Tuesday, 27 February 2018

How Your Taxes Are Spent

I picked up on a quite breathtaking tweet of hypocracy today by those known tax-spongers over at ASH. It was the following:

Can you see the fatal flaw in their logic above ?

Yep, ASH are (once again) making the claim that all smokers want to quit (ignoring the pleasure principle) and that is a 'powerful justification' for high taxes on cigarettes and smoking bans in public spaces and the workplace.

Actually, they have probably missed a trick there because 'Love Island' is a reality TV show (as I understand it) and therefore technically all of the contestants in Love Island are in a  work environment so should not be smoking as it is a workplace. But I digress....

Anyway, back to the subject matter. Looking at the picture in the tweet above, it would seem that all the participants are quite young (though technically anyone under 50yo is 'young' to me), but certainly adults, and so I think it is pretty safe to conclude that they are all well aware of the supposed dangers of smoking and yet choose to do so anyway. Why ?   Because they enjoy it (something that the likes of ASH simply cannot get their heads around). So, given they know the dangers but still choose to smoke, I cannot see why it is any business of ASH to go around criticising them for that choice. Especially as Love Island supposed to be a REALITY TV show.

In REALITY, people smoke, get over it. Why shouldn't the programme makers not feature a NORMAL and LEGAL activity like smoking ?

However, the real breathtaking hypocracy comes in the article they refer to in the tweet.

First of all, the headline of the article:

Love Island sends out 'dangerous message that smoking is somehow harmless and innocent'

Really ?   Now I admit that I have not watched Love Island (not am I ever likely to watch such reality TV dross), but I am pretty sure that no such message was transmitted. No, what the show did was to feature several young adults who happen to enjoy smoking, enjoying smoking. All while having what I am sure they considered to be meaningful conversation and, dare I say it, FUN !!

But then when we read further into this article, what we find is that 'researchers' (which means busybodies with a preconceived agenda) from the Universities of Bath and Nottingham 'conducted a study'. Yep, here is your hard-earned taxes being spent meaningfully by a bunch of 'researchers' spending hours and hours watching Love Island and being paid for it (nice work if you can get it - and if you happen to like Love Island I suppose).

So what did their 'research' discover ?

  • The 21 episodes included 204 intervals of tobacco related content - 20 per cent of the total across series 3.
21 episodes ?    Assuming that each episode is at least 1 hour in duration, that means these 'researchers' spent at least 21 hours (each) watching Love Island (all paid for by yours, and mine, taxes). Of course we can also assume they were making copious notes and pausing/rewinding various parts during viewing so can easily add on a few extra hours on top of that. Plus of course, they still had to write it all up at the end of their 'research'. Enjoying how your taxes are being spent so far ?

  • Actual tobacco use appeared in 66 (7 per cent) intervals, and usually involved cigarette smoking by one person; smoking by several people occurred in 10 intervals.
Wow, the gall of these young people. They did normal everyday things that normal people do everyday, not just by themselves, but they actually had the audacity to do it in groups - and probably enjoyed it too. I can imagine these 'researchers' positively wetted themselves in apoplexy

  • Implied tobacco use occurred in 104 (10 per cent) intervals, and paraphernalia in 143 (14 per cent). This last most often involved plain white cigarette packs (117 intervals), with up to eight visible in any one interval.
How the fuck does one 'imply' tobacco use ?   You either use tobacco or you don't. The implication from the 'research' is that very soon they will lobbying for a law prohibiting people even discussing smoking. Anyway, surely the fact that there were 'plain white cigarette packs' on display is a cause for celebration for the likes of ASH as that is something they actually wanted ?

  • Branding was visible in 16 (1.6 per cent) intervals, and involved just one brand, which was clearly identified from the logo on the cigarette as Lucky Strike Double Click, a brand that is not widely available in the UK.
Branding was visible on the cigarettes, 'a brand that is not widely available in the UK'. Oh the shock and horror that Tobacco Control had to have evidence, on the TV no less, that there is a thriving black market for tobacco out there. Tobacco Control keep telling us that black market does exist and that is why their calls for further increases in tobacco excise duty are justified. The last thing Tobacco Control want is for clear evidence of the black market to be shown on prime-time TV. Oh the horror !!

  • Following widespread media criticism of high levels of smoking in the June 19 episode, tobacco content fell significantly from 12.4 intervals per episode to 8.4 and actual tobacco use from 4.9 intervals to 2.3.
Now call me cynical, but I bet the 'widespread media criticism' came from Tobacco Control themselves, using their contacts in the media to highlight this. I am willing to bet that very few members of the public actually bothered to complain or criticise any episode on this matter. The simple fact is that the majority of the public just do not care. Especially so when said smoking is on the TV and therefore not likely to impinge on anyone.

  • When all the data were combined with audience viewing figures and population estimates, the researchers calculated that the 21 episodes delivered 559 overall tobacco ‘impressions’ to the UK population, including 47 million to children under the age of 16.
 Erm, isn't Love Island considered an 'adult' reality TV show and surely it is therefore shown after the 9pm watershed ?   So what were 'children' under 16 doing watching the show ?  Furthermore, I would bet most children under 16 regularly see normal people smoking every single day of their lives. Smokers are not difficult to find. You can find them gathered together, often in groups, outside just about any public building, but especially outside of pubs which is where Tobacco Control sent them all as a result of the 2007 smoking ban. So seeing somebody smoking on TV is hardly likely to add to that as it is already 'normal' in their eyes.

  • Tobacco impressions were highest among the 16-34 age group, averaging 6.95 per head, and twice as high among women as they were among men. The episodes delivered 44 million impressions of branded tobacco products, including 4 million to children.
How do you do an 'impression' of tobacco ?   Did the contestants on Love Island stand around painting themselves bright white while setting fire to their hair in front of the camera ?   To do 44 million such impressions must have hurt and therefore anybody who is happy to go through such an ordeal deserves admiration for their dedication to the cause.

  • The evidence clearly shows that a link between young people’s exposure to on screen tobacco imagery and starting to smoke, emphasise the researchers.
Oh FFS. We have heard this argument before. The problem is, the 'evidence' does NOT show such a link. Tobacco Control already tried to convince a court of law on this matter with their evidence in a Law Court in California recently when they (Stanton Glantz et al) tried to take the film industry to task over smoking images. They failed abysmally as the Court Judge saw straight through the flawed 'evidence' and rejected the claims.

Really, in these days of constant carping about how much extra funds are needed to fund the NHS, why is tax-payers money allowed to be wasted on such pointless 'research' ?

Tobacco Control really are disappearing up their own arses. They waste millions of pounds on such pointless and worthless research and then have the gall to come cap-in-hand to Government to ask for more millions of pounds to waste on further pointless research.

Listen Tobacco Control. Smoking IS normal. You can try to airbrush it out of TV, film and even history, all you like. But it still won't go away. Millions of people CHOOSE to continue to smoke regardless of what you do or say. That means that smoking is normal. If a 'Reality' TV cannot show smoking, then it is not really a Reality TV show then is it ?

Muppets !!


  1. You are such a naughty chap. Sod all links!

    Anyway the article is here:


    And the "Associate Professor" who's the talking head is a certain Rachael Murray.

    This is she.


    (note 50 odd views thus far)

    And here's Jo Cranwell, who has a 1970's taste for headgear.


    Anyway they're your smoking guns.

    And why watching tv is now research.

    By the by, the Mail carried the same story as the Bath rag.


    Same result. Zero comments!

    1. Ha. I thought I'd actually included the links. Was only when I read your comment that I realised that I had left them out :-)