Monthly Archives: September 2016

  • 2

This is how freedom dies

Category : rants

Ever heard of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health? No, I didn’t think you would have. It sounds respectable enough, of course. “Chartered Institute” suggests a sober, responsible organisation that maintains professional standards across an industry. My father’s a chartered surveyor, for example. My mother is a chartered accountant. All highly respectable.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is a bit different. It’s a registered charity and, like so many other registered charities in our brave new world, is basically just an extremist pressure group. That was probably to be expected because “environmental health” is a pretty nebulous term. It’s easy to nail down what a surveyor does. The same goes for an accountant, an architect or an engineer. But what does an environmental health professional do?

It turns out they’re the Thought Police.

Early this morning the CIEH issued a demand for “voluntary smoking bans” to be imposed on any location in the UK “wherever children play or learn”. This would cover not just children’s play areas but also all public parks, zoos and theme parks. To support this crackpottery they’re citing a YouGov survey that says 89% of adults in the UK would support a smoking ban in play areas, and 57% would be happy for parks to be made smoke-free.

Now, I don’t for one minute support making children breathe tobacco smoke. While I’m sceptical of the wilder claims made about secondhand smoke it certainly isn’t good for you. Also, in my experience, children smell bad enough already without lightly marinading the little brutes in stale Lambert & Butler fumes. But there’s no possible objection to smoking outdoors. Any exposure to toxins would be almost homeopathic; a cigarette is small and the atmosphere is very large. It’s absurd to claim that a faint whiff of fag smoke is even remotely as harmful as the pall of diesel exhaust that hangs over most parks and play areas.

So the CIEH haven’t claimed that. Instead, in the absence of any actual risk to health – you know, like environmental health, the stuff that’s supposed to be their fucking job, they’ve opened the doors of the Ministry of Truth. This is what these heroes of IngSoc have to say about their reasons for this insanity:

Children should be able to have fun and enjoy themselves without seeing someone smoking and thinking this is normal behaviour

Except smoking is normal behaviour. Over 16% of adults in the UK smoke; that’s a lot more than the number of people who, for example, go to a mosque. It’s more than the number of people who are LGBT. It’s more than the number of people who vote Liberal Democrat. Are CIEH saying all those things are abnormal, too?

It is not up to the government to decide what is, or is not, normal behaviour. It’s up to them to decide – with our approval every five years at a general election – what’s legal behaviour, and to make sure nobody breaks the law, But as long as something isn’t actually illegal then it does not matter one tiny speck of shit whether it’s normal or not. We all get to decide what’s normal for us, within the bounds of the law, and we do not need the Thought Police to make sure we aren’t harbouring unapproved opinions.

And if it isn’t up to the government to decide what’s normal or not, it certainly isn’t up to some gang of unelected busybodies like the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. It’s time the whole tribe of parasitic pressure groups, fake charities and other slime of the “Third Sector” were reined in, before their arrogance turns the UK into a sort of organic Airstrip One, a North Korea with kale smoothies. These shitpuffins have far too much influence over government policy and, by extension, our lives. Look at the absurd sugar tax, a useless and regressive measure that’s only being introduced because a handful of screaming morons demanded it. Look at how the execrable harridan Deborah Arnott of ASH is writing the UK’s official policy at the World Health Organisation.

Enough. We didn’t vote for these people and, barring measures that are very illegal indeed, we can’t get rid of them. Why should we continue to fund them with our taxes and get nothing in exchange but their shrill, joyless hectoring? It’s time for CIEH, ASH, CASH, EPHA and all the other alphabet associations to STFU.

  • 12

Human stupidity

“Only two things are infinite,” said Albert Einstein, “The universe and human stupidity. But I’m not sure about the universe.” Happily, I can confirm that while the universe now seems likely to be finite, human stupidity is as boundless as Einstein always believed.

I’ve just reported a vape shop to Trading Standards.

This is not something that makes me particularly happy, but I believe it needed to be done. If we can’t act responsibly as a community we will make ourselves easy targets for any public health nutter with some spare time and a grudge.

Last night the vape shop in question announced, on their Facebook page, that they were now selling “Pokéjuice” at £15 for a 60ml bottle. This is wrong on so many levels I could write about it all week, but here’s the short version:

  • Pokémon characters are the intellectual property of Nintendo, a huge Japanese company. Branding a product with Pokémon characters is intellectual property theft (which incidentally, as a writer, I absolutely hate). It’s likely to get you in a lot of trouble with some very expensive lawyers.
  • Thanks to the TPD vendors can no longer just start selling a new product. They have until next May to sell off stocks of existing products, but any new one has to get approval. As this one comes in a non-compliant 60ml bottle I can safely say it hasn’t been approved. Yes, the TPD is something else I absolutely hate; nevertheless it’s the law, and if vendors flout the law they hand ammunition to those who want the industry shut down.
  • It is very easy to argue that Pokémon-branded liquids are being marketed at children. Personally I don’t buy that; plenty adults like Pokémon, too, and I have no reason to suspect that this vendor would sell to children anyway. However, in the current climate, this is a spectacularly stupid piece of marketing. If you’re under the spotlight you don’t get your dong out and start playing with it.

I made clear on the vendor’s Facebook page last night that these products needed to be gone by this morning. Today, I asked if they were gone. I got no reply, but several other people commented that they had bought them. So a few minutes ago I called Trading Standards, then sent them an email with some screenshots as evidence. I made sure they knew that I was doing this as a vaping advocate who believed we could – and should – police ourselves. Will they take action? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

So I realise that this is going to be pretty controversial. Some of you are going to hate me for it. That’s fine; I’ve been hated by much worse people than you, and I lived to tell the tale. I’ll survive your dislike – and, if I see another vendor doing something as stupid as this, I’ll report them too. If we want to be treated as adults we need to act like adults. And if we don’t want the likes of ASH running things for us, we need to show that we can run them ourselves.