Tobacco smoking

If a ciggie tax is racist, then surely payments under the Treaty of Waitangi are too?

You’ve got to admire the cheek of Marewa Glover, a veteran health trougher, who thinks that a tobacco tax increase is racist towards Maori.

An Auckland tobacco researcher says cigarette tax discriminates against Maori, who have the highest rates of smoking.

It comes after the Government decided to continue increasing the tax on tobacco by 10 percent for the next four years.

New Zealand has a tall target of being smoke-free in just nine years, and last week’s Budget introduced more tobacco taxes to help that.

But researcher Marewa Glover says because Maori and Pacific people are the biggest smokers, the taxes are discrimination.   Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

The unintended consequences of anti-tobacco policy

In the US it has been found that teens are smoking cannabis more than cigarettes now.

Could this be an unintended consequence of a focus on combatting tobacco, while at the same time legalising cannabis?

For the first time, more high-school seniors smoke marijuana daily than smoke cigarettes daily, according to a new survey of teen drug use released Wednesday morning by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. An equal number of sophomores—3 percent—use marijuana daily as smoke cigarettes.

Though each year, fewer high-schoolers perceive regular marijuana use as risky, the number of 12th-grade, daily marijuana smokers has remained relatively stable, hovering near 6 percent since 2012. The reason marijuana use has overtaken cigarettes is because of the rapid decline in cigarette smoking among high schoolers over the past five years. Among 10th graders, for example, there has been a 55 percent drop in the daily smoking rate since 2010.

In an interview, the NIDA director Nora Volkow chalked up the reduction in smoking to “prevention campaigns targeting adolescents specifically.”  Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

One health campaigner gets it on e-cigs

Most of the state funded troughers in the anti-smoking lobby are vehemently opposed to e-cigarettes…which almost everyone agrees are a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco.

One such health researcher however stands apart from the crowd of troughers opposing and wanting to ban everything.

Ordering nicotine-based e-cigarette products off the shelves is “ridiculous”, says a health official and respected anti-smoking campaigner.

Despite being illegal according to the Ministry of Health’s rules, e-cigarettes containing nicotine have been widely available over the counter in Auckland.

But in the past few weeks, the ministry has dispatched smoke-free enforcement officers to inform retailers such sales are prohibited.

The devices, which contain flavoured “e-liquid” with or without nicotine, emit a smoke-like vapour.

One of the major e-cigarette retailers, Shosha, said on Thursday it would get rid of its stock either this week or next week.

Public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen, who has been researching e-cigarettes since 2007, labelled the ministry’s decision “ridiculous” and said it would drive people back to smoking tobacco. He said e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes, a view shared by the World Health Organisation.

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

The Health wowsers want to ban them but e-cigarettes could save lives

The Health wowsers want to ban e-cigarettes.

Their reasoning is as wonky as the reasoning behind forcing plain packaging on people…in fact it could well be more wonky.

Encouraging cigarette smokers to switch to electronic versions could be a public health ‘revolution’ and save tens of thousands of lives a year in Britain, a coalition of experts has said.

The World Health Organisation is wrong to call for restrictions on e-cigarettes and instead should be promoting them as a way to quit smoking, it was argued.

A group of leading experts in tobacco controlled have critiqued a report by the WHO on e-cigarettes and said it contained errors and misrepresentations of the evidence.

It has been calculated that for every one million smokers who switch from cigarettes to electronic ones, which deliver nicotine but do not contain tobacco, then 6,000 premature deaths would be prevented every year.

It could mean more than 50,000 lives a year could be saved in England if every smoker switched.

The health wowsers would rather people died than remove most of the poisons from their habit by moving to e-cigarettes. They simply want to ban, ban, ban.

It never enters their mind that people might like to choose.   Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Plain packaging evidence shows sales increased in Australia despite opposite claims from troughers

The health busybodies will tell you that we need to implement plain packaging of cigarettes in order to reduce smoking.

They have no evidence to support this, other than their manufactured surveys.

Real world evidence however suggest the opposite occurs.

I am not a smoker nor do I hold any particular candle to the tobacco industry, but I am opposed to plain packaging on the basis that success here will embolden the busybodies to try similar tactics on other products and ingredients, like alcohol and sugar.

The evidence however is against plain packaging no matter how hard the health troughers say otherwise.

Tobacco companies have denied that plain-packaging laws contributed to a plunge in smoking.

Cigarette sales “actually increased” in the first year after plain packaging was introduced, a spokesman for Philip Morris said.

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey recorded a decline in the smoking rate that coincided with the introduction of plain packaging laws. Its report was released this week.

The smoking rate dropped from 15.1 per cent in 2010 to 12.8 per cent in 2013. Plain-packaging laws came into effect in December 2012.

Tobacco researchers say the figures are significant evidence that plain packaging works, and represent one of the great achievements in public health campaigning.

But Philip Morris Limited director of corporate affairs Chris Argent said any suggestion that plain packaging was responsible for the decline in smoking was “simply untrue”.    Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

I thought it was just a term, but it appears there were actual “Health Nazis”

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Those no-politically correct of us like to call busybodies who want to interfere in personal choices “health nazis”. It is meant as an insult, to label them as draconian health freaks intent on destroying personal liberties.

I always thought it was just a term but it appears there were actual “health Nazis”.

The Atlantic reports:

Nazi Germany’s well-known obsession with creating a master Aryan race led to many atrocities. But from these same sinister motives came research that may have had health benefits for the German people during World War II—studies on the dangers of smoking that led to the most advanced anti-tobacco campaign of its time. Unfortunately, the campaign was only concerned with protecting the health of Aryan Germans.

“Nazi Germany was governed by a health-conscious political elite bent on European conquest and genocidal extermination,” writes Stanford researcher Robert Proctor in his book, The Nazi War on Cancer, “and tobacco at the time was viewed as one among many ‘threats’ to the health of the chosen folk.”

In 1939, German scientist Franz Müller presented the first epidemiological study linking tobacco use and cancer. In 1943, a paper prepared by German scientists Eberhard Schairer and Erich Schöniger at Jena University confirmed this study, and convincingly established for the first time that cigarette smoking is a direct cause of lung cancer.

Research by German doctors also brought to light the harmful effects of secondhand smoke for the first time, and coined the term “passive smoking.” But Proctor says the findings cannot be separated from the context in which they were realized.

According to Proctor, Schairer and Schöniger’s paper needs to be seen as “a political document, a product of the Nazi ideological focus on tobacco as a corrupting force whose elimination would serve the cause of ‘racial hygiene.’” The Nazi agenda was centered on the idea of establishing and maintaining a German Aryan master race that was free of illness or impurity, and tobacco was just one of the many influences that could weaken the so-called Übermensch.

“Nazism was a movement of muscular, health-conscious young men worried about things like the influence of Jews in German culture and the evils of communism,” Proctor says, “but also about the injurious effects of white bread, asbestos, and artificial food dyes.”

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Mana party hates tobacco but all fine with weed smoking

pot-girl

According to a new announcement from the Mana party cannabis smoking is now ok but cigarette smoking is not.

The Mana Party is softening its stance on marijuana and will support its decriminalisation, in spite of leader Hone Harawira’s staunch opposition to the drug.

Harawira, who has previously said he does not support decriminalising marijuana, said the party was in favour due to the impact that drug convictions were having on the lives of young people.

The Internet Party, Mana’s coalition partner, also recently said it was considering whether or not to support decriminalisation. Harawira said Mana had made the decision on its own.

“I don’t want anybody to think that I like it because I don’t, but I see the damage that it does to families.” he said.

Harawira, who does not drink or smoke, said drugs were a major problem in Northland communities.    Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

A sensible commentary on plain packaging

There is much hubris and deceit over the plain packaging issue.

Lee Suckling at the NZ Herald discusses the issue in a clear manner.

Back in the news is the proposed introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes – will we, or won’t we? A public hearing took place last week on the issue, and yet again we saw tobacco lobbyists roll out their key argument: plain packaging removes all intellectual property and branding from their products – which, effectively, hinders the consumer’s right to choose from a range of competitors.

I’m not going to hate on smokers. Smoke all you want to. It makes little difference to me, as long as it’s not onto my face. Smoking while amongst a crowd is seriously poor form – your actions directly affect those around you, without their consent. But it’s challenging to see how Joe from HR taking a smoko in the car park affects anyone else but Joe from HR.

Yes, the healthcare system gets clogged up with those suffering from smoking-related illnesses. Is it a self-imposed strain on taxpayer resources? Absolutely. However there are user-pays excise taxes designed to directly support this requirement. The same can’t be said for those who play contact sports and their effect on public health resources.

This is right, approximately $1.2 billion is taken in excise taxes from tobacco, more than adequately covering the expenses of health care.

I begin to wonder why don’t we place the same stigma on consumption of alcohol. It’s an addictive product, and it causes serious diseases and illnesses. Yet alcohol drinkers don’t receive the same bad rap as smokers.

The likely argument? Smoking affects the health of everybody around the smoker, while alcohol only affects the health of each individual drinker. A complete falsity, mind you. Alcohol likely does more harm to those around the drinker (and society at large) than smoking – via violence, drink driving, and so on. It can also break up homes and relationships, cause job losses, and spiral someone to lose control of their entire life.
Smoking doesn’t do any of those things. Alcohol abuse defines recurring consumption, despite negative and severe consequences. Never is the term “tobacco abuse” touted. It leads us to ponder why all major political parties are keen on ridding society of cigarettes, yet we’d never consider banning booze.

The same goes for the other consumables that considerably strain New Zealand’s healthcare system. Junk food – from chocolate to KFC – falls in here. As does Coke, Red Bull, and those trashy 500ml cans that look like Black Sabbath souvenirs.

Such sugar-laden foodstuffs, when consumed rarely – like the occasional drink or smoke – result in little harm to the individual and have no effect on public healthcare. But when consumed in excess, the public system has obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses to deal with.

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Bad news for anti-smoking zealots

The anti-smoking wowsers want to end smoking and one of their tools suggested is massive tax increases…problem is it won’t work.

“IF IT were totally up to me, I would raise the cigarette tax so high the revenues from it would go to zero,” thundered Michael Bloomberg back in 2002. New York city’s combative mayor has since raised cigarette taxes several times. The effect has been limited, so he wants to try something new. He recently proposed to outlaw discounting cigarettes and displaying them openly in stores.

Whether these measures will be approved—and help—remains to be seen. But Mr Bloomberg may well be right to push for more bans. A new paper by Abel Brodeur of the Paris School of Economics, based on extensive surveys in America, suggests that bans on smoking are not just effective but actually make smokers happier. By not allowing them to light up in restaurants and bars (as New York already does), governments give weaker-willed individuals an excuse to do what they otherwise cannot: stop smoking. As an additional benefit, bans also seem to make spouses of smokers happier.  Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

The Case for Plain Packaging of Tobacco

A Guest Post from regular commenter Bunswalla:

The Case for Plain Packaging of Tobacco

I’m not a reformed smoker; I’ve never smoked tobacco and I haven’t lost anyone close to me due to smoking-related illnesses. In general I resist being told how to live by the nanny state – or anyone, especially my sister, and I find state interference in legitimate commercial transactions repugnant.

However I support the government’s proposed legislation to enforce plain packaging of tobacco, and I’ll explain why.

Firstly, the legislation isn’t going to force anybody that chooses to smoke, to stop smoking. It isn’t going to prevent them from choosing the tobacco product and brand of their choice. It doesn’t infringe on the personal rights of any person to continue enjoying what they’ve been doing. Ask for 25 Holiday and that’s what you’ll get.

It doesn’t even prevent people that are legally able to purchase tobacco to buy it and start smoking if that’s what they want to do. So the “nanny state” argument doesn’t stand up.

Secondly, while selling tobacco and related products is a legal commercial transaction (subject to the laws around age, advertising, display etc), I challenge its legitimacy. Cigarettes contain a cocktail of more than 200 chemicals, mostly designed to physically addict you to smoking, as well as making sure they burn evenly and don’t go out while you’re not watching (makes you go through them quicker, and hopefully buy some more).

The chemicals in cigarettes, and the smoke created when you burn them, are highly toxic and injurious to your health. There are no redeeming characteristics or benefits from smoking – other than to satisfy a physical craving created by your prior use. What’s more, smoking shortens your lifespan – even Big Tobacco, which fought for decades to avoid admitting that inescapable fact, have reluctantly acknowledged that they peddle death. Their website says “We agree that smoking is harmful.” What they don’t say is “we need you to keep doing it anyway.”

If a corporation tried to introduce a new product called cigarettes today, assuming it had never been practiced, and knowing what we know about the contents of cigarettes and the effects of smoking them, they would never be allowed. The influence and financial clout of Big Tobacco around the world makes it unlikely that any government would ban the practice now, but I believe our government is morally and ethically obliged to do whatever it can to dissuade the public from taking up this toxic habit. I realise morals and ethics don’t always figure highly in government motives, but I live in hope.

Let’s look at the arguments Big Tobacco is putting up to try and get public opinion on their side:

  1. The “it won’t work, people will still smoke so don’t bother” argument. Well, the fact that they’re investing so much in trying to prevent this shows that it’s likely to be successful in dissuading new smokers from starting. If people are still going to smoke anyway, then this should be the best thing to ever happen to the industry. They can stop spending the 10s of millions they spend each year on marketing and promotion, and trying to find ways around the existing legislation, save millions on fancy packaging, and start making super profits.
  2. The “it’s not fair” argument. We created it (the huge marketing and branding juggernaut designed to feed new customers in to the market at a rate the same or faster than their dying customers are leaving it), so we should own it. Well boo-fucking-hoo, Big Tobacco. What you created was a machine designed to firstly lure, and then trap, new (young) customers into a lifetime of addiction, often followed by a slow lingering death. You have no rights to continue to profit from an instrument of death and disease, just because you built it. There are plenty of businesses around NZ that have had their business model turned on its head by the stroke of a politician’s pen, so suck it up.
  3. The “plain packs would make it easier to counterfeit” argument. Again, tough titties. You’re not worried about the health impacts to your gasping customers; you’re just worried that someone else will make the profits that you believe are rightfully yours.
  4. The “infringing on people’s right to choose which brand to smoke” argument. Again, nothing more than a smokescreen. People will still be able to ask for, purchase and consume, all the brands that currently exist. They just won’t be in shiny packaging, that’s all.
  5. The “we have invested in our brands over many years and have a responsibility to our shareholders to do everything we can to defend our rights to use them” argument. Yes, now we’re getting closer to it aren’t we, vultures? This argument and the ones above are all about the profit you’re worried you might lose because fewer people may be inclined to start using your noxious addictive products, and you might not make so much money. Perhaps your shareholders should have chosen a safer bet than to invest in a (literally) dying industry, and hopefully they’ll exit your businesses as fast as they can and put their money into something more ethical – such as blood diamonds or Chinese sweatshops.
  6. The final canard: the “this is the thin end of the wedge – just think what products will be forced to use plain packaging if this succeeds” argument. A total red herring, in the same way that people argue if gay marriage is legalised, soon everyone will want to marry their pet, their son or their toaster. Alcohol (as a legalised drug) is the product most often quoted as next cab off the rank if the nanny state has its way. It will never happen, and nor should it. Alcohol – while not minimising the harm that irresponsible and excessive use can and does cause – performs an important role as a social lubricant and has a number of recognised health benefits, when taken in moderation. Tobacco has NO recognised health benefits and is harmful taken in any quantity.

I’ve given a lot of thought to reconciling my general principles described above with the undoubted benefits to society of fewer new smokers taking up this vile and toxic habit. No doubt there will be many on this blog that think my position wowserish and that freedom of choice should be paramount. I’m a firm believer in freedom of choice but there are reasons why P and other addictive drugs are treated so much more seriously than smoking a bit of pot or dropping some E. Cigarettes are purely a nicotine delivery system and nicotine as a drug is almost as chemically addicting as the varieties of meth and heroin out there.

We should do everything we can to help young people avoid becoming addicted to smoking.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.