A Sense of Unreality

Following on from last night’s post. about how bad laws like the proposed smoking ban in cars sends voters in droves to UKIP, I’ve been wondering why the government carries on doing stupid things like this. It’s very strange. Do they want to be kicked out of office?

For we seem to be facing something like a complete melt-down of the political establishment. The Lib-Dem vote has collapsed. The Labour vote in Scotland has evaporated, and people are calling for Ed Miliband’s head. And when Mark Reckless wins Rochester and Strood for UKIP in a week or so, there’ll be calls for David Cameron’s head as well. And meanwhile UKIP rises higher and higher in the opinion polls.

At this rate, it seems entirely plausible to imagine that next year UKIP will win not just 6 seats in the General Election, but 60 seats.

You’d think that, in these circumstances, one of the party leaders would take a leaf out of Nigel Farage’s playbook, and start having publicity shots with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. If he can do it, why can’t they?

It’s not going to happen, of course. None of them seems capable of changing their mind about anything. So they’re all going to sleepwalk in lockstep together into next year’s election slaughter.

One possible explanation, that I was toying with last night, is that government isn’t capable of change because it isn’t actually the government. And instead the EU is the real government of Britain, thanks to all the various treaties – Maastricht Lisbon, etc – that the UK has signed. After all UKIP keeps saying that 70% of our legislation is made in Brussels. If 70% is plausible, why not 100%?

What if the British government has effectively ceased to exist, and is only maintained in existence in order to maintain a semblance of normal self-government? What if the first thing David Cameron does every morning is phone up Brussels and ask what new piece of legislation needs to be enacted by our vestigial parliament. Gay marriage? Car smoking bans? Shariah law? Hallal meat? More windmills?

And then, once he’s got his orders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg (and maybe Ed Miliband too) spend the rest of the day playing Monopoly or Bridge around the Cabinet table – because there’s really nothing else for them to do.

A Channel 4 mocumentary is to imagine the aftermath of an election victory by Nigel Farage's UkipIf so, then even if UKIP win with 600 seats next year, and Nigel Farage becomes Prime Minister (Channel 4 are making a spoof drama doc about this), then when he enters Number 10, the first thing he’ll find is that as Britain’s Prime Minister he has no power at all to do anything. And what if Nigel Farage’s very first speech on the steps of Number 10 is one in which he informs the British people that he’d just found out that, as Prime Minister, he had no power to do anything, and the real government of Britain is in Brussels, and has been for years, with the British Government only retained as a front organisation to conceal the fact. Nigel Farage might even apologise, and say, ‘I’m afraid it’s been a hollow victory, both for me, and for the British people who elected me.’

Maybe that’s what Channel 4’s spoof documentary will be all about.

It would certainly explain the peculiar stasis of the LibLabCon political class, and their lack of imagination, and the arbitrary laws they enact, often without any consultation at all. And above all why they never listen to anyone.

It’s a possibility. No doubt some people will say that it’s already the reality, and has been for years.

Whatever the explanation, there seems to be a profound sense of unreality about Britain these days. That things are not what they seem. And that it’s anyone’s guess (and my turn to guess today) what the reality might be. And that we’re likely to find out, in some shock denouement (like Farage’s imagined speech on the steps of Number 10) some day soon.

For me, I suppose this sense of unreality started with the smoking ban in 2007. Or maybe when parliament voted for it in 2006 (that was unreal too). Things stopped making sense back then. Politicians no longer represented the people, but dictated to them. Something had gone horribly wrong. And that’s still how it seems.


About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to A Sense of Unreality

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Number 10 is one in which he informs the British people that he’d just found out that, as Prime Minister, he had no power to do anything, and the real government of Britain is in Brussels, and has been for years, with the British Government only retained as a front organisation to conceal the fact. Nigel Farage might even apologise, and say, ‘I’m afraid it’s been a hollow victory, both for me, and for the British people who elected me.’

    Simply put Nigel would have a mandate to basically dissolve all treaties and start from scratch as a free and unencumbered nation with sole autonomy for itself and its poccessions around the globe.

    Its going to be the wave of things to come its already in the cards,history doesn’t lie it tells us the future everytime………..

  2. castello2 says:

    Similar in the US. None of it makes much sense.

    • Joe L. says:

      I’d say it’s actually worse here. At least across the pond, an independent party is gaining traction (whether or not they’ll be able to get anything done is another story). Over here, though, it seems like people are too afraid or too ignorant to think outside the bipartisan box. An independent candidate does “well” here if they can muster 10% of the vote, then they disappear into the aether, never to be heard from again. All the while, the same two parties and their special interests are allowed to take liberties (figuratively and literally) and perpetuate this nonsense indefinitely.

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    “ … it isn’t actually the government. And instead the EU is the real government of Britain, thanks to all the various treaties – Maastricht Lisbon, etc – that the UK has signed.”

    Absolutely. Many people on here, myself included, have been saying this for ages. And, I’m sorry to say it (because I know your views on the subject, Frank), but the conspiracy loons (or maybe they’re not so loony after all??) were saying it years and years before that. And everyone laughed and said “Oh, here we go – yet another Conspiracy Theory. Ho, ho, ho! It’ll never happen.” Yes, I admit – even I said it, too. I thought, all those years ago, that the chance of there being absolutely no group at all in Parliament who would stand up and say “Hey – look what’s happening here. This has got to stop now!” was unimaginable. But it has. Nutty some of those Theorists might have been, but in this instance they were spot-on.

    And of course you’re right. Our present MPs from all the major parties are merely puppet caretakers for their EU masters – there to ensure that the EU’s instructions are implemented and there to take the flak for it by pretending that all these crazy laws and rules and regulations are “their” idea when they’re patently not. It answers the question that people ask time and time again: “How can all of these MPs be so completely out of touch which what the British people – their voters – actually want?” That answer being that they were never installed to represent those people in the first place. Their sole concern is looking after their own careers, their own pocketbooks and their own families and cronies, and pleasing the big cheeses at the EU. Everything else is unimportant to them. It isn’t that they’re out of touch – they know full well that their policies are roundly despised by pretty much all of the electorate – the hard fact is that they don’t damned well care!

    But that’s the fatal flaw. Being merely serfs for their EU masters, none of them actually have any real convictions or principles of their own, nor any sense of real right and wrong or any integrity about how they wield the power that they have granted. They merely receive instructions and then act on them. Drones make the best servants, after all – obedient, unquestioning and easily bribed into doing the wrong thing by a few shiny-shiny trinkets and rewards. What drones don’t make are creative, adaptable, fast thinkers who are able to respond to unexpected challenges (like the public rumbling the lies, like the increasing use of the Internet, or like UKIP’s sudden emergence onto the political scene – all of which, in my mind, are inextricably linked). Which is why their only response to UKIPs ever-increasing popularity are the same old, tired tricks that always worked all the time the public could only get their information via a tightly-controlled MSM which could bring down a politician’s career with just one headline story and a bit of nasty name-calling, and also all the time that their madness-inspired policies didn’t impact in any noticeable way on people’s personal, day-to-day lives. Neither of those two situations apply any more, and our puppet politicians have absolutely no idea how to counter all these unanticipated hurdles, because they’re followers, not leaders; sheep, not sheepdogs.

    So in a way, UKIP (and similar parties around Europe) gives a problem to the real power-holders of the EU, too. Because they are caught now squarely between a rock and a hard place. What can they do? They can oust their present serfs in favour of a more able and flexible set who are more able to think on their feet and come up with a bit of realistic opposition to UKIP – but the rub there is that a bunch of MPs with minds of their own might, having overcome the UKIP threat, then be just as likely to come up with some realistic opposition to the EU as well, because there’s no doubt that real people with real minds could be able to see with glaring clarity everything that’s wrong with our membership of the EU. So that’s too big a risk to take. Or the EU could look at themselves in the mirror and admit that they themselves have gone too far, got too power-crazed, got too greedy and made some terrible decisions, and back off a bit – maybe give some of their least-contented nations some sweeteners to make them see that the “EU is actually not such a bad thing.” But when has any power-mad dictator (or group of them) ever had the ability to do that? It’s difficult enough for the average, normal person to admit when they’ve c*cked up badly – so admitting failure is anathema to idealistic egotists who genuinely believe that they are perfect in every way, never make a mistake and are up there on a par with God himself in terms of knowing best.

    I really can’t think of any other ways that the EU can retrieve this situation. From the look of it, their chosen course of action is to dig their heels in, become more belligerent, more controlling, more intransigent and more demanding of their serfs, which is why even in the face of UKIP’s rise to fame none of the major parties are making any genuinely serious noises about getting us out – not even the Tories dare as a party to countenance that, regardless of their weasel words about “reform” and the very occasional grumpy speech from the odd backbencher or two.

    The fact is, for the EU, it’s fast coming to a “change or die” situation. And as they’re incapable of changing, it looks like the outcome is most likely to be the latter. And as far as I’m concerned, it can’t come soon enough.

    And do you know what? I think that the anti-smoking brigade – zealots and swivel-eyed single-issue fanatics that they are – have played no small part in this process, because in so many ways they represent, on a smaller scale, exactly the mindset of the EU grandees who play their own power-games out on a larger board and over a wider set of issues. Even non-smokers’ subconscious senses are now aware of the “control” mentality, because Tobacco Control has brought that mindset right to the doorsteps of everyone in the UK, whether smoker or non-smoker. Even the few non-smokers who still approve of the smoking ban can’t fail to notice their friends and family members ousted from polite society, or miss their presence at social gatherings. And even the few remaining ban supporters are now beginning to say that still more and more demands to extent the ban further are really just getting, at best, silly or, at worst, dangerously illiberal. Eve if not (yet) directly affected, they see anti-smoking campaigners unable to control themselves in their quasi-religious zeal against tobacco; and they similarly see the EU as unable to stop itself from interfering in countless other areas of people’s lives and livelihoods for the same reasons. The two are a mirror image of each other – one is in a large mirror, the other is in a small one, but the reflections are identical.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m not sure that I count EU politics as a conspiracy. It’s all been pretty open and above board. Some people have been wanting a United States of Europe for a long time. And I can sort of understand why (“big battalions”, “top table”, and all that). And any number of prominent UK politicians are supporters of it. In fact, more or less the entire political class seems to have signed up for it, just like they did for the smoking ban. They were absolutely certain that it was a Good Thing.

      But as the European ‘project’ has evolved (and it has been evolving) it’s gradually become a monster, at least in my eyes (and in a lot of other people’s eyes), of centralised bureaucracy and imperial pretension.

      In the piece above, I was just wondering how far the ‘project’ had progressed. At present I see the UK as an independent nation state (if only just). But what if the ‘project’ is actually near completion? What if David Cameron is only nominally Prime Minister, and actually obeys orders from Brussels? It would explain much of his behaviour as the consequence of being an EU stooge who is trying to pretend to ‘fight Britain’s corner’. So he first refuses to pay the £1.7 billion surcharge (because of our highly successful and vibrant drug and prostitution ‘industries’, FFS!), but now seems to have agreed to pay half of it.

      Anyway, whether it’s the EU or the smoking ban or Global Warming, it’s all about top-down control and micro-management of people’s lives.

  4. Tom says:

    “… More windmills?…”

    BTW, I don’t have the link or remember the source, but it was mainstream or semi-mainstream the other day, but maybe it was a city somewhere in the US, they banned those ugly bird killing wind generators – because residents up to 6 miles away were complaining, having extreme bad health effects, not statistical either but the real kind, and this time real science came into play as they measured low frequency sound waves, some sub-audible for the human level, and the entire area up to 6 miles radius was being bathed in low tones from those windmill generators and that was the source of extreme bad health effects directly attributable to them. So this idea of putting more windmills everywhere, they are going to not only kill all the birds, they are going to kill the people living around them as they are generating low frequency sound waves, endangering public health, of the real sort, not the fake-statistical sort they waste all their money on blaming smoking as the fall guy.

  5. waltc says:

    Rose– you asked.. Here’s stuff on DiFranza

    Part 1 of 2. I forget where I lifted this bio from but part 2 has citations:

    “DiFranza, Joseph. Prof. Dept of Family & Community Medicine, U of MA (Worcester). Reviewer for Tobacco Control and member of the Special Review Committee that approved a federal grant (NCI money) for attorney Richard Daynard to assist in anti-tobacco litigation. With RWJF funding, he investigated state compliance with the 1992 Synar Regulation–a congressional move to end all tobacco sales to “youth” and reported that most states had been violating the law. But DiFranza’s Big Headines came from murdering Joe Camel, causing uproar with a study implying Joe was a pied piper, luring little children to smoke. Problem was, the study was faked….” (see more on this below.)


  6. waltc says:

    Excerpt from link below:

    When Dr. Joseph DiFranza’s pretesting for his 12/91 JAMA article showed that the ads appealed more to people in their 20s than early teens, he wrote his colleagues, “It would appear that we have just disproved our theory that the [Joe Camel] ads appeal more to kids than to adults.”

    To get his final results, DiFranza changed questions that didn’t produce the desired answers and included in the results the answers of “kids” who told him they did not smoke. He also counted respondents up to 21 years of age as “kids.”

    DiFranza told a newspaper reporter [that contrary to the widely publicized conclusions): “None of these studies was designed to show that these Camel ads increased smoking among kids.”

    DiFranza also found, but did not report, that 94% of the students who thought Joe Camel was “cool” also thought “smoking makes you unpopular;” 95% thought “smoking makes you unattractive.”

    The Camel brand’s share of the overall market has remained at about 4% since before the campaign began in late 1987. The kind of growth among youth that Dr. DiFranza claims would have raised the total brand share.

    In a paper presented at the 1995 Marketing and Public Policy Conference, Joel S. Dubow, professor at St. Joseph’s University and an editorial referee for the Journal of Advertising Research, stated: “The errors of method and conclusion which occur in DiFranza et al are overwhelming. They consist of both errors of scientific method and what appear to be lapses of integrity on the part of the authors. .., And, we ought to ask, also, whether the actions of DiFranza et al constitute an incident of scientific fraud.” The FTC dismissed this study early in its investigation of the Joe Camel campaign.(end excerpt) but the pols and the public demanded the end of the ads, based on the false and discredited conclusion,.


    He apparently managed to slip away from these and other documented charges, even though admitting to a priori bias:

    • Rose says:

      Thank you, Walt.

      • Rose says:

        Your Chronicle link no longer leads to the story.

        Scientists See Big Business on the Offensive

        ” In a letter to a colleague before carrying out the study, Dr. DiFranza had written, “To those of us in the tobacco control field it is obvious this guy [Joe Camel] has maximum appeal to boys about 11 years old.” He then wrote that he had been frustrated by the lack of evidence to show that the advertising was aimed at influencing young children, but that he thought he had an answer to that problem.

        “Well I have an idea for a project that will give us a couple of smoking guns to bring to the national media,” he wrote.

        R.J. Reynolds released the letter to The Winston-Salem Journal and the Associated Press. The story then ran in newspapers across the country, reporting that one of the researchers in the “Joe Camel” studies had committed misconduct by predetermining his results. ”

        ” In early 1993 the university found Dr. DiFranza innocent of charges of misconduct. “All scientists who set out to study something are biased; they start out with a hypothesis to test,” Dr. DiFranza says. “While the design of my study was pre-ordained, my results weren’t.”

        Dr. DiFranza adds, “The fact that they made their allegations of fraud so public felt like harassment to me. For a while, I couldn’t sleep. Fighting their charges diverted my time from research.”


        “The jazzy, sunglasses-wearing camel that has adorned billboards and magazine ads since 1988 will be replaced by the more naturalistic dromedary silhouette emblazoned on the Camel cigaret label.

        For Joe Camel, the writing was on the wall. Part of last week’s proposed $368 billion settlement between the tobacco industry and states suing to recover money spent to treat dying smokers banned cigaret companies from using cartoons or humans in tobacco advertisements.

        President Clinton cheered Joe’s demise. “This step is long overdue,” he said. “We must put tobacco ads like Joe Camel out of our children’s reach forever.”

        You know, I don’t even remember seeing Joe Camel, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that DiFranza has labelled us as reckless drivers and alcoholics just because we hold contrary views.

  7. You’d think that, in these circumstances, one of the party leaders would take a leaf out of Nigel Farage’s playbook, and start having publicity shots with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. If he can do it, why can’t they?

    I agree with Jax that MPs aren’t out of touch, but “they were never installed to represent those people in the first place”. I am convinced that the ones at the top have been compromised and will do anything rather than face been exposed. Some of the politicians that I have met seem like faithful robots, incapable of breaking their programming. To quote from ‘1984’, “There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party”.

    This is perhaps how the majority are chosen, by being lapdogs and maybe showing signs of ambition, therefore probably willing to be Machiavellian to become a Minister, therefore not of the highest moral calibre, but that’s my junior psychology at work.

    Maybe I should just have said that I agree with Jax.

    I will paste that whole passage from ‘1984’ in a separate comment as it is very revealing in this discussion. It’s a passage that I probably overlooked in importance before.

    And Jax, I was one of those “conspiracy loons” who could read the writing on the wall many years ago. I know that some people think that the label still applies because of other opinions I share, but I’m sure that my “conspiracy theories” will be the dominant view with time, especially when people get access to the facts as we get here with info that never makes the MSM which, for example, shows there to be no discernible danger from SHS and Walt is exposing yet another fraud.

    I imagine the Channel 4 piece will be derogatory, but wait and see. I bet they portray Farage as a loathsome, foul-mouthed, womanising, double-crossing liar. Like Harley says, Nigel could tear up those treaties – the signing of them was an act of treason, after all.

    As for Breitbart’s prediction of a wipeout of Labour in Scotland – that does sound like a conspiracy theory, but a nice one. Unfortunately, it means the SNP wins almost every seat, so they could hold the balance of power. Next year, the UK could have a Tory/SNP coaltion ‘government’!

    And you thought things were bad now?

    There are wildly different figures for the number of laws we get from the EU, but the main ones seem to be from them: the ones which destroy our sovereignty, freedoms, traditions and industry. Don’t forget that the EU gets many of its ideas/orders from the UN.

    As if all that’s not bad enough, our home-grown traitors, wanting to be seen to grovel to the global elite, instigate their own UK-destroying legislation, like the “legally-binding” reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

    There are countless thousands of laws and regulations to rip up. I wonder myself how far Mr Farage would go given the chance. Exciting times though.

  8. That passage from ‘1984’ in which O’Brien is talking to Winston. It perhaps offers the best explanation for the smoking bans and all the other nastiness. You can see how much of this process has now been engineered into reality and the re-engineering is ongoing. Over to George Orwell….

    “How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?“

    Winston thought. “By making him suffer”, he said.

    “Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery is torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but MORE merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy – everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed.”

  9. Marvin says:

    I really don’t get this mantra that “the EU are making our laws” – NO they are NOT!!!

    The EU commissars may well dream up laws they would like to see enacted, but at the end of the day it is the brain dead fascist morons in the HoP that vote overwhelmingly to enact them. As I’ve said before if the free vote in parliament had been 400/200 against the smoking ban, then there would be no smoking ban. It has nothing at all to do with EU treaties. Do you honestly think the average spineless backbencher has ever read one or even know they exist, they are far too busy fiddling their expenses. It seems to me that all the anti-EU rhetoric (and I’m no fan of the EU) is a case of “look over there” and not closer to home.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Marvin they are getting told things we don’t get told…………And its much bigger than anything we would ever accept yet they do it anyway………..The question is what are they being told……………to make them vote for such insanity.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Just on the news Obama is pushing te FCC for tighter controls on the internet and free speech…………..That’s on Fox.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      I see what you’re saying Marvin, and you’re right, if our own MPs had the courage to stand up and fight for the people they are supposed to represent then far less EU-inspired legislation would be sitting on our Statute Books now.

      But Farage and the other EU-sceptics are right when they say that the majority of our new laws these days emanate from Brussels (which they always do – have a listen next time one is on the subject on the TV or the radio). Contrary to our Parliament’s customary way of setting in motion the wheels for creating new legislation – i.e. Government bills as promised prior to Election time or Private Members’ Bills – most of our new legislation these days starts its life as one of those wretched “Directives” which we so often hear about (but never actually get to see the content of). Basically, under all those lovely treaties which successive UK Governments have so compliantly and eagerly signed us up to, if the EU issues a Directive (as opposed to a “recommendation” or an “opinion” which is optional), member states have to put together a law, using whatever procedure is customary in that country, ensuring that the Directive is adhered to. Now, as you rightly say, in theory, a country with a properly-functioning set of politicians would, probably as often as not, reject that legislation as not being in their own country’s interests and it would have to be amended, re-drafted or watered-down several times before those naughty independent-thinking MPs would agree to it. It would thus still be a law emanating from the EU, but in a much-diluted (possibly to the point of being almost completely ineffective) form. And watered-down isn’t what the EU want, is it? Oh, no sir-eee!

      So that’s where the puppet leaders come in. By ensuring that their yes-men are all right up there in the most powerful and influential positions in the largest parties, the EU can ensure that those same yes-men will set about weeding out any troublesome lower-ranking MPs and making damned sure that they don’t get put forward for selection come Election time. So you end up (as we now have) with a set of MPs who sing rigidly from the same songsheet on virtually every issue (but particularly those involving the EU or EU-inspired legislation). The Party Whips (also a pretty powerful set of people in UK politics) – suitably selected to keep the lesser ranks toeing the pro-EU line – eagerly ensure that votes on EU-inspired legislation go “the right way.” Two or three-line whips are the rule on any legislation where the rank and file MPs might put up a bit of a protest; free votes are only given on EU-inspired Acts when the Whips are pretty sure that they’ll vote the “right” way on their own initiative (e.g. the smoking ban).

      So, yes, our MPs are as much to blame for being spineless fools, each with their own selfish little egos at the heart of everything they do. But the EU, ultimately, are the puppet-masters, making sure that these silly little men and women just keep on doing their bidding – or run the risk of falling out of favour with the Party that feeds, clothes and pays them, and gives them that all-important ego boost of being Very Important People.

  10. prog says:

    The general public is rapidly reaching its threshold of acceptance of political correctness. I did years ago. It’s farcical that laws passed to protect imported cultures ignore the glaringly obvious fact that some of those cultures are the least politically correct. One culture/religion in particular…

  11. harleyrider1978 says:


    Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

    Prohibition worked so well the first time

    by Walter Olson on November 11, 2014

    The town of Westminster, Mass. considers banning tobacco sales entirely, and the American Lung Association eggs them on [Boston Globe, AP]


  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Liberal health critic accuses Mandel of caving to tobacco lobbyists

    By Trevor Howell, Calgary Herald November 10, 2014

    During the recent byelections, Stephen Mandel suggested the province could face a legal challenge if it proceeds with the ban on flavoured tobacco products — particularly menthol, a long-standing favourite of younger smokers.

    Photograph by: Bruce Edwards , Edmonton Journal

    Alberta’s health minister is blowing smoke on implementing a sweeping ban on flavoured-tobacco products by considering an exemption on menthol cigarettes, says the Liberal’s health critic.

    Dr. David Swann said Health Minister Stephen Mandel is delaying proclamation of Bill 206, which received overwhelming support in the provincial legislature last year, and accusing him of caving in to tobacco lobbyists keen on ensuring menthol cigarettes are excluded from the ban.

    “All the science points to the harmful effects of menthol and most of the public sees the connection between addiction and these flavouring agents,” he said. “If health is not a priority for this government, what is?”

    Under growing pressure to curb youth smoking, the province passed two of the most stringent tobacco-control measures in Canada.

    Bill 33 bans smoking in cars carrying kids and prohibits use of water pipes in public. And Bill 206 bans the sale of flavoured tobacco products, such as candy-scented cigars and cigarillos, fruit flavoured spit tobacco and menthol cigarettes.

    According to the government’s “Changing Our Future: Alberta’s Cancer Plan to 2023,” one-third of all cancer cases are linked to use or exposure to tobacco and tobacco smoke.

    Yet, nearly a year after Bills 33 and 206 were passed in the legislature, supporters of the ban worry Mandel is wavering on banning menthol cigarettes.

    During the recent byelections, the health minister suggested the province could face a legal challenge if it proceeds with the ban on flavoured tobacco products — particularly menthol, a long-standing favourite of younger smokers.

    “I don’t want to answer yes or no to things that are still up in the air,” he told The Canadian Press last month. “Menthol is the one that is still up in the air.”

    He said the government would commit to a decision on menthol by the end of 2014.

    Mandel was not immediately available Monday for comment, according to his press secretary.

    “He needs to be reminded that he is the minister of health,” Swann said. “His sole focus should be on improving the level of health in the population and preventing disease.”

    Swann said more than 20 industry lobbyists have registered with the Alberta government to fight anti-tobacco legislation — including Mandel’s former campaign manager and PC party executive Hal Danchilla, a principal at Canadian Strategy Group.

    “Everything points to the fact that the tobacco lobbyists are afraid of losing significant market (share) if they remove menthol,” Swann said.

    Les Hagen, executive director for Action on Smoking and Health, said menthol cigarettes are particularly nefarious because the flavouring opens airways and facilitates nicotine absorption into the blood stream.

    Further, one-third of smokers under 18 regularly puff away on menthol cigarettes — the most popular flavoured tobacco product on the market, said Hagen.

    “Over time, youth smokers wean themselves off of menthol (cigarettes),” Hagen said. “But by that time they are already hooked. And that’s the point.”


  13. Rose says:

    What if the British government has effectively ceased to exist, and is only maintained in existence in order to maintain a semblance of normal self-government?

    That thought had crossed my mind.
    I watched what was supposed to be a debate on the European Arrest Warrant last night and I have never seen such deviousness and doublespeak as I saw from Theresa May, the government should be ashamed.

    Jax remarked that “Our present MPs from all the major parties are merely puppet caretakers for their EU masters – there to ensure that the EU’s instructions are implemented and there to take the flak for it by pretending that all these crazy laws and rules and regulations are “their” idea when they’re patently not.”

    That’s what annoys me most, the FCTC is perfectly clear on what is required, the government only has to choose on what pretext it is enforced, but instead of just saying so plainly, we have to go all round the houses to achieve the same result.

    For the Smoking ban in cars.

    [Article 8]
    24. This creates an obligation to provide universal protection by ensuring that all indoor public places, all indoor workplaces, all public transport and possibly other (outdoor or quasi-outdoor) public places are free from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

    No exemptions are justified on the basis of health or law arguments.

    If exemptions must be considered on the basis of other arguments, these should be minimal. In addition, if a Party is unable to achieve universal coverage immediately,

    Article 8 creates a continuing obligation to move as quickly as possible to remove any exemptions and make the protection universal.”

    And we helped to write it.

    6 May 2009 Column 609

    Baroness Thornton: My Lords, I welcome the sentiment of this amendment. The Government are fully committed to implementing the articles and guidelines of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The UK Government’s policy on engagement with the tobacco industry is to abide by the guidelines for implementation in Article 5.3.

    We take seriously our responsibilities under the FCTC.

    Indeed, we have already contributed as a partner country to the development of guidelines for Articles 8 and 11, which concern protection from second-hand smoke and the packaging and labelling of tobacco.

    We continue as partners in the development of guidelines for implementing Articles 9 and 10, which regulate the contents and disclosures of tobacco products, and we are formally facilitating the development of Article 14 guidelines on demand reduction measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation.

    Article 5.3 guidelines were agreed at the third conference of the parties to the FCTC in November last year, and the UK worked with EU counterparts to refine, improve and gain consensus for the final guidelines. The UK Government abide by their responsibilities under the guidelines for implementing Article 5.3.”


    A comment on the Daily Mail yesterday struck a cord.

    “Britain is beginning to feel like one of those rooms they have in horror films where the walls begin to move gradually inwards and the occupants have to find a way out or be crushed.”

  14. prog says:

    Interesting article

    …virtual risk contains contested hypotheses, ignorance,
    uncertainty and unknown unknowns. If an issue cannot be settled by science
    and numbers, we rely, as with directly perceptible risks, on judgement. Some
    find this enormously liberating; interested parties are freed to argue from their
    beliefs, prejudices or superstitions. It is in this circle that we find the longest-
    running and most acrimonious arguments. Virtual risks may or may not be
    real, but beliefs about them have real consequences. Global warming has
    been placed in this circle because the (potentially catastrophic?) warming of
    which some warn, and which others dispute, is the product of models that
    grossly simplify extremely complex systems, but lead some to propose
    policies that would, if pursued, dramatically alter the life-styles of billions.

    This also applies to passive smoking


  15. carol2000 says:

    Here are Jonathan Samet’s latest hysterical imaginings in the Journal of the American Medical Association about the supposed possible health effects of e-cigs. It was funded by grant P50CA180905 from the National Cancer Institute and FDA Center for Tobacco Products. The authors claim to have no conflicts of interest, of course, meaning that none conflict with the anti-smoking agenda, which is the only thing that matters to this crooked lot. And they claim that “The sponsors had no role in preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication,” as if it’s an indication of integrity and impartiality, when in fact the only reason they got that money is because of their militant biases.
    Flavorings in Electronic CigarettesAn Unrecognized Respiratory Health Hazard?
    Jessica L. Barrington-Trimis, PhD, MS, MA; Jonathan M. Samet, MD, MS; Rob McConnell, MD
    Samet has received at least $19,400,186 in government money over the years.

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