Sunday, February 26, 2006

Psst!

Passive smoking is such Tripe!
Passive smoking sucks Tish!
Passive smoking scientific Trash!
Passive smoking science Tribunal!

Here is a suggestion!

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Hi all

Consider this a request for views and advice to be shared with all interested parties.

This seems to indicate to me we all have things to say and are trying to communicate with as many people as possible. So here we are an extremely varied and inclusive group of individuals all united in our disgust at the banning of smoking. We sit at our computers tapping on our keyboards for hours on end looking for the answer. We know precious little about each other except that which we infer from snippets of prose. A tremendous amount of effort is being input into a system (The Internet) about which very little is understood and which seems to get more complex by the second. We indeed are making our contribution more complicated by setting up blogs, forums and anonymous or campaign email addresses. We regularly "vote" or "sign" petitions electronically to what avail. We spend our time trying to visit numerous different internet locations just to keep up. Belinda set up a Yahoo Group whatever that is?(not meant as disparaging). More than one of us is looking into web hosting services. I have to admit to having already paid money for my newsletter facility, I have registered the domain gasdoc.org.uk and am looking for a suitable domain name for ASSETS (assets.com has gone..poo). I've just signed up to a webhosting service as my efforts on my own PC server although free lack some expertise, don't panic I'm still working on it!!

This posting and its responses further complicate the issue because although I thought of doing it seconds before, a similar discussion with slightly narrower remit has commenced on The Big Debate. Someone asked about a leader and someone offered skills in Internet nerdism (no insult).

In the category of advice I ask if anyone understands the Internet better than me. For example we may post comments on a "newspaper" website but not get it in the hard copy of black and white ink. The Internet if you like doesn't seem to get us noticed.

Also in the category of advice I ask if someone can help me understand the proliferation of campaign, voting or anonymous emails? We seem to be setting up lots of different unrelated pockets of people, information or nodes for sharing thoughts. Is this not potentially divisory?

People express fear of the anti-smoking lobby finding out about us, why should they not? I'm a bit fed up with talking to my computer screen and wander if it would be better talking to something with a face and a voice. Surely this debate would be better off attracting some publicity? I know that may be difficult but should it not be our aim?

Now don't get me wrong here but I may seem to criticise. The fox-hunting debate and legislation is an example which keeps coming up in my head. The comparison is fairly similar in that the antis seemed to get all the publicity. The pros then organised petitions, marches, the Countryside Alliance etc and failed to influence opinion as far as the legislators were concerned. We have reached this point, although naive people think the Lords can now be influenced. The fox-hunters are now looking at how to continue by looking at the exact letter of the law and carrying on without breaking the law. Should we not be approaching our issue in a different way?

It strikes me we have enough people to create a more organised approach that might include election of leaders, committees, fund raising, and employment of public relations advice or administrative staff. If we cannot create this structure are we not bound to fail? Where do Forest fit in? They have this structure already. Is the fear of their Tobacco Industry link exaggerated?

Even as I sit tapping this note in to a window on my computer my inbox signals a note from Belinda from the UK Smokers Rights Yahoo Group. Now I know Belinda set this up on the advice of Michael. Is this not a good example of us flailing about trying harder and harder to communicate our message and getting no where? I do like all our little nodes of communication but I for one do not have the time to visit all of them enough to remain in touch. I certainly like the forum style of The Big Debate as you can be reminded if new posts on a thread appear, but even then forums allow many threads and that means a certain amount of browsing has to be performed to keep up. Now I just started using "Internet" speak about "posts" and "threads", what the fuck does that mean? I tell you what, I as a member of our holy alliance would love a one off update in my inbox which brought me up to speed (management speak) perhaps on a daily basis with all our efforts.

Does it seem to you that the contents of this email are simply born out of frustration?....

By the way I went out to eat last night and after first booking a smoking table at our local Dexter's we arrived and found out this had somehow failed as they no longer had a smoking area in which you could eat. We visited the surrounding establishments who had long queues and eventually located a smoking table that would become available in 20 mins. The smoking area in this more expensive restaurant had shrunk and moved close to the cold air of the front door which remained open as a queue formed through it. Several people sat down and sniffed the air in an irritated fashion only to get up again. The waiter removed our ashtray during courses, some form of etiquette I believe, so I ended up trying to direct my ash into an empty bottle and failed creating a mess on my table. I do believe this got to me. We don't go out much and it was my wife's birthday.

I think I'm also in need of a leader!

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Kitchener

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Trouble With SCOTH

The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) whose primary function is to advise the Chief Medical Officer ­ Sir Liam Donaldson ­ on the effects of tobacco on health has been held up by anti smoking campaigners and the government as being a truly objective and independent body.

But is this committee objective and independent? Close scrutiny demands some questions.

To begin with, two of the members of SCOTH, namely, PROFESSOR GODFREY FOWLER Emeritus Professor of General Practice, University of Oxford, and PROFESSOR MARTIN JARVIS of Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School, are both directors of ASH. Fowler is also on the Council of the British Heart Foundation which, back in 2002 and together with Cancer Research UK, received £15 million of Government money over the following three years to lead new hard-hitting, anti-smoking campaigns. PROFESSOR MARION HALL has also received a research grant from The British Heart Foundation.

Under the circumstances then, with such connections to ASH (the well known anti-smoking organisation) Cancer Research UK and The British Heart Foundation it is totally risible to say that any of these members of SCOTH can be impartial and ipso facto I certainly question their ability to be objective.

Moreover, further study of SCOTH members' declared interests (see: http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/scoth/members.htm ) reveals that 4 of them, including Jarvis again, also have significant links to Glaxo which, along with its merged company Smith, Kline, Beecham, are leading makers of smoking cessation products which include the problematic Zyban also marketed as Wellbutrin. See, for example here:

http://www.gsk.com/products/prescriptionmedicines.jsp?choice=UK
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/606830.stm
http://www.forces.org/writers/kjono/files/glaxo.htm

Three members of SCOTH, including Jarvis yet again, have very positive links to The World Health Organisation, a body substantially funded by Glaxo and their working partnership was openly celebrated in 1999 here:

http://www.who.int/inf-pr-1999/en/pr99-04.html

The reader will notice too that the complete partnership also includes Novartis Consumer Health and Pharmacia & Upjohn, all manufacturers of treatment products for tobacco dependence. Jarvis has also received honoraria for speaking from Pharmacia and Upjohn and Novartis.

Am I the only one who thinks that all of this is inconducive to objectivity on SCOTH's part in addition to outlining some unhealthily incestuous relationships, or what?

Posted By BLAD

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

ASSETS

I've set up a dummy website on my own pc at home. Check it out and let me know what you think. Its only in its infancy and I will be adding to it daily. A lot of the menu links do not do anything at present but have a ride and importantly tell me if it looks cool in your browser.
I have used a font which will not show up properly so your browser will default to something boring, I've got to sort that out.

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The Big Debate

They are working hard over at The Big Debate. Check out what they are doing, you may be able to help.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Donal McCarthy Says

I was very taken by the idea that a new pro-body should be formed. The use of the word "choice" is questionable. (pro-choice is associated with other things) The anti groups have been at this for years and made sure all the details were in place a LONG time ago. Caught smokers "it'll never happen here" napping. I may have mentioned that i visit the uk about once a month; whenever i broached the subject among the locals AND pub owners, it was dismissed out of hand that a total ban would ever make it into legislation. Some may have not even woken up yet. Most are probably now all hot and talking but will NEVER take action unless there is an organised structure to subscribe to. At least, you have the press open to you there; here they all closed ranks and went Pravda.

I was also VERY taken by the idea that the fraud has to be exposed in court. This is probably the single most important piece of thinking since 1950. I was looking at an ad in the ST last weekend, for instance, in which cancer-research-uk blatantly stated "passive smoke is a killer". Why cannot that be challenged legally? (I gather the advertising standards people wash their hands of this kinda thing because they say they are not competent to ajudicate on "scientific" matters.)

It is even more important that action is taken quickly on this, because as time goes by, large numbers of "outraged smokers" will be mollified into accepting "the inevitable". They are too got-at by the propaganda over the past twenty/thirty years to speak up too loudly - thats what happened here, though there are undercurrents all the time. [and then there'r the likes of me ;) ]

Leadership is essential therefore. People will be willing to back a strong push in their name if it is seen to be determined, well-led and "out there". It would also wake up a few politicians, especially those in need of a good smack.

Count me in if there is stuff happening.

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Loraine Says

I wholeheartedly agree with you - there are too many individuals fighting this ban but there needs to be one central office dealing with it - but quickly. The main problem seems to be getting everyone involved. The only thing I can think of is National News coverage, but what media group is likely to take us on with the constant threat of Political Correctness.

I am one of those who is devoting my spare time to this but I keep going off at tangents with the replies I am getting from the few supporters who have emailed me.

Everyone seems to have plenty of individual ideas but how do we get them all together under one mainframe?

I have been busy going through the Who;s Who of "The Publican" but of the 130 or so emails I have sent so far - only 13 have replied, albeit mainly grateful publicans who want to put up a fight. Unfortunately English Folk are too soft and take anything thrown at them with a shrug of their shouders so that may account for the lack of replies. But I will carry on and send out as many as I can each day.

I will be quite happy to write to Newspapers and the like if you think it will be of use. What I don't know is whether this has been tried before as I am quite new to this. I am willing to send out survey forms, but when I find that there is 6000 pubs in a radius of 20 miles of me, who foots the bill for the postage?

I have located a publican who runs a website supplying crossword puzzles to publicans and the public - He has a database of 30000 email addresses and has offered to send a notice out for me with his newslatters - Maybe that would be a real good start.

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R Feal-Martinez Says

During the last four or five years I have actively engaged in the issues concerning, and sometimes threatening The Hospitality Industry, and the one thing that has really become apparent to me is the power of The Media, whether television or newspapers, regional, national, or trade. This power can be positive or negative, being influenced by political considerations, corporate interests, or the particular personal views of Editors, and Web Editors.

It is truly amazing how comments on online media sites will reflect the view of the medium concerned. Take for example the horror stories from The Mail, about crime and disorder, their online comments sections re-enforced their views. Mind you I have to be honest and say that they did rather have a free run at it. The confusion from Government and the trade organisations helped to create a climate of unrest within the public, which now has led to a call for greater powers than the Licensing Act 2003 ever envisaged for Local Authorities. The confusion sadly still has not gone away with many LA’s and Police ‘doing there own thing’ with the Department of Culture Media and Sport, sitting on their hands which is what we have come to expect. The current review of Licensing shows that lessons haven’t been learnt.

But perhaps the clearest indication of the ‘Power’, has been the Smoking Ban issue. There has been widespread anxiety and frankly disgust at the way the views of ordinary Licensees have been ignored and usurped by frequent quoting and misquoting. Quoting the views of trade organisations, as though they are representative of the front line licensee. Government will always take solace from this, which they frankly have done. They manoeuvred these organisations like ‘leading a horse to water’, and sadly they drank to their fill. What better way of ensuring getting what you want (HMG) than to make only one of the available choices acceptable to all sides of the argument. Mis-quoting and repeating the lies about Passive Smoking and the effectiveness of filtration/ventilation in removing environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The views of experts in the field have been ignored by government and the media in favour of uninformed propaganda and at times stretching the truth until it screeches, from organisations such as ASH.

Attempts have been made to highlight how this whole issue has been about social engineering, deceit, and dare I use the word corruption. The media has consistently refused to print even in online forums the facts surrounding how we got into the mess of a complete ban. Verifiable truths are deleted, why? should the public not know that the Chairman of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco Health (SCOTH) is a Director and Trustee of ASH? A matter of Public Record. Why should they not know that, together with a number of colleagues on the committee, he has been paid to promote smoking cessation products, by the major drug companies? It’s shown in the Committee’s profile list. A matter of Public Record. Why should the public not be told that HMG has given ASH £620’000 of tax payers money in the last two years? A matter of Public Record, in ASH’s audited accounts.

In my view the why is a simple one. The public at large may just conclude that all these things amount to, at best a major conflict of interest, at worst corrupt practice. How can SCOTH independently advise HMG in the circumstances outlined above? Would the public have accepted the Government acting on the advice of the Tobacco companies, as they did in the past, of course not? There would be a public outcry. So why then is advice sponsored by the Pharmaceutical giants acceptable? We know that these companies make billions from Smoking Cessation and there is a wide body of opinion that says these have just a placebo affect.

I believe however all is not lost in the fight to save thousands of pubs. The House of Lords can add an amendment asking HMG to re-visit ventilation/filtration as a fourth way. Afterall ask yourselves how can ETS which is air borne particulates defy the laws of Particle Science, as members of the public we can see the sense in this, why can’t politicians. This is not about promoting smoking this is about maintaining choice, freedom and upholding the democratic rights of eleven million people who contribute 15 times more to the exchequer than us non smokers.

The public should ponder this, what will be next, alcohol, food, transport, air travel etc ? Couldn't happen?. It's already started, the only thing remains is for a bunch of zealots backed by a vested interest, and ably assisted by the media and hey presto freedoms will fall like playing card houses. Democracy, Freedom, and Choice have never been more at threat than they are under this Government. The Public needs to wake up. Here in lies the question, will you get to read this letter? That is the POWER of the media.

Posted by R Real-Martinez a Publican

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Joe Jackson Says

Hello.I agree that FOREST has one hand tied behind its back by the tobacco industry. Just as significantly, FOREST's support from the tobacco industry gives the antismoking lobby - and much of the mainstream media - a great excuse to simply dismiss anything they say, regardless of the facts. For instance, even when FOREST commissions opinion polls from reputable independent companies like the British Market Research Bureau or Populus, the results (large majorities against total smoking bans) go unpublished, while phony antismoking stunts like the self-selecting YouGov email poll are given massive coverage. Having said that, FOREST is at least there, as a visible opposition, and I will continue to support FOREST and urge others to do so.Having said that, I agree that it would be good to have a new, independent, campaign, and I would be happy to be a part of it. In my opinion it should be pretty much a one-issue campaign, and that issue is so-called 'secondhand smoke'. Many people know that this is just about the biggest fraud ever foisted on the public in the name of 'health'. However, when we try to say so, we run up against two problems: (1) our lack of 'medical credentials' as opposed to the BMA, CMO etc, and (2) the fact that smoking has been so demonised, and smokers so stigmatised, that it is not politically realistic to defend us or indeed for us even to defend ourselves.This is why what is needed is a relentless and determined campaign not for smokers or smokers' rights, but specifically to expose a public health hoax. There is no point in comparing Tony Blair to Hitler or even arguing about civil rights and freedom of choice; it hasn't worked. ETS was basically invented to blow away those arguments, so it is ETS that has to be addressed. That way it becomes not about tobacco but about truth and accountability. Such a campaign may well have more chance of getting support, since I believe there is quite a bit skepticism about ETS out there. Did you see Dominic Lawson's article in The Independent (Feb 17)? And two others by Tim Luckhurst? And Tom Utley in The Telegraph? There are even politicians who are skeptical, including (I know for a fact) John Reid. I believe there are also doctors and academics out there who are afraid to speak out 'on behalf of smokers' but may be willing to speak out against dishonesty which could ultimately undermine the credibility of anything the medical establishment says.I believe this is the key to the whole thing. Yes, many of us believe that the risks of active smoking are also exagerrated, but the fact is that no one wants to hear that at the moment. The case against the ETS fraud, however, can be PROVEN.Which brings me to what should be the next step: someone has to figure out how to get this into a court of law. With people like Dr Ken Denson willing to give evidence, a judge would have to take an unbiased look at the real evidence. The right lawsuit could bring the whole charade crashing down in flames. Why can't anyone seem to figure out how to go about this? I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that for instance, someone representing the Scottish hospitality industry, when the ban comes in there, should sue the Scottish Executive for unfairly restricting and dictating to their business ON THE BASIS OF A PHONEY SCIENTIFIC JUSTIFICATION (not on the basis of smokers' rights or free choice). I believe that such a lawsuit could succeed, and at that point - but in my opinion, not before - people will start wondering whether the whole antismoking thing has been a witch-hunt all along.I also recommend working with smart people in other countries, like Michael McFadden in the US and Wiel Maessen in the Netherlands; this is definitely an international fight.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

What Next?

I am in a contemplative hiatus. Smoking and conversation is spurning new ideas to formulate. Many more people are interacting on the Forest blogs of all types of persuasion. There is much new information to assimilate and yet I do not arrive at conclusions. I deliberate about experiences others must have had and wander for example what we can learn from the fox hunting debate. I gather that the size of the commons majority means that the Lords has no chance of overturning the legislation or even returning it the the commons.

So I toy with ideas of a new action group, of greater organisation and of the usefulness of funding. Yet something is missing and I cannot work out what. We pro-choice types are an intelligent lot and a very diverse group. What ingredient is missing to effectively counter the antismokers? Is it money or an effective network. Our network seems slightly impotent. Can we focus on a common objective or path?

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Visit Smokers Corner Now!

There are some seriously deranged minds contributing on the latest post on Smokers Corner. You must go and see it, its so fascinating. They really are trying to rub it in. The post is called "The Voice of the Antismoker".

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We need a name!!

Lets start at the beginning.
We need a name with an eyecatching acronym.
I've been playing around and get the following:

  • GAS(Group for Active Smokers)
  • SCAG(Smoking & Choice Action Group)
  • ASS(Actice Smokers Society)
  • ASSET(Active Smokers for Sound Evidence & Tolerance)
  • MEAT(Manners, Evidence, Action & Tolerance)
  • IMAGE(Individuals for Manners And Good Evidence)
  • POWER(People Of Wisdom for Evidence & Rights)
  • MAGI(Make Action Good & Informed)
  • AEGIS(Action for Evidence Group In Smoking)
  • MIGHT(Make Information Good & Have Tolerance)

Please post your ideas and comments or tweaks on mine.

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SOS! Spotlight on Sanity

Ali has just started a blog to catalogue the fallout of the Scottish ban.
See her comment on "The Bastards" below.
Above title links to her blog and I'll include her in the right sidebar "Links" list.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Bastards!

MP's have now voted in the house of commons for a TOTAL ban on smoking in public places!
Ignorant sheep! Fuck knows what I'm going to do now! I suppose I had better calm down. The knee-jerk is to start standing in doorways and narrow paths so no-one has any choice but to breath in my smoke. Any better suggestions?

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