Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018: The nanny state year in review

It's been another busy year for the nanny state. Here are the lowlights...


After launching their bizarre new 400-600-600 calorie rule over Christmas, Public Health England announce a calorie cap on sweets and chocolate. Citing no evidence whatsoever, the quango decides that 100 calories in a snack is quite enough. 'We are not saying they can never give children a chocolate or biscuit ever again' says PHE’s Orla Hugueniot. 'But it cannot be a daily occurrence.'

The editor of the Lancet leaves no doubt that he is a cretin by claiming that 'liver disease deaths are on a trajectory to overtake deaths from ischaemic heart disease' and that 'liver disease [is] soon to become the biggest killer in England'. A quick glance at the facts shows the absurdity of such claims.

Inevitably, this transparent untruth is accompanied by a call for minimum pricing.

(Dry) January sees the first of many junk studies about alcohol, all of which have 'no safe level, as their theme. The bar was lowered again later in the month.

Over at the Observer, born again teetotaller Nick Cohen writes a truly terrifying article about how he wants 'a society that ruthlessly restricts free choice'. 'Expert authority must engineer their lives from above for their own good and the common good', he reckons. 'Individual choice will be constrained and wisdom of the crowd rejected.' Lovely stuff!

The month comes to an end with a risible study that fretted about the 'implied use' of alcohol in Geordie Shore. (The same researcher returned in August to complain about implied smoking on TV.)


Public Health England's arbitrary calorie advice invites a backlash from people with eating disorders.

So-called health campaigners tell the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to turn away money from Heineken, claiming that the beer company is somehow responsible for HIV.

To no one's great surprise, plain packaging flops in France.

The neo-temperance lobby launches a weird, evidence-free campaign against low alcohol drinks, of all things.
Meanwhile, it is revealed that the neo-temperance policy of getting shops to stop selling strong cider has no positive impact. Lessons for minimum pricing?

Stanton Glantz's claims about a sugar industry conspiracy are neatly debunked.

I write the first of several articles explaining why childhood obesity statistics are worthless.

Cancer Research UK continues to throw its donors' money down the drain with a risible obesity prediction.

'Good news! Supermarket beer almost 200 PER CENT more affordable than 30 years ago'. The UK Temperance Alliance doesn't quite get the headline it wanted from the Daily Express after it publishes new figures about the affordability of alcohol.


'We were unable to find evidence that any sugar tax actually implemented anywhere in the world has led to improvements in health'. The New Zealand government's evaluation of sugar taxes follows the evidence and therefore disappoints nanny state campaigners. They respond with the usual 'merchants of doubt' rhubarb.

The usual partisan activist-academics get their snouts into the sugar tax evaluation trough (it's a small world), including one who believes that God is in favour of such taxes. Meanwhile, nanny state fanatic Russell Viner gets £5 million of our money to push his agenda.

'Britain needs to go on a diet', announces PHE's Duncan Selbie as his quango goes about degrading the food supply without our permission.

As Sadiq Khan gears up to protect London's incumbent fast food industry, the IEA publishes my report showing that there is previous little evidence that either the number or proximity of fast food outlets has any effect on obesity.  

The temperance lobby demonstrates, for the umpteenth time, that more goods are supplied in areas of high demand. (They do it again in September.)

Meanwhile, tobacco control takes the plunge and commits itself to prohibition. What could go wrong? And I ask what, exactly, is the 'tobacco playbook'?


I got to the bottom of one of 2017's most unintentionally amusing studies.

As the sugar tax begins, it is revealed that reformulated Lucozade is tanking. The company spends the rest of the year advertising the hell of it. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola bosses it.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall becomes the poor man's Jamie Oliver, if such a thing is possible.


Minimum pricing begins in Scotland. Bargain hunters head to Carlisle and Berwick.

It turns out that Australia's black market in tobacco has gone through the roof since the government introduced plain packaging and massive tax hikes. Who could have predicted that? 

An amusing study claims that bland corporate tweets from tobacco companies constitute advertising or something.

Adrian Parkinson comes clean on the campaign against fixed odds betting terminals but it's too late to stop the ban happy government clamping down on them.

Billionaire nanny statist Michael Bloomberg says the regressive impact of sin taxes is 'the good thing about them'.

A year after plain packaging came into effect in the UK, the early evidence suggests that - surprise, surprise - it had no effect.

Action on Sugar publish their latest set of demands.

Activist-academics in Australia call for graphic warnings on food because of course they do.

Even though it's 2018, the gateway hypothesis somehow still exists in the e-cigarette debate.


The global nanny state industry fails to get sugar taxes into the WHO's big report on 'non-communicable diseases'.  The editor of the Lancet goes crazy.

The BBC produces a low quality television programme about carbs.

The Scottish government publishes a list of wacky policies masquerading as a tobacco strategy.

Having halved the sugar consumption guidelines for no good reason, the 'public health' lobby complains that people are eating twice as much sugar as they should. Laws and taxes and obviously required.

Weak as a kitten, as usual, Theresa May capitulates to every one of the extremists' policies on food.

I point out that the government could raise quite a bit of tax revenue if it saw sense and legalised cannabis.


Six people with differing views on everything agree that we should legalise cannabis.

A study claims that a sugar tax has worked, this time in Chile. As usual, it's obvious nonsense.

The IEA publishes my report about why sin taxes are unambiguously regressive no matter what excuses the 'public health' lobby invent.


An advisor to Food Standards Scotland, a quango which is supposed to ensure food safety but which is actually a sockpuppet nanny state group, calls for graphic warnings on food, saying: 'Whilst we cannot ban food...'

Kellogg's reformulate Coco Pops. Consumers react in the usual way.

George Monbiot gets terribly confused about obesity.

The Science and Technology Select Committee publishes a sensible report about e-cigarettes. The usual handful of throwbacks throw what's left of their toys out of the pram.

Thanks to a comical study, the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group prove once and for all that they don't understand economics, business or the industry about which they claim to be experts. (See also here.)

The 'no safe level' meme appears once again as the temperance lobby prepares the ground for a WHO conference (which fortunately came to nothing).

The government capitulates to Mr Jamie Oliver yet again by announcing a ban on the sale of energy drinks (but not coffee or tea) to children.


A bunch of pompous 'public health' windbags threaten to withdraw their invaluable support from Public Health England unless the quango ends a banal partnership with Drinkaware. PHE stands its ground and although the screaming gets louder as the month wears on, only one person resigns.

Australia, the self-appointed world leader in tobacco control, sees its black market in cigarettes flourish like never before.

Unreported by all Western media, Mexico - the home of the sugar tax - sees obesity rates rise sharply.

I was on the Delingpole podcast - you can still listen here.

PHE's Duncan Selbie pays tribute to your truly.

Aseem Malhotra puts PHE on his list of enemies along with almost every other health organisation. By the end of the year the 'leading cardiologist' will be raging against bacon.

Ignored by the neo-temperance lobby, a successful alcohol harm reduction policy surfaces in Walsall.

The increasingly demented WHO pledges to abolish death.


I popped over the Geneva to check out what the WHO has planned for smokers and vapers next.

Stanton Glantz pays $150,000 to settle the first of his sexual harassment lawsuits

Political horse-trading results in a religious fanatic becoming the Netherland's health minister. Naturally, his views are perfectly aligned with the 'public health' agenda.

Early evidence from Scotland, which is confirmed in November, shows that booze sales are up in Scotland in the first months of minimum pricing.


The government agrees to move the clamp-down on fixed-odds betting terminals forward by six months. Anti-FOBT campaigners somehow convince the media that the government has moved it back by six months. Tracey Crouch resigns on the basis of a lie and is described by naive people as 'honorable'.

The inevitable calls for a tax on meat arrive.

The equally inevitable annual campaign against the Christmas Coke truck begins.

Action on Sugar demands that freakshakes be banned.

Cows moo, dogs bark and Action on Smoking Health lies about smoking bans.


The Science and Technology Committee points out that there is no evidence for banning the sale of energy drinks to teenagers. Nanny statists carry on regardless.

Lithuania's total ban on alcohol advertising means workers have to put stickers over thousands of newspapers magazines.

Having seen how well the policy of appeasement has worked over the years, the big betting companies agree to stop advertising at times when people are most likely to want to place a bet.

Long suspected, the final proof arrives that lowering the drink-driving limit in Scotland had no effect on road traffic accidents. But it did lead to pub closures so that's still a 'public health' win, I guess.

Child obesity statistics continue to be fraudulent and 'public health' employees continue to be overpaid.

'Public health' researchers feign surprise that most restaurant meals exceed PHE's arbitrary calorie limits. Two weeks later, we got a peek preview of 2019's mad calorie caps.

I also reviewed the year on the Last Orders podcast.

See you next year. Please drink responsibly!

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