Thursday, 29 January 2009

Chris Snowdon Speech to TICAP

The full transcript of Chris Snowdon's contribution to TICAP can be viewed at this link.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

TICAP Wednesday 28th January

09:40 Conference is reconvened with a quick rundown of yesterday's events.

For those in the UK, Nick Hogan has drawn attention to a new web-site, backed by UKIP, to save our pubs. You can view it here.

09:45 Dr John Luik (pictured below) begins the discussion on how to tackle the prohibition epidemic. He argues that prohibitionists are increasingly following a state-led programme of health promotion which fears differing lifestyles which "differ from the state view of a good life"

Dr Luik: "The prohibitionist does not essentially believe human beings can make rational choices. They don't want debate on these choices."

Dr Luik explains how prohibitionists use skewed statistics to 'prove' their point, and then avoid debate at all costs. If forced into debate, one should ride out the initial irrational insults, and push for discussion of facts. With smoking, alcohol and obesity, the prohibitionist will always attempt to avoid bare facts by attempting to discredit the questioner as being "paid".

How appropriate ... see comments from yesterday.

Dr Luik points out that prohibitionists have a long record of failure, which leads to even more prohibitionist measures to reduce consumption of 'unhealthy' products. He states that the best way to defeat a prohibitionist is to know the science better than them, and to stick to the facts and true statistics which consistently show their policies not to be successful.

10:20 Nigel Farage MEP (UKIP) enthusiastically begins his speech. He starts by slmming the EU for their decision to cancel the previous TICAP venue. He states that he will "raise merry hell" about it and will be pursuing compensation.

On prohibition,

Nigel Farage: "It's about time we stood up and said: 'Enough is enough'."

Farage asks if it is not the healthy way to live to be born a free man or woman, without being restricted in lifestyle choices by Government. He states that now, alcohol is the prohibitionists next target, he mentions the UK's proposed legislation to criminalise giving alcohol to anyone under 15 years of age ... to gasps from the French contingent.

Farage picks out the British Beer and Pub Association for attack, saying that, in conversation with one of their member recently, the BBPA representative stated "the smoking ban is not an issue anymore" despite UK pubs closing at the rate of 6 per day.

Nigel Farage: "I'm going to fight for separate smoking rooms. It is a realistic target to aim for."

Mr Farage ends by highlighting strict prohibitions in the past, such as that under Cromwell. He stated that all such prohibition comes to an end and looks forward to the time when this will happen again and common sense returns.

10:45 Gian Turci rises to present "The Brussel Declaration". He calls for the interests of proper science to be protected, and for the rejection of science as a result of corruption, marketing spin and ideological promotion.

10:55 Coffee Break followed by questions from the floor.

11:15 Conference reconvenes.

A UK attendee asks Dr Luik if it is falling educational standards that has led to poor debate and science reporting. He says that it is not necessarily educational standards, but poor reporting of science by journalists and government. Nigel Farage steps in and adds that he feels, in the UK, that the BBC charging a licence fee is wrong if they are to be taking sides in healthist debate.

Frederique DuPont asks about the increasing prohibitionist tendency to 'brainwash' children regards 'correct' lifestyles. Dr Luik answers that he has no problem with this, as it doesn't work. He asserts that no matter the emphasis from the health lobby, "you can't stop the young from experimenting". The factor of wealth is more relevant. The richer people are, the less likely they are to take risks. Dr Luik sated that a better approach would be to encourage ambition and entrepreneurial spirit.

Dr Luik: "The warning that would best deter young people from smoking would be 'Warning. Your parents think smoking is cool'."

In response to a question about marginalisation of smokers, Dr Luik states that making a section of society social outcasts is the least attractive aspect of the prohibitionists to the general public, and should be a central plank of the fight against them.

11:50 A German attendee questions Nigel Farage and disagrees with the separation of smokers and non-smokers. Farage replies saying that although he understands the sentiment, he feels a compromise is more realistic, restores choice, and gives government a way of relaxing legislation without losing face.

On a question about encroachment on civil liberties in general and who to vote for in countries other than the UK, Mr Farage answers that he feels there are many parties through Europe that have an agenda geared towards this, and he is hopeful that the EU group of which UKIP are a member, will have a greater representation after the 2009 elections.

The session ends with an assertion from Nigel Farage that he is firmly behind TICAP and will do his best to resist prohibitionists in the EU.

Delegates have been invited to tour the EU building by UKIP, so we will get to go inside after all ... hopefully.

Eamon Mallon is bringing the conference to a close with a live rendition of his song "Jackboot".

12:20 The inaugural TICAP Conference ends

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

TICAP Tuesday 27th January PM

Almost ready to recommence (picture above missing of about a dozen late-returning attendees). This morning's events can be read further down or by clicking here

Since it was a rush to set up the blog this morning, there was no time to link to the conference schedule. That, and the list of speakers and their areas of expertise, can be viewed here.

15:00: John Gray, Chairman of TICAP, reads out a statement from Professor Rein Vos, who suffered attempts by anti-smokers to bully him into not attending. He stated that they were not successful, and that poor health is the reason for his regretful absence. The statement reaffirmed his view of the insincere nature of the anti-smoking lobby.

Just realised that the template was set up to disallow anonymous comments. That has been amended, so you don't need a Google account to post comments. Please leave your name somewhere in the comment though.

Other groups not yet mentioned. Italy, Denmark, Holland, Sweden.

Problems with the live videocall to Dr Gio Gori (blame the EU), so we move on ...

15:15 Christopher Snowdon rises to speak of the history of anti-tobacco and the passive smoking fraud. A brief rundown of when anti-tobacco was a grass roots volunteer organisation in the late 18th and 19th century (GASP), which only resurfaced in the 1970s as ASH.

Chris lists a few examples of the many pharmaceutical companies and the amounts they contribute to anti-tobacco. For example, Robert Wood Johnson foundation alone donated £450m since 1991. He explains that their investment leads to huge profits, by 2007 Chantix alone yielded income of £883m.

Chris Snowdon: Anti-tobacco likes to portray itself as a David against a Goliath ... it certainly is, but it's not anti-tobacco holding the slings and the stones.

15:33 Chris highlights that the huge investments in anti-tobacco from nicotine replacement suppliers should be viewed as a conflict of interest, and their research viewed as suspiciously as one would view such research from Philip Morris etc.

In an ideal world, research on health would be done by independent bodies, he realises that this is not possible, but such research should be done in a transparent manner.

Chris finishes by referring to the EU cancellation as evidence that anti-tobacco stifles debate, and is undemocratic.

Chris Snowdon: "Bureaucrats and lobbyists in the anti-smoking lobby have not only lost touch with real people, they have also proved themselves to be unaccountable ..."

The hastily-arranged videocall link could not be reinstated, so instead, a recorded presentation by Dr Gio Gori, on the passive smoking fraud, is shown.

Dr Gori methodically dismantles the science behind the passive smoking fraud, with the evidence the vast majority of readers will be aware of. Flaws with measurement, figures produced without proof, deliberate confusion of dose and risk etc., along with a graph showing 24 other factors with higher risk than the 1.21 attributed to ETS by the anti-smoking lobby.

15:55 Dr Gori finishes with a glimmer of hope.

DrGori: "New USA legislation will encourage the production and advertising of less hazardous cigarettes. It is poised to relax or cancel abolitionist policies."

Let's hope he is proved correct, but I'll believe it when I see it.

16:00 Iro Cyr from CAGE (Canada) reads a message to the conference by Professor Robert Molimard, Prof. emeritus of physiology and co-ordinator of the DIU of Tabacologie to the Faculty of Medicine Paris-South ... phew!)

He states that he has no link to tobacco, and does not smoke, but is worried how smokers are being treated. He began to study tobacco dependence 32 years ago, and states, "Let us be clear, the only victims of tobacco are the smokers themselves."

Prof. Molimard: "I am deeply affected by the troubling rising tide of hindrances to freedom. Littl by little the walls are closing in.

There are no 'small freedoms'. We have to fight fiercely to stan up for every one of them."

16:15 Coffee break for 15 mins

16:30 General Discussion. If you have any questions, post them in comments and I'll try to put them to the panel.

The videocall with Dr Gori in Washington has been reinstated so he is available for questions too.

16:50 Canadian attendee asks Chris Snowdon if he thinks Government should reduce funds to anti-tobacco charities. He replies: "I don't think these charities should be funded by Government at all." He further explains that the charities are funded by Governments, to fool the public that Government policies are receiving public support.

Chris is asked how this message can be spread. He replies that "we just have to keep telling people. They aren't aware that this is happening. If they knew, many would be appalled."

A Spanish delegate asks how the accounts can be obtained. Chris Snowdon replies that in the UK it is very simple (for example ASH Wales receives 0.3% of income from donations), but other countries differ. He points to the EU as not transparent seening as they haven't even disclosed their own accounts for over a decade.

Frederique DuPont pointed out the difference in warnings on packets, from warnings and pictures within the EU, but almost nothing in the US. Maryetta Ables from Forces USA exhibits a packet which has a small warning on the side of the packet, and not in a bold type. She refers to studies which have found that large warnings have been shown to encourage children to smoke, which may explain why the US haven't been tougher on this.

Dave Atherton of Freedom 2 Choose asks Dr Gori why the US Surgeon General has allowed such epidemiological fraud to escape untested. Dr Gori explains that a lot of the problem is "money". Pharmaceutical companies are very valuable to the US Government.

Some good passionate ideas from the floor as to how to press the message to politicians.

The Laird of Glencairn's question is asked of Chris Snowdon, he runs through how the figures on heart attacks in Scotland are quite lierally impossible (laughing as he does so by the way), and comments,

Chris Snowdon: "Shame on the BMJ for publishing that, frankly"

He carries on with more explanation of how 'Third Hand Smoke' is also nonsense and that methods like this are thrown out every now and then to see what works and what doesn't. He couldn't comment about potential press releases from TICAP.

17:30 Christoph Lovenich (Germany), chairing this afternoon, says that he will give an answer about press releases after the question session.

Gian Turci is giving a comprehensive explanation of the history of 'safer cigarettes' in answer to a question about their potential future development in the US, from Iro Cyr (Canada). This is following the 'glimmer of hope' earlier from Dr Gori.

Gian Turci: "There are two types of anti-smoker. The ones who don't want it banned as they want their paycheck, and the ones like some over [at the EU] who do because "I hate it, hate it, hate it, and don't want others to do it"

17:40 Nick Hogan states that adverts saying that smokers 'kill children' are tantamount to hate crime on smokers, why are we not protected from hate crime. Mr Bloom replied that the hate crime legislation has certain parameters and if you don't fal between those parameters, the law doesn't cover that type of hate.

A discussion is prompted by the Quebec delegate, as to why employers are allowed to discriminate against smokers, but not against any other minorities.

17:55 Chris Snowdon adding a little to the discrimination debate before closing remarks.

17:59 Day one closes a minute early. Back again tomorrow.

TICAP Tuesday 27th January

The delegates are all here. The room is full and the top table are preparing to start proceedings.

I'll try to put salient points and events here throughout the two days.

09:30 Godfrey Bloom MEP begins by having a swipe at the EU for not allowing the conference to take place over at the EU building. He said they like to think the debate is over. He is surprised not to see FOREST here and would like to know what was more important than being here today.

He goes on to say he finds it a "gross infringement of human liberty" that a business owner isn't able to choose the smoking policy in his own establishment. He blasts the EU again for picking and choosing which minorities they care to protect.

09:45 Gian Turci rises to speak. He starts by giving a rundown of the WHO policy of denormalisation of smokers, and the strict rules they give on listening to the tobacco industry on any issue, and contrasting with the rules that apply to pharmaceutical companies.

09:55 Gian says the authorities have issued a declaration of war on one set of values in favour of another. He calls for more action to fight those who believe personal health is the concern of the Government. He says "to kill the beast, one must become a beast"

Gian Turci: When personal health is equated with freedom, liberty vanishes as a political concept

10:00 Barrie Craven of the University of Newcastle rises to talk of the effects of smoking bans on business. He refers to findings in his paper that is referenced here. Topics included bans being "after the fact" due to businesses changing prior to the ban, bans being discriminatory to the lower classes, both men and women. Plus, the erosion of social cohesion. He described the creative methodology of using aggregated financial evidence to 'prove' that bans don't harm business, and explains how the science used to influence politicians was 'impure' due to the press "bias against known hypothesis"

10:20 Jan Snel (pictured) rises and is giving a powerpoint presentation of "Damage to mental health by smoking bans"

Jan Snel: Smoking is not just taking nicotine, it is pleasure

Very technical psychological stuff this. Jan is explaining how smoking stimulates pleasure sensors, and increases cognitive function. Restricting or withdrawing smoking can, in certain circumstances, cause depression.

10:37 Jan draws comparisons with the treatment of alcohol. He points out that alcohol guidelines are "2 glasses per day in Sweden, but 7 in the Basque regions."

10:45 Coffee Break. Questions and ansers next at 11:15 so if you wish to ask anything of the panel, please post something on the comments.


Gawain Towler MEP (UKIP) begins by answering a question from Nick Hogan on the events surrounding the cancellation of the EU building as a venue.

Mr Towler explained in depth about the shenanigans (thought to have originated with an Irish MEP), and said that he has been advised by the Ombudsman that they have a very good case for geting compensation for the extra funds expended on staging TICAP at another venue.

More questions follow about the cancellation. Frederique DuPont (France) asks a searching one about a certain MEP and says "it is horrible". Mr Towler replies.

"Come with me to the EU building tomorrow and I will show you LOTS of horrible people"

Just to quickly list a few groups I have seen so far. USA, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Germany, UK. I have no doubt missed some as I have been busy typing and listening at the same time, but will update later.

Visigoth from F2C has a rant about the expenses getting to the conference and asking who to claim it back from. Godfrey Bloom suggests he send a letter to Caroline Flint, which draws a few chuckles.

Jan Snel answers ChrisB's question. He says that studies have been undertaken on monkeys and it was found that social isolation at a young age resulted in the monkeys developing without the full set of social skills. Jan said that in older age, it can have "a devastating effect on well-being"

The Austrian delegation prior to that had asked a question about Champix and its deletorious effect on mental health.

Judith M asks about the lack of impartial press coverage. Godfrey Bloom, being parochial, explains that the BBC (who have taken a £100m loan from the EU bank) and Sky (by way of licensing), are both compromised in different ways.

A question about possible allies in the EU. Being parochial again, Godfrey Bloom replies that there are a few staunchly libertarian Tory MEPs but the EU is generally very unsympathetic. The best thing we can do to hurt them and make them change is to get rid of them at the ballot box. And to write stating that if they don't consider your views, you will actively campaign against them.

A question about why tobacco companies don't help. Gian Turci fields it saying that in the US it is mostly down to the Master Settlement Agreement, also, even tobacco companies are now staffed by people who believe the science fraud. He suggests it is a waste of time talking to them.

From the floor, the delegate from Quebec, Canada, adds that bans don't decrease tobacco sales, so it's not in their interest to object.

Maryetta Ables from the floor, reminds the conference that by excluding tobacco companies, and as such, tobacco users, from lobbying, politicians are threatening national sovereignty by stifling democratic debate.

Barrie Craven answering a question on 'smoking licences' for pubs from a Forces Germany attendee. He says that the more you restrict licences, the more valuable they become and unintended consequences result. He believes this should be resisted as the market, given time, can handle the issue adequately by itself.

Pat Nurse (Press) asks why freedom of speech for smokers is not protected by the EU under Human Rights legislation. Godfrey Bloom refers to EU Referenda (ie Ireland) and says they use legislation selectively as they see fit.

Godfrey Bloom: "You must never mistake this place as a place of serious democratic process"

Gian Turci fielded Chris Cyrnik's question. He said that the pro-choice lobby is "systematically underfunded", as it is just individuals. Media rely on money and advertisers tend to call the shots, which is probably why they don't pick up on the story. The radio stations that do pick it up are the small, independent type that either don't need sponsors, or the sponsors, by objecting, don't threaten the profitability of the broadcaster. He said the only way for this to happen would be if we set up our own multimedia organisation, but the cost is prohibitive.

12:45: Nick Hogan giving a rousing polemic at the moment.

Nick Hogan: A library is a public place, a hospital is a public place. But don't call my premises a public place, or any other private premises, because they are not

Nick Hogan: We allowed this in by stealth. This is not the end, it is the beginning ...

Breaking for lunch now. Phew!

Moving to a new blog post now as this is becoming unwieldy.