Monday, 13 February 2012

Economic consequences of denormalisation.

I still use the Tesco baccy counter for lighter fuel and flints. I have a Zippo that was given to me by a Syrian student years ago, with a picture of a pig on it! Her father gave me a gigantic cigar and her mother gave me a hand-stitched tablecloth that is far too beautiful to use, and that is one of the reasons why I will not tar all Muslims with the terrorist brush. The student was only here for eight weeks and she did enough work for a full paper. I'd take on all the students I can find with that work ethic.

Oh, and if her parents are ever in town again, I'll be angling for another invite to lunch. It's not likely, given the current situation over there. I just hope the student and her family are okay.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes. Lighter fuel and flints. Neither are frequent purchases. A pack of flints lasts ages, a can of lighter fuel not quite so long. It came as a surprise recently to find that Tesco no longer sell lighter fuel for petrol lighters. They might still have it for gas-powered ones, I don't know.

Well, no problem. The local pound shop is where I buy papers and they sell the lighter fuel too. For, surprisingly enough, a pound.

Just a few days ago I ran out of flints. I buy food in Tesco so I thought, no problem, I'll pick up a pack of flints while I'm there.

I had to say 'flints' five times before the spotty youth worked out what I was asking for. Then he told me they didn't sell those - in a voice that suggested they never had. This is where I bought my last pack of flints. Oh, no, the whole idea of 'lighter flints' has gone right down the memory hole now.

I noticed all the various cigarettes, rolling baccy and cigars are there (and nearly passed out at the prices) and they could sell me overpriced disposable lighters but no flints and no refuelling. Doesn't seem very 'green', does it? I've had this lighter for almost twenty years and they want me to replace it with throwaways? Ah, but smoker-hate trumps global warming even though both are based on junk science and outright lies.

We don't have the doors of oppression here yet. Man Widdicombe has seen them. When they arrive I am going to play with them. It will be easy because there seems to be a policy of only employing those who are totally ignorant of smoking at the tobacco counter.

"I'll have twenty Sarcoma, please."

(sucker opens all the doors and peers at the tiny names on the plain packs) "Sorry, we don't have those."

"Oh. Okay, do you have Oedema Lights?"

(sucker goes through all the doors again) "No."

"How about Infarctions? You must have those."

"I'll check." (opening and closing door ritual again) "Nope."

It'll turn into the Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch and the best part is, the teenager behind the desk will never have seen it so won't recognise it. I think I'll end with "Okay, two ounces of Satan's Anal Scratchings then" and see how long it takes the penny to drop, if it ever does. Finally I'll leave and visit the Van Man who is cheaper and who is not required to have doors.

The de-stocking of smoking accoutrements seems, so far, to be confined to Tesco. Morrison's aren't doing it yet and the pound shop is boosting stocks.Simple economics based on falling sales? The pound shop is a couple of streets away and they have moved the papers, filters, baccy tins, rolling gadgets etc from the little space by the tills to a larger section in the aisles. Since these shops rely on small profit/fast turnover, they are not going to saddle themselves with stuff that doesn't sell.

There's no law at all around the sale of the non-tobacco components of smoking. There are many shops that haven't bothered with a tobacco licence but sell the papers, lighters etc. There's one here that sometimes has bongs for sale, and those really big rolling papers that everyone knows aren't actually intended for tobacco. All legal, because they don't include any smoking substances at all.

So if there's no law involved and no problem selling these things, why are they being de-stocked?

One possible reason is that the marketing department have realised something. In all the shops selling tobacco from behind the new Cancer Doors, it's likely that the papers etc will be behind those doors too. If they take the cheapest option of simply fitting doors over the display, then all smoking-related materials disappear from view. Nobody can see them.

In the cheap shops that sell no tobacco, the papers etc will be on open display. That's where we'll see them and that's where we'll buy them.

Ever-increasing numbers of smokers now buy everything but tobacco from the tobacco counter. We get the baccy abroad, either ourselves or through contact with someone else. Is the government losing revenue over this? Tough. The government has made their position clear. They hate us, completely and absolutely, and only a masochist willingly pays to be beaten up.

The pub industry still insists their collapsing share prices and closed pubs have nothing to do with the smoking ban. Then they complain that smokers have stopped going to their pubs and they think that's because of the supermarkets. Fine. Let the idiots believe what they want right up to bankruptcy.

Next, the supermarkets will complain that the pound shop is selling papers, flints and lighters and that is the reason their takings are down at the tobacco counter. Nothing to do with the doors or the prices or the plain packs.

Through it all, the government is complaining that we aren't paying for our own punishment.

I think it was 2005 when I first heard the line that 'tobacco bought overseas is far more dangerous than tobacco bought in the UK' even though it all comes from the same companies. This was, of course, to put us off buying tobacco abroad or from the (rather less common in those days) Man with a Van. That was before the really vicious stuff started, and foreign baccy was already costing the Treasury money.

Now the problem is huge and still growing, I can see a day coming where the only UK duty paid tobacco will be the subsidised supply at Westminster and I bet half the smoking MPs won't even buy it there.

So now we have another attempt at scaring us into paying the government to ban us from our cars and then our homes. This time we are to fear the dreaded fake tobacco. Here is their handy guide to spotting the fakes:

An unusual or unexpected taste 

Different tobaccos have different tastes. That's why we all have preferred brands.

Spelling mistakes and altered logos 
Low quality labels and packaging 

Well that's going to be really helpful when they're all in the same packs with no logos at all. What are we supposed to do, check whether the precise shade of grey is exactly as it should be?

Foreign safety warnings or no health warnings at all 

The ones with foreign safety warnings aren't even illegal, much less fake. Yet here they are lumped in with the fakes.

Often sold in street markets, car boot sales and pubs 

Yes, well, you'd hardly expect to find the cheap dodgy-imports in Sainsbury's, would you?

Most copied brands are Super Kings, Benson & Hedges, Lambert & Butler, Camel, Embassy Number 1, Embassy Regal and Golden Virginia tobacco 

These are the most popular brands too. The ones the Men with Vans will bring in. They aren't necessarily fakes - yet.

When the packaging is all plain, all you need do to copy any brand is to change the little typed name on the front.  Plain packaging will be an absolute gift to the crime syndicates and will mean the 'fake' problem will soon overtake the 'smuggling' problem.

Criminals could even set themselves up as legitimate suppliers and fill the shops and supermarkets with fakes. Who'd know? The packs all look the same and no smoker will notice anything amiss in passing because the plain packs are all hidden behind the Filthy Habit Doors.

The only way to be sure of buying the real product will be to buy Man with a Van's supply of non-plain packs from another country. Nothing in the shops will be trusted.

So the government is setting up the tobacco market to collapse, putting it in the hands of criminals who care nothing for quality control or age limits, complaining about lost revenue and yet still pushing their agenda of pure hatred against the same people they insist have to pay more tax in order to fund more hate.

They are so consumed by hate that they will not listen. They will not even hear us when we speak. They are happy to send pensioners into the snow, to see the pubs, clubs, cafes and bingo halls close, to force smokers into spitefully-designed shelters, to deny us the NHS treatment we are still forced to pay for anyway, and now to ban us from our cars and next, render us homeless and jobless. We have only one means to fight back Only one.

Don't buy your tobacco from any UK outlet.

Don't pay for your own denormalisation.

And most of all, vote for someone else next time.


Thomas said...

Tobacco (and tobacco related paraphernalia) retail ban and license restrictions, short notes on true case:

"San Francisco has become the first city in the United States to ban the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in pharmacies.

"A pharmacy should be a place you go to get better, not a place you go to get cancer," a spokesman for San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who sponsored the ordinance, said. The citywide ban is modeled on similar legislation that bans pharmacy sales of tobacco products in most Canadian provinces.

"The ordinance lacks basic fairness," Polzin told Drug Topics. "It unfairly penalizes certain classes of retailers while unfairly advantaging others." "We're not just impacted by tobacco sales," he stated. "We are also impacted by the loss of all the other purchases the smoker makes while in the store. You have to look at all of the store as part of the transaction that we would be losing." Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean of the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, said, "There is no place in a setting that promotes health to sell a product that unquestionably causes death and disease." (1)"Our policy would apply to any pharmacy, including groceries and mass marketers," Rothholz said. "Why target just drug stores? If the intent is to restrict the sale and use of tobacco, the city should be looking at all retail settings, not just drug stores." That is just what San Francisco hopes to do, Department of Health director Mitch Katz, MD, said. (2)Katz noted that the city is targeting pharmacies first because selling tobacco in a healthcare setting is an obvious conflict of interest.Supervisors who favored the ban predicted that it would ignite a wave of similar actions in cities and countries across the nation. Public health and elected officials in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, are planning to introduce a similar ordinance this fall. Pharmacy tobacco sales bans have already failed this year in Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.
(1) Note UCSF involvement (Glantz's antismoking "research" center)
(2) Katz shares office space with Glantz. Katz as City Medical Director is to San Francisco, what Goebels was to Hitler. Katz is also on record as saying alongside Nancy Pelosi, after throwing a lucrative asbestos clean-up contract to a crony, after they choked a neighborhood from faulty removal and caused serious illness, that a little asbestos never hurt anyone. As a pompous Harvard academic with no common sense or working experience and hated even by the left-leaning health care unions, he has run city hospital budgets into the red ink of bankruptcy and mixed violent felons in with the aged and disabled who have been physicaly battered, for which he assumes no blame - his forte being he has saved the city from Big Tobacco.
(3) Since this first retail ban, the next was to issue no more new tobacco or tobacco related products retail licenses and begin grandfathering out of existence those still established - until eventually one will not be able to buy tobacco, nor even a match, nor a lighter, nor fluid - anywhere in all of San Francisco - then California - "then everyone will be saved."

Ripper said...

"Criminals could even set themselves up as legitimate suppliers and fill the shops and supermarkets with fakes. Who'd know?"

I can see things getting really ridiculous. I wonder what would happen if, because of the plain packaging, dodgy fake tobacco ended up on the Tesco counter? I'll bet the prosecution would last years and cost Tesco a serious amount of money. I've recently had some of the fake Golden V, and I don't know what was in it but let me tell you it wasn't pleasant. Its a good job that I'd only bought a couple of packs to tide me over, usually I'd buy around 50 packs if I could get it.

One question that I have to ask though, is throughout all the years of denormalisation and the continuous banning, where have FOREST been and what have they been doing? Likewise I've heard no opposition from the big tobacco companies either.

"And most of all, vote for someone else next time."

The best course IMO is not to vote at all.

tim.bone said...

Now I do not know who runs the Poundshop enterprise, but they certainly know the alternative market. I used to buy filters and papers for my wife and my cigarette factory online, (tobacco comes fron abroad). When  the local Poundshop opened, I found a more economical supplier, providing a full panoply of all the best filters and papers, plus the added extra of six dispoable lighters for a pound which last for ages.
Another thing is that cars do not have ashtrays anymore. They do however all seem to have little places designed to hold cans of drink. What do the Poundshop have relevant to this? Containers in unassuming dark grey to blend with the orifices in the car, tumbler shaped to fit, with a neat fire safe top with a central hole to dispose of your butt.
There is more. Poundshop already have brightly coloured cigarette cases with no health warnings or ugly pictures.

Legiron said...

 Rothholz said. "Why target just drug stores? If the intent is to
restrict the sale and use of tobacco, the city should be looking at all
retail settings, not just drug stores."

That right there is the biggest problem of all. Whenever there is talk of a tax break for one group of people the response is 'I have to pay it so they have to' and never 'So why am I paying it?'

When the pubs were threatened with the smoking ban they opposed the exemption for private clubs. They did not oppose the ban on their own premises at all.

It's always 'Well if you're hitting me, you have to hit them too' and never the correct response, which is 'Oh, just fuck off'.

Legiron said...

 As I see it, the problem with not voting is that a core of drones will always vote. Even if there is only 10% turnout, one of the useless parties will claim they have a mandate because more than 5% of the electorate voted for them. We cannot get rid of them by not voting unless everyone does it.

I always vote, based on who I think is likely to make the biggest dent in the local elected idiot's majority or who is likely to cause the most problems for the vested interests.

My one vote makes no real difference but at least I can always say 'Well I didn't vote for that git'.

Everyone I have ever voted for has lost. I wonder if this curse would work consistently?

Legiron said...

 I already have a pound-shop baccy tin. It has 'Keep Calm and Roll Up' on it. I also grow tobacco in pound-shop buckets standing in anti-slug moats made of pound-shop cat litter trays. They'll be in use again this year and I think I'll need a few more.

They don't have ultra-slim filters, unfortunately. Well, not yet anyway. Once Tesco have them all hidden away I'll bet Pound Shop will stock them.

Moi said...

Apologies, Leggy – this isn’t really a reply, but I can’t work out how to put a new comment in.
In a conversation with a (non-smoking) colleague of mine recently, he remarked how much the restaurant trade has dropped off over the last few years.  His daughter runs a restaurant in (I think) the West Country and he says they’ve seen a big drop in custom from a place which was always very busy (booking only at the weekends) to the point where they’re considering closing up for a couple of mid-week days to save some money on heating, lighting, staff, food stocks etc. 
I guess it was always to be expected that the restaurant trade would feel the pinch a bit later and more gradually than pubs – after all, people go to most eateries as a planned or semi-planned night out, rather than dropping in each night as a “regular” for a quick pint and a cigarette, as was usual in pubs – but it seems that just as the ban has resulted in more people getting together for smoky-drinkies now rather than going to the pub, increasing numbers of people are now opting to have people over to their houses for home-cooked meals, take-aways or deliveries rather than going out to eat and forcing several of their party outside (which, when you think about it, is even more disruptive in a restaurant than it is in a pub) at least once during the evening.
No doubt, though, like the pub trade, they’ll fail to make the connection.  I expect those “take away and heat in the oven” meals from supermarkets will be blamed, and the elephant in the room will once again be studiously ignored …

Thomas said...

Yes, it is the "level the playing field" nonsense, where they are basically saying if one must be banned, then all must be banned, instead of sod-off. Thus the bans spread out to affect more. In this original ordinance, drug stores within grocery stores were to be exempted. Nowadays, they've "leveled the playing field" "to be more fair" and retail tobacco sales are banned in grocery stores with pharmacies as well. I almost cried the day I watched a local Walgreen's drug store hurrying to beat the midnight deadline, scooping all cigs, tobacco and tobacco related articles from their shelves, throwing them all away - just because dictators said so. The next day, they had in place of tobacco, a hugely expanded NRT section, nothing else can they carry.

Pavlov's Cat said...

  The de-stocking of smoking accoutrements seems, so far, to be confined to Tesco.

My local One-Stop dropped lighter fuel just after Christmas, the guy behind the counter assumed it was to discourage local twisted firestarters rather than an anti smoking measure.

Can't even be bothered with the local ASDA they've already got the 'curtains' up on the booth

We do still have a tobacconist /newsagents in town that sells Zippo's and their accoutrements, so I get my fuel their. I find it lasts longer than the generic stuff, maybe a higher vapour point?

flob said...

My local Sainsburys stopped selling lighter fuel and flints some months ago, when asked why, the woman behind the counter said it was a head office decision. She was mystified as they had asked for replacements for months but its been totally stopped.
Another Sainsburys nearby has a full time worker behind the tobacco counter who simply loathes tobacco and anyone who asks for it.
I've noticed some checkout staff now have a similar attitude to booze.
Although yesterday a real human did serve me, bless her. 

JuliaM said...

 This time we are to fear the dreaded fake tobacco. "

And, hot on its heels, 
the dreaded fake hooch

Andy Dwelly said...

I've seen something like this before.

In Norway, they went through a rather extreme temperance period many years ago, and the effects still linger at social occasions where wine and beer are rarities on social occasions (even weddings). One of the rules was that all alcohol advertising and display was banned.

However, in Bergen on the west coast you see the name of the local brewery 'Hansa' everywhere. How did they do it ? When the ban came in, they added lemonade to their lines and simply advertise that everywhere. The HANSA is in a big obvious font, the rest of it is scarcely noticeable. 

Perhaps there will be B+H rolling papers in a nice gold pack soon.

hangemall said...

I hope this isn't a sore point, L-i, but what happened to the post "My feelings exactly?" There is a link at Old Holborn's  but it doesn't work.

Legiron said...

 That post isn't even up yet! Blogger must be distributing titles even before I press 'go'.

I've noticed that on other blogs too. Sometimes there's a new post linked but it isn't actually on the blog for a while.

hangemall said...

 It's up now.  I like the pic :-)

Duncandisorderli said...

Agree with just about everything, especially the last point - don't vote for the Big Bad Three parties, ever.  Always vote, but always vote for the real opposition, whoever it is - I always cast my vote AGAINST Lie-bore, Cons and Lib Dims, and for whoever else is standing.  Given a choice I'd go for English Democrats or UKIP, but if they are not available will happily vote Green, Respect, BNP, NF, Independant or anything else; not that I expect much from them, but nothing can be worse than the scum currently running the show!

timbone said...

I was in my Poundshop stocking up today, (mine has ultra slim filters). I also noticed (having read your post) that they have fluid for Zippos, didn't see any flints though.

Andrew said...

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that these days many supermarkets will only have beer in 440ml cans? not 500ml or God forbid,pint cans?

Legiron said...

 I noticed, a few weeks back, the local Co-Op selling off their pint-cans of Strongbow cheap. They didn't restock.

It's not just beer though...

Legiron said...

 I found flints in Morrisons. Best stock up before they go the way of the decent light bulbs.

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