Focus you fack!

Breath deeply and count to 10

Sometimes I can get slightly irate, sometimes slightly more than irate and sometimes, well let’s just say you don’t want to be around. It never helps when I’m in this state to hear the words “breath deeply and count to 10 dear” to be honest I think it’s said to see if I will literally explode as opposed to figuratively.

Oh my, Monday!

I heard it said to me several times before I finally exhausted myself and fell into a fitful sleep. I had spent most of Monday cutting firewood, removing fallen trees after the previous nights storm. I was away from TV, radio and internet’s most of the day. So I missed the big presentation by the Irish Heart Foundation and Cancer Society on ‘E-cigarette packaging and Flavour research’. Once I did hear of it I checked it out and could not believe the bullshit that these two charities thought to pawn off as research. Ok OK, breath deeply and count to 10……….

Flavours and teen use of e-cigs is a hot topic right now and some research would help. This is what really offends me about this PR stunt. They did no research, they made no effort at research and they instead used the topic to take a swipe at e-cigs. Of course they bloody did. Using the example of American tactics, they weaponised kids and using leading questions got the replies they wanted. This is a despicable level of lobbying by orgs supposed to be in the area of public health. The heart foundation state “We campaign to influence Government policy in order to improve care for patients and to prevent premature deaths” Remember this when they rattle their can under your nose next time, they openly admit they campaign to influence gov policy. They do sweet fuck all to advance public health other than acidentialy. The Irish Cancer crowd claim ” to be the independent and informed voice of those affected by cancer. We represent people affected by cancer and make sure that people who shape cancer policy and provide cancer services hear their voice.” What in the name of all that’s holy has teen vaping got to do with cancer? Odds are it prevents teens from smoking and as such lowers the risk of cancer. This is misguided at best, downright self defeating at worst.

Lobbyists lobby

Anyway why would I be so angry because lobbyists lobby? Because they do it so shoddy that’s why! The ‘research‘ as they termed it turned out to be a sample of 16 kids from a single area, given a set of samples and asked to give their opinion. A focus group it’s called. Jesus wept. No indication whether any of the kids ever used an e-cig, no idea or clue what the full questionnaire was apart from the cherry picked stuff they use in the powerpoint slides they linked to as the ‘research‘ online. I’m not joking, they actually linked to a set of powerpoint slides when asked if the full research was available online.

The media coverage was of course fulsome, RTE’s main evening news show Drivetime covered it, giving the IHF an opportunity to push their agenda and the presenter claiming she had no knowledge of the Healthy Ireland survey from the previous week. Which she also covered. The IHF muppet claimed there were no figures since 2015, she let that one slide without question but when the VBI spokesman referred to the HI survey, she said “I’m not aware of those figures, where did you get them?”

The Irish Times also covered the story. Including this paragraph

 “Categorising the products into four types of flavouring, they said only one, associated with existing tobacco products, could be expect to appeal to current smokers or those looking to quit. The other three were linked to food, fruits and sweets, and were considered to be appeal to young people as they were often found in the foods and drinks that appeal to them.”

Except this is not what the ‘research’ says. I’ll quote with a screen shot of the actual presentation.

Can the reporter at the IT not read? Or was he lied to by the IHF when being given a quote? I have no idea, I suspect it was some idiot who lost his notes and tried to do it from memory without the common sense to check. Yes I’m being kind, I’ve calmed down since monday.

OK, while very little information can be gleaned from a sample of 16, it does tell us something, it tells us that branding and packaging is the biggest creator of perceptions around e-cigs and advertising adds to this. But this is not something unknown, in fact it’s exactly what the vaping retailers have been telling the regulators for over 5 years, asking for guidelines around packaging and urging advertising exclusion zones similar to those proposed for alcohol, another adult product. Why the gov have persistently refused to consider this is a mystery, almost as big a mystery as why they forgot to include an over 18’s clause in the TPD in 2016.

As a cynic I have to suspect these omissions were deliberate, designed to create a problem they could then rush in on a white charger to save us from. “I’m about to call a stop to this,” Simon Harris said. Of course it won’t be easy the minister told the gathered crowd, “their may be obstacles” but he was sure he could save us. “So industry we’re on to you. We know what you’re up to. And we’re going to work together in 2020. And to make sure we shut down this dangerous, dangerous situation.” Gobshite!

The minister said he did not believe the industry when it states that candy floss and bubblegum flavoured products are aimed at getting the “60-year-old man who smokes 20 a day” off tobacco. Several others have spoken about this mythical 60 year old as well, I wonder if they all think all smokers are over 55? Perhaps they do, after all if the presenter of a show which covered the Healthy Ireland survey is not aware of the figures why should a Minister for Health who currently oversees the largest number of trolleys recorded, and the largest budget overruns know anything about the facts. He doesn’t know his arse from his elbow, how can he know what the profile of a typical smoker is.

Who would know, is the Irish Heart foundation who run ASH Ireland, I have to assume they are the ones informing the minister on this issue as they didn’t feel the need to correct him. So they either mislead the minister or they failed to act professionally and inform him. Just for the record the profile of a typical smoker in Ireland is a person between 18 and 35, lower economic status and lower educational achievement. They started smoking at around 20 years of age and if current trends continue will smoke for around 35 years before quitting. That’s the bulk of smokers.

Oh hang on, I think I see it now, Simon is basing his 60 Year old not on a typical smoker but on the typical quitter. Which Simon see as the only customer for e-cigs. Not sure why Simon wants to continue this trend considering the health cost of smoking. Not sure why he refuses to see the benefit of attracting younger smokers and having them quit before damage has accumulated. Can’t think of any reason at all, at all,

Tax hike on cigarettes and tobacco worth extra €68.1m in year

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/tax-hike-on-cigarettes-and-tobacco-worth-extra-68-1m-in-year-1.3657867

2 thoughts on “Focus you fack!

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