier than most of the artisanal local restaurants favoured by the elite and the connected. It's just that those unwashed chavs like to eat in it, innit.

But just as sinister nosy curtain-twitchers will always try to pretend that their compulsion to insert themselves into the lives of others is somehow altruistic, the nauseating 'public health' lobby will always try to pretend that their teen ideology-driven hatred of popular businesses like McDonald's is based purely on health ... which is bollocks, quite frankly, as Harris highlighted.
Lastly, there’s the handy, media-friendly excuse for stopping McDonald’s having access to delegates when they meet in September under Labour’s banner in Liverpool: health. That a Big Tasty with bacon and an extra large side of fries followed by a Cadbury’s Caramel McFlurry is not classed as health food will be as big a shock to diners as the revelation that the Pope does not practice the Protestant faith.  
But to defend the existence of McDonald’s in our local High Street is to invite accusations of being an enabler of childhood obesity. It’s not up to poor, ignorant parents to tell their kids “No” when they ask for a Happy Meal; rather, it is up to McDonald’s themselves to offer only non-fried, non-meat-based, non-tasty food, probably in a safe space…
In case you weren't convinced, this (now deleted) tweet from Action on Sugar today might make you think on it.



Incredible, huh? 

MacGregor's trouser-stuffing vehicle is actually trying to suggest that Olympic athletes need advice from his kind of finger-wagger about their diets; that a marathon runner - for example - should be eating salad. The idea that a pigeon-chested streak of piss like MacGregor should be tutting at Olympians on their diet when they can out-run, out-leap, and - with any luck - out-batter his celery-legged arse is quite hilarious. 

They, of course, became a laughing stock on Twitter for a while before trying to get rid of the evidence of their twisted fanaticism, but once it's out there you just know someone is going to grab it. It was a tweet driven solely by extreme fanaticism and a haunting unease at the sight of people enjoying a product which Action on Sugar, themselves, despise. 

It is clear and transparent snobbery, and nothing to do with health. But then, nothing they do has anything to do with health, it's more a campaign driven by smug disgust for the choices of others, staffed by fanatics and extremists, and designed to insert themselves uninvited into the lives of others.

This is the very definition of trolling; the deliberate interference into other people's lives for the sole purpose of causing maximum disruption to our calm enjoyment of life. It really is well beyond time that politicians thought about ignoring trolls like Action on Sugar and their pretend 'public health' ilk, don't you think? 



Monday, 15 August 2016

Craving An Indian Feast

I'm sure many of you, like me, will be eagerly looking forward to the next instalment of the moveable comedy feast that is the WHO's 'Conference of the Parties' (COP).

You may remember we had a hell of a lot of fun two years ago when COP6 was held in Moscow. Well, this year's barking bansturbator beano is taking place in New Delhi in November and is already shaping up to be even more laughable than the last!

As Snowdon noted the other day, HuffPo has offered us an hors d'oeuvre by reporting on how the FCTC's endemic neuroticism is creating hilarious outcomes that even we, who realise how absolutely crackers they are, couldn't possibly have expected.
In a document obtained from the FCTC, the organizers ask for support to “ensure the exclusion of representatives and officials from...fully or partially state-owned tobacco industries, including state tobacco monopolies.” Specifically, the FCTC hopes to ban certain “appointed and elected officials from executive, legislative and judicial branches” from the meeting. 
This effort to exclude delegates with associations with tobacco production is so broad that it will almost certainly prohibit finance ministers, economic development secretaries, public health officials, and even presidents and prime ministers representing countries that operate state-owned tobacco growing or manufacturing operations, or engage in marketing and trade efforts. 
As a result, countries including China, Cuba, Egypt, Bulgaria, Thailand and even India, the convention’s host country, may have a hard time having delegates approved to attend the event and vote on issues that impact their citizens.
Yes. If the tobacco control moon-howlers running COP7 were rigorous and consistent, they really would have to exclude the host nation India. But, of course, there is no such thing as a consistent and objective tobacco controller so we know this won't happen, they'll just shift the goal posts as they usually do.

Because, you see, in advance of the world's most astounding lunatics arriving in a few months, the Indian government is doing its very best to impress them with some stunning fuckwittery of its own.
Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (E-Cigarettes) have been seized in Hoshiarpur, Mohali, Ludhiana, Sangrur & Jalandhar court case have been launched. The first conviction of the world in case of E cigarette was ordered by SAS Nagar, District and Session Court, amounting to one lakh Rs Fine and three years' imprisonment.
Yep, in a world class display of totalitarian brainlessness, the Indian state is actually boasting about how they were the first on the planet to jail someone for quitting smoking.
A DO was issued by Principal Secretary, Health to Secretary to Government Of India, Ministry Of Health and Family Welfare regarding guidelines for initiating action against manufacturing and sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) popularly called E-Cigarettes.
Naturally! With pharma-funded WHO due in town, competition for pharma-manufactured NRT products must be eradicated at all costs.
In first of a kind initiative anywhere in India, a special 3 day campaign 16th to 18th March 2015 was conducted in all districts of Punjab to act against abuse of Tobacco and Nicotine and to detect any ... illegal sale of E-Cigarettes.
Boy they're keen to impress the vape-hating WHO aren't they? Haven't they read the scientific claims as to efficacy and risk-reduced potential of e-cigs from fellow 'public health' organisations like the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England?

Perhaps. But evidence? When you're a 'public health' official in India you don't need no steenking evidence ... you just make it up.
“We have banned e-cigarettes today,” then-health minister UT Khader told the Times of India. “The decision has been taken on the recommendation of the committee on cancer prevention.” He went on to explain to the paper that a study had been conducted that showed large numbers of children becoming addicted.  
A vaper took it upon himself to file a Right to Information request (similar to an American or British Freedom of Information request) with the government, asking for information on the study quoted by Khader. According to a story by reporter Rakesh Prakashi this week in the Times, the response was negative. There had been no study done. 
Members of the city’s vaping community (e-cigarette users) mostly young techies, have taken the Right to Information (RTI) route to debunk the government’s claim that the ban was based on scientific studies. The RTI reply they received from the Tobacco Control Division of the Union ministry of health and family welfare categorically says “no study research analysis is available” on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.
Now, I often write about the incredibly shonky junk science that the tobacco control industry routinely pumps out, but at least they actually do write some junk science. In India they just pretend they did.

I've mentioned it many times before but, y'see, this is why I love e-cigs. They are like a heat-seeking missile in zeroing in on the corruption and evidence-free deceit the vile, snobby nanny statists in the tobacco control industry has traded on for decades. They also prove conclusively that nothing the 'public health' community has ever done in relation to tobacco has ever had anything to do with health.

If the FCTC (and our own orgs like ASH who collaborate and support their idiocy) were decent human beings, they would denounce India jailing vapers for no reason whatsoever and condemn the country banning e-cigs without any evidence that proves they are dangerous. But they're not decent human beings so New Delhi as a venue in November makes perfect sense.

I mean, considering that the anti-smoking bandwagon of tax thieves didn't shy away from being hosted by a mad dictator in April; and that the FCTC's biennial comedy week is happy to pay the North Korean government to attend its junkets; loves those nice guys in Zimbabwe; and didn't even think twice about throwing cash at Moscow in 2014 despite the persecution of gays and planes being bombed out of the sky with 298 people on board, they're not going to think twice about a few ex-smokers rotting in Indian prisons, now are they?

The WHO and repulsive basket nations seem like a match made in heaven so, judging by India's recent bizarre fruitcakery, their being installed as the venue for the FCTC's showcase event in November is obviously an inspired decision. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the shenanigans in India as early indications promise that it may be a feast of fun to even exceed Moscow for side-splitting stupidity.

Dependent on smooth running of the new Puddlecote Inc contract, I still haven't ruled out using some of the new income to finance popping over there and witnessing the hilarious paranoia first hand in New Delhi. If I do, I get the message that I should probably leave my 'illegal' e-cig and liquid at home and just buy state-endorsed lit tobacco instead.

Bravo FCTC, bravo!


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Pretend Harm Reductionists

Having been busy, I only yesterday read an excellent article published by Carl Phillips on Friday. This section in particular is very well drawn on the subject of harm reduction (emphases mine).
But notice that the IHRA/HRI definition — and that of anyone else who really believes in harm reduction — refers to also reducing the “economic” (read: financial) and social costs of drug use. In the case of tobacco use, as with many drugs, the great majority of the financial and social costs come not from the drug use itself, but from government actions. Smoking is expensive because of taxes and restrictions on the free flow of goods. More social harms from smoking are caused by government restrictions than by the act itself. Unlike with illicit drugs, few people are imprisoned or executed over tobacco (though not none), but unavoidable punitive taxes are not necessarily less harmful than rolling the dice on a small chance of getting arrested. 
And yet, many people who fancy themselves supporters of tobacco harm reduction actively support most of those caused harms. They actively support punitive taxes on cigarettes, social opprobrium heaped on smokers, prohibitions against publicans being able to offer smoking sections, etc. Indeed, those individuals often celebrate or advocate for the caused harms because they create further incentives for the only aspect of harm reduction they actually support, switching products. It reminds me of the Orwellian themes of about half the anti-smoking propaganda I see these days: “Quit because it is so expensive and forces you to take breaks from hanging with your friends!” Um, yeah, and whose fault is that? It is the same as those messages of “if you smoke weed, you might lose your student financial aid and future employment prospects, so don’t go saying it is not bad for you!” Needless to say, you will never hear a peep of condemnation of this hypocritical “concern” for users’ well-being from the faux supporters of harm reduction. 
The bottom line is simple: Anyone who supports punishing smokers does not actually believe in tobacco harm reduction. None of those “but for the greater good we need to…” protests changes this. Causing harm is not harm reduction.
Indeed.

This is what happens when you have a colossal state-funded machine which views life solely through the lens of health. Other pleasures and benefits in consuming the products in question are completely ignored, therefore the prohibitionists simply cannot comprehend the huge social and financial damage their rancid policies are causing ... as I have mentioned before occasionally.


... along with others.


But I'd go further than that. You see, tobacco controllers are also often very happy to land body blows on even the one part of harm reduction - switching to low risk products - that they claim to support, as long as it means increasing the harm they wish to inflict on smokers. Pointlessly bullying smokers is considered far more important than supporting products which deliver reduced harm.


The full tobacco control fake charity set is complete when you remember that ASH Wales also "fully welcome" bans on vaping in outdoor, windswept settings for the purposes of denormalisation. No, these are not my words, they are theirs.

And, as far as we know, ASH Wales's logo still proudly and shamelessly sits on a "No Vaping" sign on a beach in Pembrokeshire.


Nothing is too extreme for these people. They will happily throw vaping to the wolves as long as their drive to impose harm on smokers by any means necessary is protected.

No-one, but no-one, in any of the three UK ASH branches can ever claim they are supportive of harm reduction while these vile priorities still prevail. They should be reviled every time they try to pretend that harm reduction is in their future plans. They may believe they are supportive, but - as Phillips rightly says - they betray themselves and reveal the truth every time they stigmatise and inflict harm on smokers with financial punishment, prohibitions and ostracism.

Other tobacco controllers are even worse! Not only are they happy to turn a blind eye to the junk science which is behind the harm visited on smokers, but certain Scottish/Canadian tobacco controllers, for example, also want to extend that harm onto the lives of those who enjoy a drink and those who choose to eat food they disapprove of. And they are far from alone!

As Phillips explains very well, none of these people can ever claim to even understand the concept of harm reduction, let alone say they are supportive of it or are advocates. All the while their only approach is to punish the public for making free choices which 'public health' believe to be wrong they are anything but.

Puritans, yes; prodnoses, yes; prohibitionists, yes; hypocrites, yes; ghastly bullies, yes; repulsive anti-social arseholes, yes; but supportive of harm reduction? Absolutely fucking not!


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Back To The Future With CAMRA

As you can gather from the lack of posts here in the past week, it is still incredibly busy at Puddlecote Inc as our contract mobilisation date looms ever closer. 

Cash flow has become a bit less, erm, fluent recently due to the massive level of investment we have had to undertake. We currently have new vehicles all over the place and are ploughing through the training of the extra staff we have had to recruit. Rewards are high all round but it's squeaky bum time so if things are quiet here in coming weeks that'll be why.

I did manage to catch up with some news this afternoon over my lunchtime sarnie, Twix and Lucozade though, and this article leapt out at me somewhat.
The Government is being urged to hold a new consultation on alcohol consumption, after a study showed that most people believe that drinking in moderation is part of a healthy lifestyle. 
A survey of more than 2,000 adults revealed that over half disagreed with official health guidelines, and that they should be the same for men and women. 
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said its research showed that the Health Department should launch a public consultation on whether guidelines on drinking were "fit for purpose".
They are, of course, not fit for purpose at all. It's quite clear that the Chief Medical Officer was operating from a position of complete ignorance when declaring that "there is no safe level" of alcohol consumption back in January.

The science doesn't support this unless you ignore a whole host of studies which report a protective effect ... which Silly Sally's review did.

Today's article continued ...
A Department of Health spokesman said: "The alcohol guidelines give people the latest and most up to date scientific information so that they can make an informed decision about their drinking. This was the most comprehensive look at all the evidence on alcohol in 20 years (apart from the omissions, natch - DP)
"The review team looked at all the studies on the protective effects of alcohol, but concluded that the protective effect was overestimated for most people."
All of which suggests that the public surveyed by CAMRA are far more educated on the matter than the government. Isn't that truly scary?

Anyhow, many of you may remember another time when the "no safe level" rationale was used; in order to promote the idea of a smoking ban, and CAMRA were right behind that initiative at the time. It brings to mind an article I wrote on just this subject back in 2011, which was published in a monthly newsletter aimed at members of .... CAMRA.
THERE IS A curious – and ill-judged – tendency amongst many beer lovers to consider their chosen vice as somehow resistant to the attentions of the health lobby as opposed to tobacco. Even CAMRA have fallen for it. In 2004, they weakly attempted to defend pubs from the harmful effects of the smoking ban by playing right into tobacco control hands and suggesting that a diversity of outlets offering choice for all would “split the pub trade”. In the end, they got their wish as all pubs were given no choice. Now, you can argue, if you like, that this has had no damaging effect on the hospitality trade (I’d heartily disagree) but it has certainly contributed to a big problem for pubs, and beer lovers, which is only now beginning to come home to roost. 
In a rousing 1919 speech following the ratification of Prohibition in the US, “anti-saloon” campaigner Billy Sunday declared “Prohibition is won, now for tobacco!”. Because all the while campaigners for the prohibition of alcohol were tied up with that issue, their assault on smoking was left on the back burner. Once the war against alcohol was completed, resources were freed up to attack tobacco, employing the same personnel and moral pleading which was so successful against booze.  
Nothing has changed from those days. Just as righteous crusaders tackled both substances around a century ago, so do their modern day equivalents act the same now. ASH have taken to coaching anti-alcohol campaigners on how to achieve the same demonisation of alcohol as has happened with tobacco, and the methodology is lifted from the successful anti-smoking playbook. Professor David Nutt was the first to suggest that “there is no such thing as a safe level of alcohol consumption”, a position which is increasingly becoming the default one. The Cancer Council of Australia certainly thinks that way, a couple of months ago advocating that total abstinence should be the only public health policy. In a chilling reminder of post-prohibition triumphalism in the US, the Australian press reported the campaign as “Cigs war won: now cancer campaigners set their sights on beer”. 
CAMRA keeps ploughing this furrow, as in August last year where they tried to claim some form of high ground by declaring that “beer can supplement a healthy lifestyle if consumed in a responsible manner”, but this approach is doomed if they think that playing in public health’s self-constructed playground is going to do anything but invite ridicule. ‘No safe level’ leaves no wriggle room whatsoever, and the protestation that beer is somehow not that bad will be thrown back at them by the health lobby as an admission of guilt. Which it is. 
No. The best form of defence, as always, is attack. And instead of back-sliding when the smoking in pubs debate was taking place, CAMRA would have been better served standing firm and resisting all legislation on tobacco. While that buffer was still in place, CAMRA were insulated against the worst excesses of an insatiable health lobby. Without it, resources are being withdrawn from tobacco in favour of new targets, and those who enjoy a pint or two are now squarely in the crosshair. 
So as CAMRA now wrestle with being next tick box on the denormalisation campaign, never let it be said that they weren't warned, eh?