Merseyside anti-smoking campaign criticised for giving away cigarettes
Considering how keen the anti-smoking movement is to keep people smoking and help the illicit trade, it was only a matter of time before they cut out the middle-man and started pushing cigarettes on people directly. In this instance, they were sending packs of fags out to politicians and journalists, apparently in the belief that they don't know what cigarette packs look like.
A Merseyside taxpayer-funded charity is promoting an anti-smoking campaign – by giving away free cigarettes.
This is a rare example of the media telling readers that plain packaging campaigners are, almost to a man, funded by the government. This is certainly outrageous, but for the Liverpool Daily Post, the outrage comes from what they have been spending their money on.
Tobacco Free Futures sent out the packs as part of its campaign about how packaging is alluring to children and can lead them to become hooked on smoking. The charity said it had only sent packs out to a small number of people in the media in the North West to try to highlight the dangers of smoking [how does that work then? - CJS] to “people with influence, including MPs”.
But the move has been slammed by leading city politicians, who are demanding answers of the city’s Primary Care Trust – and Westminster – as to why public money was being put into the pockets of big tobacco firms.
Since more than 80% of the cost of a pack of cigarettes is tax, this is more a case of taking from one pocket to put into another than it is of enriching Big Tobacco.
Why public money is going into the pockets of lobbyists in the first place would be a more pertinent question. As the article points out, this wing of the Department of Health has form when it comes to campaigning on the taxpayer's shilling.
The Liverpool PCT has been at the forefront of anti-smoking campaigning, even calling for films which featured smoking to be given an 18 certificate in local cinemas.
That much we knew. You may recall the astro-truf group D-MYST is based on Merseyside.
But there is a much bigger problem with all this that the article fails to mention. It is, I am quite sure, against the law to give unsolicited cigarettes to people. This means that Tobacco Free Futures are not just being profligate with your money, they are also engaged in a criminal activity.
Perhaps the Liverpool constabulary should be notified?