Meddling Doctors

From Breitbart UK:

A Conservative Member of Parliament has called for the NHS to be reformed by introducing charges for those who lead “unhealthy lifestyles” by drinking too much, eating junk food or leading promiscuous lives.Dr Philip Lee MP, a practicing GP, has said that there is consensus between the Tories and Labour on the NHS, but that changes would have to be made to meet growing demand…

“We all make choices in life and long may we be free to do so: what we eat, what we drink and how much we exercise. But many of these decisions can adversely affect our health. For example, consuming convenience foods which are high in fat and salt, leading sexually promiscuous private lives, drinking too much alcohol or using illicit drugs.

“Such choices often increase the cost of our health care. I believe that individuals who knowingly make unhealthy choices should meet at least part of this cost.”

Nothing about smoking. But maybe that no longer even needs to be mentioned.

But how do they know whether or not you’re living an “unhealthy lifestyle”? As far as I can see, the only way is for doctors to ask lots of intrusive questions. Like:

How many cigarettes do you smoke daily?

How many units of alcohol do you drink daily?

How many burgers, pizzas, [long list of convenience foods] do you consume daily?

How often do you use [long list of illicit drugs] daily?

How often do you exercise daily?

How often do you have sex daily?

Is that with your legal partner?

Who then?

What kind of sex do you have?

Really?? There’s a law against that sort of thing you know!

It reminds me of nothing so much as Going To Confession as a Roman Catholic boy. But the confessional, back then, was a box with a screen between the penitent and the Confessor. He had no idea who you were. And at the end you were granted Absolution: your sins were forgiven. And he wouldn’t tell anyone what you’d told him.

The new confessional will have no screen. The Confessor will know exactly who you are, and will be sitting in front of you staring unforgivingly into your eyes. And at the end of the Confession, he won’t grant Absolution: he’ll instead levy a charge on you in proportion to your sinfulness. And far from not telling anyone, he’ll be busy typing it all into an NHS datafile which almost anybody can read (except you).

And who’s to say that questions might not become even more intrusive or irrelevant?

How long do you spend watching TV daily?

Do you gamble?

Are you or have you ever been a gardener?

What party did you vote for at the last election?

But is there a legal requirement for patients to tell their doctors the truth about their habits? In the absence of swearing an oath to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, I can’t see that there is.

So what’s to stop people telling a pack of lies? Nothing at all.

And anyway, does anyone ever really know the truth about their own habits? I have no idea how many cigarettes I smoke daily, because I don’t count. I tried counting once, but gave up, because a) the act of counting affected how much I smoked, and b) I soon lost count anyway. And by the same token I have no idea how much I drink or eat, because I don’t count those either. In fact, I count very few things I do. I don’t even count how much money I spend daily.

So even if people swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, they’ll still end up coming up with invented imaginary numbers. Because they don’t count either, and so don’t know.

But apart from all that, I’d object to being subjected to such an examination because I have no faith whatsoever in “lifestyle medicine”. I think it’s all complete baloney. I don’t think it really matters a damn how much anyone smokes or drinks or eats, any more than it matters a damn whether they gamble, watch TV, or scratch their chins. “Lifestyle medicine” is a form of astrology in which smoking, drinking, diet, exercise, sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, have replaced the planets and the signs of the zodiac as subtle influences exerted upon a person. Both claim to see into the distant future. A smoking habit will bring an early death just as certainly as Mars in opposition with Venus and Jupiter. Or just as uncertainly.

And anyway, the state has no business trying to get people to live these stupid “healthy lifestyles”, even if “lifestyle medicine” is based upon genuine science (which of course it isn’t).

Anyway, I didn’t manage to post anything last night because after downloading Microsoft Expression to capture videos, I was fighting with YouTube trying to post a video on it. In the end I gave up, and used Vimeo instead. I’d been using my bubble model of the atmosphere as a model of a pool of water. I was wondering whether I could get a ball to float on the water if it was light enough, and to sink to the bottom if it was heavy enough, and to rise to the surface again if it became lighter again.


As you can see, it worked. I have a little submarine.


About Frank Davis

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40 Responses to Meddling Doctors

  1. Reinhold says:

    And at the end you were granted Absolution: your sins were forgiven.

    But not before you’d have prayed those 10 Lord’s Prayers and 10 Ave Marias, right? :-)

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’d forgotten about that bit.

      But then I never got as many as that… ;-)

      • Frank theres a problem and its called paying or doing penance for sins………

        Is the government now becoming the church demanding payment for lifestyle sins against the NHS……………..

        Will Doctors orders become legal orders with the weight of law behind them.

        Will Brits be brought before magistrates for breaking Lifestyle enforcement laws soon.

        Remember it was the Catholic church in Rome and its own deceitful practices of selling forgiveness and other such illicit get rich off the peoples backs that ultimately led to the Reformation. Of course the Reformation led to plenty of even worse religious break away groups that ultimately landed in New England where the scourge of prohibitionism is still alive and well from religious fervor from 500 years ago………….Nothing really ever changes just who is pushing it………..bibles for white lab coats somebody said once!

        I see no difference between the government or dogma both being as sinister as the other and all in the name not of saving your soul or life,but in the name of control and wealth on the backs of the people…….

        Meanwhile in Parliament they approved ecigs and still have their indoor smoking bar/restaurant correct. While you and the rest stay at home or freeze or burn in the heat to have a smoke……….

        Corruption is running rampant thru out the governments of the world and the UN.

        We are the victims of their wickedness and deceit……..

        • Today I went to a restaraunt indoors and was smoking as I went thru the door to my table. Coffee and an ashtray were brought within 3 minutes before my ash even needed to be dumped. A man beside me asked for a light and out popped 3 lighters for the man………

          Smoking is just as normal here as it was in 1950……….nobody here looks down upon others over it and the non-smoking section is still only 4 seats!

          If the ban in the UK were lifted tomorrow no doubt nobody would even feel it abnormal to see smokers in with themselves again. Its just not that big an issue with joe public.

          Even in Tenn smoking is just as normal as always, people still smoke and they just adjusted to being at the door to smoke rather than inside,but even that’s abnormal after about 10 pm in many a restaurant in Nashville or across the state.

          The ban is like something that’s just in the way and nothing more……..

          Even by all the downtown hospitals in Nashville you see doctors and nurses openly smoking somewhere even with no smoking signs plastered everywhere……..

          Whats happening is total I give a shit less attitude by smokers almost everywhere.

          Even when being harassed what they gonna do………the enforcer turns around and just sees another one lighting up. Nobody cares any longer about rules or laws they are just doing as they please pretty much……..Ive seen no smoking signs used for everything from putting a butt out on to shooting practice……….one even had a HAPPY FACE sticker put over the no sign………Its just laughable any more.

          Ive seen 6 stories this past week over campuses and people just smoking wherever they want regardless of enforcement.

          In Kentucky last year and likely as a result of Obamacare they tightened up on Loritabs and mild pain killers of opiates. So what happens,all of a sudden HEROIN becomes the drug of choise and now the state is trying to combat that,a problem created by the government itself to start with……..

          Before you at least had some kind of control,today NONE! The people went to the blackmarket for opiates and heroin became that drug!

          The same with high taxation on tobacco…….blackmarket again and created by who!

          Even in the schools soda pops are blackmarket to kids and omg! A twinkie……..

          Mnay schools have finally opted out of the anti=obesity eat right michelle Obama led BS programs of eat healthy in school……..the kids dumped their rabbit food and went hungry.

          So the schools are dumping healthy foods and reopening the hamburger and pizza menus again and that verboten SODA MACHINE in the school hallways are coming back!

          The plight of the nanny Nazis like all those before them are falling apart at the seams……..

          We destroyed their junk science and weve destroyed them unmercifully now its just time to watch it all COLLAPSE! And it will………….its so comming

        • Even lastnite at Bingo people were walking right thru the no smoking room smoking away and in the kitchen area to boot. They just don’t give a shit anymore even when management says something after a certain Nazi I have had several confrontations with opened that mouth again………..Me I just went back there waited til a few others were smoking in line and lit up myself………..nothing was said except rolling eyes. Then her hired help lit up right beside the FOOD serving!

          With 450 people packed into one building and 80-90% all smokers what the hell they gonna do about it………nothing that’s what and heres why in the ky cities that have bans the bingo revenues have fallen off over 40% in the last years among other types of the same gaming venues. Now the state is feeling the pinch as one group of the VFW shut down 4 bingo halls and sold the buildings especially in Louisville and Lexington.

          When you lose the smokers your gambling revenues are bust/ atlantic city/ and they all know it and then those activites that were funded by those groups is gone for good!

          Even the bowling alleys have shut down in those cities for the most part and or moved out of city limits to reopen out of towns with bans.

          When I travel to Pennsylvania I know the smoking restraunts on the way. All ya have to do is ask and your led to a back area and voila you just found everybody else………..I even seen the county sherrif in the backroom of one smoking away at noontime in a city in Ohio!

          Im not naming names as it wouldn’t be right as theyd likely be busted in some form or another. But just know they are around and they are more than ready to serve you.

        • And another one west Virginia is pushing a bill to take smoking ban jurisdiction away from the local health depts…………Hows that for busting up prohibition,I just hope it passes

    • beobrigitte says:

      And at the end you were granted Absolution: your sins were forgiven.

      But not before you’d have prayed those 10 Lord’s Prayers and 10 Ave Marias, right? :-)

      Reinhold we must have had the same priest when being ‘nudged’ to go to confession…

      But is there a legal requirement for patients to tell their doctors the truth about their habits?

      As much as to a priest – just save the “I lied” to the end. Our priest never cottoned on, neither will the medics.

  2. marieengling says:

    “And far from not telling anyone, he’ll be busy typing it all into an NHS datafile which almost anybody can read (except you).”
    In Denmark the datas are sold to Big Pharma. And a copy of them are placed at The National Archives – against the law.

    • beobrigitte says:

      There was something over here about a national computer system full of patient data. Not sure what happened to it, maybe it died before it came off?

      In Denmark the datas are sold to Big Pharma.
      I have no doubt that this would happen here as well. I do wonder who OWNS this data.

      • Rose says:

        The first was the Spine. Brigitte, if I remember correctly and having signed out of that one they brought out another one so we had to sign out of that too.

        Feb 2014

        Hospital records of all NHS patients sold to insurers
        “Hospital records of all NHS patients sold for insurance purposes days after controversial plans to extract patient data from GP files put on hold ”

        March 2014

        “The security of NHS data was thrown into further doubt yesterday after it emerged anonymous patient information has been used by a marketing consultancy to advise clients on targeting their social media campaigns.

        It comes amid growing concerns over plans to trawl patient records from every GP surgery in England, which were postponed last month after NHS chiefs admitted they had not done enough to inform and reassure the public about the scheme, known as”

        In another blow to public confidence in the scheme, it was also reported yesterday that the entire hospital episodes statistics (HES) dataset has been uploaded to Google servers. A management consultancy firm called PA Consulting used Google tools to create interactive maps out of HES data, it emerged. The HSCIC said it had received assurances that no Google staff would be able to access the data, and the firm said that the data was “held securely”.

        What happened after that I have no idea

        • beobrigitte says:

          The prospect of:
          However, Phil Booth, from Medconfidential, said that their use of the data raised serious concerns that NHS records were being used for commercial purposes.

          “47 million people don’t have a clue that their hospital history has been used to target ads on Twitter and Facebook,” he said.

          is quite scary. Loose facebook and twitter, folks!!! But then, if facebook and twitter are privy to this data you may as well post it on the net yourselves.

          I OWN my medical data, it concerns ME and I determine what is to be done with it. If a medic sticks a needle into my arm to draw blood against my will I have a legal case. Also, medics can be sued if they do not keep patient confidentiality. They would have to ask patients to make their data available – to which 99.9% (0.01% of the population, such as the anti-smokers probably likes the idea) of the patients will state NO – especially to social network sites!

          Food for thought…..

      • marieengling says:

        Brigitte, my english is too bad to explain these things, but there has been and is a lot about this in the newspapers. Doctors are fighting against it. It is difficult to look through, and even more difficult for me to explain.
        And it is to be tested by legal experts “who owns our data”, and in the meantime the politicians are scaring and selling them. Not many people are reacting against it. I share these articles on my FB-wall, but I get not many reactions. I think, that most people think, that it is all for the best.

  3. marieengling says:

    There is much more truth to find in astrology than in Lifestyle Medicin.

  4. petesquiz says:

    Oh dear, poor misguided Dr Philip Lee! Where do you draw the line? What about a footballer with a sprained ankle? Or a careless driver injured in a car crash? Or a beaten spouse who refuses to leave a violent household? Or a protester who gets beaten up by the police? I’m sure you can think of many more!

    In fact if you look closely enough almost all illnesses and injuries can be construed as being our own fault! Soon we’ll all be moving around wrapped in something akin to bubble wrap and breathing through a filter that excludes everything but the oxygen we need to live!

  5. jaxthefirst says:

    “Nothing about smoking. But maybe that no longer even needs to be mentioned.”

    Maybe. But I think that the rather conspicuous omission of smoking in a lot of these types of stories is a bit telling. It always used to be a “given” that if control-freaky doctors like this slipped “smoking” into their list of whatever it was they were pushing then their demands would be agreed with by everyone and pushed through without a murmur of protest. I’m not sure why this is, but suspect that it could be either (a) because, regardless of protestations by Tobacco Control to the contrary, a lot of people (including a lot of non-smokers) have rumbled the fact that the anti-smoking movement is nothing but State-sanctioned bullying; thus, it taints rather than assists any control proposals like these. Control freaks, after all, want to be seen to be “helping” people – including smoking in their “plans” shows their intentions to be nothing short of a wish-list for bullies, (b) because over-use of the “everything is caused by smoking” makes people switch off from anything which mentions it these days. They shrug their shoulders and say “Oh, that’s just another anti-smoking message” and then disregard the whole lot or (c) because the Controllers simply aren’t getting the pleasure out of bullying smokers any more, purely because there are so few of them left to bully. So they’re casting around for some new “victims” now – hence this new wish-list for a selection of next-on-the-list people to harrass and extort money out of.

    Oh, well, this new lot can hardly say they weren’t warned, can they?

    • They sure don care about pissing the voters off or even sending their own mum to jail or fining her or even their own pop! People who will do anything deserve to be horse whipped and tarred……………I wouldn’t even look past a public hanging or 2 for them!

      But then Im radical like that!

      Get a rope!

  6. waltc says:

    Alcohol, drug, and tobacco use can show up in blood tests. And when they take your blood for a reasonable reason, there’d be no way to assure that they wouldn’t be testing it for “substances.” too. Might even become their SOP; other things can be learned by analyzing a hair. and then msybe if they concluded –correctly or incorrectly–that you’d lied to their faces, there’d be an additional fine for lying. . Or a criminal charge of fraud. Or they could bar you from receiving NHS services.

    Then, too, since they believe so devoutly in their theory, the fact that you present with, say, high cholesterol could be prima facia evidence that you eat too much fat, even though you mightn’t and even though we know that the connection between the two is hazy at best. And so’s the connection between cholesterol and heart disease. Still, you’d be guilty till proven innocent –impossible to prove. Nonetheless, when you consider all the lifestyle sins on the good doctor’s list, everyone’s guilty of some damn thing, so everyone pays.

    I heard on the radio that some legislator somewhere here in the US earnestly proposed taxing the overweight (an infinitely plastic term) on a per pound basis. Then, too, there was something else on the news in the same ballpark that was equally bizarre but at the moment it eludes me.

    @Harley: glad to hear that no one gives a shit in KY but in NYC or any blue metropolis, they’d sic their Pomeranians on you in a minute.

    • I hate Pomeranians,Even blew one away once. Bastard dogs seems like nobody but a stuck up old bytch busy bodys would own one of those barking madness mutts. Its like they were born with the Phobia or something.

      • nisakiman says:

        Hah! You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their dog! If I recollect, Pomeranians are one of those breeds that go walkies in their owners’ arms. No fault of the dog; it’s just the type of owner that breed attracts.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Alcohol, drug, and tobacco use can show up in blood tests.

      Not quite correct. Drugs (meaning e.g. marihuana etc.) show only very briefly in blood. You need to test urine for them. Alcohol does show up and so do prescribed drugs e.g. digoxin. Tobacco use is more difficult to test; One of my offspring’s friend is currently expecting – apparently carbon monoxide levels indicate a smoker although e.g. a lively BBQ in Summer produces the same result. In short, the test for pregnant smokers is cr*p – it just serves to scare the expectant mother into giving up smoking.

  7. Lepercolonist says:

    “So what’s to stop people telling a pack of lies? Nothing at all.”

    Absolutely correct, Frank. I will never tell anyone in the medical profession that I smoke.
    Many health insurance companies charge an additional 50% for smokers. Ditto for life insurance.

    You try to be honest in your life but these bullies turn you into a liar. Should I tell my priest that I have committed the venial sin of lying ? Little white lies are necessary in these tyrannical times.

    • petesquiz says:

      However, once you get to the stage of taking out an annuity for your pension you will get a higher rate as a smoker specifically because they expect you to die earlier than a non-smoker!

      • nisakiman says:

        So you tell your medical insurer you are a lifelong never-smoker, and your pension company that you smoke four packs a day. Job done!

    • Insurance smoking fee could spur another vice: Lying about doing it

      Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Americans looking to buy health insurance no longer have to answer questions about whether they’ve suffered diabetes, cancer or heart problems.

      Do you have a chronically sore back, a bum knee or a growing paunch? Don’t worry. Starting next year, insurers no longer will be allowed to hold such pre-existing troubles against you.

      But insurance companies may still ask about one health-related issue: tobacco use. If applicants ’fess up that they smoke or chew tobacco regularly, insurers can charge them up to 50 percent extra for premiums. That could amount to hundreds of dollars per month for some consumers.

      Des Moines tobacco shop owner Rich Bartlett expressed annoyance when he heard about the rule last month.

      “There’s a lot of people who make bad lifestyle choices. Why focus on one bad lifestyle choice?” he said. “You would think something like obesity could be in the same category. To just focus on smokers doesn’t seem fair.”

      Bartlett, who is a smoker, noted that the state and federal governments already have repeatedly raised cigarette taxes. Those taxes now run $2.36 per pack in Iowa, plus a 6 percent sales tax. That adds up to about $900 per year for a pack-a-day smoker, he said, which should be enough of a penalty.

      The premium surcharge will mainly affect people who buy their own health insurance instead of obtaining it through an employer or a government program.

      Some policies offered through employers also require a smoker surcharge.

      Full 50% surcharge allowed in Iowa

      Some states declined to let insurers charge extra premiums to tobacco users.

      Some other states lowered the allowed amount of the surcharge. But Iowa and most other states are allowing the full 50 percent surcharge.

      Iowa insurers vary in how much extra they’ll charge.

      CoOportunity Health, a new Iowa insurance carrier, is charging 49 percent extra. Cliff Gold, the company’s chief operating officer, said the premiums are justified because of the increased medical costs many tobacco users incur.

      Gold noted that tobacco users can avoid the extra premiums by agreeing to participate in tobacco-cessation efforts. For CoOportunity policyholders, that would entail participating online in three 20-minute educational sessions over two months. Participants also would be offered free stop-smoking aids, such as nicotine replacement patches or gum.

      “We certainly hope that people will go through with that process,” Gold said.

      Tobacco users who participate in the education sessions but fail to kick the habit would qualify for the lower premiums until the beginning of the next year, Gold said. Then, they could either retake the tobacco-cessation classes or pay the higher premium.

      Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is Iowa’s largest health insurer, has set its 2014 premiums about 15 percent higher for people who say they use tobacco.

      “We’re trying to find a balance, because the more you charge, the more you’re encouraging people to not tell you the truth,” said David Brown, a Wellmark vice president.

      Brown doubts that increased health insurance premiums would lead many people to quit smoking. He noted how taxes have pushed up the habit’s cost. A pack of cigarettes can now fetch $7 or $8.

      “If that hasn’t put you over the edge, I don’t know if this will,” he said of the insurance premiums.

      Agent: ‘No way of enforcing’ honesty

      Both insurers acknowledged they will have to trust applicants to report their tobacco use truthfully.

      The enforcement issue is particularly thorny because of the way federal officials worded the question that insurance applicants must answer. The applicants are not asked a yes-or-no question about whether they use tobacco or not. Instead, they are asked if they use tobacco four or more times a week.

      “Isn’t that the dumbest question ever? There’s no way of enforcing it. None,” said Janis Van Ahn, a Johnston health insurance agent.

      Even if insurers could test applicants for the presence of nicotine, an applicant could claim that a positive result stemmed from the three Marlboros he allows himself each Friday night outside his favorite bar.

      How would an insurer disprove such a tale? Hire a private investigator to trail Mr. Three-Cigs-a-Week? Not likely.

      West Des Moines health insurance broker Lynn Schreder said agents were stunned to learn earlier this year about the tobacco question’s wording.

      “We were like, ‘Are you kidding me? Are we supposed to enforce this with a straight face?’ ” she said. “Why are they even bothering?”

      The situation is different in the life insurance marketplace. Before consumers can purchase those policies, they routinely undergo urine or saliva tests that check for nicotine.

      But such a test would be useless for health insurance purposes because of the way the new question is worded.

      “If you say you’re not a smoker, it’s kind of the honor system,” Schreder said. “I’m not going to come back and track you and follow you to see if you’re smoking.”

      Gold, the CoOportunity Health executive, agreed that it would be hard to judge the truthfulness of applicants who deny regular tobacco use.

      But he said such people could wind up in serious trouble if they are caught somehow.

      If they falsify their insurance applications, he said, “they’re committing fraud, and theoretically, they could be prosecuted.”

      Cancer Society opposed surcharge

      Surprisingly enough, the American Cancer Society opposed letting insurers charge extra to tobacco users.

      “It is a bit counterintuitive, but when you get down to it, we’re anti-smoking for sure, but we’re not anti-smoker,” said David Woodmansee, an associate director of the national group.

      Woodmansee, who is the Cancer Society’s point man on the Affordable Care Act, expressed fears that smokers would decline to purchase insurance after seeing the high premiums they face for 2014.

      They could be allowed to make that choice, because people whose premiums would amount to more than 9.5 percent of their income will be exempted from the new requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance next year.

      The situation could leave people without coverage for serious illnesses related to smoking, Woodmansee said. “In fact, tobacco users tend to need health insurance more than nonsmokers do.”

      He added that if the higher premiums induce smokers to lie on their insurance applications, they could later be unable to seek medical help if they decide to try quitting.

      “It really creates a Catch-22,” he said.

      Similarly, the Cancer Society has mixed feelings about the three-smokes-a-week loophole in the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a smoker. Of course, he said, the organization wants people to avoid any smoking, because even an occasional cigarette or dip of chewing tobacco can lead to addiction.

      On the other hand, he said, he would not want someone to go without health insurance because of premiums that were inflated by a Saturday night cigarette now and then.

      Bartlett, the Des Moines tobacco shop owner, pays about $550 per month for a health insurance policy for himself, his wife and their three children. He hasn’t looked into where his rates are headed for next year.

      If need be, he said, he could quit smoking to avoid a surcharge. He’s done it before, but it isn’t easy, especially when he stands in front of a wall of cigarette cartons all day at work.

      Bartlett predicted that instead of giving up cigarettes, many people will turn to another common bad habit.

      “They’ll just lie,” he said. “You know they will.”

      • nisakiman says:

        Which is why all the ‘smoking prevalence’ figures trotted out by the statisticians are questionable, to say the least. Of course people lie about their smoking, given the current antagonism towards tobacco. Who wouldn’t?

  8. Smoking Lamp says:

    I wouldn’t worry about the lie. It is a valid response to the chronic tobacco control lies. The last couple days in the US the media has been blasting the pages with dire warnings about the deaths from second hand smoke and the need for stricter smoking bans. I counter about 82 article on google today and zero with a dissenting view.

  9. Smoking Scot says:

    Just a thought. If there’s going to be this type of discrimination, then I can envision calls to allow people to opt out of the NHS and go private.

    Maybe that’s what they want, with your policy fees allowed tax exemption. Possibly even a small incentive from the government.

    Dr. Philip Lee is a qualified GP and, under “Personal Life” is a keen sportsman (because he plays footie). Been through many a hospital in his carer, some it seems private.

    Huuummm??? Sniffy!


    Future Prime Minister of UK, Nigel Farage, hates National No-Smoking Day

    He says giving up drinking beer for just 1 month helped him lose weight, but it made sleeping difficult and increased boredom. Drinking moderately also makes people happier and relaxed after a hard day and one of the best part is it bonds people together

  11. Lebanon’s Law 174 goes up in smoke

    This current development is ultimately about Lebanon’s inability to enforce the rule of law; its rather worrying habit of putting crude business interests ahead of the public good and its reluctance to embrace the lesson learnt in other countries. With only 70 per cent of restaurants and bars currently abiding by the law, the amendment will be seen as a green light to spark up at will across the nation. Law 174, has in effect, been killed and Mr Machnouk, who drew criticism for himself smoking during a TV interview at the interior ministry, should be ashamed of himself.

  12. prog says:

    Fact is that smokers already pay perhaps 3 times the claimed NHS cost of treating so called smoking-related illness – up to c80% of all legit retail sales goes directly to The Treasury. It’s up to Osborne et al to decide how the £12,000,000,000 is allocated. If smokers were required to fund their own health care, they’d up up paying the full duty, NI and private insurance premiums. But, as already pointed out, one would have to admit to smoking. I guess smoking rates would thus ‘fall’ but not in line with overall sales.

  13. Edward Bernays’ “Propaganda” Theory Has Been Perfected

    Submitted by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

    When six mega-corporations who depend upon other mega-corporations, Wall Street banks and political parties for their revenue, control all of the news and information flowing to the masses, you have all the ingredients needed to control, influence and mold the opinions, tastes and ideas of the people. We are being manipulated by men who constitute the real government, hiding in the shadows and pulling the strings. Nothing reported by these six mega-corporation media mouthpieces for the oligarchs can be trusted. Their job is to coverup, subvert, and obscure the truth. And best of all, they have succeeded in convincing the people we are free and informed. Edward Bernays would be so proud.

    h/t flash

    “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

    Edward Bernays – Propaganda – 1928

  14. Scientists Stand By Claim That ‘Bad Luck’ Causes Most Cancer

    Earlier this month, two prominent cancer researchers published a paper concluding that most cancers are triggered not by carcinogens but by what they called “bad luck”. Many scientists reacted with little surprise. Biologists have long understood that cancer is caused by combinations of errors made when cells divide and copy DNA. The consensus view is that some of those errors can be prompted by smoking or other external factors, while others are probably random. After all, humans couldn’t have come about in the first place without evolution, which depends on some random copying errors.

    The paper, published in the journal Science, triggered such a firestorm of outrage from other cancer researchers that the journal today published a series of critical letters and a response by the authors – Johns Hopkins University scientists Bert Vogelstein and Christian Tomasetti.

    The work published in the original paper was an attempt to quantify the already accepted random factor. The researchers took different kinds of tissues, examined the cell division rate and showed how well that correlated with relative rates of cancer. They found a strong correlation with cell division rate and cancer, which suggested some underlying randomness. Every cell division is like another ticket to the cancer lottery we all have to play.

    Vogelstein and Tomasetti also sorted out the relative roles of chance and external risk factors in triggering different kinds of cancer. External factors play a bigger role in some cancers, while others appear to be almost completely up to random chance.

    Some of the critics called the paper dangerously misleading. Perhaps people will start smoking and sunbathing without regard to the cancer risks. Others took issue with the statistical methods the researchers used to draw inferences from their experiment to make statements about cancer in the population.

    A response by Vogelstein and Tomesetti argued that the paper never denies that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. But at the same time, it’s just not realistic to assume that cancer would never occur if everyone followed all known cancer-prevention guidelines. You can only decrease your risk but you can’t eliminate it. Scientists should have no objection to people knowing the truth – even if they think it will encourage dangerous behavior.

    They also defended their statistical methods.

    The most enlightening, clear piece of writing I’ve seen so far on the paper and surrounding controversy is this post by biologist PZ Myers in his science blog Pharyngula. He explains why the burden of proof is not on the original authors but on those critics contending that some as-yet-unknown factor causes those cancers that act like they stem from random errors. He neatly sums up the way biologists view cancer:

    “The act of living is a cause of cancer.

    That was the same message I got talking with biophysicist Greg Huber at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, except for the qualification that cancer risk is the price you pay for being a complex multicellular system. We wouldn’t have this cancer problem if we were all single-celled microbes, but the human body is a complex system doomed to break down eventually.

    Several years ago, Huber led an interesting workshop I attended on multicellularity and cooperation. The scientists there discussed the fact that the cells that so dutifully line our skin and intestines or make up our organs descended from single-celled organisms programmed to proliferate in competition with their neighbors. The wrong combination of mutations can cause them to revert.

    Why is it so hard for the medical community to handle that there are no preventable deaths, only postponable ones? Rational people will still take care of our health even if we can’t achieve a guarantee we won’t get cancer. After all, from a biological point of view, our existence is the result of an unfathomable confluence of good luck. Why not get all we can from it?


    National Post View: Call off the war on smokers

    A smaller percentage of Canadians are smoking cigarettes now than ever before. The 2013 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS), just released, found a mere 15% of the population aged 15 or older were “current” cigarette smokers. Roughly 11% smoked daily, while 4% reported occasional use.

    Smoking prevalence in Canada has in fact been on a steady decline for many years. In 1999, for example, 25% of Canadians were recorded as smokers. A ten percentage-point decline in 14 years is pretty good going.

    A number of factors have contributed: hefty tobacco taxes, information campaigns on the health hazards of smoking, and the general falling out of fashion of cigarettes. In addition, governments at every level have brought in a raft of rules prohibiting smoking in restaurants, workplaces, and other public spaces. Many of the rule changes came into effect between 2003 and 2008, with Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and New Brunswick leading the way, and Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon bringing up the rear.

    Whatever the precise mix of reasons, the result is unambiguous: an almost unbroken decline in smoking, to today’s record lows. If it were not sending a mixed message, we’d say it was time to hand out the cigars.

    Yet not content with this success, some jurisdictions have introduced new legislation to further control just when and where smokers can light up. Alberta, to be sure, is only catching up with the rest of the country by prohibiting smoking in vehicles with minors. But Ontario has gone so far as to forbid smoking on all patios, as well as on or near sports fields or playgrounds, and has banned the sale of cigarettes on college or university campuses. In Victoria, B.C. it will soon be illegal to smoke at any bus stop, field, playground, public square or park, or within seven metres of any entrance.

    At best, these new prohibitions, as harsh as they are impractical, look like solutions in search of a problem. At worst, they seem harassing and vindictive, as if smokers, rather than smoking, were the target. We are, after all, in the realm of the great outdoors here: there is no plausible concern about second-hand smoke. Advocates defend the new measures in the name of preventing young people from taking up smoking. But the CTADS survey shows the proportion of smokers is falling even faster among Canadians aged 15 to 19.

    Indeed, the proportion of smokers in Canada was already on the wane long before the provinces launched their prohibitionist campaign. Call off the war on smokers — victory is at hand.

    National Post

  16. Tony says:

    Totally off-topic but thought you and your readers might like this beautifully elegant, short video:

    Shows how real reason and real mathematics can illuminate real science and the world.

  17. Smoke-free law not enforced

    10 Feb 2015 . By Richelle Agpoon-Cabang – – Variety News Staff

    LIKE the 1989 anti-littering statute, the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2008 is a “dead” law as members of the community, including government employees, continue to violate it.

    At 10:30 on Monday morning, just outside the judicial complex in Susupe, a court employee was smoking a cigarette near Marianas High School and a police car.

    P.L. 16-46 § 3172 states that smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas and outdoor areas within 25 feet of any doorway entrance or exit to a government facility that is owned, leased or operated by the government.

    The prohibition includes office buildings, warehouses and vehicles owned or leased by the government.

    On Wednesday last week, a police officer was seen smoking just outside William S. Reyes Elementary School.

    Patients and visitors at the Commonwealth Health Center are often to be seen smoking near the entrance of the hospital.

    “There is no ‘No Smoking’ sign in this place that’s why I assume it’s okay to smoke here,” a visitor told this reporter.

    “I don’t see any signs pointing to the smoking area,” he added.

    Another favorite spot for smokers is outside the municipal council building in Chalan Kanoa.

    Waiting areas outside grocery stores in Garapan, Susupe and San Jose are also well-known smoking areas where cigarette butts litter the ground or fill empty flower pots or cans.

    The parking lot of the multipurpose center, it turns out, is also a smoking area.

    P.L. 16-46 prohibits smoking within 25 feet of any person who is not smoking if the place or site of work is an outdoor area or area other than an enclosed area, without exception.

    The Department of Public Health, which is now the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., is supposed to enforce the law, but violations may also be reported to the Department of Public Safety.

    Variety was unable to get a comment from CHCC or DPS officials.

  18. beobrigitte says:

    A Conservative Member of Parliament has called for the NHS to be reformed by introducing charges for those who lead “unhealthy lifestyles” by drinking too much, eating junk food or leading promiscuous lives. Dr Philip Lee MP, a practicing GP, has said that there is consensus between the Tories and Labour on the NHS, but that changes would have to be made to meet growing demand…

    Perhaps the Tories and Labour haven’t read the bit about ‘promiscuous lives’ ……. ? Perhaps it doesn’t apply to politicians as it appears with the smoking ban? But then, the bar in Westminster might well have been replaced with a milk/vegetable-blender-drinks bar?

    Don’t GPs get paid per head on their records? I advocate what I grew up with: if you don’t like your GP find another – or don’t have one until you need one.
    The latter might be something to think about. I watched a BBC lamenting about the state of A&Es… Well, that is what happens if you scare people – they take up appointments to take expensive tests be told what they already know: that they are healthy. Despite the odd beers, ‘junk-food’ and daily cigarettes.
    In the meantime, the Ebola epidemic in Africa is far from over. It’s gone awfully quiet about it, hasn’t it? Ever since the WHO returned from their lavish $1.6 million secret gathering in Moskow even the much disgruntled MSF keeps mum.
    What are >8000 REAL deaths compared to millions of fictional ones?
    In view of that, WHO can believe Dr Philip Lee MP et al or any politician who is after a vote so he can retire very comfortably?

    Even the mighty roman empire died – corruption and greedy decandent leaders killed it.

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