Movie Night, popcorn essential!

On Monday, the Irish showing of Aaron Biebert’s  film A Billion Lives took place at the Odeon cinema in Dublin. It’s a documentary about vaping or “A True Story of Government Failure, Big Business, and the Vaping Revolution” as the promo puts it.


First off, let’s get the title out of the way. The use of the billion number has upset some people who dispute it’s accuracy. Which is fair enough but it’s a dispute that needs to be taken up with the anti-tobacco movement, it’s their number. This movie is using it to draw attention and give context to the argument it’s making.

Being somewhat passionate about this subject, I’m probably not the best person to review it. I happen to be better informed than the average punter who doesn’t smoke or vape. And this average punter is the target for this documentary, not me. I’m going to have to wear two hats for this review, vaper and disinterested viewer. We’ll get the disinterested viewer one out of the way first.

Not enough personal stories!


So I’m looking for a movie to watch, a documentary and I’ve selected A Billion Lives. Would I be impressed? Probably. This is well shot, well edited and makes its case in increments so I can keep up. The cinematography is especially impressive, there are some beautiful shots of landscapes, streetscapes (did I catch a glimpse of Dublin in there?) and buildings. If there is one area it falls on, it’s people. Not enough personal stories to frame the debate in the context of actual people at risk from the decisions made. The title tells us there’s a billion of them, I would like to have seen more of them.

None the less the narrative carries you along. From the early days of smoking, it’s growth as an industry, the realisation smoking causes loss of life, right through to the growth of the anti-smoking movement. It uses the Winston Man, David Goerlitz as the vector for this story. Through his eyes, we see the glamour and attraction of smoking. He tells us how he came to view smoking as dangerous and how he turned against the tobacco industry. This section takes up about a third of the movie and while interesting in its own right, it could be shorter. This is 2016, we get it, smoking is bad, big tobacco is evil.

Plot twist!

Once the movie moves to e-cigarettes, it gets more interesting. If this was a fictional drama, this is the where the twist in the plot comes. The good guys become conflicted and in a convergence of interest take the same side as the bad guys. A Billion Lives shows this quite well without resorting to conspiracy theories. It presents the evidence and leaves us to draw our own verdict. Again it frames the story around David Goerlitz. Backing up his story with clips of contributors from both sides of the argument. Historical clips from TV shows from the anti side and face to face interviews with the pro side.  I might criticise the lack of contribution from the anti-vaping section of tobacco control but as we learn just before the credits roll, they refused to comment or contribute to the movie. I would have stated this verbally in the movie rather than as text at the end. It’s an important part of the story.

All in all a well-made documentary, done with a passion for its subject. Recommended viewing for anyone interested in how, even with the best intentions money corrupts those intentions.

OK as a vaper and advocate of harm reduction, what did I think?vape_boss-hat-flat-front2_large

Well, I liked the film, it presented a clear case and did so without exaggerating that case. I would have liked more science around vaping. I felt it took for granted that the audience was fully aware of the evidence. I would love to have seen the anti side present their case and seen it countered but they declined to do so. I do understand this was less about vaping as such, and more about what influences positions. It started with the assumption that vaping was the solution to the tobacco problem. I suspect Arron was so convinced of this he forgot it might not be as obvious to everyone else.

Will it help our cause? Yes, if it gets seen. It should act as a rallying point for e-cig advocates and is a useful contribution to the debate. It’s not going to change the minds of confirmed ANTZ but it might tilt the  ones sitting on the fence. More importantly, it brings the conflict of interest of the anti side out in the open for the undecided. The audience should be doctors and health professionals especially those working in smoking cessation, they have the most to gain from watching this.

Right now it’s being shown on demand, someone has to organise a showing, do all the promotion and hope they get enough bums on seats for the show to go ahead. Real grassroots stuff. Hopefully, it will make it to Netflix or one of the on-demand streaming services where it will find a wider audience. If you get a chance to watch it, don’t miss it.


Official Site

YouTube Trailer




Just a spoonful​ of sugar….

You know I’m often astonished at the stuff that science turns up. Stuff like carbon dioxide can be trapped in solid rock, the Higgs bosun, their’s a ninth planet and the earth has two moons. In fairness, I learned the last one from QI but they got it from science. People doing long involved research, publishing papers so the rest of us can share in the wonders of this universe. It’s not all big stuff either, the first new antibiotic in 30 years was discovered last year, common swifts can stay airborne for 10 months. Try that Ryan Air!

As astonishing as this stuff is, what’s even more astonishing is the amount of bad science that gets published. You have to assume that the people who discovered quantum levitation are pretty smart people. So how does a paper like this get past reviewers, editors, and publishers?

Detection of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural in the aerosol of electronic cigarettes

It sounds serious and scholarly and all kinds of clever until you actually read it. In the abstract it states

Saccharides, which are commonly used to impart a sweet flavour to ECIG liquids, thermally degrade to produce toxic compounds, like aldehydes and furans.

A good hypothesis except for the fatal flaw that saccharides are not used in e-liquids. I have no idea why they assumed sugar would be used as everyone knows that when heated sugar caramelizes and would ruin your e-cig coil. They tell us that there are over 7000 e-liquid flavors and these fall into 6 groups, tobacco, menthol, fruits, beverages, sweet flavours and others. The sweet category is the one these geniuses decided to concentrate on. Telling us that;

The ‘sweet’ category, which is popular among ECIG users,7 lists sugar, caramel and honey as advertised ingredients.

Evidence for this claim leads to this page; Bee Sweet, Rocket Fuel Vapes


Somehow our intrepid boffins mistake a description for an ingredients list! Bad enough to do this once but they include 3 examples of flavor descriptions as evidence of sugar as an ingredient. There is no link to an actual list of ingredients from the manufacturer or to the result of testing purchased samples for sugar content.

In fact no samples were purchased for testing, instead, assuming sugar was an ingredient, “Liquids with various concentrations of sucrose, glucose or sorbitol were prepared in a 70/30 PG/VG ratio

Imagine if NASA had taken this;


as evidence of the composition of the moon and based all pre-launch testing on fatty dairy products!

That’s the level of stupid this study archives. Anything they found after this point is irrelevant to everything but the  samples they tested. No point reading any further because the pretty graphs and fancy math have no information about the subject they claim to have.

If they had purchased some e-liquid samples and tested them they would have found that the sweet flavor is achieved by adding Ethyl Maltol  Stevia or some other artificial sweetener because every fool (apart from the fools doing the research) knows, the molecules in heated sugar break down and produce several different compounds and its sweet taste is replaced by a more bitter flavor. It also caramelizes and ruins coils.

Chemistry Department, American University of Beirut, your study is bad and you should feel bad!

Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P50DA036105 and the Center for Tobacco Products of the US Food and Drug Administration.

National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, you should demand your money back!


The beatings will continue…

Sometimes you wonder if you inhabit the same planet as everyone else, what seems like common sense to you, seems unthinkable to others. I’m the kind of guy who thinks evidence should decide the course of action. If I am doing something and it’s not working, I naturally assume I should do something else, not do the same thing again and again. I don’t think, If I do this harder or do more of it, it should work. I tend to step back and admit defeat and try another approach.

Our government, on the other hand, think, bigger, better, more of what failed so far is the best policy. The New National Drug Strategy is a perfect example of this. The old national drug strategy hardly made a dent in the problem so building on a failed policy is in their opinion the best way forward.



They are currently running a consultation process on this and asking for submissions to help form the national drug strategy.

It’s an online questionnaire available here.Drugs Strategy

Now I have made clear my opinion that most of the harm from drug use is caused by the official response to drug use. Some will say “but Tom, harm reduction is specifically mentioned as one of the key areas, they must be trying to reduce the harm, why do you say they are the cause of harm”. OK, they do pay lip service to harm reduction but only in as much as the harms threaten themselves, infectious disease or littering. As far as any other harms are concerned, there is no sign of reducing any of them. In fact, it’s official policy to increase these harms.

Let us look at the framing of the questions on the questionnaire. All  harm increasing options, hardly a mention of education other than the “drugs are bad, you will be punished just say no” mantra that has failed to dissuade anyone in the past. Needle exchange hasn’t gotten past half the areas designated in the original program and their’s no mention of safe injecting rooms, pill testing facilities or decriminalization of so-called soft drugs. It’s entirely a token gesture. The fact that drug consumption rooms are going ahead is in spite of the drug strategy, not because of it.

If we look at the evidence, decriminalization is the most effective drug use reduction stratagem. It’s worked in Portugal, all drugs have been decriminalised and Portugal’s drug situation has improved significantly in several key areas.

Drug decriminalisation in Portugal: setting the record straight

This is apparent anywhere it’s been implemented. But our crowd tell us;

The Steering Group considered the legislative framework governing illicit substances. Most were not in favor of legalising, decriminalising or changing/redefining the legal status of certain illicit drugs (cannabis was the focus of most discussion in this context).

This despite the fact, which they acknowledge;

The issue of the legislative framework governing illicit substances was raised on a number of occasions, with some requesting a review of that framework. Some people were of the opinion that consideration should be given to potentially legalising, decriminalising or changing/redefining the legal status of certain illicit drugs (particularly cannabis) and the associated penalties for possession.

In other words, we have a plan, don’t bother suggesting anything else, just tell us how you think we should implement our plan.

Consultation is not what I call this, signaling is what I call it. This is the first stage of implementation of a plan which has been decided before any consultation. It’s theater! Its purpose is to pretend support for what is already decided. The main thrust of which is that the approach and rationale outlined in the current Strategy continue to be relevant and appropriate.

Yeah, it’s all about staying relevant and appropriate. If you continue with policies that fail you will always be relevant and in a job!

Go on fill out the questionnaire, it’s linked in the Drug Strategy page, do it because if enough people make a noise about harm reduction measures and decriminalisation, they will have to mention it. This is your opportunity to put your oar in, don’t miss it. Closing date for submissions is 5 pm, Oct 18.

Yeah sorry, I’m late letting you know but I didn’t come across it myself until this week.

If you want to read more thoughts on harm and harm reduction, Iv blogged about it here;

Where’s the harm?


Tonights guest is…

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to give you a break from my ponderings and let someone who knows what they are talking about have a say.

This week was a good one for vaping news. The smoking toolkit showed 18000 extra smokers quit by switching to e-cigs (yeah, it sounds low but it’s a conservative estimate based on complex math and stuff and it’s still over and above what would have quit if vaping had not figured).  An update to the Cochrane review showed e-cigs can help people quit lit tobacco and showed no evidence of harm short to medium term. Irish Health reported the story here E-cigarettes do help smokers quit  All good! I have however heard some commentators when speaking about this review say the quality of the studies are low which seems to imply that the Cochrane review itself should be taken with the proverbial quantity of salt. So to explain this issue I got someone far better able to do so than me. Sarah Jakes,  @Twigolet on twitter if you want to follow her. Sarah is a trustee of the UK charity New Nicotine Alliance (UK). She knows her stuff!


Over to Sarah;

Cochrane reviews are one of the most highly regarded review systems in the academic world, but sometimes they can leave you feeling a little, well, flat. Let’s face it, ‘E-cigarettes may help smokers quit but the quality of the evidence is low’ is not exactly the advocacy message of the century.

To understand why this finding is kinda better than it seems you have to first understand the purpose of a review. As anyone following the vaping debate knows, practically every day brings new studies and the conclusions of those studies are sometimes problematic. This could be down to the methodology used, or it could be due to bias. It would be an impossible task for decision makers who need a question answered to wade through literally decades of conflicting studies in order to come to the correct conclusion about what the evidence currently says. That is where reviews come in. Reviews will start with a question, find all of the research that addresses the question, assess not only the quality of the research itself but also, and importantly for our purposes, how well it answers the question and how much confidence the reviewers have that the resulting effect size will not change once more research is undertaken. The primary question asked in the latest Cochrane Review was – do e-cigarettes help people who smoke achieve long term abstinence from smoking?. The conclusion was a muted ‘yes’, with confidence in the accuracy of the estimates of the size of the effect being graded from low to very low. What this means is that the reviewers believe that with more research the effect size will change. In theory it could change in either direction. Both Cochrane Reviews on e-cigarettes found only two relevant randomised control trials and both were undertaken using now obsolete cigalike type devices.

Of course the effect size is going to change! Saying otherwise would be like testing a model T Ford for fuel efficiency and then assuming that result will apply to all cars forever more. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the two RCTs themselves, but they don’t tell us much about the effect that modern devices would have. At the time the review was written Cochrane had come across a further 15 ongoing RCTs which they say appear to be eligible for inclusion in future reviews. I wouldn’t mind betting there are more in the pipeline than that, although many could be excluded for various reasons. Let’s hope that the new studies incorporate factors missed so far such as improved nicotine delivery from modern tank systems, and study designs which take into account real world use patterns. Of course RCTs will never fully quantify the efficacy of e-cigarettes in real world use, but they’ll come close enough for those who need such answers, and the rest of us really don’t care.

So there you have it, next time you hear someone try to dismiss the Cochrane review by claiming its low quality you will know they are engaging in wibble. Take what they say and apply salt generously.

Who speaks for the vaper?*

Yesterday Simon Clark tweeted that he was going to be speaking on BBC Radio Oxford about vaping bans. He had been contacted by the BBC for comment. Simon is against bans and I trust him to make a good case against this one. I did react to his tweet with a sense of despair as once again a media outlet has contacted Forest about vaping. “Forest’s mission is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco”. Rightly so but vapers don’t consume tobacco. It behoves the media to not colligate the two.

I meant no offence to Simon or Forest for that matter, they serve their cause well enough but rather I was wondering if the BBC had deliberately sought to bundle vaping with smoking or was it just laziness on their part. While Simon would defend both with equal vigor, the fact that it is Simon defending vapers rights is itself part of the problem.


Simon blogged about our exchange and shared his thought on it here; You’re welcome


“in my experience the vaping community has still to get its act together, media wise”

Harsh but possibly fair. I’m sure Simon knows how hard it is for part-time volunteers to break into the circle of contacts media have as ‘go to’ voices. Never mind the commitment required to maintain such status. Vapers advocates are not paid for doing so, they fund their own efforts and have to maintain jobs as well.

Also, what does he mean by “vaping advocates”? The tobacco control industry is full of them – ASH, Public Health England, Cancer Research, and so on.

This is what got me thinking! What do I mean?

I do some advocacy myself, this blog, some tweets and positive support of the The New Nicotine Alliance (UK) . It’s not much and not nearly enough but right now it’s all I as a consumer can do.

From the NNA’s about us; “We wish to see a mature public and organisational understanding of the potential of safer nicotine products for reducing cigarette smoking, including their safety and efficacy, and hence contribute to the reduction in cigarette smoking.” See the difference between this mission statement and Forests one?   Now I’m not criticising the NNA, its mission is different from Forests for a good reason. It is there to promote harm reduction. But that begs the question in the title of this piece. Who speaks for the vaper?

when it comes to defending vaping in ‘public’ places – including pubs, clubs, beaches, parks and other spaces, indoors and out – I don’t think anyone has Forest’s track record, and we have the cuttings, broadcasts and parliamentary submissions to prove it.

True but it’s more by default than anything else.If you are the one contacted for comment then you will have the track record.

We’re also the only consumer body that has consistently fought for choice on tobacco and emerging products such as e-cigarettes.

That, I think, gives us a certain credibility.

This is an exaggeration at best. Yes, you are the only one fighting for choice on tobacco products but that’s your job Simon, you certainly are not the only one fighting for choice on e-cigs, Snus or other emerging products. The NNA defends vigorously the rights of consumers of other nicotine delivery products. It engages with policy-makers and regulatory bodies, and comments on legislative and policy issues. It fully supports the right of smokers and others to make their own choices based on evidence.

The NNA is completely independent of commercial interests in relevant industries (e-cigarettes, tobacco, pharmaceutical companies, etc). It operates on a not-for-profit basis and is free from commercial bias. Our policies and public statements are evidence-based,

That, I think gives them some considerable credibility.  What you have Simon, is Profile!


But thanks and I hope you play a blinder on the wireless, we need all the help we can get. I’m just not sure being always represented by Forest is as helpful as you think it is.

*Yeah but at this stage, everyone has bowdlerized this iconic title so.. my turn.




The Long Game.

The WHO released the documents for the Convention of the Parties number 7. The COP is a little get together of all 180 signatories to the framework convention on tobacco control. They get together every two years and discuss tobacco control stuff. With 180 countries it must be like herding cats.

They are hyper paranoid about the tobacco industry finding out what they discuss, so they ban anyone and everyone who might be connected to the tobacco industry from attending. Last time they closed the doors, shut down wifi and kicked out all journalists from observing. This time, their paranoia has grown to the point where they are considering banning government representatives from the 180 countries from attending! It’s like they have something to hide!


Anyway, last time was the first time they looked at the issue of electronic cigarettes. Of course, they had to invent a scary acronym for what the rest of us just call E-Cigs and they adopted ENDS. Electronic.Nicotine.Delivery.Systems. Sounds broad enough and I’m sure they thought it would cover everything they felt needed to be covered.

Well, they sat and talked, listened to some sage counsel and still made a hames of it as far as e-cigs (or ends) are concerned. They wanted public use bans, advertising bans, bans on flavors and all sorts of tobacco control measures applied to what is not a tobacco product. I’m not sure what drove this, fear of tobacco industry taking over the market, fear of health risks or fear of nicotine becoming a hazard free consumer choice. Found this clue in the previous COP6 review.

Article 5.2(b) of the Convention commits Parties not only to preventing and reducing tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke but also to preventing and reducing nicotine addiction independently from its source. Therefore, while medicinal use of nicotine is a public health option under the treaty, recreational use is not.

Yeah, they don’t like it!

Snail Run Near The Finish Line

Anyway that was 2 years ago and science has moved on, the RSP report came out as did PHE’s review, the next COP, COP7 should reflect this advance. As they let us have a look at the report, I thought I give it a review to see what had changed.

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS/ENNDS)

Well, that’s new! Electronic non-nicotine delivery systems? I guess ENDS wasn’t broad enough.  Now they have captured everything from e-cigs to the internet to voice mail, pretty comprehensive I’d call that.

This report builds on the last one without moving from the initial position of bans, bans and more bans, Oh, they added taxes this time. It’s spread over 33 points and I’m going to cover the main ones so this is going to be a long read. Sorry.

1 to 4. Introduction and explanation of terms. Fair enough!


If the great majority of tobacco smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit would switch without delay to using an alternative source of nicotine with lower health risks, and eventually stop using it, this would represent a significant contemporary public health achievement. This would only be the case if the recruitment of minors and non-smokers into the nicotine-dependent population is no higher than it is for smoking, and eventually decreases to zero

This is just factually wrong. It would be a significant public health achievement whether or not it eventually decreased to zero. To say otherwise is ideology and diminishes the huge impact smoking has on health in favor of implicating nicotine.

6;  Mentions heat not burn. I wonder if they will need another acronym next time?

7 to 11; Is about toxicants and contains this;

long-term use is expected to increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and possibly cardiovascular disease as well as some other diseases also associated with smoking

Increase from what? the level caused by smoking? from zero which does not exist? There is no evidence at all that this is expected to happen. None. Nil. Zero. In fact, the expectation is ENDS would reduce the risk by 95%  Why isn’t this in this report? The only mention of the PHE report oddly enough is The magnitude of these risks is likely to be smaller than from tobacco smoke which is an understatement of the 95% less harmful estimate.

12;  Nothing more than an argument, that as we can find no evidence of harm there may be no method to find, it must exist. Or some weird logic they only understand.

13 14 and 15; Second-hand exposure, it’s not just air, therefore…ban it!

16 and 17; Claims no evidence they help smokers quit. I’m not sure this is relevant one way or another, e-cigs are not being marketed as cessation therapy in the main. One e-cig has been granted a licence as a cessation product but hasn’t come to market yet.


18 19 and 20; The Gateway! Given we hear so much about this it’s surprising it only gets 3 small paragraphs. No evidence they say but strong indications.Of course for this exercise they include nicotine use as the other side of the gate rather than smoking. Might that be because youth smoking rates are falling like a lead balloon in markets where e-cigs are available?

21; Advertizing and marketing. No real meat here, mostly speculation.

22; The big bad wolf! Tobacco industry involvement and the threat to the precious FCTC. What’s interesting is they recognise that both the TPD and the FDA regulations are a boon to the tobacco industry, they seem to view this as inevitable and best to just treat the whole thing as a tobacco plot in the first place. Siege mentality at work.

23 to 32; Regulatory options. “Parties that have not banned the importation, sale, and distribution of ENDS/ENNDS may consider the following options:” because banning is the prefered option but some pesky vapers fought that and so we must respond with as strict a regime as possible.

a. Banning the sale and distribution of ENDS/ENNDS to minors;

b. Banning the possession of ENDS/ENNDS by minors;

c. Banning or restricting advertising, promotion and sponsorship of ENDS/ENNDS (see FCTC/COP/6/10 Rev.1);

d. Taxing ENDS/ENNDS at a level that makes the devices and e-liquids unaffordable to minors in order to deter its use in this age group. In parallel, combustible tobacco products should be taxed at a higher level than ENDS/ENNDS to deter initiation and reduce regression to smoking;

e. Banning or restricting the use of flavours that appeal to minors;

f. Regulating places, density and channels of sales; and

g. Taking measures to combat illicit trade in ENDS/ENNDS

Banning possession? That’s not even done for cigarettes or alcohol! Taxing ends/ennds and raising tobacco taxes to maintain the gap! A gap they say exists the other way earlier in this report! Banning flavors that appeal to minors. Which flavors exactly and what about the effect this has on uptake by adults? Channels of sale? I suppose they mean restricting to licenced tobacco vendors. Banning cross border and internet sales, you know the kind of stuff that gives the market to their sworn enemy the tobacco industry.

i. Testing heated and inhaled flavourants used in the e-liquids for safety, and banning or restricting the amount of those found to be of serious toxicological concern such as diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, cinnamaldehydes or benzaldehyde;

ii. Requiring the use of ingredients that are not a risk to health and are, when allowed, of the highest purity;

iii. Regulating electrical and fire safety standards of ENDS/ENNDS devices;

iv. Regulating the need for manufacturers to disclose product content to government; v. Regulating appropriate labelling of devices and e-liquids;

vi. Requiring manufacturers to monitor and report adverse effects; and

vii. Providing for the removal of products that do not comply with regulations.

This is all obvious stuff, the devil will be in the detail. No ii is interesting as they clearly state all ingredients pose a risk to health earlier in the report so I’m guessing they meant to say “Ban them”

i. Prohibiting by law the use of ENDS/ENNDS in indoor spaces or at least where smoking is not permitted;

ii. Requiring health warnings about potential health risks deriving from their use. Health warnings may additionally inform the public about the addictive nature of nicotine in ENDS; and

iii. Reducing the risk of accidental acute nicotine intoxication by a) requiring tamperevident/child resistant packaging for e-liquids and leak-proof containers for devices and e-liquids and b) limiting the nicotine concentration and total nicotine amount in devices and e-liquids.

More bans. The first one has no justification under any definition of public health. Though I have seen Ruth Malone try to shoehorn annoyance as a public health issue. The last, iii, is already standard industry practise and law in the EU and the US.

a. Prohibiting implicit or explicit claims about the effectiveness of ENDS/ENNDS as smoking cessation aids unless a specialized governmental agency has approved them;

b. Prohibiting implicit or explicit claims that ENDS/ENNDS are innocuous or that ENDS are not addictive; and

c. Prohibiting implicit or explicit claims about the comparative safety or addictiveness of ENDS/ENNDS with respect to any product unless these have been approved by a specialized governmental agency.

I have a real problem with C. E-cigs are prohibited from comparative risk claims unless a gov agency has approved them. What does this mean? That e cigs can not  quote the RCP report, that unless you apply for permission to quote PHE you can be prosecuted for telling the truth? TBH it sounds like guff stuck in to cover all bases.

a. Raising awareness about potential industry interference with Parties’ tobacco control policies;

b. Establishing measures to limit interactions with the industry and to ensure transparency in those interactions that do take place;

c. Rejecting partnerships with the industry;

d. Taking measures to prevent conflicts of interest for government officials and employees;

e. Requiring that information provided by the industry be transparent and accurate; f. Banning activities described as “socially responsible” by the industry, including but not limited to activities described as “corporate social responsibility”;

g. Refusing to give preferential treatment to industry; and

h. Treating State-owned industry in the same way as any other industry.

The real objective; public health and specifically tobacco related public health is our ball. No one else can play.

All of the above serving suggestions come with the preamble “Parties that have not banned the importation, sale, and distribution of ENDS/ENNDS may consider the following options;” Just in case they didn’t make it clear enough that banning them outright is the prefered option.

This is not going to be over soon, the WHO are playing a long game, slowly maneuvering the vaping industry under its remit by forcing regulation that hands the emerging industry to big tobacco, shifting goal posts to nicotine cessation and capturing nicotine as a medicinal produce. That last goal may be the end game they are playing for. Much more than the stated goal of “combating the tobacco epidemic”

Well, it got me thinking and not happy thoughts about unicorns!





Boys keep swinging!


I usually witter on about harm reduction but today I have sex on my mind. What brought that on you may ask? Oddly enough it was an article in Alive, an Irish catholic monthly magazine. It’s a free thing left in the porches of churches and in fairness, it isn’t that bad. It’s well laid out, legible and the writing is articulate enough to get its point across.

However the point it’s making is usually, how to phrase this?  Mental conservative catholicism that harkens back to the mythical 50’s. A time when the church ruled, women knew their place and all was well with the world. Of course, the reality was nothing like this apart from the church ruling us with an iron fist.

This tweet brought an article to my attention;

Men no longer know how to man up

Thanks Alan, you got me thinking!

The full thing is available online here;

Men no longer know how to man up Show yourself a man – part 1

Now I’m not opposed to anyone wondering about men and their role in society, it’s a common enough topic. From crisis in masculinity articles in broadsheets, to how to be a real man in click bait tabloids, everyone is having a go. So why shouldn’t Fr Brian McKevitt OP join in the fun, or me for that matter!! I’m only surmising Fr Brian is the author of the piece as it under the heading Editor’s Jottings and Fr Brian is the editor. If it’s someone else I apologise but you should have put your name to it.

This crisis receives little attention from politicians, scholars, the media or the Church,

Well as I’ve pointed out this issue receives a lot of attention from scholars and the media,I’m not sure politicians would help matters and the fact that Alive has the issue in its editorial section gives lie to the last claim. In fact here’s Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke speaking about it.

“Man-crisis” and what to do about it

But the family today is under attack as never before in history, due principally to the failure of men to be men, to man up to their responsibilities.

Oh ,so it’s men’s fault we don’t man up to our responsibilities. Better fix that. I wonder what these are so I can ‘man up’? It’s not specified in the article but there is some less than specific stuff about serious responsibilities for all the members, especially parents, to defend and foster love. To care and support the family. I suppose this is where we men are failing. Or is it? Exactly what is so different about men now from 100 years ago that causes a crisis in manning up? Damned if I can see it. Men have always been a mixture of good and bad, they range from misogynistic bullies to caring nurturing individuals who sacrifice for their families. Pretty much the same as women come to think of it, the difference is now a woman who gets stuck with the former example doesn’t have to put up with it. Good. The duds no longer can count on the support of society to remain duds, the crisis seems to be that the ones who never manned up are now cast adrift. About time.

But wait! It’s not men’s fault at all, it a plot!

It is engineered by the State and by many other agencies promoting an irrational individualistic ideology.

Huh? The state is engineering the destruction of the family and causing a crisis in masculinity which is being ignored? Is this for real? How is the state achieving this failure of men to be men, to man up to their responsibilities? Perhaps he means by facilitating women not to have to suffer what they must, to be able to pursue careers, to remain single if they choose, to marry whom they love.  Equality be damned, it’s all an evil plot to destroy the family. Unlike when women had to retire from work on marriage, couldn’t have a bank account in their own name, and ended up in Magdalen laundries. And why? What’s in it for them?

Would you ever cop on, man up and grow up!