Drinking and smoking – time to make a stand.

Pub Curmudgeon tells us that at least one of the drinks’ company bosses has realised that the ‘price per unit’ is the start of an escalator. Hooray, someone in the industry has finally noticed!

Once governments have control of prices they only ever go up. And up and up and up. The companies selling the product don’t get any more money, the escalating price is all extra tax (with more tax on top of the tax). Look at petrol for an example, or maybe that other despised commodity, tobacco.

New Zealand’s latest proposal gives a clue as to where your price-of-beer will be heading in a few years. You know, when people are still drinking against government advice and the only thing to do is to price it so that only tax-subsidised MPs can buy it. For those dim few who still believe it won’t happen to their beloved fizzy beers, well, have fun in fantasy land while you can. You will get plain packaging, all booze behind special doors and a tax that will make you drink your own urine to make sure you extract every last molecule of that stuff that now costs more than gold. Later, the burger lovers will… oh, that’s just nasty. Works for rats and rabbits though.

If New Zealand’s government are really serious about stopping their population smoking, why don’t they just ban it? Make it illegal and remove all retail sales of tobacco altogether. If their argument is ‘well, we banned pot-smoking and they still do it’, what do they think £50 a pack will do? It’s a cynical form of ban that means some people will still pay that price. Not many, but every pack will generate at least £45 of tax for the government, and they will use that money to tell the smokers they are fleecing how disgusting they are. It’s like being mugged and having to listen to a critique of your wallet.

Ah, but – how many life insurers make a pot of cash out of smokers? How many medical insurers double their premiums for smokers? Pretty much all of them. They don’t ask if you smoke pot or take cocaine, because those things are illegal. Nobody is going to admit to an illegal act in writing, on a form, so there is no point asking. If tobacco was illegal then nobody would admit to that either. There would be no point asking so the lucrative higher premiums for smokers, most of whom don’t need the extra cover, would dry up overnight.

So would all the taxes on those premiums.

There have been a spate of reports lately of thugs beating up pensioners and taking their money. Antismokers, antidrinkers, antifatties are of the same mindset as those thugs. They demand money with menaces then buy a big stick to hit us with. They have already taken the money but it’s not enough. They want to apply some violence too.

Anyone who speaks out about their thuggery must be a heretic, and in the pay of Big Fag. Well, I don’t know anyone at all in the pay of Big Fag. Nobody. The tobacco companies have never contacted any blogger I know and have certainly never offered me anything – and I have never contacted them either. Anyone with even the most tenuous connection to the industry – and that includes those of us who simply buy the products – must be in the pay of Big Fag. Imagine a company paying you to buy its products? That would be wonderful. Pity it’s all just in the rancid imagination of the web of lies and manipulation that is this ASH-entranced government.

Feeling smug, CAMRA? Who do you imagine is going to top the really rather similar list of those who are ‘front groups for the alcohol industry’? Never happen? Keep dreaming, have fun when it does, don’t come here for help.

Something has come out of this modern pogrom on the smoker. It hasn’t happened yet for the drinker because their groups are still busy holding their fingers over their ears and singing ‘La-la-la’. Smokers are taking much more of an interest in the science and pseudoscience behind the whole thing.

If there had been no War on the Smoker, I might well have stopped by now. I believed all this ‘smoking will definitely give you lung cancer’ crap. Now I’ve seen the real numbers and while it does show an increased risk, the numbers are small for both smokers and non-smokers. Did you know the reason why GPs often miss the early signs of lung cancer? It’s not because they are stupid. It’s because lung cancer is not very common. Some GPs go their whole careers without ever seeing a case.

Then there is the ‘one in three will get cancer in their lifetimes’ soundbite. Sure, but most of them will get cancer when they are nearly dead anyway, and they include the benign tumours that are easy to deal with in that figure. A spreading mole might lead to skin cancer and kill you, but if you catch it early it can be quickly excised and you’re fine. That counts as ‘getting cancer in your lifetime’. It does not mean, but it does imply, that one in three will die of cancer.

It also distracts from the other part of the figure, which is that two out of three people will never experience any form of cancer at all throughout their lives. Doesn’t sound quite so scary put that way, does it? It doesn’t push you quite so hard to drop a pound in the collection box.

Nobody in my family (and it’s big on both parents’ sides) has ever experienced lung cancer. Almost all of us smoke. No bowel cancer, no asthma, no COPD, nothing. My brother specialises in obscure ailments such as Gilbert’s Syndrome and Q fever (don’t worry, I’ve been a qualified microbiologist for over 30 years and I’d never heard of it either). My niece had leukaemia some years back but has recovered and she is one of the few who don’t smoke. Cancer is rare in my family and there are enough of us to account for a significant chunk of the population of South Wales, if we were all sent back there. It’s not appealing, the place has become a control-freak haven.

I’ll visit Wales in the summer but don’t yet know when. It depends on work. I will be looking out for the StasiBoyos but I doubt they will get too close to my father’s house. He is not known for his tolerance of fools.

Other smokers have delved far deeper than me. Currently, Junican is dissecting the Doll and Hill study that tried to put all cases of lung cancer down to smoking. Frank Davis has visited this particular study in the past, but Frank has come up with an even better idea for the future – why don’t we do our own study?

It needn’t cost us anything more than printing out some questions and it needn’t take any real time at all. We know our local smokers, those who still visit pubs are outside with the rest of them so could just ask a few questions. No names, no ID, just the questions. Unlike ASH and their government pets, we will not be asking leading questions and we will publish what we find -as well as the method used to find it.. No journal will touch it, terrified of the retribution of the Antismoker Inquisition, but that is no barrier any more.

Real science for a change. Won’t that be nice?

I wonder when the drinkers will start focusing their energies?

 

15 thoughts on “Drinking and smoking – time to make a stand.

  1. Thanks for the link, LI. It is gratifying that my work has not gone unobserved.

    The significance of the Hospital Study is that it was the first of its kind – that is, a rather large-scale study involving some 2000 people. (2000 is the magic figure which is thought to represent the general public of the UK)

    My objective was to simplify the Study (in a fair way) so that amateurs like us can easily see the direction of his arguments. Initially, my intention was/is not to be critical.

    I have had to ‘tidy the post up’ in order to get the tables properly presented. I think that it is ok now.

    A person reading Doll’s study, as I have described it and as a fair representation of Doll’s study, would find it hard not to be convinced that Doll was right – Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. Only after serious thought do the faults in the study become apparent. I don’t propose to go into these matters now, but the objections need to be seen.

    Read my synopsis and think about what Doll could have got wrong. Assume that Doll was honest, although there are uncertainties about that (see comment by Tony). Even ifscrupulouslyuppliously honest, are there still faults in the study? An example might be the exclusion of anyone of 75 years old or older. Bearing in mind that cancer is ‘a disease of old age’, to what extent has the exclusion of the people most likely to suffer from cancer (the very old) skewed the percentages? Another oddity is the lack of older people in the numbers of hospital patients with lung cancer. If the length of time smoking and the amount smoked increase the likelihood of lung cancer, why does the number of lung cancer smokers decrease at older ages? (NB. When I say ‘older’, I mean only at age 60, 65, 70 – and not 90).

    Enough for tonight.

    Oh. If I may, the URL for the Bolton Smokers Club is:
    http://boltonsmokersclub.wordpress.com/

    Bon soir.

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  2. XX If New Zealand’s government are really serious about stopping their population smoking, why don’t they just ban it? Make it illegal and remove all retail sales of tobacco altogether. If their argument is ‘well, we banned pot-smoking and they still do it’, XX

    They soon change their tune when you use that argument back at them though. If that is the case, save a bloody fortune in legal costs and enforcement, and legalise pot smoking, after all, they still “do it”, so it should make no difference….or?

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  3. Tax .. glorious Tax .. plus they need something something to show how important ‘Government’ really is .. not just clowns there to perform admin tasks to ensure public services are provided.

    Who the fuck gave them the mandate to ‘control our lives’ .. ???

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  4. There have been a spate of reports lately of thugs beating up pensioners and taking their money. Antismokers, antidrinkers, antifatties are of the same mindset as those thugs.

    🙂

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  5. “The companies selling the product don’t get any more money, the escalating price is all extra tax (with more tax on top of the tax)”

    Not really correct. The retailers, brewers and the tax man will all make more money.
    A bottle of cider doubling from £2 to £4 ( assuming a 40p per unit initial price) will give them all a share in the extra profits. The brewers product will double in price but his tax won’t rise by £2 so most will be extra profit for them. The retailer will sell a product for £4 rather than £2 so it’s mark up will rise. The tax take will be a percentage of the £4 rather than the £2. Is it 18% for cider ?

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    • You are correct – for the moment. Tobacco prices rise because duty rises (and VAT that’s charged on the duty). The tobacco companies might sneak in an extra penny a pack now and then but they don’t get more from the government-mandated rises.

      Once the government has control of those booze prices, the brewers and distillers won’t be getting their share for very long.

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  6. The only person I have ever known to have lung cancer was my Grandad. We only found out he had it after he passed away peacefully in the night.
    He smoked for many years. Started on some beach in Normandy apparently. They didn’t mind smoking on beaches back then.

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    • My own grandfather died of pneumoconiosis from years in the mines. He was in the first war and puffed Franklin’s Strong throughout his life. The hoops the family went through to get the NCB to admit that smoking doesn’t fill your lungs with coal dust…

      I have to wonder how much of this ‘Oh, yes, smoking caused it all’ is really , really useful to industries trying not to pay compensation for lung damage.

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  7. Hi Leggie,

    It needn’t cost us anything more than printing out some questions and it needn’t take any real time at all. We know our local smokers, those who still visit pubs are outside with the rest of them so could just ask a few questions. No names, no ID, just the questions. Unlike ASH and their government pets, we will not be asking leading questions and we will publish what we find -as well as the method used to find it..

    I take it from this that you’ll be wanting to survey your friends in Scotland. So I’ll send you an invite to the private blog I’m setting up for discussing it and providing feedback as it evolves. That will leave my blog to be what it usually is.

    Frank

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  8. When they banned smoking in Californian prisons the price of a pack of 20 was $65 in 2010. That’s the highest I’m aware of.

    NZ has always been a problem because the First Nation People have the highest rates of smoking with first generation Asian as the second largest group.

    Maori youth have been exploiting this for some time (the white immigrants doing to us as they are to the Aboriginies in Aus). The Maori separatists gain much of their moral justification from exactly this sort of insensitive intrusion into their personal space.

    It’s a very complex structure in NZ with Maori political heavyweights very much in favour of eradicating smoking within their community, with the average Maori viewing them as we do Lansley.

    It’s very unlikely they’ll go to £50 a pack. They’re about £7.80 a pack of 20 B&H at the moment:

    http://shop.countdown.co.nz/Shop/Department#url=/Shop/Department/24%3Fname%3Dtobacco-cigarettes

    however there are 17 pages of choice and Freedom fags are slightly cheaper if bought in packs of 25.

    If they do, well it seems that any youngster seeking a cheap holiday from say, Hong Kong could simply take three cartons with them and flog them at £40 a pack. Flight, car hire, accommodation and food for a week. That’s ignoring the fact the plant grows very well there! And I’m sure there’s a Leggie somewhere in NZ!

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  9. Dear Mr Leg-iron

    “How many medical insurers double their premiums for smokers? Pretty much all of them.”

    Seems to me there is scope for a class action (if such a thing exists in the UK) against the insurers for miss-selling of insurance. Charging double for no good reason is fraud.

    Current government attitudes suggest there is unlikely to be political support for such action, but that ought not to prevent a successful action being brought before an independent judiciary. The insurers would have to provide proof that smoking carries a higher risk of ‘smoking related’ disease. Alternatively they could exclude ‘smoking related’ diseases from the cover, with proof of the causal link.

    That would be an interesting list.

    DP

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    • I think that maybe a better starting point would be individuals rather than organisations. Pick out an NHS bigwig who states that smokers are responsible for something specific and challenge them to produce proof.

      They feel safe in faceless organisations. Make it personal and the game changes.

      Unfortunately it takes money to take such an action. We need a millionaire smoker or two.

      Like

  10. Pingback: Anonymong | Ban that sort of thing

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