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The bansturbators’ latest attack on liberty

Imagine prohibiting cigarette sales to people born after 2000.

Phasing out tobacco will stop the next generation taking up smoking.

Actually I’d be surprised if this is really new and hasn’t been bandied around nannying and anti-tobacco circles previously, but this is the first time I’ve seen something like it being seriously mooted in the pages of a major newspaper. And I have to say that not only is it one of the most illiberal and unjust (when something is legal for one person and not for another for no better reason than the lottery of birth we have begun to wave bye bye to equality of law) ideas I’ve seen but also one of the most breathtakingly naive, if not downright stupid and verging on self-fisking.

Let’s start with that subheading (yes, the stupid really does start that early):

Phasing out tobacco will stop the next generation taking up smoking.

Well, yes it would… if that’s what you were actually doing, or indeed is even possible with a product made from a plant that grows readily in the wild and is fairly easy to cultivate, and was to be attempted in a sparsely populated country with 25,000 kilometres of mostly uninhabited coastline. Before even reaching the body text the author, Cameron Nolan, has confused making something unavailable with merely changing its legal status and blithely declaring that as a result nobody will ever use it again. It seem unlikely that he has given any thought to the date on which various proscribed drugs were, to use his term, phased out. For many drugs currently outlawed this was before most users were born: heroin, for example, was last available in Australia legally in 1953, and even then required a prescription.* Hardly a ringing success at preventing the next generation from taking it, and since heroin laws here go back to the 19th century it can be argued that in fact they’ve failed for several generations. With such serial failure a hallmark of prohibition why should anyone but the congenitally clueless and/or nanny-prone believe that tobacco would be any different?

Imagine that cigarettes did not exist. Now imagine that some plucky upstart – let’s call them Philip Morris – invented them and went to the regulators for approval to sell their product in the Australian market.

You can hear the laughter coming out of the offices of Product Safety Australia as these new inventors explain that they want to commercialise a product that has the perverse combination of being both highly addictive and highly deadly.

Again, yes, though my personal experience with quitting smoking – hard when you’re doing it because others are laying the guilts on you about it, ridiculously piss easy when you’re doing it because you’ve stopped enjoying it – casts doubt on the addiction thing, and since there may be a tendency to label any death as smoking related that ticks some of the right boxes even if it’s from something with multiple causes I suspect the dangers are equally overblown. But in any case why should it concern Product Safety Australia or anyone else? Does Product Safety Australia claim ownership of the living bodies of smokers? Does ASH? Does the Health Department? Does Cameron Nolan? Can any of them or anyone else show that they have legal title to, and therefore responsibility for, anyone else’s body?

If the answer is yes then slavery is alive and well and operating in Australia. If the answer is no then Product Safety Australia can limit itself to making sure that potentially harmful/addictive products aren’t slipped into Australia’s markets pretending to be harmless and non-addictive. With tobacco this is probably not even necessary – we all know what it can cause, or at least what it gets blamed for, and if smokers choose to accept that risk because they enjoy smoking then that’s entirely up to them. If they’re not smoking me out – and that simply never happens – then I have no reason or right to tell them what to do with/to their bodies.

Yet this is not the world we live in.

It isn’t? So the state doesn’t arrogate ownership of people’s living bodies and an opium producer can go to Product Safety Australia and not be laughed at, or even arrested as soon as they’ve set foot in the door? The only sense in which it’s not the world we live in is that the nannies have not quite yet added tobacco – and alcohol, and fatty foods, and sugar, and Red Bull, and red meat, and Christ knows what next – and maybe it’s just me but I kind of get the sense that this disappoints Nolan.

We live in a world in which the mass commercialisation of cigarettes in the early 20th century rapidly outpaced our understanding of their health consequences.

Relevant only to those who wish to arrogate ownership rights over the live bodies of others. As understanding of the health issues grew that information has been made widely known. Not always with the willing cooperation of the tobacco industry, true, but it’s happened nonetheless. Nowadays who even reads the health warnings? Everyone knows what they say and we can’t ask for more than that, yet more is what the nannies always demand

We live in a world in which 15,500 Australians die every year from smoking-related diseases – more than road accidents, murders, alcohol and other drugs combined.

And here we have our first suspect figure. It’s almost Holy Writ that smoking causes lung cancer, and it’s frequently assumed by the lazy that it causes all lung cancer. Yet smoking is on the decline and lung cancer is on the rise, including among non-smokers. Assuming that the passive smoking scare is not bullshit the dwindling numbers of smokers must surely be smoking far more than the combined efforts of larger number of smokers in the past. Yeah, doesn’t seem real likely, does it? And that being so there’s reason to doubt the number of deaths caused by smoking, even when weasel words like ‘smoking-related diseases’ are used.

We live in a world in which every year three foreign companies are allowed to take a combined profit of more than $500 million from the Australian market while leaving us with a combined social cost of over $31 billion.

$31 billion according to a study which in fact conceded that the tax raised is greater than the medical costs to taxpayers, and came up with the remainder of the ‘social cost’ by means of some assumptions and a few seemingly highly arbitrary values being assigned to various things. Over to Chris Snowdon of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.

This same study did indeed come up with a figure of $31 billion, but it did so by including ‘costs’ that no reasonable person would consider to be costs. Lost productivity both at work and at home gave them an extra $8 billion (p. 64). Aside from the obvious problem of coming up with a suitable cash equivalent for domestic work, all lost productivity figures are questionable because they rely on an assumption that an individual is capable of a set amount of work in a lifetime and that he/she has a duty to fulfill that quota, otherwise they are somehow costing other people money. It’s as if someone dies and you have to go round and clean their house for the next ten years. It’s a nonsense.

Still more dubious is the remaining $19.5 billion which is made up of ‘intangible’ costs (p. 65). This relies on the entirely arbitrary valuation of a life at $2 million, or a loss of one year’s living of $53,267. This kind of psychological evaluation is practically meaningless and has no place in economics. You might as well say that the value of life is priceless and, therefore, the costs of smoking (or alcohol, or drugs) is infinite.

In other words, what Cameron Nolan is referring to here is policy based evidence. Anything with arbitrary values shouldn’t even be part of an adult discussion on the issue, but since it’s headline figure appeals to nannies, paternalists and neo-puritans alike it’s reached for with depressing regularity. Cameron Nolan isn’t the first and won’t be the last. And speaking of which…

With this Gordian knot tied, the government seems content to pull as hard as it can on one end as the considerable might of the tobacco industry pulls on the other. The government bans cigarette advertising on television and radio; the tobacco industry increases its print media advertising. The government bans cigarette advertising in print media; the tobacco industry increases its sponsorship of sporting events. The government mandates graphic health warnings on cigarette packets; the tobacco industry adjusts the attractiveness of their packaging designs. The government mandates plain packaging; the tobacco industry hires a battalion of silks and runs to the High Court.

Oh, please. The tobacco industry adjusts the attractiveness of their packets? Seriously? This garbage can only come from the pen of someone who believes, as do the plain pack pod people, that people smoke because of what’s on the box. As I’ve said repeatedly on this subject, chop-chop, Australia’s illegal and regulated and QC free tobacco, is unbranded and comes in whatever the supplier has to hand, and it has no problem in maintaining a market for what it produces. What matters to smokers is how the cigarette tastes, not what the box looks like. Nannies are apparently incapable of understanding this so I’ll draw a parallel: try to remember the most delicious food you’ve ever had, and consider whether those sublime flavours are materially altered by the plate it’s served on and the cutlery you’re provided to eat it with. Alternatively, imagine if Michel Roux shat on the plate and served it, would being on a gold rimmed plate in a multi-starred restaurant that you had to book weeks ahead make it any more than a warm turd with some imaginative garnish? That’s how much packaging matters to smokers, and if it’s really true that it’s the nicotine that they’re hopelessly addicted to (coughs – bullshit) it should be no surprise to the nannies that packaging is barely even on the average smoker’s radar.

And indeed the boxes have really not changed all that much as the health warnings and horror pics have gradually taken over. Marlboro have always had the same font black lettering on white with red triangles meeting above, B&H have always been the same gold background with the name in the preferred font, etc. They adjusted bugger all in response to health warnings and horror pictures, they just conceded some of the background to them. Since the intended result, every smoker in the world throwing up their hands and quitting immediately, did not happen the nannies are desperately casting about for something to blame for people still sparking up. The health warnings and pictures are not allowed to have been a pointless waste of time, ergo it must be the ebil cigawette makers changing the designs, even though the only designs are broadly the same as they always were.

There is of course another way to untie a Gordian knot: by cutting it. The government could mandate that cigarettes can only be sold to a person who is over 18 years of age and was born before the year 2000. This would gradually phase out cigarettes in Australia by forever prohibiting their sale to the next generation – those who are currently 12 years old or younger.

And I’ve already explained that we should not expect this to be any more successful than prohibition of heroin has been at preventing anyone born in 1965 or later from trying it.

This proposal balances the rights of existing smokers and the need to protect children born in this century from the pernicious effects of tobacco addiction.

Ah, suddenly Nolan’s all concerned for people’s rights. But only the rights of those born before 2000 – people born in the 21st century have, ipso facto, fewer rights under his proposal than those of us born later. This disparity of rights is an essential part and I have no idea if Nolan is even aware of it. If he is he certainly does see, to mind some, to use Orwell’s infamous expression, being more equal than others.

Many of us will still be concerned that such a prohibition – as with alcohol in America in the 1920s – will lead to a proliferation of the black market.


However, the aim here is not to criminalise cigarettes but to drastically reduce consumption by as yet unaddicted future generations.

Yet the prohibition of heroin lead to the same disastrous results despite it being a more gradual process designed to reduce future consumption. Again, why would it not happen with tobacco? Why would the criminals behind the illegal tobacco industry not take up as much of the slack as legislation progressively makes available to them? There is simply no reason for them not to as long as a demand exists.

A teenager would inevitably still be able to source a packet or two of cigarettes from the black market or an older sibling, but they would be much less likely to form or sustain a ‘packet a day’ addiction lasting many years without easy access.

Just the same as how nobody can form a heroin addiction these days and how you don’t find needle bins on the walls of petrol station toilets, right? Oh, wait…

If we are trying to reduce cigarette-related deaths by 90 per cent, gradually withdrawing their sale from our petrol stations, supermarkets and 7-Elevens is a sure-fire way to get us there.

What? For fuck’s sake, where the hell does Nolan think chop-chop is sold now? Sure, out of the back of vans and through mates at work, but if he thinks none at all is going under the counters of dodgy shops and petrol stations then I have a bridge he might be interesting in buying.

Many of us will also be worried about the effect this will have on the tobacco industry and retailers.

Actually no, I couldn’t give less of a shit if I’d spent the past week on an Immodium only diet. As long as they have a market, by which I mean people aware of the risks freely choosing to buy the products anyway, they deserve to survive and the day they don’t they deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs. I’m vastly more worried by Nolan’s uneven approach to individual liberty.

Finally, what about those words that sit permanently perched at the tip of any tobacco company’s tongue – what about the “nanny-state”?

Who are you calling a tobacco company? I’m no fan or friend to them and I resent the association.

By that measure, the government should get out of the way and allow companies to start selling heroin, cocaine and other highly addictive and highly deadly drugs at everyday retail outlets. After all, they are consumed by people exercising free will and their commercialisation would create thousands of jobs.

Well, yes. And if that resulted in regulation, consumer legislation, quality control etc – all of which can be expected to reduce deaths and health problems – as well as the reduction of the black market and hence prices and crime (provided government restrains its greed and doesn’t go crazy with the Pigovian tax that’s widely accepted as being an inevitable part of legalisation) then what would be wrong with that? If nothing else it would remove the risk of prison and criminal records currently run by the large numbers of people who are able to hold down a job and remain productive members of society despite using drugs. If this state of affairs is less desirable to the Nolans of this world it surely can be only because there’s less control involved.**

Fortunately, most of us accept that such profits fall into the category of “ill-gotten gains” and demand that our government prohibit the creation of such unscrupulous markets.

And the only reason I don’t make some snarky remark about sheeple at this point is because Nolan is probably wrong about this as well. More and more articles are being written saying that the war on drugs has failed and suggesting at the least a rethink and softening of the stance on prohibition, if not decriminalisation and eventual legalisation. Yes, even in the very same newspaper that published Nolan’s piece (for instance see here and here and here), and polls on such articles (like the one at the end of this one) frequently show that most support it. So much for most accepting yadda yadda and demanding our government continues to make our decisions for us.

Ultimately, it is very difficult to come up with a good reason that justifies the premature deaths of 15,500 Australians every year. […] The phase-out proposal ensures that current smokers will be unaffected while future generations will be protected.

And in his very last point Nolan is wrong once again – it is very, very easy to come up with a good reason, and I can do it by quoting someone other than Cameron bloody Nolan.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

Mohandas Ghandi.

If you’re not free to put whatever you like into your body in the knowledge that it may harm you then you’re not free. If you are not free to make bad decisions then you are not free. If you are protected from the consequences of your actions then you are not free. Everything about Cameron Nolan’s proposal involves people, initially just some but in time everyone, being less free and having less say and less ownership of their own bodies and lives. Christ, Cameron, the first two lines of the national anthem is about Australians rejoicing because they’re young and free. Aside from being young and carefully monitored for our own good not being anything worth singing about it’s a bugger to find a rhyme for it.

And really, does anyone believe it’ll stop with tobacco? Alcohol prohibition in the US may have been largely reversed after a decade or so but on the whole prohibition has been growing. Smokers and drinker and those who love liberty in general are fond of paraphrasing Niemöller’s famous poem (and I’m delighted and relieved that someone in the comments on Nolan’s piece in The Age had already done so by the time I found it – I’ve been getting a little worried about Australian attitudes to liberty lately***), but the truth is tobacco wasn’t even the first. It wasn’t even the first thing attacked that was once something many, if not most, adults did. The only difference from America’s Temperance led experiment with banning alcohol is that a more invidious salami slicing approach is preferred now.

The lesson most draw from Prohibition was that in hindsight it was unwise to have done it at all, while the lesson the nannies and neo-puritans drew was that it wasn’t implemented the right way. And I can’t help but suspect that in the back of many minds is the unspoken thought:

If only we’d been in charge of it…”

P.S. Those who’ve read the article will probably have noticed this at the bottom.

Cameron Nolan is a Masters of Public Administration Candidate in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This article won the Australian Fabians Young Writers Competition for 2012.

The Fabians, eh? Can anyone say it’s a surprise? And incidentally, the prize Cameron Nolan got from the Aussie Fabians was a thousand bucks, so if anyone wants to get their wallet out and pay me for fisking it I’ll take $500.

However, when a Republican mayor in New York is banning soft drinks over a certain volume (wasn’t popcorn mentioned too or was that somewhere else) and Conservative councillors in London boroughs talk about charging people whose lifestyles aren’t approved off extra for services they’ve already paid for in advance through their taxes, and also since historically their leaders have frequently been the worst kind of self-righteous, illiberal arseholes, the Right have got absolutely nothing to boast about and more than a bit to be ashamed of. When it comes to nannying, control freakery, big statism and generally being self righteous paternalist pricks the left and right are absolutely as bad as each other.

A plague on both their houses.

* We should ignore the point that morphine is, pharmacologically speaking, very nearly the same thing and is used by hospitals in large quantities every day. As I understand it the effect is the same as heroin but less rapid.
** It should go without saying that as well as being a non-smoker and teetotaller I am also not a user of any prohibited drugs. Been exposed to a number of them but was never interested.
*** Actually when I looked there seemed to be roughly as many comments opposing it on anti-nannying grounds as there were frothing tobaccophobic venom and smoker untermenschen stuff that Dick Puddlecote’s been collecting.

State nannies torturing logic

Read this quote carefully as there may be questions later.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said as there was no evidence to prove that even small amounts of alcohol were not healthy for pregnant women, no alcohol was the best advice.

I’ve read that a number of times and I really can’t spot the connection between the observation that there’s no reason, none at all, to think that a small amount of of a thing is unhealthy and deciding that therefore not having any of that thing at all is best. Oh, and spending $350,000 of taxpayers’ money one saying not to have any, of course.

The obvious reason is that this is alcohol control, plain and simple and lifted straight from tobacco control’s playbook with ‘smoking’ Tippexed out and ‘drinking’ scrawled over the top in biro. Now I’m not advocating smoking or drinking during pregnancy, though it’s worth mentioning that I was born at a time when it was still fairly common for expectant mothers to do both, and I think my mum did smoke for part and continued to drink in moderation throughout. Even in these health obsessed days it’s far from unheard of for a woman to smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish through half or more of the first trimester simply because she has absolutely no idea she is pregnant. In the case of one friend it was actually cigarettes and booze starting to taste weird that made her get a pregnancy test – turned out she was over well over two months gone.

But as I say, I’m not advocating this any more than I’m advocating abstemious purity from teh ebil weeds and spirits. I’m not advocating anything in particular, just observing that a certain pattern is being repeated here, and that not only was it very predictable that despite all the denials and claims to the contrary this pattern would be repeated it’s also a pattern that’s only wheeled out to support controls or ‘nudging’ of something that’s disapproved of. For example, let me modify that quote into a form that you will probably never see anywhere else.

Absobloodylutelymental Health Minister Angry Exile said as there was no evidence to prove that even moderate exercise was not healthy for pregnant women, no exercise was the best advice.

Same chain of logic, if you can call it that, but can you imagine the nannies ever letting something like that go out? Of course not, because what is good for the exercise goose is not for the alcohol gander (at the risk of over extending the metaphor, the smoking swan has long since been cooked and stuffed). Exercise is held by the nannies, wowsers and healthists to be as virtuous as drinking is sinful, so even with exactly the same weight of evidence that either are not healthy – to be precise, none at all – there will only ever be positive things said about the one and negative things about the other. And when you put the two messages next to each other…

‘There’s no evidence that moderate exercise will cause any harm to you or your unborn child, so do take gentle exercise.’*

‘There’s no evidence that small amounts of alcohol will cause any harm to your unborn child, so do not take any alcohol at all. You may scream hysterically at the sight of a wine bottle if you wish.’


Kraft durch Freude!

* This is paraphrased but I didn’t pull it out of my arse. I did a little googling and found a few web pages, articles and papers that said there was no evidence that moderate exercise increased miscarriages or raised body temperature to a level that a foetus can’t cope with (which sounds frankly potty to begin with) etc. One of them would probably be written off as 100% bullshit peddled by tobacco industry shills because it said there was no significant increase of miscarriage risk for smoking in the first trimester, but the rest were probably suitably on message for most healthists.

Tin men and paper tigers

It might be blogging ego that makes a blogger quote themselves but I’m going to do it here just because of a vague prediction I made some months back.

Cigarette cases – I bet they will be making a comeback here, and I’ll bet you that […] there will be branded ones, either legit or made without the approval of the IP owners, appearing before long.

And sure enough, today I read this:

At least one tobacco company has moved to frustrate the Gillard government’s plain packaging laws by distributing metal cigarette packets for sale.

Peter Stuyvesant-branded metal packets are available for sale ahead of regulations which will outlaw the sale of packets bearing any brand or logo.

Okay, it’s a pretty obvious move for the baccy firms so it wasn’t a very impressive prediction. But one of the other things I mentioned in that five parter series on possible ways around the plain packs laws – some of which I still believe would be very difficult to legislate against and very hard to enforce if legislation was created – is that certain measures the industry can take would be effective only for as long as it takes the government to get it’s self righteous cock in a knot and ban them too. And so it’s not at all surprising that the article went on to say:

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek warned retailers not to get burnt by stocking metal cigarette tins, claiming they would not comply with the plain packaging regulations, due to take effect in December, and would become illegal to sell.

Ah, but illegal to give away? Illegal to just bring into the country after a nice holiday to a more liberal country? And what of those other ideas I came up with after really not a very great deal of thought? Are internet sites with templates to print out your own design of cigarette packet going to be censored? If so then I’m buggered since I have two, a blank one to make your own design and a DIY job I did recently because it was the most sarcastic thing I could think of. Am I breaking some ludicrous law that says I’m encouraging children to smoke by this? Who knows? Probably not yet, but perhaps one day.

And then there’s my other long standing prediction, that there’s a group people who are looking forward to plain packs as much as the tobaccophobic healthists, and that group is the illegal tobacco trade. Let’s be very blunt here, their principle competition is the industry that for all its faults is prepared to be regulated and bound by law, and trades both it’s products and its shares openly. Weaken that legal industry and it will surely be to the benefit of the shadow industry that laughs at regulations, has no need to check quality if it doesn’t want to, does not offer refunds to customers, and cannot be moderated by the actions of shareholders since it’s largely controlled by criminal gangs. If you could buy shares in tobacco smuggling operations they’ll probably pay nicely in the not too distant future, which is something that the government and the bansturbators have always either denied or glossed over. But now…

The government is also about to introduce draconian penalties against tobacco smugglers, following industry claims that plain packaging would cause an influx of black market tobacco.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon will today announce jail terms of up to 10 years for smuggling tobacco as part of tougher customs laws aimed at black market tobacco traders.

And I’m sure that would work well in a densely populated country with physically small and largely urbanised borders, because it’s a hell of a lot easier to catch smugglers. Australia has 25,000 kms of coastline and most of the population live along half a dozen stretches of it totalling perhaps a couple of thousand km or so. If you have a boat and can manage to avoid just the Brisbane/Gold Coast area, Sydney and the easternmost coast, Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay, and Adelaide – which you probably would do anyway unless the base of your smuggling operations was New Zealand or Antarctica – there is an absolute shitload of places that are a long way from anywhere that a small boat could come in unnoticed. And that’s before you get into the more sophisticated smuggling operations involving anything from computerised tracking of containers to bribing customs officials (yes, at least one of those stories was more about drugs but it’d be naive to imagine that the tobacco smugglers aren’t at it too). As for the counterfeiters, it’s well known that most of the enforcement action there is not done by the authorities at all but by the tobacco companies taking people to court for trademark infringements, and since those trademarks are the very same ones the government will soon prohibit the tobacco companies from using there doesn’t seem to be much incentive for the industry to carry on doing that after December.

It’s all very well making the consequences if caught more severe, but when the government is unable to significantly alter the actual risk of getting caught and is simultaneously working to increase the potential rewards it’s breathtakingly optimistic to think that the illegal tobacco trade is going to do anything other than increase. As I have continually pointed out since this idiocy was first mooted, cannabis, ecstasy, acid, heroin, cocaine, meth, you name it, and for that matter chop-chop tobacco too, all come in unbranded, cheap, plain packaging, and not only do they manage to keep their customers they don’t have a problem getting new ones as existing customers quit or die. Big Tobacco won’t either, not once it’s made the transition and people have got used to it, but the criminals have a big advantage over Big Tobacco even besides the obvious one that they don’t feel obliged to comply with those tiresome law things.

They’ve been doing it longer and are better at it.

Are we inconsistent with surveys or consistently being led by surveyors?

Click for link

I saw this and wondered what it was about people that at the same time as many are opening up to the idea that the war on drugs has been a monumentally expensive failure, and that we should at least be having an adult discussion about alternatives to prohibition, many others are responding to surveys about tobacco and alcohol by saying yes, there should be more health warnings, restrictions on advertising, sales and marketing, more price controls and more banning – all the stuff that’s a prelude to actual prohibition, basically. Is this yet another example of people’s propensity for cognitive dissonance, or is there a hint of what’s going on in the first few paragraphs (my bold)?

More than half of Australians support reduced legal penalties for use of drugs like cannabis and ecstasy, an analysis of a government survey shows.

The findings contrast with the Nielsen poll released yesterday which showed that two-thirds of people opposed decriminalisation.

But that is explained by the different way the poll questions were structured says Alison Ritter, who heads a drug policy modelling program at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

Wow, this seems strangely familiar. Where have I heard something like this bef… oh, yes, now I remember.

British sitcom again blurring the lines between comedy and doco. So if opinion polls are saying that we should be going easier on drugs at the same time as cracking down on smokers, drinkers and everyone else in the health nannies’ gunsights suspect the people asking the questions of inconsistency and cognitive dissonance at least as much as those responding to them.

Plain tobacco packaging can’t get any plainer than this – UPDATED

So I really hope this is good enough for you, Nicola Roxon, and you too Andrew Lansley, and any other finger wagging, nannying busybody elevated to the dizzying heights of Moralist Minister for Health of any nation where joyless wowsers seem to get an extra vote or two judging by the amount of say they get on policies.

Click to embiggerise

This is a redesign of the template I mentioned here when I was thinking about how Australia’s plain packaging decree, soon to be imposed by our masters in Canberra, could be circumvented. Since the UK and no doubt some other countries look likely to follow suit and have already plastered ciggie packs with mandatory scary horror image health warnings I feel smokers might as well start being awkward buggers about it right away. Be honest – playing fair and reasonable has got you absolutely nowhere. So to my smoker friends, both those I’ve met and those with whom my acquaintance is purely electronic, share and enjoy. Personalise your pack with a message on the cigarettes if you like. I hope I’ve got the sizes right on this template but please let me know if not please let me know in the comments (or if you adjust it yourself please get in touch as soon as you can so I can nab a copy off you and repost it). And I’m sure someone could use the same template to do a better job than I have here with multiple pastes and resizes of parts of cig pictures found with Google image searches.

And to the wowsers and government prodnoses, this non-smoker would like to explain that in addition to an interest in liberty a great part of his support for smokers is due to the fact that he can see you coming for him too eventually. You’ve already begun on the drinkers, people who like salt on their food, people who like takeaways under their salt, people who have sugar, and people who like to cook themselves either under the sun or in a tanning machine, and even if I wasn’t already on that list I know damn well that there are other things I like to do which you will soon decide that for my own good I should not, despite being a competent reasoning adult, be permitted to do. Before you get to that stage I’d like to say a very heartfelt fuck you all, savagely and in inappropriate orifices, and to misquote Kennedy by adding that all free men can smoke and therefore as a free man ich bin ein smoker.


UPDATE – for future reference a copy of this post can be found by clicking ‘Plain packs’ next to the Home button.

And then they came for the tanned people, but I did not speak out because of my correction fluid like complexion

The nannies, killjoys, bansturbators and wowsers really are feeling confident. It’s only been a few days since the war on things anyone likes – which I hope we all now realise started with the ‘war’ on smoking, scare quotes because it was never a war but just the opening salvo of something much, much bigger – attacked sugar for being as evil as alcohol or tobacco, and already they’ve shifted fire onto another target on the list. These things:

Half inched from The Daily Mail - click for linky

No, not women in the nip, though give it enough time and I’m sure someone will come up with a vaguely plausible reason. No, the target is sunbeds, and although they’ve had the odd potshot such as age restrictions and talk of tanning taxes sent their way before, this phase of the war on everything that someone somewhere might be enjoying has gone nuclear in a hurry.

Commercial tanning beds will be banned in NSW under radical new laws to be announced by the government today.

NSW will be the only place in the world besides Brazil to institute a total ban on ultraviolet solariums tanning units when the laws come into place from December 31, 2014, and cancer groups hope other states and countries will follow.

Jesus, I can feel the self righteousness from here, the pride in being the only place in the world (besides Brazil – damn Brazilians thinking up this stuff first) to treat sunbeds as another thing reasoning adults can’t be allowed to make up their own minds about. No, New South Welshies, because some people get skin cancer and because some of them spend enough time on a sunbed to look like an overdone chip your state government has decided you can’t be trusted to weigh up the risks yourselves and has decided for you. This, in case anyone outside Australia is wondering, is a right of centre Liberal (In Name Only) government, and being as how the Liberal party here is often pretty illiberal and appears to have no interest in individual freedom how the fuck they get away with calling themselves the Liberal Party without every dictionary in Australia bursting into flame is beyond me. A party whose name references the concept of freedom taking freedom away from people, shredding and pulping it, and then pressing it into rolls to be hung up in the toilets of Parliament House.

And of course being a right of centre party you’d think, or I’m sure they’d very much like you to think, that they’re the friends of the entrepreneur and small businesses. Like shit are they. A unilateral ban on a whole fucking industry? Seriously?

The ban is likely to save lives but could put some NSW solariums – which pay about $30,000 for new tanning beds – out of business.

You think? What else does a tanning salon do apart from offer people the facility to get tanned? As far as I can see the idea is you find a site, fill it with a decent number of these machines at thirty grand a pop, and open the doors. Yes, they could diversify, but when the state government is banning the bloody machines on which the whole enterprise effectively rests then diversifying seems to mean not actually being a tanning salon anymore. I suppose the spray on tan is an option for the time being, but just as they’ve come for the smokers, the drinkers, the salad dodgers, the sweet toothed and the strangely bronze they will eventually come for the Oompa Loompas, and they’ll no more care that you’re taller than the average Oompa Loompa than they did that most wine drinkers manage not to drink themselves insensible every night. And with the anti-sugar assault raging you’ll probably be accused of war crimes for working in that chocolate factory.

Even if that doesn’t happen right away a ban on commercial tanning machines is going to affect the trade like a ban on professional woodworking tools would affect furniture making, except for the fact that you can’t just walk outside and sit in the park for an hour to get a free nest of tables. And even something as catastrophically dim as a politician seems able to understand this.

The Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, chose World Cancer Day to make her announcement, saying sun beds were carcinogenic and the International Agency for Research on Cancer had placed them in the same category of risk as asbestos. “Sadly, Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and this ban is long overdue,” she said.

There are about 100 businesses with 254 commercial tanning units registered in NSW, and about 10 per cent offer UV tanning exclusively. That group would be offered help through the Department of Trade and Investment’s business advisory services, Ms Parker said.

Lucky NSW taxpayers. Your government has just made more than $7,500,000 of equipment next to worthless unless shipped interstate and kicked a hundred tax paying businesses, not a single one of which will have dragged people off the street and forced them onto the sunbeds, in the teeth. But the government is going to ‘help’ them, which I suspect will mean giving them money..

Oh, but it’ll save lives so it’ll be worth it, right? Aaaaaaand cue the cancer victim:

Jay Allen, a melanoma survivor who led the campaign for the ban, said he was “over the moon”.

“This is for all the people who have lost their life to melanoma, all the people living with melanoma,” he said. “It’s going to save many, many lives.”

No, Jay, it won’t. I understand why you want to believe that, but it won’t and here’s why.

Like almost every risky activity you can think of the dangers involved are either patently obvious or so regularly rammed down everyone’s throats via PSAs in print and broadcast media that to be unaware you’d have to have spent the last two or three decades in either a cave or a coma. Christ, I heard of ‘Slip Slop Slap’ twenty years before I even came here. It’s a very safe assumption that those who still want a tan have heard about the risks and have decided they’re prepared to chance it, and if they’re adults nobody else should have a problem with that. And having decided the risk is worth it do you think they’ll just accept being pale when you take away all the tanning machines? Or do you think that they’ll just go and get a free tan under an infinitly more powerful UV source outside?

The point of tanning machines – and I’m assuming because I’ve never used one and don’t plan to – is that people pay money to cook themselves under power as alternative to the free, but supposedly even more dangerous, alternative of cooking themselves under the harsh Aussie sun instead. Are tanning beds safe? I have absolutely no idea but I don’t expect so, but if they’re likely to do less harm than a natural suntan then banning them seems the height of idiocy. And if you can prove they do more harm than a natural suntan then banning is unnecessary – just publicise it so tan-wannabes will go outside and tanning machines will go the way of the dinosaur. Even is some people carry on using them that’s their choice, no one else’s.

[Chief Exec of Cancer Council Australia, Ian Olver] said governments paid for cancers caused by sunbeds so they had a right to ban them.

No they don’t. They can stop paying for cancers caused by sunbeds and tell the strangely brown to buy health insurance, but I don’t see that they have any right to involve themselves in the business of consenting adults, doubly so when they physically can’t stop people tanning simply because someone who wants a tan will do what it takes to get one. There’s simply no way you can stop them without introducing a daytime curfew, and I don’t think I need to explain what that would do to the NSW economy. The tourist trade alone would be wrecked – come to sunny Sydney (viewing available only by night).

So the long and short of it is that this will likely wreck businesses and cost taxpayers’ money for close to bugger all benefit, but Jeez the New South Wales Righteous will have the biggest warm fuzzy about it.

And, tanlovers, with your healthy (for a given value of healthy) bronzed and toned bodies, I can only add that you were warned. You were told again and again and again and again – do not believe the anti-smoking campaigners when they say it’s just smoking they want to control. But you did, just as so many non-smokers who drink or whose waistlines or diets or levels of physical activity don’t meet proscribed norms, and as they’re all finding out it was a fucking lie. It was not just smoking, smoking was just the start. And it isn’t just that the tactics and propaganda are the same but with smoking changed to read alcohol, fat, sugar, caffeine or tanning – quite often the same bloody people are involved as well. For example, from Velvet Glove, Iron Fist on Jan 28th.

The Guardian recently kicked off the campaign for plain packaging this week with an interview with that sad old sociologist Simon Chapman who seems to think that the tobacco industry finds him fascinating:

“They dislike me intensely because of my prominence and persistence. But I also confuse them because I’m very against the censorship and rating of films because of their tobacco content.”

“Hey, look at me—I’m only half-mad!”


Chapman is very proud that the Australian supernanny state has banned e-cigarettes and snus, for example—these people should be in a smokefree prison cell.

And from Dick Puddlecote just a couple of days ago:

I’ve said before that you’re going to hear some incredibly desperate justification for plain packaging in the coming months. In this 54 second campaign video, for example, is an absolute pearler from Australian Head woe-warbler, Simon Chapman.

Apparently, it’s perfectly reasonable to stop an industry from using their historical trademarks … because Islamic countries prohibit alcohol.

Simon Chapman and Simon Chapman. Hmmm, familiar sounding name… where’ve I heard it before? Oh, yes, of course! It was right there in the article about New South Wales banning commercial tanning machines.

A professor of public health at the University of Sydney, Simon Chapman, said: “Solaria are cancer incubators and we have known that for a good while”.

Do you see? Do you understand? Is the penny or your local equivalent dropping yet? These people are absolutely obsessed and they will never, ever, ever be satisfied. It doesn’t matter if you don’t smoke, it doesn’t matter if you drink only very moderately or even not at all, it doesn’t matter if you eat the way they want you to eat and exercise as much as they want you to exercise, and it doesn’t matter if you put on factor 30+ with a four inch brush and stay indoors until the sun’s nearly set. None of it matters because like every other human on the planet you will do something that you enjoy, and even if it doesn’t harm another living soul I guarantee you this: someone somewhere disapproves and wants you to stop, and they’re invariably prepared to use force if you fail to obey.

It’s them and us, folks. If you can live and let live then you’re one of us, and it’s time you woke up and realised that the choice is to hang together or hang separately. And if you see something that annoys you and think to yourself, “Oooh, there ought to be a law against people doing that”, then you’re one of them, and it’s time you were told:

Fuck you all. Fuck you right in the lungs.

Treating adults as children

Do you ever get that thing where you’re reading something in the paper and a throwaway phrase not directly related to the article sends such a chill through your soul that the rest of the article is momentarily forgotten? I had one of those this afternoon reading a story about a woman who died in Queensland in a street luge accident. My bold:

A 50-year-old woman and mother, who is a respected IT executive in the Brisbane community, has been killed riding a luge board down Mt Cootha this morning.

The woman, who was travelling downhill at high speed, has gone too wide on a corner and tried to brake, losing control and sliding into a guard rail.


Acting Inspector Chris Pemberton said the woman was luging, or street-sledding, down Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive around 6.15am when she lost control of her board and crashed against a guardrail on the north side of the mountain.

Acting Inspector Pemberton said luge was a restricted activity and required a permit, and it is believed the two riders involved this morning had not been granted permission for the activity that led to the tragedy.

Now up to the last paragraph I quoted there I was thinking how sad it was that someone had died doing something they enjoyed and that 50 is no age to go and what a tragedy it is for her family. But then I saw the phrase ‘a restricted activity’ being dropped in there without comment, like it’s no big deal that being a restricted activity. Like it doesn’t matter because there are so many restricted activities what with there being so many things that are potentially lethal (unlike life itself, which is certainly and unavoidably lethal). Like our governments – and don’t think for one moment it’s just Queensland or Australia – believe we’re incapable of deciding anything for ourselves anymore, even to the point where they want to be involved in our diets in case we choose a cheeseburger over a salad. And like the infantilisation of adults in western nations hasn’t been going on long enough to mean that sometimes they’re half right.

That’s the greater tragedy in this article.: the unspoken assumption that there are restricted activities that us proles may only take part in with permission from the nannies, and that there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying that street luge is safe or sensible on public roads when someone’s just died doing it and the whole idea of lying on an oversized skateboard and rolling under gravity down a hill that fat Aussie cars and utes are coming up under power is sufficiently cuckoo to keep the Bavarian clock making industry going for decades. No, I’m not disputing the Acting Inspector (who sounds like someone employed by RADA with the power to fine people for hamming it up) when he says that street luge and public roads aren’t a good combo.

But lots of things aren’t a good idea. Are you telling me that there’s no other option but to have a list, no doubt growing all the time, of restricted activities? Clearly when it can affect someone else it’s not just down to the person doing the restricted activity, and in the case of street luging there’s the obvious question of what happens if they collide with another road user. The obvious answer is that someone whose head is at wheel hub height is probably going to come off worst and is quite likely to come off dead, but the other person may have damage to their vehicle or bike and may even kill themselves trying to avoid a luger, and I don’t know if many have third party damage insurance. But isn’t there tort law for that kind of thing, and isn’t there some very basic road law that covers the use of inappropriate vehicles? For heaven’s sake, if under Australian laws a bicycle is legally a vehicle when ridden on public roads how can a street luge not be? And if cyclists can be fined, and heavily, for not having lights or wearing a helmet – again, not having a helmet really affects only that individual but nonetheless places cycling in the restricted activities category – much less running red lights or disobeying other road rules, then why not someone on a street luge?

I really can’t see any reason why this kind of thing can’t be dealt with by something rather less Orwellian than keeping a list of restricted activities, but sadly I suspect that so many people will have read that article and not had that creepy phrase leap off the page at them and scream in their faces that adopting a simpler approach, for instance just prosecuting and fining the idiots and fuckups and letting people who can do something without affecting other risk their own necks as they choose, is probably a vain hope.

Vote early, vote often

Bucko the Moose has a link up to an online poll about banning smoking in all cars – ha, fat lot of good the BMA’s retraction of the 23 times lie has done, eh? They got the headlines and response they wanted and now idiots passing as journalists who can’t or won’t question the no-stop feed of bullshit PRs they’re given. So do pop along and have a little vote at the Lancashire Borgograph and remember what it is you’re voting for. On the one hand it’s the right to be left alone in property that you’ve paid for and belongs to you. On the other hand, well, you work it out.

New enemies in the war on terror?

Please see note at the end of this post.

From Wiktionary as:

terror (countable and uncountable; plural terrors)

  1. (uncountable) intense dread, fright, or fear.
  2. (countable) specific instances of being intensely terrified
  3. (uncountable) the action or quality of causing dread; terribleness, especially such qualities in narrative fiction
  4. (countable) something or someone that causes such fear.

And coercion as

coercion (plural coercions)

  1. (not countable) Actual or threatened force for the purpose of compelling action by another person; the act of coercing.
  2. (law, not countable) Use of physical or moral force to compel a person to do something, or to abstain from doing something, thereby depriving that person of the exercise of free will.
  3. (countable) A specific instance of coercing.
  4. (computing, countable) Conversion of a value of one data type to a value of another data type.

So ignoring that last definition that relates to computing and thinking about that very first sentence in which Wikipedia suggests terrorism is simply the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion, I find myself wondering how broadly this applies and whether any organisation or organisations that use scare tactics in order to get their way, to see people cowed – terrified, in fact – into submission, would count as being terrorists. Specifically, I’m thinking about whether the BMA, ASH and so on could be seen as terrorists. Ridiculous? Of course it is. Absolutely ridiculous. I mean, most or all of these anti-smoking – and of course the anti-drinking, anti-drugs, anti… er, where are we up to now? Oh yes, anti-soft drinks, anti-red meat and/or junk food (like I even need to bother finding a link for that), anti-muesli – anti fucking muesli for Christ’s fucking sake, oh I wish I was making that one up – basically anti-whatever it is you do that you enjoy that might shave even a picosecond off your life according to anything that even passes for a scientific study in a bad light, most of these anti-whatever groups are either run by or partly funded by the government, or at least exist with their tacit approval. And clearly that legitimises them, doesn’t it? How can they be terrorists with government approval and even funding, no matter how much they try to coerce people by means of fear?

Ummm, well, I didn’t want to mention it, Nick Hogan, 43, was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to pay a fine imposed for flouting the legislation.
Two years ago Hogan, who ran two pubs in Bolton, became the first landlord convicted of breaking the law for allowing his customers to routinely light up in his bars.

Gillian Leah has never had a cigarette and is vehemently anti-litter.
So the 46-year-old, of Hove Edge, Brighouse, thought the matter would soon be sorted after contacting council officials.
But her dispute has left her paying £50 for a crime she claims she didn’t commit.
The alternative was a fight through the courts with no guarantee of winning – and a legal bill running into thousands.

A RETIRED policeman was fined for dropping a cigarette end out of his car window – despite being a non-smoker and not even driving at the time.
Robert Marshall received a £50 fine from Nottingham City Council after a warden reported spotting him littering while driving along Hucknall Road, Nottingham.
But the council has now dropped the fine against the former officer after he told them he does not smoke and his car was in a car park at the time of the alleged offence.
The authority was also unable to confirm to Mr Marshall where in Hucknall Road the offence had taken place.
It has told him that a line has been drawn under the matter, after speaking to the warden involved.

A near miss, but (my bold)…

Mr Marshall, 48, of Moor Road, Bestwood Village, said: “The council have said they had a word with the warden, he said he was mistaken, and that is the end of the matter.
“This sort of thing is just unacceptable. I wonder how many others have been unfortunate enough to get this sort of ticket and have just paid the £50 fine because they cannot prove otherwise?

So we’ve got an intention to coerce by scaring away resistance, a willingness to use force and innocent bystanders getting affected too. And now, this very week, Wolfers called them – are claiming that smoking must be banned Chris Snowdon but, as he pointed out Canadian Medical Association Journal entitled ‘Second-hand smoke in cars: How did the “23 times more toxic” myth turn into fact?’, MacKenzie and Freeman showed that the “fact” was entirely without scientific evidence and stemmed from a, obscure quote in a local newspaper in 1998 (as I had revealed on Dick Puddlecote’s smoke psychosis gallery will tell you.

So is it terrorism? I don’t know, I really don’t. I suppose the day I feel genuinely afraid to do something I’ve always done and which was done peacefully by millions in past generations then I’ll have my answer.

PS If you haven’t already seen it there’s a good op-ed piece in The Tele titled ”

And now, the campaigners are back: some people, they’ve noticed, have been smoking in their own cars. And other people might be in the car with them! So we need a new law, and a new set of criminals to prosecute – because, honestly, there’s nothing more important for either the political class or the medical establishment to be thinking about just now, right?
You might wonder how – were the ban to be introduced – it could be policed. Well, Oxford City Council has the answer to that. It plans to force CCTV into every taxi in the city, in order to record every conversation between driver and passenger. (I pity the official who had to review my conversations: it’s bad enough that the poor cabbie has to listen to me wittering on, without council officers having to listen in as well.)
Why not take it one step further, and insist on CCTV in every vehicle? Indeed, why stop there? (I doubt the BMA will.) Why not put cameras into every house, so that functionaries from the BMA’s Professional Activities Division can monitor our every move? You could even make it two-way, so that Dr Nathanson’s acolytes can bark out instructions every time some foolish little person tries to have a cigarette, or pours a second glass of wine.

Worth a read.


Note: as indicated by the links that point there this post was imported, along with all the others before 2012, from my old Blogger blog, though this particular one has been edited slightly from the original. The quoted paragraph about the trucker Chris Minihan is from The Daily Mail here, but in the original post was from an online store selling e-cigs. For reasons I’m not remotely interested in discovering WordPress ban all links to this company, so as long as it was here this blog was subject to suspension (and indeed was suspended without warning before some helpful soul at WordPress got my email and reinstated it, while advising that I needed to remove the link) and it seemed best to find the story elsewhere. If anyone is interested in the company concerned or its products it shouldn’t take too much working out to find that original link.

The best weapon against smokophobic nannies

Good quality piss taking, as ably demonstrated by The Daily Mash in response to the anti smoking mob again trotting out the tired and demonstrably ridiculous line about smoking in cars (see Velvet Glove, Iron Fist).

JAGUARS are not the only cars with fully opening windows, doctors have been told.

As the British Medical Association called for a ban on smoking in cars, experts said the windows on cars like the 1998 Ford Focus or some grubby little Astra went right the way down into the door.

Dr Bill McKay, a GP from Peterborough, said: “Are you absolutely sure? Well, I’m afraid that if poor people’s cars can do the same things as our cars then we are going to need more money.”


Smoker, Tom Logan, said: “I don’t have kids and in the interests of my health I don’t allow kids in my car.

“And if an adult is sitting in the passenger seat when I light up they can either open the window – because my car is one of the ones that does that – or they can get the fucking bus.

“Because it’s my car. D’you see?”

Gold. Do go and read the whole thing.

Getting around Australia’s plain tobacco packaging law #5

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4

A final few ideas for sticking a middle finger up in the direction of Canberra in response to Australia’s plain tobacco packaging law. Back in post #1 of these George in the comments suggested this:

Seems to me the way round it is to supply the standard pack (with no nanny warnings or porno cancer pics) wrapped in a goverment approved paper sleeve. Buy the pack, rip it off and leave on the counter.

I’m guessing that a simple outer wrapper might be deemed not to qualify as “the packaging” for the purposes of the law, but if the tobacco companies can swing it that’s an excellent idea. If not then perhaps an inverse of that, a kind of packet within a packet. Perhaps some kind of light weight card carton with the foil containing the cigarettes, and more importantly on which designs and logos can be printed, and which can be slid out from the main package which is chucked in the bin on the way out.

I’d expect it to look much better
than this quick pshop but
you get the idea

Three downsides occur to me right away. First is cost – it will make packaging a little more expensive and therefore the cost per pack will rise. However, that might be offset by a lowering in cost of the outer packet as there should be no money being spent on pack design, Canberra having taken over the job in order to inflict plain packs on the industry. The second is that the light weight inner “packet” won’t do a very good job at protecting the cigarettes, but that might be useful as the nannies will fart sparks if people throw away their plain outer packs and wave around something with those hated logos and branding on – the response is that it’s just an inner sleeve and you can’t stop people throwing away the real packaging. The third downside is that even if this idea is legal you can be damn sure the liberty loathing, bansturbating nannies will have it banned as well before long. It might be good for a year or two but there will be a new law and that will be that. In the meantime though it might be a possibility.

The other suggestion in the first post’s comments was from Marcy, who said:

There should be a good market starting up for fancy reusable cig packs, including those supplied by manufacturers with their proprietary labels, given away for free of course to anyone who wants them, made out of tin maybe and bound to become a collector’s item in the future.

Tins and cases I’ve already covered, and I don’t see any reason why Marcy’s suggestion of branded accessories, tins and cases included, couldn’t be made by the baccy companies. Sure, there may already be a law against it, and if there isn’t then eventually there will be even if any other bugger can make them, but it’s about not giving in and again it’ll buy time and annoy the nannies. But it also reminded me of and their joke health warning labels that stick on over the originals. Joke horror pictures and stick on branding could be next.

About the only thing I don’t think it’s worth Ausssie smokers doing is hanging on to their existing packets since the horror pictures now are large enough that the packs are semi-debranded already. If I still smoked I’d lean towards a case that fitted the normal length of a hand made cigarette or a nice leather pouch for the loose tobacco and a pocket for the papers, but if I smoked pre-mades I’d probably get some card and use a template in post #3 to make my own packets. Ehow have more detailed instructions on this here and links to a couple of videos on origami ciggie pack making, as well as instructions on how to make a very nice looking wooden cigarette case.

The long and short of it is that foiling the Australian Baccy Nannies is restricted only by imagination and the amount of effort smokers are prepared to put in to avoid carting around drab packs with the colour provided only by the horror pictures and shouty warnings. And even though I’ve not smoked for a few years I may make up some cigarette packets in advance of the plain pack law coming into effect… you know, just so I’ve got one or two handy in case I see a smoker with a boring nannied pack. The fun begins soon, and I don’t see the fact that I’m a non-smoker as a reason I can’t join in.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4

Comments on this post originally appeared on this blog’s old home at Blogger.

Getting around Australia’s plain tobacco packaging law #4

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3             Part 5

Learn to knit… yes, seriously.

Obviously that’s not a real example. There’d be no need to knit little woollen matches and woollen cigarettes as well – that’d be as silly as, oh, I don’t know, a law saying that cigarettes could only be sold in a boring green box with the obligatory death cancer horror picture on. But here’s what I’m thinking, right. To protect it in my pocket with change and keys and so on I keep my mobile phone in a little pouch like the one below (but plain – I’m not yet barracking for Carlton).

Looking at it there doesn’t seem to be any reason you couldn’t knit a similar slip on cover with whatever design you like and make it large enough to fit a 20, 25, 30 or 40 cigarette pack snugly. They’re hardly going to ban wool in a country with a hundred million sheep, are they?

/ Waits for inevitable sheep sex jokes in the comments.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3             Part 5

Getting around Australia’s plain tobacco packaging law #3

Part 1    Part 2             Part 4    Part 5

Make your own cigarette packets. Google is your friend and can find all sorts of services for you, even including people who will make cigarette boxes in your own design. Don’t know what the prices are like as I wasn’t going to bugger around getting a quote, but if that seems like too much expense then there’s the DIY option. Without too much googling I found a template and instructions to make a cigarette packet. Just in case that ever disappears I’ll save a copy here for posterity, and in case either of my readers smoke (hi, Mum, and I thought you’d quit years ago) and want to give it a try.

Click for embiggerisation – or buy smaller cigarettes

I suggest a design that takes the piss out of hysterical health warnings, or possibly pre-empts the next generation of hysterical health warnings. Perhaps something like this.

Part 1    Part 2             Part 4    Part 5

Comments on this post originally appeared on this blog’s old home at Blogger.

Getting around Australia’s plain tobacco packaging law #2

Part 1             Part 3    Part 4    Part 5

Cigarette cases – I bet they will be making a comeback here, and I’ll bet you that as well as clever ones like that from above (they also do one for the car that automatically lights the cigarette as it’s dispensed) there will be branded ones, either legit or made without the approval of the IP owners, appearing before long. Whether those tobacco companies whose trademarks are being infringed will have any motivation to do anything about it when they can’t use them anyway is another matter. Currently they do take trademark infringers to courts in Oz but only because they’re losing money from counterfeiting. If they were selling the fags that are being put inside a really cool looking cigarette tin I doubt they’ll give a shit, which would be another unwanted side effect of the plain packaging law.

And if the wide variety available online doesn’t flick a smoker’s switch and you don’t care about trying to find one with your brand on, authorised or not, why not go for something DIY such as the iPod Classic ciggie case?*

I thought I saw an iPhone version as well but it turned out to be a case for e-cigs and an actual iPhone, but I’m sure that sooner or later someone somewhere will make an iPhone-a-like cigarette case, much to the natural disgust of Apple and to the inevitable excitement of their legal department. But I’ll leave you with one more example of a cigarette case that I saw among those at this online seller – one which will not only make the plain packets law here irrelevant but will drive the Righteous even further into outraged palpitations. I doubt I’ll have to explain why… < evil grin >


Tell you what, I think some of my Christmas shopping is going to get done early.

*  If any smoker reading this has a dead iPod they fancy converting into a ciggie case I’ll mention there’s a knack to getting into these old iPods. A watch case opener does the job but the trick is to give the iPod a gentle squeeze as you apply it. You’d still need a case opener each time though, so if it was me I’d be thinking about how to change it so it’s be easier to open. Maybe remove the catches and glue in a spring loaded hinge or something. I dunno, I’m speculating there. I’ll leave that to DIY experimenters.

Part 1             Part 3    Part 4    Part 5

Comments on this post originally appeared on this blog’s old home at Blogger.

Getting around Australia’s plain tobacco packaging law #1

Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5

I’m not sure this hasn’t already been covered in the legislation but as it’s been reported it’s going to be mandatory plain packaging, and the defence the Commonwealth government intend to use against the tobacco industry’s accusation that their trademarks have been appropriated and that under Australia’s constitution they should be compensated is that the trademarks have not been actually been taken, they just can’t be used on cigarette packets. I’m no lawyer but we all know that the number of places the industry can use its trademarks has been diminishing and I feel that at some point you have to concede that effectively they’ve been taken from them, but in the meantime I wonder if there’s anything to stop the trademarks being used on the cigarettes themselves. Most cigarettes have always had their makers’ names on so it doesn’t seem unrealistic to use the whole cigarette. Maybe whatever ink ends up being used on the paper to do this would actually make cigarettes slightly more harmful for their users, I have no idea, but on Planet Smokophobia the alleged health benefits from the plain packets would surely offset any harm done by fully branding the cigarettes themselves instead. No, I know that makes no sense, but when we’re talking tobacco legislation is that even necessary any more?

Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5

Comments on this post originally appeared on this blog’s old home at Blogger.