Tobacco Plants – year 3

I’ve been growing tobacco again this year. In my first year, growing them indoors (I have no garden) they eventually grew the full height of the window. In my second year, I started them late, and they hardly grew at all. This year I started them earlier, but they’ve only grown about half way up the window. I don’t know why my tobacco plants grow upward. Maybe I should clip off the growing tip to make them grow sideways?

I’m still using seed that Leg-iron sent me three years ago. After last year’s failure, I wondered whether the seeds were no longer quite as viable as in the first year. But given that the same seeds have done better this year than last year, they may be as viable as ever.

I’m a bit surprised that Leg-iron’s seeds are still viable. Because seeds (along with fruits and vegetables like apples and potatoes and carrots and tomatoes) have a very slight metabolism. They’re ‘ticking over’ and burning energy at a microscopic rate. And since tobacco seeds are so small, it’s a surprise to me that they haven’t used up all the energy stored in the tiny seeds.

I’ve also got a plant growing from some seeds that smokingscot kindly sent me. He sent two seed pods. One was a complete failure, but the other was a considerable success, and produced lots of plants. Unfortunately most of them died, and just one plant remains. And it looks different from Leg-iron’s Bulgarian climbing tobacco plants. It has bigger leaves, and hasn’t shown the same tendency to grow upwards. I still have half a seed pod full of these seeds, so next year I’ll see if I can grow some more.

One other experimental plant I’ve got this year is actually one of last year’s plants. It’s been suggested that tobacco is an annual plant, and dies at the end of the year. But I kept one of last year’s small plants, to see how it would do given another summer. And it did very well. In fact it did almost as well as the plants grown from seed this year. Which makes me think that tobacco isn’t an annual plant, and can keep growing from year to year. I’m thinking that I might retain my 2-year-old plant through the winter, and see whether it carries on growing in a third year.

And since one plant has survived for approaching two years, another experiment I might try is to chop down my current crop, and harvest the leaves, but then leave the stumps of the plants in their pots. Because after year 1, I found that many of the stumps left in the pots started growing new leaves before I finally disposed of them. Because if tobacco will just keep growing, year after year, maybe there will be no need for seed. And the same plant may produce new leaves and shoots, and regrow each year. But that’s an experiment for next year.

Several of the plants have flowered. In the past I haven’t kept the seed pods. This year I think I’ll collect them and try to germinate them next year.

Lots of interesting experiments in store!

But I still haven’t figured out what to do with the leaves after I’ve harvested them. Over the past two years, I’ve just tied the cut plants together, and hung them upside down in a cupboard. Doing this, the leaves stay green, but gradually dry out. And I’ve found that if this is ground down into small fragments, it’s perfectly smokeable when added to manufactured rolling tobacco. And in fact all my smokes these days are made up of a confection of various different kinds of tobacco.

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Antismoking Zealotry, Ebola Complacency

People are starting to compare antismoking zealotry with complacency about Ebola.

Example 1: H/T Harley for a Newsmax interview of Dr Jane Orient, the last part of which I’ve transcribed.

Newsmax: Doctor, do you think they know what they’re doing? Does he [Frieden] know what he’s doing? I mean, this is the guy who wanted soda banned, sixteen ounces or more in NYC, because it was a health threat. This is a guy who says you can’t pass by someone in the street, even one, smoking a cigarette because it’s a health hazard. Does he know what he’s doing here with this?

Dr. Jane Orient: That’s a good question, and I don’t think you can really answer it. Maybe he knows what he’s doing, and that’s exactly what he wants to do. But certainly if you look at the precautions against secondhand smoke, which are absurd… I mean, the hazards of secondhand smoke, unless you’re just sensitive to it and it bothers you, are really non-existent. And yet all of this defence in depth against, and expensive restrictions against these non-hazards – and a pathogenic, lethal organism that can infect you with one to ten particles we’re so cavalier about, this just really does not make sense.

Newsmax: You talked about this with me a week ago, but you’ve made some other statements recently. Where are we on droplets? Explain droplets, how they could possibly infect someone with Ebola. Is that airborne you’re talking about?

Dr. Jane Orient: Well, I guess your body fluids have to go through the air unless you touch somebody. You generate an aerosol if you cough or sneeze or vomit or have explosive diareohea, and it makes droplets of different sizes. The ones that are really, really tiny can get through your mask, around your mask, down into your lungs, and they do have receptors for the target cells down in your lungs. And the question I think they’re relying on is that the virus does not survive being dried down to a particle of that size. But there’s experimental evidence that it can survive for as long as 90 minutes on one of those droplets.

Newmax: So it is transmissible through the air in your opinion right now?

Dr. Jane Orient: Theoretically it certainly is. We cannot rule it out. Epidemiologically, if you look at how people got the Ebola, it doesn’t seem to be very important, but just because it’s inefficient… (interview ends)

More and more people seem to be coming round to the idea that there is an airborne route for Ebola.

Anyway, example 2: H/T mntvernon for a piece by Ian Birrell in the Independent:

The most egregious failure is that of the World Health Organisation, the United Nations body meant to show leadership on such matters. It seems incredible that when MSF first warned Ebola was getting out of control in April, it was rebuked on social media by a WHO spokesman. Two months later the spread and scale of the epidemic was obvious to experts – yet it took two more months for this inept organisation to finally concede there was an international health emergency. It blames local officials – yet even last week its boss spent the week discussing tobacco taxes in Russia rather than tackling the crisis.

Heads should roll for such failures. But do not hold your breath, given how the arrogant UN still refuses to apologise for cholera spreading to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, which has so far killed 9,000 people. Now its officials are berating countries for ignoring what has become a global security threat, although this is partly a consequence of their own fatally slow response that delayed more rapid deployment of resources.

The BBC puts a different spin on it, of course:

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the world’s biggest, most important public health body that has had major successes.

It has ensured that millions of children worldwide are free from the danger of polio.

It runs huge programmes aimed at combating HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis, and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is ensuring that countries are banning smoking in public places and clamping down on tobacco advertising.

But when it comes to a sudden new health threat, or a danger in an unexpected region, many say the WHO does not really deliver.

That portrays Tobacco Control measures as one of the “major successes” of the WHO. And it portrays Ebola as a “new” health threat, when actually it was discovered way back in 1976. The “unexpected region” line is straight out of the WHO’s ebola excuses playbook, but it makes no sense at all. The 1976 outbreak was in Nzara, South Sudan, which is a sub-Saharan country on the same latitude and on the same continent as Guinea and Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the current epidemic is raging. So isn’t that where you’d expect future outbreaks to appear? The map below from Wikipedia shows the spread of Ebola from 1976 to 2009:

ebola-map

And there had already been an outbreak (Tai Forest, Cote d’Ivoire) in the “unexpected region” in 1994, fully 20 years ago. And Ebola has been marching steadily west and south for the past 40 years. And the outbreaks have been getting larger and more frequent.

But under the leadership of Gro Harlem Brundtland, the WHO was giving priority to rolling out the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and fighting against the non-existent “global tobacco epidemic.” And, judging from the FCTC conference in Moscow last week, that’s still where its priorities lie.

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Government Agencies Under Attack

With CDC Director Tom Frieden facing calls for his resignation, it’s not too hard (H/T Harley) to see more reasons why:

Top public health officials have collected $25 million in bonuses since 2007, carving out extra pay for themselves in tight federal budgetary times while blaming a lack of money for the Obama administration’s lackluster response to the Ebola outbreak.

U.S. taxpayers gave $6 billion in salaries and $25 million in bonuses to an elite corps of health care specialists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2007, according to data compiled by American Transparency’s OpenTheBooks.com, an online portal aggregating 1.3 billion lines of federal, state and local spending. The agency’s head count increased by 23 percent during that time, adding manpower and contributing to higher payrolls despite relatively flat funding.

From 2010 to 2013, all federal wages were frozen because of budgetary constraints, but CDC officials found a way to pay themselves through bonuses, overtime, within-grade increases and promotion pay raises.

The Washington Free Beacon and Newsbusters also both cite wasteful programmes funded by the CDC or NIH. Examples:

Telling Taxpayers How to Eat ($15 billion) – Yes, that’s billion with a “b” in front. In a massive overstep of government power, Obamacare carved out $15 billion for CDC to convince Americans to make “healthy” choices through “Community Transformation Grants” (CTG). The CTG program “supports efforts to modify behavior through anti-obesity campaigns, as well as anti-smoking and pro-sin tax regulations and legislation” at the state and local levels, according to the bipartisan Citizens Against Government Waste.

The NIH has also spent $15,313,372 on cessation studies devoted to every kind of smoker imaginable. Current studies are targeted at American Indians ($2,899,954); Chinese and Vietnamese men ($424,875); postmenopausal women ($4,151,850); the homeless ($558,576); Korean youth ($94,580); young schizophrenics ($397,802); Brazilian women smokers ($955,368); Latino HIV-positive smokers($471,530); and the LGBT community ($2,364,521).

Yale University is studying how to get “Heavy Drinkers” to stop smoking at a cost of $571,799. Other projects seek to use Twitter to provide “social support to smokers” ($659,469), and yoga ($1,763,048) as a way to quit.

There are lots more.

With luck, similar questions will soon be asked about the WHO. Probably the answers will be exactly the same wherever they’re asked.

That’s government-funded healthcare. Jo Nova tells how the Bridgestone Corporation in Liberia responded to Ebola:

The rubber plantation has 8,000 workers with 71,000 dependents. It is an hour north-east of Monrovia, surrounded by Ebola outbreaks. The virus arrived on the plantation in March. Knowing that the UN and the Liberian government were not going to save them, the managers sat around a rubber tree and googled “Ebola” and learned on the run instead. They turned shipping containers into isolation units, trucks into ambulances, and chemical cleaning suits into “haz-mat” gear. They trained cleaners, and teachers, they blocked visitors, and over the next five months dealt with 71 infections, but by early October were clear of the virus. There were only 17 survivors (the same 70% mortality rate as elsewhere). But without good management, there could have been so many more deaths.

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Little Confidence

Over the past few weeks I’ve been steadily downgrading, in my own mind, the threat posed by Ebola. Because while it seems to be highly contagious (and maybe slightly airborne) in its final stages, it doesn’t seem to be particularly contagious prior to that stage. The only people who caught the disease (so far) in Dallas were a couple of nurses caring for the Liberian patient. None of the people that the man met or shared a flat with prior to his admission to hospital seem to have developed the disease. So, while it looks like doctors and nurses need better protection, rigorous and forceful measures to isolate Ebola patients should act to stem the progress of the disease outside West Africa.

But I have little confidence that either the WHO or the CDC or the NHS are up to the job. In the first place, while the WHO has admitted that it failed to respond to the Ebola epidemic, it’s now blaming its own ‘incompetent’ West African offices. The same buck-passing has been going on in the USA, with Tom Frieden being very quick to blame the Dallas nurses for not following the correct protocols.

“At some point there was a breach in protocol,” Frieden said. “That breach in protocol resulted in this infection.”

Worse still, President Obama has now appointed a political operative, Ron Klain, as Ebola “czar”.

If Ron Klain sounds familiar to you, it’s because he has a long political pedigree. He has no medical, scientific, or federal agency administrative expertise, but he has a whole lot of political experience.

So Obama is going to treat Ebola as a political problem rather than a health threat. And everyone else is going to blame everybody but themselves for any further failures. He’s probably doing this because the USA is just weeks away from mid-term elections.

So “rigorous and forceful measures” aren’t going to be taken. It will all be spin, perception management, and buck-passing, at least until November 4.

But it’s not just that. This week WHO Director General Margaret Chan gave priority to attending an antismoking conference in Moscow.

“Yes, Ebola is truly an issue of international concern,” Dr. Chan told reporters in Russia, “but tobacco—if we put the evidence on the table—tobacco control is still the most cost-effective and efficient way of reducing unnecessary diseases and deaths arising from using such harmful products.”

And in the UK Lord Darzi has just been busy proposing a London park smoking bans in response to

the “major public health crises” of smoking and obesity.

And Tom Frieden was NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chief architect of the city’s smoking ban:

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner, has turned out to be an active policy advocate among the city’s department heads, the outspoken architect of some of the Bloomberg administration’s more controversial policies. Although Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is more closely associated with a law that bans smoking citywide, the legislation was actually developed by Dr. Frieden, who was also given responsibility for helping to push it through the City Council.

They’re all antismoking activists. And clearly, in their own minds, they regard their principal task as that of fighting the fictional “global tobacco epidemic” and the “obesity crisis” rather than any real contagious disease. Which is, of course, why the West African Ebola epidemic is now out of control. How can people like this be expected to be of any use whatsoever when confronted with a real epidemic?

But there’s also political correctness.

I’ll tell you our problem: Much of our political class is simply uncomfortable with the idea that border and immigration controls should be used vigorously and unapologetically to protect Americans. You can hear the objections now: It would be xenophobic, it might stigmatize West Africans, those countries will object to our State Department that they’re being discriminated against.

And what applies in the USA also applies in the UK and EU, of course. The attitude is exemplified by a guest on a US TV show saying:

“How dare we turn our backs on Liberia, given the fact that this was a country that was founded in the 1820s – 1830s because of American slavery. We have a responsibility to stay connected with them, and help them see this through.”

Add it all up, and what you’ve got is a major Ebola epidemic which, in the absence of politically-incorrect firewalls, is going to be repeatedly flown into the USA and Europe on unrestricted commercial airline flights for the next 6 months or more. And when it does arrive, it’s going to be met by a medical establishment which is fully engaged in fighting the entirely imaginary “global tobacco epidemic” and “obesity crisis”, and which will very quickly pass the buck for any failures onto everyone else but themselves. Add also ordinary incompetence, ignorance, and bureaucratic inertia, and it’ll get even worse. In fact, they can already see it coming:

Ebola will almost certainly hit London, Boris Johnson has warned.

Finally, H/T Brigitte, look at what’s written on the wall of Redemption Hospital in Monrovia (click on pic to watch the video):

clear-the-airYes: “Clear the air, stop smoking.” And next to that a smiling face saying, “I’ve quit smoking.” Isn’t it good to know that they’ve got their priorities right?

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Being There

I was fascinated to hear Lord Darzi on BBC World Service Radio, talking with Dave Atherton about his proposals to ban smoking in London parks. Rather than transcribe the whole thing, I chose to only transcribe what Darzi said, so as to examine what he was saying more carefully:

“The proposals are to ban smoking in parks, not everywhere in London. And this is very much one of many proposals in tackling some of the major public health crises in the capital. We have 1.2 million people smoking, but we have 8,200 people dying of smoking a year. We have two classrooms of kids taking up smoking every day. We are dealing with an obesity crisis at the same time. 40% of our kids by the time they leave primary school are obese and overweight. The whole purpose of this proposal is to make our parks the beacons of health.”

We have “major public health crises” in London, do we? Has Ebola arrived already? The “crises” he’s talking about are those of smoking and obesity. They are, in short, not crises at all.

And how does he know that there are 1.2 million smokers in London, of whom 8,200 die every year, and that 2 classrooms of kids start smoking every day, and that 40% of them are obese? Of these figures, the only one that is plausibly accurate is the 40% obesity figure, because schools can weigh and measure their pupils, and determine whether they are “obese” using the pseudo-scientific BMI method. The other figures can only be guesses. Beats me how anyone can know how many kids start smoking every day. Are kids regularly asked “Have you started smoking?” in school?

And how does he know that the guesstimated 8,200 people died of smoking?

But the crowning glory must be the idea of making parks into “beacons of health”. What on earth is a “beacon of health”? Parks are are provided for relaxation and recreation. What makes this doctor think that he can change their purpose to something else (and something quite nonsensical at that)? Or that he has the right to do so?

“I think what we’re trying to do here is to make healthy choices easier. This is not about demonising smokers. This is about helping smokers…. I am a cancer surgeon. I see every day the consequences of smoking. It’s not just cancer. It’s amputations. We need to allow people to make healthier choices. We’re not banning cigarettes completely. This is not about cigarettes being illegal. It’s not about demonising smokers. This is about saying in our parks we would like to make our parks the role models, the examples of healthier living.”

He’s proposing to “make healthy choices easier” by banning people from smoking? He’s actually disallowing them any choice at all. So when he says that we need to “allow people to make healthier choices” (which they are already allowed to do), he really means that we must disallow them from making unhealthy choices.

He then announces that he’s a cancer surgeon. Presumably he has spent much of his life cutting out tumours, and is highly skilled at doing so. But how does he know that these cancers are the consequence of smoking? Is he an epidemiologist as well? In truth, he has no idea what caused the cancers he is presented with, just as he can have no idea whether a broken bone he is presented with was caused by falling down stairs, playing football, being hit by a car, or any of the other innumerable ways in which bones can be broken. He pretends to know far more than he actually does know, or actually can know.

And the parks have now ceased to be beacons, and become role models. In what way can a park be a role model?

“I am a great believer in choice, but let’s make the healthy choices. Let’s make sure that our kids in the future make those healthy choices. Nicotine is highly addictive. We know that. It’s more addictive than narcotics. And we need to help people to get off smoking cigarettes.”

We have already learned that he is no believer in choice. He wishes to remove choice. One might even say that his idea of choice is no choice at all.

And it’s questionable whether smoking or nicotine are addictive, let alone more addictive than “narcotics”.

And when he says “we need to help people” to stop smoking, this begs the question of whether they want to stop in the first place. Don’t they have a choice in the matter? No, they don’t, Darzi will give them no choice at all.

He then moves on to the other “crisis”, the “obesity crisis”:

“3.8 million adults are obese. It’s all related to our lifestyle illnesses. It’s the amount we’re eating. It’s the amount of exercise, or the less amount of exercise we do…. The whole point of this set of proposals is to get London to move. If you’re taking the Tube, think of going from the left side of the escalator and climb up the escalator. And how do we get more people walking the last mile to work, and the first mile back home? How do we incentivise them to do so. We have 8000 junk food outlets in London. A school in Tower Hamlets will have 43 junk food outlets around it. We have to do something about this. And they’re growing by 10% per year. So that one of the proposals is that we don’t have further expansion. So going back to the narrative here, this about allowing people to make healthy choices, and make that easier.”

I think that by now we may guess that “allowing people to make healthy choices” translates into “disallowing people from making unhealthy choices.” i.e. no choice at all. And we may guess that he’d like to turn off the Tube’s escalators and have people “make the healthy choice” of walking the whole way up and down. And in fact, we may guess that he’d like to close down London transport entirely, thereby offering Londoners the opportunity of “making the healthy choice” of walking the entire 20 miles to and from home. And we may also guess that he’d like to close down all the “junk food” outlets, thereby depriving Londoners of the high energy foods they will need to walk those 40 miles every day. He’s really proposing to reverse the logic of economic logic that created London in the first place – of making life easier for people -, by setting out to make life harder for them.

But it’s all concealed through the use of a language in which meanings have become inverted, so that “crisis” really means “no crisis”, “choice” really means “no choice”, “allow” really means “disallow”, and “helping” people really means “forcing” them, and so on. And all bolstered by a garbled mish-mash of conflicting “beacons” and “role models” and “incentives”.

I could’ve almost found reason to disagree with every word he said.

And I couldn’t help but think that Lord Darzi was a sort of Chauncey Gardiner, the simple-minded gardener in Being There, whose “simplistic utterances about gardens and the weather are interpreted as allegorical statements about business and the state of the economy,” and who ends up being chosen as the next US President. For a cancer surgeon is really just a glorified plumber or repair man or gardener. He has no more business to set out to impose his values and beliefs (i.e. “health”) on everyone else than plumbers or repair men. He should have stuck to his core job (like the WHO should have stuck to its core job), and left it to other people to run London. Unfortunately, our lives are more and more being determined by simple-minded people like him.

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Critics Pile In

Other critics are piling in on the WHO.

Terence Corcoran in the Financial Post:

Terence Corcoran: WHO battles climate and sugar, misses Ebola

Countless bazillions have been spent over decades by the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the World Bank to save the world from climate change, tobacco, sugar, fast foods and poverty, but when a real-life health crisis lands the great global collective of do-gooding bureaucracies has failed miserably. The World Health Organization, mostly silent on Ebola until six months ago, has now plastered its Web side with Ebola wallpaper. The UN and World Bank are also now rushing to cover their positions despite their obvious inability to respond to the crisis…

Maybe the WHO is too busy. It’s web site is loaded with reports on long-range global warming risks, deadly sugar warnings and other initiatives. On Tuesday, as the Ebola crisis grew, the WHO’s global tobacco control convention met in Moscow. Meetings were to be public, but the sessions attended by 170 countries were closed on Monday and the media removed and press conferences cancelled. One news report said the convention, officially known as the Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control , secretly approved a global tobacco tax that would double and triple the price of cigarettes. What’s next — a tax on sugar, one of the WHO’s preoccupations?

As with carbon, tobacco control plan is to have a tobacco-free world by 2040 — or some such date.

Charges that the WHO bungled Ebola have come from many sources, including World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim. The New York Times reported Monday that Mr. Kim, at a public meeting, took a shot at Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO. According to the Times, Mr. Kim addressed Ms. Chan directly at a meeting at World Bank headquarters last month: “You have the authority to act in this emergency, he told her, according to people familiar with the meeting, ‘so why aren’t you doing it?’”

H/T MikeF for this WSJ piece (subscription only):

The Ebola Twilight of Public Institutions
The WHO and CDC are failing in their core health mission.

…Mr. Obama would have done more good by condemning the WHO. Responding to microbiological disasters is supposedly why the WHO exists—and tens of thousands of people may die as a result of the U.N.’s failure of this test of its mission, priorities and competence. “Yes, Ebola is truly an issue of international concern,” Dr. Chan told reporters in Russia, “but tobacco—if we put the evidence on the table—tobacco control is still the most cost-effective and efficient way of reducing unnecessary diseases and deaths arising from using such harmful products.”

Grover Norquist in the National Review:

Vaping for Tax Freedom
E-cigarettes have exposed the fraud of public-health advocates.
By Grover Norquist & Paul Blair

For years, people claiming to be public-health advocates have pushed for higher tobacco taxes. They argued that if you were to increase taxes on tobacco, consumers would be forced to kick their unhealthy habits and quit smoking cigarettes. And if you continued to increase prices, you could continue to accomplish the same results over and over again. In fact, over the past 13 years, federal and state governments have increased cigarette “sin” taxes more than 120 times. Smokers who didn’t quit were forced to fork over more and more, providing sizeable amounts of revenue to growing governments.

But recently, public-health do-gooders have found a new target for tax increases: e-cigarettes and vapor products. This new fight has exposed the movement for what it always was: nothing more than an attempt to extract more money from consumers. This was clear when President Obama violated his “firm pledge” not to raise any form of taxes on people making under $250,000 per year just 16 days into his presidency by signing a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax. The do-gooder movement was never about public health; it was always about money….

Dave Atherton on Breitbart:

WORLD HEALTH ORG’S $20M, SECRET, TAXPAYER-FUNDED MEETING IN MOSCOW COULD RESULT IN $33-A-PACK CIGARETTES

…Meanwhile in the Philippines, Ian Smith, the Executive Director of the Director-General’s Office is giving a keynote address to the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific about the Ebola disease. He says, “The Director-General sends you her best wishes for a productive session. She is fully occupied with coordinating the international response to what is unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times.”

Yes, fully occupied in Moscow talking tobacco in preference to what many would say is the far more pressing need of the Ebola outbreak.

What has really created dissent is the secret nature of the Moscow event. No media is allowed, and the votes taking place – including the one to back a “global tobacco tax”, which is said to have passed – are not being formally recorded…

Mac_cartoon_161014_jpg‘So many questions … Do I smoke? Have I ever smoked? Do I intend to smoke in any UK public park?’

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Tobacco Control Lunges at Parks

With FCTC still in conference in Moscow, Tobacco Control UK is continuing to push for new antismoking measures:

Smoking should be outlawed in public parks, the chief medical officer said last night.

Sally Davies claimed a ban was needed to stop children being set a bad example.

London mayor Boris Johnson called for a public debate:

Mr Johnson said the proposal should spark public debate. ‘One of the glories of London is that we are generally pretty laissez-faire about how people live their lives – provided they do not break the law and provided they do no harm to others,’ he said.

‘If we were to consider a ban on smoking in parks, we would need pretty clear evidence that this would have direct health benefits – in other words, that it would actually save lives. It is time for London to have that debate.’

There’s no need for any debate about this: it’s utterly illiberal and tyrannical. Sally Davies isn’t even citing any public health risk: she just wants to prevent children seeing anyone smoking. She trying to “denormalise” smoking by driving smokers out of sight. It’s a disgusting piece of social engineering.

And if children are to be prevented from seeing people smoking, what’s to stop a ban on mini-skirts, high heels, kissing in public, reading the Sun Page 3, or anything else Sally Davies and her pinch-faced puritan chums don’t approve of? Answer: nothing at all.

However (H/T Harley), Boris seems to have backtracked sharply today:

Boris Johnson has described proposals to ban smoking in parks as “bossy and nannying”, while Downing Street said there are no plans to implement the measure across the UK.

The mayor of London set himself at odds with a recommendation from a health panel he set up that would make thousands of acres of parkland in London and landmarks including Trafalgar Square smoke-free zones.

The suggestion was outlined in a report released today and its author, cancer specialist Lord Darzi, who was appointed to chair the London Health Commission by Mr Johnson, said they could become a blueprint for the rest of Britain.

I wonder what caused that? He presumably knew what the report that he had commissioned was going to recommend before it was published. Perhaps it was only when he heard public indignation mounting, that he realised that it went too far.

People like Sally Davies, Lord Darzi, and WHO Secretary-General Margaret Chan can press ahead with their fiendish schemes of totalitarian control, because they’re not publicly accountable. They don’t have to take note of public opinion, and so they never do (as was witnessed on Monday when the press and public were excluded from the WHO’s Moscow conference).

But elected politicians like Boris Johnson and David Cameron live or die by public approval, and the public are getting mightily sick of nannying bullying public health measures. It’s one reason why smoker Nigel Farage’s UKIP party popularity is rising. And it’s probably also one reason why France’s Marine le Pen (another smoker) is the current favourite to become the next French President. And it’s probably true almost everywhere else.

A public backlash is gathering momentum all over the world, and the incompetence of the WHO and the CDC and the entire tobacco-fixated medical profession in the face of the mounting Ebola epidemic isn’t helping any, as a second Dallas nurse tests positive for the disease.

DALLAS — Three days after a nurse who treated a Liberian man with Ebola contracted the virus, a second worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has tested positive for the virus in preliminary tests, state and federal health officials said Wednesday morning.

The hospital worker, who has not been identified, was part of the medical team that cared for the Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan after he was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 28 and put in isolation. The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated at Presbyterian hospital.

Oh, and she’d taken two plane trips while incubating Ebola.

Elsewhere, in La Nouvelle Republique, a touching story about a young French soldier’s room that had been preserved unaltered for a century included the line:

Les cigarettes contenues dans le paquet cartonné ont toujours la même odeur subtile de tabac anglais.

The translation in the Telegraph yesterday rendered this as:

the stale smell of tobacco wafts from a cigarette packet,

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that “subtile” translates as “stale”.

According Google translate, it means “subtle”, “nice”, “fine”, or “sophisticated”. But of course nobody can be allowed to use such words about tobacco, can they?

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