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England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

UK Update…

FOREST at 35: cocktails, canapes, live music and heated smoking terrace
On Tuesday 4th November, 2014 we’re organising a party to mark Forest’s 35th anniversary.
We’re also launching a new campaign, Action on Consumer Choice.
Venue is Boisdale of Belgravia, 15 Eccleston Street, London SW1W 9LX, a short walk from Victoria Station and one of our favourite venues.
Beginning at 6.30pm the evening includes cocktails, canapes, speeches and LIVE music featuring the infectious R&B; of Hidden Charms.
All this plus a heated smoking terrace. And it’s absolutely FREE!
If you haven’t yet registered and would like to join us for this special event, RSVP or call 01223 370156.
Friends/colleagues welcome.

Photos from the Forest party.


From the ridiculous to the sublime (in that order)
My very good friend Dick Puddlecote was kind enough to invite me to Forest’s 35 year anniversary bash at Boisdale of Belgravia last night, and I’m very pleased that he did.
On the same evening and just before the Forest event started there was a “discussion event” at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine chaired by Martin McKee and Richard Horton, and entitled “Can the war on tobacco be won?”. Well, it was only three stops on the tube from where we were going anyway, so it would have been rude not to attend, right?
Read more?

BMA vs Forest on cracking down on smoking
June 29, 2014
Recorded from BBC1 HD, Sunday Politics
Prof. Vivienne Nathanson from the British Medical Association versus Simon Clark from Forest. About the proposed after year 2000 smoking ban

Curing the working classes of their sins is now official Labour policy
5 MAY 2014
by Simon Cooke
It has been a very long time since the Labour Party I see across the chamber in Bradford had a working class majority. Gradually – to the point of exclusion now – the Party has become home to an assorted collection of mostly middle class worrywarts. Most of these are public sector employees of one sort or another, certainly the links to private enterprise, small business and entrepreneurship are vanishingly small (although it’s interesting to note that a third or more of Bradford’s Labour Councillors are private landlords).
This takeover of the Labour Party by people whose day jobs are to patronise the working classes means that the policy agenda throws up stuff like this:
Ed Miliband plans to impose tough restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcohol, junk food and tobacco if he wins power, it was claimed.
The Labour leader’s plan would end the ?300million sports sponsorship by drinks firms and impose minimum alcohol pricing to try cut down on the damaging effects of heavy drinking on people’s health.
The blueprint, revealed in documents leaked to the Mail on Sunday, also proposes new laws to limit the amount of sugar, fat and salt in food aimed at children, and a ban on advertising unhealthy products on TV before the 9pm watershed.
This is the authentic voice of the nannying fussbucket, a sort of health fascism that sees the lifestyle choices of the working classes as sins. People are not to be allowed choice about products that their masters deem to be unhealthy or socially problematic. The four great vices of the working man – drinking, smoking, fast women and slow horses – are to be discouraged, banned, limited and controlled for the good of those men.
This is the logic of Titus Salt – alcohol, gambling and such were denied to his workforce (all wreathed in a fog of non-conformist Christianity) while Titus could serve fine wines at dinner and attend the races without fear of retribution. This is the damnation of the pauper revisited, a return to those 19th Century campaigns for assorted prohibitions and behavioural controls.
The Labour Party was created to promote an economic message, a message of liberation and freedom for the working classes. It’s true the party always had a ‘know-everything’ tendency best typified by the racist, anti-Semitic, eugenicist Fabian Movement of the Webbs, G B Shaw and H G Wells. But this was swamped by more practical men and women from real working class backgrounds who saw improving the lot of workers as the essential mission of the party.
All this has gone now but for little angry echoes. Today the Labour Party is the party of the middle class public sector worker, its ranks filled with social workers, teachers, community workers and so forth – plus a smattering of social science and arts academics. And its policies reflect the prejudices of these people and their unwavering belief in Douglas Jay’s dictum that the man in Whitehall (or the town hall or the ivory towers of ex-polytechnic academe) really does know best what is good for the working classes.
So in an age of austerity Labour want to control the little pleasures of the ordinary men and women it claims to care about. Labour want to make those little pleasures more expensive, harder to obtain or, in some cases, impossible to get at all (unless you’re on the sort of wage that MPs or top social workers can command). All because these self-appointed experts with their pseudo-science believe they can cure the working classes of their sins.

4 May 2014
It is reported today that Britain’s Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has a new policy document out which aims to improve the health of the nation, the measures include:
• Minimum priced alcohol aimed at “preloading” (pre-gaming) teenagers before going out;
• A ban on alcohol companies sponsoring sport;
• A watershed of post 9pm for advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt aimed at children and the quantities allowed in foodstuffs;
• Smoking ban in cars;
• Encouraging half of the population to take regular exercise within ten years;
• A ban on supermarkets selling “impulse” products such as drinks and sweets near the checkouts;
• Today’s children to be the first to be smoke free;
• Financing skateboard parks BMX tracks and other sports courts.
Read More.

UKIP Election Gives Britons a Taste of Freedom… Will They Want More?
4 May 2014
by James Delingpole
The first thing you need to know about the European Parliament is that almost everything its 766 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) do is a waste of time. This is not satire. It’s a basic, objective fact.
Read More.

E-cig ban would be ‘nail in coffin’ for Uttoxeter’s pubs
April 4, 2014
A LANDLORD has called for the government to uphold his punters’ ‘human rights’ amid fears electronic cigarettes could be banned in Uttoxeter’s pubs.
Ministers in Wales are currently debated whether to ban the devices from enclosed public spaces, with many political commentators claiming the move could be extended to the rest of the UK.
Supporters of the proposed ban have said they believe e-cigs ‘normalise’ smoking undermine the exisiting ban on traditional cigarettes.
But Andrew Riley, landlord of Ye Olde Talbot, said he fears any ban would represent ‘another nail in the coffin’ for the pub trade.
He said: “The smoking ban, which has had a devastating affect on pubs, has already taken away the human rights of my locals.
“I’m not a smoker but, if I had the option, I’d definitely allow people to smoke in the Talbot.
“Most people use e-cigarettes to cut down or quit altogether and we should be encouraging that.
“My partner used them and he managed to quit smoking when he was buying 60 cigarettes every day.
“They only give off vapour and it’s not nicotine that kills – it’s tar and other chemicals in cigarettes.
“More and more people are smoking e-cigs in the Talbot.
“When people have a pint, they like to socialise and, when they socialise, they like to have a smoke.”
The Advertiser reported earlier this year how many Uttoxeter work places were only allowing workers to smoke e-cigs in designated smoking areas.
And Mr Riley fears politicians’ ‘own personal ambitions’ could override ‘common sense’.
He said: “Politicians are looking to further their own agendas as it’s very fashionable to have a go at smokers at the minute.
“But it should be about health and supporting the pub trade, not outlawing a valuable tool to help people quit.
“We’re losing 28 pubs every day in the UK and I just wonder how many more we can lose.”
Entrepreneurs Ryan and Gemma Gallacher recently launched their e-cigarette business Got No Tar, in Bridge Street, Uttoxeter.
Mrs Gallacher said: “We had both been smoking for around 15 years and were amazed at how easy it was to quit using an electronic cigarette.”

Oi! Public Health! You had one job…
MAR 13 2014
Because whilst your leading lights, your trained epidemiologists, front line troops such as Martin (I can’t bring myself to call him Professor) McKee were off and away with the fairies of self obsessed fantasy battling the non-contagious e-cigarette epidemic, scarlet fever has gained a foothold in the hallowed first world turf of United Kingdomshire.

Government plans to curb smoking are not only wasteful but unworkable
I am quite a keen smoker who has always prized myself on being rather good at it

1 December 2013

This week has seen another attempt by the government to force cigarettes into plain packages. We’ve already had packets covered in pictures of diseased lungs and health warnings warning us that smoking might not be the healthiest thing in the world.

On this occasion the government has announced an independent review of cigarette packaging in England to discourage younger smokers. Already they have reneged on their promise of a minimum price for alcohol and are taking a beating from the “health campaigners” and assorted health fascists.

In my mind, plain packaging will open the flood gates for counterfeit cigarettes to submerge the market bringing with it three major problems. The first is that these cigarettes are probably much more toxic than their legal counterparts making them much more dangerous and unhealthy. In Australia a counterfeit brand called “Manchester” has seen its market share treble since plain packaging was introduced – and there has been no reduction in smoking prevalence overall.

Secondly, counterfeit cigarettes are one way in which terrorist groups including those involved in killing and maiming British troops earn money for their campaigns of terror. And thirdly, given the state of our public finances and our ever soaring public debt, it will mean less money for the Treasury which I would like to think they would spend wisely. Even Public Health Minister Jane Ellison has been forced to admit that plain packaging will make it easier for cheap, counterfeit products to flood the market.

But there’s a second strand to this anti-smoking legislation which makes me take a step back and question whether the politicians are really concerned about our health (something, incidentally, I think adults should be able to decide for themselves) or for their political positions.It is when the plans for anti-smoking campaigns sink to the levels of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive that I am once again reminded about how easy it is for politicians and political establishments to become cozy with big businesses.

This can be seen clearly with this latest piece of proposed legislation which will limit people’s access to e-cigarettes. Of course the EU won’t come straight out and say that it wants to “ban” e-cigarettes – merely turn them into pharmaceutical products. This means they will only be available in chemists, instead of over the counter where people go to if they will buy real cigarettes. We already know from government reports about impulse buying at counters. That’s why supermarkets are supposed to remove all chocolate and sweets from around the queuing area and replace them with carrots or Brussels sprouts and all manner of items children are never going to reach for, unless it’s to bash a sibling over the head with.

By designating e-cigarettes pharmaceutical products they are raising barriers to commercial entry by imposing the heavy approval costs required of medicines which means that only very large, rich companies can enter the marketplace.? I’ve no doubt that this is the wish of the pharmaceutical companies themselves who flood the Brussels and Strasbourg parliaments, Commission offices and local watering holes with lobbyists.

As I’m sure many people realise, I am quite a keen smoker. I’ve always prized myself on being rather good at it. But when a couple of old friends who have been smoking several packets a day for decades tell me that they haven’t touched a cigarette in a month because they’ve been using these new e-cigarette products it made even me want to try them out.

And I tell you what; they work much better than any of the stop-smoking products which have been on the market for years. Products made, of course, by these pharmaceutical companies who have such a vested interest in the Tobacco Products Directive and in making e-cigarettes harder to get hold of. With packets of nicotine gum costing ?14 a go, a heavy smoker can spend more on nicotine products than they ever did on actual cigarettes!

Nicotine itself is not a particularly harmful substance. The other substances which go into cigarettes are the harmful ones which cause health problems. Nicotine is addictive: that’s what smokers are after. That’s what they crave and chewing foul-tasting gum and standing outside in the cold won’t stop that.

The amount of money spent trying to stop people smoking is massive. And yet, when the market provides an alternative to tobacco the EU seems eager to legislate against it. They have no real understanding of business, of real people; only an overwhelming urge to interfere regardless of the consequences.

If government really cared about stopping us smoking – and personally I don’t see why it’s any of their business, what I as a tax-paying adult do with my own time and money – they would stop this Directive, they would ensure e-cigarettes could be accessed as a genuine way to help smokers kick the habit and they would admit that plain packaging will do nothing to help their cause, but stop the opposition from saying they ducked out of promises. Let the figures do the talking, not lobbyists and companies with vested interests in keeping us addicts.

With all the money which has been spent on stopping people from smoking: all the endless questionnaires you must fill in when trying to get an appointment to see your GP how about we try and open up this argument and instead of talking about it, tell your MPs and MEPs exactly what you think. There are so many arguments why the laws and reviews which are being passed go against the stated aims that we need to make them sit up and listen.

Paul lights up the airwaves
December 4, 2013
By Simon Clark
Love this interview on BBC Radio Somerset.
It was posted last week on YouTube and Facebook by Forest supporter Paul Toole.
I’ve written about Paul several times. In 2007, shortly after the smoking ban was introduced in England, he organised not one but three protest marches – in Wells, Glastonbury and Bristol.
I drove down to Wells in Somerset and invited him to address a Forest event at the Labour party conference in Bournemouth.
He gave a great speech and I’m delighted to hear he’s lost none of his passion for the subject!

Plain packaging for politicians – how else can we save our children?

By Brian Monteith — FOREST (UK)
November 13, 2013

– As politicians across the land continue to campaign and plan for the introduction of plain packaging, first of tobacco then of alcohol, The Free Society editor, Brian Monteith, suggests an alternative approach – the plain packaging of politicians.

The time is now. We cannot wait any longer. We must act immediately if we are to save the lives of countless children.

We must introduce plain packaging of politicians.

We know the odds are against us. They have all the resources of the state at their disposal. Their own payroll vote is massive.

The legions of the NHS are larger than the armed forces – while the massed ranks of faceless bureaucrats, tax collectors, inspectors and the ever-growing parasitical quangograts – cover every nook and cranny of the British Isles.

They even finance friendly, well-meaning charities to campaign – like Q-Ships – on their behalf.

So pernicious is their reach and so beguiling are their their disguises that there is no hiding place from politicians and their malevolent influence.

Then there’s the Judas’s and Quislings who populate the media – the commentators defending politicians’ well-intended but unnecessary interventions, egging them on with more rapacious regulations and supporting the web of laws that politicians spin.

While they punch-out their diatribes and politicians spout their inanities our children are threatened by the unrestrained behaviour of Big Politics – and we just sit back and do nothing.

Every year some 772,000 children become eligible to vote and in the last election 44% did so – that’s 340,000 kids who risk becoming addicted to the brands of Big Politics.

All through their lives they will be offeredbribes, incentives, free benefits for this and give-away promotions for that – some of it is lies and many of the promises will be broken, but for those that are kept we all will pay a heavy price later. Just one vote is enough. There is no safe level of voting.

As if that’s not bad enough many supporters of Big Politics advocate dropping the age limit to 16 – bringing more kids into their net at an earlier age. As more people give up their addiction to Big Politics so politicians and their strategists know they need to entice the young and recruit new voters. They must be stopped.

Some brands suggest they are safer, some say they are green or lite – but we know they are all the same. They are all still politicians.

We must do something – and we must be seen to do something – even if it doesn’t work.

Big Politics is full of liars; they take us into wars we never sought, costing tens of thousands of our own lives and hundreds of thousands of foreign lives. It’s called passive politics and its very, very dangerous.

It is also highly addictive; even more addictive than heroin. Once elected they cannot stop passing laws, raising taxes and screwing up everyone’s lives – whether you voted for them or not. That’s how dangerous passive politics is – don’t listen to their denials.

Big Politics can pull you into drinking dens, honey traps, fisticuffs and front-page exposes – you can lose all self control, become impotent, have halitosis and your clothes will smell awful – your family can split and your health can suffer.

Politicians make us poorer; they run up state deficits and force us into personal debt – while they enjoy their scandalous expenses and world-wide junkets.

Anything that is bad, anything that goes wrong, can be put down to Big Politics and politicians. The statistics are horrific.

It is so very easy to fall for Big Politics and their seductive brands. Never mind that adults should be able to make a choice for themselves – choice is confusing, misleading and a false dream of freedom – instead, just think of the effect on our children. All those politicians’ toothy grins, those rictus smiles – and we even let them kiss our babies!

Big politicians have clever advertising on TV, across hoardings, in newspapers and at the point of sale – all of it must be banned.

They have snazzy labelling, bright contrasting colours, seductive slogans – and no health warnings – all of this must end.

If we are to save our children we must have plain packaging of politicians.

Every leaflet and manifesto document must come with a health warning showing photos of war graves, closed hospitals – and that Duck Pond.

Every political publication should be restricted to using the colour tope so our children are not dazzled and fooled into thinking it is a bag of sweeties.

Every politician should be made to wear a bright orange onesie to warn us that they are approaching – and every politician giving an interview – be it on Today, Newsnight or an appearance on Question Time – should have their register of interests read out first.

We must not relent. Big Politics is sick, it is dangerous and it is coming for our children.

We must enforce plain packaging of politicians.

You know it makes sense.

Read More – UK Observations Page 10

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