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Fun, facts and fag-packets at Forest event

By Editor
February 27th, 2015 at 11:21 am | Comments Off on Fun, facts and fag-packets at Forest event | Posted in Personal Freedom, Uncategorized

The Hands Off Our Packs “Stop the Nonsense: Plain Speaking on Plain Packaging” event was held on Tuesday night. What a joy it was.MArk Littlewood southampton FC

All Forest shindigs are must-go-to events as far as we are concerned. They are lively and fun; the speakers are invariably excellent value; the alcohol flows; and the pavements/terraces/balconies are alive with smokers and non-smokers alike celebrating life, the universe and everything else.

This event was no less fun, informative and innovative than we have come to expect. We had intended to write up the event in  more detail, but Dick Puddlecote has pretty much said it all – so just go read his post.

[PS his added note was an eye-rolling moment..

“*An interesting note on David Cameron and his view of plain packs. He came out with a quip during yesterday’s PMQs which went something like this – “Now we are committed to plain paper packaging of cigarettes, it will give more space for the opposition to write their policies on”. Yep, it looks like David Cameron doesn’t have a first clue about the policy he is legislating on! “

Let us just add our salute to Simon Clark (Forest Director) for coming up with such an innovative format (8 or so quick fire speeches- each lasting no more than 2 or 3 minutes).

Hats off to our very own Angela Harbutt who kicked of the formal speeches delivering the plain facts from Australia and ending up with an ask that MPs “consider the facts – not the wishful fiction of state-funded lobby groups and self-serving Whitehall bureaucrats”.

We should also salute Mark Littlewood, formerly of this Parish, and now Director General of the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs. Not only did he deliver a suitably rousing finish to the formal part of the evening, he managed to namecheck (yet again) his much-beloved Southampton Football Club!

Not without merit…(though he rarely needs an excuse in our experience).  He simply pointed out that he had acquired a (very robust and rather snazzy) “SaintsFC cig box” into which he drops his chosen cigarette pack. Given the interest in the room that evening , we suspect many more will be doing likewise (acquiring their own bespoke cig case – not necessarily creating a Saints FC one.)

Forest has promised to put a video of the speeches up on YouTube in the coming days. But here is a close up pic of the much-discussed cig case.

ML cig case

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EVENT: Stop the Nonsense

By Angela Harbutt
February 16th, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Comments Off on EVENT: Stop the Nonsense | Posted in Uncategorized

STOPthenonsense_RSVP_webJust in case you have not heard about this elsewhere, here is an must-not-miss event scheduled for next week. Plain speaking on plain packaging.

Tuesday 24th February at the IOD in London. RSVP to or click here for more information on the event.

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Ill-judged sideshow has little public support

By Angela Harbutt
February 12th, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Comments Off on Ill-judged sideshow has little public support | Posted in Uncategorized

hoopsWith Parliament formally dissolving on March 30th, the outgoing parliament will not be able to complete all of its work, resulting inevitably in many Government plans falling by the wayside. Of course, some will say this is a good thing – the less Government does the better!

But what, do you think, voters believe the priorities of the Government should be in the remaining days?

No need to wonder. Forest has commissioned an exclusive poll asking voters this very question.

Respected research company Populus asked more than 2,000 members of the public, on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 = not important at all and 10 = very important, the level of importance they attach to completing outstanding pieces of legislation facing the remainder of this parliament.

Those ranking highest included: “controlling the UK’s borders and reducing immigration”; “tougher counter-terrorism and security laws”; “stopping human trafficking”; “improving access to affordable housing”; “making it easier for employers to take on apprentices”.

“Introducing plain packaging for cigarettes” was the lowest of any of the variables tested, with a mean importance rating of just 3.51. The closest variable, “regulating the future of the fracking sector”, scored 6.10.

It does make you wonder no Davewhat on earth possessed the Government to determine in the dying days of parliament to force in a vote on plain packaging, particularly as evidence from Australia shows the policy hasn’t worked, with teen smoking rates increasing by 36% from 2010 to 2013?

Of course the answer is “politics dear boy”. As Simon Clark, Director of Forest says

“Plain packaging legislation is an ill-judged sideshow and a distraction from the real challenges the government faces before the end of this parliament.”

I have written to my local MP, Jane Ellison, again, asking her to vote no at the upcoming vote. But given that she is the minister who has forced this bill into parliament I am not terribly optimistic that she has any intention to listening tlast chance saloono me or any other voter in this constituency. Indeed, given that the Government’s 2012 “public” consultation on plain packaging delivered a resounding NO!  to the whole idea – what are the chances that she will listen now? Here is hoping that voters will show Ellison and her ilk the same contempt that they have quite clearly shown the public come May 7th, and that some elected politicians will think twice before voting “aye” to this cynical and ill-conceived piece of politics.

Want to find out more?

For survey results and more from Forest click here.

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Time to bin ASH before it trashes another part of the economy

By Angela Harbutt
October 25th, 2010 at 4:31 pm | 12 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Apologies for the delay in spotting this one, but it has just come to my attention that the ludicrously well-funded ASH Scotland (which has somehow reversed the Barnett Formula, receiving copiously more than its (also over-funded) English partner organisation… but more on this later) has just published it’s latest list of anti-smoking proposals for Scotland…

On the day that David Cameron has promised the business world a “forensic, relentless focus on growth”  my attention has been drawn to an excellent analysis of ASH Scotlands’ proposals by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance. You should check out the full article yourself, but to summarise, they identify two of ASH Scotland proposals that are particularly insane (my words not theirs!) as far as business is concerned.

1. Govt should increase the cost of smoking by 5% above the rate of inflation every year

2.Govt should look at options for introducing a positive award or incentives scheme for retailers who choose not to sell tobacco.

Both options are likely to result in only one thing – an INCREASE in the amount of tobacco that is sold illicitly – depriving the country of tax revenue (which we desperately need in case ASH had not noticed) whilst putting more money and influence into the hands of criminal gangs.  Do these people learn nothing?

Concerning the second proposal specifically, the Tobacco Retailers Alliance points out that for many small retailers tobacco sales accounts for a third of their trade, so the bill for such a policy to the Scottish Government would be stupendous…. So that, frankly is (almost certainly) a dead duck. At least while the country is broke… But don’t expect the drive to eliminate tobacco retailing to stop,  just because the powers that be have no money right now.  Read this and weep …

“…The idea that retailers should be discouraged from selling tobacco, and encouraged to sell other things in its place, is one that keeps coming up and I expect we’ll hear a lot more of it over the next few years. I once asked an official in the Scottish Government just what exactly retailers could sell in place of tobacco – what product would bring a hundred customers through a newsagent’s door every day, give him a profit equating to four Mars Bars per transaction and drive more add-on purchases than any other product category? After a long pause for thought, she shrugged her shoulders and replied, “Apples?”….

This, my friends, is what we are up against – idiotic dogma and evangelism – with no practical understanding (or just perhaps concern) as to the likely real impact of their insane ideas – all of it funded by taxpayer. And when it comes to ASH Scotland…WHAT FUNDING!!!!!  Simon Clark (Director of the smokers lobby group FOREST) highlighted the cost to the taxpayer of ASH Scotland just last week…

In 2008-09 ASH Scotland received £921,837 from the Scottish Government. In December 2009 they received a further £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery to fund a three-year research project into smoke-free homes in Scotland.

“At a time when governments are reviewing public spending we would seriously question the use of public money to fund a group that employs almost three times as many staff as its sister organisation in England.

“How can that possibly be justified at a time when all taxpayers, smokers and non-smokers alike, are being asked to tighten their belts?”

The Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign will need to become the Save Our Pubs and Clubs and Newsagents campaign if ASH  & Co get their way…

.. I am hoping it won’t come to this. I trust that today’s rhetoric from the Prime Minister about supporting business will prove not to be empty words and that this coalition will get off the backs of SME’s (and “big tobacco” for that matter) trying to keep this country afloat.

I also thought that Mr Cameron had called a halt to government departments spending money to lobby other parts of Government..surely Government funding to ASH is all this is ? and should stop now.

And for those that missed it.. and specifically for ASH and other Government meddlars here is a video we highlighted recently pointing out the issues surrounding the illicit trade in tobacco.

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Simon Clark – a man with va va voom

By Angela Harbutt
March 24th, 2010 at 4:27 pm | 8 Comments | Posted in Personal Freedom

I like Simon Clark from Forest. He is calm, bright, thoughtful and very polite man who writes entertaining and informative blogs.  When he pops up on TV and radio I listen to his reassuring words and think “yes. That’s the right thing to say” ..”oh good point”..” how does this man know so much?” etc etc.

I am a big fan. I rarely, however, cry out in sheer delight at the passion. Well today I did. Moans of delight could be heard as I listened to Mr Clark show more va va voom than a hot french car with Thierry Henry at the wheel.   Like all great seducers he starts slowly, (the tease) – but builds and builds and builds to a wonderful crescendo that had me crying “yes yes yes” as my fists banged the table in sheer ecstasy.

In case you missed it, I have edited highlights from the programme in question here. Along with Simon you will hear from Ms Crossfield. She is Director of Smokefree Northwest – yet another government funded group. Why is it that all my money is seemingly being spent employing people whose dedicated aim is to stop me indulging in a few simple legal pleasures (to which I have added listening to Simon on the radio by the way!).

You can listen to the full programme on iplayer (Radio Five Live Breakfast Phone in: should smoking be banned in cars? March 24th 2010).

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