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Tim Farron needs to start closer to home

By Editor
July 17th, 2015 at 1:29 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

The newly elected leader of the Lib Dems, Tim Farron, has already taken to air stating that his ambition is to bring all liberals into the Lib Dem fold.  That would work if the party was actually liberal. Unfortunately it is not.

Mark Littlewood, (formerly of this parish) said what we were all thinking…

ml tweet

Mr Farron is going to have his work cut out keeping the liberals he has inside the party, if he really does intend to move the party massively to the left of where it is now.

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Public health demands: all fizz, no sparkle

By Angela Harbutt
July 16th, 2015 at 9:04 am | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Hat tip: In case you missed it, do go read a brilliant analysis of Britain’s so-called “tooth decay crisis” by Christopher Snowdon.

As repnigel huntorted in the Sunday Times, according to Nigel Hunt, dean of the Royal College of Surgeons’ dental faculty, we are facing [yet another] health crisis, this time relating to child tooth decay. The basis of  theDean’s complaint is that some children are having to wait months before they can have teeth extracted under general anaesthetic in a hospital.  As Mr Snowdon says, “This is a disgrace”, but, he points out that this is not due to an epidemic of tooth decay, our oral health has been improving, not declining, in recent years:

 

“According to a report by the Royal College of Surgeons”….” ‘oral health has improved significantly since the 1970s’. Does that include children? You betcha. ‘The dental health of the majority of British children has improved dramatically since the early 1970s,’ according to a 2005 study, mainly because of ‘the widespread availability of fluoride containing toothpastes’. This was confirmed in a 2011 study which concluded that ‘since the 1970s, the oral health of the population, both children’s dental decay experience and the decline [in] adult tooth loss, has improved steadily and substantially.”

The problem, Snowdon suggests is not our willingness or ability to make kids brush their teeth, but rather the inability of the NHS to conduct the operations required. So the crisis, if there is one, is within the NHS.  Rather than accept that the problem lies there, and call for a review of health provision in the UK, or a demand to root out the inefficiencies of the state monolith, Dean calls for… wait for it… graphic photos of rotten teeth to be placed on sweets and fizzy drinks.

This of course echos the demands, issued earlier this week, by the doctors trade union, the British Medical Association, [BMA] to put a 20% tax on sweet drinks, because of the obesity crisis.

Serendipity that two medical groups demand action on fizzy drinks within days of each other? Or a coordinated effort to divert attention away from the failings of the NHS and point the finger at the preferred “evil” industry on which to pile up all the blame?

Or could it be a concerted attack on Government, currently considering “a range of measures to curb the nation’s intake of sugar“. If only the medical profession would apply such diligence and “joined up action” on the real NHS problems, rather than finding ever-new scape-goats.

Snowdon elegantly concludes:

“As Douglas Murray observed in The Spectator last month, victim-blaming has become the medical establishment’s default response to its own failures. The shrill demands for government action are a crude diversionary tactic. Can’t get the waiting lists down? Bring in a sugar tax! Unable to carry out minor operations? Put graphic warnings on Mars bars! It is a shameless distraction from the real issue, but when combined with the media’s gross misrepresentation of the facts and the political class’s thirst for legislation, it is a pretty effective one.”

Read Snowdon’s blog here.

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New study shows #e-cig vapour as good as clean air

By Editor
July 15th, 2015 at 10:09 am | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Due to pressure of time, because it’s important, and because no main stream media seems to have reported the findings as we publish, we are “Doing a BBC”  [as we call it] by simply printing a press release verbatim. Well, if it is good enough for the BBC eh?

We will update as more info/critical observations/analysis becomes available.

Released by British American Tobacco 14th July 2015:

Human respiratory tissue test reveals e-cigarette vapour
produced similar result as air

Six hours of exposure to cigarette smoke resulted in near-complete cell death, but the same exposure to e-cigarette vapour did not affect tissue viability.

14 July 2015, Southampton, UK.  e-cigarette vapour from two different types of e-cigarette had no cytotoxic impact on human airway tissue, according to new research published in In Vitro Toxicology DOI: 10.1016/j.tiv.2015.05.018.

Scientists at British American Tobacco and MatTek Corporation used a unique combination of tests to investigate the potential adverse effects of e-cigarette vapour on airway tissue compared with cigarette smoke. ‘By employing a combination of a smoking robot and a lab-based test using respiratory tissue, it was possible to demonstrate the ability to induce and measure aerosol irritancy and to show that the different e-cigarette aerosols used in this study have no cytotoxic effect on human airway tissue,’ says spokesperson Dr Marina Murphy.

This new methodology could be used to help develop product standards for these kinds of products in the future.

E-cigarette vapour can contain nicotine, humectants, flavourings and thermal degradation products, so it is important to understand the potential impact on biological systems. Until now, there have been no aerosol studies of potential adverse effects of e-cigarette vapour on in vitro models that so closely mimic the structure, function and exposure of normal human airway tissue.

The researchers combined a commercially available 3D model of respiratory epithelial tissue and the popular VITROCELL smoking robot, an aerosol exposure system, to assess the irritant potential of e-cigarette vapour from two commercially available e-cigarettes on human airway tissue. The results show that, despite hours of aggressive and continuous exposure, the impact of the e-cigarette vapour on the airway tissue is similar to that of air. Furthermore, the study represents an initial move towards socialising and debating potential industrial guidelines.

The airway tissue model – EpiAirway – comprises human tracheal/bronchial epithelial cells that have been cultured to form differentiated layers resembling epithelial tissue of the respiratory tract. The VITROCELL system mimics the exposure when humans inhale by delivering emissions from cigarettes or e-cigarettes or just air to the EpiAirway tissues.

The researchers first tested the biological system with known irritants applied in liquid form. Then they exposed EpiAirway tissues to cigarette smoke or aerosol generated from  two types of commercial e-cigarettes for up to six hours. During that time, cell viability was measured every hour using an established colorimetric test. The amount of particulate mass deposited on the cells’ surface was also quantified (using dosimetry tools) to prove that smoke or vapour had reached the tissue throughout exposure. The longer the time the cells were exposed, the bigger the dose they received in an incremental manner.

The results show that cigarette smoke reduces cell viability to 12% (near complete cell death) after six hours. In contrast, neither of the e-cigarette aerosols showed any significant decrease in cell viability. Despite 6 hours of continuous exposure, the results were similar to those of control cells exposed to only air.  Even with this aggressive exposure, the e-cigarette vapours did not reduce cell viability.

‘Currently there are no standards concerning the in vitro testing of e-cigarette aerosols,’ said Marina Trani, Head of R&D for British American Tobacco’s next generation nicotine products. But, she adds, ‘our protocol could prove very useful in helping the process by which these guidelines might progress.’

This study shows that, in this human airway tissue model, cytotoxicity is unaffected by aerosols from two different types of e-cigarette, but further studies will be needed to compare the  effects of other different commercially available products, formats and formulations.”

Press release ends. But here is the picture:

ecig test 1

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BMA: it it moves tax it, if it still moves ban it

By Angela Harbutt
July 13th, 2015 at 3:30 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

In its latest attempt at extreme social engineering, the increasingly preposterous British Medical Association (the trade union for doctors and medical students) is today demanding a 20% tax on sugary drinks “to subsidise the cost of fruit and vegetables”.

What they don’t mention, but what Christopher Snowdon points out, is that:

“The BMA don’t mention that their soda tax will cost the public £1 billion a year, nor do they acknowledge that it would be deeply regressive. Indeed, they want to make it more even more regressive by taxing fizzy drinks (which are disproportionately purchased by people on low incomes) and use the money to subsidise fruit and vegetables (which are disproportionately purchased by people on high incomes). Nice.”

You may be surprised at that. Particularly when you consider that the BMA rejected a fat tax back in the summer of 2012 because:

“The idea of a fat tax on unhealthy food was rejected because it would have an unfair impact on people from a disadvantaged background.”

How is a tax on sugary drinks any different from a tax on fat? [Joined up  thinking ? I don’t think so]. But then again we should not be surprised at the lack of consistency in BMA proposals, or the absence of science-based thinking when it comes to its policies. This publicity-hungry, industry-hating trade union seems to have a policy of acting first and thinking afterwards.

This, after all, is the body that secretly awards its senior staff pay hikes of up to 137% – without bothering to inform its members. And a body that seems to have scant regard for the truth – with BMA spokespeople taking to the air to spout downright lies in support of their extreme views on ecigs and smoking.

That particular trait, of “massaging the facts” to suit the narrative, is displayed yet again today with its claims on sugar. As reported by Mr Snowdon:

“In the pages of The Guardian, their spokeswoman, Sheila Hollins, resorts to flat out lying…

“We know from experiences in other countries that taxation on unhealthy food and drinks can improve health outcomes, and the strongest evidence of effectiveness is for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.”

…..”[Mr Snowdon writes] the evidence on sugary drinks, in particular, is consistent in finding little, if any, change in patterns of consumption and no change at all in ‘health outcomes’, including obesity (see here and here for a summary).”

It is also the body that has consistently promoted a whole raft of policies which are potty at best and downright dangerous at worst. Here is a taster of some of its recent ludicrous proposals:

Ecigs – In December 2013 the BMA wrote to a number of football clubs urging them to end sponsorship deals with e-cigarette companies “smoking products” and to ban the use of e-cigarettes at their football grounds. [Err no e-cigs are not a “smoking product” – do at least get your facts right].

ECigs – The BMA has also been at the forefront of those demanding that all e-cigarettes are forced to be licensed medicinal product, and in the BMA’s 2014 annual meeting, it’s members called on governments to prohibit ‘vaping’ on e-cigarettes in public places where smoking is prohibited. [Hmm send them outside to smoke real cigarettes rather than vaping indoors – that will improve health [not].

Alcohol – In Jan 2015 the BMA demanded that politicians introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. [Errm thought you were against regressive taxes? So middle classes can drink their French Chardonnay, but those on low incomes should be priced out of the market. This is prohibition for the working classes.]

Alcohol – In June 2015 the BMA called on all UK governments to introduce “clear and unambiguous” health warnings on alcohol. It also called on additional measures that “limit the affordability, availability and promotion of alcohol”. [Just to be clear will you restrict when I buy my alcohol from Ocado, or when they deliver it? Oh I forgot, you only wish to restrict those on low incomes from buying alcohol, not the middle classes with a credit card and an au pair at home to take delivery].

Alcohol – In June 1025 the Scottish BMA called on a ban on all alcohol advertising on television before 9pm “watershed”. [That might have worked in the 1970’s – but honestly.. in 2015?].

Alcohol – In July 2014 BMA in Northern Ireland called for a reduced hours of sale for alcohol. [Yep, let’s drive consumption out of pubs with responsible landlords and towards drinking in the home, because that is bound to work [not].

Smoking – In June 2015 – rather than vote FOR the legalisation of cannabis, the trade union voted for a BAN on the sale of all cigarettes to those born after 2000. Yes really, by 2030 you would” need ID to prove you were 31, not 30, to buy cigarettes”. [Well it was only a matter of time before they called for prohibition… Because that obviously works [not].

… that is to list but a few of BMA’s proposals. There are many more.

The BMA demand for a tax on sugar is yet another head-line grabbing, ill-thought through, plan, all too similar to those above: demonise industry; hit those on low incomes; tax where you can and ban where you can’t.  It is an archaic approach not fit for the 21st century.

It claims to want a comprehensive approach to “tackling obesity” and, it says, it sees  its role as “supporting the government and other stakeholders in taking action“. Sorry, but that claim rings hollow. You only have to read the foreword of the latest booklet to see the BMA’s primary objective – to end the relationship between Government and [one of the key stakeholders] industry.

“Addressing the commercial influences that have such a strong impact on diet will be key.”

“These range from the way unhealthy food and drink products are promoted and made widely available and affordable, to industry influence on the development of food and nutrition policies.”

“Without a stronger regulatory framework, commercial interests will continue to overshadow public health interests.”

“Many of these [measures] will not sit comfortably with the government’s approach to partnership working with industry.”

“My belief is that it is commercial interests that are excessively influencing people’s decisions about their diet.”

“How can we expect a child to develop normative behaviours about eating healthily when so many of the messages they are exposed to promote the opposite?

I don’t know which supermarket BMA bigwigs shop in, but when I go into a supermarket my problem is choice, not lack of it. Alongside normal coke I am offered Diet Coke [No sugar] “Coca Cola Zero” [No sugar] “Coca Cola Life” [Lower calorie sweetened using natural sources].. oh and “Caffeine Free” [also “lower calorie”]… and all with calorie content clearly shown on the tin.. if I care to look. I can also buy in a range of sizes from 150ml mini-cans, all the way up to 1.75 litre bottles, if I wish to limit portion size at any point.

And just in case that is not enough for you Coca Cola has, since 2012, reduced the average calories per litre in its sparkling drinks by 5.3% ; reduced the calorie and sugar content of Sprite, Dr Pepper, Fanta Fruit Twist and Glaceau Vitaminwater by more than 30% ; and increased its marketing budget in zero calorie colas by 52%. All as part of its “responsibility deal” with Government. I can also go to the Coca Cola calorie counter, where I see what exercise I can do to work of the calories in one can (11 minutes of squash or 32 minutes of pilates, (or if you prefer 19 minutes of stair climbing or 70 minutes of ironing) to work off 139 calorie can of normal Coca Cola.

Where is the praise from the BMA about how much has been achieved? How much of that would have been achieved if Government had opted to demonise the industry rather than working with it?

Moving away from all things fizzy, how much more could be achieved if this Government-industry relationship was extended to e-cigs and tobacco? Think of the public health advances that could be achieved if  Government worked with the tobacco industry on reduced risk products [such as PMI’s “heat not burn” products] rather than absurdly excluding them from an increasing number of conversations?

It is time for doctors to take back the BMA, sacking the self-serving fat cats at the top of this body, banging on like an old record about taxes and bans and little else. Surely they can see that the BMA is a fast-fossilizing dinosaur, desperately determined to remove all voices from the health debate except its own, regardless of the consequences. If they can’t see it, or won’t do anything about it, then public health is truly not safe in their hands.

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More #Libdemmery nonsense

By Editor
July 3rd, 2015 at 9:38 am | No Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Here is the Lib Dem leadership ballot paper -with very clear and totally absurd voting rules clearly printed on it.

In a two horse race, the key advice is that you can’t vote with an “X”. Oh no.
This election is taking place under the Alternative Vote system. You must decide the order in which you love and adore Tim & Norman. By all means write the numeral “1” next to the one you love most and the digit “2” next to the guy you love nearly as much.
We were beginning to think the Libs Dems hadn’t really come to terms with their crushing defeat on May 7th. Turns out it’s worse than that. They haven’t even come to terms with the defeat of the YES2AV campaign from years ago…

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