Mark Wadsworth

This is a spare 'blog in case my main 'blog at isn't working

Category Archives: Bansturbation

Hysterical Over-reaction Of The Week

From The Metro:

Ecuador has temporarily banned alcohol as an emergency measure after 12 people died drinking contaminated bootleg liquor. (1)

Initially the ban was restricted to the coastal municipality of Urdaneta in Los Rios province, where over 100 people have been treated for intoxication (2) from drinking adulterated alcohol.

A 72-hour nationwide dry law prohibiting the sale or consumption (3) of alcohol was subsequently introduced yesterday, after alcohol poisoning cases were detected in at least four other areas across the country. (4)

1) High duties on spirits -> bootlegging, see Pub Curmudgeon for a lengthier exposé. As VFTS points out in the comments, ban on sale of alcohol -> increase in sale of bootleg alcohol.

2) Isn’t that the whole point? To get intoxicated?

3) There’s nothing to suggest that beer or wine is similarly contaminated, but they’ve banned the ‘consumption’ of all alcohol in people’s houses? So I can’t finish off the last few cans from a multi-pack or a bottle of wine which so far hasn’t killed me? How are they going to enforce that, then?

4) Could they not just publish the brand names used by the bootleggers and leave it to people to decide for themselves?


What was that? Speak up a bit! No, I can’t hear you.

From the BBC:

Passive smoking nearly doubles a teenager’s risk of hearing loss, research reveals.

Investigators say the findings, from a study of over 1,500 US teens aged 12 to 19, suggest that secondhand tobacco smoke directly damages young ears. And the greater the exposure the greater the damage. Often it was enough to impair a teen’s ability to understand speech, Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery reports.

It is still unclear how much exposure could be harmful and when the damage might occur. Experts already know that smoke increases the risk of middle ear infections. And they believe it may also harm the delicate blood supply to the ear causing “subtle yet serious” changes. For these reasons, as well as other smoke-related health risks, they say the best advice is to avoid any exposure to tobacco smoke as far as is feasible.

I suppose this is a gift to teenagers who ignore their parents though, 21% of them will have a Right-On excuse.

FakeCharities under the Lib-Cons

As I said a while back, “… under the Lib-Cons fakeprivatecompanies and industry-lobby-groups-masquerading-as-charities (‘ILGMACs’) will take the place of the much loved fakecharities in setting the agenda (i.e. dictating ‘regulation and legislation’) and/or directing how taxpayers’ money is to be spent.”

Adam Collyer describes the machinations of a specific ILGMAC here. Worth reading in full.

Thin ends, wedges.

From The Daily Mail:

Motorists could face prosecution for smoking while their children are in the car, under new proposals.

The move, outlined in the Welsh Assembly, could see Wales becoming the first country in Europe to impose the ban. It would mean drivers who light up at the wheel in England would be breaking the law if they continue as they cross the border…

Tory MP David Davies*, whose constituency in Monmouth sits on the border, also hit out at the move: “I don’t condone smoking and everyone knows it is bad for health and can kill people. But this move by the Welsh Government is reaching the stage where smokers are being victimised and that can’t be right.”

* Not to be confused with David Davis, which has led to all manner of hilarity!


From The Metro:

Schoolgirl Aimee Bowen suffered severe sunburn during a sports day because her school has banned bottles of suncream.

Aimee, 10, returned home bright red and covered in blisters after the event. Her parents, Andrew and Victoria, said they were told pupils weren’t allowed to bring in sunblock in case other children had an allergic reaction to it.

Pennard Primary School, near Swansea, south Wales, said it followed sun safety guidelines and parents could go to school during the lunch break to reapply cream.

Smoking horror statistics – missing figures round

From the BBC:

Women who smoke while pregnant should be aware that they are increasing the chance their baby will be born malformed, say experts. The risk for having a baby with missing or deformed limbs or a cleft lip is over 25% higher for smokers, data show.

Along with higher risks of miscarriage and low birth weight, it is another good reason to encourage women to quit, say University College London doctors. In England and Wales 17% of women smoke during pregnancy. And among under 20s the figure is 45%.

Although most will go on to have a healthy baby, smoking can cause considerable damage to the unborn child. Researchers now estimate that each year in England and Wales several hundred babies are born with a physical defect directly caused by their mother’s smoking. Every year in England and Wales around 3,700 babies in total are born with such a condition.

OK, 3,700 babies are born with defects out of 750,000 babies a year. We can minus off a third of those caused by Pakistanis marrying their first cousins, which gets it down to a third of a per cent with defects, call it 2,500 a year.

Question 1: If 17% of women smoke; the overall average risk of a baby born to normal couple having a defect is 0.33%; and the risk of your baby having a defect is 25% higher if you smoke (they cherry picked diseases where the risk is measurably higher, and didn’t mention all the defects where the risk is the same whether you smoke or not, but hey), then what are the chances of having a baby with a defect if you:
a) Don’t smoke during pregnancy.
b) Smoke during pregnancy.

Click and highlight to reveal answers: a) 0.32%, b) 0.4% (you can guess this answer, one is 0.33% minus a tiny bit and the other is 0.33% plus five tiny bits).

Question 2: How many babies born to mothers who smoke will have birth defects?

Click and highlight to reveal answer: 750,000 babies x 17% smokers x 0.4% with defects = 510 babies.

Question 3: If those mothers hadn’t smoked, how many of their babies would have birth defects anyway?

Click and highlight to reveal answer: 750,000 babies x 17% x 0.32% = 408.

Question 4: Deduct your answer from 3 from your answer from 2 to calculate the additional number of babies born with defects as a result of the mother smoking?

Click and highlight to reveal answer: 510 – 408 = 102. It’s not “several hundred”, is it? There’s a wide margin of error here, but I’d politely refer to that as “one hundred”, i.e. a tenth as many as babies born with defects due to inbreeding.

No wonder the NHS is in a mess

It might be because they teach them nothing at medical school. From The Daily Mail:

Smoking in your car is more damaging to health than breathing in exhaust fumes, a leading doctor has claimed. Douglas Noble, a British Medical Association public health expert, made the claim as his colleagues called for tougher tobacco and alcohol controls…

London-based Dr Noble said: “In cars, particle concentrations are 27 times higher than in a smoker’s home and 20 times higher than in a pub, in the days when you could smoke in public places. (1) It would be safer to have your exhaust pipe on the inside of your car than smoke cigarettes (2) in terms of fine particular matter released. A ban would protect pregnant women and children.”

1) AFAIAA, there is no general ban on ‘smoking in public places’, just in enclosed public spaces, although the Buckinghamshire Bansturbulary is working on that one as well.

2) Ahem.

The True Price Of A Pint (2)

I was tasked with freeing up a bit of space on our Freeview-recorder-box-thingy, and I watched that programme (a fair summary of which is here) one last time before deleting it for good.

The most outrageous claim they made was that ‘alcohol consumption costs society £16.2 billion a year’, and the most plausible one that people in the UK consume 52 billion units of alcohol a year.

But let’s run with that £16.2 billion ‘total cost’ figure, which divided by 52 billion units = £0.31/unit. Beer duty happens to be 18.57p/unit (from HMRC, a unit = 10 ml alcohol), so – for example – beer duty on a pint (568 ml x 4% ABV) = 2.272 units x £0.1857 = £0.42.

That’s just the beer duty though, what’s the average price people pay for a pint? 60p for a 440 ml can in the supermarket = £0.77/pint and (say) £3/pint in the pub. The average must be about £1 (that’s assuming 9 pints are drunk at home for every 1 in the pub), and out of that £1, 16.67 p is VAT, ergo total tax a on a pint is about £0.59 (£0.42 duty plus £0.17 VAT, stick on another fifth for PAYE on salaries of people working in breweries or alcohol retail, corporation tax etc) = £0.71, divide that by 2.272 = £0.31 tax/unit

£0.31 tax = £0.31 ‘total cost to society’, problem solved.

And I’m pretty sure they didn’t factor in the ‘benefit to society’ of all that boozing, which by definition is roughly equal to the total amount that people spend on booze, i.e. £23 billion*, which means that even by their reckoning, the net benefit to society is a princely £6 billion a year 🙂

* 52 billion units ÷ 2.272 units/pint = 23 billion pints, again assuming cost/pint £1 each.

That whole ‘legalising drugs’ thing…

Mummylonglegs stepped up to the oche, and I left a comment as follows (repeated here for posterity):

Completely agreed. And with drugs, there is a sliding scale, and I would suggest legalisation as follows:

1. Magic mushrooms – available from any greengrocer who can tell a poisonous mushroom from an edible one.

2. Mild cannabis, available from normal tobacconist/off-licence, over-18s only.

3. Ecstasy – available only at chemists, max. two tablets per customer Fridays and Saturdays only, over-18s only.

4. Cocaine – same as ecstasy – max. 1 gram per customer.

5. LSD – same as ecstasy, two tabs per customer but with six monthly renewable certificate from psychiatrist to say you are not nuts.

5. Heroin for injection – available with monthly repeat prescription from doctor at pharmacists.

6. Crack, still illegal, obviously.

And so on, I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but you just slot them in. All of these to be taxed like booze or fags, to be handed out with tedious leaflets with helpful advice for safe use and an admonishing glare.

Completely made up figure revised down by four per cent

BBC, 14 February 2011:The number of admissions to hospital in the UK because of problem drinking could rise to 1.5 million a year by 2015, a charity says.

Alcohol Concern estimates that it will cost the NHS £3.7bn annually if nothing is done to stop the increase… The charity says the number of people being treated in hospital for alcohol misuse has gone from 500,000 in 2002-3 to 1.1 million in 2009-10.

BBC, 26 May 2011:The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England has topped 1m for the first time, according to official statistics.

An NHS Information Centre report said admissions had increased by 12% between 2008/9 and 2009/10… The number of admissions reached 1,057,000 in 2009/10 compared with 945,500 in 2008/9 and 510,800 in 2002/3.

Well, the entirely made up figure may be up twelve per cent on the previous year, but at least it’s down by four per cent compared to the entirely made up figure of three months ago, eh?