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Monday, 28 March 2011

GOING TO CHURCH CAN MAKE YOU FAT

The speed at which the anti-obesity campaign is progressing is simply astonishing. While it took a few decades for the anti-tobacco crusaders to reach absurd levels of propaganda, it took less than a decade for the anti-obesity apostles to catch up to them.  Good heavens! At this rate, we will soon have to pray for a miracle to save the obese from the socially engineered denormalization process!  This is exactly what we meant when six years ago we warned the public that opening the door to holier-than-thou ideologies, no matter how one felt about the smoking issue, is a very slippery slope.

With grants from entities with vested interests such as the RW Johnson Foundation  fueling the anti-obesity mission, only the sky is the limit to how far some researchers will go to get a piece of the pie.  Some such studies prompted headlines as extreme as:  

Obesity is contributing to global warming: study

Health Experts Call Obesity A Threat to National Security

Obesity 'Virus' Spreads Like Common Cold, Scientists Say


The latest  ‘’discovery’’ solemnly explains Why Going to Church Can Make You Fat
with the researchers now claiming that although religious people tend to be more obese, it is that same religious mindset that can save them from obesity.  Huh huh, sure, whatever, as long as it brings bread and wine to the scientist's table!

After taking a look at this in-depth article from Sandy Szwarc exposing the vested interests in the anti-obesity campaign and particularly the RW Johnson Foundation’s implication, does anyone still believe that the healthist movement is paving the road to living hell with sincere intentions to save us all from our own earthly sins? 


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

CONTRE LA SANTÉ

Nous n’avons pas encore lu ce dernier livre de Jonathan Metzl alors nous ne pouvons pas émettre une opinion exhaustive sur son contenu. Nous jugeons, cependant, que ce que l’auteur a exprimé lors de sa courte entrevue avec le journaliste, correspond beaucoup à ce qu’on pense de la médecine moderne.


En effet, l’auteur du livre, ajoute une dimension au débat de la santé qui fut, hélas, délaissé depuis trop longtemps - celle de la santé mentale. Il qualifie l’idéologie de la santé, telle qu’on la conçoit aujourd’hui, de politique, mercantile et moralisatrice et il explore la dimension socioculturelle qui influence nos états physiques, psychologiques et psychiatriques.

Il réfute certaines notions médicales qui sont malheureusement répandues comme vérités, entre autres celle qui prétend que l’obésité raccourcit la vie. Il déplore l’ostracisme et le jugement des autres envers les fumeurs et les gens obèses qu’il n’hésite pas de qualifier des attitudes contre-productives.

Ce livre promet d’être des plus intéressants. Nous sommes intrigués de savoir s’il propose des solutions à ces problèmes bien réels de la société moderne. Nous vous en ferons part de nos critiques plus poussées lorsque nous l’aurions tout lu.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

FROM THE HEART: Part II

On, March 8th, 2011, a date on which the International Women’s Day coincided with the date that the City of L.A. was scheduled to extend smoking bans to outdoor patios and spaces surrounding restaurants, we brought you the thoughts of one young woman, Juliette Tworsey, who lives in L.A. Juliette explained how the bans affect her personally and directly.



Today we bring you a follow-up on Juliette’s thoughts as she takes her specific experiences and applies them to a more general analysis of the smoking ban on the lives and leisure of the ordinary people who are affected.


FROM THE HEART: Part II

My personal experience with the Smoking Bans

By Juliette Tworsey

De Facto Tobacco Prohibition: Direct and Indirect Consequences

Few crusaders in the anti-tobacco movement take the time to consider many of the unintended consequences that arise as a result of singling out a significantly large minority for increased restrictions. They say that smoking bans and prohibition will not have any negatives effects on the economy, and that no, there have not been any deleterious social effects on the faction of the population that is being singled out.

Now, I am no economist and I am not going to attempt to explain the definitions of inputs vs outputs or how they affect the economy in scientific terms, but there are a couple of things that should be glaringly obvious to anyone who dares to think outside of the ‘politically-correct’ box when it comes to the issue of smoking and prohibition:

1) If you exclude 20-25% of the population from taking part in the overall economy (emphasis on the hospitality industry) via behavioral modification and exclusion by force, how is that NOT going to have an effect on the economy in aggregate? Just because we don’t always frequent the same establishments, does not mean that your non-smoking establishment will be exempt from the resulting fallout. The loss of businesses where smoking was allowed, along with the corresponding loss in jobs, has an effect of the community as a whole. Many charity fundraising events are affected, property values deflate, and the unemployment line increases, thus putting more strain on already strained public services. The taxes that these venues generate directly affect the health of your local and state economy. When your neighbor’s “smoking allowed” business closes down the street, it is not just their business that is affected. Average folks and small business owners don’t need a scientific paper or “study” to state the obvious: When you interfere with the self-correcting forces of the free market, everyone ends up paying in some manner or another.

2) Again, if 20-25% of the population are forced to modify their everyday behavior almost overnight by not going out to restaurants, bars, concerts, community events, and parks as frequently as they once had, how can there NOT be any social repercussions from such forced isolation? The most egregiously affected in this situation are the elderly, the single, the poor, the disabled, the un-employed, those who suffer from depression, etc… However, these are not the only groups to be affected. What about non-smokers? Aren’t they too affected by this social segregation?

One can only wonder about all of the lost opportunities for friendship to be made via exposure to new acquaintances that span our many cultural and class factions that now many never take place due to the segregation and isolation of a relatively large segment of the population. One also has to wonder about living in an intolerant society such as this and how it contributes to increased animosity, as well as a lack of understanding and proper communication with one another. It doesn’t take a social scientist to tell us that there are bound to be many deleterious social effects that follow the stigmatization of smokers, as is always the case with the marginalization of any minority.

To the anti-smoking bishops of Neo-healthism we say, prove to us that there are NOT any grave and un-intended consequences that result from smoking bans and anti-smoker campaigns. We ask them to be honest. And if that honesty ever manifests itself, we will wait for an apology for all of the harm that was caused.

To learn more about Juliette Tworsey and her band “Firebug”, we encourage you to visit their website at:
http://www.firebugmusic.com/

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Science is conclusive: Tobacco increases work capacity

As promised on our posting of March 2/11, the English translated article from Danish authors Niels Ipsen, & Klaus Kjellerup is posted at http://dengulenegl.dk/English/Nicotine.html where you will also find all the referenced documentation that supports it. 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

FROM THE HEART

Today, March 8th, 2011 is a special day for two reasons. It is the International Women’s Day, a special event that has been observed since the 1900's. It is a day to celebrate the achievements and advancement of women the world over, as they exercise greater rights and self-determination, mainly as a result of greater economic potential.

This year, March 9th will also be the day that the City of L.A. extends smoking bans to outdoor patios and spaces surrounding restaurants. One young woman, Juliette Tworsey, a talented singer who also, as so many do, makes ends meet by working in the hospitality industry, explains what this means in real terms. She explains how these bans affect her aspirations, and her livelihood. She does not address the issue as an economist or as a political scientist, although she is fully familiar with those respective approaches. She relates to us, on a personal level, how the smoking bans affect her and her entourage. Her message is clear and sound, and needs to be heard because she speaks from the heart, and she speaks for many.

FROM THE HEART

My personal experience with the Smoking Bans

As a songwriter, performer, and hospitality worker that has worked consistently in one form or another for many years in bars, restaurants and concert venues, I can from my personal observations and experiences say that smoking bans and the war on smokers in general have detrimental effects on my personal life, my social life, and my ability to prosper and make a living.

The economic and social effects

Before coming to Los Angeles from my hometown Chicago with my band, finding extra work in the hospitality business had never been an issue, as there was always something available in what has always been well known as being an industry with high turnover rates, especially in venues with a demographic that’s largely comprised of transient students, artists, musicians, authors, and working class folks who often live from paycheck to paycheck.

After moving to Los Angeles in the early 2000's (note, this is long before the advent of our current recession), one of the first things that I noticed was the difficulty in finding a service or bartending job. Granted, Los Angeles is a town that is subject to a constant onslaught of young people moving into town from all over the country looking for work in the entertainment industry, along with immigrants from all over the world looking for work; hence, there is a high demand for work. However, keep in mind that both the service and the entertainment industries have high turnover rates; therefore, this fact alone does not explain the lack of jobs in these fields. One thing that comes to mind is the state smoking ban that came into effect in the late 90s.

Upon the observation of countless numbers of smokers standing outside of establishments, especially those restaurants, bars and venues that were not equipped wit the money or space to retrofit their establishments with smoking patios, the realization came to me that many folks were just not hanging out as long or spending as much as they used to. When people don’t hang out as long or spend as much there are going to be social and economic consequences. I have witnessed, time and time again, a mass exodus from live music venues as soon as a band hits its last chord. Often the fans and friends of any already known act do not return to the club to check out the next new and unknown act. This was not my experience as a performer in what was then a smoke-ban-free Chicago.

Blanket smoking bans and over-regulation have the unfortunate consequence of making it even more difficult for a new act to acquire the much needed exposure that it needs by adversely affecting the prospects of future bookings, due to the fact that many clubs now demand that an act have a pre-existing audience so that the club may insure that it makes enough money to cover its overhead costs without having to lay off bartenders and waitresses. It has never been so difficult. Again, these difficulties were apparent before, not after the current recession. Now it has only gotten worse. This leads me to my next point….

When one sector of the hospitality or industry is hurting, a domino effect is set into motion. It is so hard to find a bartending job here now, that some have even said that in order to get a job here, someone needs to either move out of town or die in order for there to be an opening. That’s not a joke, I’ve really been told that, and I do have a resumé. Another unintended consequence of smoking bans has been the disappearance of the neighborhood bar. There are a few to be sure, mostly in affluent neighborhoods, but largely the establishments that once accommodated many in the working class, as well as students and starving artists have gone by way of the dinosaurs. These neighborhood bars also once served as springboards for aspiring bartenders and musicians trying to get their foot in the door, as well as important social breeding grounds for many folks who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go out.

No one, save for a lucky few, starts at the top of any business. This lack of work in bars and music venues leads to more demand for jobs in the restaurant sector, making it more difficult to find work there as well. Many restaurants (up until now) managed to survive California’s indoor ban by retrofitting their establishments by building outdoor patios as a way of keeping their smoking patrons. This was a semi-workable situation, due to California’s temperate climate, along with the use of outdoor heating devices in the winter and tent/overhangs in the rainy season, though I have to admit that I, along with many of my smoking friends, have not been regular patrons to any facility that does not at least provide some sort of hospitable place for its smoking customers. That is how it has been up until now.

The city of Los Angeles is currently about to introduce a comprehensive smoking ban of its own that supersedes the California smoke-free act as of this Tuesday, March 8th, 2011. This new ban will now extend to all outdoor spaces of restaurants, coffee shops within the entire city limits. The patios that so many restaurants, bar/restaurants, and coffee houses built to accommodate their smoking customers is now being taken away from them against their will. It shouldn’t be a hard sell in convincing non-believers that this is going to be yet another blow to the hospitality industry, its workers, and those looking for work within the industry. Smokers are indeed a part of the overall economy and the hospitality industry in particular, is one industry which cannot be outsourced. I know from personal experience, as I am yet again on the search for work. Many places are already not doing so well; now they’re going to have to turn away many of their customers as well.

In considering the economic effects of the current smoking ban on restaurants, bars, and music venues in aggregate, it is clear that the smoking ban has had a very real and profound effect on my ability to find work, my social life, and my ability to advance my music career. Never in my life has it ever been so difficult, and remember, these difficulties began before, not after, the current economic crisis; hence, it is safe to assume that smoking bans create their own economic deficits by not allowing establishments to accommodate the demands of the free market.

Prospects for the Future

It is so hard to find work in L.A. in the music AND in the hospitality industries already as is, and NOW there's a new outdoor smoking ban set to take effect this Tuesday. I'm currently looking for work in an environment that is already plagued by the over-regulation of the little guy, as well as the empty storefronts that now litter many of our once prosperous boulevards (even in once affluent neighborhoods). It’s everywhere you look around this city, even in those areas that were once considered as being recession proof. It is time for us all to work together, smokers and non, wealthy and working class, Left and Right, so that we may demonstrate to the world at large and the deaf ears of the mainstream media that we all have a right to exist, and that yes, we smokers have a right to exist and yes, we are indeed a part of the overall economy. We also have the right to assemble as persons of free will. An affront on this most basic of liberties, harms not only the overall economy, but the notion of freedom itself.

To learn more about Juliette Tworsey and her band “Firebug”, we encourage you to visit their website at:

http://www.firebugmusic.com/

PRIMUM NON NOCERE

Nous vous signalons la parution d’un récent article du Pr. Robert Molimard dans le site du groupe français le FORMINDEP, qui examine les origines, la façon qu’il agit sur les récepteurs du cerveau, l’efficacité, les effets indésirables, et les considérations éthiques quant à la continuation de la mise en marché du Champix, médicament pour le sevrage tabagique

Des centaines d’Américains et de Canadiens ont déposé des requêtes en recours collectif contre Pfizer - le fabricant - qu’ils accusent de ne pas avoir assez informé le public des risques liés à son utilisation. La FDA a ordonné que la mise en garde la plus sévère permise en vertu des règlements fédéraux (black box warning), soit apposée sur le produit. On reproche au médicament d’augmenter le risque de changements dans le comportement, la dépression, l'hostilité, les pensées suicidaires et même le suicide.

Le professeur souligne dans son article exactement ce qu’on dit depuis longtemps, à savoir que malgré que fumer peut conduire à la maladie, le tabagisme en lui-même n’est pas une maladie. En effet, nombreux sont les exemples des fumeurs qui vivent vieux et en santé pour éventuellement mourir de causes aucunement liées à leur tabagisme. Nous nous posons d’ailleurs la même question que le professeur, à savoir s’il est justifié de soumettre des gens en santé à des risques importants qui peuvent les mener jusqu’à la mort, pour hypothétiquement leur éviter des maladies futures qui ne se manifesteront que plus tard et possiblement même jamais. Et ce, non seulement sur le plan physique mais aussi sur le plan psychologique comme le Dr. Jean-Jacques Bourque nous a expliqué dans son livre ‘’Écrasons la cigarette, pas le fumeur’’.

Malgré qu’il doit y avoir plusieurs anti-fumeurs qui le pensent tout bas, Il y au moins une lobbyiste anti-tabac anglaise qui a admis publiquement qu’il n’y a pas de prix trop cher à payer pour arrêter de fumer. ‘’De toute façon, nous parlons d'une partie assez malsaine de la population . . . un sur deux va mourir à cause du tabagisme.’’ (We are talking about a fairly unhealthy section of the population anyway . . . one in two will die because of smoking.) a-t-elle déclaré sans aucune honte ni remords apparents. Cela évidemment sous-entend qu’il vaut mieux soumettre les fumeurs au risque de souffrir et même mourir immédiatement avec le Champix, que de continuer à fumer. Quel contraste avec le Pr. Molimard pour qui le ‘’primum non nocere’’ conserve encore toute sa signification. C’est tout à son honneur ! 

Champix®, le jeu en vaut-il la chandelle ?

Le fumeur n'est pas un malade

Saturday, 5 March 2011

HE WHO CONTROLS THE MEDIA (PART 3)

Part 2 here

The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls practices willful censorship of those ideas with which its editors do not agree.

We at C.A.G.E. have repeatedly publicized evidence that the media shows bias against opinions and even facts that are not politically correct, especially when it comes to the issue of tobacco and smoking bans. The typical mainstream newspaper will print only a very negligible number of letters on such topics, and even then only if they are not too compromising to their political comfort level.

By posting opinions and information in various mainstream media sites, we have unfortunately encountered some biased moderators that simply ignore our posts and decide never to publish them. The CBC is one example that readily comes to mind. Their form of biased censorship is frustrating and unacceptable, especially when practiced by a corporation sustained by the citizens’ taxes. In the past, our complaints have yielded some results, but we still have much ground to cover in order to overcome the mainstream media bias against politically-incorrect opinions. Notwithstanding this perennial bias, organizations and citizens with values such as ours have been effective in freely expressing themselves through diverse channels and have thus contributed positively to the growing shift in public opinion away from nanny-statism .

As it has become customary, when smoking bans are to be or have been recently enacted, media forums attract an increased participation of both pro and anti-ban contributors. There is, however, an abnormally high apparent participation rate from the pro-ban side, probably because they have received their cue from the tobacco control directors as part of their campaign tactics such as we have illustrated in our blog entry of February 11th. Be that as it may, we have no difficulties in countering their arguments on a rational and factual level and we are in fact quite happy to have our own beliefs challenged. The ensuing debates provide us with the much desired opportunity to debate the issues in public and to offer to the general audience a challenging viewpoint to the politically correct pre-determined side of the story. This is one of the reasons why open debate and free speech are considered among the most crucial principles of democracy, and the media fulfill a crucial role in facilitating such open debates. It is in no way an exaggeration to refer to the media as being an important “guardian of democracy”.

We have recently uncovered another newspaper that does not appear to value nor respect its role and obligations as a ‘’guardian of democracy’’. The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, SD, does not only practice blatant censorship, but they do so in a most despicably hypocritical manner. Not only do they remove comments of which they do not approve, but they also use a technique called ‘’shadow posting’’ whereby the comment is invisible to everyone but to the person who has posted it. The latter can post as many opinion pieces or arguments as he wishes to, and no one will see them but himself! This means that the contributor is not even aware that he is being censored and is thereby fooled into thinking that his comments have been duly shared, but nobody else actually sees what he posts. This under-handed practice was discovered by the vice-president of C.A.G.E. as she logged out of the Argus Leader forum and suddenly realized that she could no longer see her own comments. The following notification appeared instead:

Name withheld

10:26 PM on March 1, 2011

This comment was left by a user who has been blocked by our staff.

When she logged back onto the forum -- lo and behold -- her comment reappeared unaltered.


You are probably wondering if the comment which she had posted was uncivil, distasteful, or an ad hominem attack that should have rightfully warranted some form of censorship. We will allow you to be the judge. Here below is what happened when the comment was copy-pasted from the visible (logged in) version of the site. Please note that the sections highlighted in red were not apparent on the forum but only suddenly appeared like magic in the Microsoft Word document upon which we pasted the block of text that we had copied:

Cyzane

2:40 PM on March 1, 2011

This comment has been removed from our system.


This comment is hidden because you have chosen to ignore Cyzane. Show DetailsHide Details

If protecting the non-smoking public and employees was what concerns anti-smoking activists and governments, solutions to keep harmony within society without killing businesses and jobs, do exist. Designated smoking rooms, and smokers’ only venues, are good alternatives, yet they are forbidden.

In fact smoking bans have nothing to do with non-smokers' health or comfort. They are designed to coerce smokers into quitting their habit by making their life as miserable as public opinion will permit. Winding up non-smokers against them, combined with the fact that they have brainwashed smokers to believe that they are too severely addicted to quit on their own, profit the powerful pharmaceutical industry who makes billions selling nicotine replacement treatment throughout the world, albeit their very low rate of success. What better business partnership between governments who collect taxes, the pharmaceutical industry that profits from the repeat sales of virtually useless nicotine replacement treatment as well as dangerous drugs such as Chantix and Zyban (and soon the anti-smoking vaccine) and anti-smoking activists who profit from the grants of both?

We are confident that you will agree that the above text hardly qualifies as material that should be censored in a free and enlightened society such as the one aspired to in North America. Far less should such a comment be censored in such a hypocritical manner as to mislead the contributor into thinking that the message had actually been duly posted.

Upon discovering this hypocritical and very biased form of censorship, the C.A.G.E. Vice President wrote a letter of complaint to a person in charge of the forums at the Argus Leader asking for an explanation and requesting that her comment and the one from the previous night (similar in content and style) be reposted. Seventy-two hours have passed without our receiving so much as a letter of acknowledgement from the Argus Leader.

We consider the unprincipled behaviour of the Argus Leader to be a story in and of itself, and for this reason the present C.A.G.E. blog entry will be distributed to all other media outlets in the same area and a link will be posted in Facebook and other social networks and blogs. We invite you to do your part to spread this story far and wide. The goal is not only to shame the Argus Leader for their censorship practices in a country that so highly values free speech, but also to serve as warning to other forum participants to be on the lookout for such practices if ever they are posting comments on a site where the administrators are motivated by misguided ethics and a rather totalitarian approach to public debate.

We also provide you with the URL for the comments section of the article in question in the Argus Leader:

http://www.argusleader.com/comments/article/20110228/NEWS/102280330/Smoking-ban-changes-bars-restaurants

We invite you to write short letters to the editors of the competing media outlets, making reference to your outrage at the censorship practiced by the Argus Leader and to this C.A.G.E. blog article. We provide you here below a list of other media  in the region. We trust that these competitors will be quite interested in how the actions of the Argus Leader can affect the reputation of media outlets in general.


http://www.keloland.com/news/
http://www.ksfy.com/
http://www.kdlt.com/
http://www.topix.com/city/sioux-falls-sd

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

WOMEN AND THE ''WORKING DRUG''

Anti-tobacco activists used to tell us that the tobacco companies marketed their product as a glamorous activity for the cool, the fearless and the popular. We believed them because the tobacco ads unequivocally confirmed it. They later changed that to smoking being predominantly practiced by poor and uneducated people. Statistically speaking, this is a defendable argument, so again we didn't find any reason to disagree. But it now appears that women no longer fit the latter paradigm. In fact, tobacco control is now accusing the tobacco industry of targeting ‘’empowered women’’ because this group of women allegedly has a higher smoking prevalence.

The study from the University of Waterloo, Ontario that you can read about in an article here, describes ‘’empowered’’ women as more politically involved and wealthier.

How reasonable is it to blame the tobacco industry for the ‘’empowered’’ women’s higher smoking rates, we ask. Should we believe tobacco control when they infer that these women are gullible and uninformed enough to be influenced by the tobacco industry? 

Notwithstanding that being politically active and having a higher social status both involve increased stress and tobacco could therefore be used by these women in an effort to cope with the pressure, there seems to be an even more compelling reason that can explain the higher smoking prevalence in this particular group of women. 

We refer you to a Danish article written by Niels Ipsen, environmental biologist and Klaus Kjellerup, researcher, who after examining the available scientific literature, have confirmed what everyone knew at one time but had mostly forgotten because it was buried under the incoherent cacophony of the anti-tobacco industry for far too long: Tobacco enhances the brain functions
.   
Indeed, this article to which an English translation is forthcoming, is supported by sound science and analysis, that the human brain performs 10 – 30% better when it is under the influence of nicotine and especially through cigarettes, the most direct and rapid delivery method of getting it to the brain. It maintains concentration levels up to several hours longer than a nicotine abstinent individual, it helps focus, it enhances the brain’s alertness and increases its speed of reaction as well as the working memory, and all in all it rightly deserves the title of the ‘’working drug’’.

Which brings us to the following question relevant to the Waterloo study: Do women smoke more because they have been empowered, or is it nicotine that has assisted them in becoming empowered?  
The scientific conclusions are indisputable that men or women who use tobacco, reach higher levels of performance than those who don't.  Did the researchers at Waterloo examine that angle before blaming the tobacco industry and going off on another expensive ''good'' vs. evil crusade?  That was a purely rhetorical question of course! 

As for the writers of the article, they conclude with this stimulating thought:


‘’ Everything has a price, and the advantage of achieving health benefits in the war against smoking may very well be matched by paying a high price in the economy in terms of loss of innovation and economic growth.


The question is, in other words, whether the so-called smoke free society is an economic growth-free society? And if so, can the irritation of smoke in the workplace be solved in other ways?'' 

The article will be posted in this blog once its English translation is completed. In the meantime you can read the Danish original at Forskere er sikre: Tobak øger arbejdsevnen
or read a shorter English version at Smoking Boosts Brain Power