Plain Packaging Politics.

Leg-iron thinks that, now that plain packaging is coming to Australia, tobacco companies should pull out:

I still say the tobacco companies should make an example of Australia. Pull out. Close every factory and every warehouse. Source no packaging within Australia. Nothing. Pull out altogether.

I don’t mean ‘threaten to do it’. I don’t mean ‘warn the government you plan to do  it’. Justdo it. Start shutting down operations in Australia. Start with those who make the packaging now. You don’t need them any more anyway. Close factories and warehouses. Refuse to import any products to Australia. Let the black market have Australia and let the tax revenue die. See if they can recoup their losses from the anti-tobacco Nazis who have never, and will never, contribute a single penny to any country’s economy.

I follow his reasoning, but it looks to me to be a bit more complicated than that.

Yes, it would knock a big hole in the Australian government’s tax revenues, and one they probably wouldn’t be able to easily recoup elsewhere. They might have to cut government spending. And it would remove the raison-d’etre (and quite possibly the tax funding) of all the antismoking outfits in Australia, which would maybe close down.

But it would also knock a big hole in the tobacco companies’ profits to lose several million Australian customers overnight. Could they recoup it elsewhere? Only if they sold directly to the black market, which I imagine is probably illegal.

And what would happen to Australian smokers? While some of them probably already have access to black market cigarettes, most of them probably don’t. And it would be pretty much ‘cold turkey’ for those who didn’t. Which would probably be a very unpleasant experience for many of them, particularly the older ones. They’d probably get very angry (if they aren’t angry already). And wouldn’t it mean that anyone seen smoking anywhere at all in Australia could only be smoking black market tobacco? What else could they smoke once the tobacco companies had pulled out? And wouldn’t that be the signal for smokers all over Australia to be hauled up in court?

Maybe that would be a good thing. Maybe that would swell the growing global army of angry smokers, and determine them to destroy Tobacco Control and everything it stands for. But then maybe they’d direct their anger at tobacco companies that had left them in the lurch.

And wouldn’t the departure of the tobacco companies be hailed as a first for Australia by ASH and the WHO. “Australia is tobacco-free at last!” they’d gloat. “First Australia, next the world!” Australia’s angry smokers would carry on being ignored, just like angry smokers everywhere else. Mightn’t they take the opportunity to make tobacco illegal in Australia, to make sure the tobacco companies never regained a hold in Australia. They’d lock the door behind the departing tobacco companies.

And would it really hurt the antismoking lobbyists that much? They’re already diversifying into alcohol and food. They’ll still be able to find funding for anti-alcohol and anti-fat and anti-salt lobbying. The target will be different, even if the message will be the same.

Also, while many antismoking lobbyists rely on tax funding, many don’t. The antismoking doctors, for example, probably really do believe – like Sir George Godber – that smoking is a disease just like head lice, or cholera. They really do want to eradicate it. They wouldn’t care if the tax revenues dried up, and they’d leap at the opportunity to make tobacco as illegal as opium or cocaine or cannabis.

Tobacco Control is probably a coalition of interests. The lobbyists would like to keep the tax revenues from tobacco: it’s a nice little earner. But the antismoking doctors, who get their funding elsewhere, won’t care. Divisions could open up in Tobacco Control.

The odd thing though is that it seems to me that the tobacco companies might actually be forced to pull out of Australia whether they want to or not. If their product becomes indistinguishable from any other then, as Chris Snowdon has argued, there’d be a price war between the remaining tobacco companies. Prices would tumble. And those with the most to lose would be the premium brands. And in such price wars, the losers are likely to be driven out of the market completely. And they’d close down. There would only be a few manufacturers of the cheapest cigarettes left.

Which brings me round to another problem I see in Leg-iron’s suggestion, which is that his proposal would only work if all the tobacco companies act in unison, and pull out of Australia. When have the tobacco companies ever acted in unison? Isn’t it more likely that when some pull out, others will remain, and reap big dividends from staying? Isn’t it even likely that new tobacco manufacturers would start up, to take the opportunity created by the departure of the premium brands?

On a slightly different tack, I wonder about the highlighted sentence from Chris Snowdon:

Plain packaging will result in people paying less for their cigarettes for other reasons. The first is that manufacturers operating in a completely “dark market”—ie. one in which they have no communication with their customers—are only able to compete on price.

As I’ve said before, what’s to stop them communicating with their customers on the inside of the packs? There are going to be a lot more angry smokers in Australia after “plain” packaging is introduced (it won’t be “plain” at all, but will be defaced with disgusting health warnings), and the tobacco companies can easily communicate with their customers by including messages or advice inside the packs. They might even replace one cigarette with a rolled-up editorial. The tobacco companies are in the prime position to reach out to smokers.

But do they need them? Maybe not. Below is a graph of tobacco stock prices from Zero Hedge:


P.S. More on Nannying Tyrants.


About Frank Davis

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42 Responses to Plain Packaging Politics.

  1. Rose says:

    The tobacco companies did shut down India for a while.

    India tobacco firms halt production over health warning
    3 December 2010

    “Two top tobacco manufacturers in India have halted production in a row over new health warnings they are required to put on their packaging.

    From 1 December tobacco firms must carry a graphic image of a mouth with cancer on all their packs in India.

    ITC and Godfrey Phillips India say they are unclear over the pictures they should be using, but the health ministry denies there is any confusion.

    It says the firms must use the new warnings immediately or face penalties.”

    “ITC and Godfrey Phillips India say they stopped production at all their units on Thursday.

    “Units [for making cigarettes] are shut because of the ambiguity in pictorial warnings to be carried from 1 December onwards,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted an ITC spokesman as saying.

    ITC makes popular cigarette brands such as India Kings, Gold Flake and Navy Cut. Output is on hold at all five of its units across India, PTI said.”

    what’s to stop them communicating with their customers on the inside of the packs?

    16. Plain packaging.

    “There should be no advertising or promotion inside or attached to the package or on individual cigarettes or other tobacco products”

    And you know how wide their definition of advertising or promotion seems to be.

    • Frank Davis says:

      So cigarette manufacturers can’t put anything at all inside cigarette packets other than cigarettes? Whenever I buy a box of chocolates, there’s usually a little slip of paper inside saying what’s inside which chocolates, so that you can pick the ones you like. And inside other packets there’s quite often advice for how to put it all together and make it work: e.g. computer user manuals.

      So why couldn’t tobacco companies include a little user manual? Explaining which cigarettes are which, and how to smoke them and stub them out. They might even say that it’s best not to smoke them all at once. And they could provide a website address for for further advice, feedback, discussion, etc.

      • Rose says:

        I shouldn’t think so, as they keep saying “tobacco is not an ordinary product” any more, so I would expect that the normal way of doing things is now forbidden, if it wasn’t I’m sure that they would have done something already.
        As far as I can see, if plain packaging does go through all that they will still be allowed to do is make and fill the box.

        Talking of which, I just found this.

        Smoke free North East

        Template response to government consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products.

        They have the correct answer printed in red.

        • jaxthefirst says:

          What a useful document, Rose! Although the consultation here on plain packaging has ended, as we know TC won’t stop there, and this document contains some excellently-worded responses which can be applied to all sorts of proposed future regulations. Just pick an answer which applies to whatever their next proposal is, re-word accordingly to present the opposite view, tick the opposite box to the one highlighted and, hey presto! we’ve got a template which we can send out to people who want to take part in a “consultation,” but don’t have enough information at their fingertips to fill in the “evidence” section. Thanks, SFNE!

          It’ll certainly be worth checking out the SFNE website when the next public “consultation” comes to town …

  2. Tony says:

    I still have a feeling that the pricing will pretty much remain the same with the premium brands still selling as well as before, once some poor schmuck has gotten confused and tried a plain packaged Red Band he’ll soon be back to the primo brands lol.

    • Junican says:

      Pricing of what? What premium brands? There will be no premium brands – there will be no brands at all – just a name in small print. What’s wrong with Red Brand? Who are you to decide? In any case, there will be no certainty about anything anymore in Australia. Red Brand (no brand) could be (no brand) Benson and Hedges (fake) or not. Who will know and how?

      • Mr A says:

        This isn’t helped by there actually being very little difference between brands, anyway. I remember 15 years or so ago I worked in a petrol station. I noticed that Sovereign were manufactured by Benson, had the same nicotine and tar levels as Bensons and tasted virtually the same as Bensons. The next time the Rep came in, I asked him what the difference between the two was. He said, simply, “The box.” Yet Bensons were over a quid a pack cheaper. When there is no branding anymore, over time, I see people drifting towards the cheaper makes. After all, the only reason I don’t smoke Lamberts (in public, anyway) is I don’t want my mates seeing me smoking them. When they all look the same that “brand snobbery” will be gone, so it’s likely people will drift towards the cheaper packs. The premium brands will then, over time, stop being made but then as all the fags that are left will be “cheap” the Govt and TC will have the incentive to bang even more tax on them.

        In some ways, this is just a way of being able to eventually bang loads of tax on Mayfairs, Lamberts and the likes, so they cost the same as Marlboros and Bensons do now.

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    ” … his proposal would only work if all the tobacco companies act in unison, and pull out of Australia.”

    That, of course, is the biggest problem out of all the ones you’ve highlighted. As your tobacco “mole” recently put it, the tobacco companies still see each other as “competitors” in the same way as un-targetted businesses like insurance companies, or clothes manufacturers, or paper-cup makers see each other, and the idea of working together to stand against tobacco control is anathema to them all. Tobacco Control clearly knows this full well – it’s noticeable, for example, that in their big “flagship” court cases they only ever target one tobacco company at a time – never the whole industry – even if the “victims” of smoking may have smoked several different brands in their lifetimes. IIRC, even the MSA came from a case against Phillip Morris, but the agreement itself was “voluntarily” joined by the other companies to ensure no such litigation against themselves. (Actually, that might well have been a good line for defence, if they’d only thought about it: “OK so you believe that Mr X was killed by smoking cigarettes with no warnings on the packs, and even we agree with that, but you can’t provide definitively that it was our cigarettes, and only our cigarettes, wot did it.”)

    They simply haven’t yet clicked that the playing field for their industry has been altered out of all recognition from normal business industry playing fields, and that a whole set of different rules now apply to them which they are going to have to adapt to if they want to survive at all. And that means joining together with your erstwhile “enemies” to confront and defeat a new, much more dangerous one. I can’t believe that all of the big tobacco companies are run by complete morons who haven’t worked this out. So why hasn’t at least one of them made a move to “collaborate” in order to keep the whole industry from extinction?

    • Junican says:

      That is so true, Jax. In the McTear Case (see Bolton Smokers Club sidebar) it was claimed by the McTear side that he smoked John Player Special all the time, but it turned out that he started smoking well before JPS was introduced to the market!

      There are a lot of repercussions, some of which I have mentioned at the Botlon Smokers Club (I am sure that Frank does not mind the self plug!). We must remember that this court case was only about whether or not the Australian Gov could steal the intellectual property of companies without paying compensation. The Court said “YES”. OK… so we can expect to see anti-smoker Governement adverts/propaganda on EVERY PACKET OF ANY SORT BY GOVERNMENT DECREE, can we? Why not? The precedent has been set. Intellectual property has no value.

  4. Marvin says:

    They could of course stop funding the mainstream political parties and instead, start funding a business friendly party.
    Or even start their own !!! – It would be a slow process, but they have stacks of money and nothing left to lose.

    PS: If they pulled out of Australia completely, in addition to what Leg Iron has said,
    the anti-smokers pension funds would take a big hit too – and that would be nice.

  5. magnetic01 says:

    Families Count Cost of Dementia Drug Prescriptions
    (click on the story at right for video)

    Transcript of the story

  6. smokervoter says:

    Lots of twists and turns here that is for sure. It’s never simple and direct on this floating blue Rube Goldberg orb of ours, is it? Leg-iron is right in that pulling out in unison would change everything and right quick.

    I would genuinely feel for the 2.5 million Australian smokers if the cold turkey scenario were to unfold. The solidarity I’m feeling for my fellow smoker in this bullheaded, creeping escalation of the war on smokers is growing in direct proportion to the heat they’re putting on us. I would want to help them out somehow and I’m thinking a lot of us would. I’d hope so. If it happened here there would be hell to pay.

    It would be more like cannabis prohibition though, the black market would certainly fill the void and people would simply cease to openly smoke. You’ve also got to wonder how many people they’d want to feed, cloth and house in jails over smoking non-intoxicating tobacco. And like you say, the current big boys aren’t going to give up on what I guess to be a $1.2 billion net market even though that is relatively small peanuts. India and China are no doubt gearing up to squeeze in as we speak. And there’s a lot of unenforceable, arable land outback if I understand things correctly.

    Smokers Anger. That is what is being underestimated here. Spouses, family and friends would be the first to feel the wrath with the authorities and shopkeepers following right behind. It will spurn sympathetic anger from these affected ones. And it won’t just be smokers, as there are plenty of non-drones out there who don’t like to see people pushed around by governing thugs. Again I hope so.

    Unfortunately, due to its isolated geographic location and its small population I’m afraid it wouldn’t spark the same firestorms as if the same thing happened in the UK for example. But we’re leaving out the political implications here. What’s to say one of the major parties wouldn’t see the opportunity to latch on to a frontpage, energized bloc of angry voters by catering to their wishes. With the parliamentary system and coalition politics even a new Freedom Party could rise up. However, new parties cost a ton of money and have a lousy track record. Absorption would be a more effective vehicle.

    Working from the inside, I’m thinking UKIP in your country and Republicans in mine. Do you realize that if just 70% of the UK’s likely 7 million smoking voters went with them, even for just one general election, that could result in a16% chunk of the vote which when combined with a 31-35% result for one of the majors might then form the next coalition. Throw in some euro-skeptic and libertarian votes and who knows, maybe 18-20% is feasible.

    Look at the Black vote in the US. Obama got 95% or 16 million votes of that constituency in an election that he won by 10 million, you do the math. I’m thinking something drastic like we’re contemplating in Australia would finally provide that vital push over the edge for livid, long suffering smokers. Once again, it wouldn’t just be smokers either.

    I know, I’m either Niccolo or Pollyanna here and the LibLabCon steamroller will, in all likelihood, continue to roll on in traditional fashion. And some milksops are smoking outside at their own homes.

    Except for the brief Crocodile Dundee craze and the 80s Midnight Oil flash in the pan, nothing earth shattering ever comes out of Australia, they’re just too damn far away. But that cold turkey scenario would keep me awake at night thinking about those poor fellow smokers.

    • Rose says:

      The Other Prohibition
      The cigarette crisis in post-war Germany

      “Any plants they could get hold of were smoked: leaves of corn, woodruff, coltsfoot, fern, rib-grass and so forth. Very popular were tea leaves rolled in toilette paper. These surrogates had neither the effect of nicotine nor the smell or taste of tobacco. They were smoked anyway. At least there was some warm smoke and the action of smoking.”

      But the way it’s going in Australia, continuing appeasement is only prolonging the agony.

    • Frank Davis says:

      What’s to say one of the major parties wouldn’t see the opportunity to latch on to a frontpage, energized bloc of angry voters by catering to their wishes. With the parliamentary system and coalition politics even a new Freedom Party could rise up.

      I think that something like this is bound to happen. I just don’t know the exact form it will take.

      Personally, I have no faith in any of the major parties. What’s more interesting are things like the Tea party and the Pirate party.

      However, new parties cost a ton of money and have a lousy track record

      Do there have to be ‘parties’? Does it have to cost a ton of money? Where’s all the money going? In the USA it seems to go into TV ad campaigns, and party conferences, and full time party chairmen and treasurers and so on.

      But in the internet era, is all that necessary? You can do it all online for peanuts. You can have virtual parties holding virtual conferences. And you don’t need TV ads either.

      A political party is really just a bunch of like-minded people. It doesn’t cost money to create a bunch of like-minded people. It just happens all of its own accord.

      • smokervoter says:

        The Pirate party? Tell me about them, I assume they’re British are they?

        The Tea Party is a party within a major party. And they are self-organizing. My local branch shows up on the three main local go-to web pages and announces where so-an-so speaker will be appearing at such-and-such bar or restaurant. There is no cover charge (entry fee). It’s nice. The Tea Party had a major effect on the 2010 mid-terms. I’m very hopeful that we haven’t run out of gas and that we can defeat this ex-smoker from hell and his decidedly healthist party come November.

        I might have it all wrong but I see the UKIP as the Tea Party of Great Britain. And it seems to me that they are almost a party within the Tory party. I read an interview of Nigel Farage the other day conducted by a hostile (Guardian) writer and kept thinking to myself how Tea party the guy is. The commenters were largely Guardianistas so I got an earful on his alleged shortcomings. On balance, he stood the stress test well, I still like and admire him greatly.

        It costs a great deal of money to even get on the ballot. While it’s true that the internet is a great deal less expensive, it still takes some TV and radio ad buys to get the vote out. And there’s the damn lawyers to pay as well. Always the lawyers. Your local butcher has a lawyer and a public spokesman these days.

        But your point is well-taken. Ron Paul didn’t suffer from any financial shortage and he got only 11.2% of the Republican presidential primary votes, which is about twice his last showing. I saw where UKIP is at 11% which is over 3 times their last showing. Liberty is trending our way, but very slowly. Too slowly for me anyway.

        • Frank Davis says:

          The Pirate party is European (and perhaps principally German). I’m not sure if it has a UK wing.

          In the UK, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to get on the ballot. Last I heard it was £2000 or so. With enough members, an online party could raise that sort of figure. We got 5 times more for Nick Hogan. I don’t know about getting the vote out. Either people know it’s election day or they don’t.

          I think politics is going to move entirely online in coming years, in the footsteps of pretty well everything else. I haven’t been following US politics much recently, but a lot of it was already online 3 or 4 years ago. In the UK, the major political parties are losing members, and the newspapers losing readers.

  7. XX The first is that manufacturers operating in a completely “dark market”—ie. one in which they have no communication with their customers—are only able to compete on price.XX

    Then we will get “minimum pricing” on tobacco.

    • Dave says:

      The Tobacco companies have done this to themselves by bending over for the last 20 years or so.Everytime the Tobacco companies comprimised on something it continued to take them down this road. The companies saw it as a way to avoid certain regulations but should have known what the end result would eventually be. The tobacco companies power is there money but what they have missed out on is tapping into the Billions of smokers world wide. They have done nothing to fend off the harm to there customers and small business via smoking bans etc… They better band together and start an offensive attack and abandon this decades old reactive process.

      • Rose says:

        The Tobacco companies have done this to themselves by bending over for the last 20 years or so

        Much longer than that, what kind of company alters it’s product to please governments rather than it’s customers?
        Anyone else remember the smoker’s fury in the 70’s when additives were first added? That was another reason that I thought I’d better get a move on with trying tobacco, it wasn’t just the “road tar” thing, I wanted to test the real thing while I still could.

        Unfortunately I took such a long time learning to smoke properly that I didn’t get to test them.

        “Prior to 1970, the use of additives in tobacco products was prohibited without special permission from the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, under Section 176 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1952. This permission was given only within very strict limits and mainly in respect of flavourings in tobacco products other than cigarettes. The prohibition extended to the importation of tobacco products containing additives as well as a ban on the production of cigarettes with additives for export.”

        “The rise of additives in tobacco products is intimately linked with the strategy to reduce tar yields. The amount of tar and nicotine in smoke is measured by a standard smoking machine in which the cigarette is smoked with a fixed puff volume and frequency with tar and nicotine residues collected on a filter and weighed. Governments have insisted on reducing tar levels as measured by this approach, hoping that this would reduce tar exposure to smokers — and therefore lead to reduced harm.

        “The tobacco industry argues that one of the key purposes of additives is to make lower tar cigarettes more palatable. The ISCSH accepts this and notes:
        “Some smokers find existing low and low to middle tar brands unsatisfying, but if those who smoked middle or middle to high tar cigarettes could switch to low tar brands whose acceptability was improved by additives, the dangers of smoking could be reduced.
        The Committee recognises the potential value of using flavouring additives in this way.”
        Authorization Required
        This server could not verify that you are authorized to access the document requested.

        Good thing that it was still open to public view in 2007 then isn’t it?

        FOR IMMEDiATE RELEASE OCTOBER 13, 1974 – Office of the White House Press Secretary

        Dear Dr. Rhoads,

        I have – received and reviewed a preliminary copy- of the 1974 annual report of the National Cancer Advisory Board. In several places,the Board’s report recommends Federal regulation of the tar and nicotine content of cigarettes. The report does not, however, provide an assessment of the scientific evidence at hand which should provide the basis for such regulation.

        In order that all concerned may be fully informed, I would like to request that the National Cancer Advisory Board review the existing scientific evidence on an urgent basis and provide me with an assessment of the extent to which there exists a scientific basis for responsible regulation of cigarettes.

        I recognize that all questions of regulation necessarily involve a certain amount of reasonable disagreement as well as the exercise of sound judgment. Nevertheless it is critically important that our judgments be soundly based so that we may proceed with the greatest amount of wisdom.
        I know I can count on the National Cancer Advisory Board to provide me with scientific advice on this important matter-of public concern.

        I would greatly appreciate the Board’s assessment by December 1, 1974.
        GERALD R. FORD

        October 23, 1974 MEMORANDUM President Ford’s letter to Jonathan Rhoads, October 18, 1974, is capable of being misunderstood. The UPI story the same day increased the chances, by portraying it as a Presidential initiative against the tobacco industry. (E.g., “President Ford today expressed interest in the possibility of regulating by law the tar and nicotine content of cigarettes. He asked the National Cancer Advisory Board to provide for him by Dec. 1 ‘scientific advice on this important matter of possible concern.”‘)

        What was, in fact, a Presidential slap on the wrist to the NCAB for an unsubstantiated recommendation, is being perceived as a White House move against the tobacco industry. This was the reaction of the antismoking clique, and initially of the tobacco industry. The story was largely ignored by the press, however, but depressed Phillip Morris stock by $100 million….”

        “This “hanging jury” could easily manipulate the President into a box he would have to explain his way out of to his basic conservative, business and anti-regulatory constituency”

        Long-term effect:
        “The tobacco industry is becoming increasingly disturbed by industries which are using smoking as a cover-up for their problems in complying with the Clean Air Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
        Tobacco executives have noted efforts by the oil industry, the automobile industry and others to hide their pollution behind a tobacco smoke screen.”

        Adding to their suspicion is foot dragging of the National Cancer Advisory Board in acting on environmental and occupational cancer, which some scientists and environmental activists regard as ignored and “unindicted co-conspirators” in the case against cancer.
        The NCAB is much more vigorous in its almost single-minded persecution of smoking.

        Precedent effect: Yielding to pressure from the NCAB in regulating cigarettes will open a Pandora’s Box.”


  8. waltc says:

    Aside from the lost revenues, the added costs of policing the black market, of rooting out or Paraquating home grown plants, of jailing formerly law-abiding citizens, and Chicago-style gang wars, a main reason that no government (so far) has instituted Tobacco Prohibition is that it wouldn’t be pleasant to live in a country undergoing a bout of mass cold turkey. Watch the murder rate and domestic violence rate rise. And watch the cost of “health care” (ahem) go up as the p-whipped among the smokers switch to legal prescriptions (and experience their physical and medical side effects including “addiction”) and drive zonked on Valium, if not just on booze.

    The companies pulling out would mean de facto Prohibition. Apres which, the deluge. Or at least one might hope.

    OT: I surveyed 2 (just visiting) Albanians today. They detested the ban, questioned whether this was a free country, and when asked for additional comment, said, “Your mayor, crazy.”

  9. Bucko says:

    When Leg Iron first proposed this idea he said that all companies would have to act in unison.

    Not only is there the smokers and the lost tax but there will be a great number of people employed by the manufacturers and all the incumbent businesses that make up supply, distribution and sales etc.

    If they buggered off quickly and with no warning I believe the government would be begging them to return, maybe even with some concessions on existing laws.

    What I don’t believe is that the tobacco companies would ever work together like this or be willing to stand up to the government

  10. Barry Homan says:

    I feel the big problem has always been this: there are about 1 billion smokers on the planet, and each and everyone has the same problem. The individual smoker can’t harness any kind of leverage against this persecution.

    IF he had the power – anything, dammit – he or she would put it to use.

    Think about it. One billion smokers given the means to take a real, direct action. Think about that cute girl you passed on the pavement today, with a cigarette in her hand – now what can she do? She’ll go home, start dinner, listen to music. Maybe she reads columns like this, maybe not. But WHERE is her power, where is her means of action? If she only had some. What can she do except scream about it in her room?

    That’s the problem Frank – we ALL wanna grab the handle and YANK, yank hard!

    But we can’t, because there is no handle. But we are a FORCE.

    Give us the handle. That’s what these blogs really need to do, is think of a plan. I see so many contributors writing thoughtful, intelligent pieces here, but it just goes on and on and on…and on.

    You need to give that girl on the sidewalk a piece of the action. Give her a weapon she can use.

    What would it be?

    • Frank Davis says:

      What would it be?

      That’s what’s up for discussion.

      But I think you’re pointing in the right direction: there are (over) 1 billion smokers on the planet, and they can become a political force. And I think that’s beginning to happen, as smokers from all over the world get talking to each other, and start doing things together. The ongoing ISIS survey I’m running is one example of that. The Tobacco Control Tactics website is another. What’s needed is to bring smokers together. And that’s happening.

      • Marvin says:

        I think the main problem is that smokers worldwide are atomised.
        What we need is a galvanising force and I believe TC will provide this force, sooner or later, it’s in their nature.

        The libertarian view is that the individual is paramount, but what we actually need is COLLECTIVE action.

        I think the blogs are a very good vehicle for organising and spreading the word for collective action.
        The campaign to free Nick Hogan and to depose a loony councillor in Stoney Stratford are brilliant examples of this.

        While hiding cigarette displays and introducing “plain” packaging are extremely irritating, they do not serve to unify smokers.
        So far, TC have been extremely careful, but their options are running out, sooner or later they WILL overstep the mark, banning smoking in cars, outdoors and most importantly in council housing and this will greatly unify all the smokers.

        It is a time-bomb ticking away, all we have to do is get to as many people as possible before then and use the blogs to organise real world resistance and protests.

        Patience is a virtue, we will have our day!!!

  11. west2 says:

    I suggested quite a while back that the tobacco companies pull out of California. This would reduce a number of the issues you mention. Anyways, looks like, from a tobacco co pov, they are in a ‘managing’ the decline mode.

  12. God bless Australia says:

    What a wonderful suggestion frank, I’m sure the Australian government would love state owned a brand spanking new tobacco industry.

    They would build brand new factories so they could control the industry totally.

    Dream on frank.

  13. jaxthefirst says:


    Actually it was Leg-Iron’s idea. Frank was actually arguing against it …

    • Smoking Scot says:

      Hi Jax,

      No need to explain, it’s Frank’s resident parasite. A brain dead moron who gets real excited when it picks up a bargain at Cash Generators. Then it goes to an “anonymous browsing” site that makes it seem to be coming from all over the place.

      Long Rider is its arch nemesis. It’s got a very weird thing for Pat,

  14. Rose says:

    A quick update

    As some might remember, I have been growing sweet corn this summer to test the American tobacco substitute corn silk.
    With a twist of dried corn silk, uncut and rolled in a cigarette, as it’s rather wiry I can’t get the gas mix right and it makes my head spin.
    Half and half with tobacco and with the corn silk put in first, it smokes quite normally and is really rather nice.

    If you like the flavour of sweet corn, that is.

    • Junican says:

      Now that is very interesting, Rose. Is there nicotine in corn silk? The point is that I have some nicotine eliquid……….. need I say more? Just as an experiment (when all the agro was on when jailbirds in Northern Ireland were forbidden tobacco), I tried smoking the contents of a tea bag! It was not very nice, but possible. I wonder what dried grass (and I mean grass!) would taste like? Could other forms of leaf be fermented? I am thinking of rhubarb leaves – they grow very big. Ferment them as normal then flavour them with ecig nicotine liquid. How very interesting! I might just do a little experiment next season….

      No wonder the Gov do not want to outlaw tobacco. There are so many alternatives. And no wonder ASH ET AL want ecigs banned. They don’t want people to have access to nicotine liquid.

      • Rose says:

        I am thinking of rhubarb leaves – they grow very big

        Well, don’t.

        The poison in rhubarb

        “During World War I rhubarb leaves were recommended as a substitute for other veggies that the war made unavailable. Apparently there were cases of acute poisoning and even some deaths. Some animals, including goats and swine, have also been poisoned by ingesting the leaves.”

        How toxic is rhubarb?

        “From an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Oxalic acid, LD50 (LD50 is the Median Lethal Dose, which is the dose of a drug or chemical predicted to produce a lethal effect in 50 percent of the subjects to whom the dose is given) in rats is 375 mg/kg. So for a person about 145 pounds (65.7 kg) that’s about 25 grams of pure oxalic acid required to cause death. Rhubarb leaves are probably around 0.5% oxalic acid, so that you would need to eat quite a large serving of leaves, like 5 kg (11 lbs), to get that 24 grams of oxalic acid. Note that it will only require a fraction of that to cause sickness”

        Ferment them as normal then flavour them with ecig nicotine liquid
        With a failure rate of 98.4% when it’s in a patch? Why bother.

        Paper presented to the FDA’s Substance Abuse Advisory Committee meeting, 2 August 1994, Silver Springs, MD.

        Is Nicotine Addictive? A Re-evaluation of the Data

        “In this brief statement I will develop the argument that research has failed to substantiate the claim that nicotine is addictive. To the contrary, it is difficult to document even mildly rewarding effects from nicotine.”

        Could other forms of leaf be fermented?
        Possibly, but why? I’m not even fermenting my tobacco leaves.

        Take a look through these for a bit of inspiration.

        Herbal Smoking Mixtures

      • Rose says:


        There is niacin in corn silk, but my strong warning against using rhubarb leaves, of all things, is currently waiting for Frank to extract it from the spam folder.

  15. lleweton says:

    Apologies if you know all this already. These comments need to be double-checked but coltsfoot, a very common ‘weed’, is, according to the herbals, used in various forms to alleviate chest problems. It’s Latin name is ‘tussilago’, an onomatopeic name echoing the word ‘cough’. I have read that it is also used in herbal smoking mixtures as a base for any other herbs which might be included, for instance mullein (check ‘Great mullein’), another frequently-found herb in waste places such as railway embankments. Both coltsfoot and mullein have large, soft leaves, the former in the shape of a horse’s hoof. I have a (tightly controlled) amount in my garden. It tends to spread.

    • Rose says:


      Apparently coltsfoot is called British Tobacco in America.

      The Social History of Smoking

      “The fumes of dried coltsfoot leaves were used as a remedy in cases of difficulty of breathing, both in ancient Roman times and in Tudor England.
      Lyte, in his translation, 1578, of Dodoens’ “Historie of Plants,” says of coltsfoot: “The parfume of the dryed leaves layde upon quicke coles, taken into the mouth through the pipe of a funnell,or tunnell, helpeth suche as are troubled with the shortnesse of winde, and fetche their breath thicke or often, and do [_sic_] breake
      without daunger the impostems of the breast.”

      The leaves of coltsfoot and of other plants have often been used as a substitute for tobacco in modern days.
      A correspondent of _Notes and Queries_, in 1897, said that when he was a boy he knew an old Calvinist minister, who used to smoke a dried mixture of the leaves of horehound, yarrow and “foal’s foot” intermingled with a small quantity of tobacco.
      He said it was a very good substitute for the genuine article.

      Similar mixtures, or the leaves of coltsfoot alone, have often been smoked in bygone days by folk who could not afford to smoke tobacco only.”
      http: //

      “Coltsfoot first arrived in North America from England. Its taxonomic rank is Magnoliopsida: Asterales: Asteraceae. In other words, it is in the daisy family.

      “Old Paris apothecaries boasted the flower’s image on their doorposts (
      The “Tussilago” in coltsfoot’s Linnaean name indicates the plant’s cough-busting properties (RobiTUSSin, anyone?).
      “The smoking of the leaves for a cough has the recommendation of Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny, Boyle, and other great authorities, both ancient and modern, Linnaeus stating that the Swedes of his time smoked it for that purpose.

      Smoking the plant this way is supposed to relieve asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems.
      Note, though, that we now know the roots can be toxic to the liver; one case exists of an infant’s developing liver disease and dying after its mother ingested coltsfoot during her pregnancy ( Thus, only the leaves and flowers should be used.”

      “Coltsfoot, otherwise known as British Tobacco, is an excellent substitute for tobacco. It is usually smoked on it’s own but can be combined effectively with other herbs for an individual mix. Not only does Coltsfoot help to reduce the cravings for a tobacco cigarette, but it is an expectorant and therefore can be used to support the lungs .”
      Includes instructions.

      Now we just need a guinea pig. : )

      • Tony says:

        “Now we just need a guinea pig. : )”
        A few decades ago I used to know a couple of people who were frightened of tobacco but liked to smoke cannabis. So they used coltsfoot, sprinkled with a little cannabis, in their joints. Didn’t seem to do them any harm. Don’t remember if I ever tried it though.

      • lleweton says:

        Many thanks for the information Rose. I always look out for the small yellow flowers in early Spring, because they appear before the leaf and I see them as a harbinger of longer days. There’s a lot of coltsfoot about. I had a friend years ago who called it a pernicious weed. I have many herbs in my garden and I did try to make a smoking mixture using coltsfoot as a basis. I did so partly in a spirit of rebellion, and also because I was interested in what would happen. What happened was mildew. But I’m quite sure the fault lay with me. Meanwhile, in a similar spirit of insubordination towards the Apparatchiks of State Control, I have some tobacco plants which seem quite happy.

        • Rose says:

          I am hopeless at herbs and have to buy anything I’m interested in, incase I get it wrong.
          Good to know that your tobacco plants are doing well, with the weather this year a lot of people have been struggling.

          I thought you just hung up herbs in bunches in a sunny window to dry them out, or have I got it wrong?

  16. Damo Mackerel says:

    I have even a better idea.
    How about making sleeves with the brand name printed on them? People can simply slip the sleeve over their box of ciggies.

    Or maybe I might get into reviving the market in cigarette cases. I’ll make them very fashionable and attractive and who knows it may even encourage people to smoke.

    • lleweton says:

      Rose, I don’t think you have got it wrong. I sprayed my herbal mixture with honey water before the leaves had dried. That, I think, is what caused the mildew. Tonight I’ve picked two bunches, one of coltsfoot and one of tobacco leaves, and hung them to dry together in my garage. Let’s see what happens.

      • Rose says:


        That was probably the problem, if the leaves weren’t bone dry they might not have been able to absorb the moisture.

        After the late frost, my crabapple tree was covered in mildew all over the leaves, which was then followed by a sooty mold.
        I thought I was going to lose it because for months now the leaves have been shrivelling up and falling off, but I noticed this week that at the very top it has now produced some new undamaged leaves.

        Good luck with the drying.

  17. Pingback: Big Tobacco Shifts its Ground? | Frank Davis

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