Government Out of Control

Chris Snowdon has been looking back at the origins of the Tobacco Display ban:

It is hard to believe that the ban was passed in 2009 and has only now come into effect in small shops. Will it make any difference to youth take up of smoking?

Well, we must look at what has happened. In my local co-op, the tobacco display is covered by two sliding doors in a fetching colour of darkish green. The word “TOBACCO” is etched onto one door in large, black capital letters. On the other door is the message: “If you need help, ask a member of staff”. Will those doors deter a ‘child or young person under 18’ from asking for cigs? If they do not, then what is the point of them, since the whole point of the display ban, as has been said again and again, is to deter young people.

But the question that I asked, ‘Will those doors deter a ‘child or young person under 18’ from asking for cigs?‘, is a daft question. Such youths already have the sense NOT to try to buy cigs in shops – unless they already are aware the the shopkeeper in question will sell cigs to them. I have absolutely no doubt that some 18 and 19 year-olds will already be onto the ‘nice little earner’ which the ability to buy cigs represents. Even buying cigs at the current price of about £7 for 20 can turn a profit of some 50% if sold at 50p each.

I cannot see even the slightest off-putting effect to smokers. Frankly, I see the opposite. I see defiance writ large. It is simple psychology.

Think about it.

You are an adult and you are a smoker. When you go to buy your cigs and you look at the array of ‘glitzy’ packets, you might well feel a little guilt that you are spending money on ‘baubles’. You might feel that other people are watching you buying disgusting, filthy, stinking cigs. Now you don’t have to feel those pangs. You can’t see the packets. You ask for your 20 Rothman’s, or whatever, the assistant slides open the door, takes out the packet, hands it to you and you pay. It is almost a secret transaction. You don’t even need to bother about the price. In fact, the secrecy adds to the allure.

Chris Snowdon draws attention to his analysis of the murky dealings between ASH and other parties allied to the Health Dept to get the ban passed by Parliament, especially the estimated costs of covering up the displays in the manner required by the regulations. But no one, at the time. was supposed to know precisely what the regulations would be. Even so, ASH ET AL used a trick to get the cost extremely low. They took estimates provided a Canadian company which had been instrumental in erecting such covers in Canada and twisted them. For example, the bigger the display, the cheaper the cost per square foot of coverage. The trick was to take the cheapest price (for the largest display) and then multiply that price by 1500 shops, and claim ‘a discount’ because there were 1500 shops. In other words, 1500 small displays represented X very large displays and could be ‘covered’ at the lowest price. That is obviously utter nonsense since every individual shop would be different and need different treatment.

The trickery was discovered via FoI requests and the requested info revealed wholesale collusion between ASH and staff in the Heath Dept. But even after the false estimates of costs had been discovered, Lord Darsi was STILL quoting the incorrect figures. Who was to blame for the false figures being relayed to the Lords? The buck did not stop. It went round and round.

But also the expectations of the effect on youth smoking came from poor information. The Zealots tried to claim that youth smoking dropped by 10% in Canada after the display ban was brought in there. CRAP! First, the figures were wrong. In the period in question, the fall was 7%, and the Zealots had to acknowledge the mistake. But what was worse is that, at the time, not all Canadian provinces had enacted a display ban. The fall in youth smoking was much the same in those provinces which did not have a ban as those which did.

You can read Chris Snowdon’s analysis of what happened here:

It is well-worth reading.



There is a lot more to it than that, but it serves as an illustration of ‘Government out of control’. What is more distressing has been the willingness of politicians to change sides at the drop of a hat. Alan Johnson was Labour Health Sec at the time. Obviously, he was all for the ban. The opposition cover was Andrew Lansley. This is what he said about the display ban:

It will come as no surprise to us if the Department of Health has funded organisations that
provide the responses to consultations that the Government is looking for. The public are
understandably cynical about the way Labour consults the public—it’s time we had a
Government that treats the public and their views with the respect they deserve.

Andrew Lansley became Health Sec and changed sides completely. Virtually overnight, he became a Holy Zealot of Tobacco Control.


There is something seriously wrong. Could you imagine Churchill changing his mind when he became Prime Minister in the early stages of WW2 and waving a piece of paper, saying that he had come to an agreement with ‘Mr Hitler’ that they could have have France and the rest of Europe, and everything would be OK? We have had a string of ‘conservative’ junior health ministers, Milton, Soubry and Ellison who have, in turn, fallen over themselves to comply with Anti-Tobacco demands. There can only be one explanation – they are scared. Put yourselves in their position. They know nothing at all. The latest Health Sec is Jeremy Hunt. He is well off and quite clever, but he knows nothing about Health. Allison is a clever young woman, but she knows nothing about health at all. None of the elected people know anything about what they are supposed to be governing. After the coming general election, you might as well put all the names of the majority party (if there is one) in a hat and draw lots for who will be PM, Health Sec, Foreign Sec, etc.  In fact, it is becoming more and more clear that it there is no need for political parties. Just elect people sight-unseen and have a draw for positions. No…. Wait….. The draw would have to be for who is PM, that is all. Because he then chooses who the ministers will be. If the number of MPs is 650, he can appoint 326 as ministers of one form or another, and thus ensure their loyalty. That is sort of how it works in North Korea. It is called ‘Gift Politics’. The difference between North Korea and the UK is that the ‘big three parties’ are happy to exchange their roles from time to time.


I was reading a blog earlier today which is partly responsible for the above flippant thoughts. It was about ‘democracy’ in the USA. Someone was at pains to point out that the USA is not a ‘democracy’ – it is a ‘republic’.

That is interesting because of the implications of the words. In very basic, simple terms, you could equate ‘democracy’ with ‘tyranny of the majority’; you could equate ‘republic’ with ‘freedom of the individual within general constraints agreed by all’. Do you see the difference?

The American Constitution is ‘republican’ in the sense that it guarantees the right of a person to seek ‘happiness’ as best he can; it also guarantees that a person can defend himself with weapons; it limits the authority of ‘The Royal Court’. Essentially, the US constitution is a Treaty of the separate States which constitute the USA, which recognises the individual States as though they were individual countries, just as Europe is, but the States come together in matters such as defence of the whole, and in matters of trade between states and the outside world, and a host of other matters which affect all the states commonly.

Is it any wonder that the two main political parties in the USA are called ‘Republicans’ and ‘Democrats’? Neither of those two words make much sense as opposites. They can only be opposites if the describe different ideals. It could be that ‘Republican’ equates to ‘free-for-all’ and ‘Democrat’ equates to ‘control’.


Where is the median line?

I can only talk about the smoking ban because that is what really interests me. It would have been perfectly simple for the Government to mandate that bar staff should be protected against SHS by passing a law which said that publicans MUST provide bar staff with masks which they could wear if the felt threatened; also, they must provide masks for any punter who felt threatened, and the masks must be free. In fact, it would make sense for such a regulation to be created for aircraft. All passengers should be offered a mask because of the congestion. They do not have to wear them, but they should have the choice.

Thus, there was never a need for a bar smoking ban. There was a need for staff to be offered masks, if they wish to wear them.


Is it not very simple? Surely the clever buggers must have thought about that? Surely these quack professors and doctors are not so stupid that they have not thought about it? Surgical masks for all that want them is the easy answer, isn’t it? It preserves autonomy and ‘republicanism’ while denying the ‘tyranny of the majority’. Everyone is happy, YES?





One Response to “Government Out of Control”

  1. The Blocked Dwarf Says:

    My mate in New Zealand, the ‘worm casings’ guy, sent me some pics today of his plantation. His use of buckets might be of interest for some:

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