Monday, 3 September 2012

Good cop/bad cop

I nearly missed this nauseating charade when it appeared a couple of weeks ago, but unfortunately I have now witnessed it. In the Australian super-nanny state, two 'advocates'—including ASH UK's one-time director Mike Daube—have had a phony debate about what to do next now that plain packaging is on its way. The answer of "nothing, leave people alone" is not on the table, naturally.

Some dreadful bioethicist is calling for all-out prohibition while ranting about how people who smoke outdoors are engaging in "biological terrorism".

Meanwhile, Mike Daube takes the role of good cop by "only" calling for smokers be licensed, cigarettes be manipulated, tobacconists be closed down, smoking banned everywhere outside the home and other jackboot policies. Presumably, he hopes this will make him look like a moderate—and I guess that's the point of this quasi-debate.

I would fisk it all but I can't bear to read either of them twice and would rather pretend that such people didn't exist. Fittingly enough, Nannying Tyrants has taken on the Daube article and you can read my article about the Australian prohibition apologists here.


JohnB said...

A comment posted on another blog (F. Davis) concerning ASH’s (UK) 2032 “endgame”.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has been anti-smoking/tobacco from way back.
For example, from 1962:

Dying for a Cigarette
January 12, 1971, Tuesday
Once again the Royal College of Physicians has taken the lead in the anti-cigarette smoking campaign with a frightening new warning, plus practical alternatives for tobacco addicts. What the prestigious British medical society says should be heeded on this side of the Atlantic, too, for there is nothing nationalistic about lung cancer, heart disease and other disabling ailments.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a creation of RCP.
How’s this for a laugh –
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) was established in 1971 (20 January) by the Royal College of Physicians. It is a campaigning public health charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco. We do not attack smokers or condemn smoking. The organisation is headed by the Chief Executive, Deborah Arnott, and governed by a Board of Trustees. The Duke of Gloucester is our patron.

Concerning Britton and the 2032 “endgame”, it’s a recycled story. One of the roles of advocates/activists is to keep a high media profile (aided by a compliant, unquestioning media). This involves recycling stories a few years apart and making them appear “fresh”. They are a constant daring of politicians to be “brave” and “bold”, to institute more draconian measures to eradicate smoking. The current drivel is a rehash of a 2008 story where the RCP was advocating an end to tobacco smoking by 2025:

End tobacco smoking by 2025
A new report issued today by the Royal College of Physicians says that if the Government was prepared to take far more radical measures to combat smoking, we could practically eradicate smoking in Britain by 2025.

Professor John Britton, Chair of the RCP Tobacco Advisory Group, said:
"Smoking is still the biggest public health problem in the UK, and a problem of this magnitude and importance demands radical and effective action to prevent any further avoidable loss of life. Our governments have shown themselves more than willing to react decisively to other public health problems, but despite the progress of the past 10 years, still do not seem willing to take all the actions in their power to prevent children from starting to smoke, or encourage existing smokers to quit. The UK has led the world in many areas of public health in the past; here is our opportunity show the world that tobacco smoking can be driven out of our society."

Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
"As a country, we have a real opportunity to build on previous steps, and I believe the public are ready for strong action. They would support bold government in resolute steps to attack what remains the number one threat to the nation's health, smoking."

JohnB said...

True to form, the RCP has removed from its site the 2008 article. Fortunately, the article is still available here:

Clive Bates said...

I despair ... e-cigarettes and snus, products which do virtually no harm but are an effective substitute for smoking, are relegated to be merely a tobacco industry tactic to keep people smoking. There's no evidence to support that, but plenty that they have potential to reduce that tiresome problem of cancer, lung and heart disease and to help people quit smoking if they want to. These market based strategies are always ignored or rejected by the public health lobby - that's because they require them to dismantle their Manichean certainties about the tobacco industry. Those certainties are useful: they provide a veneer of ethical cover for unethical ideas; they diminish needs for evidence and justification (to zero for some); and they keep the job nice and simple, giving work a kind of 'force majeure' emergency state feel... how much harder it is to work with ambiguity and trade-offs, like the rest of us do most of the time.

Another observation: there's not one microgram of insight or empathy for the supposed beneficiaries of these policies from either participant in this phony debate - let alone a reasonable approach to informed choice or civil liberties ("smoker registration"? What?). In this discourse, smokers are trivialised and infantilised. It sadly not uncommon in tobacco control circles to set up an echo chamber, always well insulated from intrusion from the outside world, and then see who can shout the most extreme ideas loudest - and in so doing win the applause of the followers whipped into an uncritical frenzy of righteousness.

And as for evidence that these measures might work... now let us turn to the astonishingly successful case study of illicit drugs.

Karl Fasbracke said...

It was Tobacco Control's fight against Snus and the e-cigarette which had opened my eyes and had led me to this blog.